Friday, December 1, 2023

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - A Potentially Lethal Action Almost Leads to the End of the Martian Treaty in 'House Divided'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 4.04 "House Divided"

An accident on Mars strains relationships, while Miles embarks on a risky venture.

"House Divided" was written by Sabrina Almeida and directed by Dan Liu

The police and military enforced compliance amongst the Soviet population following the coup. The government shifted control to new leadership by force. Everyone was just forced to accept it. A collection of people took power for themselves because they saw their leader abandoning the ideals of their nation. On Happy Valley though, no authority seeks to exert that power over the Soviet citizens. They engage in fierce debates about the validity of the coup. People voice their contempt for the country's recent alliance with the West. Of course, that's the underlying reason why seven countries now cooperate on the Martian base. Without that treaty, every action becomes territorial once more. A program has been established. The Americans have control over who commands Happy Valley. Danielle operates in that position now. She has authority over the decisions being made on this mission. She can't oversee everything. She can't control individual responses. She also has to make the final decisions of what's acceptable punishment when issues arise.

Svetlana didn't mean to nearly kill Vasily. That is the potential repercussion given the environment in which they had their fight. Svetlana wanted to deflect from any political talk. It's unavoidable. The entire structure of global politics is in turmoil because of the violent overthrow of the Soviet government. People believe in the ideals of their cause. Others see the disruption to the noble work they are trying to do in space. It serves as a distraction from the mission. And yet, these problems have always defined the overall ambitions of the program. Working together requires every country with a vested interest to operate on the same page. The Soviets now seek to uphold their sovereignty above all else. They stake a claim for determining the punishment of Svetlana. She is recalled back to Earth to face accountability for her actions. Plenty are understandably skeptical about the Soviet form of justice. Admitting a mistake basically leads to strict punishment by the KGB. People don't have freedom. They are just meant to provide expertise for as long as possible without making any mistakes. Once those emerge, their lives are essentially over.

Danielle is the only person who can call Ed out for his favoritism. He has always given preferential treatment to people he cares about. He can't view their actions objectively. He convinces himself that they are good enough for the mission. It doesn't matter if they are actually capable of executing the job. Danielle has been there to witness the extreme consequences of that behavior. Gordo and Danny couldn't withstand the pressure they were under. Sure, Gordo and Tracy ultimately died as heroes for their country. Lives were jeopardized before that noble moment. Meanwhile, Danny was such a destructive agent. He disrupted the mission countless times because of his inability to cope. The entire Stevens family was plagued by the idea of noble service. Some lived up to that responsibility. Others failed. Each of those stories are known. Ed has operated with power for far too long. The lower decks of Happy Valley see the special treatment Svetlana receives. Ed hopes he has a convincing argument in saying she's the best pilot. She's needed for the asteroid program. That mission is permanently paused. None of the nations know when or if it will start again. Ed operates with certainty. He doesn't deserve that claim. Danielle is in control. She abides by the compromise everyone else signs off on. They are honest brokers. Ed's judgment is personally clouded.

Sam actually speaks up on the concerns that the leaders aren't respecting the fragile state Vasily is in. He wasn't beloved by the crew. He doesn't deserve to be clinging to life. Everyone is essentially in a holding pattern. Only time will tell if he is capable of making a meaningful recovery after being exposed to the Martian atmosphere. Danielle declared that no one would be punished for speaking the truth. She respects the opinions of everyone on the station. Sam expresses her opinions. She isn't informed by the best information. Her concerns are still valid. Danielle takes all of that into consideration and makes the final determination. Meanwhile, Miles embarks on his first walk outside the base because he spots a potential lucrative opportunity. He realizes the rocks on the surface are valuable on Earth. That could become a new stream of revenue for his family. Ilya respects Miles for bringing in new business from the North Koreans. He can't take the risk of exporting materials. Miles doesn't even get that far in his overall plan. In his desperate pursuit of money, he takes a risk that almost kills him. That story happens over and over again on Happy Valley. Miles doesn't look at Dev taking over as CEO of Helios again with hope. Too many of his friends lost their jobs because of his actions. He doesn't see a changed man on the screen. Instead, he's just an opportunist. Miles wants to be as well. He only survives because he has made friends who notice when he's gone for too long.

The stakes are so high that they require people to form quick opinions of how to work alongside new people. Irina is the new director of Star City. Eli believes all Russians are direct with their demands. Irina does honor that perception. He still doesn't know how to effectively negotiate. He was in one business for a long time and made the transition to NASA believing it was his patriotic duty. He finds an acceptable compromise eventually. That places hope that he has the ability to do this job effectively. It's no longer the same kind of stable and firm leadership that Margo provided. Irina insists that neither the Americans nor the Soviets recognized Margo's talent fully. She hasn't lived up to her potential. That's a striking statement considering all she has already done. She sacrificed her entire live to the space program. And now, Irina may just be telling her what she wants to hear. She built a career at the KGB. She knows how to develop an asset. Margo is eager to get to work again. She uncovers the mistake that truly led to the asteroid disaster. Irina simply lies about the punishment for that failure. Margo continues to be of service. She only has value so long as she keeps providing results. Irina aims to develop trust. However, the rest of the mission is terrified of Margo and told to keep their distance. That's largely to ensure Margo remains in the dark. She isn't because she happens to have one friendly conversation with Tatyana where they help each other with their problems.