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  • Writer's pictureBryce Chismire

For All Mankind - Season 4 – Adults Only

SPOILER ALERT


Look how far For All Mankind has gone! Three seasons in, I’ve already seen it hop from landing and settling on the Moon to doing the same on Mars!

 

So, what happens when an asteroid filled to the brim with valuable minerals creeps into Earth and Mars’ consciousness? That’s one of the main drives permeating the newest season of For All Mankind, now entering the 21st century.


16 Psyche

Before I tell you more about what’s happening this season, I must highlight its premiere on November 4, 2023. Honestly, this season could not have aired at a better time because before it did, the news quickly spread about a nearby asteroid called 16 Psyche, which presumably contains up to $10 quintillion of gold and other valuable minerals. Upon its discovery, NASA had already launched one of its rockets into space on October 12, 2023, to investigate the asteroid further, including seeing whether it could be mined for its gold and brought back to Earth. However, even if it could be carried back to our home planet, one concern wandering in my head was what would happen if we made money off this. The amount of gold on that asteroid alone is reportedly enough to make every living human being on the planet billionaires. So, if all the gold is to be brought to Earth, it would squash our world economy like a bug. It is only a fraction of what all the gold on the asteroid is worth.

 

The newest season of For All Mankind arguably addresses a good chunk of whatever questions may have been in everyone’s mind as we explore 16 Psyche. Thankfully, it doesn’t leave the show’s central characters out of the loop.

 

Set in 2003, everyone at Happy Valley on Mars tended to a nearby asteroid called XF Kronos. It was allegedly full of minerals they wanted to snag off it, but I don’t remember what they worked on it for or even what the mineral was. But during the extensive studies of the asteroid, it wobbled a little, throwing NASA’s drilling compound units out of proportion and killing two of its workers, including fellow Cosmonaut Grigory Kuznetsov, who became the first Cosmonaut to have walked on Mars alongside Danielle Poole last season. Because of this disastrous outcome, NASA and the rest of an organization of which they’re part called the Mars-7 Alliance, centered around space travel, agreed to rethink how to spend their money on the asteroid, feeling confident that once they got their hands on the minerals on that asteroid, it would have helped pay for the missions and potentially the space tech they established. However, things started to heat up when they noticed another asteroid passing them by: a 1.1 km asteroid called Goldilocks, which housed up to $20 trillion of iridium. This asteroid then became the center of attention, not XF Kronos, and everyone became desperate to get their hands on its iridium for money and to utilize it for all the space tech. Then, the race was on for everyone on Earth and Mars, too, to snag the asteroid before the others did, amounting to what I call a mission to lasso one of God’s many personal piggy banks.

 

However, while that’s happening, the characters’ lives aren’t any easier than the urge to snag Goldilocks.



After he settled in Happy Valley, Ed Baldwin took on the mantle of being the space commander of the spacecraft Ranger, where he initially oversaw the development of mining XF Kronos, including the crumbling of the drilling operations and the deaths of two of his fellow astronauts and Cosmonauts, including Sergei. Three things started to eat at Ed. One, he’s been so committed to being the space commander that he’s not told anybody, not even his family back home, of his condition: his hand has been shaky due to a tremor, and he’s stashed a private stash of marijuana to help him with the pain. Two, he’s held some contempt for Danelle because of her differing views on the people he cared for, including a fellow Cosmonaut named Svetlana and the next character I’ll address soon. Because of his attachment to characters like her, he began to have had it with what he thought were snobbish attitudes from Danielle and NASA and decided to take matters into his own hands by trying to steal Goldilocks for Mars.

 

Back home, Kelly and her son/Ed’s grandson, Alex Polotev, felt like they were neglected too much by Ed, whose commitment to the space program left them feeling like Ed didn’t care enough about his family to return home. Then, after one of their projects to investigate more life on Mars was sidelined by the new NASA administrator, Eli Hobson, she and Aleida met up and devised a plan to fund their research and partake in the Mars program to do so. But once she got a good start with Helios – I’ll explain how soon – she brought Alex along, who had cardiopulmonary problems, and started to play catchup with Ed, who was on the verge of doing something meaningful for Mars, or so he told her.

