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For All Mankind changes things up from the season opener as a new player enters the space race.
by Jeremy Fogelman
The latest episode of For All Mankind is called “Game Changer” and more than one game is changed here. Of course the big storyline is about tech company Helios whose billionaire CEO Dev Ayesa (Edi Gathegi) wants to not only send a ship to Mars but beat the US and Russia to get there. This links to getting things intriguingly reconnected with Karen and Ed again, as Karen is able to sell her Polaris for apparently millions of dollars because Dev admits to having a personal stake in it.
His speech about his dad coming from Kenya and crying at the sight of the USSR landing on the Moon affected him, and the Polaris ship (not so much the station itself as tourist stop) is perfect for the Methane fuel they’re working on. He interestingly mentions the Swahili word for Harambee meaning essentially “all pull together”, no relation to the infamous gorilla, but it does make sense considering the oddly democratic nature of Helios we see later.
The drama gets kicked when Molly picks Ed to be the commander of the Mars mission, with Danielle heading the backup one in 98 -- Molly says that her knowing the science better will serve as the ideal leader after they get there, but Ed is a test pilot at his core, able to deal with the unknowns of space travel. He delightedly invites daughter Kelly to join the mission, and she actually accepts -- although considering how the episode ends, instead of the drama of two family members on a team, it looks more likely we’ll get two family members competing.
Things are moved further a bit with a few other people as we see Senator Ellen with her hubby and beard Larry advising on her VP pick, not McCain as he’s too progressive (which the closeted Ellen would prefer) but a “Jim Bragg” who is more liked by the evangelical set. And almost surprisingly, Bragg agrees to be the VP pick despite Ellen pointing out that there may be times she needs him to support legislation he doesn’t agree with. He even refers to wanting to take the party away from the old white guys -- if you can imagine.
We briefly catch up with Aleida on the Moon who video calls home to her father (who is distracted by a missing watch) and her son (who is distracted by the classic great cartoon DuckTales). But it’s not really the main storyline, which is tied into the Helios mission -- there are also two scenes of Danielle with her family in which they support her going later, and then support her suddenly going sooner.
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This turnaround is due to Margo showing up and being surprised (in a bad way) by Molly’s choice of Ed. She then proceeds to fire Molly for going against orders (which I would say is a bad look for optics) and tells Ed he’s commanding the mission. He doesn’t take this back and forth well, getting drunk and playing the race card with Danielle at the new Outpost (which we see is now a kitschy place), who is obviously disappointed about Ed commenting about “other factors at play”.
So she quite justifiably storms out, as Ed should’ve known better despite his pain and drunken state. He further embarrasses himself by crashing into Karen’s security gate, who helps him inside under the watchful eye of Danny, who is now a creep. The kid admitted he still loved Karen earlier in the episode, but thankfully Karen does shut it down even if she was foolish enough to ask him about the song choice in the first place.
But the storylines twist together again as we see Ed voted to command the new Helios mission, as we see Margo, Danielle, Molly, and Danny watch the announcement on TV. The only one unambiguously happy is Molly, of course, but it’s a great cliffhanger to set up the now three-way space race.
It’s a pretty great episode, with a focus less on the tense action of the season premiere and more on the classic sort of science and political drama the show is known for. It’s a twist I should’ve seen coming but didn’t -- yet it made enough sense that I was glad to be fooled. A great follow-up for this third season to Mars.