Friday, February 26, 2021

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Ed Makes a Pivotal Decision on Which Astronauts Will Make the Next Flight Crew in 'The Bleeding Edge'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 2.02 "The Bleeding Edge"

Margo must lead a seemingly impossible mission. Danielle wants to return to the moon. Gordo grapples with life on Earth.

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 next episode of AppleTV+'s For All Mankind.

"The Bleeding Edge" was written by Matt Wolpert & Ben Nedivi and directed by Michael Morris

Being an astronaut is completely life-defining for so many. It's a position that wields so much power and awe. It shapes the geopolitics of the entire world. The astronauts explore the far reaches of space and human imagination. It's absolutely awesome. And yet, these people are still human beings who are capable of making mistakes. They have their own individual faults. They each have to make the decision of when to stop. This is an intoxicating career for all of them. Molly wants to go right back into the field despite her radiation exposure. Quitting this job is unacceptable to her. It's cowardly behavior. It's choosing to turn away from the great mysteries of the universe. It's selfish for anyone to delay that progress. She returns to the ground though. Ellen orders that. It's the reasonable and rational decision. Molly's exposure was still too high even though her monitor was still in the green. She tried to fool the system. She always wants to be perceived as strong and capable of handling whatever missions are thrown her way. She may not be able to overcome this new reality though. Wubbo immediately accepts that he may only have a short time left. He walks away from the program believing it's not where he needs to be anymore. It's tragic. This was his passion. Molly can't leave. That's not in her nature. She has to be up in space. At a certain point, that's just no longer feasible for the bodies of these astronauts. Ed made the decision to stay on the ground after his months on Jamestown. He has found purpose at headquarters picking the flight crew and training the next class of recruits. His family seems relatively stable. He has made peace with all of this. Others are the ones struggling because of their inner turmoils. Ed also believes that sending them back up to space will cure them of this sense of aimlessness as well. That's a fate that Dani asks for. It's something that she wants. She still has to force herself to get out of the car and hang out with Ed and Gordo. It's difficult for her to ask. She does so and is rewarded for it. And yet, her celebration has to be shared with Gordo. Ed basically equates their suffering. He believes that a cure for Dani after her husband's death will also apply to Gordo. That's not necessarily true at all. In fact, Gordo is terrified upon hearing that he will be manning another mission to the moon. He fears it because the truth known only to a select few should reasonably keep him on the ground for the rest of his life. He lost it in space. Ed and Dani covered for him. He has sold a fake story to the American public. That's what his life has amounted to. It's simply reliving that fake heroism over and over again. Everyone else has largely moved on. Their lives have grown. They are still all defined by being astronauts. They are devoted to the program. It's just striking to see that Gordo is stuck while others have new clarity and purpose. Ed wants to extend that gift to his friend. It may make for a dangerous decision though. One where Gordo isn't a part of the process. It's simply handed to him. People don't want to be told what they can and can't do. It's striking to see Molly and Gordo together in the end. Their lives are uprooted because of the decisions others make. They want to determine their own fates in this world. It's not always that easy though. They don't always have the self-awareness to know exactly what's best for them. Others shouldn't uniformly be trusted to get it right either. They simply have found the coping mechanisms that work for them. They are still finding their paths as well. Ellen has taken a new job that doesn't seemingly suit her immediately. That should create some tension too. All of this essentially produces an episode where the characters are reflective of the careers they used to have as they contemplate if they are still astronauts if they aren't in space. That descriptor still applies to them. They simply feel lost as a result of nothing being able to measure up to the greatness and trauma they endured on that mission all those years ago. They are still chasing that high. It's a form of respect. It can only mask issues for so long. Plus, the fate of the entire world depends on how these decisions play out. Any small moment could create a crisis with far-reaching consequences. That informs the stakes even in a slow moving episode that is mostly setting up story for the future.