I’m not sure if The Expanse’s sixth and final season only having six episodes was because of COVID-19 or just because the showrunners didn’t deem it necessary to have the usual ten or thirteen episodes. Does it affect the power of the space epic’s ultimate conclusion? In a way, yes. By smushing so much story into just six episodes for The Expanse, a lot is forced to be streamlined, and while yes, the previous five seasons have given us a ton of character development, it almost feels like further development has been jettisoned here in favor of just getting to the point, which is delivering a satisfying conclusion.
But a conclusion can’t really be satisfying if the story beats leading up to them aren’t based in character like they are in the previous five seasons. I’m tiptoeing around a minefield of spoilers here, not wanting to give away any of the secrets, of which there are many—and this isn’t just coming from Amazon, this is coming from me, too, a fan of the show.
The action is good, the acting is good, there are some genuinely mysterious bits…but it becomes clear quickly that they need to wrap this puppy up and they have about six hours to do it…actually, less, seeing as Expanse episodes have always run shorter than typical streaming shows, a result of its spending three seasons on basic cable. Speaking of that, am I glad that The Expanse got rescued for three more seasons by Amazon? I suppose I am. After all, without the rescue, we wouldn’t have gotten those truly gut-punching moments in the fifth season, ones which fans had been long awaiting.
However, as I’ve said in reviews of both the fourth and fifth seasons, where I was fairly “meh” on them, they never really had strong ties to the first three seasons, and while, if you watch the whole series you’ll get a complete story, I think most will find that once you hit the fourth season, you find yourself with a Part A and a Part B. This isn’t an objectively bad thing, but for me, it’s an off-putting one.
I love these characters, I love the gritty and as scientifically accurate as possible look at space, I love the politics, for the most part, all of which are things many others sing the praises of in past reviews. The Expanse will likely be remembered as one of the greatest science fiction series of all time, both in TV and its original literary counterparts. It’s hard to write about the final season of a show where you’re a fan and remain anywhere near objective, so I suppose I’m not really trying.
If you’ve loved The Expanse for all five seasons up until this point, you’ll love its sixth season, although you might find yourself wishing for four or seven more episodes. If you’ve never watched The Expanse before, you should definitely try picking it up, but not with this season, for perhaps obvious reasons.
This is a season about endings, which doesn’t feel like a definitive conclusion. This might be because there are some hints the producers have been making that this isn’t the end of The Expanse, and seeing as there are more books to adapt, and the fact that the cast seems game, it’ll probably be back in some form, somewhere.
Maybe the most exciting thing about this show from the get-go was its potential; the potential is still there, but whether they fulfill it in its final run? Personally, the jury is still out on that.
The Expanse final season will stream weekly episodes on Amazon Prime starting on Friday, December.