Friday, December 15, 2023

REVIEW: 'For All Mankind' - The Importance of the Work Requires Everyone to Be Comfortable With Betrayals in 'Leningrad'

AppleTV+'s For All Mankind - Episode 4.06 "Leningrad"

Unlikely partnerships are formed at a high-stakes international conference.

"Leningrad" was written by Eric W. Phillips and directed by Sylvain White

The future of humanity resides amongst the stars. That was the promise given to the world at the start of the space race. It was a competition for domination amongst societies on Earth. However, the promise was always the exploration of what exists throughout the universe. Now, that is becoming more accessible. Average people are now enduring the brutal realities faced by astronauts throughout the decades. Moreover, the greed of civilization always pivots the conversation back to what can be done to better life on Earth. The travel to Mars is faster than originally conceived. Happy Valley continues to grow. More opportunities are presented. And yet, the true life-changing discoveries are being sent back to Earth. The asteroid capture program was designed to offer sustainability on other planets. But now, those resources are being sent to Earth solely to make the investment worth it for the counties putting up the money now. People sacrifice everything in pursuit of these noble goals. It's all increasingly becomes a lie. One where many still place all their hopes and dreams into the promise of prosperity.

Danielle was tasked with getting Happy Valley back on track. Her leadership was required during a time of turmoil. Blame was placed on a faulty engineering design for the previous disaster. Human error was costly through every juncture of this mission. Danielle wants the base to feel willing and open to share anything with her. She still follows orders. It's up to the teams back on Earth to figure out the direction of the program. Sure, she authorized a mission to restore bandwidth on the base. She earned good will. But now, she positions her value on being able to deliver despite a short timeline. Everyone sees the hope waiting to be unlocked by mining goldilocks. No one knows if it is feasible at this point. Danielle hopes she can deliver. However, she has just removed Ed as XO. She can no longer trust his judgment. He's wallowing in his misery. Very few secrets are kept on Happy Valley. The leadership allowed the black market to operate. Ed now gets to enjoy those spoils. It's not exciting. It's simply something he does to fill out his day.

And then, Ed becomes active in the union movement. It's such a startling development. He once shut down any complaints people had with how Helios treated its employees. He had such contempt for the new motivations for why people are traveling to Mars. It was all about patriotism for him. He had to serve his country. He believed in something greater. And now, it's about the money. Ed prospers. He has always been trusted in leadership. He even gets to reunite with his family. That's not possible for many on the base. Lee yearns for his wife. No one is willing to make that happen. Kelly decided what was best for her family. It didn't have to come at the expense of her research. She is aiming high in the hopes of making profound discoveries on Mars. She's committed to the work. So many are willing to look past the deceit and betrayal because of their belief in the mission. That has allowed outside interests to creep in and abuse the systems. Ed had no control over how people were compensated. Now, that's the only form of authority he has. And so, he flexes control. He rallies support. He builds off the momentum Sam developed. Of course, he's also taking that narrative away from her in service of his own ego. That's pretty destructive too.

Similarly, Margo believes Aleida will look past any feelings she has upon learning her mentor is still alive because the work is too important. The sad reality is that she was right. Aleida has many conflicting emotions about this reveal. She operates with new responsibilities now. She's still loyal to NASA despite having to advocate for Helios at the M-7 summit. That's her personal history. She is still adjusting to life in the private sector. Those lines don't have to mean anything. Everyone should be working towards the same goal. Divisions still exist. People still project their "us vs. them" mentalities. It's all a race for who gets control. Irina operates for awhile with Margo listening in and offering her input. It's more sensible for Margo and Aleida to simply work together. That has vast geopolitical consequences. It means the truth about Margo will be discovered. She defected to the Soviet Union. She must spread the propaganda. That's all worth it to continue being relevant. It's devastating for Aleida. Her first instinct following the Johnson Space Center attack was to search for Margo. Her mentor was already gone. She already made the choice to leave. Margo isn't some innocent bystander in what her life became. She yearns for power. She must deal with the consequences. Aleida always believed Margo had a good reason for her actions. In the end, none of it can be justified. The work still prevails. The mission is still too important to be blinded by personal feelings.

The balance of the personal and professional is crucial. Margo famously lived at the office. She didn't have a personal life outside of work. The system was set up to accommodate her. She expects others who operate like her to behave similarly. She essentially removes those choices from them. They don't have to follow in her footsteps. Moreover, the space program has expanded beyond her influence. She's still at the center of the drama. Miles is too. He found a hustle that allowed his family to prosper. That was the job. It wasn't the menial tasks he was assigned to do for Helios. The company extracted as much free labor from him as possible. The terms of the employee contracts are only getting worse. No one believes in the collective sacrifice. No one even has the luxury of closing ranks amongst tribal lines. People are just looking out for themselves. The prospect of a union offers more than that. It's a way to create better working conditions so everyone can prosper at work. The employees deserve just as much credit as the executives. They hold power. They deserve to take what they deserve. For Miles, that means overthrowing Ilya's business by partnering with the North Koreans. Tthat holds geopolitical consequences he doesn't fully comprehend too. It's just the cost of doing business. He expects everyone to accept that. It's an impersonal decision. It's extremely personal though. That can't be denied. It's all too easy for people yearning for power to do just that. Lives are lost as a result. That threat is building as more people grow despite to unlock new possibilities from goldilocks.