Airing its final episode in January 2022, The Expanse looked to be burning toward a bright new future but, one year later, the Rocinante’s glorious comeback has been as cold and silent as the vast reaches of space itself. The Expanse had already averted disaster once before. Originally airing on the Syfy channel, the live-action adaptation of James S.A. Corey’s book series ran for three seasons between 2015 and 2018 before facing the cruel guillotine of cable cancelation. Jeff Bezos quickly stepped in, stumping up the cash for an additional three seasons that ran between 2019 and 2022 before the Rocinante’s flight plan was thwarted once again.
Despite being afforded one final run, three of James S.A. Corey’s novels remained untouched, with The Expanse season 6 continuing the show’s pattern of covering more or less one book per season. The TV story faced a choice between crafting an original ending that concluded all remaining plot threads in rapid but inevitably unsatisfying fashion, or sticking to its guns and making season 6 as intended, hoping the story could be completed elsewhere. The minds at Alcon Entertainment, the production company behind The Expanse, bravely opted for the latter but, one year later, the TV show has become the figurative Canterbury – gone, but inspiring hope nonetheless.
The Expanse Season 6 Set Up A Massive Future
The silver lining of the Amazon cancelation was that The Expanse found itself being severed at a natural break in the narrative. The TV story would end by adapting James S.A. Corey’s Babylon’s Ashes, which brings the Marco Inaros saga to a close ahead of a huge time jump before book seven, Persepolis Rising, and the beginning of the Laconia arc. Rather boldly, however, The Expanse season 6 ignored its impending doom altogether, and featured heavy foreshadowing for the future, explicitly setting up events and characters that prove crucial throughout Corey’s final three books.
Perhaps the most obvious example was introducing Admiral Duarte, played by Dylan Taylor, as the franchise’s next major uber-villain after Marco Inaros. The Expanse season 6 featured an entire side-story involving a young girl called Cara on the planet Laconia, and her interactions with Duarte after discovering a method of cheating death via Protomolecule. Cara’s presence in The Expanse season 6 served as a prelude for the Winston Duarte villain journey that would have played out across The Expanse seasons 7-9. Without that payoff, Duarte represents a huge dangling thread hanging out the back of The Expanse season 6, bearing very little connection to the story as it stands.
More than simply introducing Marco Inaros’ antagonistic successor, The Expanse season 6 defied its cancelation to continue foreshadowing and building intrigue around the mysterious, overarching threat lingering in the shadows. Ever since James Holden began his misadventures with the Protocmolecule, something dark and unfriendly had been stirring from an unknown universe, clearly displeased by the Protomolecule’s reactivation. The Expanse season 6 repeatedly mentioned this oncoming enemy, culminating in the so-called “Dark Gods” effortlessly disintegrating Marco Inaros. The Expanse series finale‘s last end credits then had the audacity to include a shimmering red energy to mirror the Dark Gods – a visual reminder that the story was far from over.
The Expanse Season 7 Or A Movie Hasn’t Happened
Placing so much emphasis on stories from those final three books, The Expanse season 6 bears all the hallmarks of a show with future plans in mind. Indeed, that attitude was echoed by figures involved with The Expanse‘s production. Daniel Abraham, who co-writes The Expanse novels alongside Ty Franck under the “James S.A. Corey” moniker told gizmodo in late 2021, “As we always say, there are three more books. There’s a lot more story to tell.” Naomi Nagata actress Dominique Tipper reminded fans (via EW), “This is the end of the TV show on Amazon… So, we’ll just have to see what happens” the year prior. And speaking to Variety, Alcon’s Andrew Kosove acknowledged, “We’re considering all kinds of interesting possibilities,” while also alluding toward movie potential.
Although no one connected to The Expanse suggested any firm plans were afoot, all parties sent out the strong message that continuing the Rocinante’s story was the underlying intention backstage, and that Amazon had not so much canceled The Expanse, but paused it temporarily, leaving the potential for other arrangements to be made. One year later, however, and those other arrangements are nowhere to be seen, with no word on how or when Holden and company’s live-action story might commence its original course. With no movie or TV special in sight, the precise reasons behind The Expanse‘s continued hiatus are not public knowledge.
Having said that, those spacecraft dogfights and Protomolecule visual effects do not come cheaply, and for Alcon Entertainment to maintain the incredibly high standards set by previous seasons, someone would need to raid Jules Pierre Mao’s bank accounts. Additionally, despite The Expanse gaining critical acclaim and a loyal cult following, the sad truth is that neither Syfy nor Amazon would have canceled the series if it was enjoying huge viewership numbers. Between these factors, and potentially more factors not in the public realm, The Expanse season 7 or a live-action alternative has evidently not proven a tempting enough project for those with the power to make it happen.
Why The Expanse’s Story Can Still Continue
All hope is not lost for The Expanse. Although the 12 months since The Expanse ended have been devoid of news on a movie finale or a season 7 away from Amazon, the franchise has continued to expand via alternative mediums. A Telltale videogame series starring Camina Drummer and acting as a prequel to The Expanse is expected in 2023. Additionally, upcoming comic book The Expanse: Dragon Tooth will be a 12-issue limited series set within the TV show’s continuity, and pick up after season 6’s ending. These multimedia releases prove interest in keeping The Expanse alive remains strong, and promise a better year ahead following the post-finale vacuum of 2022.
While, The Expanse: Dragon Tooth is a story set after season 6, it also takes place before Laconia in books seven and eight. Rather than adapting the material that would have been included in The Expanse season 7 as a comic book series, therefore, The Expanse: Dragon Tooth is actually laying the groundwork – or, indeed, more groundwork – for the Laconian Empire and the Rocinante’s future. Though hardly a concrete sign that The Expanse will return to screens in the near future, a comic book prequel represents an encouraging sign that intentions to adapt James S.A. Corey’s final three books are still alive behind the scenes.
Should the comic series and Telltale game prove popular, the future of The Expanse will be in an even stronger position. Expenditure and viewership may prevent a traditional The Expanse season 7 from happening, but the prospect of telling those final chapters in live-action remains nonetheless. As the franchise fires up its engines in 2023, The Expanse‘s underdog story, onscreen and off, may not be over yet.