Sunday, April 4, 2021

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Tracy Adjusts to Life in Space While Still Hoping for Special Treatment as a Celebrity in 'The Weight'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 2.05 "The Weight"

Ed's reckless behavior at NASA shakes the foundation of the Baldwin family. Tracy attempts to readapt to life in space.

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 Weight" was written by Nichole Beattie & Joe Menosky and directed by Meera Menon

NASA trains its astronauts to prepare for any potential complication that may arise once they leave Earth. The program is intensive. It's rigorous. It's hopefully preparing these astronauts for every situation that could realistically happen once they are sent on missions. And yet, they still find themselves unprepared for the realities that await them. Everyone wants to believe in the noble idea that everything will work out peacefully and for the better in the end. That isn't a guarantee though. The American government is sending astronauts to space with guns. That too becomes a part of this new reality. Moreover, people are simply reckless. They believe they have complete control and have accounted for any potential mistake. And yet, their careless behavior can still lead to vast consequences that extend far beyond themselves. Molly chooses not to punish Ed and Gordo for their actions in the sky. She scorns them for being foolish and immature. She doesn't pull their flight assignments though. Harold and Margo object. They can't tolerate any mistake. That needs to be an acceptable part of growth in this industry. This exploration of space is going to have setbacks. So much of it is defined through competition. The United States is facing off with an adversary. The stakes of that conflict are only growing more intense and dire. That is apparent to some. For others, they are too caught up in their own lives to notice the grand repercussions. They are searching for purpose and meaning. So many hope to be fulfilled by this venture to the moon. It's an aspiration that has fueled so many of them for a long time. Tracy became a hero because of her ability to save Molly in space all those years ago. The public quickly grabbed ahold of her as a celebrity. She fueled the publicity machine. She is good at it. The press is part of the job. But it also reveals that she is essentially putting on a show for the entire world to see. She no longer has a solid understanding of who she is. It's a life happening in the public eye. People admire her and ask intimate questions. That also provides her with the ability to bend the rules without expecting any consequences. She is given a second chance. She is punished. She struggles adjusting to life on the moon. It is monotonous. That has been her life long before this tour off the planet. It took getting out of her environment for her to realize the struggle and hit rock bottom. She is shaky in her responsibilities as well. She creates problems. She wants to keep to herself. She believes her struggles can't be understood by others. She is putting others in harm's way as a result though. She seems to rebound after a stern warning from Commander Rossi. That pulls her together. That happens immediately. She is a month into her tour on the moon. She is no longer the lowest ranking person on base. She gets to pass the burden of being Linus to someone else. She has found her way by taking a step back from how she has had to be perceived. That image wasn't healthy for her. It was encouraged for a long time though. So many characters can relate to that. Gordo feels broken because his experience on the moon revealed that to him. That's his understanding of what happened on Jamestown. He feels the pressure to handle these issues by himself. He gets a moment of levity with his children. That is the perfect respite to potentially signal that things may work for him despite his ongoing fears. Of course, the viewer should still be worried about him and his ability to do this job. Meanwhile, Karen already has to grapple with the fact that she can't handle the agony of not knowing what has happened to her husband. She is right back to being terrified by the news of the accident. As such, she pulls away. She reflects on how much her life is defined by NASA and space. It has become a part of her identity. She thrives at the bar. But she also has to rediscover herself and take over that priority or risk coming undone as Ed continues to pursue this next great mission for the program. And finally, Ellen gets to be free and embrace the happiness she has long strived for but has been denied to her. Sure, Pam has a new girlfriend now. She has a life and career outside of Houston. Reconnecting with her is still valuable and affirming for Ellen. It pinpoints exactly who she is at a time when she struggles to be comfortable with the role presented to her in every aspect of life. Again, the world hopes to train people how to react in any given situation. Sometimes, the world is a disappointment in how others accept someone's place in it. Other times, it's beautiful to surrender and embrace one's true self with complete pride and adoration. It's an ongoing journey though. The tensions of the world are still rising. These personal stories just happen to get caught in the thick of it.