 

Speaking of Aleida and conditions, Aleida had been struggling with PTSD after the terrorist attack on the NASA Space Center last season, to the point where she quit after trying and failing to concentrate on her work. After meeting with Kelly to help her with her research and their proposition for the new Mars rover project, she eventually joined Helios with her and partook in the M7 board as the Helios representative while Kelly and Alex ventured to Mars. However, things started spiraling out of control when she met…the next character I’ll address here.



After being escorted to the Soviet Union despite being reportedly dead from the terrorist attack, Margo Madison hunkered down in the Soviet Union, living a seemingly normal life until she was caught in the middle of a riot and apprehended by the KGB. Later, after being subjected to prison torture, she was suddenly broken free and promoted into the Space Program in Roscosmos by its newest head, Irina Morozova. It was her big break after she tried and failed to get into the space program for around eight years. At first, Margo proved herself an adequate team player by providing Irina and Roscosmos with her expertise on certain space technicalities, including the faulty aspects of the drilling mission on XF Kronos. However, she was put on edge with some fishy behavior concerning Irina, and she was further tested when, during the M7 convention, she was approached by Aleida, who also mistook her for being dead. What would these two have done now that they were in each other’s company again?

 

Meanwhile, the ex-head of Helios Aerospace, Dev Ayesa, was convinced to return after being approached by Kelly and Aleida about their Mars rover project and became the head of Helios again to greenlight their project, primarily so he could allow Kelly, daughter of his partner and friend Karen Baldwin, to continue. However, as he prepared to go to Mars and put Helios back on track, he got caught in some issues boiling about in Happy Valley, many of them concerning the underprivileged Helios workers forced to work in the lower quarters of Happy Valley.

 

Among them was a rookie space worker, Miles Dale, a new trainee who wanted a new job to salvage his failing marriage and relationship with his kids. After cheating his way into applying for the Moon program, he was upgraded to participate in the Mars program, which he was told would’ve guaranteed him a hefty sum. But once he settled there, he was reduced to living and working within the lower quarters of Happy Valley, with lousy internet signals, underwhelming food, and inconsistent living quarters. While Miles was busy operating the regular job for Helios, he worked at a makeshift bar, where he was tasked with smuggling all kinds of products and drinks, all to be fermented and sold to the underprivileged Helios workers at Happy Valley. But after several weeks of intolerance to their unexciting conditions, he and his fellow cohorts issued a strike to demand more money and payment, the results of which, combined with his smuggling expertise, were to put him in an even deeper hole than he bargained for.

 

Danielle Poole initially retired after her adventures up on Mars in the mid-90s until the asteroid incident prompted Eli Hobson to rehire Danielle as the commander of the Happy Valley base. There, she struggled with all kinds of protruding problems at the base, not just the fallout from XF Kronos but also her crumbling relationship with Ed, the strike that ensued by the Helios workers, and the need to lasso the asteroid Goldilocks and have it sent back to Earth for easier mining. What’s she to do in these chaotic ventures?

 


Once again, this season was very clever about utilizing one of the most exciting and hotly buzzed discoveries near Earth, and had it fit snugly alongside the plots of many of the main characters involved in the struggles to snag Goldilocks and harvest its resources. I also admire the steps the show took in addressing some of the pitfalls and/or advantages of harvesting the asteroid before anyone else in real life could get to that point. Anyone watching what the characters went through in this show could easily pick up on what to do or what not to do when trying to get their hands on a wealthy asteroid that’d promise a surplus of wealth and not just the resources meant for developing space travel.

 

Also, the asteroid subplots might have put a fresh spin on what was starting to show its age after Pocahontas and Avatar.

 

The closest thing to sympathetic portrayals of settlers I could think of was from Pocahontas, where they gleefully anticipated finding gold to make money off of and also shooting Indians while there. The fact that they had this mindset before they understood the Natives and how they did their thing doesn’t change that. Here, in the show, the characters constantly wondered how they would go to the source of the minerals to make a boatload of dough and fuel their space journeys ahead, whether from XF Kronos or Goldilocks. On a couple of occasions, the characters even said they were in it for the money. This time, the source was not embedded in another habitable planet or region but rather in asteroids, where no life form is expected to thrive anyway. So now, they automatically had permission to mine them however they saw fit, without worrying about competing against anyone except each other to gain the minerals. 

