Protomolecule: Weapon Or Wonder? 5 Questions About This Week’s Expanse

The two-hour, double episode premiere of The Expanse took a deep dive into the backstory of the protomolecule experiment—where did the molecule come from, what’s the experiment about, who are the operators currently directing its development, and what potential might it hold for the future of our species? The episodes set the pace for the season (fast, btw), packing a tonne of action into just two hours but it’s the mystery of the protomolecule that drew us in—and is certain to keep us tuned to the show for the next couple of months. We’ve got questions (already):


1. Was the protomolecule really sent to colonize Earth, and if so, by who?


We now know that the molecule wasn’t some sort of virus cooked up in a lab anywhere in our solar system. It was sent Earthwards with a purpose—was it an alien act of war or a misguided gift? If you’ve seen Arrival, you know that there is a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to extraterrestrial intentions.


2. Is it a straight up weapon or could it be more than that?


This is, of course, the natural follow-up question. The team conducting the protomolecule experiment on Eros thought that it held all kinds of potential for humanity—spacesuit-less space travel for one. If the power of protomolecule can be decoded and harnessed, can it be adapted for good?


3. Let’s say it does represent a huge step forward for human evolution—would Earth really be able to avoid the temptation to wipe out Mars?


Considering the ever-climbing tension between Mars and Earth, we’d guess that the UN would take out the pesky MCRN ASAP, if only as an insurance policy against any protomolecule interference by the Martians. That said, we’re pretty sure Mars would do the same if it controlled the molecule.

4. Is it really okay to massacre the population of an entire space station in the name of science?


Well, Miller sure doesn’t think so.


5. Ethics aside, the protomolecule is evidence of alien life form… will we be meeting any in the near future?


The Expanse universe seems to be, uh, expanding exponentially—and at this super-early point in the season. How far will season two take us in terms of the novels the series is based on, and also in terms of further space exploration and the possibility of a run-in with other sentient beings?