For All Mankind — Season 3 — Adults Only
For the past two seasons, For All Mankind became one of the most solid and engaging TV shows to have premiered on Apple TV+. When it first took off, it benefitted from its already intriguing premise centered on what would've happened if we lost to the Soviet Union in landing the first man on the Moon. As it continued, it soared thanks to the characters, who were compelling enough to invigorate the story of becoming the all-time greatest in achieving space travel. In the first season, it addressed the consequences that followed in the 1970s after the Soviets landed the first man on the Moon. Then, in the second season, the continuing ferocities of the Cold War began to spill onto the lunar surface in the 1980s and erupt in all their suspenseful glory.
How do you top all that in the third season? Well, the story, I believe I can sum up to you like this:
Who among the Space Race competitors – the USA, the Soviets, and newcomer Helios – will become the first to land on Mars?
Yep, that's right. What started as a two-way Space Race between the USA and the Soviets boomed into a three-way Space Race. And after two seasons of settling just on the Moon, humanity pushed its limits and chose to take space travel to the next level with Martian inhabitation.
Now taking place in the early to mid-1990s, several staff renegotiations went underway as NASA planned to go on different pathways than the Baldwins and Molly Cobb had in mind. For example, Ed wanted to be the commander of the mission to Mars before that position was taken over by his colleague, Danielle Poole. In response to this, the Baldwins left NASA to join an aspiring billionaire and space engineer named Dev Ayesa and help establish an independent space program called Helios Aerospace with all the resources and space staff necessary to journey to Mars on their own. NASA and the compliant yet struggling and somewhat unscrupulous Soviet Union planned to reach Mars with a deadline for 1996, whereas Helios planned to make it there two years in advance.
While that's going on, Margo continually confided in a Soviet associate named Sergei, whom she entrusted with classified information she had about NASA's outlines of their spacecraft. What Margo may not have known, however, was that Sergei asked Margo to entrust him with NASA's classified documents because he was pressured to extract them from Margo by his Soviet elders, for they wanted to establish their spacecraft with them.
Man, even after the famous handshake between Danielle and Stepan last season, that did little to arrange mutual peace between the two nations, did it?
On top of that, Aleida continued working under Margo's wing at NASA when she noticed the Soviet Union spacecraft designs and caught strong resemblances with the ones she designed for Margo. Considering this discovery, she decided to dig even deeper and track down the mole who may have leaked NASA's classified info to the Soviets. Unfortunately, she didn't realize that the 'mole' she was after was under her nose the whole time, not to mention the last person she expected to be in cahoots with the Soviets.
On the other side of the USA, after continually rising in politics, ex-NASA employee Ellen Wilson eventually became — get a lot of this — the next President of the United States. Instead of Bill Clinton!
And to think, we almost had a female president — or, a Madame President, as Ellen was described — in Hilary Clinton in our universe.
Ellen did her presidential duties when she had to confront all the erupting protests across the country, many of which argued that the government was spending too much of its money on NASA's space program. Later, she had another challenge to face when Larry, now the First Gentleman, was questioned about whether he had an affair with another man. When Ellen caught wind of this scandal and of a fellow NASA astronaut's bold decision to come out, it put them on their toes as they struggled to come to terms with themselves since they, too, were gay.
Gordo and Tracy Stevens' son, Jimmy, participated in one of the anti-NASA protests because he thought that NASA screwed his parents over under the belief that the short circuits on the Jamestown lunar base they averted were of NASA's own making instead of a technical error. There, he met a girl named Sunny, and the two of them and a small group of close associates soon concocted plans to infiltrate NASA and bring it down.
Meanwhile, the Stevens' other son, Danny, tried to grasp where he stood in the space program, wrestling with his friendship with Ed and especially his feelings for Karen. After many hurdles, his mental stability began to waver as his concentration and commitment to the Mars mission tested his and Ed's connections, primarily out of his guilty conscience.