 

On top of that, some of its deviations from the 2003 of our world seem very creative, too.

 

The first significant thing to address here is that throughout the ’90s, Ellen Waverly was the President of the United States and earned herself a second term in office after she announced her homosexuality. After her time as President was up, who followed and took her place throughout the 2000s? Not George W. Bush, but Al Gore. That’s right, Al Gore, the environmentalist. Being a 1990s-2000s addict, I always wondered what life would’ve been like if Al Gore had been the President of the United States instead of George W. Bush, mostly because of his environmentalist philosophy and pursuits. Most of what I’ve seen him do in the show was mainly offscreen and relayed by Eli Hobson, who always took his calls and collaborated with him on propositions and courses of action for the space program.

 

Also, among the many major milestones of this timeline is that after the collaborative effort to establish the Happy Valley base on Mars, the USA and the Soviet Union’s alliance over the Space program improved significantly, to the point where Al Gore declared the Cold War over. Wow! It took them long enough to call it quits on the war effort. Unfortunately, however, suspicious actions throughout the Soviet Union suggested that the Cold War may have been far from over. The Soviet Union became a generally capitalist country after its alliance with the USA on the space program as part of the M7, displaying some democratic elements in its progression as a nation. However, this prompted the KGB to use forceful action on its citizens to re-enact Communism into the country by force after feeling like the USA’s democratic instincts started to course through Mother Russia’s bloodstream. It was one of the main conflicts going on with fellow Cosmonaut Svetlana, who, after a fight with another Cosmonaut over their ideological differences concerning Russia’s progression as a nation, was sent back to Earth to face trial for her onslaught on the other Cosmonaut.

 


However, for all this alternate timeline’s achievements with the Cold War in the early 2000s, I can’t help but wonder, did an equivalent of 9/11 ever occur in this timeline? Or did the most notorious example of terrorism occur with the NASA Space Center bombing in 1995? Because, to me, that reflects almost the general unfolding of the Oklahoma City bombing, also in 1995.

 

When Miles was briefed on what to carry in from the cargo area, his coworker turned bar employer, Ilya Breshov, told him they’d bring in alcoholic beverages, Playboy magazines, and, of all things, laserdiscs. In our universe, DVDs were revolutionary and one of the most heavily promoted home video formats outside the VHS. But the laserdiscs were usually a secondary home video format when VHSs were still rampant in the late 1980s and 1990s, and they started to phase out once the DVDs took over. I wonder if, in this universe, the laserdiscs began to gain attention as the superior video format over the VHS and were given credit where credit was due, or if the DVDs also came along, but as an alternative? It’s anyone’s guess, I believe.

 

Also, as Samantha, a fellow astronaut and coworker at Helios, was forced to live in the lower quarters with her coworkers, she bemoaned how she and everyone else stuck with her were relegated to ‘the help.’ I was not expecting to hear that in this version of 2003, an early year of a decade not too long before our own! When I think of the term ‘the help,’ I only think of it as applying only to black people and prevalent throughout the early to mid-20th century before the Civil Rights Movement opened everybody’s eyes to the injustices the oppressed people faced. So, I don’t know if she meant it figuratively or literally, but this somehow felt like another example of some things in this universe not feeling as aligned with our universe timeline as others.

 

Most of all, however, this season introduced the one element that I wanted to see the show establish since Season 1: the development of the Space Program from the Soviet Union’s point of view. And that was arranged once I noticed what happened in the Soviet Union as Margo experienced it. To put it this way, the Soviet Union seemed like a decent country that may or may not have moved past its unscrupulous methods of furthering its progress in the Space Race courtesy of its Communist rule. When Margo was allowed to work with Irina in Roscosmos after being denied doing so for many years, I finally saw the program’s inner workings and how the process was not too different from that of NASA and Helios. However, their methods of achieving perfection with their work in space development and how they dealt with those who’ve either miscalculated or stepped out of line left me as uncertain over their values and systems as Margo was as she witnessed it up close.

