Sunday, November 24, 2019

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Margo Discovers Corruption Which Helps Advance Her Career in 'Home Again'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 1.06 "Home Again"

A launchpad accident leads to delayed missions and FBI background checks.

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.

"Home Again" was written by Stephanie Shannon and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan

Every system is corrupt. That's the insight that Wernher von Braun offers to Margo here. It's a horrifying and nihilistic view of the world. It allows him to operate under the belief that any heinous action can be justified so long as something good ultimately comes out of it. That's how he is able to rationalize his awareness of Nazi concentration camps. He views his scientific work as being vital to space exploration. NASA still comes to him when they need details about the rockets they have developed. He is allowed to live as a free citizen even though his protégé, Margo, sees him as a war criminal. He doesn't share that view. In fact, he's upset that Margo hasn't forgiven him already and they can return to the loving dynamic they used to share. It's so much more complicated than that to Margo though. She was betrayed by the one person she trusted. She doesn't allow many people into her life. She too is committed to the work and believes her achievements will be enough to impress the people above her. However, von Braun has the cynical view of the world that people have to embrace the corrupt institutions in order to get what they truly want. He pushes Margo to make that same decision. It doesn't matter that Nixon is out of the White House and replaced by Ted Kennedy as President. This show insists that all politicians are corrupt and trying to carry favors with their loyal supporters in all branches of the government. It's just a game to be played. It has drastic and lethal consequences though. A dozen people die because of a faulty part on the latest Apollo mission. That's absolutely devastating. It may lead to a crackdown on NASA security. But the FBI is chasing a false lead in believing it to be Soviet sabotage. The Soviets and Americans may be on the moon at the same time establishing their respective lunar bases. However, it's insane to jump to the wildest conclusion about what was done to this rocket. It exploded because the parts could not be trusted. The political director is quick to cover up this fact. Margo can use that to gain more power within this system. She can pass her wisdom and expertise down to the next bright mind. But it's still a destructive worldview in which it seems like no one can actually be trusted. People will always choose protecting their personal interests above during what's best for the national security of the country. That is a timely subject matter. This show just doesn't offer much nuance to the subject matter. Yes, it is a huge accomplishment that the Equal Rights Amendment has passed. That's viewed as something that could easily happen in an alternate timeline as opposed to our current reality where it is still waiting on one more state to ratify it. And yet, Ellen and Larry still live in fear that they could be outed at work and lose everything they have worked so hard to achieve. That is a major concern for them because of the homophobic nature of the world around them. It's a scary time. And yet, big shifts are happening in the world. These transitions are constantly happening whether a person is prepared for them or not. The system keeps moving forward that may change a culture or benefit someone individually. It takes a long time for things to change. But this show already depicts a rapidly evolving world. One standing in contrast to current reality. And one that highlights just how ugly history can be as well in the pursuit of something better. Some things may improve. It's genuinely great that Margo fights to become a flight commander. However, other things may grow more dangerous. That paranoia may assure some people of stability because forces are working in equal measure to improve or destroy society. However, evolution still occurs which makes some of the more trivial concerns of the characters a little more lackluster. It's not really engaging to see Gordo and Tracy talking about apartment hunting or Karen needing to punish her son for acting out at school. Those just don't seem relevant in the grand scope of the narrative. It highlights the personal stakes of the world for these characters and the sacrifices they make to fulfill this job. They just feel a little too prominent to be all that engaging or necessary in the long run.