“The Expanse” Trailer Breakdown

Okay, so despite running for only 1 minute and 37 seconds, there are a TON of things going on in Syfy’s first trailer for what they’re calling their “most ambitious project” to date: a 10-episode TV adaptation of James S. A. Corey’s The Expanse. Let’s look a little closer, shall we? (Oh, and, I’ll try to keep the spoilers light).

The TV show is shaping up to be much more expansive than the book itself. I mean, I don’t even know half the characters that appeared in this trailer. Plus, it seems that the television series is going to cover four story threads (one for Holden, one for Miller in the Belt, one for Avasarala on Earth, and one for “MISC” characters everywhere else, Mars included), whereas the book is told only with two perspectives, that of Holden and Miller.

I’m all right with this; in fact, this is exactly what I was hoping for. Television is a different storytelling medium than prose. I’d even go as far to say that it’s my favorite medium–it’s restrictive (budget, commercials) yet liberating (more than 2-3 hours to tell the story you want to tell).

But I guess that’s a post for another day. Right now, I want to take a closer look at the trailer itself, and try to parse the frames which stand out to me, as a fan of not only the books, but also the television show to come.

(Keep in mind that everything below is my own interpretation/theories about what’s happening. I’m probably completely off-base, but speculation leads to discovery, and discovery leads to . . . I don’t know, cupcakes?)

Also, I apologize in advance for the bad quality of the images. My computer takes screenshots as well as . . . I don’t know, a cupcake?

ALSO: These screenshots were taken from the very first version of the trailer released, meaning it’s not “color-corrected.” By my understanding, it didn’t have the final approval of the cinematographer (Jeremy Benning, C. S. C.).

1 ice miningThe trailer starts out with what seems like a mining drone transporting a block of ice to a station in the Belt–could also be part of the Canterbury. Most likely this scene will come really early in the show, seeing as how this is what Holden and Co. are doing as the story begins (book-wise). Side note: CGI is lookin’ nice.

2 holden firstHere’s our first look at in-character Steven Strait, as our hero James Holden. Very stoic here, seeing as how he’s about to be injected with those chemicals that are used to keep humans from exploding during high-G maneuvers. He’s just put something in his mouth to bite down on too; a nice, added touch that I don’t remember being present in the books.

3 miller firstNext comes Detective Josephus Aloisus Miller (Thomas Jane), the cynical foil to Holden’s idealism. Looks like he’s getting off a subway/train thingy (called “tubes”) I believe, most likely on Ceres. WHERE’S THE PORKPIE HAT?

EDIT: James S. A. Corey via AMA on Reddit: “The porkpie became so linked to Breaking Bad that we didn’t want to confuse people. Tom picked the hat he’s wearing. We did not argue with the Punisher on his choices.”

4 earthA sprawling, landscape portrait of Earth, as the voice-over indicates. Holden and Julie are both Earthers, but I’m pretty sure this sequence is referring to Julie, seeing as how the very next scene is . . .

5 julieJulie Mao herself. This shot is perfect in so many ways. From this trailer alone–hell, this picture alone–Florence Faivre is nailing Julie Mao’s warrior-intensity. Just amazing.

6 crew in shipThis is no doubt the interior view of a ship, but of what ship, I can only guess. My money’s on the Rocinante, simply because of its cleanliness/sleek design. She’s a Martian gunner after all, and the Mars Congressional Republic have the shiniest toys.

The guy standing is probably Holden, and the one crouching next to him is, I’m guessing, Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar), the pilot. That would make the ones in the glowy pit Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) and Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper).

7 naomi possiblyClose up shot of . . . Naomi? Looks a little nervous–probably some kind of trouble during what seems like extra-vehicular activity.

8 no clueThis is Ade Nygaard. I’m 90% sure.

9 ceresCERES! This has got to be Ceres Station. Looks like the lighting crew/cinematographer took a page out of Blade Runner–which is exactly what I had in mind when it was described in the book. Well, without the rain. You can see Detective Miller (dark figure in the right-center, with his hat on) approaching the stall in the bottom right.

10 floating coitusYep, zero-G sex. Why not? Although, I don’t know if this is even possible, seeing as how there’s no way for them to . . . how do I put this delicately? Okay, so when you take two cupcakes and squish them together . . . You know what, never mind. “FLOATING COITUS” -Jeremiah Holland, ASV Staff Writer

11 avasarala firstAnd there she is, the legendary Shohreh Aghdashloo, in full Chrisjen Avasarala garb. No idea who she’s talking to in this scene: a fellow UN administrator? Or possibly her husband–although their distance might suggest otherwise. That wall of yellow-ish cubicles behind them? A bleak-looking Earth building, probably; almost hive-like.

