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6 Big Questions We Have Heading Into Season 3 of THE EXPANSE

Warning: touching or inhaling the protomolecule will result in seeing spoilers for The Expanse in this article. 

After burning down the barn, the field where the barn stood, and the planet that field lay upon in its second season, The Expanse returns for a third on Wednesday, April 11. The Syfy show has consistently impressed with its blend of space opera and hard science fiction. Its last season proved that it wasn’t afraid to threaten the entire Sol system. Although it closed some doors (RIP Miller), the finale blew a lot of new ones wide open, toying with nuclear devices and passing out protomolecule like it’s a Sabra hummus sample at Costco. Let’s take a look at some lingering questions we need answers to.

1. How will it deviate from the books this season?

The adaptation of the books from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (pen name James S.A. Corey) into a series is a tangled web. Abraham and Franck are both heavily involved as consultants on the series, too, and since the series launched as the books are still coming out, there’s a sense that one feeds into the other even as they deviate.

Referring to it as a “feedback loop,” showrunner Naren Shankar put it this way: “[The Expanse] is kind of a live adaptation. We’re adapting their books, and they’re adapting the show. And then we’re adapting the books that are adapting the show. So hopefully we’ll get to go all the way to the end. It would be fascinating.”

There’s no need to spoil them for non-book fans who eventually want to read the series (you should), and readers already know the ways characters’ histories and hat choices have been changed to suit the show. We know this season will close out the events of “Caliban’s War” and then focus on “Abaddon’s Gate,” but it will be interesting to see what changes the show has to make and what new characters we might see.

2. Is it open war in the UN now?

Things are not super great between Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle). It’s going to be especially hard to hug it out after Errinwright ordered Mao (François Chau) to kill Avasarala. And this is after Errinwright poisoned a high-ranking Martian general and confessed to Avasarala that he’s been working behind her back to gain control of protomolecule through Mao.

Ostensibly, Errinwright and Avasarala still have jobs to go to at the UN, so is Avasarala headed back to Earth for swift vengeance? Or does she have something worse in mind for her now-uncovered adversary? She has Draper (Frankie Adams) and her battle suit at her disposal, but it seems more likely that Avasarala will seek to grind Errinwright into a fine powder before fully doing away with him (if she can). Regardless of what she plans to do, it will have to be in conjunction with safeguarding Earth from an intensified brink of war.

3. Who is going to do what with their share of protomolecule?

Speaking of which, we’ve got a protomolecule Mexican standoff on our hands because everyone has a sample of the cursed thing. Earth. Mars. And, because of Naomi’s (Dominique Tipper) betrayal, The OPA. Not to mention whatever evolutionary shindig is going down on Venus.

As a symbolic stand-in for nukes (in a universe that also has a bunch of nukes), the corollary to mutually assured destruction is clear, but what are all these entities planning in the mean time? To hold onto the protomolecule as a last resort? To use it as leverage? As a threat? To conquer? Errinwright claims he was always interested in defending Earth, but can that be believed? What about a wild card like Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman), whose motives and goals are far different from Earth’s and Mars’s?

And a more important question…

4. Can Avasarala unite them all?

We know from the trailer that Avasarala addresses the people (or representatives) of Earth, Mars, and the Belt, imploring them to band together to face the unimaginable new threat before them. One side of the proto-coin is the threat of using it against economic enemies, but the other side is an Independence Day-esque rally cry to unite as a species against a new, blue extra-system conqueror.

Is it possible that, after all the fearsome war-mongering and xenophobia, the whole of humanity can stand as one?

5. Are the hybrids mindless threat or brainwashed victims?

Or both? Holden (Steven Strait) and the rest of the Roci crew battled the violent, living result of concentrated protomolecule injection and destroyed it only by using a nuke as bait and bullet. Now, the crew and Prax (Terry Chen) still carry the burden of saving his daughter, Mei (Leah Madison Jung), whom we last saw being stuffed into a high tech sarcophagus by legit creeper Dr. Strickland (Ted Atherton). She’s not a hybrid. Yet? (And how many secret labs do these people have, anyway?)

The problem with the hybrids is a classic zombie conundrum (which Prax and Holden debate in the finale). They were once people—can they be saved? If they can, isn’t treating them solely as a threat, and planning to wipe them out, unethical? Does any of that matter while one is trying to eat your face?

6. Will we see Miller and Julie again?

What is happening on Venus? We got a close up view when the Arboghast (and special guest star Adam Savage!) was ripped apart like a boring Erector Set during an attempt to descend to the Eros crater, but are Miller (Thomas Jane) and Julie (Florence Faivre) still “alive” down there? Or present at least? Are they still at the center of this big ball of consciousness?

Jane is listed in the main cast for season three on Syfy’s website, but that doesn’t mean anything necessarily. We’ll have to wait to see if they make an ethereal appearance. Or if Holden and Naomi can find a way to work and be together. Or if Amos (Wes Chatham) continues his healthy-yet-troubling existential exploration of grief and regret. Or if anyone ever chooses to listen to Alex (Cas Anvar). The guy has good ideas.

What are you wondering heading into the third season?

Images: Syfy

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