Danielle has a soothing effect on many things, but she cannot be everywhere at once, so a lot of people need to step up to the plate to make Mars a little more habitable.
Despite getting a Hi, Bob when Dani and Ed reunited on Mars on For All Mankind Season 4 Episode 2, things are much different now on the red planet than they were the last time the two were in each other's company.
There's a distinct upstairs-downstairs feel between the haves and the have-nots on Mars, and we don't relish it continuing.
Dani recognizes a lot of it right off of her flight, but Ed is still seemingly a staunch supporter of the us-vs-them mentality that comes from being part of an “us” as significant as astronauts.
If you think back to For All Mankind Season 1, you remember the excitement surrounding the space race.
Everyone wasn’t included then, either. Women had to fight hard to be considered worthy of flight training, and now the civilian Helios employees have to do the same.
Things are not all roses on Mars, despite the incredible sales pitch Miles received on For All Mankind Season 4 Episode 1.
He was sold a bill of goods so filled with fine print that he never even considered asking the relevant questions.
How Dani and Miles got acclimated at Happy Valley was a brilliantly edited segment showing what the haves have and what the have nots are lacking, and it’s a lot to take in.
Conference room, commissary. What else you y’all got, a night club up here?Danielle
Dani’s journey found her chatting easily with friends and family back home, snuggling into her comfortable quarters (OK, she IS a commander, so that’s to be expected), and enjoying the fettuccini with Mars grown greens.
By contrast, comms are down for the civilians. They can’t connect with loved ones.
They’re suffering in squalid, cramped quarters without any privacy.
And their food comes out of tiny compartments that resemble apartment mailboxes, and the food is what you’d imagine freeze dried rations might taste like.
There is a world of difference between the haves and have nots, and there is a simmering resentment building amongst the civilians that is bound boil over.
Thankfully, Dani has been away from all of this for long enough that she recognizes what’s happening well enough to do something about it. Meanwhile, Ed whines that civilians are just in it for the money. It’s an unfair comparison that isn’t lost on Dani.
It’s the little things that make our lives complete, but communicating with loved ones when you’re light years away isn’t a little thing. Are we really to believe nobody considered that a Mars expansion might also need expanding utilities to service the population as it grows?
Have they said how long civilians have been on Mars? It’s long enough that there is a significant divide between two factions, which doesn’t normally happen overnight. Would the first 20 civilians really have been eating packets of food while the others ate fresh meals?
How long did that take, and why were eyes closed to how that divide began? It’s such a disappointment to imagine that if we were given another chance to get things right, we’d fail right out of the gate, but that’s exactly what we see with Happy Valley.
Miles was like a kid in a candy store when he stepped off the transport, but he was corralled in and given the true nature of things before even had a chance to appreciate where he was.
It couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes from snapping photos on the shuttle to being told, whoa there, that’s not a hallway you’re meant to visit.
When you’re not given what you need, you will find a way to satisfy those needs, and there’s already a thriving black market on Mars. Imagine if Happy Valley was created without that division.
There’s money to be made, but Helios and NASA aren’t making it. It’s a lost opportunity, which is strange considering part of the reason there is the divide is due to cost-cutting measures.
Civilians have to pay for everything they have and do on Mars. Working there offers them no benefits. It’s more like prison than it is the good-paying job they’re sold on Earth.
The high-paying and exciting jobs that would have civilians setting foot on Mars soil are also gone, so people like Miles can’t even be heroes to their kids back home without lying about it.
Sam has a chip on her shoulder the size of the asteroid that killed her friend. Ed’s sporting a badge signaling the death of Grigory, but where is the sympathy and honor for the civilian who was killed with him?
Miles didn’t need much coaxing to tumble down into the abyss Sam calls home. What greeted him on Mars did the trick. There was no welcome wagon; there were only the cold hard facts of their new life; a life that wasn’t on an even keel with the people residing on the upper floors.
After we experienced coming to Mars as both Dani and Miles, they passed on the elevator, and things converged. Dani did what she could to help, and even Ed threw a thank you party that included everyone. But by that point, the damage was done.
Those who arrived discovered their value quickly. If they wanted to return home, they’d have to pay $150k in restitution for their (unused) training, their shuttle ride to Mars, and assorted other costs associated with the tarnished offering.
Like I said. It’s a lot, but it sets the stage for a turbulent season on the red planet.
Margo is living as a have not after having been a have, but if I wondered where her spirit was hiding and how she stayed out of trouble, she probably wishes she hadn’t found it.
Her mundane life was upended when a political coup everyone but her was aware of unfolded before she even got to her favorite (the only?) bakery.
I had flashbacks to the many times June found herself shoved into the back of a dark van on The Handmaid’s Tale. Will Margo have someone willing to put themselves on the line for her like June had so many times on her behalf? I sure hope so.
It wasn’t all bad news on “Have a Nice Sol.”
A friendship between Kelly and Aleida makes so much sense, and it’s crazy they’d never landed in each other’s orbit before now.
Aleida was in a really bad place, but once she crawled out of that dark hole, she became the girl we watched blossom under Margo’s mentoring.
Both Aleida and Kelly have allowed others to determine their fate for a while now. It’s how things often work under a rigid hierarchy. Taking control of their future and making their dreams come true on their own terms will allow them to reach beyond those limitations.
The future of space is in the private sector, no matter how poorly the civilians are currently treated out there, and Aleida and Kelly are wise to go in that direction.
For All Mankind Season 4 is on par for tearing down the establishement and righting the wrongs that have been made in the expansion to space.
Will the series prove me and my Eeyore attitude wrong by building to something beautiful after a few missteps?
Ya gotta have faith.
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.