The gentlemen behind The wide are delightfully frank about what it was like to produce five seasons of the epic sci-fi drama, as you'll see below. writer Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (Who wrote the source material as novels under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey) as well as showrunners Naren Shankar, have survived the show's dramatic history for years – from the cancellation by Syfy after season 3, to the resurrection by Amazon for season 4, to the planned conclusion in season 6.
The story of the diverse men and women struggling to survive in a distant future that is sometimes too familiar to our present is rich and complicated, and no, the executive producers don't mind at all to being compared The cable as a result. Below, Shankar, Abraham, and Franck share why they are excited about the weekly rollout of the show this time, how the sixth season news affects their storytelling plans – especially in relation to the book series – and why they are bringing season five to the The crew wanted to start spreading their own individual breakout stories. They also show what it was like to work with Thomas Jane as a director in episode 3 of the season (and talking about whether or not Miller is really gone for good this time).
Collider: To start with, are you talking about the decision-making that resulted in this year not starting the whole season at once?
NAREN SHANKAR: It was actually something we talked about in season 4 because one of the things that was really always important to us was the connection with the fans, with the Twitter watch parties we would be having, and it always has been a funny thing us. And so we missed that a bit when we went to season 4 with the full 10 episodes. We had discussed it with Amazon in season 4 and for various reasons it didn't happen, but it happened now. Now they did it to The Boys, they did it to us. I think they do it with some of their other shows I'm not 100 percent sure about that. But I think it's a great way to start the conversation because people can see it, talk about it, and bring other people up to date. We are looking forward.
Image via Amazon
I mean, in terms of creating the season you wrote in, were you aware that this is the release strategy?
SHANKAR: We didn't actually know it would fall off with this pattern when the season was created, so it was a natural thing. The first three episodes for streamers are usually very important. I think their analysis is such that if they stick with the top three people will watch all season. But yeah, we didn't know we would have the weekly pattern this year.
Another big thing that comes out is that you end up with Season 6. At what point while writing Season 5 did you know you wanted to take aim there?
DANIEL ABRAHAM: We didn't get our order for season six until we were almost done with the mail for season five. So I mean, most of the time, at least in my experience, after doing this for six years, you never know you're going to get another season. You have to operate on the assumption that you will receive another season, but generally you will not receive that order much earlier than this one. Indeed, having the next season's order before the current season airs is a real luxury. It is really nice. But yeah I mean you don't know When we wrote Season 5, we had no idea if we would ever get a Season 6. We were hopeful, and when we got a season 6, we were now able to cash out a lot of things that we had built into season 5. But you don't know when to do it.
TY FRANCK: And in fairness, the season six version has been something we've been talking about since we were first canceled. So there wasn't much to do with this one.
Since you've got the books underway too, and the books aren't complete yet, it's an easy Game of Thrones situation – except that Daniel and Ty spend a lot of time in the author's room. How did participating in the show affect your relationship with the books?
FRANCK: The most important thing it did is that we're really late.
ABRAHAM: That's load balancing that we haven't quite gotten to yet.
FRANCK: Yeah, we were really consistent with our delivery dates right before we started working on the show, and then we got progressively more inconsistent with our delivery dates.
ABRAHAM: One more, we just have to land one last one, we'll be fine. It's all right.
SHANKAR: As Ty and Daniel have said many times before, they consider the show a very, very expensive commercial for the books.
ABRAHAM: Yes – you spend a few million dollars on an advertisement and you can literally sell thousands of books.
SHANKAR: Right, it's amazing.
Image via Amazon
Are you planning to coordinate the end of the book series with the end of the TV series?
ABRAHAM: Are you coordinating it? No.
FRANCK: Oh god, no. It looks like it's coming out gracefully. It looks like the final book will likely be out near the end of season six – and that's just a happy coincidence.
ABRAHAM: I'll just light a candle and move on.
FRANCK: Daniel and I are very Heath Ledger Jokers here. We are not planners.
ABRAHAM: We just do things.
But I mean, I think the big question is how closely the events in the final book will match the events in the finale episodes.
FRANCK: Not at all, because we end the show in season six, which is book six, and the last book is book nine. So it will …
SHANKAR: Season 6 should be about 45 episodes.
I mean, it's either 45 episodes or it's a very condensed version of this story – could you do that?
FRANCK: I don't know there is a way to do that gracefully. I think that would be a challenge.
SHANKAR: I don't know if we want to do that. We compressed before – in season 3 we compressed two novels, essentially a large part of one novel. And then the entire Abaddon & # 39; s Gate until the end of the season. I don't know if you want to do that with books seven, eight, nine.
ABRAHAM: And there's also something to be said to do well that part of the story, and then … The IP isn't dead, it's not gone. If there are other options later, there are other options later.
Could the final episode end with a card that says, "To find out what happens next, go into the books?"
ABRAHAM: I think that would be great because it would make me more money.
FRANCK: Yes. I think when people watch the final episode of season 6, they will feel like a satisfying story has been told.
FRANCK: It's a story that leaves options open for the future, depending on what Alcon intends to do with the future property. There are a lot of stories that can be told, but I think if you look through season 6 you will feel like … We finished the story we've been telling for the past five seasons.
