For All Mankind: The Grey
April 24, 2021 9:38 AM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Season Finale: Tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union reach an all-time high on the moon, throwing multiple missions into jeopardy.

US Astro Marines take on the Russian occupation of Jamestown in a super stealthy sneak attack that the Russians somehow see coming. The ensuing firefight reveals safety issues with the reactor design, but Gordo and Tracy manage to fix the problem with duct tape.

Danielle grows impatient with the Soviet rendez-vous being delayed to the next orbit. Ellen takes all the credit.

Ed broods about his marriage but eventually finds a solution for Schroedinger’s Sea Dragon after a Chekhov’s gun standoff with Sally.

On Earth, Sergei considers taking his relationship with Margo to the next level. Karen sells the bar to a retired athlete named Sam. Kelly finishes her college admissions essay. Ronald Reagan is moved by a television show and pursues détente.

Flash-forward another dozen years and someone’s grungy boots are walking on Mars.
posted by cardboard (33 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Still coming down from watching this episode - amazing. Can’t wait for season 3.

And just how far are the woman of this timeline absolutely hitting it out of the park? In the mission control scenes with Margo, Molly, Ellen, and Aleida - each was awesome and they played like an orchestra. On Apollo, Danielle stopped a worldwide chain of events escalating like a boss. Helena held her own and took the shot under fire. Sally held her own and didn’t need to take the shot. Karen held shit together and Kelly found her story. And then there’s Tracy. Going toe to bloody toe with Gordo on the run was just beautiful - both of them true equals and comrades - helping each other and sharing the same Medal at the very end.

But that tease between Gordo/Tracy’s close of the outside airlock and then Commander Rossi opening the door to them a few minutes later - fucking tears.

In my continuing fantasy that For All Mankind is a precursor to The Expanse universe - Tracy is the badass historic hero for Bobby Draper and Naomi Nagata including unplanned outside of the airlock escapades and all
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:19 AM on April 24 [6 favorites]

Wow this episode knocked it out of orbit.

Is the far side of the moon now suuuuper radioactive? So much for any telescope plans.

Chernobyl on the moon, Able Archer in space, Apollo 13 tech-improv, former actor Reagan being affected by television images...

Tracey and Gordo... “Bye, Bob.”

Great summary as always, cardboard, I lol’d
posted by sixswitch at 11:27 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]

Holy shit this was amazing.

After watching the disappointing finale of Captain Melt and the Winter Heterosexual I was worried this wouldn't be a satisfying season conclusion but wow, tremendous.

And the end scene jump to the 90s was perfection.

On the face of it the toxic masculinity and the, lets face it, cheese adjacent storyline would seem to be recipe for disaster but whether it's the cast, the alternate history setting or the fantastic music choices this just works. It's not "Prestige TV" but it's fantastic television.
posted by fullerine at 11:37 AM on April 24

These last two episodes were fantastic. I just wish they'd keep the energy up throughout the whole season instead of dragging along for most of the season. I want MORE space and LESS bar real estate transactions.

I'm guessing that we'll see Kelly aldrin on Mars.
posted by jonathanhughes at 12:02 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]

This felt very signposted in a number of places. It felt like Gordo was a cert to die from about 30 seconds in. I was surprised Tracy got it too though. It was totally obvious Danielle was going to go ahead with the Soyuz link-up. Liked it anyway, plus Biscotti coming through with the middle ground.

Very much passed the Bechdel. The scene at mission control with Ellen, Margo, Molly and Aleida very well done.
posted by biffa at 1:02 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]

This was great. I understand it made sense to make Reagan president, and that the plot had to make the superpowers reconcile, but seeing Reagan being the savvy, empathetic peacemaker was a little annoying. Luckily, so much other great stuff!
posted by snofoam at 4:45 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]

I understand it made sense to make Reagan president

First time this has been said on Metafilter?
posted by biffa at 5:18 PM on April 24 [8 favorites]

I felt Gordo was scheduled to die for quite a while, but figured Tracy was, too, as they were both insufferable in their own ways and were nursing irredeemable paths. It would have been interesting to develop the characters into obnoxious, aging, public personalities/celebrities/politicians. But that's not this kind of show.

But the show is fun, if eye roll-y, and feels to me retro style of storytelling, perhaps suited to match the retro style space program.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:00 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]

“The Grey” - aside from the philosophy on seeing things as black and white vs the nuances of shades of grey... Tracy and Gordo were wrapped head to toe in duct tape. The Grey indeed.
posted by azpenguin at 8:46 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]

If in-show 1980s had electric cars and interplanetary videochats, I can't wait to see what technology is being used on Mars in 1995.