 

However, the most disturbing part is what Irina planned to do to Margo. Margo and even Aleida didn’t know what was happening until Soviet-captive-turned-U.S.-native Sergei Nikulov returned. He stopped by not only to give Margo and Aleida some feedback on their space development but also to warn Margo of what her alliance with Irina would’ve entailed, telling her that she was the mastermind behind the KGB and that all the torture he endured in the Soviet Union was under her command. He warned Margo to act before Irina did for fear of watching her be as victimized by her as he was before he relocated to the USA. These dynamics with Margo, and especially between the USA, the Soviet Union, and Helios, create countless dramatic potential and even some moments of hefty suspense fueled by moral ambiguity.


 

In addition, outside of those unorthodox signs that the Cold War may not be as over as they’d hoped, Al Gore also turned out to have been no saint himself. Again, I witnessed everything he did in the show only through phone conversations with Eli Hobson. And once the asteroid Goldilocks had been found, Al Gore had the gall to claim credit for discovering the asteroid. Eli was frustrated with this decision, saying that such a potentially egotistical exclamation would’ve sown distrust among the M7 nations, especially the Soviet Union. Perhaps it was the Iridium fever in him talking, but there’s some discord going on for so much friction to erupt between them at this rate.

 

Again, however, for all the socioeconomic issues in this alternate take of 2003, the main component that gave this season and the show its compulsive edge is the characters, both the returning and the new alike.

 

Starting with the returning characters, Ed Baldwin was still the committed astronaut he had been over the past three seasons. However, something about his characterizations this season reached a point where his egomaniacal nature and arrogance started seeping through, making him look more flawed than ever before. Part of it was present when he was so committed to his advancement in the space regime that he expressed gradual negligence toward Kelly and his grandson, Alex, despite his promises to return home to them. He was also not in the right mindset to admit his bodily problems to anyone, least of all Danielle, despite the signs suggesting that he should’ve sought medical help sooner rather than later. And his connections with those he thought deserved better than what they’ve got, including fellow Cosmonaut Svetlana, eventually reached their breaking point. And I believe it all started with his friendship with Danny Stevens, who was exiled at the end of last season for causing the destruction of the drill and jumpstarting the Marsquake. When Danny was so close to being let go from his imprisonment in the Space capsule, Ed and Danielle found him dead, possibly out of suicide, since the grief and guilt he endured over all that he had done during the show took its toll on him. And now, his frustrations with his allies, whether with Danielle, Dev, or anyone else in charge, conveyed a complicated angle from him regarding his companionships. He now reminds me somewhat of Anakin Skywalker, given his feelings for the less fortunate and how he lashed out at those who looked at the situations more clearly than he had.

 

At first, Aleida felt a tad uninteresting in this season outside of her flashbacks to her time at NASA during the terrorist attack. However, some things about her kept her interesting, like the flashbacks, which already tell me that she’d suffered periods of PTSD. Later, because she felt like she couldn’t concentrate on her work, Aleida quit NASA and decided to join up with Kelly to pitch her Mars rover project to whoever she could find until Dev Ayesa came along to help them by offering them to join him, even if he was encouraged to do so by them. It was interesting how, as part of the M7 briefings, she functioned as Helios’ general spokesperson; watching her be tutored for 20 years by Margo paid off big time. However, when she met up with Margo, only then did she start to reassess her conditions in life, especially her friendship with Margo, not only because Aleida knew then that Margo was still alive but also because of Margo sharing Aleida’s designs with the Soviet Union last season. It was then that she became more engaging as she was unsure how to work with Margo or even whether she should, given what Margo did to Aleida last time. These dilemmas all played out as naturally as they could, and they always whipped up some intrigue between these characters as they scrambled to get the job done for M7 and the Goldilocks mission.