Then, Dev Ayesa, the founder of Helios, sought every opportunity he could to arrange the ultimate head start in space travel by having his space crew be the first to land on Mars. However, despite his best efforts, the mission gave him and Helios more roadblocks than they bargained for. Helios was technically the underdog in a three-way Space Race, he exhibited an overreliance on his computer-mandated technology, and he had some unscrupulous methods to ensure that Helios landed on Mars before anyone else at any cost. In so doing, his ambitions caused some friction for Karen, Ed, and some of their fellow space compatriots as he tried to make his visions and dreams a reality.
Sheesh, who needs to go to Mercury or Venus when you have all this heating up right now?
The season's story felt riveting and engaging as it continued exploring the ambitions and possibilities of space travel. When NASA and the Soviet Union headed off to Mars instead of the Moon, the stakes were raised high enough. But somehow, the stakes were raised even higher when Dev surefootedly founded Helios with his close associates and some ex-NASA scientists who tagged along for the ride as the third player.
Big stakes are all terrific and dandy for a show like this. But that show would need to benefit from something engaging enough to hold it all together. And for For All Mankind, once again, it's the characters.
The character dynamics in the show could not have become more multifaceted or oozed with more intrigue than here in its third season. To see the characters come to grips with the ongoing circumstances, whether on Earth, in space, on Mars, or even between friends and enemies alike? It was just another key reason I became so thoroughly hooked on the show; it benefited from creative explorations of space technology and advancements but always put the characters' strengths first.
The Baldwins' side of the story felt a tad standard but still had enough substance with the characters for me to overlook its flaws. In the first episode, after Karen's infamous sexual scandal, she and Ed had indeed divorced as Kelly feared they would have, each emerging into the picture acquainted with new lovers. But then, a freak accident at Karen's space hotel — I'll explain more about that shortly — left their new lovers for dead. So, Ed and Karen's reunion put them in slightly awkward terrain, but it gave them a chance to iron things out and start fresh, starting with their departure from NASA and their alliance with Helios.
Ed still had the burning urge to lunge into space as long as he remained the commander of the next space mission, which played a role in his departure from NASA. And Karen wanted another chance to partake in the space program after hitting it well the first time with her space hotel, called Polaris. She built Polaris between Seasons 2 and 3 with her former lover, Sam Cleveland, and was implied to have had a successful run with it. But her successful venture was cut short due to the hotel being punctured by the debris from a malfunctioning North Korean rocket, leaving Polaris inactive and in a critical condition. Once she joined Helios through Dev, she reconstructed it with him and remodeled it into Helios' spaceship, Phoenix.
Ed's role in the season still felt like it had been in the first two seasons: simple yet noble and intimate. And Karen? I was impressed by how much of a long way she had come. From being a housewife in Season 1 to owning the local Outpost Tavern — not to mention her sexual escapades with Danny — in Season 2, to finally operating a functional space hotel before participating in a manned mission to Mars? Talk about growth in character and expertise!
Margo had so much on her plate to deal with as she and NASA prepared to go to Mars. Besides overseeing their operations and ensuring NASA's success, she also had to confide with Sergei, who she had become close friends with since the mid-1980s. But the more she spoke with Sergei about NASA's technological propositions, the more she caught on to Sergei and his family's plights back in Russia, courtesy of the blackmails the Soviet leaders placed upon them. So, how would Margo, an elite NASA chairwoman, have responded to all of this? How would this arrangement have affected Alexei himself? Or her?
As I dwelt on this, this demonstrated what made Margo such a compelling character in the show: first, she got her big break into NASA thanks to a German engineer, Wrenn von Braun, who used to work for the Nazis. And now, here she was, complying in secret with the Soviets to help them advance technologically in the Space Race. Now that I think about it, Margo felt like such a fascinating character in the show because of her unorthodox allegiances and to what and whom she found herself most committed.
Aleida's subplot in this season might've been one of her most fascinating yet. She wigged out because her propositions for NASA spacecraft were stolen and suspected that someone at NASA was sharing her information with someone else. In which case, she was right; Margo confided in Sergei for the past ten years and shared NASA's classified information with him. This gave me butterflies in my stomach because I knew that Margo had been in cahoots with the Soviet Union for so long, whether she knew it or not. And when you think about how long Aleida had worked with Margo, which was almost 25 years in her case, I slunk down, fearing how things would have fallen between them. It was even more tragic when you consider that Aleida's family treated Margo as one of their own; Aleida even had a son who looked up to Margo as an honorary aunt.
