For All Mankind 3×05 “Seven Minutes of Terror” could easily have been, on just about any other series, an excellent season finale. As this series always does so well, the hour was a fantastic balance of “big event” drama and quiet, personal moments. It also answered what has, so far, been the season’s biggest question: Who’s going to be the first to land on Mars?
With all those elements in place, the episode certainly felt like the perfect way to close a major chapter. In this universe, though, we’re only at the halfway point.
So, what does that mean for us? Do we live in the moment? Or do we set aside the bittersweet feeling of seeing some of our favorite characters’ dreams reach a triumphant end, while others’ found yet more disappointment? There is, after all, so much more to come — so much that can change far too quickly.
Maybe it’s best to do a little bit of both: Live for now, but be wary of what might be around the corner. Bottle that excitement, that celebration at NASA following Sojourner 1’s landing, for later — because we’re probably going to need it at some point.
“This has all happened before…”
There’s a lot to be said about the really…we’ll go with “unattractive”…way Ed Baldwin has behaved for most of For All Mankind Season 3. And, well, we’ve said it. A lot. We’ll probably even wind up having to say it again.
At the same time, though…
There is something simultaneously brilliant and terrible about the way his race to Mars ended in “Seven Minutes of Terror.” Here he is, after a long journey. After losing the Commander position he thought he had at NASA, then taking the position on Phoenix as his last chance. And after getting out-paced by Sojourner 1 when he thought his ship was in the lead. After choosing to do the right thing, yet having the choice stolen from him because being “first” was more important than saving lives.
In the end, the difference, between Ed’s dream coming true and him repeating one of his worst nightmares, all came down to the smallest fraction of time. Ed was days ahead of Dani and her crew, but a dust storm meant it wasn’t enough.
He took the risk, attempted the difficult landing. But just as he was so close he could look down and see the ground, the danger became too great. He had to pull back, not because he was in any way inadequate but because he wanted to be safe.
Unfortunately for Ed, as Danny reminded us earlier in For All Mankind 3×05, all of this has happened before. Decades ago, Ed and Gordo were just that close to being the first men on the moon. And, of course, the episode had to deliver that quick image of Gordo during Ed’s “almost” moment. Because why not rub it in, just how devastating this all has to be?
So, as viewers experienced the episode’s titular “Seven Minutes of Terror” along with both the Baldwin/Stevens duo, and Dani and her mixed crew, there was this extra element to it all. Yes, the danger was there. And sure, this whole idea of a space race is exciting.
But, at the end of the day, the best part of the storytelling may have been this very personal, very gutting, moment. It’s certainly the most relatable, for those of us who will never have that kind of split-second decision to make. Because sometimes, no matter how hard we work, or how close we get to reaching out and grabbing our dreams, we fall short.
We are not failures, but we still fail. Again and again. It’s a terrible, all-too-human feeling.
Joel Kinnaman delivered this look of abject horror, followed almost instantly with a certain sense of determination, when Ed looked out and realized what he had to do. We’d never wish that feeling on the people we care about. Not even when they’ve shown their asses the way Ed did earlier on.
And then…the utter silence as “Popeye” exited the planet’s atmosphere. Up until that one giant loss, the episode’s score provided this layer of ever-increasing stress. Feeling it all slip away, though? That needed no soundtrack to add impact, just the great emptiness of space to match that feeling of emptiness.
Heading into the second half of For All Mankind Season 3, we’re anxious to see how Ed cope with his latest regret. He should know, based on how tight the margins were and how many times NASA lost test probes before this flight, that he made the only choice he could. But that’s easier said than done.
Then, there’s the Danny problem. Which, honestly, we’re not looking forward to at all.
“She’s got this.”
So, back to bottling that celebration from the end of For All Mankind 3×05 and using it for later. Because later is now, and forever. Because Dani Poole did the damned thing!
Not to mention, this show is forever giving us pain, so we need an antidote. But anyway.