 

As for Margo, I’m impressed with how she can withstand so much torture and still walk away unscathed before some harm could’ve been done to her. Where do I begin? She nestled for eight years in the Soviet Union. She was entangled in a riot that got her thrown into a Soviet prison. She was suddenly asked to work for Roscosmos after she tried and failed to get in. She was invited to accompany Irina, the new head of Roscosmos, to the USA for the latest M7 brief meeting. She finally met up with her pupil again after being mistaken for having died in the terrorist attack. She tried to lay low because of her act of treason back in the mid-90s. She had so much to grapple with as she struggled to maintain her composure because of her actions many years before. Her technological and space knowledge was on surefire display all the way through, no doubt. Still, I could feel her angst and anxiety as she had to work her way through one precarious circumstance after the next, whether in the Soviet Union, NASA, or her old home country. Watching her being tested by her enemies and friends, such as in the Soviet prison, or by Sergei about her alliance with Irina, makes her resourcefulness and determination to even the odds only make her an even more stimulating character to watch this season.



Part of Kelly Baldwin’s characterization this season made her look like she was given the short end of the stick, with her studies over the Mars rover program being somewhat sidelined back at NASA and her father being away as the Space commander for far longer than he promised to be. But her resilience to get her work off the ground, in a manner of speaking, not to mention tend to her son, Alex, because of his conditions added to her sense of resilience when she was about to finally make her work manageable and even come to Ed instead of waiting for Ed to come to her. On top of that, Kelly would’ve met up with Ed as a fellow Helios member this time. But outside of her determination to uphold her studies of life on Mars, her questioning relationship with Ed highlighted how much Ed’s adventurous mode was partially turning off some of his closest allies, including Kelly, his adopted daughter.

 

While she still acted out as the resolute NASA commander with her head held high, Danielle Poole went through constant struggles as she was invited to uphold the position on Happy Valley again at Eli’s request. Outside of her friendship with Ed falling apart, she knew that part of Danny having committed suicide was her fault since she was responsible for incarcerating him in solitary confinement until his time was up. That’s what led to his gradual depression and him committing suicide. But outside of that, she also had to deal with the Helios strike, her determination to rope Goldilocks back into Earth, and put up with potential hijackers who tried to hack into Ranger’s asteroid-capturing program. Despite the overwhelming odds, however, she confronted these issues with a generally composed and firm vibe. Wow, she’s proven herself a true warrior this season, and not just Margo!



Dev Ayesa felt more like a keen player this season and expressed more character to him than before. After initially resigning as the head of Helios, he wondered whether to continue living out his dream after losing Karen Baldwin to the terrorist attack last season. But after being talked by Aleida and Kelly into retaking the Helios mantle, he displayed his true colors as the head of Helios and attempted to work out any potential solutions and compromises he could think of, whether it was to grant Kelly and her son a ride with him into Mars to uphold Alex’s education during their stay there, or attempting to propose some deals with the striking Helios workers from the bottom of Happy Valley. However, after he and Ed butted heads over the negotiations of this deal, they both agreed, at Dev’s proposition, to hack into the Ranger system and try to carry Goldilocks themselves into Mars orbit as opposed to that of Earth. At this rate, he still displayed some of his conniving mastermind techniques, only this time, his experiences back in the mid-90s may have shaped him into a better cooperator and an almost enlightened leader willing to achieve the impossible.

 

Among the new characters, Miles Dale seemed like a meek guy who didn’t have the best background or the qualifications necessary to pull off a decent job in the Helios facilities outside of him having worked in an oil rig. But when he was given the job to operate in Happy Valley on Mars – even if he partly cheated his way into acceptance – the conditions Miles found himself in were nothing like what he endured with his wife and kids back home. It pushed him into committing questionable deeds under the Helios Board’s noses, such as sneaking in Martian rubies that would’ve gone for thousands of dollars back on Earth, running a black-market brewery, and smuggling all kinds of products from Earth through the cargo bay. His newbie condition, frustrations with the below-par conditions, and his later entanglement with Ed and Dev in snagging Goldilocks tested his resilience in the face of unexpected yet unacceptable circumstances.



And the new commander of Roscosmos, Irina, seemed like a very conniving, mysterious woman. Many facets of her looked like she was someone Margo could’ve trusted when the rest of the Soviet Union was regressing into Communist rule. However, some of her actions and propositions for progress for Roscosmos, including laying off one of her fellow scientists over a severe miscalculation and achieving some unknowing ends with Eli at NASA, slowly but surely painted her with a more ominous undertone, like she was up to something that seemed reasonable but didn’t smell right. Even if I didn’t follow all her motives, her intentions with Margo and her Soviet progress in the Space Race development displayed her with an utmost underhandedness that’s off-putting yet softly appealing.

