For All Mankind: Coming Home
August 4, 2022 8:38 PM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Plans to leave Mars are complicated by an unforeseen issue.

Flash forward five months: the lander has been dug out, somehow mostly patched up, and is fuelling. Kelly is pregnant and bathing in cosmic radiation.

Ellen looks to Nixon for inspiration but decides to seize the narrative instead. Aleida shows Bill her perp wall in hopes of proving she is crazy, but fails. Capitalism doesn’t buy into Dev’s prophet motives on Mars.

Danny gets no justice in the accident report as IT gets the blame. Dani and Grigory take a road trip when they run into a supply chain issue.

North Korea!
posted by cardboard (35 comments total)
 
Chekhov’s Juche! It may be in bad taste but let’s celebrate!

It got very mars-dusty for me during that press conference scene.
posted by sixswitch at 1:14 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


From Reddit…

Pam to Ellen: “These are lesbian problems. We are lesbians. Shall we begin?”
posted by sixswitch at 1:29 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]


The Korean living out of a sojus for how long? Couple years? And still managed to look pretty dapper in that suit. Must’ve been on an all-kimchi diet?
posted by boogieboy at 5:31 AM on August 5


I was glad of the time jump but kind of sorry we missed the big reveal of Kelly's baby. Now I suppose the baby can never leave Mars and Karen will have to re-think Dev's colony plans in order to give her grandchild a place to live. Maybe next season is all about Space Baby.

So there's a lone North Korean dude on Mars who landed in secret and he walks around with a pistol in a holster on his space suit. Ok. Sure seems plausible. I hope they have to wrestle for the circuit board.

I thought maybe Danny had calmed down but it looks like he still has some demons.

What kind of fallout is Ellen's press conference going to have or will the world decide to live in peace and harmony because of Space Baby?

This show is bad now but it's, like, the good kind of bad.
posted by bondcliff at 6:19 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


This wasn't bad, I guess I'm enjoying the soap opera.

I couldn't decide if they're trying to make Danny a good guy or not. He was certainly the young hero crew member in the first couple of scenes, but then he basically lets Nick (R.I.P.) take credit for the Danslide and throws a temper tantrum.

I can't believe they actually did the North Korea thing. It seems ridiculous that he's still alive but I'm enjoying putting the final nail in the coffin of the whole "space race" thing. I was kind of hoping the camera would pan up to show the PRK had built a whole base and a space hotel.

So apparently Kelly decided to have the baby, shame we didn't see any of that...

Sometimes the whole "6 months later" of this show is really weird. Aleida decided Margo was to blame for the spying, and then she SAT ON IT FOR SIX MONTHS? At this point can't the FBI charge her as a conspirator just for choosing to say nothing?

The Ellen/Larry scenes were actually great and I loved the speech. And I liked everybody congratulating Will and Rolan giving him a big friend hug without worrying that the Gay would get on him.
posted by mmoncur at 6:21 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


The season two finale flash forward shot of the boots on Mars shows the boots match the DPRK astronaut's boots.

Kelly's staying behind on Mars, isn't she? Maybe with grandpa Ed?
posted by emelenjr at 6:56 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


...ok this is the post that just made me realize today is Friday. time to leave the house, I think.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:33 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


but then he basically lets Nick (R.I.P.) take credit for the Danslide and throws a temper tantrum.

His entire freakout is because he doesn't want to let Nick get pinned with the blame, just like happened with Shane back in the day. However he's not quite ready to openly admit he got a heap of folks killed while he was whacked out on goofballs, no matter how much character work a quick '5 Months Later' titlecard puts in.

I'm still of the opinion that Danny is the shows true antagonist - the worst through and through, he's been a shit since season one. Even the Russians have a clear throughline to their actions and adversarial positions in the plot, Danny is just a creep turd who is no good to anyone.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:34 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]


Folks the whole point of the show is space, the show is not going to let all the players abandon Mars. They're making Karen CEO of Helios and the whole reason she wants to sell Phoenix to NASA is so Helios can continue with Dev's Mars plans.

