For All Mankind (Season 3), Episode 7 Review, Recap & Ending Explained: As the title of the episode suggests, “Bring it all down” is focused on bringing all the hard work of the principal characters to a crashing halt, somewhat literally as the final shot suggests. Primarily because the Danny Stevens subplot finally reaches its boiling point and hits the main throughline pretty hard, the Helios and the Russian joint venture are tasked with extracting water from the reservoir. It manages to prove how dangerous the unknown of space and new terrain truly is, especially when human foibles rear their ugly heads.
For All Mankind (Season 3), Episode 7 “Bring it all down” Recap:
The newsreel espouses what the current scenario of the Mars Mission is. As it stands, the Soviets and Helios are currently hard at work on their joint venture to extract water from the reservoir near the Valles Marineris crater. A large autonomous drill would be flown down from the Helios mothership Phoenix. The plan is to establish a well by utilizing the drill such that the water can be extracted to fuel the growth of a new Mars colony. Interestingly, the Russians are also shutting off NASA from this current juncture, and thus Roscosmos’ use of Margo too is at an end.
As a result, Margo learns that Sergei would not be going to Helios to be a part of overseeing the joint venture but would be sent back to Moscow, as he was used to the Russians because that would keep Margo, and in essence, NASA, pliant to helping the Russians further their plans. Margo protests upon hearing Sergei detail his current plan, reminding her of her efforts to help him defect, but she needs more time. Sergei bursts her bubble, stating that they are taking him to the airport now, and as he begins with those dreaded words, “If we don’t see each other again…”, Margo, with her typical strength of conviction, retorts, “We will see each other again.” even as her wan smile doesn’t reach her eyes. We see the rare moment of Margo finally breaking down after Sergei leaves, but even then she takes one of the couches to cover her sobs. Wrenn Schmidt as Margo is heartbreaking at this moment as she plays Margo as a woman who finally breaks down after all the different conflicts that threaten to overwhelm her.
The next scene finally touches on the cliffhanger of the last episode, as we see Larry Wilson being questioned at the House Subcommittee Hearing regarding NASA contracts about how he influenced NASA’s partnership with independent contractors. Larry retorts, saying that this subcommittee is a veiled attack on his wife, and continues retorting back at the congressman. Finally, the head of the committee reveals his true reason for being there, as he informs Wilson that the committee knows someone on the White House staff having an affair with the President’s staff.
As Larry, visibly flustered, tries to backtrack, asking for the question’s relevancy regarding NASA contracts, The congressman finally goes for the jugular, asking Wilson directly whether he is having an affair with a white house aide. As Larry drinks the water kept beside him, the congressman reminds him wryly that he is under oath. In the very next scene, we see Larry pacing around a room, waiting for someone, and as the door opens, we see Jeremy Zilke, the white house aide Larry had been having an affair with. Ignoring Zilke’s fear of wondering why he had been called, Larry asks him with whom he had been discussing their affair.
As Zilke point-blank denies having told anyone, even his parents, Larry informs him that Congressman Willie Baron had insinuated that Larry had been having an affair with Zilke. Zilke tries to brush it off, stating that maybe he doesn’t know it is him, considering only “white house aide” was used as identification, but Larry finally explodes in anger, stating that he just lied to Congress, which is a felony. Before he could continue, Zilke suddenly remembers and tells Larry that he had told someone about their relationship, the intimacy of it, to a friend from school who had been pretty upset about the “whole uniform first thing”. Larry, in a barely restrained rage, instructs Zilke to call his friend and make him believe that the whole story was all a lie, concocted due to Zilke’s being high. He then quietly instructs him to “check into rehab”, effectively cutting him loose. The Wilsons’ Lavender marriage had been successful so far, but it is now on the verge of failing.
The Stevens brothers aren’t the best at making life decisions. Jimmy’s new group of friends, who are seen having beer and snacks by the pool at Danny’s pace with Jimmy and discussing the current scenario regarding the president and her husband, are surprised and flatter Jimmy as they learn that he is on a first-name basis with the president. It is increasingly clear that this is a group that has plans to dismantle NASA as a result of their beliefs, and right now they are not above utilizing Jimmy’s insecurity and feeling of a lack of belonging in this world to meet their ends, tacitly instructing Jimmy to enter a location as quickly as possible because of his intimate familiarity with the setting. We can only surmise it’s the Johnson Space Centre (JSC) or NASA.
At Helios Base, we learn that geologist Castillo, one of the cosmonauts, had tested the samples and found them free of bio-signatures. Thus, the Russians had been given the green signal for drilling. Ed explains that the drilling would occur between two solar cycles, once the drill had been sent to the Mars surface by the Phoenix, with Ed piloting the MSAM on top of the ridge while Danny would be accompanying him as the co-pilot. It would be news of paramount importance to Danny if he was cognizant enough. Unfortunately, or maybe inevitably, Danny’s dosing on prescription drugs had reached alarming levels due to which he remains oblivious to everything occurring around him. In the meantime, Ed instructs Mueller to stay in command of Helios Base while Nick Carrado will be controlling the CO2 compressor and the drill pressurization system.
