At the end of season 3, protomolecule Miller with the help of our dear Holden connected the Sol Ring Gate to 1,373 other solar systems, all or most with planets that could support human life. However the species that created these rings disappeared and and now everyone wants a piece.
Season 4 Based on Cibola Burn, the fourth book in the Expanse novel series by James S.A. Corey (joint pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), Season 4 delivers a new interstellar gold rush. The abundance of resources beyond the Rings does not make the generations of oppression that the people of the Belt have experienced because of the Inner Planets. and our dear belters carry that trauma with them to new solar systems. Unlike previous seasons Season 4 focusses on a specific conflict between belter settlers and corporate interests. The Rocinante and its crew led by James Holden (Steven Strait) alongside Naomi (Dominique Tipper), Amos (Wes Chatham), and Alex (Cas Anvar), spend the majority of this season on the first new colony, called New Terra by the Earth RCE and Ilus by the Belter colonists who got there first.
Ilus is outstandingly beautiful, which was shot with Anamorphic lenses to make the landscape feel even vaster and frontier-like. This creates the perfect setting for the show to continue its ever exploration of themes of colonialism and the exploitation of the working class as well as an established political undertone. The corporate entity of the season, Royal Charter Energy (RCE), is more subtle than the diabolical villains of seasons past.
The season has been introduced to two new characters, the lovely curious scientist-explorer Elvi Okoye (Lyndie Greenwood) and the vicious blow heart head of security Adolphus Murtry (Burn Gorman). These very human conflicts between inners and belters are overshadowed by The Ring Builders’ leftover technology, which covers this seemingly abandoned planet. The Roci and its crew has come to investigate to make sure it is safe but if this planet is seemingly a ghost town, where did the original inhabitants go?
Overall, Season 4 continues to be a very faithful adaptation to the novel series, I am sure aided by the fact that both Abraham and Franck serve as producers and writers on the show.
Unlike Cibola Burn, Season 4 does not leave behind all the characters that we know and love in the Sol system. Instead, it creates storylines for Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams), Camina Drummer (Cara Gee), and Klaus Ashford (David Strathairn). Some of these subplots are based on various plots from the fifth book of the series, while some are entirely new.
As Holden and his crew struggle to survive many catastrophic events on Ilus, but those back home are dealing with their own big changes in their solar system.
Drummer and Ashford both continue to try and wrangle the OPA into a real government, but they are undermined by more militant factions who will never forgive the Inner Planets for the past.
Our dear Bobbie tries to integrate into civilian life before being pulled into a criminal group that is stripping Mars for parts to send off to the new colony worlds or the highest bidder. These story lines are a welcome addition to the season which might otherwise feel like a one-off without much connection to the rest of the narrative. They also provide a strong foundation that sets up the next several arcs of the show which has already been renewed by Amazon Studios for a 5th season.
With each season, The Expanse grows more complex with its interconnected story lines spanning across the stars. This season is no exception, blending hard physics, great visuals, and deeply human dynamics from flawed and complex characters.
Season 4 is more confident than ever, bolstered by the outpouring of love from its fans since its resurrection and the support that it has received from Amazon. If you loved The Expanse before, you’ll be thrilled with this season. If you still haven’t gotten aboard the hype train yet, there’s lots of room aboard.