For All Mankind: Game Changer
June 16, 2022 8:52 PM - Season 3, Episode 2 - Subscribe

A commercial spaceflight company makes an announcement. The choice over who’ll command the Mars mission leads to a shift in personnel.

Karen visits a burner in the desert and receives an offer she tries to refuse. Margo disagrees with Molly’s vision for the Mars program crews. Ellen finds politics makes strange bedfellows. Danielle accepts both defeat and success gracefully while Ed is suspicious of success, blames defeat on reverse racism, and gets drunk. His ex-wife then effortlessly gets his oppressed white ass a new job in the private sector.
Danny Stevens keeps on creeping on Karen. Aleida goes to the Moon to sort out the NERVA engine and nobody cares. Kelly is still stuck in Antarctica, struggling for her father’s approval.
posted by cardboard (25 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Ok I think we're mostly back on track after last week's 1970 disaster movie story.

As soon as Molly got fired I suspected both her and Ed would go work for Helios. I wonder if Kelly will go on that mission or fly with Danielle.

I think I could do without the creepy Danny Baldwin stalker plot. This doesn't feel like that sort of show.

Ok so Ellen and Larry are still married and have kids. She's running for president. I know a lot of gay people have (and still do) hide their true selves but would it even be possible when they're that much in the public eye? Has Ellen sold her soul that much that she'd pick That Guy for her VP?

I was glad to see Aleda on the moon.

I suspect this season will play out with the Ed/Helios mission getting into trouble and the the Danielle/NASA mission will have to go rescue them, probably with a season ending cliffhanger.
posted by bondcliff at 6:34 AM on June 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Aleda's going to Mars, isn't she? They're going to need her to fettle the NERVA, and her Dad's got dementia at just the right time that she'll have to struggle with leaving him behind.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:15 AM on June 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

cardboard, your write up made me cackle so loudly my neighbour gopher’d his head around the balcony.

This was a great episode but the BEST SHOT (and I will fight you) was Molly at the end. In case we were worried she’d decline in unemployment — nope, stick it to the bastards while I enjoy a nice joint in a hot bath with my dog hanging out.

Molly’s whole arc through the show has honestly I think been my favourite. The actor is fabulous and she gets meaty work to do. She also gets to do this — and I’m fumbling in a direction here, not trying to categorize — soft/firm butch? thing that I just adore.

Man, I would have honestly reacted as badly in valence as Ed, though it would definitely be self-directed in my case rather than at aimed racistly at the new winner. Danielle showed a ton of character saying one devastating sentence and walking away, and I wonder if Kelly will fly with her to rebuke her dad. I think Ed is going to have a lot of trouble fitting into Helios; I loved that the technological acceleration led to earlier startup culture. I swear I saw an early Apple device or concept in this episode.

I love it.

(Also, Margot brought both the girls back from the electromagnetic lab, did she meet Sergey there or something?)
posted by sixswitch at 8:49 PM on June 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

*electromagnetic containment lab
posted by sixswitch at 9:18 PM on June 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I swear I saw an early Apple device or concept in this episode.
Margo's assistant's handheld PDA, and the small black videophones everyone's using, apear to be (successful in this timeline) Apple Newton devices.

Also noted that the newfangled 'digital mail' from earlier has become common usage 'd-mail' by this episode.
posted by bartleby at 10:53 PM on June 17, 2022 [4 favorites]

IIRC they got lithium ion batteries last season so stuff like the Newton gets a lot more viable earlier. Unlike the moon equipment, which seems to have stagnated. They're still using the LEMs from the 70s, and the rover is the tiny, fold up Apollo model that needs an EVA suit. Reminded me a bit of the anachronisms in Ad Astra.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:00 AM on June 18, 2022

the technological acceleration led to earlier startup culture.

Which is why I laughed to see Edi Gathegi playing the billionaire owner of Helios. He was one of the stars of this underappreciated series. Tongue-in-cheek casting?
posted by fuse theorem at 12:58 PM on June 18, 2022

I had to laugh and do a bit of quick mental arithmetic (which I think I did last season, too) when Ed bitched about how he'd be pushing 70 for the next Mars mission. Ed! Buddy! Assuming you were Armstrong's age (40) in 1969 during the original Apollo landings, that means you were born in 1929-ish. You're already 63 in 1992! You would have been 67 for the 1996 launch!
posted by Kyol at 7:47 PM on June 18, 2022

I’m not really a big fan of the Danny/Karen subplot, but I’m curious what they’re gonna do with it because Danny has the potential to really threw a wrench into many different things.

