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?
“I’m just aborting here.” Tracy’s sad, lonely realization is at the heart of this episode as quite a few of our space babies feel disconnected and miserable. Luckily for us, her ambivalence in navigating her chaotic situations makes for good television viewing.
Ed is rocked by his near-death experience of having to eject from his fighter jet, and Karen wants to shake him herself. She tries well at being frosty and mean — going so far as to indulge wrath of the khan when he suggests going together – but that’s not built to last, that intensity of righteous anger and concern for Ed, with a hefty dose of doubt in her own confident belief that she could handle all the stress. It’s a flashy “I told you so” moment that turns itself inside out.
Karen isn’t the only one who wants a strict word with Ed and Gordo. They are in Vice Principal Margo’s office, forced to listen to the audio of their dogfight and the ensuing machine fire. Her body language and tone of voice captures the essence of children getting into real trouble for the first time. In contrast, Molly’s line delivery is snappy and Fed up here with those cowboys – is so fresh and authoritative that for a moment I thought we were in a screwball comedy with Katharine Hepburn in overdrive and Cary Grant sailing into space with a martini for this irritable lady and a polite joke is going to defuse the tension.
Molly reads the riot to her recalcitrant pilots, but refrains from grounding them. Once past the office door, Gordo and Ed’s faces are priceless, the image of villains who can’t believe they just got away with that caper. Tom and Margo’s faces are best described as horrified. Tom actually stutters, while Margo takes a more philosophical approach, encouraging Molly to set a highly professional tone for her tenure. However, Molly doesn’t care what they think; She’s in charge of the Astronaut Office for now, so she’ll discipline her charges as she sees fit. Hello, Margo and Tom!
Meanwhile, Tracy is on the moon for the first time and arrives with much fanfare and initial excitement. It all spoils pretty quickly, leaving her witheringly homesick and crushed by the tedious routine, lousy living conditions, and her fellow astronauts’ resentment of her and her undeserved lunar perks. When Commander Rossi discovers that she has been drinking heavily from the mission pharmacy’s liquor supply and has jeopardized the entire crew’s air supply by blocking the vent in her rack that prevents them from sleeping at night, he passes the law.
Tracy needs to get in shape, huh yesterdayand in exchange for Rossi not texting her and her returning to Earth under a cloud of shame, she immediately agrees to work double shifts piloting the Lunar Surface Air Module (LSAM) to pick up cargo and on her appearance to renounce The Tonight Show, as well as their coveted single-person rack for a timeshare. (And just think: Rossi doesn’t even know she smoked in the airlock and blew the smoke into a vacuum to release it from one of the pipes above Jamestown Colony.) This tour is challenging in ways it isn’t knew to expect, but the added structure and being treated like a regular astronaut might be just what she needs to do the job she knows she is capable of and to be authentic and on par with her peers to get in touch.
The tension between dreams (the romance of flying!) and reality (having to eject and waste a $2 million fighter jet!) is woven into almost every moment of The Weight. Not about navigating the space that separates optimistic dreams from the penitent to hopeful reality, the character and story beats are tentative at best.
Gordo is getting in shape physically and mentally for his upcoming tour on the moon, but progress is slow. The jogs and cleaning out the liquor cabinet are manageable enough, but he needs to do more. Danny and Jimmy find him at the bottom of the pool in a wet suit and try to teach themselves to feel like he’s in his moon suit without throwing an anxiety attack. The look and tone are so reminiscent of similar scenes in rushmore and The graduate that it doesn’t seem random at all. If a man at the bottom of a pool were a sound, it would be a heavy sigh.
On the other hand, this experiment in claustrophobia tolerance leads to a beautiful and memorable scene between Gordo and his boys. He makes it clear that his upcoming mission compels him to confront and reconcile the opposing ideas, that he has a responsibility to keep a happy face so his family doesn’t worry, alongside the knowledge that “it It won’t always be okay… things can go wrong in a second.” A happily chaotic bonding moment ensues between father and sons as they all jump into an impromptu pool party.
With similarly timid hope, Ellen reconnects with Pam, attends her poetry reading in a cozy bookstore rabbit hole, and has a nice chat afterwards. A nice chat where Ellen meets Elise, Pam’s longtime partner. Despite Pam’s steady relationship, she invites Ellen to meet her for drinks when she’s back in town in a few weeks. These drinks go so well that Ellen and Pam end up in bed together. Will this heady reunion be a “whoops, never again, it was real!” or an “oh wow, that’s real, what do we do now?” One highlight I don’t want to mention here was the confirmation that disco was in this timeline is actually thriving. The gals who are buddies have a faintly incredulous and loving laugh at the thought of how Larry the buttoned-up engineer loves it every week in his frantic leisure suit and silver chain as he drives around town with his friend Peter to drive.
Aleida has actually turned up to take what she hopes will be a long-term position at NASA. After a blissful moment of pure hilarity in the Mission Control observation area, she dons her mask of cautious restraint and fends off a colleague’s mostly good-natured “get to know” questions about how she got the job. There’s a fine line between cultivating a flair for mystery and being so reserved that you come off as some distant madman with something to hide, and unfortunately that line is in the eye of the beholder. We’ll see how that goes.
We also have the first sighting of the moon cannons in this episode. The Marines who will ensure the safety of the lithium mine are in their suits and learning how to use the all-white M16 rifles that have been assigned to them for the mission. One Marine loudly wonders why they’re white, and another helpfully explains that standard weapons would melt in their gloves. The lunar surface can get as hot as 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and the white coating repels enough of that light and heat to keep the weapons functional.
Molly appears – at the last possible moment – to deliver the regulations for the use of force on the moon, and here we go. Her intention is to read and discuss the regulations with her astronauts, who are mud clear but her eyes are swimming and she cannot focus on any text. She plays it rough, which works, but is not a permanent solution. The cat will escape this bag sooner than later. Of all the people who walk a strange, unexpected path, Molly’s is perhaps the loneliest. And wow, both of her scenes do a great job of bringing home the fact that this promotion (which she was trying to keep Ed from talking her out of) doesn’t even provide a foot of runway. Launched into the stratosphere, she must hope to figure out how to stay aloft without drifting.
• Needle drop of consequence: “Shake Some Action” by the Flamin’ Groovies, a power pop masterpiece performed by Gordo and his boys splashing happily in the pool together.
• Tracy’s radio announcements include a fun little audio Easter egg: a nod to Reservoir Dogs if it contains one for 70’s KBILLY Super Sounds. Forgive me, I’ll put the lime in the coconut.
• Stacy’s Mom Alert: I regret to say that Danny Stevens isn’t just a thoughtful US Naval Academy midshipman and dependable waiter at the Outpost; He is also a teenager who has a crush on his dead best friend’s very beautiful mother. Karen does her best to maintain an appropriate adult boundary with him, but the final scene of her dancing alone to “Don’t Be Cruel” after Danny reminds her of that habit from a long time ago suggests that it is less desirable and an extremely messy outcome is on the horizon.
Check the For all mankind Page this Monday for episode six.
https://www.vulture.com/article/for-all-mankind-season-two-episode-five-recap-the-weight.html ‘For All Mankind’ Season 2 Episode 5 Summary