For All Mankind: House Divided
December 1, 2023 10:51 AM - Season 4, Episode 4 - Subscribe

An accident on Mars strains relationships, while Miles embarks on a risky venture.

The new Soviet Russia wants to show it can’t be pushed around; Ed thinks special people deserve special treatment; the B-Team takes issue with favouritism; Eli Hobson brings a disarming smile and no preparation to a treaty dispute and leaves empty-handed; something still happened to Danny.

Miles goes prospecting on the Martian surface in a cheap suit and ends up channeling Wile E. Coyote; Margo gets to know her new boss.
posted by cardboard (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The unit conversion error made by the Soviets is reminiscent of a similar issue that doomed the Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999.
posted by cardboard at 10:54 AM on December 1, 2023 [2 favorites]


Ed, you should have just hopped on that ride back to Earth. You've lost your best pilot/protege/friend. Who is going to cover for your shaking hands now? You hate not being in charge! Just go home to your family, play golf, go on the lecture circuit, be advisor emeritus at NASA or whatever.

Margo, remember when the KGB strangled Sergei in front of you? Big hint that Semenov was not going to just update his Линкедин profile and move on to a new job.

Eli, I'm sorry you were saddled with the trope that a random character saying a word will provide a solution. Especially since "India" is one of only five other countries in your space treaty and presumably you would have spent five minutes going down that list wondering how each country could help. You're the Hapless Director until you either are forced out or somehow transform into Forged by Experience Steely/Ruthless Director.

Miles, don't make your first visit to the surface alone no matter how shiny the space rocks are. Also don't have an affair because you don't seem like a "what happens on Mars, stays on Mars" kind of person. Good thing you had that old suit on, it is rated much better for tumbling into a ravine.

Alternate USA, convert to the metric system already! You can do it alternate Al Gore!
posted by mikepop at 11:45 AM on December 1, 2023 [6 favorites]


Tell it like it is Dani, fuck that guy.
posted by biffa at 1:09 PM on December 1, 2023 [6 favorites]


Foot pounds! I can't see how that doesn't completely exonerate Russian dude.
posted by biffa at 1:20 PM on December 1, 2023 [5 favorites]


It's kind of amazing that Margo has lived in the Soviet Union for 10+ years, grown up with knowledge of the Soviet Union before then, and is innocent enough to hear how someone at the Russian Space Agency almost embarrassed the dear leader on an international scale was "fired" and actually believed it. She's supposed to be a genius, and I swear when she was at NASA, she understood political systems pretty good...so her naiveté in this is kinda ridiculous.

When the Russian scientist got her the washers, and what not, I was thinking, "How do you say Aleida in Russian?" I wonder if they're going to play around with flipping the protégé / mentor roles in this situation.

Dani calling Ed out is one of the best parts of this show. The thing with Ed, it always feels like the writers like to have him be obstinate or something about this or that, and at the last minute, he does the right thing. What will the right thing be here? Revealing his frailties? Or will we go with the go fiery boom on a self sacrifice type thing for the retiring astronaut?

The Helios folks. I was kind of surprised to see the international support among the Helios for their guy put into a chamber. I guess workers of the world unite....on Mars? It definitely feels like we're moving toward a worker's revolt at Happy Valley. At the same time, we have a new Helios leadership talking about making life on Mars available to everyone. I wonder how that's gonna shift. And likewise, this all ignores how awful it would be to live on Mars. It's an awful place, really, you don't want to live there unless there's a very lucrative or good reason to do so!

Eli. "I talked the UAW down, I can handle a KGB section leader!" Ugh. All he does is talk something up and then falls flat on his face. I'm still waiting for a follow up where the KGB scoop up their cosmonaut from India and publicly execute her or something.

Complain complain complain...but I'm enjoying it. I swear.
posted by Atreides at 2:28 PM on December 1, 2023 [5 favorites]


They still refuse to acknowledge Danny's death, and this time they've all but confirmed he's not actually dead. It's bad though, in a way that Ed is somehow blamed for. Defected to NK seems likely. And now we know the lower floors are habitable.