At Happy Valley, things are still tense between Baranov and Tyler. While Kelly is having a video conference with Alexei, where he is singing praises of her father’s leadership prowess, his social skills notwithstanding, she comes to know about the drilling mission, which exasperates her because she hadn’t finished testing her geological samples yet. As Alexei tries to reason with her, telling her he thought she had talked with him, he is unable to stop her as she disconnects his call, clearly to contact her father and give him a piece of her mind.
Back on Earth, we see Aleida having a rendezvous with her husband at the park while their son plays. She is trying to explain to him her dilemma regarding the stolen plans, and she needs his expertise to eliminate her suspects using mathematics. He explains that it would be hard, as there are a lot of emotional and other factors at play that wouldn’t be effective for a traditional Gaussian elimination. But he promised she would look into it.
As their conversation progresses into more personal territory, we learn that the last two years haven’t been easy for their marriage either, and given that Aleida is pleading with him to come home to have her father’s mochaca and he refuses because he has to take their son Javi to the baseball game tonight, we can deduce that they are separated. But they still have an amicable and even friendly relationship, with her husband worried about Aleida’s father, who we learn is getting worse as Alzheimer’s overwhelms him. As her husband and her son Javi get up to leave, he reminds Aleida that she isn’t considering something pretty obvious-the culprit might not be someone who had worked “for” her, inferring that the mole could have been one of her superiors. Aleida is inching very close to the truth, and at this point, we as viewers are just bracing for the heartbreak.
Back at the white house, President Wilson asks a very pertinent question to her husband regarding him keeping a leash on his libido for a single term. As Larry tries to tide over the situation by pacifying that Baron had no other material beyond this accusation, she won’t budge, throwing haymakers of dialogue at Larry until she finally asks the question-what makes Jeremy Zilke so special? And Larry too replies in an equally truthful, matter-of-fact statement: “Nothing, he just likes me”.
As Ellen scoffs on hearing what essentially sounds like a high school confession, Larry breaks her bubble, stating that on this political and social stage, his standing as her husband is equivalent to a laughing stock, with people expecting and deriding him for being a house husband. And for a long time, he had tried to take the logical steps and keep making himself valuable to the administration, but he had been failing recently. Then he talks about the sacrifices he and Ellen, their families, and ex-lovers had made for Ellen to be here. This brings Ellen to a halt, and she returns to question him about her breakup with Pam (back in Season 2). Larry finally reveals to her that Pam chose to break up with Ellen because she knew Ellen wouldn’t be able to have the career she wanted with this relationship. Ellen angrily retorts at Larry, stating that whatever decision they took, they took to decide her fate, something which shouldn’t have been done and should have been her choice.
At JSC, Jimmy and Sunny enter to complete their mission, and we learn again that Sunny believes Gordo and Tracy Stevens’ deaths were not how they had been publicised, and thus the statues erected in their honour propagate that lie. As Jimmy enters, we see the receptionist recognise him, even calling out on his resemblance to his father. Jimmy is led by Sunny, who introduces herself to the receptionist as Jimmy’s girlfriend and how Jimmy promised her he would give a tour, which goes well with the receptionist. It seems the group’s hunch about bringing Jimmy to their cause is paying off.
However, that is not managing to assuage his sister-in-law Amber’s fears, which she voices in the video message she is sending to Danny, stating how he feels distant, almost living in another world, hanging out with his weird friends and how weird some of their ideas regarding their parents’ deaths were. It is ironic how similar both the Stevens brothers are because their father is lost in the stupor of prescription drugs, barely managing to keep his eyes open as he listens to his wife’s message. He barely manages to mumble an affirmative to Ed’s questioning and gears up to pack all the instruments from Habitat 2, as they would leave for the drilling site at 0800. Meanwhile, in the control room of Helios Base, Carrado is playing with a toy dog and bonding with Mueller regarding their shared knowledge of Spanish. As Danny enters the control room after transporting the gear, he becomes visibly irritated at seeing the toy dog moving closer to his feet. And while Carrado appeases him by saying “he won’t bite you”, Danny’s stony face suggests he isn’t amused.
Tensions are rising in the other room, as Kelly and Ed are having a heated argument. Kelly reminded Ed that her tests weren’t conclusive enough to figure out whether there was a biological presence in the soil, while Ed emphatically stated that all the tests done by Helios and NASA came back negative while reminding Kelly that her tests are still in the experimental phase and not widely accepted. He then reminds her to look at the bigger picture, how the discovery of such a body of water would be such a positive step towards building a large colony.
Kelly, in a sarcastic tone belying her rage, claims that manifest destiny is still the ethos humans follow today and that her father would be the first at something—destroying life on another planet. With that sick burn, she disconnects the call, much to Ed’s chagrin and anger. In the control room, the toy dog again makes a pass at Danny’s leg. Trying to take Carrado’s advice, Danny tries to ignore it, but his drug-addled brain gets disturbed by the continuous drone of the dog’s bark, which ultimately makes Danny snap and destroy the dog by hitting and crushing the mechanical toy beneath his feet, much to the horror of Carrado. As the crew looks confused and unable to understand how to react, Danny resumes packing the documents in the trunk, ignoring Carrado’s shocked face.