That said, this season has been a hot mess ever since the 2 year time jump and I hope Ron Moore comes back next season to clean things up.
posted by rhymedirective at 9:49 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I did like the time lapse in the open although it’s a bit unbelievable that the lander was moved several km in a rockslide and just got a cracked solar panel and a bent plot device.
posted by boogieboy at 11:12 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


I liked the tepid response to the 20% survival rate of original Jamestown motivational speech. I know it is just TV, but I feel like all parties would be working on resupply and backup stuff since before the first launch to Mars, and especially after losing the Russian and US ships. I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time on logistics back at headquarters in a Star Wars, but in this show we maybe could use a little more to sell the realism.

Also, flying down to Mars with the intention of making fuel so you can get back sounds like driving into Texas with the plan of finding some oil and making gas for the ride home. Count me out of that road trip!
posted by snofoam at 1:03 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


Are they going to scavenge the rocket for parts after this disaster?      ✔

they find evidence the North Korean landed, explored the surface, but then died somehow. So the ethical dilemma for whoever gets there is whether to report that the North Korean astronaut was first to walk on Mars.    ✖︎

I definitely would have doubled down on the North Korean astronaut being dead after this much time, but here we are. I still think there's a good chance he ends up dead here before they get him back to base. I would think he would disarm pretty quickly thinking he has a ride back to Earth now.

While Ellen's confession has seized the media spotlight and disarmed some of the personal ramifications of the White House recordings being revealed, Larry is still on the hook for perjury and she can still be impeached for the attempted cover-up so I don't see how this counters the "sign now the easy way or we'll damage you and override your veto" gambit. Unless after gazing at the Nixon portrait she wipes the tape off-screen. If anything, I think the Vice President might now be more on board with Ellen being impeached.
posted by mikepop at 1:44 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Re: the North Korean. You’d also think NK would be all about telling the world they were first? Why send someone there and not boast about it? He was on a one-way trip right?
posted by boogieboy at 1:58 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


If anything, I think the Vice President might now be more on board with Ellen being impeached.

Vice President Moral Majority might be, but "Dick, the Democratic Party House Majority Leader" seemed awfully thoughtful during the press conference.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 3:29 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I couldn't help but sing "There were ten in the bed and the little one said..." when the North Korean cosmonaut appeared. Presuming that he was sent on a one way mission with possibly no ongoing contact from Pyongyang does he initially think he's seen non- human Martians? Had he known that there were other successful landings?

I foresee that the backed up toilet waste will be used to power biogas digesters in order to supplement methane production, but only with the North Korean's insight.
posted by pipstar at 3:34 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Also, flying down to Mars with the intention of making fuel so you can get back sounds like driving into Texas with the plan of finding some oil and making gas for the ride home.

This is real science but the show glossed over a few things for dramatic tension. A real mission would first land an automated fuel factory and some hydrogen feedstock and let it tick away for a little over 2 years happily converting atmospheric CO2 and hydrogen into fuel, oxidizer, and water. When the the next launch window comes up you green light the manned mission if and only if your little fuel factory has adequately done its job.

The beauty of it is that you only need to import a comparatively small amount of hydrogen feedstock to manufacture all the fuel your mission needs to make it back home. What’s even better is if you have exploitavle water deposits on Mars — then you don’t even need to byo-H2 at all, just make it from water with electrolysis.

https://www.marssociety.ca/2020/08/24/isru-part1/
posted by nathan_teske at 4:15 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


A real mission would first land an automated fuel factory

The point of my comment was not that they couldn't theoretically make fuel, but that they landed there without having already made the fuel.
posted by snofoam at 5:30 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


A lot of this episode made me think the show had swerved away from the blatant soap opera tendencies, only to end with Lesbian President Coming Out! Pre-eclampsia! Lone Korean already on Mars! And I think all those things could have worked on this show without them landing as three blows at the end of an episode that was mostly about process, procedure and dealing with the fallout of recent failures - which is what I've always enjoyed about the show.

That said, how could I not get emotional at someone's coming out moment? How could I not enjoy her deploying Executive Orders that help LGBTQI+ people? One of my main gripes with the show all along is how it's been very clear to advance the progress of women and POC ahead of our real history but left Queer people behind. This feels like an epic moment of advancement in their universe.

