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Expanse season 6 seems like the end — but could it continue?

the expanse: rocinante crew eating at a table
(Image credit: Amazon)

This Friday will mark the official end of The Expanse season 6, with the sixth episode of the final season hitting Amazon Prime Video. The finale looks to be finishing off the ‘Free Navy’ arc, a story that’s been in motion since the end of season 4.

The thing is, I’m not entirely convinced that this is the end of The Expanse (one of the best Amazon Prime Video shows). The show has already survived cancellation once, after Syfy unceremoniously scrapped the show at the end of its third season, and I have a suspicion that something similar is going to happen now.

That’s not just some wishful thinking from me either. Showrunner Naren Shankar told EW (opens in new tab) that there is still room for more Expanse stories to be told. Which makes sense. After all, The Expanse book series is nine books (and eight novellas) long, while the TV series only seems to be going as far as book 6: Babylon’s Ashes.

And that has been reflected in season 6, with the show acting as though it intends to continue way beyond Friday’s finale. The show has even started laying the groundwork for adaptations of the final three novels. There have been teases and clues in past seasons, but season 6 has taken it to the extreme.

Anyone who hasn’t already read the Expanse books will likely be confused about the side-plot featuring Cara, the young girl living on the planet Laconia. Her story bears no relevance to the rest of the show, and the Free Navy threat, after all.

Without spoiling anything, Cara does become very important later on, and these snippets of her life on Laconia are absolutely crucial to that. In other words, The Expanse is already setting up future stories, even if the series itself is coming to an end.

Which is why I suspect that this isn't actually the end. 

The Expanse has been pretty good at adapting its source material. It’s not been completely faithful, for one reason or another, but in general the show has done a good job of condensing the first six books (and relevant novellas) and adapting them for the small screen.

Without spoiling what’s likely to come in the finale, it makes a little sense that The Expanse, in its current form, would end here. Babylon’s Ashes ended in such a way that the show can end there, offering solid conclusions to the ongoing plot without leaving any significant cliffhangers.

That being said, there are still three books to adapt, and those books cover the mysteries of The Expanse universe in much greater detail. Mysteries that the shows have only touched upon, like the mysterious beings that live inside the ring gates, and are only visible to James Holden.

And, of course, Laconia plays a huge role in the final three books. So huge that I can’t really go into much detail without revealing any possible spoilers. Needless to say, Cara’s story is very important — even if it does only seem to be a confusing addition to the current arc.

What form would Expanse 2.0 (or Expanse season 7? take?

The only question is, what would more Expanse look like? The most logical option would be to jump in and develop the stories as seasons seven to nine. It would make Amazon look a little silly for declaring season six would be the last, but it’s not as though fans will be that outraged. And it means we could (hopefully) keep the same cast fans know and love around for a few more years — if they’re willing.

Alternatively, there’s always room for spin-offs. Amazon has already shown it’s not against this course of action, since The Boys already has two different spin-offs in development. No doubt some changes would have to be made, and new characters introduced to replace the outgoing Rocinante crew. However, it would mean being able to finish the whole saga, of a sort, and offer a real conclusion the way The Expanse’s creators envisioned.

Then again, who says it would have to be a TV series? I wouldn’t mind being able to see an Expanse movie, and space action generally looks pretty incredible on the big screen. Heck, I’d settle for a streaming-only movie instead. After all, if Amazon can debut a would-be blockbuster like The Tomorrow War, it could go all in and greenlight an Expanse movie (or movies).

Plus, while Amazon has picked up a bunch of theatrical releases that were affected by the pandemic, there aren’t a great many “made-for Prime” movies out there. Certainly not in the same league as Netflix. Expanse movies wouldn’t be such a terrible way to reinvigorate that push.

Bottom Line

If Season 6 really is the end for The Expanse, it wouldn’t be the worst way to go. The conclusion of Babylon’s Ashes was a turning point for the series, and events unfold in such a way that the show can (and hopefully will) offer a satisfying conclusion to all the major plot threads. So we’re not going to end up in a Deadwood situation, with a cliffhanger ending that has to be resolved in a TV movie. 

But The Expanse has been a hit with both audiences and critics alike, with seasons 3, 4 and 5 still rocking a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab). It would not be a huge surprise if we got more stories from the universe at some point in the future. After all, if a show with such a maligned finale as Dexter can come back for more, then anything is possible.

Plus, as book readers will already know, a multi-year gap between season 6 and whatever lies ahead could work in the show’s favor. No matter what happens, the door will always be open. We just need someone willing to go through it.

In other streaming news, Netflix just raised prices on all tiers. Over on Hulu, we've got all the details on how to watch How I Met Your Father online. Also, we've got a tip that every Fire TV owner needs to hear to make the most of their home screen.

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.