Let's hear it for the veterans!
Ed, Danielle, Gordo, and Tracy are the foundation of the space program, and by the end of For All Mankind Season 2 Episode 2, three of them were a lot closer to the moon than they'd been in some time.
Ellen was eager to get to the ground and make a difference on the administrative side, with a personal push for mars, but Ed, Gordo, and Danielle had cut short their aspirations. It was time to reprioritize.
The end of For All Mankind Season 2 Episode 1 left us in the dark about Molly's fate. We knew that she took off her dosimeter watch, but we didn't know for sure what her story would be. We do now.
Molly lied, and if her lie was to keep her on the moon to finish her work, it failed.
Even with the dosimeter in the cave while she struggled to save her fellow astronaut for over two hours, she registered 90 rems. If the other guy's 200 was more than anybody needs in a lifetime, then 90 isn't going to do Molly any favors.
Whether she likes it or not, she's earthbound for the near future, likely forever.
Ed being Chief Astronaut, though, does wonders for his friends, and if he can make magic for Danielle and Gordo, then maybe he can swing something special for her on the ground or at least help sway Margo to ensure Molly's knowledge is put to good use.
Ellen's new job as Deputy Administrator left her as one of the guys, quite literally. When she joined Margo, Bradford, and what's his name (seriously, what is his name?) for the budget meeting on her first day, it was like a game of musical chairs, and she lost.
They never thought twice that there was a new member in the room, let alone that she was a woman. I guess once you've spent over 700 days on the moon, niceties are out the window.
Larry: Just remember why you took this job in the first place. The way to mars isn't through Houston-
Ellen: It's through Washington.
Ellen's goal is set on Mars, and I can't wait to see how she wrangles others to her train of thought. So far, they're interested in the status quo and fixing other issues.
But realistically speaking, the Soviets got to the moon before the US, and with the competition fiercer than ever, shouldn't reaching Mars be more of a priority if only to plant their flag in it first?
During a meeting, the heated relations between the US and the USSR were briefly discussed, from the sense of putting missiles on Pathfinder to staging a meet-cute in space to show the world they share common goals -- except the hope was it would be an illusion, with the USSR swatting away the request after much publicity, putting the US in a favorable light.
That's scarily stupid to consider. They were amped up over a solar flare, and they think provoking the Soviets with a meet-n-greet gone sideways in public is a good idea. God help them.
Margo has her hands full, but she's also got Aleida on her mind. She chose NASA as her family, but Aleida came as close as she'll get to a daughter. I hope she finds time to take her calls instead of looking worried for a minute and allowing it to pass.
I love the friendship with the Baldwins and the Cobbs because without Karen and Wayne leaning on each other while Ed and Molly were in various parts of space, the couple's thing could have never have taken flight as it did.
Hell, stick-in-the-mud, Karen was getting high with Wayne on the golf course. They're so much fun together.
That also gave Molly and Ed time to connect. She thought she pulled the wool over everyone's eyes about the rescue mission, but Ed knew her too well. He's not chastising her about lying or putting her life in danger; he just wants to know that she's OK.
At the same time, she's got questions for him. The daring Ed Baldwin she knew would never be satisfied behind a desk. But they were different people ten years ago when Ed lost his son and wasn't home to help Karen through the aftermath.
I don't know. The life you think you're gonna have, sometimes it doesn't end up making you happy, and I'm happy. You know, being there for Kelly and Karen. Hell, even those Asscans. It means something. No, it's not pushing the envelope, but, I don't know. Sometimes it's just more important being with the people you love than doing what you love.
Ed chose his family, and it grew larger with his feet firmly planted on the ground. His presence also gave Karen wings to see beyond the four walls of their home and make something special from a shithole that meant a lot to the astronauts. Now she's included in that familial experience.
Adding ferns to The Outpost made Danielle laugh. I was happy to hear that over the nine years, the three of them never lost the bond they curated on the moon. They were heroes beyond measure, and what Danielle gave up for Gordo is immeasurable, even if he can't get past it.
She also chose to remain firmly planted on the ground to get Clayton through his struggles after returning from Vietnam. No amount of time together could fix Clayton, though, and it seems that he took his own life.
That only gave Danielle the push she needed to get back out there.
Danielle: I wanna go back.
Gordo: Back where?
Danielle: Jamestown. It has been nine years since any of us have been up there, and it's time. I want to see how it's changed. I want to see what it's become.
Gordo: You know what it's become. You helped design the dang thing.
Danielle: It's not the same thing. I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to suit up in the morning, put my boots in the moondust, see the sunrise off Shackleton again. Don't y'all miss it?
If her dreams were to be answered again, maybe Ed could say a prayer for his friend, Gordo, too. Because Gordo has not been having an easy go of it.
It's hard to tell if Danny's return from Annapolis, so tall and handsome in his uniform, made Gordo proud or ashamed. Maybe a little of both.
With their family reunion, Danny was on top of the world, and Tracy put on a similar face. But for someone who is happily rewed, we don't know a thing about her new husband.
Gordo finally broke down after that visit, Ed at his side, a shoulder to lean on. Gordo admitted he'd left a piece of himself on the moon. Maybe he'll never be whole until he gets back to there to put himself back together.
Gordo Stevens, American hero. What a crock of shit. [crying] It's shit.Gordo
So Ed did what he could for the friends he loves, and Danielle and Gordo were named for the latest mission announced. Others were stunned, but didn't they earn that right with their pioneering mission?
Gordo: I'm not going back up, Ed. I can't, and you know I can't.
Ed: Well, that's not up to you. I decide who goes back and when remember? You got this.
Tracy is going back to the moon, too, and she's not taking it seriously. Is she afraid to let go of her celebrity or is the idea of being a full-time astronaut scarier than she remembers after the walk on the wild side?
Something is eating at her, and since every person involved with NASA has given so much of themselves for a cause greater than themselves, it's no surprise that their self is attached to it, making real-life more challenging. That's a feeling across the board with the NASA team, from the ground to the moon.
Still, as fractured as they might seem, their kids still find value in their parent's experiences.
Danny Stevens is just home from his first year at Annapolis, and Kelly has her eyes on the naval academy, too, although it appears to be a secret.
My question is with Danielle and Gordo back on the path to space, will Ed be able to sit back and watch?
It doesn't matter that he's imperative to the missions; a part of his heart will always be in space. It might be hard to imagine staying behind.
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.