Dev wants to make Happy Valley a sustainable human settlement, which means a lot more agriculture. But if subsistence farming is the bottom tier of economics, and you'd ideally want to raise cash crops instead, and buy what you need from the trade. Ed said that his weed grew very well, maybe Martian weed is the trade at scale. Or maybe they terraform Mars enough to grow vineyards. Water would presumably remain the chief constraint though. Assuming no, so far, the only person who's made any money shipping stuff back from Mars is Miles.

Calling a long shot bet: the cold war ends with Mars as the only surviving human settlement.

Foot pounds! I can't see how that doesn't completely exonerate Russian dude.

It wasn't caught in design, review, or testing, which is bad, but understandable. Where it became A Capital-P Problem was that when it did come up in incident review he omitted these facts from the report. "It's not the crime, it's the coverup."

The high stakes blame culture Semenov promotes produces coverups, because mistakes are inevitable. And because mistakes are hard to detect, but schedule slips are obvious, will lead to shipping mistakes instead of stopping the line.

(While it's a fireable offense, it's obviously not a firing line offense. Even the Chernobyl managers had a show trial.)

When the Russian scientist got her the washers

I imagined it was going to play into the analysis in a Eureka Moment -- some part was defective because of someone skimming off the top, or perhaps the smuggler network swapped a part out for one with a hollowed out version they could smuggle stuff in with.
posted by pwnguin at 8:35 PM on December 1, 2023 [2 favorites]


Space Mistakes:

- messing up American and metric units. Classic space mistake.

- running an engineering culture based on fear

- going on EVA without a buddy

- stepping out onto a notably totally unsupported rock ledge

- disrespecting Danielle Poole
posted by sixswitch at 10:27 PM on December 1, 2023 [14 favorites]


- Ed is still the worst. Why not go to Earth with Svetlana and retire before you Danny the Mars colony?

- As someone with chronically shaky hands and no known medical cause I do sympathize though...

- WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO DANNY I think they're just yanking our chain now.

- Miles is a greedy idiot but he's fun to watch. We all thought he'd be some kind of labor revolt leader or union organizer but he's just the writers' answer to "What if everyone on this show looks too competent now that Danny's gone?"

Miles and his lower-decks buddies are my favorite thing right now though.

- Eli has so much Old White Guy energy that he can get a heroic inspiration scene for remembering that India exists.

- Margo is teetering on the brink of re-defecting back to the US with a big pile of Russian documents.

- Danielle is showing more leadership than Ed ever has. I hope the season ends with her bittersweetly sending Ed back to Earth on a medical instead of Ed messing everything up.

In general: I'm enjoying this season way more than the last one!
posted by mmoncur at 10:52 PM on December 1, 2023 [2 favorites]


They still refuse to acknowledge Danny's death, and this time they've all but confirmed he's not actually dead.

Stay tuned - - we're going to get teasers for a couple more seasons before all is revealed in S7E1 when it turns out that Danny has actually evolved into a 2001-esque Star Child who proceeds to peevishly sabotage the entire time-space continuum.
posted by fairmettle at 12:29 AM on December 2, 2023 [5 favorites]


> Danielle is showing more leadership than Ed ever has. I hope the season ends with her bittersweetly sending Ed back to Earth on a medical instead of Ed messing everything up.

yes but also this happens while kelly is on her way to mars (maybe something to do with the bots dev is paying for, like, they've discovered life and so earth's most elite space biologist must herself travel to mars to join the investigation?) and as a result ed will likely never be on the same planet as his daughter ever again.
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 9:16 AM on December 2, 2023 [1 favorite]


> Danny has actually evolved into a 2001-esque Star Child who proceeds to peevishly sabotage the entire time-space continuum.

most of season 7 will be devoted to a plotline where space child danny gets groomed by a monolith that's become sort of his surrogate space mom, it's this whole tangled psychological thing, everyone will love it
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 9:22 AM on December 2, 2023 [4 favorites]


- Danielle is showing more leadership than Ed ever has. I hope the season ends with her bittersweetly sending Ed back to Earth on a medical instead of Ed messing everything up.

