Is there anything as prophetic as “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” blaring across the moon to ensure that things are NOT going to be alright?
For All Mankind Season 2 Episode 1 began with a beautiful scene. The astronauts on the Jamestown Colony (my, how things have changed) were prepping for their first sunrise in 14 days, some of them for the first time.
By the end of the second season premiere, their lives were in jeopardy, and NASA and the military were embroiled in a battle to keep America safe and the military out of NASA.
If you’ve watched the trailers and you checked out my early interviews with some of the cast, then you know that For All Mankind Season 2 picks up about 10 years after the end of the first season.
At that time, the US and Russia had small bases for specimen-collecting on the moon that allowed a limited number of people on the moon at any given time.
Fast forward ten years, and there’s practically a thriving metropolis in comparison. There are at least a dozen astronauts manning Jamestown, and they cycle in and out, using a shuttle service to ferry crews up and down. Hey, it’s what we always imagined a “shuttle” would be used for. Little did we know.
Thank goodness, we have For All Mankind to show us how different things could be if we’d been a little more interested in space instead of just using it for commercial gain.
OK. That last sentiment might be my dissapointment that humans in space have only gotten as far as earth’s orbit, never fully embracing the possibilities like we’re seeing on For All Mankind and that most of what we know about the shuttle missions that we do have involve repairing satellites.
For All Mankind is a nice reminder that necessity is the mother of invention. Although Ed (now an admiral!) scoffed at someone’s electric car that barely scraped 60 on the road, imagine how much further that technology could have come in the last 20 years if it was a requirement to make the moon more habitable.
NASA’s innovations have made our everday lives more comfortable and efficient, and we have nothing that compares to the scope of Jamestown. It makes perfect sense to see more innovation earlier in the game because of that spirit of exploration.
It wasn’t only exploration driving NASA and the military’s ambitions, though. For All Mankind read the room and realized that if the race was on between the US and Russia, they’d take it to the moon.
During the first season, the stakes were limited. There wasn’t effective transportation between earth and the moon, and what they had in place on the moon was also limited in scope.
But now, there is a lot at stake on the moon, too, and the US Military sees it as an opportunity to weaponize the next generation shuttle, and if they’re on the shuttle, they’ll effectively be on the moon.
NASA administration knows that’s not a route they want to take, but in light of the solar flares, you can bet it will be an ongoing battle between them and the military. It took under a minute for the general at mission control to see the opportunity for what it was.
But that’s not the most significant issue at hand for either of them now that the event has passed. That becomes the health and welfare of those who were directly exposed to the radiation.
Molly Cobb, who should be front and center in that discussion, will not be affected because she purposefully took off her radiation detector to save her fellow astronaut, consequenced be damned.
It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out. With the amount of radiation they were discussing, she should be practically melting in her boots. If she doesn’t tell anyone she was exposed, then what becomes of her?
All of that said, it’s not too surprising then, that Ed is now Chief of Astronauts and Margot leading NASA. Their commitment is unwavering. Margot has given up her life on the ground as effectively as Molly gave up hers to save someone on the moon.
She’s living out of her office, using her toothbrush as a pen to ensure no time is wasted. We can only guess that Ed’s sacrifice is somewhat similar.
Given the tragic loss of his son that Karen had to weather on her own, Ed decided to limit his active missions and went in an entirely different direction. It’s paid off handsomely, I’m sure, but did you ever imagine Ed happy to be ruffling the feathers of a NASA newb while using his office carpet as a putting green?
For All Mankind spent an opening scene blowing past the last ten years historically (and that was really fun!), but they didn’t give the same treatment to our day-to-day characters. Instead, we’ll get to know where they have been through their actions in the present.
Karen, who once seemed uninspired, is running The Outpost. She only stepped foot in it for the first time late in Season 1 when she befriended Ellen’s girlfriend, Pam. That friendship must have endured, as it changed Karen’s life, as did an apparent adoption for her and Ed.
We didn’t see anything of Pam during the premiere, but Ellen, now commander of Jamestown, is still married to Larry, and they said “I love you” to one another while on the phone. There’s a story to uncover!
It’s not very difficult to entertain what happened between Gordo and Tracy Stevens.
Gordo’s been living with the guilt of his mental collapse on the moon for a decade. He’s taken the lie he regretted a very long time ago on the road to Rotary Club luncheons. It’s eating him alive. He looks like hell, and he’s drinking — a lot.
His marriage with Tracy dissolved as her career skyrocketed. She’s the face of NASA, an international celebrity. A brief scene featured her sharing news of a new engagement with the world on Johnny Carson — well before her friends or ex-husband were clued in.
Judging by the reaction, Sam Cleveland might be a household name. Another story that I can’t wait to see unfold.
The For All Mankind Season 2 premiere is off to a brilliant start. Their trust in the audience is just what the doctor ordered, too. We weren’t insulted with exposition to fill us in on key details, and that will make watching each episode far more enjoyable.
Of course, the wait until next week has just begun. But we’ll also have interviews rolling out throught the season, so I hope you’ll be along for the ride.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.