For All Mankind 3×07 “Bring It Down” is, for many characters, a moment of reckoning. For viewers, it’s a painful hour of things that make you go, “yeah, that was always going to happen.” But they’re all so well done. Well. Except the whole Danny thing…which, even that has some cool technical elements.
And then, there’s that ending. Which, sure. It’s all because of Danny, and the main idea of the whole Danny situation is…not good, to put it kindly. But wow, does it still cut deep. (No pun on the actual deep cuts to Ed and Isabel’s suits intended.)
If you can manage to break away from screaming “not Ed” the way we were all like “not Dani” just a few episodes ago, join us as we discuss For All Mankind 3×07.
“Another piece of data that doesn’t fit”
Looking at Aleida’s journey, the one source of stability has always been Margo Madison. That is in no way an indictment on her father. But with everything this family has been through, and with Aleida’s particular dreams and talents, she needed a mentor. Someone on the inside, who could help her get her foot in the door. An adult who saw her potential, cared, and was willing to give her that one last chance that made her the success she is today.
Tragically enough, fostering Aleida’s talents could very well wind up being Margo’s undoing. After all, only this particular brand of genius could create the designs Margo shared with Sergei to begin with. And only Aleida would be able to see the obvious copies.
But because these two women have become family, when it comes time to figure out who NASA’s traitor is, Aleida’s problem solving skills fail her. It’s not that she’s not smart enough to figure it out; it’s that she can’t allow herself to do so. When she shows her whole, multi-dimensional problem to Victor in For All Mankind 3×07, Aleida is so close to the solution. But when we love someone, and when all they have ever been for us is good, sometimes, we just can not believe they’d ever betray us.
Even when the evidence is staring us in the face, our minds sometimes block it out. It’s self preservation, yet in the worst way.
…but, at some point, we can’t deny the truth anymore. For Aleida, that point is when Margo lashes out at her and mocks her for continuing to investigate. Even then, she never outright asks the question — she can’t. Not until she’s out of Margo’s office, until she’s processed…Until the warning bells her subconscious mind has been feeding her suddenly break through all the barriers she’s put up to protect herself.
For all the stellar performances this series — this episode, even — has to offer, it’s the little moments where Coral Peña lets us know Aleida knows but is lying to herself that might be some of the most powerful yet. And then, of course, when everything slows down, when the denial crumbles and her eyes widen before turning to that photo of The Margo Madison in the lobby of NASA…
…that’s when we really, truly feel that moment of realization right along with Aleida. It’s when we remember every time our own heroes have suddenly fallen and revealed themselves as just human, every time when the people we’ve loved have betrayed us on the worst level.
As is kind of the theme for For All Mankind 3×07, this is done just expertly. And we always knew we’d end up here — make no mistake about that.
But, like. Ouch?
“You’re a fuckin’ mess.”
I just need the disaster Danny Stevens caused on Mars to end him. For All Mankind is far too good of a series to continue with this…mess. I don’t even know what else to call it. While the story itself is terrible — there’s just too much going on and not even a smidgeon of complexity with this guy — some of the elements the series uses to tell the story manage to work. Sort of.
So, sure. As Danny takes all those pills in “Bring It Down,” it’s pretty fascinating to get all the wobbly camera, blurred vision effects. The noise that just has to be shut off. And, as a means to an end, it certainly works. We do get ourselves one hell of a cliffhanger, thanks to Danny’s complete lack of fitness for duty. But God, make it stop.
Then, back on Earth, you have the youngest Stevens. Jimmy’s story is, for me, far more interesting if still flawed. Maybe it’s because I, too, am the younger sibling. But there just seems to be more complexity, more of a story to tell, with Jimmy.
There are moments in For All Mankind 3×07 where Jimmy is clearly conflicted. He’s been left behind — by everyone from his dead parents to his (trash) older brother. He wants to fit in, and the tragedy of his parents’ death weighs on him. So, it’s not surprising that he fell in with garbage. He just wants to fit somewhere.
