“Games of Thrones” in space

“The Expanse” returns for season four on Amazon Prime


Henry Bendon, Staff Reporter

On Friday, Feb. 8, all three seasons of “The Expanse” appeared on Amazon Prime. “The Expanse” is based on a book series by James S.A. Corey, the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who also write for the show. The books and show are set in a future in which a United Nations-governed Earth and a militaristic Mars are at odds with each other, each drawing resources from the asteroid belt, a region with a splintered identity of its own.

The entire solar system has existed for years in a Cold War style arms buildup between Earth, Mars and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA), a coalition of militant groups that advocate for the rights of the citizens of the asteroid belt. Their uneasy peace comes to a crashing halt as the series begins, however, starting with an ice trawler carrying the main characters of the show—who are off-ship responding to an emergency beacon—being destroyed by nuclear weapons by a mysterious stealth ship.

From this point, which occurs about 10 minutes into the first episode, the show gets so complicated that it makes more sense to just watch it. This sentiment is shared by many others, who responded to the show’s cancellation after season three by starting a Change.org petition that received almost 139,000 signatures asking for Netflix or Amazon to jump in and save the show. The petition, aided by several science fiction heavyweights, including “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin, was successful, as Amazon announced last May that it had successfully purchased the rights to the show.

The story of “The Expanse’s” home network is almost as complicated as the show itself. The first three seasons aired on Syfy, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, but their contract was only for first run broadcasts. Syfy did not manage to secure streaming video or international rights—international rights went to Netflix, and that put enough pressure on the show’s first run success numbers that a season three ratings decline forced Syfy to kill the show.

This opened the door for Amazon to get a second shot at securing the program, which is a favorite of CEO Jeff Bezos. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Bezos was upset the first time Amazon missed out of the show’s rights, and it was with visible glee that he personally announced the show’s revival last year.

Season four will have 10 episodes and is scheduled to be released some time this year. Until then, the first three seasons are streaming for free on Amazon Prime, and there is a lot of catching up to do.