The Expanse’s final episode aired on Prime Video last month, and it was a sad day for fans. The show, much like Rocinante’s crew, overcame the odds on multiple occasions, finishing its sixth season despite a cancellation and a controversy that occurred behind the scenes. The episode “Babylon’s Ashes” was a fittingly dramatic conclusion to the series… However, this is not the last chapter in the book. James S.A. Corey (a pen name for Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) has written nine novels in the Expanse series, the most recent of which was out in November of 2021. The conclusion of the sixth book, Babylon’s Ashes, a turning moment in the story, was adapted for the season six finale.
Creator/showrunner Naren Shankar has discussed the difficult decision to discontinue the show before they had exhausted their story ideas. What would happen if we had to discontinue the show before the end of the whole run of books? is a topic that Ty, Daniel, and I have discussed at length. And this exit ramp appears after book six.
The exit he’s talking to occurs after book six when the narrative is suddenly shifted forward in time by about 30 years. Many of the threads from the previous books come to a satisfying conclusion in Babylon’s Ashes, including the conflict that spread throughout the solar system after the Free Navy bombed Earth with asteroids. Other, more nebulous threads, though, remain. This rings particularly truer in light of the show’s sixth season, which explained what was going on with Laconia by referencing the Strange Dogs novella.
In light of this, we can’t help but speculate about what would have happened if The Expanse had been given the green light to continue through season 6. Or, for the hopeful among you (and I include myself among you), what will happen when The Expanse returns to adapt the last three books?
We’ll talk about the storylines that were left dangling at the end of Season 6 and what they were setting up for. Due to this, there will be MAJOR SPOILERS for the novels in The Expanse series. Those interested in a thorough discussion of the events of the last three novels should read them on their own. However, we will be discussing the show’s sixth-season setup and its subsequent development.
Hooray for Laconia!
Future of The Expanse discussions may be summed up in a single word: Laconia. All of the loose ends from Season 6 may be traced back to this colony planet.
Cara and her brother Xan, two children who were raised in Laconia, were our primary points of view. They were among the first humans to encounter the little dog-like aliens that inhabit the planet and have the ability to “fix” dead things by injecting them with the protomolecule. A discussion of the long-term fate of Laconia is necessary to fully appreciate the significance of Cara and Xan to the larger narrative.
By the end of the sixth season, Laconia has built an orbiting platform and is well on its way to becoming a technological superpower thanks to its protomolecule research, which has given the country a significant economic and military advantage. After reentering our solar system through the Ring, the totalitarian Laconian Empire quickly takes control of the Ring Space and Medina Station. When the smoke clears, Laconia will have effectively ruled the entire human population. However, certain underground strongholds will still exist. The state of affairs is generally bad.
Tiamat’s Wrath, the sequel, skips ahead four years to reveal how people have adjusted to living under Laconian control. Once more, we have no intention of giving away any major plot points… But suffice it to say that if you were hoping for more tragedy and death on The Expanse, you’ll get your wish with Tiamat’s Wrath. It focuses heavily on our heroes’ attempts at deception and Laconia’s assaults against the Ring Entities. The Laconians’ efforts to retaliate against the Ring Entities backfire.
The conclusion, Leviathan Falls, asks if mankind and its different groups can find a way to come together to survive the fight with the Ring Entities without being completely wiped out.
And so that’s the broader picture. Let’s get down to brass tacks now.
Distinguished Consul Duarte
Winston Duarte, portrayed by Dylan Taylor, was one of the show’s most pivotal characters. Duarte first appeared in “Redoubt,” the season’s fourth episode, where he comforted Cara at her brother’s funeral. What kind of strain Duarte has put on himself to ensure the survival of humanity is laid bare.
In Season 6, Duarte is an Admiral, but by the end of the series, he has risen to the position of High Consul of Laconia, which is essentially the same as Emperor. In addition, he has the scientist Cortázar (Carlos Gonzalez-Vio) perform numerous protomolecule tests on him so that he can live forever and never have to sleep. As a result, Duarte gains psychic powers beyond those of mere mortals.
After years of the Ring Entities mysteriously vanishing ships, Duarte leads the charge to reclaim the Sol system and strike back at them. If the third and last book in The Expanse series has the main antagonist, it is him.
And Xan and Cara
Cara and Xan, the two kids we last saw running away into the woods, have been recaptured. Those alien protomolecule drones had “fixed” Xan. However, Cara was still human, and the story ended on the mysterious note that the “dogs” would repair her if she died. In the books, this is exactly what happens when Cara eats one of the Laconian plants and then dies.
The leader of Laconia’s scientific effort, Cortázar, is eventually revealed to have kidnapped Cara and Xan during the 30-year time leap and used them as guinea pigs for his protomolecule research. Cortázar spent nearly two decades observing the two children before he attempted to immortalize Duarte. Their connection to the protomolecule eventually gives them a part to play in the wider war, albeit not until much later. Cara and Xan face a bleak and uncertain future.
The Beings of The Ring
With that, we reach the final major story strand left unresolved at the end of The Expanse season 6: the Ring Entities, the unknown extraterrestrial force responsible for wiping out the Protomolecule’s architects. Throughout the series, the Entities played an increasingly significant role, culminating in “Babylon’s Ashes,” when the Rocinante crew caused an event that resulted in the Entities destroying Marco Inaros’ ship as it attempted to pass through the Sol Ring.
But What Are They? I mean, What Are They Looking For?
Even if we read every book in the library, we still won’t have all the information we need. They are beings from an alternate reality. “The ring entities, they were always supposed to be mysterious,” author Daniel Abraham stated, describing the ending of Leviathan Falls. One might as well have assumed that they were evil deities from the start. I’m sure some people thrive on questions that have no clear answers, and that’s fantastic!
For the first time, the Ring Entities have a significant role in Tiamat’s Wrath, the eighth novel in the series. This book chronicles Duarte and the Laconians’ efforts to launch an offensive against the Entities and put an end to the mysterious disappearances of their ships. Duarte told Marco Inaros in the season 6 finale, “You were a convenient distraction, but I have gods to kill,” setting the stage for this inevitable showdown.
We won’t go into detail about how that confrontation pans out, but know that the Laconians push things, making the Ring Entities more antagonistic toward humans. Duarte and his militaristic civilization set the stage for the confrontation in the series’ concluding novel, Leviathan Falls.
There Are Books Available if You’re Curious About the Conclusion.
All nine books in the Expanse series can be found online and in bookshops, and you can watch seasons one through six of the show on Prime Video. Also coming out on March 15 is Memory’s Legion, a collection of short fiction based on The Expanse that will have a brand new novella that acts as an epilogue to the series.
We’ll simply have to wait and see if there will be a season 7, 8, or 9. If and when that day comes, we know the show’s creators will be supportive.
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