Danielle has *always* shown more leadership than Ed ever could. It’s just that this is the first time where she is in a position to say “these are my orders and you will follow them.” Ed has basically run things on the “good ol boy” system for a long time. Danielle is smart and pragmatic, and not afraid of a tough decision. She is firm and fair and does her best to handle situations in a kind and emphatic manner, yet she is willing to make it clear that she is in charge. Ed has ways gotten his way one way or another. He’s not used to this, especially from a former subordinate, and he can’t handle it.
posted by azpenguin at 8:57 AM on December 3, 2023 [5 favorites]


I’m not sure the show means to be this complicated (I doubt it), but I think it’s interesting that Svetlana is a charismatic, sympathetic character who’s run afoul of an unjust political system - and yet she *still* absolutely deserves to have the book thrown at her. Yes, the guy she was fighting was an asshole - but she was the senior person, and a qualified pilot, and did absolutely *nothing* to try to de-escalate a confrontation in a highly hazardous environment. She never said, for example, “hey, we’re in pressure suits on the surface, and getting distracted is incredibly dangerous - let’s not do this here.” The other guy was even worse, of course - he was the instigator - but in a situation like that, de-escalation is everybody’s responsibility.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 9:43 AM on December 3, 2023 [7 favorites]


Wow this episode was dumb. Miles reaching his big old chimp arms out for the shiny rock was the real cherry on the sundae here. Also you think Margo would be a little more skittish after being tortured nearly to death just last week. And how is it that any of the chairs in the Soviet canteen are still holding together since they're bolted together with what is literally money?

I liked Svetlana's predicament though, that seemed like a good plot device.
posted by Nelson at 9:42 PM on December 3, 2023 [4 favorites]


Wow this episode was dumb. Miles reaching his big old chimp arms out for the shiny rock was the real cherry on the sundae here. Also you think Margo would be a little more skittish after being tortured nearly to death just last week. And how is it that any of the chairs in the Soviet canteen are still holding together since they're bolted together with what is literally money?

Clearly there's going to be a scene soon where everyone in the cafeteria suddenly have their chairs collapse under them and everyone turns to stare at whomever is drinking a hot cup of coffee.

Danielle has *always* shown more leadership than Ed ever could. It’s just that this is the first time where she is in a position to say “these are my orders and you will follow them.” Ed has basically run things on the “good ol boy” system for a long time. Danielle is smart and pragmatic, and not afraid of a tough decision. She is firm and fair and does her best to handle situations in a kind and emphatic manner, yet she is willing to make it clear that she is in charge. Ed has ways gotten his way one way or another. He’s not used to this, especially from a former subordinate, and he can’t handle it.

Exactly. Ed has always been a fantastic pilot and someone who generally keep their nerves calm in any situation. He also grudgingly will make the right decision eventually. But it's always been Dani who has made the right decision from the get go, be it stopping to help the Soviets during the Mars Race, to purposefully breaking her own freakin' arm to get Gordo back home to earth before he did something really catastrophic. Ed couldn't do it. She did and painfully, and then she had to carry that burden of being the "weak" member of the astronauts on Yorktown. She's a perfect leader and one of the very very few people willing to stare down Ed and tell him to sit his butt down.
posted by Atreides at 7:53 AM on December 4, 2023 [4 favorites]


> Wow this episode was dumb. Miles reaching his big old chimp arms out for the shiny rock was the real cherry on the sundae here.

counterpoint: what if it's a smart episode about dumb people?

like, people are dumb. people are even dumb on mars, y'know? and it's well-established that miles is a big ol' dummy, a dumb man with chimp arms that think they reach farther than they do. a dumb man who dumb people tricked into stupiding his way into a hole in the ground on mars and then when he, dumbly, found a way onto the surface he immediately dumb chimped his way directly into a whole nother hole in the ground on mars.
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 8:04 AM on December 4, 2023 [9 favorites]


I'm actually liking this season more than last season. It's dumb, but not as dumb. I think now that it's gone from being an alt-history of Apollo to full-on Star Trek fiction it's easier to like.

But yes, the whole thing with Miles going out on the surface for the first time alone, with no oversight, is really dumb. I know space is mostly routine now but I cannot believe there isn't some guy in front of a monitor somewhere getting an alert that there's an unauthorized astronaut out alone.

