Thursday, November 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Gordo Hits His Breaking Point During an Extended Mission on Jamestown Station in 'Hi Bob'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 1.07 "Hi Bob"

Ed, Gordo and Danielle struggle with an extended Jamestown mission.

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.

"Hi Bob" was written by Ronald D. Moore and directed by Meera Menon

Paranoia extends throughout the government. The astronauts are trained to react a certain way. It comes out of their upbringing through the armed forces. They don't question the orders they receive from their commanding officers back in Houston. And yet, the world is constantly evolving and shifting. Everyone lives in fear of what the Soviet Union is capable of doing. Right now, it seems like a very real and scary threat. They too have a station on the moon. It's just across the crater. Ed, Gordo and Danielle have no idea what's going on over there. They aren't picking up any of their signals. There is an invisible line that divides the areas of exploration. The astronauts have plenty to fill their days. And yet, there is the ongoing concern that American lives are trapped on the moon. A relief mission isn't coming to replace these three just yet. Everyone is concerned following the previous accident. A new launch keeps getting delayed. That means these three souls are left in an isolated environment for months. They may be on the cusp of exploring the next frontier. Their stories are heroic and noble. Everyone looks at the astronauts with such profound respect. However, paranoia and fear defines their every action. It may take awhile before NASA starts doing a better job scrambling their communications with Jamestown station. Before that, it may simply be an open channel for anyone to intercept and listen in. The Soviets may be crossing the line and interfering with the American interests. Ed, Gordo and Danielle don't have any proof of that though. Instead, it's a very personal drama in which they fear their own failures and how they are projected onto national importance. Whatever is going on in their personal lives doesn't just reflect on their character and valor. Instead, it paints an extreme portrait of the entire United States government. No one in charge wants a scandal to come out about NASA. Things already look tense and dire because of the explosion. These actions threaten to take down a presidency - one already mired in a sex scandal. But there are American citizens trapped on the moon doing the same things day in and day out. It was bound to break one of them sooner or later. That just happens to be Gordo. He always seemed incapable of handling all the daunting responsibilities of being an astronaut. He hasn't been a good husband or father. He has a drinking problem. And now, he is trapped in Jamestown with no access to the things that could easily give him comfort. Sure, he has a new project in seeing the great unknown. He witnesses such beauties that have never been explored before. It's magical. But he no longer sees that beauty. Instead, it's just a menial mission he is ordered to partake in. It gets to him in a way that may threaten everyone on Jamestown. He is losing his mind and Ed refuses to see the signs for awhile. In fact, this hour paints a stark portrait of how this entire generation may be conditioned into being incapable of greatness because of their restrictive and horrifyingly small-minded ways. Karen and Tracy think their children need to be physically punished. Ed scorns his son for crying. Ed is seen as a noble hero who refuses to abandon Jamestown when his fellow astronauts have to make a return to Earth for medical help. Gordo needs it. Danielle creates a compelling cover story. But that may earn her scorn from her colleagues. This isn't a progressive environment despite women being involved in every mission to space now. It may all be for nought if Gordo decides to continue in the profession. He has to be done as an astronaut after this. He is given the opportunity to make that choice for himself. It seems like the only valid thing to do. Danielle may give him a way out so that he can keep his pride. He appreciates that. But the rest of the world may offer nothing but contempt for Danielle for being so careless that a brave male astronaut is all alone fighting the Soviets on the moon. It also just so happens at a time when Ed's son, Shane, is involved in some mysterious accident. As such, it seems like everything is coming together to crush Ed's spirit just as the American government thought they were making significant progress with their space program. It may all fail simply because of the personal failings of humans. That may only make the Soviet accomplishments simply greater even though they remain a great mystery to the world at large.