Hard sci-fi drama series The Expanse has been renewed for a fifth season ahead of the premiere of its fourth. The series is an adaptation of the novel series by James S. A. Corey (a joint pen name for authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) that takes place in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System, and where a shadowy conspiracy threatens the fragile peace between the privileged Earth, the Spartan and militaristic Mars, the industrial asteroid belt, and the disenfranchised outer planets.
The series was initially cancelled in May of last year, a little under halfway through the third season, due to Syfy passing on buying any more of it. Rather than being financed by Syfy itself, the series is a creation of independent production company Alcon Television, who then sell it to distributors. The expensive cost of the production (reasonable estimates put it at $3-5 million per episode) balanced against the comparatively low viewing figures meant that Syfy couldn’t justify its continuation despite the show's popularity among everyone who was actually watching it. A couple of week later it was picked up for continuation at Amazon as part of the media giant’s mandate to produce prestige television.
News of the early renewal came from Variety, the announcement being made during the summer press tour of the Television Critics Association. Season 4 will pick up after the gamechanging ending of season 3, which saw the opening of multiple wormholes in the Ring Gate, allowing humanity to access countless other planets across the galaxy and escape the dwindling confines of the Solar System. However, in their desperation to claim the natural resources of the first of the new worlds, explorers and colonists fail to consider the dangers that might be lying in wait for them.
The announcement of a fifth season coincides with the release of a sizzle reel from Amazon featuring plenty of dramatic orchestral chords, beautifully composited effects shots of spaceships and planetary surfaces, and numerous contextless shots of returning characters looking very serious, including the disembodied form of Millar doubtless about to offer some cryptic advice.
The renewal of The Expanse for a fifth season before the fourth has even begun airing is a strong indication of how confident Amazon is in its new investment, and can probably be taken as a suggestion that the quality of the show that fans have come to expect won't have diminished in any way. Although no details have been released for season 5, if the series continues the pattern of each season largely being based on a novel from the series – aside from some plot and character details – it follows that it'll feature the plot of Nemesis Games, involving the Rocinante’s crew dealing with issues that each of their pasts has dredged up, while militant separatists launch attacks and blockade the wormholes to prevent anyone leaving the Solar System. Whatever The Expanse has in store for viewers in the future, it’s far from the point where it might even think about slowing down.