“Each season would go roughly 10 years into the future. So you catch up to the modern-day and go a little bit into the future,” Moore says. “Or you can decide that the show is going gangbusters and you go past the endpoint. Everything is still on the table.”

It would be amazing if For All Mankind ended up being a Battlestar Galactica prequel AND sequel.
posted by emelenjr at 6:15 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]

Fun fact about the end scene: Nirvana's Come As You Are is definitely on brand for the theme of the series, but also, it features a guitar riff from an equally on brand song Killing Song's Eighties, whose music video is half video clips of cold war politicians and space race launches.
posted by pwnguin at 11:59 AM on April 25

And just how far are the woman of this timeline absolutely hitting it out of the park?

Something I was just considering is that while the Russians sending a woman to the moon was the impetus for the US expanding their astronaut corps to include women, and of course we see a lot of women in the US space program on the show, I don't think we've seen another Russian woman involved in their space program.
posted by jimw at 1:18 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]

I will cut them some slack for piling one crisis on top of another to get a boffo season finale, and this one was somewhat more believable than the ending to Season 1.

It felt from the git-go like the standoff at Jamestown was crying out for a level head to say "hey guys, let's back down," and like snofoam, I was annoyed that that person was Reagan—and Andropov. The show has set up astronauts and cosmonauts (and the ground teams) as having a sense of camaraderie, even allowing for the obvious rivalries, and I felt like it would have been a better story and a more believable one if it were one of them who de-escalated.

Karen Baldwin selling the Outpost without ever mentioning it to Kelly (until after the fact) or Ed (period) was very weird to me. Her estrangement from Ed in one sense came out of left field, in another seems completely predictable.
posted by adamrice at 2:48 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]

I'm not even remotely a fan of Ronald Reagan, but I do think that him having an abrupt, consequential change of heart because of the way something he saw on tv made him feel is actually pretty true to the historical figure; he really did at least halfway get off the Soviets' jocks after he saw Red Dawn.
posted by COBRA! at 4:01 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]

Jesus, not Red Dawn. The Day After. Wow, that's a weird switcheroo.
posted by COBRA! at 4:07 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]

It felt a lot like this entire season was plotted by working backwards from Gordo and Trace running across the Moon wrapped in duck tape.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 9:20 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]

I'm curious if the boots on Mars will be revealed as the culmination of international cooperative missions, since we hit a peak of conflict with this episode. Then again, the bit with the Russians saying how Margo will be working for them and not even realize it had an extreme The Americans vibe.

This episode had enough tension that it felt like they might just end the entire series/alternate timeline with global & lunar nuclear events (at least, if you didn't know season 3 was already in the works).

I'd love if they had some easter eggs in the popular music used. Just a random word or chord change, nothing substantial but just enough to reinforce the alternate timeline (like the NASA not-quite-the-worm logo). Or go all out and invent some John Lennon/Prince collaboration playing randomly on a radio in the background.
posted by mikepop at 6:46 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]

A great ending to a solid season. Yeah yeah orbits don't work like that, fine whatever, some things were pretty clear they were written to achieve a dramatic intent, whatever, it was exciting and tense and satisfying to me.

If you haven't been watching, Krys Marshall (Danielle Poole) has been posting a bunch of BTS shots that are very cool.
posted by Kyol at 7:33 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]

My predictions... Ellen will decide to live her true self and come out, after she resigns from her current role - so that she can run her father's airline/aerospace company. She recommends her replacement to be... Danielle... Reagan loves that idea.

So... Ellen and Karen are friends - Karen has the idea of space tourism in the back of her head... Karen has money to invest and/or work with Ellen jointly...
posted by rozcakj at 8:21 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]

it would have been a better story and a more believable one if it were one of them who de-escalated.

Both Danielle and Ed disobeyed direct orders and were the ones to de-escalate... What I found a little unbelievable was that Reagan and Nancy were so moved by the video feed of Danielle - but others have pointed out that Reagan, having been an actor would possibly be more swayed by what he saw on the TV (it's not that unbelievable as there was another recent president who was easily swayed by whatever was on TV)
posted by rozcakj at 8:26 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]

regarding Reagan being affected by scenes on tv/The Day After:

He [Reagan] wrote in his diary that the film was "very effective and left me greatly depressed," and that it changed his mind on the prevailing policy on a "nuclear war".
Four years later, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed and in Reagan's memoirs he drew a direct line from the film to the signing.
posted by mikepop at 8:59 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]

Karen Baldwin selling the Outpost without ever mentioning it to Kelly (until after the fact) or Ed (period) was very weird to me. Her estrangement from Ed in one sense came out of left field, in another seems completely predictable.
I was right there with you until I realized that Ed decided to send himself back to space without much discussion with her. It's almost like as soon as Kelly decided to go be an astronaut and Ed decided to go back to space, Karen was looking for a path that didn't lead to her weeping over a dead husband and daughter. So she started checking out and looking at other options. Selling the bar, banging Gordo's kid, planning on going back to school, all seem like pre-emptive methods of coping with loss. Like, she can't lose Ed and Kelly to space, because she's gonna walk away before they can leave her.