ABRAHAM: I think that's true.
Image via Amazon
So let's talk about season 5. Based on the first three episodes, the funniest thing is … And not just because we're going to Baltimore, and not just because Chad Coleman is there. But I got a lot of weird vibes from The Wire in the first three episodes. And I wonder if that was intended?
ABRAHAM: It's not just Chad Coleman. We also have Frankie Faison, who was obviously on The Wire for five seasons.
SHANKAR: We love him by the way. That was great.
FRANCK: Yes. He was great.
ABRAHAM: What a cool guy anyway.
SHANKAR: He was.
FRANCK: I think whenever you can compare us to The Wire, it will only make us look better. I don't think there are any downsides.
Was that part of the conversation at all?
ABRAHAM: I don't think you can go in and say I know let's try to be the wire. I think this is a doomed project from the start. If you look at this, if you do something good enough and stimulating enough and rich enough to be compared to The Wire, then you did well.
FRANCK: Yes. And when we picked Baltimore as Amos' hometown. I think we did this before I even saw The Wire.
ABRAHAM: That was a decade ago.
SHANKAR: I thought that was on purpose. OK.
FRANCK: No, it wasn't a wire reference when we selected it. It was just some kind of happy accident.
The other reason I mention it is because in the first few episodes the crew of The Rossi is split up, which is kind of a wire pull. And what was important to you about giving all these characters their own, essentially separate storylines, which are quite separate from each other?
ABRAHAM: Separate from each other, but also closely related. Because it could be argued that it's the most widespread narrative we've made, but it's also the tightest-woven narrative we've made because everyone reacts to exactly the same events. But the structure of the book … and given that the season is 10 episodes, was part of the trick, how do we get everyone to get a part? And then they come back together in the movement of the seasons – the idea of positioning them all, spreading them all out, with that superimposed tension of the stones coming in, and the audience understands that.
ABRAHAM: We talked a little bit about The Looming Tower. It's like you know what's going to happen, you know what's coming, and the people there don't quite see it. I think it gave us an opportunity to deal with everyone's personal side in a deeper and more comprehensive way than we have until now. It felt very cathartic when you get all of the things at the same time, the rocks come towards us and that changes things.
Image via Amazon
Well, and there's also the perk that if everyone stays on the Rossi, you can't learn all these amazing things about Amos' character or Naomis and get that backstory.
ABRAHAM: There's a lot to do when you're so deeply involved in a project that it wouldn't have worked earlier. I mean, if we had split the Rossi crew into season 2, it wouldn't have meant anything. But to have spent four years with them as a unit and building those relationships between them and the audience and then expanding the world and making the world bigger through their eyes and through their experience – that was great.
So you have Thomas Jane directing Episode 3 – do you feel like Miller's story is really done at this point?
Safe this time?
ABRAHAM: We shot him in the sun at the end of season 4. So yes.
FRANCK: Well, we fired him into Venus in Season 2. We killed this guy a lot.
SHANKAR: You killed this guy a lot.
What was it like working with him as a director, especially since it was apparently his first time watching TV?
ABRAHAM: I thought that really brings an interesting perspective. I mean, Naren can talk about this from a showrunner's perspective, but as a writer, Dan Nowak wrote this episode, and Dan and I spend a lot of time together in the office when we were producing this season. When I saw Thomas attack the material as an actor, I found it very interesting that he attacked and attacked the written word a little differently, how he wanted to portray the scenes and bring the emotional part of the writing to the fore, so he was shooting the scenes . I mean, a director who's also a longtime actor just has a different perspective than a director who's never acted. That's cool to see.
FRANCK: And he's probably also the director we had with the most intimate knowledge and understanding of the show – just because he was there the whole damned time.
FRANCK: You don't get that for free.
I have a very important question that is always on set: Did he wear any hat?
FRANCK: He's a man who likes a hat.
SHANKAR: I think Amazon has behind the scenes stuff – it always has a hat.
FRANCK: The better question is: yes, he always has the hat, but does he ever wear shoes?
SHANKAR: That is the question.
Image via Amazon
In the end, I think one of the things that the show does so well is really keeping everything so grounded – even when the more awesome elements are added on. What was the key for you to find that kind of balance?
ABRAHAM: I'll go back to when Ty and I started this project and the kind of key elements we cultivated and the movie Alien, in which two people walk through a spaceship and argue about who is being screwed on by the union deal. The way you can have recognizable people in an unrecognizable universe is a brilliant tool. And it gives us a sense of realism and recognizability that I think we got through the books and into the adaptation.
The first three episodes of The Expanse Season 5 are now streamed on Amazon. Future episodes will premier on Wednesdays.
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About the author
Liz Shannon Miller
(185 articles published)
Liz Shannon Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has been speaking about television on the internet since the dawn of the internet. She is currently Senior TV Editor at Collider. Her work has also been published by Vulture, Variety, the AV Club, the Hollywood Reporter, IGN, The Verge, and Thought Catalog. She's also a Produced Playwright, a variety of podcasts, and a collection of "X-Files" trivia. Follow her on Twitter at @lizlet.
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