 

And the acting…what more can I say? Everyone was fantastic, displaying their characters with a sense of vitality. But there are some highlights I want to address, not just among those who’ve joined the show but also among those returning this season.

 

Starting with Joel Kinnaman, he still conveyed the masculine softness in his voice and some of the cocky instincts he had mastered throughout the show so far. But here, he excelled in portraying Ed with signs of his old age catching up with him, even when he was too determined to let it weigh him and his dreams down. Even in some scenes where his bodily conditions came about due to his old age, he legitimately made Ed feel like he was expressing such signs to match, despite the actor looking much younger than Ed would’ve been by this point in this series. In addition, he seemed very different, having grown a beard and mustache, making him look half unrecognizable as Ed Baldwin. Perhaps this makeover displays Ed’s more scraggly and almost uncaring demeanor as his closeness with some of his colleagues and overbearing determination to make a name for himself within space revealed more about his insecurities.

 

Speaking of looking and acting their age, Wrenn Schmidt sank into her role as Margo Madison. With the wrinkles on her face, the grayish hair, and still maintaining her respectable position amongst space scientists, she made Margo look like she was showing her age a bit without ever letting it overshadow her valuable assets as a space scientist. Schmidt was just as excellent when she was taken in as a KGB captive. Her levels of terror and helplessness, as she tried to wriggle her way out of imprisonment and capture, tested her resolve as she attempted to dig her way out of harm’s way until she finally found herself in Irina’s company when she had something in mind with Margo outside of her space experience. And when she started to suspect something feeling off, whether it’s with Irina, with Aleida whenever she was nearby, or with Sergei’s presence and warning to her about Irina, her worrisome complexion added tremendous intrigue in her as she was about to brace the troublesome and unexpected, given her reputation in the USA as a likely national traitor.

 

The actress playing Irina, Svetlana Efremova, slunk into her character with the utmost elegance and subtlety necessary to display her character as being quite omniscient about her tactics with Margo on behalf of Roscosmos. What made her performance feel so stellar was how her inflections could seem friendly and considerate to one person but also come across as deceptive and manipulative to someone else. There was no telling what went on in her head whenever she planned something out in her brain as she and Margo prepared to snag Goldilocks together. And because of her unpredictable nature, I was kept in the dark about her motivations as much as Margo was, and for that, she did wonders with her character.

 

Coral Peña sounded and looked more like she had mastered Aleida Rosales’ sense of professionalism. She seemingly got the hang of being in the same room as the other elite NASA members and had the expertise necessary to share her convictions when confronting something as overwhelming as the necessity to snag an asteroid and bring it to Earth’s orbit. However, when she was troubled, anxious, or overwhelmed, Peña went all out there and, in turn, emphasized Aleida’s general vulnerability when confronting what Aleida had dealt with before and what she had dealt with in the present.



I think one of her standout performances this season was when she finally reunited with Margo after nine years of being absent and mistaken for having perished in the terrorist attack of 1995. She conveyed all the emotions of looking at someone as if they came back from the dead in all the proper, effective doses. For a second, I feared she would’ve retaliated against Margo, only for her to embrace Margo in tears instead and talk about how happy she was to see her. But as she got more comfortable, only then did she start to unleash her inner guilt, grief, and fury at Margo not only for abandoning her and the rest of the USA when they mistook her for having been killed in the terrorist attack, but also for handing Aleida’s ideas off to Sergei behind her back. I can tell she was going through a whirlwind of emotions, and she mastered them to the utmost degree in this scene.