The first episode was indeed a disaster-movie plot condensed into a few minutes, yet it seems that it may have been a set-up for a lot of things to come. Polaris is a failure, yet Karen is bailed out because it provides a fast track to Mars for Helios. Danny’s drinking issues have come up twice now, so that is likely going to weigh in heavily at some point. Recall that he’s hailed as a hero for saving lots of lives by shutting down the thruster on Polaris, and that he’s on the shortlist to be a Mars crewmember. Meanwhile, Ed is already showing his volatile side very easily. With a lot of these threads both crossing and diverging, a lot of stuff can go sideways in a hurry.

Margo’s in deep shit. She’s burned a lot of bridges at NASA, plus she’s sharing sensitive info with the Soviets. She has likely sent Aleida to the moon as part of an effort to get info to pass to Sergei. The Soviet connection is going to catch up with her sooner or later and when it does, she’s not going to have many people in her corner at all.

Ellen is within striking distance of the presidency. I suspect that her past is going to get thrown into the news sooner or later via an oppo research dump as part of the campaign. For all she’s been through, for all Larry has been through, and yet they’re working with and towards anti-equality interests…

I don’t know if Ed really meant what he said to Danielle or if it was a combo of anger/depression/booze talking, but yyyyyyeah, that’s awful of him. Danielle has had to be the bigger person for her entire career while Ed and others slip up left and right and never suffer consequences. She’s done everything right and he still pulls that card on her, the same sort of stuff she’s been hearing all her life to justify keeping her knocked down a ring. I think he’s not going to fit in well at all within Helios.

Molly Cobb… oh damn do both my wife and I love her. Easily up there as possibly my favorite character of the series.
posted by azpenguin at 8:00 PM on June 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

The VP interviewee saying there needed to be fewer people like himself in power is either a Machiavellian misdirect to put at Ellen at ease before he sticks the knife in, or an indication that he has his own closeted issues. The show is capturing the historical dynamic between test pilots and engineers pretty well, although we like to think we listen to each other a bit more now (and not ignore human factors design flaws and explain them away as pilot error or lack of ability, for example).
How long before Dev makes a turn from Head Consensus Coordinator to Ruthless Robber Baron or political manipulator though, I wonder? On the other hand, the umbrage of the (government employee) astronauts on sprawling Jamestown at the thought of a commercial mission in their turf was telling, and not a little arrogant.
posted by cardboard at 5:24 AM on June 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Also, Molly having an Irish Wolfhound as a seeing eye dog is wonderfully in character.
posted by cardboard at 11:04 AM on June 19, 2022 [6 favorites]

I said, "I don't think those dogs make good seeing eye dogs" and my wife said, "well that's just her being her".
posted by octothorpe at 2:31 PM on June 19, 2022 [8 favorites]

Dani needs to stop going to The Outpost because all that happens there is some drunk, white ragemonster will spew racist shit at her for no reason.

Between that and the Karen/Ed/Danny plot this is starting to feel like The Author’s Thinly Disguised Fetish and it’s tiresome.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:12 PM on June 21, 2022 [5 favorites]

I think I could do without the creepy Danny Baldwin stalker plot. This doesn't feel like that sort of show.

Absolutely! They're either setting him up to be a disaster that happens to Karen and/or Ed later in the series at a crucial moment, or setting him up to go to Mars and be the wildcard character with a secret drinking problem that appears in every Michael Crichton novel and threatens the whole mission.

I guess that's better than the Great Young White Hope they seemed to be setting him up as last episode but frankly I have no patience for that character at all.

And in a show where someone dies in a space explosion every other episode, do we really need a plot like that to create more drama?

Ok so Ellen and Larry are still married and have kids. She's running for president. I know a lot of gay people have (and still do) hide their true selves but would it even be possible when they're that much in the public eye?

It's painfully obvious that they're setting up for Pam (or someone who knows her, like the girl she left for Ellen last season) to go public and blow up her campaign. I'm not really looking forward to that either.

Aside: Larry has grown up to be Josh Lyman and I love it.

My thought on Helios: I feel like it's a colossal lie. I've seen tons of startups with wacky attitudes like "we don't have hierarchies" that promise amazing things and they almost always fail. The idea that a space hotel (which has already proven to be poorly designed) with an engine tacked onto it will make it to Mars is ludicrous.

