Tuesday, July 19, 2022

For All Mankind S03E06: New Eden

© Apple TV+

For All Mankind has secrets revealed and tempers frayed as one twist shakes the world.

by Jeremy Fogelman

The latest episode of For All Mankind is called “New Eden” and it follows our two groups of spacefolk as they attempt to survive and thrive on the Red Planet. A bit of exposition tells us that both teams are desperately searching for any source of water, which is the key to staying there longer and maybe supporting a real colony later. We do have some setup for the future as we see Will Tyler staring off at the alien landscape and then teasing his friend the now-ex cosmonaut Rolan, while on the Helios site we see Danny continue to creepily watch the Ed and Karen videos.

This latest is a real doozy, as Danny sees Ed admit what we suspected last week, that he didn’t land because he didn’t want to risk Danny’s life. A clearly distracted Danny cuts his hand on a drill and snaps back at Ed for cautiously asking if he remembered everything. This comes back around again later as the Danny situation devolves as he seems to be stealing and getting addicted to pain pills (like the dreaded Oxy).

The possibility of pain lessens somewhat when Ed apologizes to Danny about not treating him like an adult and even bends the rules to keep him on the planet surface instead of back up in the ship to recover. But unfortunately this gets thrown away as Danny can’t help himself and continues to spy on the videos until he finds one that destroys him -- Ed telling Karen he’s worried about the kid. That maybe he’s not cut out for the whole thing -- this is too much for the pill popping Danny and he punches the monitor with his already injured hand.

Definitely a strong thematic choice there of him punching the image of Ed and only hurting himself further. Not something that bodes well for later either. Things explode elsewhere too, because of two threads -- the Soviets make a deal with Karen (who has negotiated herself back to Helios in a far better position in a great scene) and Helios to share a precious water reserve. There’s also the little thread with Kelly hooking up with the cool cosmonaut, but that sours after he refuses to explain the water situation and bombs while talking to Ed (which admittedly was a pretty funny moment). But more critically, Will comes out as gay on a video he sends home.

© Apple TV+

Suddenly everything changes as the world (more progressive in some ways) is perhaps even more homophobic here than it was in the real world in the ‘90s. Rolan is uncomfortable around his friend and worries about HIV to Danielle, who points out it’s an absurd problem to worry about when their actual survival is still an issue. Back on Earth it’s even worse, as the VP demands that Ellen handle the situation and kick Will out of the service.

We get a lot of Ellen and Larry this time around, as the closeted First Couple worry about this setting back all of their dreams of a more progressive country. Larry ultimately comes up with this world’s version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” although they call it the “Uniform First” act here. It’s a clever bit of work on the show’s part, as that initiative did indeed come into place in 1994.

Ellen and Danielle both have to deal with these morally complex situations this episode, and both have to deal with different sorts of fallout. After Sergei actually gives Margo a hint to their secret plan (I was originally worried he was planting a bug), the now completely justifiably suspicious Aleida sends a message to Dani, which interrupts the camaraderie and drunken party they were having.

There’s a lot of back and forth fighting here, even if Will is the only one to throw a punch -- you really feel for him here, even if he clearly miscalculated for his own sake -- maybe his pain and suffering will help others in the service later and lead to a more progressive time for the country. And those initially sweet “Hi, Bob” moments disappear as Danielle reveals she now knows the truth to Alexei and Ed -- but the latter actually agrees to bring Kelly along for the mission, so there’s more drama setup to be had.

The final moments are the worrisome ones back home, as Larry’s secret boyfriend reveals their affair to a friend, who is clearly about to drop the news to someone. It can’t be good for Ellen after that, especially after the whole Will situation.

Overall it was another really strong, tense episode of the show, this time more about the people than the environment. There are mostly decent people here, even when they make mistakes -- but some people aren’t decent at all. Definitely continues the great work so far this season.

Watch on Apple TV

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