12 amos and naomiA blurry, side-shot of Amos and Naomi under duress. IT’S OKAY, GUYS, YOU’RE IN A TV SHOW.

13 no clue 2No friggin’ clue who this is. So. Yeah.

EDIT: Could be Paj, a crew member of the Cant. Credit to Edge.

14 holden pissedA pissed-looking Holden. In the trailer, he’s pointing out the poor treatment of Belters by the Inner Planets. I’m guessing this scene is when he and the others are taken by the Donnager, a Martian frigate.

15 julie aloneJulie screaming for help through a window of . . . the Scopuli? That’s the only ship that would make sense. Nice lighting.

16 dont knowFunky-haired guy with a tailored suit. Not sure who the actor is here, but it’s possible he’s Dresden? Maybe not. Like I said: I don’t know a lot of the characters appearing in this trailer.

EDIT: Guy above is actually Detective Miller. The hair threw me off! Thanks to Edge for pointing this out.

17 havelock miller whoThree characters here, from left to right: Dmitri Havelock (Miller’s partner), Miller, and Unknown #4. The woman could be Captain Shaddid, although a later scene in the trailer kind of disputes that.

EDIT: Woman in the picture above identified as Octavia Muss, a fellow detective. Thanks once again, Edge.

18 ceres 2Ceres again, I think. Looks a tad grungy, and with the pipes/chutes coming out of the ceilings/walls, very reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. What’s happening here? Probably a lock-down during a riot. Although now that I’m saying “lock-down,” it could be Eros.

19 mars hateNow this is definitely Ceres. You can see Holden’s face on the screen there, where a Belter has just thrown a rock through it. Those yellow bulbs in the top right corner? No idea. I like them, though.

20 jared harrisAn almost-unrecognizable Jared Harris as Anderson Dawes, the Ceres liaison for the OPA. He’s scary.

21 holden floatingHolden ascending the decks of PROBABLY the Rocinante. GEEEEEEE I’m all giddy.

22 unknownUnknown #5. Seems to be rallying the Belters toward some rash action, though. In the background you can see the letters OPA–Outer Planets Alliance. Also, note the cool voice-amplification necklace thing.

23 unknown 2Unknown #6. Obviously not in a comfortable situation. I think, think, THINK that the actor is Joe Delfin. If that’s the case, then this guy is Heikki Sobong, a character that did not appear in the books. OR, it’s Elias Toufexis. I’m not familiar with either actor (besides Toufexis being Adam Jensen from Deus Ex), so frankly, I’ve no idea. Either way, it looks like we’ll be getting a closer look at the gritty, underbelly of the Belt. Unless of course, this is on Earth, or Mars.

24 roci pdc

You can see the word NAVY on the right–probably Martian. I’m guessing this is the Roci, opening up its PDCs. Here’s another look at it:

25 roci 2

25 the crewAAAAAND here they are, the crew of the Rocinante, from left to right: Shed Garvey, Naomi Nagata, Amos Burton, Alex Kamal, and James Holden. And unless those red dots on their chests are futuristic necklaces, I’d say the crew is not in a pleasant situation.

Side note: Take a look at Amos’s and Holden’s left forearms. Those are probably the “hand terminals” used extensively in the books.

26 ava 2Close-up of Avasarala! That voice, though. #feels

27 shedClose-up of Shed, the medic. Lookin’ very angsty.

28 ava 2Avasarala taking a break from protecting Earth. Doesn’t look very relaxed.

29 soldiersSoldiers! With red visors! How threatening. These guys are either Ceres Riot Police, Mars soldiers, or Protogen mercenaries with stolen Ceres Riot Police gear. Either way, those aren’t Super Soaker’s they’re holding.

EDIT: Ty Franck tweeted that this trailer was created from scenes from the first THREE episodes. Meaning, it’s very likely that these aren’t Protogen soldiers.

30 amos fightThe mechanic, Amos, getting rough with some guy as Alex and Shed look on.

31 alexAlex strapped in and holding his hand out to . . . something. Note the wedding ring–nice touch. Note the suit. What is going on here? You’re guess is as good as mine.

32 miller necklacewsMiller returns! Not too sure what is behind him, or what he’s holding. Obviously, it’s a necklace, but whose? Perhaps Julie’s.

33 julie 3Speak of the devil! Julie is a little scraped up here, but doesn’t look bothered by it. Probably about to kick someone’s ass.

