For All Mankind (Season 3), Episode 5 Recap and Ending Explained: The Space Race, which began in the last episode, ends with one of the most shocking deaths and dynamic cliffhangers. This episode explores the fallout from that accident and the resultant partnership between NASA and the USSR, both within Sojourner and on Earth, as the Space Race now effectively becomes a battle between governmental agencies and privatization.


It’s the adage that every cloud has a silver lining. Two lives were lost in the tragedy-two astronauts and one cosmonaut, but we see Commander Danielle Poole having decided to tie all three of the bodies of the deceased together and release them to the abyss of outer space, where they will be allowed to float in the final frontier. From the vantage point of Poole, death is democratic but hardly the end, as Dr. King would say, while according to Commander Kusnetzov of the Russian Space Force, grief is a gift as it allows for closure and the process of loss, as difficult as the sensation might be. We see the players at Sojourner, the Phoenix, and Helios, and NASA pay their respects as the bodies are ejected. They have to move one, because there is a race to complete, and Sojourner has a chance to get back in the race as they were able to share fuel from the MArs-94.

The partnership between the Soviet Union and the United States is solidifying as the Mars Mission continues underway. The result was the Soviet representatives of Roscosmos reaching the NASA HQ. As Margo Madison gets ready to open the welcome wagon, her discomfort is palpable. At this point, her guilt is almost visible on her face, which becomes clear when the director of Roscosmos lays down her proposal to Margo behind closed doors. Interestingly, and perhaps what had caused Margo to stumble, she had discovered that Sergei was no longer in charge of Roscosmos and that Lenara Catiche, who had been his protege, was.

Having been made cognizant of Margo’s helping hand with the KGB before, she wastes no time in asking for another off-the-book proposal. Catiche would be grateful if the cosmonauts were able to continue with some of their original mission objectives but would require Margo’s help in supplying equipment, satellites, etc. When pressed for details, Catiche was reluctant to reveal them. Margo, realizing that she would have to comply, decides to make the most of the situation and strikes a deal. She would help them, but under the condition that Sergei Nikulov is brought in. Lenara was forced to acquiesce, knowing Margo’s help was indispensable.

Phoenix is finally back under the control of commander Ed Baldwin, who, after commandeering the ship, openly goes against Ayesa’s decision to “wash the stain clean” of the dishonor being brought to the crew and Helios. This earns him brownie points with Karen, who takes the executive decision to resign from her post and calls out his bluff when he says the group decided to leave for Mars instead of helping Mars-94. And while Ayesa does try to stop Karen, which he fails at, his points aren’t entirely false. Indeed, he never asked anyone to move their launch schedule to ’94 and didn’t ask the Russians to push past their limits. Ayesa must have known that throwing down the gauntlet would force the government to act. Unlike our world, the universe of For All Mankind is in a symbiotic relationship with the space program, and by throwing the gauntlet down, Ayesa only accelerated the inevitability of the space race.

When Sergei is finally brought to the United States, his reunion with Margo is a sad one. Revealing that he had been under KGB custody and imprisoned at Lefortovo, Sergei looked frail. His incessant coughing, he revealed, as a result of his body being subjected to torture that caused his lungs and kidneys irreparable damage. It was coldly and precisely done so that no mark would be left outside. A devastating and heartbreaking moment passes between them, as Sergei finally reveals his betrayal and apologizes for the same. And while Margo’s life after that fateful day had not been affected externally, internally it had been eating her up inside. But seeing Sergei completely broken makes her determined to “rescue him”. In return for helping the Russians, she promises asylum for him and his family.

For All Mankind Season 3 Episode 5 Recap Ending Explained (1)

Karen’s decision to leave Helios is relayed by her to Ed, who she reveals was her inspiration behind taking this risky step. As Karen and Ed’s relationship grows closer and on the verge of rekindling, Danny Stevens feels more lost and angry. Tricking Nick into obtaining the admin password, Danny accesses the video messages which are being sent and received by the astronauts. Accessing Ed’s inbox, he watches Karen’s video messages as she expresses her pride and belief in Ed, even trying to remind him of the gravity of the journey undertaken while she is high. Ed is on the journey to Mars, and vicariously through him, she is living the journey.

Meanwhile, at NASA, Aleida Rosales is very much surprised at discovering the similarity between the designs of Mars-94 and Soujourner. As she delves deeper, she notices striking resemblances between the nuclear thermal engine and her plans, which couldn’t be dismissed as coincidences as it has the same expansion ratios as her plans. While Margo tries to deflect the situation and stop her secret from being unwittingly revealed, she instructs Aleida to redirect her focus on the current aspects of the Mars mission, and while Aleida obeys Margo, she also refuses to let go.

As Danny burns with jealousy and watches the videos as a form of self-punishment, which is also simultaneously creepy, he pours his heart out in a video message to his brother Jimmy. The writers‘ efforts to flesh out Danny’s secret desire to be the first Stevens to land on Mars so that he could posthumously fulfill his dad’s ambition, who had been unable to land for the first time on the moon, feels like a legitimate and human moment, not steeped in melodrama, which the other aspect of Danny’s character contributes to his emotional spiral. The closeness between Karen and Ed makes him dejected and fills him with guilt, especially when Ed talks to Karen about him as his son, unaware of the relationship.

