I finished reading the first book of The Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes, this morning, just hours before the Expanse panel at NYCC—and I’m pretty sure there are no better circumstances under which to have seen that panel. It wasn’t just the cast enthusing about their characters’ upcoming journeys, or the brand-new season two trailer, or the sneak peek at a tense scene… ok, it was totally the sneak peek. Holy cats: season two can’t get here fast enough. Here’s everything we learned about what to expect on the show. And seriously: If you’re not caught up, stop reading and go watch! You don’t want to be spoiled for this.
The panel opened with a trailer that even the cast hadn’t seen. (“I like it!” enthused Dominique Tipper, who plays Naomi Nagata, and is infectiously ebullient about basically everything.) Earth, Mars, and the Belt are all in conflict, and Jim Holden is not taking anyone’s side. “Holden feels like they’re all full of shit,” said the actor who plays him, Steven Strait.
Other than the escalating conflict, two things immediately stood out in the trailer: the presence of Bobbie Draper (played by Frankie Adams), and a shot of Naomi and Holden getting rather more intimate—a development straight out of the book, and one that could further complicate everyone’s relationships. “The reality of it is that these two people have been through something only two or three other people understand, and they cling to each other,” said Tipper. “What you see is a relationship play out almost out of desperation.”
And how’s the rest of the crew take it? “It’s very lonely in space,” cracked Cas Anvar, who plays Martian pilot Alex.
As for Bobbie Draper, executive producer Mark Fergus said, “This year you’re going to get a huge glimpse at what Mars is all about. In The Expanse in general you see big issues through the eyes of a foot soldier, somebody on the ground who really embodies the aspirations of her whole planet. Bobbie is this giant new window into the story.”
Bobbie isn’t the only character from book two who’ll appear in the next season. “We did find a Prax,” said Ty Franck (aka one half of James S.A. Corey). “He’s not who everybody online thinks he is.”
Season two, said Tipper, sees the show’s overarching themes and political struggles get boiled down into the personal struggles in the Rocinante’s crew—who all have what sounds like even more struggle and strife coming up. Everyone just witnessed genocide, Anvar pointed out. The emotional impact on them is massive.
For Amos: “As season two progresses, the whole Roci crew really becomes his family,” said Wes Chatham. “The dynamic of my relationship with Naomi gets challenged and you get to see who Amos is without her direction. You get to see how far he can go in the other direction.”
Holden “comes out of Eros traumatized,” said Strait. “His myopic focus in season two is getting rid of the protomolecule, and getting rid of this bioweapon. You see him grow into a leader and his idealism starts to chip away. His morality becomes less black and white, and a tinge more gray.”
“Love him or hate him, [Holden] is the reason why we are on our path to self discovery and realizing our full potential,” said Anvar. “I don’t think we can really say thank you, but you can say it was meant to be.”
(“You can say thank you,” Strait suggested.)
“Miller is finding his way back to idealism,” said executive producer Mark Fergus. But he’s still “like your uncle coming to visit, and never leaving the couch! This place that’s not even a stable family—he throws himself into the middle of it.”
“Thomas Jane couldn’t be here,” Ross cracked about the actor who plays Miller, “but I feel like we should’ve brought the hat anyway.”
“Alex likes to sit back, relax and just enjoy the ride,” Anvar said. “He’s an observer. He wants to keep this family united. He’s the big brother, the glue, the guy who’ll cook a family dinner when everyone’s fighting.” (All the same, Anvar is super excited about Alex getting his Martian battle armor.)
“Every one of us is running from something,” said Chatham. “What’s so fascinating about this season is really seeing where these people are coming from—and what they’re running from.”
Before the audience Q&A portion of the panel, we were shown a too-brief, breathtaking scene from season two. “I didn’t want it to stop!” said Chatham afterwards. You and me both, buddy: the clip was immediately recognizable to book readers as the approach to Thoth Station. It looked nothing like I imagined it. It looked better. Space is an eerie, deadly, murderous place; it’s a good thing the crew of the Roci have an astonishing ship to get them through it. “We have to get along to survive, and we have to believe in each other,” Anvar said. “That’s what fuels season two.”
- Random bits:
“My favorite set this season is the Tycho headquarters. Oh my god, I don’t even know what to say. It’s massive and there’s screens and lights and controls and stuff! Just wait until you see it. It’s cool as fuuuuuuuuuck,” said Tipper.
- Anvar made a point of giving credit to the creators for having multiple female characters of color who kick butt and don’t revolve around male characters.
- Asked what place they would like to see their characters explore, Tipper said, “I would like Naomi to go to Mars because I think she’d just be walking around like, these m****rfuckers! We’re out here in the Belt and you guys have got domes and shit!?”
- Watching the sneak scene, which had a lot of wirework, Chatham said he “started getting PTSD remembering the day.” “You have no idea how hard it is when you have to act in zero G,” Anvar agreed. “You’ve gotta make sure your arms are really soft and floating while you’re screaming at somebody else,” said Tipper. In short? Wirework is not for the faint of acting heart.
- Will Naomi ever get some time away from the boys, and interact with any of the other female characters? Yes to both, said Tipper, who wouldn’t say which female character Naomi interacts with. But Naomi will go off and do “some really difficult things” on her own. “She does some shit that’s questionable.”
Let it also be noted that Cas Anvar led the room in a rousing shout of “DONKEY BALLS” in honor of one of his character’s especially memorable lines.