34 whatOkay, so we got some kind of Abe/Hellboy thing going on here. Is that the same guy as Unknown #6? And is that Avasarala looking at him? If that’s the case, then U6 is on Earth. Anymore than that I can’t say with any certainty.

35 miller galMiller cozying up with Muss. Dunno if I’m a fan of this here romancin’.

37 unknown shipAnother ship. Could be a zoomed out view of the Rocinante, but it looks a little large/grand to be the relatively small Roci. Looks Martian though–follows the Rocinante‘s aesthetic–so my money’s on the Donnager?

36 who are youWe’ll have to call this guy Unknown#7. Looking at IMDb, this guy is a “Corporal Dookie,” played by Jordan Van Dyck. Not a character from the book, then. We’ll just have to wait and see.

EDIT: This guy IS in the books! Cpl. Dookie helps Holden and Co. escape the Donnager safely.

38 captainJonathan Banks as Captain McDowell, of the Canterbury. Just in time to round out a great trailer, and with a great line, too.

39 releaseAnd, of course, the title. Personally, I like this one more, but oh well:

the expanse

All in all, I think it’s looking good! It certainly seems a grade above the usual Syfy fare. But to be perfectly honest, I’m probably going to like/watch this no matter what. ๐Ÿ˜›

Bonus! Here’s a transcript of the trailer:

Unknown: May I ask you something? Do you miss Earth? Those endless blue skies? Free air everywhere, and open water all the way to the horizon? When you spend your whole life living under a dome, even the idea of an ocean is almost impossible to imagine.

Unknown: They are an entire culture, working together to turn a lifeless rock into a garden. We had a garden, and we paved it.

Unknown: Someday, things are going to change.

Holden: Earth and Mars have been stepping on the necks of the Belters out here, for over a hundred years.

Unknown: You want to be careful how far you want to take this. Weโ€™re all in this together.

Dawes: We are fighting for something precious here.

Unknown: They built their solar system on our backs. Spilt the blood of a million of our brothers. But in their eyes, weโ€™re not even human anymore!

Unknown: Heaven help your enemies.

Avasarala: Heaven help us all.

Avasarala: Earth must come first.

McDowell: We made it all this way, so far out into the darkness . . . why couldnโ€™t we have brought more light?

25 thoughts on ““The Expanse” Trailer Breakdown”

  1. My thoughts on some of the pics:

    #13 is Paj. A Canterbury crew member who worked outside the ship, cutting up ice from Saturn’s rings. At the outset of Leviathan Wakes, he had lost his arm (got pinched between ice outside the ship) and Shed is patching him up/treating him. Holden is in the med bay and they’re discussing artificial/mechanical limbs vs. regrown ones. My clue is, besides the look of the actor, the fact that he’s wearing a blue crew jumpsuit/uniform/coveralls exactly like Holden & Alex’s.

    In pic #15, Julie is more likely to be screaming out the window of another ship that ain’t The Scopuli. The Anubis ? Or maybe it’s shuttle that she took to get to Eros ? She’s alone, she knows how bad things are…yeah, who wouldn’t scream their head off at least once in frustration and defeat.

    #16: actually, funky-hair-guy is Thomas Jane/Miller, simply without his hat on. Look at the face in that pic again. It’s definitely Thomas Jane’s side profile.

    #17: Woman beside Miller (with Havelock/Jay Hernandez in the pic as well) is Detective Miss, the second partner Miller is paired off with in the Book 1. I wanna see what Captain Shaddid looks like too !

    Pic 29: The soldiers with red visors could also be MCRN officers from The Donnager. See the figure behind them, wearing a regular vac-suit ? My money’s on this being the sequence where The Donnager is attacked and Martian/Donnager marines lead Holden and company to The Tachi (The Rocinante). Another clue ? The 10-episode season just started shooting in November and is currently scheduled to finish in March. I doubt they’ve made it as far as filming the Protogen sequences just yet.

    #35 — Miller cozying up to Muss is a big departure from the first novel, sure (unless I’m forgetting something or it maybe could’ve happened off-page). A farewell fuck, maybe ? Bonus “this is really messed up” points to the show if that scene features Miller imagining Julie as he’s doing it (speaking of Miller’s daydreams, maybe we’ll get to see what his ex-wife Candace looks like in this first season–zero description of her, at least a physical one, in Leviathan Wakes).

    Pic #37: Corporal Dookie IS in the book–he’s one of the Donnager marines who helped Holden’s crew to safety.

