If you’re a fan of The Expanse, like me, you’re probably wondering whether its final six episodes — currently airing each Friday through January 14th — are enough to wrap up its epic story. What you’re probably not wondering: whether Amazon has buried nearly one-tenth of the show’s final season in a place you might not think to look, and can’t even find on your TV.
But it’s true. The Expanse’s production company filmed an additional 25 minutes of story across five vignettes, which you can only access through Amazon’s X-Ray service by pausing the show and scrolling through otherwise hidden menus. (They’re under Bonus Content.) But I couldn’t find them on Apple TV or Google TV, and the showrunners have confirmed that’s because Amazon hasn’t made them available there yet. They’re only on phones, tablets, and computers for now.
Fair warning: they’re not exactly important to the plot, nor do they meaningfully fill in all the gaps. I’ve watched all six main episodes and all five X-Rays, and I wouldn’t say any of the side stories were strictly necessary. But they were absolutely worth my time, one of them was super fun, and I’d be angry if I never knew they existed.
Plus, The Expanse showrunner and co-author Daniel Abraham tells me they were designed to be shown in order with the main episodes. “They are in order and connected to the narrative, so watch them in order,” he warned me.
“The X-Ray [is] something we’ve been talking about doing for years, and we finally got to a place where we have the resources and time to get it done,” Abraham explains. “They’re small little character moments that create an extra scene with some depth to flesh out the mainline story. It’s very much like the novels where we had the little novellas on the side where we could give you things that weren’t critical to the main line, but could make the story a little richer and deeper.”
“They have little touchstones to the main line, and little touchstones to each other, just to spend that extra moment.”
Technically, The Expanse has done some X-Ray bonus content before, offering a chance to go behind the scenes, and you’ll find a bunch of other aftershow content floating around the internet as well:
With a runtime of only 272 minutes sans credits, the tightly-edited final season can feel a bit cramped. The extra 25 minutes gives the series some much-needed breathing room. I might be biased, though: I’ll spend as much time with these well-acted characters as I can possibly get.