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Review of 'For All Mankind' 4.6-4.8

Earthlings and Martians

By Paul LevinsonPublished 4 months ago 5 min read

I usually focus on the alternate history flourishes in my reviews of For All Mankind, but the story of Aleida and Margot in episode 4.6, up on Apple TV+, was so good that I wanted to devote this review to that.

Aleida had realized last season that Margot, who had brought her into NASA, was working with the Russians. But that part of their relationship had come to a brutal end with the explosion at NASA headquarters. It did kill Molly Cobb, and Aleida thought it had taken Margot as well.

Fortunately, it had not. Margot was already on her way to the Soviet Union, where she has gone to nearly being killed in prison to now serving as Irina's literally secret advisor. When there's a summit meeting in Leningrad (the title of this episode) to work out a plan to bring the iridium asteroid and its riches to Earth, Margot is literally talking from another room in Irina's ear, as she chairs a meeting in which Aleida is also present as the Helios representative. The meeting doesn't get too far, leaving Aleida frustrated, still wanting to talk, and the others rushing off to eat. This sets up the best scene in the episode.

Margot realizes that the combined space leaders of Earth won't be able to solve the immensely difficult problem of getting the iridium asteroid to Earth. She also realizes that she and Aleida, working together, could and would figure out what to do. The two meet. Margot expects Aleida to be furious at her for betraying NASA and US. Instead, Aleida hugs Margot, crying with joy at finding Margot alive. That's what I call realistic, subtle, and memorable writing.

After the long hug, Aleida then takes to berating her idol for betraying her country. And that's realistic, too. In the end, Aleida agrees to work with Margot to come up with a plan for the asteroid, setting up some good stories in the ongoing season and series.

All in all, a really satisfying episode that portrays how the impetus to get our species into space can transcend personal as well as national differences. A good portrayal, very well played by Wren Schmidt as Margo and Coral Peña as Aleida, in how there can still be some hope for humanity.


Well, I was waiting for Dev to have a major role in this season of For All Mankind, and in episode 4.7 he gets it.

He's the first person person we've seen who wants to spend the rest of his life on Mars. He made that clear in a previous episode this season. And that means he thinks differently from everyone else. He's truly a person of the future.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

The alliance he makes with Ed Baldwin at the end of the episode shows Ed feels the same way about Mars. That, indeed, is why he's already stayed there so long. His leadership of the strike, and his opposition to Poole, were rooted in his view of himself as a Martian, whether he was fully aware of that or not. NASA and everything else that comes from Earth is increasingly something that literally and figuratively come from a different world.

About the strike, I'll just throw in my two cents that it was wrong to remove a crucial piece of equipment. There's a fine line in a strike between refusing to work and damaging equipment. And though the people at the site were wrong to try make the equipment work anyway without that crucial part, I think the blame for the explosion is with whoever removed it in the first place.

Last point I'll make about this important episode is it's good to see Margo back in Houston, however uncomfortable she -- and Aleida -- may feel about that. I have a feeling good things for the human species will come from it.


Episode 4.8 of For All Mankind develops some crucial personal relationships.

Let's start with Sergei and Margot. They loved each other, in addition to and making possible all the space stuff they managed to work on together in previous seasons. Like just about everyone else, Sergei here in the U.S. thought Margot had died in the bomb blast at NASA. But not like everyone else, he's deeply thrilled, with no mixed feelings, to learn she didn't die, and she's back here at NASA. His meeting her outside the diner, to warn her that she can't go back to the Soviet Union, was one of the best scenes in the series. The build up to that, and Sergei's involvement of Aleida, was also good to see. One of the things that has made For All Mankind so appealing all along is that the personal relationships that get our species out into space are just as important as the science and the politics.

And that was the case on Mars as well as on Earth in episode 4.8. The good guys -- Ed and Dev -- need to get the Discriminator into the equipment on the ship that will be remote steering the asteroid. The Discriminator will move it towards Mars not Earth. But getting that Discriminator in the right place is not easy, for a variety of reasons. The solution to one of the unexpected problems comes from Alex, Ed's young grandson, who is small enough to crawl through a passageway and retrieve the misplaced Discriminator. This not only allows Dev and Ed's plan to proceed, but gets Alex and Ed finally on the way to a good, loving relationship.

I haven't said anything about the alternate history in episode 4.8, because there was next to none. But it was fun to see Spiro T. Agnew's name up on a high school in the Texas town that Sergei is now living in. Agnew of course resigned as Nixon's Vice President in our own reality rather than stand trial on criminal charges. Good alternate history always plays games with villains as well as heroes.

Chuck Todd and Paul Levinson talk Alternate History, including For All Mankind

tv review

About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Best-known short story: The Chronology Protection Case; Prof, Fordham Univ.

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  • Lana V Lynx4 months ago

    Now, this has my interest peaked even more. I was on the edge about watching the series at all but since Russia and Russians are involved, I'm in! Thanks for your excellent review, Paul, as always.

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