    Thanks for the trailer breakdown–HUGELY appreciated being able to see all those still frames after watching the trailer tonight. :). So excited for this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. -Holy shit you are right, that IS Thomas Jane. I just didn’t expect that hairstyle under the hat!

      -Completely forgot about Paj, although I do remember that scene you described. Is he the one that makes a dirty joke about prosthetic arms?

      -Muss! Of course, she’s so minor in the books and had zero romantic goings-on with Miller but it looks like they’ve upgraded her for the show ๐Ÿ˜›

      -Any idea who the guy being strung up/tortured is?

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Pic #15 looks more like Julie having just blow-torched her way into the reactor room of the Scopuli and gotten her first look at what’s covering said reactor ๐Ÿ˜‰ The ship in #24 #25 is definitely a pre-disguise Rocinante as you very briefly see the word Tachi on the hull. Can’t wait to see this show!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also think that the pic of ‘Ceres’ is actually Eros, because it shows Miller with Holden and the rest together in the same setting: they don’t meet each other until the shootout on Eros.


  3. Was hoping to see Sam in the trailer, anyone have an update? Would like her to be in the show but notice she isn’t cast on imdb either. Just think she would be a cool character to leave out.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes she’s only in Lethian for a chapter although features more in the other books so Yeh hopefully see her in series 2. Seems to be a fans favorite


  4. Sam ain’t in “Leviathan Wakes” that I can remember.

    Tattooed Belter who is strung up is either a new character, or something they pulled from Book 2: Caliban’s War ? Was Avasarala involved in torturing anyone like that ? I like the potential explanation (and this is just my theory/hope) that this is EVERYTHING that was going on with Avasarala during “Leviathan Wakes” that we simply never saw due to her not being in it. Gives the creators a chance to explore more with her and I will LOVE if they have her confronting some of the Protogen corporate types on Earth once they get in trouble. That’d be SOME uncomfortable chastising ! (for the Protogen employees)

    Aaaand I love you too, man. For making screencaps of this. I admit, I think they can do A LOT better at marketing this, but it’s okay because it’s only a first look. For one, we need less quick cuts, more of a chance to enjoy all the eye candy (I mean the awe-inspiring shots of space, the ships/tech, and Earth–but sure, the eye candy of the attractive cast members as well). I’m not sure how they can do this without spoiling ANYTHING from the first episode or three, but a more coherent trailer showing folks a bit about what this story’s about would be nice…but dang, EVERYTHING’S a spoiler.

    If they can’t get away with all Avasarala cussing (and that of other characters) with the broadcast episodes, I hope they’re filming/recording alternate versions for the DVD/blu-ray release or for when it ends up on Netflix or whatever. AMC’s shows (especially Breaking Bad) have done similar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’m curious to see how they handle Avasarala’s swearing. At this point, we’ll just have to have faith that the writers and the actress are able to keep her personality/idiosyncracies intact. But no matter how they handle it, I’m glad we’ll be able to see Earth’s point of view while all this shit is going down.

      I’m sure that once the premiere date nears we’ll see a more coherent trailer (at least, narrative-wise). And as for the pretty space-ships? I’d rather quality over quantity in that regard.

      P.S. Sam is in Chapter 43 of “Leviathan Wakes”


      1. Yup Sam is in fact in L. wakes in Chapter 43, she features a little more in the next book so hopefully that will be reflected in the 2nd series. (she’s a favorite of mine too Phillip)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, I just re-read Chapter 43 of “Leviathan Wakes” and there she was. There was a long gap between when I read the first book and the next couple, so I guess that’s why I forgot about her being introduced in the first.


  6. Wouldn’t be surprised if they go with the “Game of Thrones” TV adaptation style and only have parts of books contained in seasons. Maybe not for Book 1/Season 1, but if subsequent seasons only cover 3/4 of a novel and then the next season covers the remaining 1/4 plus the next novel…they should do whatever fits, not feel constrained to make 1 season = 1 book always.

    Possible explanation if Sam hasn’t been cast yet. And isn’t it also possible that that detail just hasn’t been leaked or provided to the press yet ? She’d be a minor character in this first storyline and I’m sure not all the guest stars and bit players have been revealed yet anyway.

    Sooo looking forward to it ! Late Summer or early Fall premiere ? Has SyFy said yet ?


    1. I agree with the GOT kinda run, although I hear they’re sticking very closely to the books.

      As it goes I just looked on imdb and ‘Alli Chung’ is actually listed as Sam for two episodes which sounds on par with Lethian Wakes.

      I honestly haven’t been this excited for a show before – just hope it’s not an anti climax and SyFY put some frickin publicity into it. This could be BIG if they do it right.


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