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Sunny sneak into the Astronaut Meeting Room, where Jimmy comes close to stealing an astronaut badge, but comes face-to-face with Alex Rossi, the ex-head of Jamestown, when Tracy and Gordo Stevens were present. With a very warm demeanour, having known Jimmy since he was a kid and having known his mother as a badass astronaut, an aspect Jimmy isn’t that familiar with, Rossi shows Jimmy a memorial board containing photos of Tracy and letters of little girls writing to her, telling how she was an inspiration for them to become astronauts when they grew up. It’s a beautifully tender moment, which brings us hope that maybe Jimmy would walk himself off the abyss, but that’s for nought, as Jimmy reveals to Sunny that he had stolen Rossi’s badge. Using the badge that night, Sunny and ex-marine astronaut Charles steal the monument of Tracy and Gordo Stevens in front of NASA and present it to Jimmy.
As Ellen is advised to double down on the image of the strong marriage between her and Larry and is consoled that Baron has a few more skeletons in his closet that he wouldn’t want to be revealed, Ellen is shaken at the turn of events. As foundations start crumbling, Ellen throws caution to the wind, cancels the meeting she was on her way to and pays a covert visit to her ex-girlfriend Pam.
At NASA, Aleida tries to convince Margo that the person selling state secrets is Margo’s assistant Emma, because she had investigated her credit report and checked that Emma was $40,000 in debt, and thus it made the most sense. Margo, clearly in a mix of anger, frustration, and a hint of fear, retorts that Emma is in debt because she is paying for her sister’s breast cancer and that Aleida is playing spy games instead of focusing on what matters-to overseeing the mission of the first human beings who landed on Mars. She finally advises Aleida to take a break, which shocks her because Margo Madison doesn’t give breaks. Margo reveals that Aleida had better get her bearings together because, otherwise, the decision to take a “break” might not be up to her. As Aleida, in shock and anger, leaves and crosses the lobby of the JSC, she looks at Margo’s portrait hanging there and gets hit with the revelation, something which she wasn’t prepared to admit.
For All Mankind (Season 3), Episode 7 “Bring it all down” Ending Explained
In the control room, Ed finally confronts Danny. His actions are becoming harder and harder to ignore, and Ed decides to put Danny on the bench, letting Louisa accompany him. Ed growls at Danny, deriding him for not looking at him straight, clearly hopped up on pills, and now stomping on dogs (I found Danny’s confusion about his actions against a toy dog being the last straw amusing). Ed has decided to stop giving Danny slack as he is loath to repeat the same mistake he made with Gordo. When Danny retorts, “I am not my dad,” Ed vehemently agrees. Then he assigns Carrado to look after the base and Danny to deal with communication. At this point, giving Danny any sort of responsibility is a bad idea, and Danny’s sarcastic reaction to the orders, evolving to anger and almost coming to blows with Ed, doesn’t paint a very good picture for any of the crew regarding Danny or their commander. However, the decision is made.
As Danny and Corrado start checking the housing pressure of the drill, Danny is continuing his pill-popping ways in the bathroom. Back at the drill site, Ed radios Helios base to boost CO2 compressor speed, keeping the tank pressure within the optimum window. As the pressure maintains stability, Carrado runs to the other side of the room to crunch up some of the numbers before the drill penetrates the reservoir and instructs Danny to monitor the drill housing pressure. At the drilling site, as the drill reaches penetration depth, the drill starts to buckle and drill housing pressure starts to rise. Ed’s repeated warnings from the comms as well as the alarms from the system overwhelm Danny, who, in a haze and unable to decide what to do, decides to shut off communications.
Carrado finally returns and, seeing the numbers, realizes a disaster has occurred. His horror is amplified when he sees that Danny has shut off communications. On restarting communications, he learns the status report: an explosion has occurred; Ed and Isabel are injured from puncture wounds due to shrapnel, and Carrado is instructed to prepare the med bay. As Popeye, the lander, lands near the habitat, Danny helps an injured Ed walk slowly towards the Hab, while Kuznetsov runs to prep the Med bay with Mayakovsky (the Russian medic). However, disaster strikes as they realize the ground is shaking. The explosion from the drill caused a seismic event to occur, and as the quake starts to gain traction, the walls of the Valles Marineris start to crumble as cracks appear on the Mars surface. Danny and Ed barely manage to get inside one of the MSAMs, while Alexei Poletov appears to be swallowed by the dirt and sandstorm. We aren’t sure if the MSAM would be able to stay upright. Like in Episode 4, For All Mankind ends with another jaw-dropping cliffhanger.
For All Mankind (Season 3), Episode 7 “Bring it all down” Review:
The weakest episode of this season overall, but the show does manage to connect Danny’s screw-up in a major way with the main plot. Here’s hoping that the next episode addresses the primary instigator behind this tragic accident and that the confrontation between Ed and Danny comes to a head. The Jimmy storyline, on the other hand, is starting to feel a bit stretched, though both of the Stevens brothers managing to screw up in different ways is interesting from a story standpoint.