What Kelly Baldwin endured this season felt like a roller coaster ride compared to simply tracking down her lineage last season. This time, she became a scientist who was hot off the trail of discovering lifeforms originating in Antarctica. Because Ed invited her to partake in the Mars mission, Kelly figured she could use what she picked up from her expeditions to her advantage. She heard how there may have been water bases on Mars and wanted to oversee its potential for spawning life on the planet, even if Ed, the Helios team, and the Soviets had other ideas. But the way she underwent her mission was anything but smooth. First, Kelly aligned with NASA through Danielle as opposed to Ed and Karen with Helios. Next, she and her crew had to rescue a stranded group of Cosmonauts whose spaceship malfunctioned. There, she fell in love with one of those Cosmonauts named Alexei. And without going into too much detail, their relationship got so heated that what it led to after they landed on Mars became the talk of the town back on Earth while also putting Kelly's life in jeopardy.
Ellen's ascension to Presidency surprised me, but I thought the show was smart about allowing her and Larry to express concern about their ongoing political issues, especially those concerning NASA and the Mars mission, before worrying about homosexual problems later. Some people may feel turned off because of their combined sexual orientation and social standing. But again, it generally felt overshadowed by their professional and personal dilemmas, all of which felt nicely handled and portrayed.
When Ellen and Mr. Wilson reacted to NASA astronaut William Tyler's confession of being gay on live TV, on top of being asked by the press if they've ever slept with anyone of the same sex, it made me wonder what they would've made of it. It all tested these characters in terms of how they would've accepted their sexuality and how they would've adjusted themselves within society if questioned about it. Would each of them have responded to it differently? What secrets have these two kept from each other? Ellen learned that the hard way when Larry slipped about Pam to Ellen. Pam was Ellen's old flame before Ellen's commitment to politics started drifting them apart. And Larry's confession induced Ellen to make an undercover visit to Pam at her house, much to Larry's protests, for he feared Ellen visiting a former love interest of the same sex as her despite being the POTUS.
Half the time this season, there were scenes with Ed and Danny getting along, and it made me feel like Ed was getting in touch with the son he lost after losing Shane, while Danny got in touch with the father he lost after losing Gordo. However, once the dirt underneath them started to potentially break forth, such as Danny not responding when the drill was beginning to overheat and cause significant damage to the cliff it was drilling, it left their friendship to hang by a thread.
Watching Danny duke it out with Ed over their problems, only to later confess to him about how many of Shane's problems back on Earth mainly were his own, sheds some new light on everything he did throughout the show up to this point. Everything he did so far, from making love with Karen last season to his drug addiction and being unresponsive enough to leave the drilling site to explode, showed how much the scarring events of ten or even twenty years ago still lingered on him and subsequently triggered his struggles to overcome them.
One of my favorite episodes of the season was The Sands of Aries, where Danny and Ed were trapped inside the Helios base and buried within it in the avalanching Martian soil after the Helios drill went in too deep and caused the hill it was on to jumpstart a Marsquake. The investigations, the conflict between Ed and Danny, and the ultimate resolution between Kelly and Alexei were all fascinating to watch as they unfolded. It even had one moment I loved where Jimmy and Karen sat by the Baldwin pool together talking about their problems; Jimmy with being seen as having to live up to Gordo and Tracy's legacy and Karen with where she stood in the space business. They even had a heart-to-heart about Karen's affair with Danny last season. It all felt so natural and made the two of them feel not as stale or out of alignment as they have been at times. It even carried a vibe that reminded me of Karen's confessions and engagements with Molly's husband back in Season 1.
Only one character did not have as prominent a role here as in the rest of the show before it, and it was Molly Cobb, who became blind after succumbing to her glaucoma late last season. She only appeared in the first two episodes, where she complained, along with Ed and Karen, about NASA's renegotiations, and again in the season finale, when Ed asked her to return to oversee a crucial mission for one of their crew members on Mars. She maintained the sass and logic I enjoyed from her the past two seasons, but I still missed her when she wasn't around. She was just a knockout!