It’s not even surprising that, even after his achingly bittersweet moment with Al Rossi, joking over Tracy’s smoking habit, he still steals Rossi’s badge. Or that he clearly has doubts later, much less that he does what he needs to to “fit in” once the For All Mankind version of Sandy Hook truthers steals the duct tape statues. (Still sobbing every time I see those, by the way.)
Both Jimmy and Danny are broken because of their childhoods. Their parents were not exactly the most stable people; their home was not stable, period. And then, tragedy struck. Exploring how they deal with it, how loss can make a mark on a life, has a purpose. But we need something that’s not purely one-dimensional.
Even Danny’s struggles with pills, and his confrontation with Ed, could have hit their mark. They didn’t, though, because the characterization is weak. Lazy, even. Between his obsession with Karen and just his pure, one-note horribleness, his story isn’t one anyone cares about anymore, other than to just get it over with.
Jimmy…has potential. Can he still be saved? That’s a burning question here.
But if contrasting the boys’ journey is the point, this series has finally found the one ball it’s capable of dropping. Anything about Jimmy’s struggle between what his conscience tells him and what his new friends think about NASA loses some of its effect when his brother is the absolute worst. Here’s hoping For All Mankind at least turns his story around.
Because Danny, most definitely, is irredeemable at this point.
“She really stepped in it with that gay thing, huh?”
Speaking of irredeemable: The Republican party.
Hm. Wait. For All Mankind 3×07 tries to get me to care about them because, you know, Ellen is still (inexplicably) one of them. And yeah, I care about Ellen. Always have.
I’m actually really conflicted on this particular story. On the one hand, acting like the Democrats would do to Larry and Ellen what New Gingrich & Co. did to the Clintons is…Well. Has history really changed so much here that the political party currently still trying to play by rules in the face of fascism would have been this conniving in the ’90s? Eh. I’m not saying they’re saints. Just…I’ve got to suspend belief a bit here, is all.
What is really compelling here, and just brilliantly thought out, is the notion that we were always going to have some kind of scandal. Some kind of need to dig, and dig, and dig until the opposition party found something, no matter who was President during this era. It’s a different sort of issue, but there are so many parallels — even a man lying, under oath, to Congress.
“They set me up — plain and simple. It was a trap!”
So, when we see a Congressional hearing on NASA contracts turned into a witch hunt in For All Mankind 3×07, it just works. But what matters most, in the end, isn’t the politics. It’s the people. (Kinda feel gross saying that, given how the “oh, it’s just politics” brigade is usually trash…)
Seeing the way Larry is at the end of his rope, how he just couldn’t stay away from this relationship with this aide for a single term because it’s been decades of this lying…And then, the way Ellen cracks when she finds out the real reason she lost Pam…
That’s where the real hook comes in. I could do without political snakes — there are enough of those in the real world. And I could definitely do without all these parallels to the Lewinsky scandal. But learning about how Ellen breaks, then (hopefully) puts herself back together as a better version of herself after all these years — finally — that’s going to keep me watching this story.
There’s a moment, on that couch, when Jodi Balfour closes her eyes…when it’s like Ellen can’t bear to even look at that handhold she has with Larry…that’s just gutting. The Gross Old Party men are going on and on about how this marriage is “everything America is supposed to be,” when we know it’s exactly the opposite.
But, then again, maybe that’s the best the country has ever wanted to be. Because both reality and this series are what they are. “American family values” or whatever…but only if you’re a certain kind of family, right?
Ellen wanted to get to exactly this point, to becoming President. And she wanted it so badly, she wasn’t going to let anything get in the way. Larry’s right when he tells her that. But was the cost too great? And how long will it take for the people who are out to get the Wilsons to know Ellen blew off that fundraiser to go see her own biggest secret?
For All Mankind 3×07 has certainly set us up with some questions to watch going forward. But for the record, when I said I wanted more Ellen, I did not mean in a whole, “collateral damage” and (probable…just speculating here) forced-outing, kind of way.
Random musings on For All Mankind 3×07
- Hear me out: Less Danny, more Dani.