I've been giving Ed a pass for a long time because I like the actor, but complaining to Danielle that he doesn't have a "level playing field" is a step way too far, and if there's a scene in a few episodes where Ed visits the under-construction Helios ship and realizes it's half tinfoil and will never fly and he's been sold magic beans, I'm going to be laughing at him.
posted by mmoncur at 11:16 PM on June 21, 2022 [6 favorites]

I predict a born-again "I struggled with same sex attraction in my youth" speech from Ellen before the end of this season.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 6:01 PM on June 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

I thought that picking Gary Hart as the current president, even though he seems to have avoided his scandal in this timeline was sort of a hint that of trouble ahead for Ellen.
posted by octothorpe at 3:25 PM on June 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

Not gonna lie, that "evil hand" was a pale imitation of Bruce Campbell's.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:24 PM on June 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I want Molly to go to Mars.
posted by tilde at 6:16 PM on July 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

The "Gather 'round, people!" scene at Helios cracked me up. Look at this racially and gender diverse staff, waiting politely to speak in turn! Good thing nobody was on an important phone call or in the bathroom.

Someone should have been on a scooter or a Segway for the true startup stereotype. (They had someone wheeling a bike through the atrium, but that's not wacky enough.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:21 PM on July 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Back when Danny and Shane were being little juvenile delinquents, I remember there was a scene where Karen talks with the principal about which of them was the ringleader, and I *think* the school people thought that Danny was the follower and then later Shane says it was actually all Danny's idea. So that, inappropriate sexytimes, *really* inappropriate post-sexytimes behavior, etc, has me wondering if Danny's is going to end up acting out really inappropriately onscreen this season. No space craft is going to be big enough for both him and Ed.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:12 AM on September 21, 2022

bondcliff: I know a lot of gay people have (and still do) hide their true selves but would it even be possible when they're that much in the public eye?

I don't think we had Watergate in this timeline, did we? No Watergate and a much earlier exit from the Vietnam War could mean there wasn't the explosion of 'investigative reporting' we got in the 1970's. Less of that and then there's a much lower risk of exposure and if there is it's limited to the more fringe press. Gary Hart evidently made it to president without getting caught having torrid affairs, and in this timeline I think a lot of why he got caught was that he was relying on the press overlooking things the way they used to for other high profile folks having affairs.

I have no idea what the state of gay people here is, though. No mention of AIDS, so I don't know if HIV even spread into human populations like it did here. If not, you don't have huge numbers of folks booted out of the closet because they got sick, you don't have the radicalization of lots of queers. Without that, I don't think you'd see the kids of mobilization towards gay rights that we got - no feeling like we're under existential threat pushing folks towards radicalization.

No huge numbers of gay men dying from AIDS probably means less overall interest in estate related stuff and legal protections of partnerships, and so gay marriage doesn't have the same level of interest we got. Maybe the actual passage of the ERA might have an impact there? Dunno.

If you don't have the AIDS epidemic in the 1980's, though, I have *no* idea what happens to the conservative evangelicals who used AIDS as a focal point for fundraising, and all the homophobic culture that generated.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:16 AM on September 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

Thank you for saying that, the lack of discussion of the AIDS crisis is upsetting given the subplot of the show dealing with gay rights.

I'm super late to watching, but I just wanted to say that the scene of Helios voting to have Ed be the commander was just spot on perfect. A decade early compared to US startups but the ridiculousness of it was fantastic.
posted by Nelson at 10:09 PM on November 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

I am way late to this but AIDS was in the montage in ep1 of the series.
posted by janell at 11:06 PM on January 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

OH DANNY NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Also, why the hell do you marry Girl B when you are still pining over Girl A? I hate shit like that.

HOLY FUCK ELLEN AND LARRY HAD A KID?!?! Did not see that coming. Shudder at the idea of having a Christian bigot VP.

"Less than a year. That's a new record for you." So Ed has been going through ladies in a disposable manner?!

OH GOD I CAN'T TAKE A GUY WHO ISN'T INTO STEM CELL RESEARCH. I totally did a double take on "the party has been dominated by people who look like me," though. That's probably a lie coming out of a powerful bigoty Christian white guy, though.

OH DAMN MOLLY JUST GOT FIRED DAAAAAAAAAAAAMN. Followed by, "way to shit fit, Ed." Followed by "DON'T GO THERE ED." Followed by OH ED NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

At least this space entrepreneur guy seems sane and not Elon Musk. And he's got Baldwins. LOL. Poor Kelly's face. And Danielle's. LOL at Molly in the tub again, though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:15 PM on March 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

The fact that they went on tv before telling Kelly is terrible but also exactly what Tracy did with her engagement and also predictable for Karen and Ed.

I have complained about the Danny plotline since he first showed up with his cheekbones jutting, but if it actually affects the space race, I can cut it a little slack. Maybe he will push NASA to get to Mars faster so he can beat Ed there.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:25 PM on November 19, 2023

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