I've grown to know many of these characters very well throughout the show's progression, but it also introduced some new characters to join its already fruitful ensemble.
Dev Ayesa was a passionate, ambitious guy who was willing to do anything to fulfill his dreams of space travel, whether with his closest associates or, at one point, even with his computer-mandated gizmos at the ready.
He was the type of guy who continually tried to refresh his and his peers' devotions to their mission and keep their faith alive, even if he had to be reminded of the setbacks he and his crew had to confront. Those included the necessities of human involvement rather than his technologically motivated software and the strenuous financial burdens that gradually mounted on him and his crew. He had the heart and the motives, but what he had in those, he lacked in overseeing every nook and cranny of his operations. Instead, he put the 'star' in 'starry-eyed,' and his motivations led to him making irresponsible, questionable orders to ensure the success of their mission.
This isn't the first time I've seen such shortsightedness and excessive confidence in a manned mission to Mars; I've also seen it from Paul Wick from RocketMan. But Dev felt far more realistic, complex, and subsequently more interesting, both as a character and as a demonstration of such attitudes in a working space environment.
I noticed many people complain how, throughout the show, especially in the last half of this season, it sometimes felt less like a space opera and more like a padded soap opera set in space. But in my opinion, the individual characters felt so compelling and so wonderfully backed up by superb acting and terrific writing that I usually didn't mind how it was all going to play out. Don't forget, this would all have depended on where each character's narrative arc progressed in correlation with one another. And in the event where they started firing up on all cylinders, sometimes all at once, they would've added to the show's excitement.
Speaking of which, let's hop on to the actors because they still carried the same emotional prowess as they had throughout the show, as did most of the new actors who joined in.
Wrenn Schmidt extracted every engagement out of Margo thanks to her position within NASA and her conflicted expressions as she had to witness all that she socially stood for crumble around her. From Margo watching Sergei being subject to Soviet interrogation in front of her to catching on to the likelihood of her protégé having dug up some dirt about her, Schmidt helped keep Margo emotionally afloat thanks to her fluctuating reactions in times of mounting stress.
Also, is it just me, or am I sensing more of a Southern accent from Wrenn Schmidt this time?
Coral Peña allowed her character, Aleida, to grow into a more established, confident woman who accumulated enough skill to play a more substantial role in NASA's development of its space tech but is also alert enough to know when something's off. She sounded like she still had some elements of a young trainee learning the ins and outs of NASA. Yet, her determination to troubleshoot details on space travel and mechanics promised a budding NASA scientist who had a lot to offer.
Cynthy Wu also established a more imminent sense of conviction with Kelly Baldwin. Like Coral Peña, she allowed Kelly to feel like she's grown a lot, especially concerning her background experience. Kelly approached any situation with keen observation and sound judgment, from her scientific expeditions in Antarctica to her reactions to the hectic dilemmas concerning the stranded Cosmonauts, and Wu expressed it all with simple delicacy.
Jodi Balfour became more composed once Ellen became the President of the United States. Because of the more tender elements I was used to before from Ellen, Balfour kept me invested in her dilemmas as the POTUS with the know-how of Ellen's inner — yet troubled — workings. And Nate Corddry honed his more sensible, reasonable elements as Larry, providing solace to her either as a friend or as a (societally preferred) husband.
Krys Marshall still embraced her role as Danielle Poole with a balanced level of elegance, sternness, and companionship. This season, Marshall managed to infuse Danielle with the more noticeable element of authority she had since last season, and she still maintained her sense of trustworthiness as she had since the first season. Danielle as a character may have felt a bit generic, but watching her manage her position as the commander of NASA's mission to Mars was not without its breakthrough moments. Most of it may have been provided by Marshall's performance, because she made the character for me.