As much as I've been waiting for Chekhov's Korean, it does stretch credulity he's still alive - unless he is the last alive from a crew. But if they/he were just in a Soyuz capsule and it was a one-way trip, maybe he had enough food for just himself? And while finding him there dead would still be an interesting take on "who landed first" or "if we don't tell anyone he landed first then we still did", if he was dead, he couldn't have pulled a gun on them and upped the tension so much.

Anyway, if this is going to be a Soap Opera now, I still think it's a pretty good one. Just not the show I signed up for.
posted by crossoverman at 1:17 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


With Chekhov's Korean, I was assuming that we'd have a homage to the 1967 film Countdown (based on Hank Searls' novel The Pilgrim Project) where a US astronaut is sent on a one-way mission to the Moon to beat the USSR, surviving in a pre-positioned shelter until a follow-up mission can retrieve him. The Russians land first, but the US astronaut finds that they crashed. So, I expected that our crew would find a dead Korean, sent with the aim of being retrieved later, with the payoff that all the rivalry to be first had been for nothing.

But yes, having him alive is one hell of a stretch, although if the aim was to do a Pilgrim Project mission he would have presumably have been sent with at least two years' supply of consumables anyway.

Stepping back a bit though, I'm unconvinced at the premise of needing a component for the docking radar. One of the objects of the Gemini missions was to demonstrate rendezvous and docking by a combination of visual sightings and onboard calculations, precisely so that Apollo could dock in Lunar orbit even if the radar failed. But, we needed a reason to go and scavenge the North Korean mission, so...
posted by Major Clanger at 3:37 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Surely the Phoenix has a radar, and the MSAM can launch at the right time to let the mothership handle the maths? Buzz Aldrin and James Lovell managed this with essentially no computer and a slide rule on Gemini 12... Which was before the timeline split in FAM.

It's moments like this that I miss from S1 and S2. I like this soap opera, but like crossover, S3 feels a bait and switch.
posted by ewan at 4:46 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I am going to go out on a limb and say that Larry’s bald wig is what is driving this show into soap opera territory as much as any melodramatic plot lines. I think the first two seasons got away with a lot because they looked so good. Bad aging makeup and wigs undermine a lot of this season because they are so hard to ignore. I might not notice an unrealistic solar sail deployment, but Nate Corddry’ dime store samurai wig basically ruins that entire subplot. How can someone spend so much on this show and not nix that wig the first time they see it?
posted by snofoam at 5:25 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


The speech was, of course, great. But damn if it felt like I was watching a different show (West Wing Multiverse) instead of FAM. And yes, the wig and aging on Larry is shockingly low quality.

I felt like the 5 month jump was a cheat; the show has clearly done in-season time jumps before but this one seemed too convenient to skip through what would probably be a super tough time period. It felt like it was only done in service of ensuring Kelly was more visibly pregnant.

The North Korean was, yes, a fantastic twist that was telegraphed subtly in retrospect. Given we are staring down uncertain futures for space programs in the US and at Helios, and Wilson probably won’t have a second term, and Madison’s goose is in the oven, I’m not sure the 2000s will be a rosy time period for our characters.

I’m happy to see the next decade time jump. I want to see things shaken up with this. And I hope there isn’t a full deus ex machina of aliens or an asteroid or whatnot, and what if North Korea ends up as a doninant force? Or India?

I love it when FAM keeps the long game in mind, and I really hope they do so as we leave the 90s.
posted by hijinx at 8:24 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I've been having a (possibly slightly beer-mediated) online discussion with some other FAM-watching friends and we've ended up with the theory that the North Korean mission originally had several crew, but went horribly wrong and they've been eating each other for the last six months, with only two left. That explains why the one we've seen is (a) utterly freaked out, and (b) running around on Mars with a pistol.

I don't for a moment think that this is how episode 10 is going to pan out, but we can dream...
posted by Major Clanger at 2:44 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


My theory is that the capsule is from North Korea and not PRC because Apple doesn’t want to offend the Chinese government/market. If this was a taikonaut it would be a lot more plausible.
posted by cardboard at 3:12 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Do we know what the FBI did to Aleida's father? I've seen every episode but I don't remember anything about that.

