TV Review: The Expanse 1×04 “CQB”

Well, four episodes in and it still feels like there’s a lot missing from SyFy’s newest series. I want to like The Expanse more than I actually seem to like it. While it’s not the only issue, The Expanse might be at risk of taking a hit in quality because it’s taking itself a little too seriously. Yes, the stakes are high and there’s a lot going on, but it’s hard to get attached to a character when everyone is always super intense and seems to be holding back important information. These are not people I would want to hang out with. And things like this episode’s slow motion, dramatic hole plugging adventure felt silly rather than making it feel like these people are all heroes I should be rooting for. Plus, this show is one that isn’t afraid to kill off characters, but they’re doing so before we’ve really gotten attached to anyone, lessening any potential for emotional impact from these deaths.


The episode’s title, “CQB” has to do with a “close quarters battle” that happens aboard the Martian ship, Donnager while the Canterbury survivors are still being held hostage. The ship that destroyed the Canterbury is back, this time to take out the Mars ship, which seems to be part of a bigger plan to blame everything on them. The ship is boarded, but most of the surviving Canterbury crew makes it out in order to testify to the fact that Mars isn’t the one looking to start a war, though the Martian crew still aren’t all that fond of them. So there goes the Donnager, though thankfully we had a ship within the ship so the story would go on.

And while there wasn’t much emotional impact, I have to give credit for the visual effect of the death of Shed Garvey. A projectile ripped through the room where the survivors were being held, and completely took off his head in zero gravity, leaving us to watch the blood seep up from his body and out through the hole in the wall.

Not much happened on either Earth or Ceres. Miller is still hunting around for Julie Mao, though I’m not exactly following his investigation and wish it would pick up the pace. Still, the body mods that the unknown corpse had were pretty cool! The end of the episode revealed that Havelock survived being run through with a metal rod, so there’s that. Then Earth had a scene which basically seemed to exist so that Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) could say she was in this episode. We did get introduced a new plot piece this week, though who can say if that’s a good idea at this point? Fred Johnson (The Walking Dead’s Chad Coleman) is still a bit of a question mark at this point, though he doesn’t seem to be hugely popular with the Mormon’s (who are commissioning a multi-generational ship).

I know there are some people enjoying The Expanse so far, but I’m simply not one of them. The visuals are great, the tech side is interesting, but unless they can tweak things so that more people will start caring about individual characters, it’s going to get harder and harder to keep bringing viewers back each week. Maybe it’s better suited for marathoning than watching week by week, but the more I watch, the less sure I am about my continued future with The Expanse.

Kellie Sheridan may as well live on the internet or in a library. She is a Young Adult author, spending her time writing and watching far too much Netflix near Toronto, Canada. You can find Kellie on Twitter (@Kellie_Sheridan) or contact her by email at