Casey W. Johnson felt like a surprise powerhouse as Danny Stevens. When you see Johnson in action, you can tell he was digging into the messy fragments of Danny's conflicted mind. It was most apparent as Danny attempted to confront any situation concerning the Mars mission head-on, even if his tendencies to do so often put him in an even deeper hole than he anticipated.
Shantel VanSanten still carried a level of modesty as Karen Baldwin. Gone were the more modest and earthly demeanors that she had as a housewife or a bartender because this time, she portrayed Karen with more dedication to the space mission at hand, often conveying elements of strategy through tenderness and support, as only VanSanten could've given.
Joel Kinnaman still mastered Ed Baldwin's sense of modesty and hidden cockiness as he prepared to head off to his next space mission with the utmost determination. Also, in one of his character's showdowns with Danny, he again demonstrated why he's such a fantastic actor under the right circumstances. When Ed caught wind of Danny not doing anything once the water drill exploded and left the cliff beneath it to crumble, his facial expressions, which gradually became so tense, unemotive, and cold, told me how Ed was losing it upon this realization. I was starting to fear that he would have ripped into Danny – literally – at that moment, he looked so terrifying.
And finally, you have Edi Gathegi as Dev. He just had a blast conveying every conviction that his character exhibited in his determination to land his crew on Mars and hopefully make history. His inflections were smooth yet subtle, but he also always felt blindsided by his commitment to his visions of space travel. Even when Dev's motivations did more harm than good, Gathegi kept him determined enough to remain steadfast in adversity; he generally nailed it in his first impression in the show as Dev.
Another aspect of this season that stood out to me was the settings. I don't know if it was the monotone essence of the otherwise familiar locations in the first two seasons. Or, perhaps it had more to do with the new, different areas visited in this season. But somehow, they lent the show some extra color and attractive displays of futuristic technology accompanying such settings.
Starting with the spaceships, Karen's former space hotel, Polaris, conveyed all the essences envisioned out of a good hotel hovering in orbit; it provided as many lodging accommodations as it did in futuristic displays. And when it became rebuilt as Phoenix, its structural expansion and functionality turned it into an even more magnificent element of space travel. Not only did its outward appearance help make it stand out, but its interior designs helped, too, which felt futuristic while also carrying a retro sense of simplicity. It felt so retrofuturistic, now that I think about it, that it left me feeling like the characters stumbled into 2001: A Space Odyssey half the time.
There's also one instance where NASA's spaceship, the Sojourner, unfurled a massive space sail to propel it in its flight towards Mars, all set to Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean theme music. Besides the cheerful corniness of its implications, it felt perfectly balanced alongside the more breathtaking elements of Sojourner's space sails.
I also felt intrigued by Helios Aerospace as a space station, starting with its simple yet more natural and community-based organization. NASA was more sturdy and compact and screamed space technology within its headquarters. And surprisingly, with the Soviet Union, I don't recall getting enough glimpses into its space travel mechanics to assess it thoroughly. But Helios felt bright, slightly colorful, inventive, and unique enough to be judged as a confident rookie space station that abided by its promises in space exploration.
And that leaves us with Mars itself. What can I say? The surface was rocky, sandy, and orange, and it felt exactly how it would usually have felt if you found yourself on the surface of Mars, whenever that will be. Many scenes set on Mars were shot in Southern Utah, but they still honed the Martian feel just right. I also suspect that the show had the advantage of using NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander photos of the Martian surface for inspiration. So, that must have helped the show authenticate its Martian surface and make what's currently a mission yet to be accomplished in our universe feel far more believable and achievable.
Sometimes, I didn't find the goings-on at Helios overtly engaging. Nonetheless, I still found it fascinating how the underdog space station became the third player in the first-ever mission to Mars only to lose track of what should be done to stay financially afloat under Dev's leadership. Karen caught onto this and addressed these issues to Dev until finally proposing that he sell the company to NASA. It left me wondering what the fate of Helios will be in Season 4. Will Helios be reorganized into a firmer space facility with more savviness on its expenditure, or will it continually wither and decay because of its financial burdens?