I feel like the show has always been somewhat soapy, more so each season. But what's taking me out of it is that... They used to let the story unfold with a good balance of character and plot. They took the time to earn their moments. Now it feels like they're just running through a checklist of plot points they need to hit, and they're in such a rush that a character like Danny, who could have been really interesting, is just loathsome and hasn't earned any sympathy. I don't feel any stake in any of the characters anymore because they've been relegated to being plot devices.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:43 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


As I recall Aleida's father was deported in Season 1 resulting in Aleida trying to count on Margo who didn't help her and created a rift between them. I don't know how the FBI was involved though.

Agree that their character development isn't working too well. I like the time jumps but they're going to be in trouble if they do another one -- The only characters they'll have who aren't elderly are Kelly and Danny, and Danny's horrible. And Larry's bald wig can't handle it...

a character like Danny, who could have been really interesting, is just loathsome and hasn't earned any sympathy

The first few minutes of this episode convinced me that the show runners still think Danny is a sympathetic character. They've judged that one so, so wrong.
posted by mmoncur at 10:51 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Aleida's father was a janitor at NASA in season one, and had put some drawings of rockets in his work locker for young Aleida that he had taken from the trash he collected there. The FBI were at NASA to determine whether the KGB had sabotaged Apollo 23, and had her father deported when they found the NASA drawings in his locker during the course of their investigation.
posted by fairmettle at 1:07 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Oh, right, thanks for clarifying that. I guess I should stop skipping the "previously on".
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:09 AM on August 7


I like the time jumps but they're going to be in trouble if they do another one

Ron Moore has made it clear that the time jumps between seasons are baked into the show - future seasons are planned out. He's specifically said there wouldn't be two seasons within the same decade. They might jump to 2001 instead of 2005 for next season but it's not going to be 1997 or 1998.

I do see the problem of the characters aging out, of course. I'm absolutely sure they will try to rehabilitate Danny for next season.
posted by crossoverman at 4:58 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


The problem that was pointed out in another thread is that this generation’s characters are not as well developed as prior ones. I still miss Molly for instance. So when we go to the next decade, are we gonna stick with our characters from the 70s? It seems that way. We can go straight to Kelly’s 10-year-old child though, so there’s that.
posted by hijinx at 5:04 PM on August 7


Oh, Molly!
How we miss you and your husband.
Please retire on Mars next season.
It can be Golden Girls with them and Ed and Dani etc.
They can be crotchety old astronauts who occasionally solve life or death science problems. With a laugh track.
posted by Acari at 8:40 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Hmmm yeah. I truly never have a better time on this show than when they give us a scene with Karen and Wayne. And I don't love any new character even half as much as I did Tracy Stevens. So while I don't hate this season, they haven't given me any characters that I'm excited to follow into the 21st century.
posted by grandiloquiet at 12:06 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


See, the thing I didn't understand with the MSAM was I thought they were hopping that puppy back and forth between the surface and the Phoenix on the regular when they first arrived, implying they weren't doing ISRO and just topping off from the mothership. So having an ISRO plot and a "how will we fit 9 people in here" question seemed weird - just send the dinged up lil' lander on as many trips as it needs.

I mean OK maybe the accident boiled off the propellant reserve and they need to refuel for the first trip, and maybe they don't think it'll be capable of making more than the one trip, but...

And yeah, the whole rendezvous radar mcguffin was mildly annoying. Given the choice between dying on the surface or another *mumpty* year delay while a replacement is sent, there's no question that one of the steely eyed missile men (Ed, Dani, Danny, one of the soviets?) would've done it by hand.
posted by Kyol at 6:16 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


(Or is it, like, ISRO for refueling Phoenix? In which case, boy howdy that's a huge goddamn single point of failure, maybe y'all wanna put two MSAMs on that hotel? Maybe?)
posted by Kyol at 7:00 AM on August 10


Also also, right, the Korean astronaut was a suicide run (but why keep it quiet?) but now huzzah, there's room in the space hotel for him, the first man on Mars gets to come home!
posted by Kyol at 9:24 AM on August 10


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