Also...Damn Trace. Damn Gordo. I know they were a hot mess, but they were our hot mess and I loved them for it.
posted by teleri025 at 11:53 AM on April 26 [8 favorites]

A brief rant about the politics of this show that I've exiled to the spoiler zone so as not to yuck anyone's yum. This is probably the most right-wing TV I've consumed in a long time. The Ronald Reagan "shining city" stuff is particularly unbearable if you actually know anything about his foreign policy behavior in the 80s, and the idea that a piece of magic propaganda TV would actually cause that senile warmonger to suddenly ignore the fact that warships are on his coast (and in his vassal state of Panama), blockading the moon, and invading his moonbase, is ludicrous. "Capitalism. It works." my ass. von Braun deserved to be hanged, not turned into a study in ambiguity, and the costs for this program would have killed half the US discretionary budget -- though of course that's the wrong kind of realism for this version of "hard" SF. The moon is a worthless rock and thank god we didn't actually risk annihilating the entire world for a tin can and a few pieces of ice in a cave.

I'm sorry about Tracy and Gordo though -- it was a moving scene, even if it was a bit idiotic (why not just call the Russians to radio their guys to fix it?).
posted by chortly at 11:31 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]

Pretty if ANNOYINGLY unreal.

- there is no one on base who is setting it up allowed to be in the control room?
- there is no one on base who is setting it up who doesn’t have an emergency get out there and fix something kit including a suit and a private comms channel to be alerted?
- all pressure exits/points have NO contingency single use suits, dummy proof half hour suits or hamster balls? Just tons of duct tape?
- Cables are outside only?
- spec books completely don’t mention the second unit? There’s secrecy yeah but it’s NUCLEAR.
- I was gonna exclaim over Andropov but he served like 18 months (to young me it felt like 6)

I agree with rozcakj about team ups and tourism travel.
posted by tilde at 8:25 AM on April 30

Hello, tech support? Our nuclear reactor seems to be on the fritz.
Have you tried unplugging it and plugging it back in?
posted by spudsilo at 8:26 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]

I just got around to this show about five days ago and I’ve binged it as fast as I could. I’ve really enjoyed it, but I’ve discovered something about myself. I used to like my fiction really dark—just pile on the pain and misery, please! But I think the pandemic has changed my tolerance for stress, or maybe I’m just getting old. I found that I really, really didn’t want the show to go as far as someone dropping a nuke or going into all out war, and I was so bothered by the possibility that they just might do it that it detracted from my enjoyment of the last two episodes. That’s not a knock on the show, it’s just a new experience for me to watch something hoping they pull back a little. I think I’ll rewatch it now that I know how it turns out.

It’s sad that Gordo and Tracy died, but that also saves Karen from having to have the world’s most awkward conversation with them someday.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:51 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]

Scott Manley on Gordo and Trace's improvised suits. Interestingly, he reckons that, depending on the O2 partial pressure they got out of the masks, by providing mechanical counter pressure, the tape could have kept them conscious for a couple of minutes.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:23 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]

So the thing I've never seen answered - how does LOC due to low pressure differ from apnic deep diving? I mean OK I don't expect a random astronaut to be able to hit even the 3 minute records, but I'm always surprised that it's only 10-15 seconds for someone who's prepared for it.

And yeah, as mentioned above, if _I_ were designing a space habitat with individually sealable sections with portals to the great outdoors, I would guarantee that every section had at least a couple emergency pressure suits and emergency oxygen. I mean, it would still suck to have to go into vacuum without the full pre-breathe and preparation, but it would be better than gray tape and a prayer, right? I suppose the counter argument is that a normal depressurization event would be slow enough to allow people to get into pressure and hopefully there's a pressure suit somewhere that you can use to correct the fault?
posted by Kyol at 6:43 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]

Oh right, meant to link this 4 year old video: Could You Make a Space Suit Out of Duct Tape?
posted by Kyol at 6:53 AM on May 3

but it would be better than gray tape

And now we know where the title came from. /s
posted by pwnguin at 9:19 AM on May 3

how does LOC due to low pressure differ from apnic deep diving?
This is a good question; freedivers are mostly using their blood oxygen volume, and it's not uncommon for them to breathe out before diving, so you'd think you could stay conscious for several minutes the way they do. The answer stems from being unable to keep any gas in your lungs without suffering an embolism, so now your lungs are exposed to vacuum, and that means they're working in reverse; oxygen is actively diffusing out of your bloodstream! Your heart pumps that freshly deoxygenated blood to your brain, and meanwhile keeps pumping the remaining oxygenated blood into your lungs, so you run out of it really fast.

