'The Expanse' Cast Describes the New Political Reality in Season 4

The Expanse Season 4 held its world premiere screening at New York City Comic Con (NYCC), and many of the cast members were on hand to illuminate further details from upcoming episodes.

Cast members in attendance included Cas Anvar (pilot Alex Kamal), Dominique Tipper (engineer Naomi Nagata), Steven Strait (Rocinante captain James Holden), Shohreh Aghdashloo (U.N. Secretary-General Chrisjen Avasarala), Wes Chatham (mechanic Amos Burton), Cara Gee (Behemoth captain Camina Drummer) and new cast member Burn Gorman (chief of security Adolphus Murtry).

"The Expanse" Season 4 will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on December 13. Amazon

A network of Ring Gates was opened at the end of Season 3, providing passage to thousands of alien worlds and opening up the galaxy for the human species. The coming rush of colonists through the Ring Gates will so upset the delicate political balance between Mars, Earth and the spacebound Belters (the solar system's working class) that Anvar described the new season as a "second movement" for the series, coincidentally timed to The Expanse's move to Amazon Prime Video.

The Ring opened up hundreds of new star systems to explore in Season 4 of "The Expanse." Amazon Studios

"That's kind of reshaped the whole sociopolitical map, in the macro sense and also intimately, within the characters themselves," Strait told Entertainment Weekly at NYCC 2019. "Now that all these systems have opened up, what that means for Mars and their terraforming projects, for Earth and their unemployment problem, and for the Belters, who can't take advantage of all of this new opportunity, or perhaps danger, completely shifts around the chess board for this season."

"We're going into a space Western," Tipper added, alluding to the planet-side setting for The Expanse Season 4, as the crew investigates an alien world called Illus. "So it switches up the tone of what we've known for the past three seasons."

The changes drill all the way down, even into the show's visual DNA, with The Expanse taking on a whole different aspect ratio while planet-bound.

But while the possibility of war and political upset makes The Expanse's solar system's politics even more dangerous and high stakes than before, in other ways the characters of The Expanse, reunited aboard the Rocinante, are more tight-knit than ever. Rather than the term "crew," cast members regularly described themselves as "family."

"I think you find Holden in a much more grounded place this year," Strait said at NYCC. "He's become comfortable with his place within this whole story. He talks to Miller now—it's all normal. The whole family just accepts it. It's just a part of their life now."

But Gorman, who plays new Season 4 character Adolphus Murtry (the head of security for a shady energy company hoping to get in on the land grab), assured Comic Con audiences that the characters aren't about to get too chummy. As ever, The Expanse is about dramatizing the conflicting material interests of governments, peoples and institutions on a personal level. This has made The Expanse a powerful allegory for contemporary politics.

Part of that has always meant The Expanse antagonists are often as sympathetic as the protagonists, with understandable motivations.

"One person's bad guy is another person's good guy," Gorman said, in an NYCC interview for SyFy Wire. "I don't like to think of this character...as a villain. I see him as a very driven individual."