The Expanse season 6: review completed by Amazon

STAR PERSON

After several months of open warfare against the belters led by the belligerent Marco Inaros, the first of yesterday have become the last of today. Despite an alliance between Mars and Earth, the two sworn enemies of yesterday cannot compete in the face of too many technological and strategic advantages accumulated in the shadows for years by the rebel leader, and the two hegemons know they are doomed if the war of attrition continues. But, during a routine mission, Captain Holden and the crew of the Roci discover a flaw that could turn the tide of the conflict.

Le fan affuté de The Expanse will probably have already deduced the big problem of this season 6 in the statement above: while the supreme quality of the series has always been the steely solidity and the unfailing consistency of its ultra-rigorous writing, its final season starts thanks to… chance. A good big stroke of luck even one could say. An unusual ease and which in itself does not mean much, but which turns out to be the first major symptom of the evil that eats away at this end point to a series that we have loved so much: it is a prisoner of its logic of action.

Quickly, the very unpleasant impression of being in front of the Wikipedia summary of what this season 6 should have been invades the viewer. There is only a list of adventures here – unusually bland, what’s more. The story has deserted, and the characters have been emptied of their substance. The soul of the series is crushed under the weight of a narrative specification that has become tyrannical. No time for emotions, exploring the universe, or weaving the backdrop. No, we have to conclude, and quickly, too quickly.

Hey, wouldn’t that be a triggering incident on my radar?

IT SMELLS ROCI

So, everyone organizes to end it: thing does something while gizmo brings random MacGuffin number 26 to thing. No time to think, you have to act, and nothing deviates less from its trajectory than a puppet who does not think. Everyone progresses in a straight line according to a horribly robotic program. This necessity is so compelling that it is directly embodied in Guoliang, an atrocious new character as flat and dead as the crushed corpse of Mufasa, whose only function is to torch the psychological development of Marco and Filip.

Like a troop of NPCs, everyone here fulfills their programmed destiny and no one interacts more than necessary to move the storyline forward, because it needs to move forward, no time to waste.

The Expanse : photo

Guoliang on the right, who checks that the scenario is progressing as planned

So certainly, by digging a little and remaining attentive, one or two scenes manage to reproduce a small vibration, a few clever ideas stand out (including a staggering prediction of the migration crisis initiated by Lukashenko) and remind us that The Expanse is (was?) a series of remarkable finesse. But the damage is done: impossible to get involved in this extinguished, artificial and lazy story, devoid of the slightest narrative or visual ambition.

Even the technical work, yet usually already the weak point of The Expanse, is at a minimum. Where have the varied and creative sets gone before, the action scenes in sequence shots, the enchantment and the discovery of new horizons? All that remains is a row of interiors of ships and command bridges, and we believe we are hallucinating when we are spared a few close-ups or slightly composed frames.

The Expanse : photoOh look, an uninspired medium shot

DEATH IS NOT AN END

In all honesty, we fume a little when the end credits of the very last episode of The Expanse, the best of this sloppy season certainly, but just in the high average with regard to the whole of the series. Pyrotechnics, intensity and hectic action finally return, but it is already too late. The feeling of waste is there, clear, net, precise. Obviously, rather than serving up a nice cherry, Amazon served up the soup during this final sprint, and almost even looks like it’s bitching while doing so, like we’re messing with our demands. This is what seriously undermines the sympathy capital.

How else to explain this absolutely suicidal choice to conclude in just six episodes and therefore to assume, thereby, to leave many narrative arcs completely fallow? It’s more than half the time of the legendary seasons 2 and 3 – which we officially and therefore definitively dedicate as the best of the series – and the damage is as inevitable as it is colossal. The protomolecule, the advance of the dream of Mars, the aliens… everything that is not of the order of space politics will be left to the discretion of the spectator and his imagination. The series just doesn’t care about it, gets rid of anything that doesn’t help it get rid of the corpse and shoot itself in Mexico.

The Expanse : photoSince it’s like that, I bar myself in the sun

And don’t let anyone do the trick of the open end: the work is not finished. Hollow and starved, this conclusion is simply not one. Half season 6 of The Expanse is not an end, it is an execution. The proof ? These six sick episodes seem very miserable compared to the end of season 3, which was already to mark the definitive end of the series and brought a real feeling of completion while leaving exactly the mysteries needed to make you want to continue to explore this universe mentally. In a word, we were dreaming.

Rather than a transcendence, the rebirth of The Expanse will therefore have resulted in a second death of the series. It is an understatement to say that this season 6 is not up to expectations, since it already painfully satisfies the union minimum. Moreover, even the authors of the books do not seem to know what to do with it since they themselves recently declared that they considered this stoppage of the series as … a break. What we sincerely hope for given the fish tail that was made for us, not to say the Lyonnaise quenelle that was served to us.

The Expanse : photoAmos, reduced to a trickle

“…AND CHALLENGE THE TYRANNIC STARS”

What more can we say, faced with so little substance? All this may seem harsh, but who loves well punishes well. So it seems fair and logical to say how much we loved The Expanse after having punished her as we have just done. So we really, really liked The Expanse. After a slow but very engaging first season, she was able to turn her weaknesses into advantages while taking full advantage of her strengths.

All of this took her a thousand times beyond her original promise in her seasons 2 and 3, its flamboyant hours of glory that we still evoke here not without still trembling somewhat. Although inferior, seasons 4 and 5 were also great adventures.

The Expanse : photo

Drummer, when she discovers the emptiness of script

Obviously, The Expanse is not perfect, it never has been. Apart from a few moments of bravery, the production has never broken bricks, and the effects have generally always oscillated between “drinkable” and “well executed without more”. Not all of the narrative arcs were equally able to hit the mark (the planet Ilos, Marco and Naomi…), even if most of them were able to transport very far, even touch pure genius (need it really be said that are we talking about Eros?). But, give mud to a good craftsman and he will know how to find gold in it.

Too bad for natural or cosmetic qualities: these are the deep traits of The Expanse who made his greatness, his lively intelligence, his rigor of work, his passion for the genre. And somewhere, his identity has also asserted itself through his shortcomings.

The Expanse : photo

A failed, but well-groomed villain

There is no doubt that with its backdrop teeming with details, its creative inventiveness and its gallery of endearing, even striking characters (Chrisjen and Amos), The Expanse knew how to stand out from the competition and revive hard SF television slightly ahead, was one of the first to restore purity to a demanding genre too often parasitized by the strings of space opera (Lost in the space, Foundation), probably for safety.

We bet that if The Expanse will have struggled, even failed, to find its general public, it will have contributed to embolden the producers and prepare the minds of the public for the future. And with the superb For All Mankind Where Raised by Wolves, it is allowed to believe in this future. Let’s not part too angry then: for all that, thank you for having existed!

Season 6 of The Expanse is available in full on Amazon Prime Video in France since January 14, 2022

The Expanse : Affiche US

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