(3 minutes isn't an apnea record btw, that currently stands at nearly 12 minutes for an air breathe up at sea level, and over 24 minutes with a pure oxygen breathe up. When I was a kid even I had a 4 minute breath hold. Sorry, couldn't resist boasting!)
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 10:04 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]

I just got done binging this whole series. For the most part I liked it. There were a few moments where I just had to ignore a thing or two but that's true of most shows.

I liked that John Lennon was still alive and being John Lennon. I bet this timeline has no use for Bono. It was weird though that they kept him alive, maybe with the additional space-related jobs Mark David Chapman got a job for a space contractor somewhere.

It felt at times like there were only about 10 people working at NASA. The same people designing the docking ports were in mission control and those same people were directing multiple missions at once, as if they wouldn't have different teams on each mission. I know they have to limit the cast and characters but it annoyed me sometimes.

I didn't quite get why Ed destroyed the Sea Dragon. Honestly that whole sequence felt dumb and I wished they hadn't made Sally Ride a part of it. How did he suddenly re-target the rockets? Won't there soon be a mission to the crashed Sea Dragon where they can easily figure out what happened to it?

Poor Gordo and Tracy. I'm sorry to see them die, I assumed only Tracy was going to die and Gordo would be forced to live with it. I guess if the next season takes place in the 1990s they'll need some younger astronauts anyway.

Why did the Americans and Russians have to fight over a single mining site anyway? It's THE MOON. Surely there are other places to be mined so there's enough for everyone.

It seems being an astronaut is more like being on an aircraft carrier or something. Astronauts have a lot more freedom to make their own decisions as opposed to the way it currently is where every second is scheduled in advance. Things are much more routine in that timeline, which would be the norm if NASA was that big.

It was good to see Michael Dorman in something else. If you haven't seen Patriot on Amazon, he is AMAZING in it.

At one point I was thinking there would be a nuclear war and the next season would be the astronauts in space trying to figure out how to survive on their own. I'm glad that didn't happen.

I loved the little jumps in technology thanks to the expanded space program. Cell phones were better earlier, etc.

I am so happy there is a science fiction show that is plausible. No warp drives, no space portals, no laser blasters, no aliens with bumpy foreheads, no 500 years in the future, no woo woo. Just regular, believable tech. I want more of this, please.

I'm glad I got caught up and I'm looking forward to getting to Mars.
posted by bondcliff at 8:48 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]

I didn't quite get why Ed destroyed the Sea Dragon. Won't there soon be a mission to the crashed Sea Dragon where they can easily figure out what happened to it?

Pretty sure between flight recorders, cockpit voice recorders potentially, computer logs, and the small matter of two missiles being missing from the weapons bay that *everyone* at NASA/the Pentagon who needs to know will know what really happened. It will be interesting to see how Ed's and Sally's career goes from here in season 3 or if it just gets washed over. I mean it was pretty messed up all around.

In episode 8 we learnt four Phoenix missiles were installed in Pathfinder. My guess was Ed was taking a calculated risk that he destroys Sea Dragon to deescalate, and (presumably - not shown) keeps the other two missiles on hot standby for the Russian Buran. In theory they would now not have a reason to target Pathfinder, but I'd be shocked if an ex-Navy pilot didn't have those other two missiles ready to go / if the targeting computer couldn't be tracking two targets at once. He'd have some wiggle room with the Military that he thought it better that the US destroy its own Sea Dragon than have the Russians do it (bonus Pathfinder now has the only proven missile system in space in combat conditions which the Pentagon will probably see silver lining strategic benefit in) - and as a plus he got the chance to show the Russians how advanced Pathfinder is (we can take down a ship faster than you can - even after you'd locked on it we could launch faster - so back the fuck off). At least that's the story I'd go with if I was him in this timeline and waiting to get debriefed back on Earth.....

Why did the Americans and Russians have to fight over a single mining site anyway? It's THE MOON. Surely there are other places to be mined so there's enough for everyone.

I'm trying to remember Season 1, but I seem to recall it was quite difficult to find the first mine site (like it almost didn't happen), and my guess is once you've built your base near it - moving to a new site is a big effort and could be very time consuming.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:46 AM on May 4

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