Knowing it wasn’t, at all, an easy road makes Dani’s success that much sweeter. We’re not just talking about the low visibility or the bumpy descent in the middle of a dust storm, either. No, there was so much that contributed to Dani’s moment. It’s everything we’ve seen her overcome so far this season. From being passed over, then accused of only getting the Commander position because of — rather than in spite of — her existing as a Black woman in America. She was set for a come-from-behind victory, then lost it when the cosmonauts needed help. And, of course there was that one terrifying moment when we thought we’d lost Dani, and every single soul on both ships, during the disaster at the end of “Happy Valley.”
But as a leader, she was always just someone so, so capable. Over-qualified, even. So, no matter what the cosmos or the cosmonauts tried to throw at her, Dani rose to the occasion.
“I do not intend to risk this crew, or this mission, on a low-percentage attempt.”
After decades of discrimination, after saving Gordo’s reputation by sacrificing her own, after the handshake — after all of it — Danielle Poole finished For All Mankind 3×05 exactly where she belonged. As the first, a hero, someone who did something no man had ever done before her. It’s about time, and unlike Mars 94, Soujourner 1’s Commander didn’t need to try a reckless, deadly move to catapult her to victory. Just a little bit of patience, a lot of grit, and an unwavering belief in her own choices.
And yeah…a man tried, even at the very last moment, to steal that victory from her. But Kuznetsov, how you say…He fucked around. And he found out.
So, we’re just going to live in this moment for a bit — and maybe laugh at the media for getting it wrong there at the end while we’re at it.
More on For All Mankind 3×05
- “Because death is not the end. It’s only the beginning.” And it’s literally the beginning of the episode. Iconic. 10/10.
- Taking the reset time to slow down and mourn at the beginning of “Seven Minutes of Terror,” after the actual terror that ended the previous episode, was a genius move. Genius.
- I have no notes on the Margo/Sergei interactions, other than “this hurts,” and “my God, Piotr Adamczyk just ripped my heart out of my chest.”
- …and Aleida is really going to learn Margo is a traitor, the same way Margo learned her mentor was a nazi, huh? That’s the logical conclusion here, right? I hate it here. Good TV. But I hate it.
- “So sue me.” Get him, Karen.
- “…recursive Fibonacci calculations until it locked up…” Ok but as someone with a degree in Mathematics…meh. It’s literally recursive addition.
- Men will literally fly to Mars, and hack their dead bff’s dad’s video messages from their ex-wives on the way, before going to therapy.
- On the flip side, I could watch Krys Marshall reacting to video messages all day.
- Could also watch Shantel VanSanten playing “high Karen Baldwin” all day. Just…with literally any other character on the receiving end of those videos.
- “Have you been to Compton? That is where people of color live, right? In…the ghettos.” The fact that some (most) white people, who actually live in the U.S. and have all their lives, would probably say this…
- “Nooooo, I get it from history books.” That’s why, in real life, the racists are trying to ban them.
- “Me hearties, I think we’re still in this race.” Stan a pirate queen.
- “I think, sometimes, our best moments come from our worst.” And other times, we’re one of Tracy and Gordo’s sons.
- “It still hurts. Even after all these years. I keep hoping that, with more time, it’ll get easier. It doesn’t. Sometimes, it feels like it’s getting harder.” Beautiful message on grief from For All Mankind 3×05 and a wonderful complement to the pause at the beginning.
- “Forgiveness is a long, hard road, Danny. But at the end is grace.” I hope, at the end, is Danny being turned into that “greasy spot on the carpet.”
- “Mr. Kuznetsov. I am the Commander of this vessel. From this moment on, your unrequested opinions are not welcome! Rolan, if you hear one more peep out of that guy…kill his mic.” The way the South jumped out of that “I” when Dani got pissed, though. Relatable.
- Margo’s “whatever it takes” is…I’m scared.
- “If you don’t step your Commie ass back in that hatch, I will come over there and smack you down!” No, but I would actually die for her.
Thoughts on For All Mankind 3×05 “Seven Minutes of Terror”? Leave us a comment!