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‘For All Mankind’ Season 2, Episode 3 Recap

For all mankind

Rules of Engagement

Season 2

Episode 3

Editor’s note

5 stars

Photo: AppleTV+

Welcome to the retrospective recaps of For all mankind season two. The third season premieres on June 10, and what better way to whet viewers’ appetite than by recap of the skyrocketing season. For all mankind to greatness?

Welcome to an episode about how the past doesn’t just stay with us, it’s barely past, just past now. First up: the ongoing goofy space hijackings between the US and the Soviets. When will these two crazy world superpowers kiss and reconcile? On their way from enemies to… no matter what they will become, one way or another, the cosmonauts who are stationed on the moon have understood exactly where the Jamestown astronauts planned to start mining lithium and took over that site. How did they know where to go so fast? And what are the Americans going to do?

After a few spins around the rhetorical carousel of needing to recover and retain the site and wondering how they are going to do it without any UN support, Bradford and Ed state the obvious: this new sub-mission requires 24-hour security , which means that the security team will need weapons. Specifically firearms. On the moon. No one is surprised when Margo and Tom are devastated; Tom plaintively asks “literally other solution”, but the economic sanctions would take months to have an effect and could backfire. Guns on the moon, that’s it. The Marines are the only astronauts with combat training, so they will provide security for the lithium mine, which the Americans want back for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that a solid supply of lithium could be a reliable, non-nuclear source. energy for the colony of Jamestown.

Bradford later pays Ed a gently probing solo visit, assuming the Soviets may not have broken NASA’s communications encryption. What if Jamestown Colony is bugged? Didn’t Ed leave cosmonaut Vasiliev alone for a brief period when he was up there nine years ago? A thorough scan of the Jamestown command center reveals that, yes, indeed, the Soviets have had ears on American space activities since 1974. While no one blames Ed, given the extreme circumstances of the bug’s placement, this flaw in information security gnaws at it. . He’s still haunted by his memories and guilt for Shane’s death while in Jamestown, and now it’s all been unearthed and combined with his unwitting role at the base under surveillance for so long.

The past is also vexatiously present for Gordo and Tracy, whose relationship is usually on the shallow end of amicable, so much so that Gordo is Tracy’s first call when she crashes her car on her way home. drunk in the middle of the night. After Gordo brought her home (for their old house), 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 surprised teenager after curfew, so she helps herself a place in their old bed, forcing Gordo to take the couch. Move on ? What is that? Gordo presses the issue the next morning by removing Tracy’s house keys from her keychain, which sparks a big argument about, well, everything: past, present, future. Tracy is still resentful of Gordo’s past infidelities; he tries to tell her he’ll come to the moon while she’s there, she’s in disbelief that he’s diverting attention from her PR assignment, and he points out that sounds like what’s really on her mind , these are his press clippings. Phew. Neither of them is entirely over the other, and any emotional bruises they left during their marriage are far more tender than they had realized up to that point.

Speaking of tender feelings and the ever-present past, Aleida’s boyfriend Davy pulled off a bit of professional matchmaking by encouraging Margo to come to their trailer to help Aleida – now a brilliant engineer with a powerful chip on her shoulder and a string of lost jobs to prove it – get a job so you don’t get deported under Reagan’s immigration amnesty program. Aleida is mortified that Margo is aware of her situation, at first prickly and disgusted by Margo’s offer of an entry-level job at NASA, throwing it back in Margo’s face as an all too late attempt to assuage his own guilt over the expulsion of Aleida’s father. . But it’s a NASA job. NASA! She’s almost too proud to take the job, but she’s also too desperate not to. See you at the JSC, kid.

We’ve saved the best (and by “the best” I mean “the most emotionally devastating exploration of the long-term effects of persistent, undertreated grief”) for last. Kelly’s interest in attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis is so strong that it has become her first choice among colleges to apply to. The other schools on her list — the College of William and Mary, Georgetown University, American University and the University of Virginia — show just how bright Kelly is and how great her grades must be. She will make an excellent candidate.

