Welcome to the recaps of For all mankind season two. Season 3 debuts on June 10th and what better way to whet viewers’ appetites than to review the fast-paced season For all mankind to size?
Welcome to an episode about how the past doesn’t just stay with us, it’s hardly a past, just a past now. First, the ongoing insane space hijinks between the US and the Soviets. When will these two crazy superpowers of the world kiss and make up? On their way from enemies to…whatever they become, somehow the cosmonauts stationed on the moon figured it out exactly where the Jamestown astronauts planned to start mining for lithium and have taken over that site. How did they know where to go so quickly? And what will the Americans do about it?
After a few laps around the rhetorical merry-go-round of the need to retake and hold the compound, and how they’re going to do it without the support of the United Nations, Bradford and Ed are stating the obvious: this new sub-mission requires an all-around -the-clock-use security, which means the security team needs guns. Special weapons. On the moon. No one is surprised when Margo and Tom are horrified; Tom plaintively asks “literally any others solution,” but economic sanctions would take months to take effect and could backfire. Guns on the moon it is. Marines are the only astronauts with combat training, so they will ensure the safety of the lithium mine, which Americans want back for a number of reasons, not least because a robust supply of lithium could provide a reliable, non-nuclear source of energy for the Jamestown Colony .
Bradford later pays Ed a gentle, scrutinizing solo visit and hypothesizes that the Soviets may not have cracked NASA’s communications encryption key. What if Jamestown Colony is bugged? Didn’t Ed briefly leave cosmonaut Vasiliev alone when he was up there nine years ago? A thorough search of the Jamestown command center reveals that the Soviets have indeed had ears on American space activities since 1974. Although no one can blame Ed, this information security flaw gnaws at him given the extreme circumstances of the bug’s placement. He’s still haunted by his memories and guilt about Shane’s death while he was in Jamestown, and now all of that is being dug up and combined with his unwitting role at the base that’s been monitored for so long.
The past is also an annoying present for Gordo and Tracy, whose relationship is usually more shallow than friendly, so much so that Gordo is Tracy’s first call when she crashes her car in the middle of the night and is driving home drunk. After Gordo brought her home (to her old home), Tracy doesn’t want to go to the mansion she shares with her new husband Sam Cleveland because he’s away, and the staff treats her like a teenager caught after curfew, so she takes a seat in her house old bed and forced Gordo to take the couch. Keep going? What is that? Gordo pushes the issue the next morning by removing Tracy’s keys to the house from her keychain, sparking a major argument about everything: the past, the present, the future. Tracy still resents Gordo’s past infidelities; He has tried to tell her he will be coming to the moon while she is there, she is incredulous that he would take focus away from her PR mission and he points out that it sounds like she will really worried about her press clippings. Furious. Neither of them is completely over the other, and all of the emotional wounds they left together during their marriage are far more tender than they had thought up until this moment.
Speaking of tender feelings and the ever-present past, Aleida’s friend Davy managed to do a bit of professional matchmaking by encouraging Margo to come over to her trailer to help Aleida – now a brilliant engineer with a powerful chip on her shoulder and a string of lost jobs to show for it — getting a job so she wouldn’t be deported under Reagan’s immigration amnesty program. Aleida is ashamed that Margo is aware of her situation, initially prickly and disgusted by Margo’s offer of an entry-level job at NASA, and hurls it back in Margo’s face as a far too late attempt to appease her own guilt in deporting Aleida’s father . But that’s a job at NASA. NASA! She’s almost too proud to take the job, but she’s also too desperate not to. See you at JSC, kid.
We’ve saved the best (and by “best” I mean “the most emotionally devastating exploration of the long-term effects of prolonged and undertreated grief”) for last. Kelly’s interest in attending the US Naval Academy in Annapolis is so strong that it has become her first choice of colleges to which she applies. The other schools on her list—College of William and Mary, Georgetown University, American University, and University of Virginia—signal how bright Kelly is and how excellent her grades must be. She will make an excellent applicant.
