Wednesday, November 22, 2023

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - Margo Endures a Coup While Miles Takes a Risk to Earn More Money in 'The Bear Hug'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 4.03 "The Bear Hug"

Miles tries to make ends meet. Margo finds herself pulled into a dangerous situation.

"The Bear Hug" was written by Andrew Black and directed by Dan Liu

A coup is underway in the Soviet Union. That has massive interplanetary consequences. An element of the military believes Gorbachev has aligned too closely with the West. He has departed from the communist beliefs that are foundational to the national identity. People on the ground are confused as to what's going on. It's pure chaos. No one has any solid answers. They are just left to deal with whatever happens next. People hope for the best. They hope their loved ones are safe. So much dysfunction radiates throughout the galaxy. Margo is caught in the middle of it. She was told to be patient. That warning was enough to cast a whole lot of suspicion onto her and her motives. She was once in complete control of the space program. And now, she's being forced around answering the questions of people who believe her actions are dangerous in some way. She ultimately gets what she has always wanted. She just doesn't know the extent of the cost of that larger goal.

Margo is tortured. She can't provide any answers about who Irina is. She doesn't know her name until after she is rescued. Obviously, Irina is a high-ranking Soviet official. She knows exactly who Margo is. She has big plans for her. She aspires to take the space program in a new direction. She views Margo as the expert she needs to make that a reality. She's also completely caught up in this plot to overthrow the government. Various factions are fighting for control. Margo doesn't have any reason to trust anyone. They each try to present as a useful ally. In reality, they are all just looking to exploit her. That's what her life has become. She's at their complete mercy no matter what. Aleida and Bill still argue over why she betrayed her country. They are forever plagued by that uncertainty. Aleida believes her mentor must have had a good reason to pass information to the Soviets. That's no longer the core of the conflict. The narrative has moved past that drama. It informed political relations for a time. But now, new individuals have risen up to take control of the space race. Figures from the past are still important. They dictate less of the central action than they did previously.

Similarly, Ed is reduced to finding peace tending to his garden on Mars. It allows him to feel close to his family. He has lost so much. It has all been in service to the space program. He sacrifices everything to maintain this position of power and authority. He covers up anything that can be perceived as deteriorating health. His hand shakes. He has struggled for years to remain relevant. He has done so by refusing to relinquish his post. He's in charge so long as he remains on Mars. He constantly gets Kelly's hopes up. He never follows through. He isn't the only person who can command Happy Valley. In fact, he is happy to go along with the corruption of the way this business operates. He's doing just fine. He doesn't care how others are mistreated. The stakes are too high for him to be bothered by those trivial concerns. He only extends empathy when it comes to helping others also overcome their physical pains. Svetlana knows the history of what Ed has accomplished. She knows who Karen was. They were influential figures. But now, she's on Mars enjoying marijuana alongside Ed. He find a new way to cope. It eases his pain. He believes it's fine so long as he follows standard protocol for other pain management medication.

This mission on Mars was built on the ideal of expanding humanity as a multi-planet species. Kelly is thrilled by her research into discovering biological material on other planets. She sees that as unlocking the key to life. That's the future for exploration. Others don't see the financial payoff to supporting her research. It doesn't offer a monetary return on investment. That's why she and Aleida are rejected during every pitch to private companies. They set out to forge a new path. One that takes them away from NASA. That environment is no longer productive or healthy for them. They are still engaged with the research. They have the same aspirations. The possibilities elsewhere are simply more liberating. Of course, that also leads to the return of Dev. He has certainly gotten richer since his ouster as CEO of Helios. However, he hasn't accomplished anything. Instead, he's accepted a life of cruel realities. He's no longer a visionary with his eyes on all that exists in the universe. Kelly sparks that passion in him once more. And yet, he was removed as CEO for a reason. The corporate structure and environment is unlikely to change now that he and Kelly stage a takeover. It's more chaos. It's done according to emotional ideals as well. It still has the potential to blind those who believe they are working towards the collective good of humanity.

Geopolitical tension flares on Happy Valley too. Miles was warned immediately not to ever go into the pod controlled by the North Koreans. That's exactly what he does to earn forgiveness from Ilya. This is a completely new environment for Miles. He had never gone to space before. Meanwhile, this is a familiar operation for Ilya. He knew how to set up shop on Happy Valley to get people exactly what they needed. His operation moves fluidly to keep people happy. Part of that is providing refuge througa bar environment. It's also personal to help make this experience work for the people trapped here. They cannot leave without jeopardizing their entire livelihoods. Miles engages in the hustle because that's the only way to actually make money. This economy was set up so Helios would profit. And now, enterprising individuals can make it work for themselves. It still comes with great personal risk. Seemingly the only way for Miles to replace the coolant is to broker a deal with Lee to get his wife to Mars somehow. That's a daunting task placed on this operation. It became incredibly serious the moment Miles joined. He's motivated by money. That's not the only dynamic at work here. These governments clash with no one truly knowing what the consequences might be. That's on top of people risking their lives just to mine asteroids.