The Expanse's Main Crew Is Better Than Star Trek: Discovery's
In the imaginary battle for sci-fi supremacy, The Expanse's Rocinante crew are the more interesting group compared to the other major sci-fi TV starship on Star Trek: Discovery. Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex (and the other guy that got killed straight away) are forced together after becoming embroiled in an interplanetary conspiracy that leaves everyone else on their former vessel dead. The group manage to steal a Martian gunship, rename it the Rocinante and the rest is history. Captained by Holden, The Expanse season 4 sees the Rocinante sent on "peaceful" research missions to explore the threat of an unknown alien presence, but much of the focus rests upon the relationships that exist between the central quartet.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
As is typical of modern science-fiction, Star Trek: Discovery delves more into interpersonal relations, emotional drama and more detailed personal arcs than the original series did with the Enterprise crew, and this builds a sense of camaraderie between the characters on-screen. Over the past two seasons, Sonequa Martin-Green's Burnham has gone from an untrustworthy Starfleet mutineer to earning the respect of her crew mates and becoming the savior of the galaxy. Star Trek: Discovery has also delved into the restrictive culture of Saru, painted a romantic relationship between Stamets and Culber and created a lovable underdog in Tilly. Each main character has their own problems, but come together to protect each other in times of peril, creating a fascinating theme of trust and friendship to underpin the show.
But The Expanse does it better. Not only does the connection between the main four on board the Rocinante feel deeper than anything in Star Trek: Discovery, it also comes across as more realistic, forcing viewers to care more about the Roci than the crew of the Discovery. A prime example of this difference can be found in Star Trek: Discovery's season 2 finale, where Burnham nobly offers to send herself into the future in order to protect the present. In a heart-warming show of solidarity, the remainder of the crew decide to follow her through the looking glass, meeting their fate together. It's an effective moment that demonstrates how far Burnham has come and how tight-knit the Discovery's crew has grown to be. However, the image of each character slowly putting themselves forward for the mission is a well-used trope and can't help but come across as a little contrived.
By contrast, The Expanse doesn't demonstrate the togetherness of its crew with grand, dramatic gestures, but with smaller, more human interactions. A golden example of this in The Expanse season 4 comes when Holden and Amos are trapped within the Ilus Protomolecule structure. An alien bacteria renders Amos blind, and fear of losing his sight causes him to physically lash out at Holden, maniacally swinging his fists before gradually settling down. Holden stands by his friend and promises to find a cure. When that promise is fulfilled, Amos responds in kind by choosing to shoot a woman he cared for because she was a threat to Holden. There are no grand speeches, no orchestral musical swells, just an unspoken "all for one and one for all" dynamic and The Expanse is littered with similar examples.
Another way in which the Rocinante crew outdo the Discovery's is with an unwavering loyalty built gradually over 3 seasons. Star Trek: Discovery's main cast are not only loyal to each other, but also to Starfleet and their mission, and this can sometimes cause divisions within the camp. As is typical of serialized TV, the crew of the Discovery also experience highs and lows together, where a seed of distrust can cause tension further down the line, such as the aftermath of Saru losing his ganglia. The development of the Rocinante's crew has been more of a continuous, gradual progression from awkwardly being forced together to implicitly standing by each other no matter the odds. While some on the Discovery might be torn between two causes (Stamets is arguably more concerned about his experiments, for instance) Holden and his pals take more of a "hurt my crew and you're dead" approach, making them feel more like a family.
The bonds between characters on The Expanse might also be stronger because they're created by overcoming more relatable problems. Rather than the stigma of mutiny, ganglia loss and the burden of being connected to a God-like neurological pathway created by mushrooms, characters on The Expanse deal with anger issues, estranged family and being an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. These more human problems make the ties between Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex that much stronger.
The Expanse season 4 is currently available on Amazon Prime Video. Star Trek Discovery season 3 premieres in 2020 on CBS All Access.