Friday, November 10, 2023

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - A Break in Protocol Disrupts a Mission With Consequences for Ed and Danielle in 'Glasnost'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 4.01 "Glasnost"

Eight years later, a new mission begins: Capture an asteroid. Aleida and Danielle are still haunted by events from the past.

"Glasnost" was written by Matt Wolpert & Ben Nedivi and directed by Lukas Ettlin

34 years have passed since a Soviet cosmonaut became the first man to walk on the moon. Ed and Margo were already part of the NASA program when they witnessed that remarkable accomplishment. In the decades since then, they've always placed their value on their connection to this program. They devoted their lives to its success. They could never walk away. Outside forces had to play a factor to prevent them from embarking on the next mission. Others have come and gone. They've had fulfilling lives outside of the space race. And now, President Al Gore declares the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union is finished. The two nations have been brought together by their space programs. They followed the example of the first mission that landed humans on Mars.

Ed and Margo still feel that drive to be at the forefront of this mission. Ellen and Danielle joined the program shortly after the moon landing. The mission was important to them as well. They recognized how inspirational they were. They both retired from NASA. Ellen went on to a political career that saw her elected to the Senate as well as two terms as President. Her coming out saw a cultural shift throughout the world. The public rallied around her once more. And now, she gets to enjoy her post-presidency married to Pam. Her story is complete. Meanwhile, Danielle remains haunted by the months the crew had to spend on Mars waiting for the resources to take them back home. So much of that anguish is dictated by what happened to Danny. Tragedy is the lasting legacy of the Stevens family. Even that drama is finished now. And yet, Ed is still leading the mission on a faraway planet.

Tragedy can happen so easily in space. Everything has to be carefully planned and executed. Any small mistake can have lethal consequences. The mission on Mars has expanded to include astronauts from seven nations. They work in partnership with Helios. It's presented as the perfect public-private partnership. However, workers for the private company are being sent to the moon and Mars with very little training. Danielle spent months preparing for the demands of space. Astronauts have to be brilliant with each system they operate. They have to prepare for the worst. They must work together to create the best outcome. And now, new dangers are being introduced simply by adding people without that training. The labor force is expanding with different requirements. Miles takes the opportunity believing it's the only way to provide for his family. He doesn't actively listen to what they need. Instead, he follows his own ego like so many who have traveled the stars before him.

Danielle is asked to take over as commander of Happy Valley. Grigory was one of two fatalities when the mission to alter an asteroid's orbit went awry. He believed there was a way to stabilize the connection. Ed signed off on breaking from protocol. That was immediately costly. He lost a dear friend. He was jealous Grigory got to be the first human to walk on an asteroid. Everyone is in awe of that image. The Helios worker is more comforted by remaining attached to something. He doesn't want to risk going into the unknown. And yet, he does precisely that because he's motivated by the bonus promised for such heroics. The astronauts and cosmonauts have always been driven by patriotism. They fight for collective unity. They stand as a beacon of hope for what humanity can achieve when working together. Ed still must make the fateful decision to break away. He saves the rest of the crew. A friend dies. He's once more thrown into agony. Many questions will be asked of his leadership. He still believes he's needed on the mission despite the many capable people who have risen through the ranks.

Years have passed since Ed and Kelly were together. They maintain a connection through videos they transmit. It's a relationship only through screens. It's delayed too. Ed keeps pushing off his return. He can't make that journey. He stays where he believes his sense of duty is needed. People twist that idea of service to motivate others into action. Eli, the new NASA administrator, does precisely that when recruiting Danielle. She was always going to accept. It's potentially healing for her to be needed on the job once more. She remains respected in this community. She's trusted with the difficult task of salvaging what remains of the asteroid project. It offers hope of a fully sustainable colony on Mars. Resources would no longer have to be flown there from Earth. That advancement in technology has been found. Yet the faces of the past are still desperate to be seen as relevant. Danielle isn't haunted in the same way Ed and Margo are. Regrets still creep in. She maintains a connection to the Stevens family despite the hardship of the past. She enjoys the bonds she's made with people throughout her years in service. Now, she is being asked to save the day once more. She steps into that role completely in the dark about the individuals who are taking off with her.

Meanwhile, Margo has a relatively small life in the Soviet Union. The space program still relies on her expertise from time to time. When she arrives at the headquarters though, she is deemed irrelevant and thrown out. Her perspective is no longer required. Her life imploded because she shared technology with the Soviets for years. She fought to give Sergei a better life in America. She simply replaced him in misery in the Soviet Union. She remains up to date with the various developments of the mission. That's easy with the amount of media coverage every twist produces. Everyone is glued to the television when news of Grigory's death is announced. Margo wants to help. Right now, she's asked to be patient. She doesn't know who is making that request. The narrative introduces that mystery. She still has value. She has a reason to hope. A lot has changed since the program first began. So much occurred that people never could have imagined. The possibilities in space continue to grow. The duty to act with responsibility still must weigh heavily on everyone in positions of power. Despite that, peril still all too often shows just how precarious this whole adventure can be. Risks are taken for the potential reward. The world has changed because of the discoveries of this program. Sacrifices have been made too. More and more lives are now directly impacted by it.