 

The general coolness when confronting massive stakes at hand or expressing inner grief is what Krys Marshall mastered as she resumed her role as Danielle Poole. Outside of her generally contended attitude whenever she was most mellow, she also demonstrated her confidence as the commander of Happy Valley when she had to troubleshoot every obstacle Happy Valley confronted during their drive to snag Goldilocks and fling it Earth’s way so they could make mining operations there easier. Of course, you remember how I thought that Ed Baldwin gave out some of the most intimidating, haunting performances whenever he lost his cool with someone, as he had in seasons 2 and 3? Well, that honor for this season’s most intimidating, haunting performance belongs to her, precisely when Danielle and Ed had their falling out concerning Ed’s increasing irresponsibility and blaming of her for Danny’s death. The pure anger and anguish she unleashed onto Ed for all that she resented about him in the 30 years they worked together caught me off guard while also making me feel sorry for them as I watched their friendship start to crumble because of what wrongs Ed thought she did and what wrongs Danielle thought Ed was guilty of. 

 

The actor playing Miles Dale, Toby Kebbell, helped convey his character with a lowlier, city-guy demeanor as he wrapped his head around all the undesirable conditions he endured with his coworkers at Happy Valley. Some of his annoyed expressions hinted at his background since he worked at an oil rig, so there’s a sense that he’s still inexperienced in the space program and still had a ways to go with it. At the same time, his inflections almost conveyed Miles with a tenderness that convinced me that he’s a good man with a good heart, even if he became increasingly frustrated with the circumstances around him. And when it came to sneaking some stuff into the Happy Valley base, Kebbell displayed a level of expertise in this field, like he exercised what Miles gathered when working in the oil rigs onto his black-market job. And his expertise only grew as he allied with Ed and Dev to capture Goldilocks.



And finally, let’s talk about Eli Hobson, head of the NASA board. The character was fine enough, working alongside some of his coworkers, Aleida and Irina, to discuss their progress in the Goldilocks mission. Plus, his conversations with Al Gore on the phone did amount to some interesting contrasts in personality, for Al Gore may have expected more out of the mission than Eli did, and Eli was generally confident in making it all work in the end, somehow. However, the one aspect of his character that took me by surprise was who played him, and it was none other than Daniel Stern. Or, as we may know him, Marv from the Home Alone movies. Familiarities aside, what shocked me even more was how skillful his acting was when playing this role. His gravelly tone gave Eli a sense of maturity and experience in the space field, despite this being potentially his first time working in the NASA Space Center, renamed the Molly Cobb Space Center after her selfless acts of rescue during the terrorist attack. I’ll admit, I’ve not seen many of his other films, but something about how he played his role here felt like his acting matured with him as he became more experienced. How did he go from playing a Wet Bandit to playing the head of NASA so naturally?

 

But now, for the sake of shedding some light on its story, there will be spoilers afoot for the season finale, so here goes.

 

Because of the strike that the Helios workers issued, the circumstances led to a couple of NASA workers being killed when the circuit systems in the Happy Valley gas chamber were tampered with before they could be inspected. Because of this, after Miles further collaborated with Dev and Ed to smuggle some Helios computers to help them hijack the Ranger module and take Goldilocks to Mars’ orbit instead of Earth, Miles was taken into custody and constantly beaten down to spill his cohorts’ whereabouts. Later, after Dev, Ed, and Samantha – who was initially suspended after partaking in the strike only to be allowed to join the Ranger space module at Dev’s insistence – successfully rewired Ranger’s circuits so they could take Goldilocks to Mars, Miles’ cohorts found him being interrogated and freed him. Later, in a fit of retaliation for the hijack, the NASA and Soviet members, including one of the men who beat down and interrogated Miles for information, tried to execute Ed, Dev, and the others for tampering with Ranger and foiling their mission to escort Goldilocks to Earth, and this resulted in a full-blown riot once the outraged NASA and Helios workers lunged in. Scarier still, it resulted in one of the astronauts firing a gun, which was the same gun that the North Korean astronaut carried with him in 1995, and the bullet hit Danielle, who attempted to break up the fight. On top of that, Margo and Aleida helped in having Goldilocks escorted to Mars, too, because this was Margo’s way of getting back at Irina for ordering some hitmen to kill off Sergei in his hotel room and passing it off as a suicide. So now, Margo had to stand trial for her actions against Roscosmos while, thankfully, Danielle recovered from the bullet wound so she could see her family again.