I suspect the security sweep is going to reveal the speakeasy and any other illegal things going on.
posted by bondcliff at 8:09 AM on December 4, 2023 [4 favorites]


I'm assuming Ed and command know about the speakeasy and all of Ilya's activities and are clever enough to just monitor the black market and make sure that it doesn't cause too much trouble. I mean porn's got to get on station somehow, right? I imagine they're a little alarmed by the North Korean connection. And smuggling a whole live person on board is going to be the step that takes it too far.

bombastic's right that Miles' dumbness is intentional on the part of the writers, I should have given them credit for that. Poor ol' Miles, hyperventilating in a crevasse hoping someone comes looking. A bit harder to swallow Svetlana getting into a fistfight on the Martian surface. But eh, she was provoked, and it did move the plot forward.

I like the idea that Ed's pot farm is going to be the cash cow for Helios. Imagine the names for the KGB. "Martian Sunrise". "Red Green Gold". "влажная трава".
posted by Nelson at 8:36 AM on December 4, 2023 [2 favorites]


> But yes, the whole thing with Miles going out on the surface for the first time alone, with no oversight, is really dumb. I know space is mostly routine now but I cannot believe there isn't some guy in front of a monitor somewhere getting an alert that there's an unauthorized astronaut out alone.

it's been established since the very start of season 3 that helios is sloppy as fuck.

i like this theme! i am extremely, extremely glad that there's somebody out there making a big-budget tv show with "space is too dangerous and important to trust to private industry" as one of its primary themes, because space (much like earth) is too dangerous and important to trust to private industry. i do, though, think that they overegged that theme way too much, just, like, all the eggs, dump 'em all in, get those eggs in there, with the implausibly grotesque sloppiness helios displayed in season 3.

like, "it's the early 2000s and a big dumb man with chimp arms goes out alone in a big dumb old suit and chimp-arms his way into a hole in the ground and then sits in the hole being dumb and sad" is a totally plausible sequence of events in this timeline, because mars is run by a consortium consisting of several countries that basically despise each other, at least one country that basically despises itself, one country that's a lunatic hermit state, one country that by decree of apple none may name, and under it all a corporation bent on exporting to space the sloppiest form of corner-cutting capitalism that earth has yet devised. in that context there's going to be a lot of dumb behavior and not a lot of adult supervision in any position to stop it.

but! we're primed to not see that plausible sloppiness as plausible due to how we've just spent a whole season rolling our eyes at 90s-edition helios displaying massive unbelievably stupid implausible sloppiness w/r/t the dude with a family history of addiction and space madness who decided that it would be fun and cool to get in a spaceship and take big handfuls of pills and then obsess over other peoples' mail in a totally observable but somehow unobserved way on a system with an insecure password that the syadmin gave him because lol yolo you're an obvious psychopath but whatever here have root what's the worst that could happen and who after a few months of that decided that it would be even more fun and cool to take even more pills and then kill a bunch of his crewmates while attempted-murdering literally mars and then afterward decided it'd be a neat thing to take even more pills and tell everyone about how he fucked all their wives and killed all their sons, all this under the mistaken impression that subsequently offering to die while blasting a pregnant woman into space on the outside of a rocket would forgive all sins.
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 10:54 AM on December 4, 2023 [2 favorites]


I note that this entire last paragraph is why "Danny Stevens Is THE WORST even though his brother helped blow people up." Don't get me wrong, dumbass brother is also the worst, but I put it in bombastic lowercase pronouncements because Danny and The Time He Fucked His Childhood Best Friend's Mommy, the worst plotline ever on this show even beating "let's slingshot the pregnant woman" and anything Miles does this year probably, and all of that mentioned above, IS THE WORST and why Danny better be dead, y'all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:39 PM on December 4, 2023 [4 favorites]


"pregnant woman blasted into space while strapped to the outside of a rocket" is the most ron moore concept that has ever ron moore'd
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 5:02 PM on December 4, 2023 [4 favorites]


I would be more bothered by the constant game of idiot all if I didn't know so many dudes like Miles.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:06 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


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