Last Updated: April 30, 2020
What can The Expanse fans expect from the upcoming season 5? Set in the 24th century, The Expanse season 4 picks up following the opening of the Protomolecule Ring Gates in the season 3 finale, which allow the inhabitants of the Sol system to travel to brand new worlds.
The opportunity simultaneously helps unite the various factions of The Expanse, while also giving them something new to compete for and argue over, leading to violent clashes between sides. Predictably, Holden and the Rocinante crew find themselves right in the middle of the drama as they continue to investigate the Protomolecule. Much of The Expanse season 4 takes place on Ilus, a planet newly colonized by Belters and rife with evidence of Protomolecule activity.
Introducing major new characters from the book series such as the Earth scientist Elvi Okoye and Naomi’s former lover, Marco Inaros, The Expanse season 4 explores brave new territory, not just in literal terms, but in its depiction of the source material, the portrayal of its characters and a new, more mature approach borne from the show’s move from regular TV to Amazon Prime. Here’s what season 5 has in store.
Despite still being months away from the premiere of season 4, Amazon Prime renewed The Expanse for a fifth outing in July 2019. Originally cancelled by the Syfy network after season 3, Amazon saved The Expanse in response to a passionate fan campaign to keep the Rocinante flying high and the announcement of a fifth season before the fourth run even began is a strong indication of how much faith and confidence Amazon has in the property. The Expanse‘s season 5 renewal was confirmed by Amazon on the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
On Syfy, new seasons of The Expanse premiered 12 months after the previous run had been completed, but the switch to Amazon Prime means it had been well over a year since fans last saw Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex when season 4 dropped. Although there is currently no confirmed release date for The Expanse season 5, every indication suggests Amazon are aiming for a far shorter turnaround time on this occasion. In addition to the early renewal, The Expanse season 5 has already started filming, reportedly beginning in October 2019, and according to cast member Shohreh Aghdashloo, finishing up prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. This would potentially allow for a release date in late 2020 or early 2021, reverting to the original 1-year gap between seasons.
Since The Expanse season 4 is largely derived from the 2014 novel Cibola Burn, it logically follows that season 5 will be based on the following year’s sequel, Nemesis Games. Once of the most acclaimed of James S. A. Corey’s novels, Nemesis Games chronicles the increased disruption around the Solar System, with the power once held by Earth and Mars finally breaking down as more people depart for the Ring Gates. More significantly, The Expanse season 5 will likely explore its central cast’s personal lives. Naomi’s past comes back to haunt her, Alex visits his wife on Mars and Amos heads back to Earth.
Holden, meanwhile, desperately tries to prevent Earth, Mars and the Belt from descending into chaos as more and more rebellious factions begin to gain prominence, launching attacks on all 3 of the major establishments. Led by Marco Inaros, the Free Navy becomes a force to be reckoned with, threatening the already fragile peace forged at the end of The Expanse season 3.
More: The Expanse Complete Timeline Explained