When she floats the idea of ​​including Annapolis in her next campus tour itinerary, Karen first takes her interest in a bit of girlish pride for Ed’s alma mater, then eagerly tries to shut it down when Kelly announces her intention to apply. Why hasn’t Karen heard of this interest before? Hell, I just can’t imagine why this would be such a busy topic of conversation in the Baldwin household! Why does Kelly even want to do this? Kelly tries the civil service angle, to no avail. She progresses by declaring her desire to learn to fly, and that really triggers Karen: hands are shaking a bit, she starts folding all the route material and goes after Kelly. The sound stops when the camera pulls 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 grasps what Kelly is planning to do, the quavering note of grief and anxiety in her voice before switching to a classic Now listen here Missy tone, the little business with the cards and the notebook for her to have something to do with her shaking hands. Everything is really well done, and Cynthy Wu is holding on, going from a tentative hope of being able to get her mother on her side to a categorical refusal to give up on her dream. That poster of Tom Petty in Kelly’s room shows some kinship, huh?

Fortunately, Karen listens to Tracy’s good advice – indeed, where there is a will, there is a way, parental control is an illusion, and don’t you want to encourage your daughter as she pursues her dream? — and approaches Kelly with a more open mind. Being able to talk about it honestly from a place of genuine curiosity and caring rather than weighing Kelly down with the weight of memories and sadness she can’t bear makes a huge difference, as does the discovery by Kelly moments before from Shane’s beloved Popeye toy, hidden in the air conditioning vent years ago. It looks like a sign, and Karen boards the good ship Future Midshipman Kelly Baldwin.

The real obstacle to Kelly’s dream is Ed. Specifically, Ed’s nuclear-level emotional breakdown when he hears about it upon arriving home. Ed’s first season is back with a vengeance, and it’s terrifying. Joel Kinnaman has grown a bit between seasons for his role in The Suicide Squad, and he uses his extra-imposing size to great effect here, towering over Karen and Kelly, stomping around, yelling at Kelly to go to her room, threatening to torpedo her candidacy and throw her out of the house, as if Chez Baldwin is a ship under his command, with Karen and Kelly as subordinates. This dog won’t hunt, as Karen makes it clear when she lunges at Ed, yells at him, slaps him, and punches him in the chest with her fists.

At this point, I’m not even sure that Ed is fully aware of his words and actions; this scene strongly reminds The west wing episode “Christmas”, where Josh Lyman’s PTSD manifests in a dramatic outburst 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 the equally savage response of Karen and Kelly inserting themselves between them to break his emotional fever. As he slumps into a chair, punched and curled up, a bewildered Kelly rightly announces, “Anyway that was, we don’t do it anymore,” his parents immediately agreeing and Ed withdrawing his threats. Kelly nails it again: “What we’re going to do is calm down and talk about what’s going on.” The most poignant element of this intense and deserved scene is the realization by the entire Baldwin family that despite Karen and Ed’s best efforts to shield her from the worst of their grief for Shane, Kelly is carrying that weight, anyway. . It’s a mark of her ability to take the reins and be the adult in the room right now, and it’s completely unfair that she had to.

As awful as their argument is, it also shatters something between Ed and Karen, giving them the space to have a conversation they should have had years ago, addressing the guilt they feel over Shane’s death. . At least Kelly can see her parents having an honest, tough, loving conversation about the worst tragedy of their lives and coming out of it with their relationship intact. Ed, Karen and Kelly quickly find their way to a group hug, belting out a family version of the Naval Academy fight song, “Anchors Aweigh.” The camera peeks out the living room window, a nice visual symmetry with Karen and Kelly’s earlier less promising conversation about Annapolis.

• Needle drop of the week: Spandau Ballet’s “True,” which is used here as a bit of a faux pas, plays on Gordo and Tracy’s arrival home after a fairly frank heart-to-heart after colliding with a railing. Their relationship is genuine and there is still some love there, but Tracy passes out in what was once her bed with Gordo. As Tony Hadley serves a passed out, blue-eyed soul, Gordo heads for the couch.

• Best moments with small characters: Modelo’s dog breakfast Tracy’s hair sipping from the open bottle on her bedside table, and Margo adjusting her excellent Coach bag just as she prepares to face Aleida.

Check the For all mankind page this Friday for episodes five and six.

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