Friday, July 29, 2022

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Everyone Must Work Together to Save Ed and Danny When Their Mission Implodes in 'The Sands of Ares'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 3.08 "The Sands of Ares"

After a sudden crisis, the Martian crews pull together.

"The Sands of Ares" was written by Joe Menosky & Eric Phillips and directed by Dan Liu

Far too often people live their lives according to the expectations of others. They feel the pressure to conform. They have to behave a certain way to be accepted. A lot of this pressure is internal. People are constantly informed by trauma. Shane's death had an impact on all who knew him. He even had a transformational impact on Kelly's life. The next generation of astronauts felt they had to step into the role of what his life should have been. There is no reason to assume he would have become an astronaut just like his father. His passions could have taken him elsewhere. This isn't the only viable profession out there. People have incredibly consequential lives without ever leaving Earth. It takes a room full of engineers at NASA to come up with solutions to the most impossible situations. Lives are on the line. This profession requires people to think creatively and quickly. They have to save as many lives as possible. People embark on these missions to space knowing the dangers. Death could come at any moment. Karen and Jimmy are justified in their anger towards space and the constant need for humanity to expand beyond our horizons. They are the ones left behind to sit in agony over what's happened to their loved ones. Technology has advanced so much. The lines of communication are open. That still leaves the loved ones on Earth feeling powerless in this situation. The same is even true of the President of the United States. She needs to remain informed about the evolving situation. She comes from this world too. She relates to many of the struggles. However, this moment is all about finding her voice. The only meaningful action she can take is simply kicking Larry out of the room. He proved himself as only caring about his own well-being. He had to protect his proximity to power because he apparently deserves it more than anyone else. He believes his actions shouldn't be scrutinized. His behavior risks taking down Ellen's presidency. She is also forced to reckon with how others decided this was the only acceptable path for her. She became President. That's a huge deal. She hasn't used her power effectively. She hasn't made a difference. In fact, she may have only conformed to the expectations of society at large. She confronts Pam. They could have had a happy life together. Pam decided that wouldn't have been enough for Ellen. And so, she broke up with her in a note. That was so devastating but ultimately led Ellen to a position of power. She was continually talked into decisions that others deemed the most appropriate. That was all an extension of her failing to live as her authentic self. Coming out may endanger her presidency as well. Her turmoil remains internal. That pain is palpable. She's completely powerless. The NASA engineers have to find the solution to rescue Ed and Danny in time.

Everyone needs to be in the room to pitch ideas. All three sides of the Martian conflict have to come together and work towards a solution. They can no longer cut themselves off according to tribal lines. They must utilize the resources available after the landslide. Politics still shape this world. New connections form simply from Dev and Margo being in the same room together. He thinks differently than the other engineers. He proposes the miraculous solution. It's crazy. It's also insane enough to work. Ed and Danny are rescued. Not everyone makes it out of this danger alive. Moreover, the circumstances quickly revert to the conflict that has long determined the fate of the space race. The Soviets operate with information the Americans don't have. It's positioned as life-changing leverage that can be well-utilized in the future. Alexei dies after successfully helping Kelly find her father's location. He heard the beacon when no one else could. However, the first image of him in the aftermath of the landslide was throwing up in his suit. That coupled with his complaints of headaches sealed his fate. His body was pushed to the brink. It was all in the name of saving humanity. He didn't care that the astronauts in danger were Americans. They are part of a collective team now. When Ed wakes up, he asks about Kelly and Danny. Ed surviving has to be seen as good enough. People must accept any good news when it comes their way. Not everything can easily break down along those lines. Kelly is mourning Alexei's death while pregnant. That was a distinct possibility the moment they started hooking up. They brought two cultures together. They have different experiences of the world. They were always working towards a greater goal. They have accomplished things no one could have ever imagined. That's wondrous despite the devastation that occurs. Ed knows the soldiers who give up hope are the ones who succumb to their injuries. It's bleak when he and Danny are buried underground. They don't know if they will be rescued. This time together allows them to vent about everything they have ever wanted to say. Danny still holds back. It's not because he feels guilty over the landslide. He is responsible for refusing to manage the equipment and remain in contact with the team. He saved Ed's life. He does that repeatedly. Danny feels indebted because he blames himself for Shane's death. So much of his life was shaped by what happened all those decades ago. Danny still burdens himself over having sex with Karen. He fantasizes about that relationship despite the family worried about him at home. He can't even be with the team as they mourn together. This mission has gone awry in so many ways. It brought people together if only for a few fleeting moments. That's enough to change the world. Progress has still proven to be too incremental to suggest any meaningful change. That's the constant thread of this overall series. People aspire for more and feel pressured into accepting compromise. It's not wrong to demand equality and respect. The world simply has a tendency to move on without always paying attention to the harm being done along the way.