The Expanse season 5 was criticized by some for a slower pace, but the sixth and final season can easily correct the issue with some minor changes.
The Expanse season 6 can fix the biggest issue of season 5 – the pacing. Ever since the early years on cable TV, The Expanse has been a slow-burn sci-fi experience, gradually building mysteries over the course of a season before erupting into a big pay off, whether it be the hotel scene of season 1, or the Rocinante crew raiding Jules-Pierre Mao’s Protomolecule lab. Never has The Expanse been an all-guns blazing action property, but the show’s measured pacing enhances the cerebral themes within James S.A. Corey’s novels, allowing each narrative to breathe.
While The Expanse’s pacing has usually been a strength, season 5 received criticism for unfolding too slowly. Some fans were left disgruntled by the lack of action and storylines that crept rather than galloped, comparing season 5 unfavorably to past efforts. The absent Protomolecule storyline might’ve also been a factor, with the overarching alien mystery remaining stationary until the closing scene of the final episode. Fortunately, normal service should be resumed in time for The Expanse season 6.
The main reason The Expanse season 5 felt slower than usual was the Rocinante crew split. Where previous seasons of The Expanse comprise several distinct storylines that ultimately converge into one climactic crescendo, season 5 gives each Rocinante member (as well as Avasarala and Drummer) their own separate arcs, only some of which eventually overlap. Instead of each thread working as part of a larger whole, season 5’s storylines are more loosely connected, and the pacing becomes uneven as each character’s individual journey moves to its own rhythm. While this wasn’t entirely unexpected (the book follows the same format), separating the crew for the entire season is a bold move that stretches relatively short stories over ten episodes. Fortunately, the band is back together in The Expanse season 6 – and with new faces in tow. As the Rocinante crew reunite, The Expanse’s final season should feel much more cohesive.
Viewers can also expect more of The Expanse’s extra-terrestrial elements in season 6. The ongoing mystery behind the Protomolecule, its creators, and the dark gods who destroyed them has been steadily building with each run, and The Expanse season 4 revealed more than ever about the ancient Protomolecule empire thanks to Ilus and a strange bomb left over from the so-called “unknown aggressors.” Unfortunately, season 5 backs right off that particular storyline, stripping away The Expanse’s alien momentum. Again, season 6 should naturally rectify this. As the final batch of episodes, The Expanse needs to bring the Protomolecule story to an end in its sixth season, giving viewers all the little green men (or big shadowy clouds) they can handle.
Whether The Expanse takes its foot off the gas a little too much in season 5 is mostly down to personal taste, but there is a palpable change of pace in The Expanse’s latest chapter. Having said that, what The Expanse season 5 might lack in pace and intensity, it compensates for in quality. Amos’ snowy space shuttle showdown is a standout sequence of season 5, and the Rocinante enjoys two major space battles. Despite the criticism, the slower episodes allow Dominique Tipper (Naomi) and Wes Chatham (Amos) to showcase their range and talent.
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