The Expanse Season 4 Trailer

When The Expanse was cancelled by SYFY, a core group of fans, lovingly called the Screaming Firehawks, worked hard to find it a new home. In May 2018, Jeff Bezos responded to everyone’s efforts, which included flying a plane with a banner that said  “Save The Expanse” over Amazon Studios’ main office, by announcing that Amazon Prime Video was picking up the show. Fans and cast and crew alike were ecstatic, and all have been waiting for the new season, which dropped on December 12th

The fourth season is a great one (read /Film’s spoiler-free review is live), and while the core of the show remains the same in its new home, there are some noticeable differences that came with the move to Amazon. Read on to learn how the move to a new network has impacted the viewing experience of the show. 

Episodes Drop All at Once Instead of One-Per-Week

The most obvious change with The Expanse’s move to Amazon is that the entire season was dropped at once versus the one episode per week model on SYFY. There are pros and cons to this change, as there are pros and cons to binge watching in general. On the plus-side, fans can inhale the fourth season over just a couple of days if they’re so inclined, potentially even staying up until 3:00 AM on a work night to get in as much viewing as they can. Instant gratification can be a good thing, and is often satisfying. What is lost, however, with the drop-all-at-once format is the shared sense of anticipation, the reddit and Twitter conversations that take place during the week while everyone’s waiting for the next episode to drop. There’s something to be said about dropping the season bit by bit (HBO’s Watchmen is a great example of this), and while I’m sure serious fans will still have those in-depth online conversations about the new season, some of that feeling of watching something communally will be lost. 

There Are No Commercials

There’s really no downside to this one—being able to watch a full episode with no interruptions is a dream. Granted, there is a cost to the viewer in that they have to pay for an Amazon Prime subscription, but that’s the new streaming platform reality we all live in, and at least with Amazon Prime you also get other benefits that the conglomerate has to offer. 

F-Bombs and Other Salty Language Flows Freely

A free reign on swearing was one of the things I was probably disproportionally excited about when I heard The Expanse was moving to Amazon. Those who have read the books know that Avasarala swears like a sailor most of the time, and this was lost when it was on SYFY, especially in the first two seasons when there was almost no swearing allowed at all. Characters swore more freely in the third and final season on SYFY after the network made a move to allow F-Bombs, but in the fourth season swears flow freely from almost every character, and it is wonderful. Avasarala is also back in full force, and even tells Holden at one point, “Don’t put your dick in it. It’s fucked enough already.” I can’t imagine such a line—a line from Cibola Burn, the fourth book in the series by James S. A. Corey, by the way—ever making its way on the show if it was still SYFY, F-Bombs now allowed or not. 

There Was an Investment in CGI/Special Effects

Mild spoiler warning here! Skip this section if you don’t want to learn a few things that happened in the fourth season!

The latest season of the show involved most of the characters spending time on Ilus, an alien planet covered with looming ancient alien relics. Creating an entire world isn’t cheap, and though a sci-fi series is never as cheap as shooting something contemporary, my bet is the fact the fourth season would spend a lot of time on Ilus was one of the reasons SYFY decided to cancel the show; it would just be too expensive. Amazon was willing to take that on, and the rendition of Ilus, particularly the horn-like ancient alien relics, was well done for the small screen. There were a few effects that didn’t land as well—Holden falling/floating through the glowing purple protomolecule transport system, for one, looked a little too fake for my liking—but they clearly invested their money in the CGI that mattered the most. 

We Already Know There Will be a Fifth Season, And It’s in Production Already! 

Amazon Prime Video is taking a long-term view of the show, and announced in July 2019 that they had already greenlit the fifth season of the series. This commitment to another season before the last season had even aired is something that the streaming platform has done for other Amazon Originals as well, and it gives The Expanse cast and crew some creative breathing space. Instead of looking at each season discretely, unsure if the show will be around for another, the promise of  another season allows for cross-season story arcs. One only has to look at the introduction of the character Marco Inaros to know there are scenes in Season 4 that will seed the conflict of Season 5, and the show as a whole is better for it. The only downside is that we’ll likely have to wait a year to see how those seeds blossom. On the upside, given the quality of the first four seasons, I have no doubt that the fifth won’t disappoint either, though we’ll have to wait a bit to find out for sure. 

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