I was surprised how the Soviet Union didn't have a firm grip this season as they did in the first two seasons. Usually, it was the Soviet Union that had the upper hand in technology and space travel. However, this season, even if the Soviet Union competed against more than one competitor, it seemed like it was losing its way, despite Helios being the underdog. I will admit, however, that it left me curious over its actions throughout the show. The Soviets and Cosmonauts' sense of loyalty always flip-flopped between themselves, Helios, and NASA throughout their venture to Mars, and there were other times when they had some underhanded tricks up their sleeve. So, have they become desperate, or were their egocentric natures making them lose sight of the bigger picture?
Jimmy Baldwin's side of the story also wasn't what I expected. He and his newfound friends thought that Gordo and Tracy Stevens' deaths occurred because of NASA's inconsistencies and mishandling of their space tech rather than being a selfless sacrifice. So, Jimmy engaged in various schemes with his 'friends' from the anti-NASA group, such as confiscating the statues erected of Gordo and Tracy from the Kennedy Space Center. But he gradually became more conflicted over his decision-making as he continued their discreet protests. Ultimately, however, it all felt inconsequential and didn't amount to anything substantial.
I so don't want to give away what happens concerning these characters by the time you reach the season finale. But all I can tell you is that what I thought felt like a narrative nuisance surprisingly took For All Mankind to darker places and served as a harrowing reflection of what happened in the 1995 of our universe.
This new season added to the show what I don't believe I saw anywhere else before it: creative variations on what happened in our timeline and its fundamental setbacks as an alternate universe.
Unlike Aleida in the first season or Danielle last season, when NASA astronaut William Tyler came out to the whole world, and almost everyone back on Earth blew their top over his confession, it felt far more appropriate to the show's timeframe. His coming out sparked nothing but controversy, even among Ellen, who was gay herself but also the President of the United States. After seeing varying portrayals of people of color or sex throughout the show, I found it refreshing to see how much the show put a spin on the past's portrayal of these people and how much more different or magnified they would've been compared to in our timeline.
Most of all, do you know who else came out in that decade in our timeline and was subject to much backlash for doing so? Ellen DeGeneres in her own TV show in 1997. Does it feel that different to you when you put these two side-by-side?
Though I must admit, it felt a little too fitting and appropriate for the show's timeframe. The way everyone responded to William Tyler being gay, to the point of condemning his confession as borderline criminality, the reactions felt more like how the world would've responded to people coming out in the 1970s or 1980s than in the 1990s.
This season almost felt nothing like the first two seasons, where I caught something about each of their timelines that felt out of place. The core events that occurred throughout the early to mid-1990s this season felt just like how such events occurred in our universe. However, at the same time, it also felt unlike how it would've happened in our timeline, you know? Strange as it is for me to say it, some of how the other characters reacted to something like William Tyler coming out felt a bit unlike how it would've played out, not because it was too ahead of its time, but because of how backward it felt.
Come to think of it, even Danielle asking to be the commander last season hinted at a certain slowness in the show's universe's sense of ethnic equality.
Honestly, this all felt like a breath of fresh air to me.
Why is this a big deal? Because that showed me that for all of For All Mankind's timelines' achievements, most of them technological, this demonstrated that while it's good on some things, it's still not good at others, like its social acceptance of homosexuality.
Not only that, but in this show's version of the 1990s, the Soviet Union was still a thing. No such thing as the fall of the Berlin Wall in this timeline, unlike in ours, where it occurred in 1989.
If For All Mankind was in a position where everything about its timeline was far more developed than our timeline, not just technologically but also socially and politically, it would have felt too condescending. But with these imperfections thrown into For All Mankind, it makes the world in the show feel more naturalistic and realistic. Now, it felt more like our world, except with different modifications here and there.
To make something or someone far more fascinating, you must showcase their strengths but also their weaknesses. For All Mankind did just that in its third season, making what was already an attractive setup because of its alternate timeline more robust with the limitations it struggled with.
Whenever I think of Albuquerque, NM from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, or Hawkins, IN from Stranger Things, I reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as societies.
