[Ed. note: Spoilers ahead for the finale of season 5 of The Expanse.]
The wide Season 5 ended on February 3rd, killing one of its most popular characters in the process. For many fans who have watched the science fiction series since its premiere on the SyFy channel in 2015, this death may have come as a surprise – unless they kept an eye on the real production of the show.
Before the episode aired, Polygon spoke to showrunner Naren Shankar about how it all went. Also at the start were Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who started the franchise and helped with the writing this season. The couple wrote the novels on which the television series is based and worked together under the pen name James SA Corey.
In June, sexual harassment and assault allegations were made against Cas Anvar, who plays Mars pilot and Rocinante crew member Alex Kamal. As reported by Deadline
Production of the 5th season of The wide ended before the disclosure of Anvar’s alleged wrongdoing. Throughout the season, fans following the news have been waiting to see how or if his character will be written off the show. In the finals they got their answer: Alex died of a massive stroke caused by the high-gravity maneuvers required to save the life of crewmate Naomi Nagata, played by Dominique Tipper.
But has the Alcon team gone back and revised the ending of this last episode, or did they plan for Alex to die like this all along?
“The truth is,” says Ty Franck, co-creator of the franchise, “it’s a meaningless question on television because as a producer on set, I literally walked off set, climbed the stairs to my office, and rewrote one.” Scene we’re about to shoot. And Naren did the same. Daniel did the same. I mean, that’s part of the television process. So there’s no kind of “once the story is set” when you’re in the TV section. “
At least, co-creator Daniel Abraham says he thinks his team did a better job than that on this one serenity. This 2005 film is based on the television series Firefly, another pilot named Hoban “Wash” Washburne, played by Alan Tudyk, was fatally killed. Fans protested widely that writer and director Joss Whedon uttered this death too callously and for no reason.
“I have opinions about Wash,” says Abraham. “The thing I continue to annoy about killing Wash is that I didn’t feel like it was set up. We have talked about the dangers of high G burns since the pilot. I feel we deserve this. I feel like this was burned into the world building so early on. “
Shankar also stepped up the care with which they incorporated Alex’s death into the narrative, giving it as much resonance as possible with the rest of the crew. The narrative hook they used was a letter Naomi had written for her lover James Holden (Steven Strait) that was to be read in the event of her death.
“When you think of everything that is loaded into the message that Naomi is leaving Holden,” says Shankar, “she’s leaving this note about what will happen if something happens [her]when you lose people you love. And then Holden can’t stand playing it. So that it happens in the end [after Alex’s death, but] in another context where both can hear it at the same time that contextualizes their loss. It’s not a casual thing. It doesn’t just happen. “
Season 6 of The wide will be the final series on Amazon Prime Streaming, but the team has told Polygon that the show in the traditional sense isn’t over yet. There are even more stories to tell, in the form of several novels still unexplored, which means that another television series may yet happen.