Could Michio Pa finally make the transition from page to screen in The Expanse season 4? After a brief period of panic when The Expanse was cancelled by Syfy, a passionate fan campaign helped convince Amazon to invest in the future of the Rocinante. Now, The Expanse has already been confirmed for a fifth season, despite the fourth not premiering until later this year. This gives the TV series plenty of room to adapt the long-term space-faring stories found in the original Expanse book series by James S. A. Corey.
The security of The Expanse's future will be hugely reassuring for viewers, especially after the shocking events of the season 3 finale. Exploring a ring gate created by the Protomolecule, James Holden helps trigger the true purpose of the mysterious blue organism - to create a network of gateways to distant parts of the galaxy. Under the guise of Detective Miller, the Protomolecule reveals its intention to investigate the destruction of its ancient alien creators, an event that took place millions of years before the start of the series.
During promotion of The Expanse season 4, cast members have teased the introduction of a character from the books that fans "think they forgot about." Michio Pa fits this description perfectly and is a prime example of a key book character yet to appear on screen but, given the premise of The Expanse season 4, Pa could be a prime candidate to feature in the coming episodes.
Who Is Michio Pa In The Expanse Novels?
Michio Pa debuts in Abaddon's Gate, going on to appear in Babylon's Ashes and the novella, The Vital Abyss. In both versions of The Expanse, Fred Johnson is commissioned to build a giant ark ship for the Mormons, the Nauvoo, but he eventually decides to repurpose the vessel as a warship for the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance), as the Protomolecule race between Earth and Mars continues to escalate. In Corey's book series, Johnson appoints Michio Pa as the executive officer of the newly-titled Behemoth, leading to tension between Pa and the OPA's Captain Ashford. Although Abaddon's Gate sees Pa try and have the Rocinante destroyed, she eventually helps Holden's crew prevent the destruction of the ring gate and, consequently, the entire solar system.
Pa takes a far more prominent position in The Expanse once the Protomolecule's ring gates have been fully activated. Siding with an extremist faction of the OPA, the Free Navy, Michio Pa is made captain of her own ship and tasked with blocking access to the gate system, capturing any vessel that attempts colonizing these faraway planets. Once again, Pa soon realizes the error of her ways and leads a coup against the Free Navy's leader, forming her own faction of ex-OPA members and would-be colonists and siding with Holden's Rocinante crew out of necessity.
The conclusion of Babylon's Ashes sees Holden nominate Pa to lead Earth, Mars and the Belt's joint operation to ferry resources through the gates, cementing her trusted position within the Sol system's hierarchy.
How Does The Expanse Adapt Michio Pa's Story?
If the above synopsis of Michio Pa's story in the original Expanse books sounds familiar, that's because the character is amalgamated into Cara Gee's Drummer on TV. The Expanse season 2 introduces Fred Johnson's assistant, Camina Drummer, taken directly from the books. With little to do in the Abaddon's Gate material, however, Drummer was handed Pa's arc for The Expanse's third season. This meant she assumed the role of the Behemoth's executive officer in Pa's stead and went on to clash against Captain Ashford, with the TV adaptation also adding a deeper personal connection between Drummer and Naomi to further justify her eventual alignment with the Rocinante.
The TV version of Drummer incorporates elements of several other OPA figures from the books, most notably Bull, largely in an effort to streamline the live-action adaptation. While The Expanse mostly adheres to the structure of the books, James S. A. Corey's written world is a sprawling, complex system that constantly introduces major new protagonists. In order to work on television, the amount of new characters is reduced out of necessity, and it's far easier to develop a character that has already been introduced than to replace them with a completely new one and ask the audience to reset their familiarity with the cast.
How Michio Pa Can Appear In The Expanse Season 4
Since a large chunk of Michio Pa's arc was given to Drummer, many fans expected the book character to be omitted from the TV series entirely, however, the direction of The Expanse season 4 suggests this may not be the case. Pa's story divides neatly into two halves: her Behemoth career and her time with the Free Navy. Although the Behemoth material has already been spent, the opening of the Protomolecule gates in The Expanse's season 3 finale paves the way for the Free Navy to appear as antagonists in season 4.
Pa plays a far bigger role in the Free Navy than in the mainstream OPA, and, therefore, the character could easily be worked into The Expanse season 4 as a sympathetic antagonist in the mold of Bobbie or Fred Johnson. The Expanse's season 4 trailer showcased the Rocinante crew stepping into a brave new world and promptly coming under attack, suggesting the Free Navy will play a sizable role in the coming episodes. Previous seasons have excelled at building characters who are aligned to the bad-guy groups, but whose moral compass eventually leads them towards the right path and Michio Pa could be season 4's continuation of that trope.
This theory ties neatly into the speculation that Keon Alexander's character in The Expanse season 4, described as a "wily and charismatic Belter faction leader" is actually Marco Inaros. In the Expanse novels, Inaros is the leader of the Free Navy and the man Michio Pa eventually rebels against. If Inaros does have a presence in The Expanse season 4, Michio Pa is almost certain to follow. It's also somewhat telling that the cast are teasing a popular missing book character right when the TV series is about to tackle material in which Michio Pa is most prominent.
Alternatively, it's possible that Drummer will continue to carry Pa's story forward. Despite appearing loyal to Fred Johnson, The Expanse has subtly teased Drummer's dissatisfaction with the OPA and her tough experience aboard the Behemoth may push the character towards joining a more extreme faction. This would help maintain the continuity and relative simplicity of the TV series, while also developing the complicated dynamic between Drummer and Naomi.
The Expanse season 4 premieres December 13th on Amazon Prime Video.