Some shows, however, can be lopsided with their world-building. For example, whenever I think of Westeros from Game of Thrones, I think of its elaborate locations, political functionality, and the inspirations it took from 15th-century Medieval Europe. Unfortunately, however, it felt so war-torn and inhospitable that my mind usually flashed on nothing but their weaknesses instead of what little strengths they had.
My point is that one other way to create a perfect world, real or fictional, is to have the right balance as to what it's good at or what it struggles with. For All Mankind was off to a good start with its alternate timeline, starting as far back as when America lost to the Soviet Union in landing its first man on the Moon. Season 3 threw in more elements to hone its weaknesses, but not so forcefully that it would leave a bad taste in your mouth. On the contrary, it felt welcome and like a terrific step forward.
As far as the show's technological advancements are concerned, I can't help but reflect on them with befuddled amusement.
At one point, I remember seeing Kelly being Sojourner's DJ by playing songs from what looked like an early version of an iPod in the rocket.
More than once throughout this season, even more than last season, the characters called each other and communicated through video cameras, which felt like FaceTime, except it was made with 1990s technology.
Whenever anyone watched news broadcasts or anything else on television, the video footage was shot in a 4:3 display, just like it was in our 1990s. Yet, it was often projected on a widescreen TV.
It felt weird to think that in this version of the 1990s, the technological advancements we made in our universe were made way ahead of schedule in their universe.
I've got to say, if there's one thing about the show so far that I found a little inconsistent, it was the aging of the characters. Some characters (like Danny or Jimmy Baldwin) looked like they went through a massive growth spurt, whereas others looked like they barely aged in each 10-year gap. Even the makeup applied to some of the actors sometimes didn't feel like it was enough to make a difference. They felt about as effective as the makeup on Kyle McLachlan in Twin Peaks' pilot's alternate ending. Other characters, like Margo, Aleida, and maybe even Karen, aged a little more seamlessly than everyone else and felt more natural.
Regardless, For All Mankind just continued soaring to new places, and Season 3 continued its voyage across space and through the psyches of its characters to make such surmounting journeys worth exploring. The characters graced the show with dignity, the story was as creative as it was epic, the settings were inventive, the acting was still consistently layered, and its ending signaled significant ramifications for the show and its timeline. And the good news is, the show had just been greenlit for a fourth season, which would hop forth and take For All Mankind into the 21st century, specifically around the early 2000s. I don't know how life on the Moon or Mars will grow or even where the characters will travel to next in the solar system. But whatever it is that For All Mankind has in store, I trust that it will live up to its creative expectations and deliver it in immeasurable style, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.
Bon voyage, For All Mankind, and congratulations on another mission well done!
A low A
Just when you thought the Space Race could not possibly get any tenser, the last shot of Episode 9 and the beginning of Episode 10 revealed that there was a North Korean Cosmonaut settling on Mars. Here's what's so shocking about this: at the start of the season, one of North Korea's rockets disintegrated and punctured the Polaris. Now, what seemed like another malfunctioning, struggling space program turned out to have been a surprisingly competent fourth player in hiding. Why? Because this man who landed on Mars, Lee Jung-Gil, landed there on February 8, 1995 — seven months before NASA and the Soviets did! However, in hindsight, the North Korean cosmonaut did not play as huge a role in the grand scheme of things this season. For someone so meek who happened to accomplish something so gigantic in the eyes of humanity, I can't help but feel like he deserved a better exposition and role within the story. That makes me wonder, though, will North Korea continue to grow with a space facility and compete against America, the Soviet Union, and maybe Helios, more down the road? There are lots of questions that I know won't be delved into until Season 4 comes along.
Just recently, Ronald D. Moore, the creator of the show, announced that he and his creative team had a quote 'seven-year plan' lined up for the show, with the possibility of it going even further into the future. I am beyond excited to see where they would take For All Mankind from here if there are indeed at least four seasons left of the show. Assuming the show would continue to hop forth to the next decade with each season, I presume that For All Mankind would not reach our decade, the 2020s, until Season 6. Where would that leave Season 7 once it makes it to that point, though? Only Ronald D. Moore knows. And judging from how far the show grew in its artistic excellence, I pray that Moore will continue to do right by this show and deliver all that he possibly can out of it.