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The Expanse is officially coming to an end, but don't worry, the creators behind the acclaimed Amazon Prime space opera have a plan to land this ship — and they think it'll be just as smooth as anything Alex Kamal ever pulled off with the Rocinante.
The fifth season of The Expanse, based on the long-running book series by James S.A. Corey (aka the writing duo Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), hit the streaming service on Dec. 16. A sixth and final season has also been ordered, and it's in the works now for an expected premiere in late 2021. But how will it all end? Not surprisingly, fans should look to the book series that inspired it all for guidance. Just don't expect it to play out exactly like readers might think, though.
"I've always looked at the show as being a sort of retelling of the same story, so it feels very independent to me from the book version. I don't think there's a need there to keep those working in lockstep, which gives us some freedom," Abraham tells SYFY WIRE. "Even as we're keeping true to the spirit, moving into the last act of the show there's a natural shape to the show and the underlying story, and I think putting those two where they reinforce each other and get to a graceful stepping off place has been, creatively, really satisfying and effective."
The book that inspired Season 6, Babylon's Ashes, provided a workable ending for the massive saga of politics, intrigue, and alien threats. The 2016 book wraps up many of the same storylines the show shares with the book series, and it ends before an almost-30-year time jump that picks up the adventure in the future for the seventh book, Persepolis Rising (released in 2017).
"That was actually the easiest part about Season 6, because the end of the sixth book is a pretty natural pause point in the story," Franck tells SYFY WIRE. "It has a satisfying ending and sort of wraps up the inner solar system political drama we've set up over the first five books, and kind of brings a sort of stability to that system at the end of the sixth book, as the three major political groups find a way to live together and create a stable economic society. So getting to that point in the next season I think will feel satisfying."
But if you've read the book — or simply read this interview, for that matter — don't think the saga of Season 6 has already been spoiled. Abraham jokingly notes the plot of Book 6 is a "spoiler alert!" — before promising that still "some things in Season 6 are going to surprise people," even if they do think they know exactly how it all ends.
Even though the end date is in sight for the TV version of The Expanse, there's still plenty of work left to be done to wrap it all up in the meantime. For Abraham and Franck, they're still knee-deep in the world of The Expanse in both the novels and the show. So, final season or not, it's nowhere close to time to say goodbye. At least not yet.
"It doesn't feel like anything is ending," Franck muses. "We're still in the middle of writing the next book. We're in the middle of writing that sixth season. There's still too much going on for it to feel like an ending yet."
Of course, the end of the show doesn't technically mean The Expanse in live-action or other forms is done forever. There are still three more books in the main series (Leviathan Falls, the ninth book, is set for a 2021 release). To that end, Abraham jokingly adds: "We're not dead yet! Just because the show ends doesn't mean the IP is erased. We'll see what happens."
As for the legacy of the show itself, and how it will be remembered, Franck says he's leery of trying to dictate what he hopes viewers or readers take away from their saga. His only hope is that the show might spark fans to think a bit harder about the world, and the way they see it.
"I know what I was thinking when I wrote it, and what Daniel was thinking when he wrote it. But what each audience member takes away from that is entirely through the lens of their perspective," he says. "I think if anything, the one thing I hope people watching this show agree on is that any situation has multiple ways of viewing it. Depending on the angle you view it from, you get a completely different perspective. Maybe just broadening out our horizons a little bit, and being willing to look at things through multiple angles, that's my takeaway."
"If there was one thing I'd like people to come away from the show, or the books, is it's the beginning of a conversation," Abraham adds.
With Season 5 out now and Season 6 on the way, we'll all certainly have plenty more to talk about when it comes to The Expanse.
Season 5 of The Expanse premiered Dec. 16 on Amazon Prime. The series has already been renewed for a sixth and final season, which is tentatively set to arrive late next year.