Top 10 Episodes of The Expanse
It’s no secret — The Expanse is one of the best sci-fi shows of all time. Bar none.
That’s not an exaggeration or hyperbole. It’s definitely the epitome of all things science fiction, specifically of the 2010s. The saga of James Holden, Joe Miller, and the Rocinante crew is as captivating as it is thrilling. Some refer to it as the Game of Thrones of space, but I’d like to think of it as a successor to the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 favorite episodes of The Expanse. Beware that spoilers abound. Proceed at your own peril.
“Salvage” marked the first time that Holden (Steven Strait) and Miller (Thomas Jane) crossed paths. Season One’s focus was predominately divided into three character-driven arcs: Holden, Miller, and Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo).
Miller traveled to Eros in search of Julie Mao, while the United Nations planned to “take out” Holden on Eros in an act of street violence. The discovery made regarding Julia Mao propelled the overarching plotline into a new direction and ultimately altered the course of The Expanse forever.
“Leviathan Wakes” (S01E10)
Avasarala uncovered the truth regarding her superior, Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle). Errinwright potentially framed Mars for the destruction of an Earth vessel, which led to heightened tensions between the Red Planet, Earth, and the Belt. Holden and Miller encountered countless citizens on Eros infected with the protomolecule while trying to outrun CPM security officers.
“Leviathan Wakes,” the season 1 finale, really showed us just how convoluted and vast the protomolecule’s influence was. It was a living, thriving substance with extraterrestrial origins. Combine the thrilling, fast-paced political intrigue of the Avasarala storyline with the high-octane action on Eros, and you’ve got a recipe for perfect sci-fi.
“Home” is, undoubtedly, one of my favorite episodes of The Expanse. It’s a touching, gut-wrenching entry in the genre show’s roster. Not to mention, composer Clinton Shorter really elevated the story with an enthralling score.
Miller finally met Julie Mao (Florence Faivre), but the latter was overtaken by the protomolecule. Miller embarked on a dangerous mission to the volatile Eros in an effort to decimate it. Why? Because the protomolecule tightened its alien grip on the asteroid. Thus, in order to prevent the protomolecule’s spread, the Rocinante crew aided in destroying the rock.
Miller sacrificed his life by staying behind and, along with Julie, essentially steering Eros into an asteroid that was hurtling toward Earth. Miller’s scene with Julie tugs at the heartstrings.
This season 2 episode of The Expanse boasted a wonderful performance from Frankie Adams, who portrayed MCRN officer Bobbie Draper. Holden and his crew waded through the war-torn Ganymede station. Errinwright believed that the Ganymede attack was a test for a weapon created by Jules-Pierre Mao, which contains the protomolecule.
Avasarala’s suspicions about Errinwright were confirmed as he revealed that he was working alongside Mao. Bobbie, a Martian, flew to Earth for the Earth/Mars peace conference. Her experience with gravity was so visceral. Not to mention, the scene wherein Bobbie saw the ocean for the first time is a thing of beauty.
“Immolation” marked the end of Jules-Pierre Mao’s protomolecule experiment. Errinwright was arrested for his role in precipitating an intergalactic war between Earth, Mars, and the Belt. Bobbie fought a protomolecule soldier of sorts. Amos (Wes Chatham) reminded us that he is “that guy,” with one of the most badass lines out there.
Not to mention, Prax (Terry Chen) was reunited with his adorable daughter Mei and a whole heaping helping of kids were freed from Mao’s inhumane protomolecule testing. Cotyar, Avasarala’s bodyguard, met his unfortunate demise aboard a ship that was infected with the protomolecule. This episode was a turning point for The Expanse. It was riddled with edge-of-your-seat action, plot twists, and stunning visuals.
“Abaddon’s Gate” (S03E13)
The ending of the season 3 finale introduced us to the worlds beyond the Ring gate. The protomolecule acted as an entry point to a whole slew of extraterrestrial planets untouched by humankind.
Ashford (David Strathairn) sought to destroy the Ring, but Holden and his crew stopped him just in time. Holden was accompanied by a vision of Miller, who was being “reanimated” via protomolecule. The MCRN tried to capture the Roci gang, but thankfully Bobbie stepped in and vouched for them.
“Abaddon’s Gate” launched us into a new era of The Expanse, especially with Holden forging ahead through the Ring gate to explore uncharted territory. It’s a quintessential, heart-pounding foray into pure science fiction.
“The Investigator” a.k.a. Proto-Miller whisked Holden away to the core of a massive structure on Ilus, a planet that was home to the Ring Builders and where the protomolecule originated. Murtry (Burn Gorman) attempted to thwart Holden and his crew every step of the way.
Additionally, Holden’s desire to leave Ilus catalyzed Murtry’s endgame plan. Dr. Elvi Okoye (Lyndie Greenwood) and Amos went after Holden and Proto-Miller in a bid to stop Murtry, who was doing the same. Amos shot his lady love Chandra (Jess Salgueiro) to death.
Eventually, Proto-Miller and Okoye fell through a glowing orb in the center of the structure. In short: this episode of The Expanse is a wild one. It’s trippy in every sense of the word.
If I were ranking these episodes, “Guagamela” would probably be number one with “Home” not far behind it. Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander), Naomi Nagata’s (Dominique Tipper) former flame, launched a handful of asteroids coated in stealth tech toward Earth.
The result? Millions of people dead, including the Secretary-General of Earth. Holden was on Tycho Station when a coup was staged, one that was facilitated by the shocking death of Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman). Avasarala helped save Earth from more destruction by enacting the planet’s defense system.
This outing had me gripping the edge of my seat and utterly entranced. Every aspect of it was so well executed and brilliantly performed.
Tipper is one of the show’s most talented performers, and “Oyedeng” just further solidifies this fact.
Naomi was entrapped on Marco Inaros’ ship alongside their son Filip (Jasai Chase Owens). Marco had turned Filip against his own mother. During this episode, Naomi and Filip bonded in an absolutely gut-wrenching scene. Holden and the Roci attempted to rescue Naomi. However, Marco vowed to use Naomi’s ship, the Chetzemoka, as a means of luring Holden to his death. The Chetzemoka was a literal ticking time bomb.
In an effort to escape Marco, Naomi injected herself with hyper-oxygenated blood and leaped out of the airlock, exposing her bare skin to the elements of space for a brief moment as she soared into the Chetzemoka. Hands down, it’s one of the most compelling and visually captivating scenes in science fiction.
“Nemesis Games” (S05E10)
The season 5 finale brought about the tragic death of a main character: Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar). He “stroked out” from going into “hard g” during a dangerous maneuver in an effort to save Naomi. But, at least he went out while saving a friend. Drummer (Cara Gee) severed her truce with Marco and was instantly added to his sh*t list. Avasarala was promoted to Secretary-General of Earth and the hunt for Marco commenced.
“Nemesis Games” brought our core group together once again. The episode ended with two high-ranking Martian officers entering the Ring gate to another unexplored planet called Laconia. This outing had everything: action, adventure, comedy, drama, romance, and thrills. Not to mention, ethereal visuals aplenty and moving performances.
Did your favorite episodes of The Expanse make this list? Let Your Geek Sideshow and sound off in the comments below!