Friday, February 19, 2021

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Molly Makes a Crucial Decision When Her Position on the Moon Is Threatened in 'Every Little Thing'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 2.01 "Every Little Thing"

Nearly a decade later, technology and lunar exploration have taken huge strides - but a solar storm threatens the astronauts on Jamestown.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of AppleTV+'s For All Mankind.

"Every Little Thing" was written by Ronald D. Moore and directed by Michael Morris

The first season ended with Ellen as the sole astronaut on the Jamestown base after Ed was previously left stranded there unable to be with his grieving family. The second season opens with Ellen all alone on the base. However, it's no longer the same location or time period. The story has jumped ahead to 1983. The colony on the moon has expanded significantly. The United States has over a dozen astronauts stationed there. The leaders of NASA clash over the core mission of the program. Is it about scientific exploration or military advancement? The narrative is still fundamentally centered around fear of what the Soviets are doing. The Cold War is still intense. It's still being fought by these two countries vying for global influence. More countries have sent astronauts to the moon as well. They have done so in partnership with the United States. It has become more of an international coalition. And yet, the perils of this mission are just as profound as they have ever been. The technology and culture have expanded on Earth. NASA is capable of achieving more things now than they were several years ago. A lot of the story is still framed in the same way. That's fascinating. The same individuals are still perceived as the heroes of the program. Ed commands from a place of great stature and respect. Margo has been celebrated for 20 years of dedicated work. She still essentially lives out of her office as well. It just happens to have more perks built into it now. That's acceptable for her. The job is her life. That's where her focus has always been. And now, it's even more accepted as a core part of her identity. She doesn't have the same fears that the military leaders do. And yet, the situation quickly escalates once a solar storm sends radiation spiraling out into the universe. The people on Earth are relatively safe because of the atmosphere. It may cause some disruptions in radio and communication frequencies. That's about it. For the people in space though, it's a much more drastic concern. The new astronauts have just landed and are still taking in all the sights. This mission has become real to each of them. They experience the sun coming over the horizon for the first time. It's not something that Ellen needs to witness again. She is focused on what life has in store for her once she returns to Earth shortly. That's where her mind is at. Similarly, Molly is out in the field doing her work. That's her priority and she still has the capacity to do it. She has better tools and equipment to get the job done as well. However, her life is in the most significant danger because she is too far away from the base to make it back in time. She has to find a place to shelter. She is expecting to do so with her new partner Wubbo Ockels. His vehicle crashes before making it to the safe crevice in time. Molly has no idea if he is still alive or not. The radiation will surely kill him if she abandons him out there. That would ensure her survival though. Ed notes that she is a survivor. She will always find a way out even in the most dire of circumstances. The first season proved that with the heroism on display to rescue her from a spiral in the vast expanse of space. Here though, Molly makes a run for it. She drags Wubbo back to relative safety. In doing so, that confirms it was the dangerous option. Her radiation exposure may ensure her death. She is no longer in the green safe zone. She removes her detector though. She may want to hide this news from her colleagues. This action ensures the season starts off with a major declaration. It's not something that further inflames the war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The two nations are still on high alert. Instead, it's much more captivating to watch the personal toil this exploration can do on the human body. Molly achieved her lifelong dream. She has spent years going up to the moon and doing the work. And now, all of that will change because of this decision she makes. She will have to reckon with that this season as life will no longer seem as long as she always wanted it to be. She still may have saved Wubbo's life though. The next episode will probably offer more clarity in that regard. It was still a risk she was willing to take. That shows her character and the courage she leads with. Again, it's a great action to start the season on while still basically affirming that all the drama happening in space is vastly more interesting than the events on the ground.