Friday, November 15, 2019

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Ed and Molly Embark on a Perilous Mission on the Moon in 'Into the Abyss'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 1.05 "Into the Abyss"

Ed and the crew are tasked with changing the Apollo 15's landing site after lunar ice is detected.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of AppleTV+'s For All Mankind.

"Into the Abyss" was written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan

This series opened with public declarations of success on the moon. The Russians landed first. Then, the Americans followed. And then, the Russians sent a woman up. Since that point, the tactics of the space race have been changing. The American assessment of what the Russians are up to is informed by whatever reports are coming in from the CIA. It was inspirational to see both man and woman on the moon. Those are Soviet accomplishments that made it seem like their way of life was superior. And yet, the American government believes that a Soviet astronaut died on the moon too. They don't publicize their failures. They just cover it up and hope no one notices. NASA did. That also showcases how every detail of the Apollo 15 mission is documented. Ed and Molly land on the moon for the first time here. It is a breathtaking and thrilling experience for both. This is what they've been working for. They've wanted this for a long time. It's not just a publicity stunt. It's not just the opportunity to photograph an American woman on the moon. Yes, that is certainly part of the schedule. However, Molly isn't thrilled to pose for pictures. She wants to actually do something. That's the importance of this work. It's all about advancing scientific research and exploration. Those are the qualities she wishes to embrace. Her team has to make the decision to land in a different spot than was originally planned. That's very dangerous. Every aspect of the mission is scheduled rigorously including the breaks that the astronauts are allowed to take. However, this is a risk that may actually pay off. The tension of the hour comes from the uncertainty of it all. Did Ed and Molly make the right choice to explore a different area that may have a greater likelihood of producing water? In the end, their efforts are rewarded. Molly strikes ice. It just comes when everyone is terrified that the mission is going to take a dark and dire turn. Molly actually has to descend into a crater to confirm that water exists on the moon. It just happens to be in the place that hasn't received any direct sunlight in billions of years. It's dark and mesmerizing. It's a thrilling experience for Molly. She is seeing things that no one else has seen. She is documenting it so that life on Earth can as well. It's wonderful. It's dangerous too. She is quickly running out of oxygen. The story builds up that concern only to reassure the audience that everything works out despite Molly taking this detour to eventually strike ice. She is victorious in this pursuit. It should have just been a little more agonizing to watch her come back up and have to hike back to the ship. That's a lot of ground to cover. It's easy to understand why the show didn't do that. It just wanted the comfort of knowing that everything ended well and safely. It is a resounding success. In fact, it's the start of all future plans for the moon. The episode closes with a time jump two years to show the first lunar module landing and creating the first pod that could make up the lunar base. It's in the same landing spot. It's unclear who is piloting this ship. Everyone else has received their missions and are eager to prove their worth to the program. Meanwhile, the spouses left behind are terrified over what could happen to the people they love. The show strives for more humanity in the proceedings by pointing out just how selfish Ed and Molly's choices may actually be. They are fine leaving their spouses behind knowing they are terrified simply because space exploration is too important. It's pure agony for Karen and Wayne. They are able to rely on each other eventually. It's unclear how all of these personal dynamics will change following the two year time jump. That may not be enough time for drastic upheavals. Or the action could cut away to a space program that has dramatically changed because it has become a priority once more. Previously, it was all about catching up to the Soviets and pulling off an accomplishment before them. That mission seems to be completed here. Molly is genuinely thrilled about that and Ed can actually document that success. The personal dynamics still need work but this is easily the most thrilling episode of the series to date. Of course, it still probably runs too long. A few minutes could have been cut out - especially pertaining to Gordo and Danielle trying to establish a relationship for their future mission.