One of the best features of SyFy's incredible drama The Expanse is its use of science. With the show's focus being on politics rather than a fantastical futuristic world, it keeps the actual #scifi aspects to a minimum, often cementing those concepts in real science.
While the protomolecule is an obvious exception to this, something that often features in the Rocinante crew's flights is a mysterious, milky-white substance injected into their necks:
Referred to as "juice", many characters are injected with the liquid before undergoing "high-g" space travel. But what is that stuff, and why do they need it? Let's investigate.
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What Are They Shooting Up On The Rocinante?
So what the hell is that white liquid the Rocinante crew are shooting into their necks? No, it's not some illicit space narcotic — though it might contain amphetamine.
The "juice" is a cocktail of drugs used for high-g space travel. According to #TheExpanse novels, it comes in two forms: One for sedation during long-haul or difficult flights, and one for remaining conscious and alert.
While one contains a sedative and the other keeps pilots awake (using either adrenaline or maybe even amphetamine), both mixtures use drugs that protect the user's blood vessels and muscles from the effects of high-G space travel.
Why Do They Need It?
In real life, humans are accustomed to 1-G — the gravity of Earth. On The Expanse, however, it varies quite a bit. Belters and Martians, for example, aren't quite as accustomed to such a heavy weight — hence the Belter torture scene in Season 1.
But where G-force really matters is during accelerated travel. When the crew of the Rocinante launch into "high G", they're talking about G-force. Despite what Han Solo may have you believe, there's more to it than simply pressing a button and holding on to the nearest Wookie.
According to Business Insider, one experienced pilot describes high-G flight as feeling "like weight is pushing down on every part of you". Not only does it feel uncomfortable, but it can have a serious effect on the human body. G-force induced loss of consciousness isn't uncommon, and even higher levels can have fatal consequences — like causing strokes.
Daniel Abraham, co-author of The Expanse novels, explained the juice's necessity in an interview with SyFy:
"What it's doing is controlling blood pressure and the elasticity of blood vessels to try to keep you from stroking out. That's the big thing it's doing. The hardest thing about long, sustained high-G burns is that humans aren't used to them. So, it's something that will make sure that your blood pressure stays high enough so that you're getting blood all the way to your brain and that you're remaining elastic enough that you don't just pop like a balloon."
Pop like a balloon? Now that's a nasty visual. Mind you, this drug doesn't exist in real life — this is science fiction after all.
It Almost Wasn't Included In The Show
Those intense juice shots have become somewhat of a trademark of The Expanse, especially considering Belters like Naomi sport juice tribute tattoos on their necks. But despite its relevance in the books, it almost didn't make the cut.
Cas Anvar, the actor who plays Alex on the show, revealed in an interview with ComicBookReader that he was the one who "put juice in the script." Apparently, the show writers totally blanked on it:
"I’ll be honest, I actually went and said, 'Hey, you know that thing in the book? You didn’t put that in the script.' And they’re like, 'Really? We left that out?' And I was like, 'Yeah,' and then I got it actually added back in. There’s a thing in the books called juice, which is this cocktail they inject, which for me is so cool."
Suffice to say, The Expanse wouldn't be quite the same without its juice.
What do you think of the science shown in The Expanse?