The emotional spiral starts to take over while playing the game of cards with Ed, which he had promised to get to. As the game is underway, Danny enquires about the nature of Ed’s relationship with Karen, which Ed reveals as a relationship he is very careful and passionate about, even if they aren’t married. When asked why the marriage broke down, Ed revealed his affair and also revealed that he knew Karen had been having an affair as well, and while he didn’t know who the person was, that person won’t be long for the world once Ed Baldwin gets wind of his identity. Danny Stevens is on thin ice, juggling his feelings for Karen while trying to balance his relationship with Ed Baldwin, and if we take into account Danny’s problems with his addictions, there is no feasible way this plot thread goes through any happy resolution.

Meanwhile, on Sojourner, Kelli meets Alexei Poletov, the cosmonaut who had contacted her initially about the Russians’ plan. Now, as time passes, they grow closer, as Alexei and the rest of the cosmonaut crew begin to ingratiate themselves as crewmates on the Soujourner. While Kelli and Alexei disagree on the politics of their respective countries, there is a clear attraction between them.

As Alexei, who had been instructed to study the nuclear thermal engine of the Soujourner, tries to communicate with Aleida back in Houston, Kelli tries to act as the mediator between them as Aleida tries to help Sergei memorize the emergency procedures. Their interaction gets interrupted when they learn the good news: the surface of Mars is hit with a dust storm which is scrambling their sensors. Thus, even if Phoenix is ahead of them, they aren’t able to land on Mars. Thus, they aren’t out of the woods yet. Happy at hearing the news, Kelly gives into the attraction and kisses Alexei.

At NASA, the presence of the sand storm has galvanized the Mars Mission Control. The race is very much anybody’s to win so far, and as Soujourner prepares their descent trajectory to Mars, Sergei and Margo discuss the previously failed landings of the probes sent out by both Roscosmos and NASA to the surface of Mars. Margo terms that moment “the seven minutes of terror”.

Their ruminations are interrupted by Aleida, who brings Margo aside and tries to make Margo realize that the Soviets follow the same procedures as NASA does, to the extent that Alexei remembers the “never exceed values.” Margo, clearly uncomfortable, tries to refute this by stating that the Russians might have acquired those numbers from the Soujourner, but Aleida reveals that those numbers aren’t the same as the current Soujourner engine, but are suspiciously exact with the numbers from their 1992 NERVA engine model. This, Aleida hypothesizes, is because someone had provided the Soviets with plans for the engine, someone high up at NASA.

Margo eventually persuades Aleida to let it go, for the time being, promising to bring the case to the Department of Justice. While we know that won’t happen because Margo would try to brush this aside, Aleida’s doggedness means that she won’t let it go. The inevitable reveal as to the identity of the traitor could finally force Aleida to break free from being “Margo’s girl”, due to the treasonous act that Margo had committed. Only time will tell.


As both the ships decide to undertake the treacherous journey to the Mars surface, Ed and Danny decide to take the plunge first, choosing to take the risk even though the storm hasn’t cleared. As the Mars Lander heads towards the surface, the gyroscope begins to malfunction as the storm starts wreaking havoc with their sensors. For a brief moment, Ed tries to land, but for a brief moment, he sees the rocky surface of Mars and decides to retract and pull back. He is reminded of the time he chose to not land on Apollo 10, but history repeats itself. However, this time, Ed chooses to repeat history to save Danny, Gordo’s son, choosing to turn a deaf ear to Danny’s protests.

As the Phoenix Mars rover retracts, Soujourner has been laying low in orbit, waiting for the storm to clear. Commander Danielle Poole had six minutes to decide whether she wanted to take the plunge and start the landing trip or choose to take another trip around the orbit. Seeing the storm clear a bit, Dani chooses to take the plunge and manages to guide the Soujourner down with a fiery touchdown on the surface of Mars. The blind gamble of Soujourner pays off, as the combined partnership of NASA and Roscosmos becomes the first to officially win the space race, while Helios comes in second, even after manipulating and managing to stay ahead of the race for the majority of its time. As the Soujourner opens its ramp, Commander Kusnetzov wants to be the first cosmonaut to land on the surface of Mars, while Poole vehemently disagrees. The world watches as an astronaut and a cosmonaut walk out together and trip over and fall on the surface of Mars. The world rejoices at the partnership depicted, not knowing that they were jostling to reach the surface first.


The race ends with Soujourner and the combined might of NASA and the Roscosmos crew under the leadership of Danielle Poole being the clear winner. But now the story would shift, as the show would have to explore the different aspects of Mars exploration while simultaneously figuring out how the three groups would work together, as tensions would rise on both the Red and the Blue Planet.

Earth would similarly have to deal with the fallout of the race as well as Margo’s attempts to ensure that information about her deeds wouldn’t come out in the open. But knowing for all mankind, there are other issues we haven’t even considered yet. This is a show firing on most cylinders, managing to deliver twists and pivots in a narrative as smoothly as possible.


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