Friday, July 22, 2022

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Danny and Jimmy Grow Dangerous With Their Distrust of Authority Figures in 'Bring It Down'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 3.07 "Bring It Down"

A joint mission brings about conflict between crew members.

"Bring It Down" was written by Nichole Beattie and directed by Dan Liu

Kelly warned her father against moving forward with the joint mission between Helios and the Soviets. It's not because she carries some animosity over being left out. The NASA astronauts are sitting alone by themselves while all the action is happening elsewhere. The priority isn't on them. Kelly simply has a better understanding of the science. She has access to the materials discovered because of her close connections with the other groups on Mars. She objects because of the scientific discoveries she made during her research in Antarctic. Now, the audience is simply suppose to accept that she has information the other space programs lack. It also offers the first suggestion that something is going to go wrong. Of course, that's always a given with this show. It still produces tension better than so many other dramas out there. It also follows some basic contours of storytelling. It sets up the expectation of how revolutionary this discovery will be. Water has been found on Mars. When that can be mined, it can quickly lead to the creation of colonies on the red planet. The human race can expand to include two planets in our Solar System. That's huge. It's what the space race has become. It's a matter of influence. Every decision made is political. People have to take risks believing the payoff will be major down the road. Ed seems compelled to be the first. Kelly fears he could be the first human to kill organic life on another planet. He simply doesn't know enough before he starts drilling. The true twist comes when the disaster evolves from human error and not something happening in the environment. It was wrong to leave Danny with any responsibilities whatsoever. That may be inevitable in order to complete the mission according to the time frame everyone has made. It's a costly mistake. Moreover, Ed hasn't kept his concerns to himself. He has mentioned them to Karen during their video chats. Plus, he actually confronts Danny. He immediately sees the signs of a pilot amping themselves up with drugs. He refuses to make the same mistakes with Danny that he did with Gordo. Of course, Danny doesn't appreciate that comparison. He hates having to live in the shadow of his parents. He doesn't question their heroism though. That honor belongs to his brother Jimmy, who has fallen in with some conspiracy theorists. That has made him disrupt what he has long been told about the world around him. They've preyed on what he understood about his parents. The story about their heroic sacrifice has to be too good to be true. The government is absolutely keeping secrets from the people. That plagues Ellen's presidency and Margo's leadership at NASA. All those decisions made now lead to disaster. All of this could have been foreseen. People simply couldn't avoid what they had to do in order to arrive at this moment.

Danny has never succeeded at integrating with the rest of the Helios team. He has long believed he has special priority. He has a personal connection with Ed after all. He's the son of Gordo and Tracy Stevens. He has already accomplished heroic feats in the field. He no longer feels the pressure to remain at the top of his game in order to secure the well-being of the rest of his team. Instead, he feels the pressure to dictate who lives and who dies. Part of that is the haze he is now operating in. Some of his actions can be explained away by him taking enough drugs to trigger a potential overdose. It's still absolutely devastating when he turns the communication off instead of leveling off the pressures with the drill. The team needs his support. He needs to be diligent. He can't ignore his responsibilities. He has to be trusted to do the work. That still reads as a failure of leadership. Ed knew his team couldn't execute this mission as needed. He still went ahead with it. He needed to put forth a demonstration of strength and ingenuity. That's the way Helios can emerge superior. Instead, the collapse on the ridge takes several lives. Humans are messing with forces beyond their control. They believe they understand what to do and follow the appropriate protocols. At this point, they'll be lucky to return to Earth with enough of a crew to pilot the one remaining ship amongst all three missions. Risks were taken. Lives were lost. That's the weight of being in these positions. It's what everyone has to accept because of their blind drive to get to this point. Larry is frank about that. He and Pam could see the Oval Office so clearly in Ellen's future. As such, they made decisions on her behalf. She was led to this goal. She's not without her own abilities and charm. She's simply lost to the point where she has to devote her vast resources to see Pam again. Her presidency is teetering on the edge because Congress has received slight details about Larry's affair. The truth is still concealed. The men still operate as power players. Ellen is the President. Her opinion is treated as an afterthought. She has the strength to carry the powers of this office. Everything seems out of her control. So many have never been asked to question the power structures that have rewarded them for so long. Aleida has her career because of Margo. Her mentor took an interest in her. And now, it dawns on her that Margo gave the classified designs to the Soviets. The roles have essentially been reversed for Margo. She was betrayed by her mentor in the space program. She forged her own path. She took control and was susceptible to the same immoral influences. She is simply pained at the thought of not being able to help Sergei. Meanwhile, Aleida reaches out for help and Margo gaslights her into doubting her own instincts. That may erode faith in the space program itself at a time when the geopolitical state of the world is informed by what happens beyond the atmosphere of Earth.