- That red lighting when Kelly waved goodbye to her little Russian boyfriend was badass, though.
- My favorite thing about having a Karl Rove character is how, every time I see his name in credits, I’m like “Ham Rove!” (See also: Your girl is obsessed with Stephen Colbert.)
- Sergei and Margo break me every time.
- “If…If we do not see each other again…” “We will. We will see each other again.” Like, shut up. This hurts. And then, the time to process and see the effect it has on Margo…I’m mad at her because *gestures wildly* but pain.
- Basically just..Wrenn. Schmidt.
- Jimmy’s Soundgarden shirt. Yes.
- “Worst president in history.” “In all of history?” “Yup.” “Is that because she’s a she?” I hate Sunny, but also, go off.
- Kuznetsov and Ed had a great moment before it all went to shit…But hm. Weird how he didn’t reflect with Dani or talk about “let’s all work together” on her ship. Can’t qWHITE figure out why.
- And also: Misogyny. Obvs.
- Peña’s deep breaths and sort of…choking on her words when she answered questions about her dad. We’ve all been there. Just. This show is pain.
- “Dogs make the best friends.” True.
- “You always wanted to be the first at something, Dad. Now, maybe you’ll be the first man to kill life on another planet.” I was like, “Kelly, go off!!!!“
- …but now, based on how For All Mankind 3×07 ended…uh. Danny beat him to that.
- And also…if y’all kill Ed Baldwin, I swear to God.
- Nick: “What’s wrong with you?” Me: Everything, bff.
- The darkness when those clouds of smoke were overtaking people…This show.
- “And the second it’s out in the media, it’s a truth. Whether it’s true or not.” One: Tea. Two: Ok but it’s true, though.
- “Having never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Giant, I’m afraid I can’t answer that, Congressman.” People died.
- “Let me guess: Have I ever met the Pillsbury Doughboy?” A comedy.
Thoughts on For All Mankind 3×07? Send us a comment!
For All Mankind Season 3 is now streaming on Apple TV+, with new episodes releasing weekly.
Yay, someone who was able to put my feelings about this episode into words! When everything is really distressing but SO well-done.
Jimmy’s storyline and character make perfect sense to me (and yeah, depending on how it resolves itself, it’s on the level with most of the other writing). In one sense, he knows that the story NASA tells about his parents’ sacrifice is true. He knows too many people at NASA to know that there wasn’t a cover up that his conspiracy theorist friends think there was. But on an emotional level, as a kid who was only in high school when both of his parents died, it *doesn’t* make sense to him. Parents are supposed to always be there, and yet his weren’t. So even though the part that doesn’t add up to him is different from Sunny & Co, it makes sense that he’d gravitate towards them. (also because he couldn’t work it through with Danny beecause Danny just turned to drinking and drugs, a la Tracy).
Since 3.01 I’ve been convinced that Ed wasn’t going to make it off of Mars, but I don’t think I expected it to be LIKE THIS (if this *is* how he dies).
As much as I hate it, and fully believe that 90% of our country’s problems stem from Reagan’s presidency, Ellen being a Republican makes sense to me. Tom was her mentor, and he was a Nixon Republican. Also, in a heightened Cold War, NASA was seen by the executive branch as much more of a military asset than a research program. So even though she’s looking at it from a more idealistic standpoint, the country doesn’t/isn’t. Her winning the nomination also make sense in a country that actually RATIFIED the ERA within the stupid timeline. Also, in general, even though most Democrats thought that queer people should be treated like human beings, they still weren’t fully in favor of gay marriage. Obama himself was opposed to it in 2008 (or, he claimed he was). And lastly, though it’s impossible to conceive of right now, in the 80’s and 90’s there were far more liberal Republicans (McCain AT THE TIME) and conservative Democrats (Clinton AT THE TIME). So she’s in the liberal Republican vein. The racist AF backlash to Obama is what changed that.
But why is Larry always IN THE OVAL with her?! They aren’t co-presidents. AS IF Hillary would’ve let Bill be anywhere NEAR the Oval once it was hers.
Loved the nod to lesbian First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.