The Expanse Season 4 Spoiler Review

The Expanse fans weren’t the only people who rejoiced when Amazon saved the much-loved series from SYFY’s cancellation; the cast and crew, who have a strong bond with their fans, were ecstatic as well, and eager to take the show to new places. “It’s exciting for us as actors and also for fans to get a new version of their favorite show,” Dominique Tipper, who plays Naomi Nagata on the series, told /Film. “Obviously it still has all the things you know and love, and the characters you know and love. But there is a widening of perspective.”

Tipper’s description is an apt one—The Expanse is thriving in its new home. Not only has Amazon Prime Video given the show significant promotion in the lead-up to the drop of Season 4 on December 12th (a day earlier than advertised, no less), but also in terms of the quality of the actual show. If you haven’t watched the new season yet, check out /Film’s non-spoiler review from a couple weeks ago, which explores why this season is just as good as the ones before it, if not better. 

If you watched all ten episodes, however, read on for a spoiler-full take on some of the major occurrences of the fourth season. This is your final warning: spoilers abound below, so read on at your own risk.

Proto-Miller Wreaks Havoc and then Dies to Save Holden (And to Stop Being a Pawn of the Protomolecule)

One of my favorite Expanse characters is Detective Miller, and I was elated to have him remain on the show, albeit in proto-Miller form, for the last two seasons. At the end of this season, sadly, we had to (probably) say goodbye to Miller for good. The former detective, turned protomolecule Investigator, turned rogue proto-powered being, went out with style. And the fact he pulled all of the protomolecule tech on Ilus through the fiery black hole that killed them saved Holden and the rest of the people on the planet as well. 

Miller gets a decent send-off, with Holden sending the last piece of protomolecule nestled on their ship into Ilus’ sun. But what’s most impactful about this moment is what humanity will do in the future with no ghost Miller around to explain what’s going on. It’s a brave new world heading into Season 5, and there’ll be no extra-terrestrial force around to help Holden navigate it.  

Bobbie Becomes a Criminal…and Then at the Very End Turns to Avasarala for Help

It was hard to see Bobbie turn to a life of crime on Mars. When she sees Avasarala early on in the season, I had high hopes that the two would continue their partnership and work to get Earth and Mars on the right path. Bobbie turns down Chrisjen’s offer of employment, however, and while I was disappointed, Bobbie’s choice makes sense. Bobbie is a Martian first, and she’s struggling to adjust to life on her home planet after being dishonorably discharged from the MCRN . She can’t go to Avasarala now—she needs to prove to herself and, more importantly, to other Martians, that she is loyal to Mars. 

But then things get sidetracked for her—her nephew David is involved in some illegal activities, and in getting him out she finds herself pulled in instead. And then she finds herself liking  the lifestyle that comes with it, and she even comes to like her crime boss, a corrupt cop who’s looking to make enough money to take his family through the ring once ships are allowed to go through. Things are in upheaval on Mars, and Bobbie’s life merely reflects that; intellectually it makes sense and drives forward a plot point that will likely bear fruit in Season 5. On an emotional level though, it was hard to see Bobbie “fall” this season, and it was a relief to see her turn back to Avasarala in the last episode in hopes of stopping the corruption she was once part of on Mars. 

Marco Inaros Has Grand Plans for The OPA, and for the Inners He Hates

One of the more interesting parts of the season was the internal conflict within the OPA. Belters’ are all striving for equal footing with the Earthers and Martians who have kept them under heel for centuries. How they want to break from the Inners’ control, however, varies. We get a glimpse of this early on when the different OPA factions vote whether to kill Marco or not (they don’t, surprisingly because of Drummer’s deciding vote). 

It’s also excellently portrayed by Naomi’s past actions when she was with Marco, and with Naomi’s present actions on Ilus, including her conversations with Lucia, who has regrets being part of the group that blew up the landing pad. “There’s a bit of Naomi that hopes for some kind of coexistence, but she’s also always enraged by the injustice that her people go through,” Tipper explained to /Film about her character. “For all the radicalism that she has been a part of or is privy to, the root of it is in the injustice—it’s enraging to be treated the way Belters are treated. She doesn’t not understand [taking violent action]; she feels there’s a better way. That’s what’s wonderful about The Expanse, is you get to see the full scope of the political spectrum of where people sit in Belter-land, and no one’s really right or wrong. It’s all pretty grey.”

It’s this messy ambiguity, these differing points of view from not only Naomi but from Fred Johnson, Camina Drummer, Klaes Ashford and Marco Inaros that weave such a complex, nuanced story of how a single culture can have different reactions to a universe-changing event. The ring station has upset the power dynamics for everyone—Bobbie is facing this on Mars and Avasarala is facing it on Earth as well, but it’s the Belters who arguably have the most to win and lose, as there are some of them who can never bear the gravity of planet life. It’s clear with Marco’s attack on Earth that this struggle will continue to play out next season.

The Last Episode Ties Up Ilus and Sets Up the Major Conflict for Season 5, Which is a Doozy

Things on Ilus are more or less wrapped up by the very beginning of episode ten when Dr. Okoye pulls proto-Miller (in the form of a proto-metal dog-like machine) through the “eye of an angry god” that was responsible for killing off the creators of the protomolecule. There are few more loose ends that are wrapped up for the Rocinante crew (Amos beating up Murtry was a nice one, as well as Holden’s send off to Miller), but the final episode spends more time setting up the conflict for Season 5, which, thank the protomolecule, is already in production.

It’s in the last episode where we fully understand that Bobbie’s struggle on Mars is tied to Marco’s plans. It’s also the episode where we meet Marco and Naomi’s son Filip, who is in on his father’s plan to hurtle an asteroid covered with Martian stealth tech at Earth. What remains unclear for now is why some faction on Mars partnered with him to do so. We get a glimpse of the Martian side of things through Ashford’s tortured prisoner and also through Bobbie, who is caught in a deal with the Belters that goes south. 

Ashford, sadly, is killed in his attempt to stop Marco. We can only hope that the conversation he recorded makes it to Drummer in time to stop the asteroid. Add into the mix that the Rocinante is coming back to the solar system, and Season 5 is set up to be another nail-biting time, full of political intrigue, death, and violence, which too often in the history of humanity go hand in hand. That’s what makes The Expanse so great after all—like most great science fiction, it looks to the future to talk about our present and our past, and it also gives us a fantastic set of complex characters that we’re routing for, no matter what the odds. 

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