When she comes up with the idea of including Annapolis in her upcoming campus tour, Karen at first mistakes her interest for a little daughterly pride in Ed’s alma mater, then briskly tries to end it when Kelly announces her intention to apply. Why has Karen never heard of this interest? Gosh, I just can’t see why this should be a hot topic of conversation in the Baldwin household! Why does Kelly even want to do this? Kelly tries public service, to no avail. She proceeds to explaining her desire to learn to fly, and so on Yes, really throws Karen: her hands are shaking just a little, she starts folding up all the itinerary materials and snaps at Kelly. The audio cuts out as the camera pans back through Karen’s office window, so we only see the end of their argument. Kudos to Shantel VanSanten for her performance in this scene: her growing horror as she realizes what Kelly is up to, the tremulous notes of sadness and fear in her voice before she switches to a classic Now listen, missy Ton, the card and notebook thing, so it has to do with her shaking hands. It’s all done really well, and Cynthy Wu holds her own, from a faint hope that she can get her mother on her side to a steely refusal to back down from her dream. The Tom Petty poster in Kelly’s bedroom reflects a certain kinship, doesn’t it?
Thankfully, Karen is taking Tracy’s good advice – effectively, where there’s a will there’s a way, parental control is an illusion, and don’t you want to cheer on your daughter as she pursues her dream? – and approaches Kelly more openly. Being able to speak honestly about it from a place of genuine curiosity and caring, rather than burdening Kelly with the weight of memories and sadness she doesn’t have to bear, makes a huge difference, as does Kelly’s discovery of Shane’s beloved Popeye -Toys just before. years ago hidden in the ventilation shaft of the air conditioning system. It seems like a sign, and Karen boards the good ship Future Midshipman Kelly Baldwin.
The real obstacle to Kelly’s dream is Ed. More specifically, Ed’s nuclear emotional breakdown when he finds out about it when he gets home. Season One Ed is back with a vengeance and it’s terrifying. Joel Kinnaman has accumulated quite a bit between seasons for his role in The Suicide Squad, and he’s using his particularly imposing height here to tower over Karen and Kelly, stomping around, yelling at Kelly to go to her room, making threats, torpedoing her application, and throwing her out of the house like Chez Baldwin is a Schiff under his command, with Karen and Kelly as his subordinates. This dog will not hunt, as Karen makes clear as she lunges at Ed, yells at him, and bangs and punches his chest with her fists.
At this point, I’m not even sure if Ed is fully aware of his words and actions; this scene reminds me strongly The western wing Episode “Noel” in which Josh Lyman’s PTSD manifests as a spectacular outbreak in the Oval Office, prompting Leo McGarry to bring in a trauma specialist to work with him. Ed is out of control and it takes Karen’s equally savage reaction and Kelly slipping in between them to break his emotional fever. As he slouches in a chair, battered and hunched over, a confused Kelly quite rightly proclaims, “Whatever that we won’t do it anymore,” whereupon her parents immediately agreed and Ed took back his threats. Kelly gets straight to the point again: “We’re going to calm down and talk about what’s going on.” The most poignant element of this intense and well-deserved scene is the dawning realization by the entire Baldwin family that despite the best efforts of Karen and Ed, Kelly protecting her from the worst of her grief for Shane, shoulders that burden anyway. It’s a sign of what a balanced person she is that she’s able to take the reins and be the adult in the room in this moment, and it’s totally unfair that she had to do that .
As terrible as their argument was, it also breaks something between Ed and Karen, giving them space for a conversation they should have had years ago and addressing the guilt they feel for Shane’s death. At least Kelly can see her parents have an honest, tough, and loving conversation about the worst tragedy of their lives and emerge from it with their relationship intact. Ed, Karen and Kelly quickly find their way to a group hug and sing their lungs out in a family jam rendition of the Naval Academy battle song “Anchors Aweigh.” The camera pans through the living room window, a nice visual symmetry with Karen and Kelly’s less than promising earlier conversation about Annapolis.
• Needle drop of the week: Spandau Ballet’s ‘True’, used here as a head fake of sorts, plays about Gordo and Tracy’s arrival home after she’s fairly candidly reported back from crashing into a guardrail. Their relationship is real and there’s still some love there, but Tracy passes out in what used to be her and Gordo’s bed. As Tony Hadley serves up a passed out blue-eyed soul, Gordo heads to the couch.
• Best Little Character Moments: Tracy’s hair from dog breakfast spills out of the open bottle on her bedside table, and Margo adjusts her excellent Coach bag just enough to brace herself for Aleida.
Check the For all mankind Page this Friday for episodes five and six.
https://www.vulture.com/article/for-all-mankind-season-two-episode-three-recap-rules-of-engagement.html ‘For All Mankind’ Season 2 Episode 3 Summary