 

Goldilocks (L) and Mars (R)

One of the most intriguing parts about this outcome was that originally, actress Krys Marshall thought about having Danielle legitimately succumb to her bullet wounds and die. Her cluing the fans into it made them all worry that she would be among the next few main characters to die this season. But as the creators explained, bringing down the axe on one of the show’s most beloved characters so suddenly would’ve been too much of a crushing blow. So, as a compromise, they had it where Danielle would’ve still been shot with the likelihood that she might not have lived through it, only for her to steadily recover bit by bit from the shot. So, this proved most beneficial, especially given the show’s track record of having one or two of its main characters die before the end of every season finale. If anything, it contributed to the healthy dosage of suspense that enlivened this season finale. And, unanticipated turns of events like these amounted to what I can attest to about For All Mankind’s strengths: it got its season finales down to a fine art. Each one amounted to an explosive ending that helped the season go out with a bang and set the stage for the next season to follow, primarily with a song from the decade the show was about to lunge into.

 

And here’s what season four ended on. The newest introduction? Kuznetsov Station, named after Grigory. The location? Goldilocks. The year? 2012. 

 

As always, this finale got me excited and hopeful for the show to earn another season or two because now, For All Mankind is on the brink of catching up with us in our present timeframe! 

 

The creators mentioned that they plan to have For All Mankind last for precisely seven seasons. If the show follows through per the creators’ visions, it could go as far as into the 2030s. In which case, it would provide more imaginative rewritings of history with what we believe is possible in the 2030s while still leaving open the possibility of us achieving in space travel what the characters in the show already have.

 

Another aspect of what Season 4 ended on also got me thinking: What would have happened if Goldilocks was roped into Earth’s orbit instead of Mars’? One pattern that seems to be occurring here is that throughout its four seasons, the show showed the progression of humanity’s trek into space with what facilities they left behind. First, it was NASA on Earth. Then, on the Moon came the Jamestown base. Then, on Mars, came the Happy Valley Base. Then, on Goldilocks, came the Kuznetsov Station. Plus, Ed, Dev, Samantha, and Miles’ heist of Goldilocks, as they took it into Mars’ orbit, now made this asteroid act as if it was Mars’ own Moon, despite having only two moons: Phobos and Deimos. It all feels like another testament to the show’s exceptional storytelling concerning how far we’re willing to go in space travel.

 

While this season had a slight fake-out with regards to which asteroid is the focus this season, and while it was a bit slow, everything else it had to offer more than made up for it. Dare I say it, each season of this show keeps getting better than the last. The circumstances were riveting, its revisionist aspects gave way to some intriguing world-building possibilities, the characters all felt as multi-faceted as ever, the acting was stupendous, and it continues to provoke interesting discussions and questions about our capabilities of extending our treks to the farthest reaches of space. It was a good thing this came out when the investigations of 16 Psyche were underway because now, outside of being an exciting piece of sci-fi television that’ll guarantee an engaging peek into the potential outcome of the Space Race if it never ended, as the show began, it rewards us with the likelihood of us following suit soon enough if we stick to our guns and take the next steps necessary to follow its lead.

 

May this show continue to live on and enlighten us with its encouragement of progress in space travel!


My Rating

A low A


Works Cited


Gomez, P. (2024, January 12). “For All Mankind” star Krys Marshall asked writers to kill Danielle: Here’s how that conversation went. EW.com. https://ew.com/for-all-mankind-season-4-finale-krys-marshall-asked-writers-to-kill-danielle-8425616


Lockhart, L. (2023, September 28). NASA’s Psyche Mission Targeting Oct. 12 for Launch. NASA. https://blogs.nasa.gov/psyche/2023/09/28/nasas-psyche-mission-targeting-oct-12-for-launch/


Mott, F. D. (2023, October 13). NASA probe heads for metal-rich asteroid worth $10 Quintillion after launch on SpaceX Rocket. Business Insider. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/commodities/asteroid-psyche-nasa-probe-iron-nickel-gold-10-quintillion-spacex-2023-10#:~:text=The%20176%2Dmile%2Dwide%20asteroid,ore%20at%20around%20%2410%20quintillion.

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