Conspiracy, Mystery and Rebellion Collide in Syfy’s ‘The Expanse’

The Expanse - Season 1
Jason Bell/Syfy

The Cold War heats up on The Expanse, Syfy’s ambitious new space mystery set 200 years from now, with Earth and Mars ruling the solar system. The drums of war began beating when the Canterbury, a cargo ship hauling ice around the planets and the asteroid belt, was blown out of the sky and 2nd Officer Jim Holden (Steven Strait, above) beamed out a message that Mars was the culprit. Holden, a disaffected former Earth soldier, was one of five survivors who were on a shuttle checking out a distress call from a mysterious ship when the attack came.

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“The episode finds the five prisoners on a Mars naval carrier,” Strait says. “The Martians—who deny his charge—assume that the survivors are responsible for the Canterbury’s destruction.” His captors focus their ire on Holden when they see that his message has turned both U.N.-controlled Earth and the Belters, the asteroids’ oppressed workers, against the Red Planet. Already in rebellion under the leadership of the supposed terrorist group the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA), the Belters take up the call “Remember the Cant,” which thrusts Holden into the role of accidental leader. “He becomes the face of people who have been abused by the two superpowers,” the actor says.

As Holden and his crew attempt to escape from the precarious situation, “he begins to question whether the Martians are really the perpetrators,” Strait says. “He’s driven by guilt over what happened to the Cant, since he insisted on checking out the call”—the action that provoked the attack. Holden’s quest for the real perps as well as the person who sent the SOS sets in motion a chain of events that will lead to a humanity-threatening conspiracy. The plot soon intersects with Belter detective Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) and his search for Julie Mao (Florence Faivre), the missing daughter of a powerful industrialist. “What happened to her,” Strait teases, “will explain who wants to start a war and why.”

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The Expanse, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 10/9c, Syfy