For All Mankind: Prime Crew
November 8, 2019 12:33 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

A training accident spurs a national debate about women astronauts.

The events of this episode seem to cover mid-1970 to early-to-mid 1971.

It's not clear exactly when Apollo 15 takes place in this timeline. The lack of any mention of the Apollo 13 accident suggests that the mission went as planned, which means that Apollo 14 and 15 would not have been delayed, and Apollo 15 would presumably have flown earlier than July 1971 as it did in real history. However, there must have been enough time for Cobb to get up to speed as Lunar Module Pilot after the female ASCANs graduate in late 1970, even allowing for the problems she is shown as having. Absent any confirmation from Ron Moore, it seems safe to assume that FAM's version of Apollo 15 flies some time in the spring of 1971.
posted by Major Clanger (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Even for a space history nerd like me it can be hard keeping to grips with the cast, especially as they fall into three categories:
  • Real historical characters such as Deke Slayton, Thomas Paine, Wernher von Braun, Gene Kranz and the Apollo 11 crew.
  • Entirely fictional characters, albeit often taking the place of real counterparts (Ed Baldwin, Tracy Stevens, Margo Madison).
  • Semi-fictionalised characters (what TV Tropes refers to as 'No Celebrities Were Harmed') such as Molly Cobb (plainly Jerrie Cobb, to whom the episode was dedicated) and Gordo Stevens (suspiciously similar to Gordon 'Gordo' Cooper, including the marital problems and perceived lack of commitment to training.)
I really don't think Paine was the press-conscious political lackey depicted here. And would the real Deke Slayton have contrived a fait accompli to get the female astronauts onto the flight roster? It seems doubtful, but I can just about buy the dramatic concept that he would not wish his own frustration at being grounded to be visited on others he saw as good astronauts. In our timeline, Slayton eventually resolved his medical issues and got himself put back on flight status to fly on Apollo-Soyuz; with the heated space race underlying the scenario of FAM it seems doubtful that any joint mission will happen so perhaps this Slayton will never fly, and knows it.

The storyline about Ellen covering her sexuality with Larry's help appears to reflect the revelation, after her death, that Sally Ride, although briefly married to another (male) astronaut, was in a long-term same-sex relationship. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and I hope Moore et al don't mishandle this.

A monumentally nerdy point: Apollo 15 is shown as including a Lunar Rover. Well, in real life it did. But the original schedule of 10 landings had the final five (Apollo 16 to 20) as 'J-series' missions with an upgraded Lunar Module capable of 3-day landing missions and of carrying the Rover. But first Apollo 20 was cancelled to free up a Saturn V to launch Skylab; then, when Apollo 18 and 19 were cancelled due to budget cuts, what was actually cancelled were the missions meant to be Apollo 15 and 19, leaving the final 3 flights as enhanced J-series missions so as to get the best value from them.

But, in FAM the Apollo program is proceeding not only without cancellations but with an enhanced scope, funded by the early end to the Vietnam War. So Apollo 15 shouldn't have had a Rover. I'm assuming though that the pressure to survey landing sites for resources meant that the J-series missions were moved up anyway.
posted by Major Clanger at 1:21 PM on November 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

A lot happened in this ep yet it still felt like filler compared to the previous one. I really don't understand why this needed to be over an hour long – there was just too much padding. Assorted thoughts:

- Way to go, teaching your kid to cycle... on concrete? Next to grass?

- Cannot deny I felt many feels during the women ASCAN announcement

- As I predicted, Ted Kennedy is up against Nixon in the election thanks to Chappaquiddick not happening.

- The fragile masculinity was quite well drawn in this ep, despite my complaints about length.

- Aleida just pushed right to the front of that rocket-watching crowd, how rude!

- I spotted the Okudas (of Star Trek: TNG fame) are tech consultants on this!
posted by adrianhon at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

adrianhon, as Ron Moore showed with Battlestar Galactica, pacing material over a season is not his strong suit. Someone mentioned for one of the earlier episodes that it felt like a season's worth of plot. A lot of first and second season BSG felt the same way. And then other episodes were just a lot of soft fluffy filler.
posted by Fukiyama at 5:05 PM on November 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hah, that was me who mentioned that! You're right about BSG though.
posted by adrianhon at 3:09 AM on November 9, 2019

I almost quit on this show and then the second half of episode 3 convinced me to stay, but like, I don't know. I can't shake the feeling that the show's premise is just too thin. Is it really just what we see? A space race? I keep wishing there would be something more to it, but so far there are no signs that that's the case. The water on the moon immediately made me think of "yay, we'll have aliens" but literally noone mentions new life forms or anything even though that feels obvious. So idk, I'll keep watching, but I'm disappointed so far.
posted by KTamas at 6:25 AM on November 10, 2019

They mentioned Skylab and repurposing it into the “Lunar Lab”. And yeah, I think they “fixed” Apollo 13 by making the Apollo 11 near failure (I guessed they would to hubby but forgot to post).

I’m glad they’ve brought in a Sally Ride situation, but expected more ERA ... :-)
posted by tilde at 3:21 PM on November 10, 2019

Is it really just what we see? A space race?

It's my hope that things like young Aleida's presence indicate that the pace of the time hops in the storytelling will continue or even lengthen, letting the overarching story span decades. That kid's going to be an astronaut in the FAM 1980s, I imagine.

If that were the case, where will we end up at the first season close? FAM 1990s? FAM 2010s?

So -- yes, I think -- a space race, but I'm hoping for a doozy.
posted by Construction Concern at 11:12 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

im not one to wax rhapsodic and sentimental about the space program, but this episode had me bursting into tears on several occasions
posted by entropicamericana at 8:55 AM on November 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Metronomes, jazz for mathematicians.

Until they can let loose and jazz play piano.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:20 AM on December 4, 2019

Bad edit on my part. That should read "Until they can let loose and play jazz piano."

I'm getting back into this show, and it's a delight. Well, besides the misogyny, as highlighted by some dudes calling the AsCans "girls" and other calling them women.

I loved Cobb noting that she was the actual senior of the trio, and the other guy was also heading up to space for the first time. And I enjoyed seeing her husband grab Karen's hand as the shuttle lifted off. And when Octavio gave his daughter a copy of the announcement, then sent her halfway across the country to see the lift-off in person.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:32 AM on December 4, 2019

And here are some cleaned up screenshots I took from the episode. I thought Cobb chose the raven as her image, but I think it's a nod to Apollo's turning the white raven black (Wikipedia, Cultural depiction of ravens).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:14 PM on December 5, 2019

I love Molly's relationship with her husband, and him grabbing Karen's hand. And congrats to the show for not making the grumpy dyky-iest pilot the gay one. James Urbaniak makes for a good asshole running around fighting the Lavender Menace.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:27 AM on September 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

Oh, this show. Had to have the Russians win the space race for a lady to finally get into space in the 70's. I LOVED Deke being all "they're astronauts now." I had the feels.

I was amused that Molly's the straight one and Ellen isn't, and that Larry giving her "the eye" is probably more along the lines of him being secretly gay himself. Also cracked up at Molly humming some jazz to annoy Margo.

I find it hard to get involved in Aleida's storyline since it seems aspirational at best situationally right now. Maybe an adult version of her gets really into the show in another season, I guess?

Ohhhh, Tracy! What's good for the gander is good for the goose, eh? Score, lady. I DIED when he was all implying "you're not a good mother" and she ran off and flushed the toilet even though she was all alone.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:57 PM on February 18

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