For All Mankind (Season 4) Episode 4: Already, this season is turning out to be far more interesting than the previous season because it uniquely doesn’t have much of a weak subplot taking up real estate space, like Season 3’s Danny Stevens subplot, which overflowed into the main plot. The plotting here is more political, stemming from the geopolitics of Earth, which slowly trickles upward and outward toward Mars. The ripple effect of the rise of a much more traditionalist Soviet Union in the last episode extends outwards and begins to add strain to alliances and efficiencies towards scientific advancements in different ways, which is an extremely interesting avenue to explore, an alternative to the pure adventure of space exploration and the resultant disaster, which had also been “For All Mankind”’s forte.

For All Mankind (Season 4) Episode 4 “House Divided” Recap:

The events of the previous episode would have reasonably affected the cosmonauts of Happy Valley, which was to be expected. A feud is seen to be brewing between cosmonaut Svetlana Zarkhova and Helios engineer Vasily regarding the differences between Gorbachev’s previous regime and the current one. And now, considering Gorbachev is out, Vasily has more of a lip to him because, according to him, Svetlana is a traitor like all of Gorbachev’s supporters, kowtowing to the West and spitting on their own culture. That didn’t sit right with her, but in her anger, she has an altercation with Vasily in their space suits while they are out digging soil samples, and that altercation causes a rupture in Vasily’s suit, leading him to be hospitalized in a hyperbaric chamber.

The altercation, as a result, is like a pebble, causing ripple effects. The landscape and its political nuance hadn’t been understood by the characters before, but because of Svetlana and Vasily, ripple effects will cause consequences. On the one hand, in Happy Valley, Commander Poole and XO Baldwin are wracking their heads at the mess they have, apparently another addition of ideological altercations within the Soviet camp that is threatening to overflow the Happy Valley community. To put a stop to this, Poole decides to revoke her flight status indefinitely, which Ed is vehemently against.

Because of his closeness with Svetlana, it becomes a point of contention to take Svetlana off the board, as training and installing another replacement pilot in the asteroid capture program would take weeks. However, Poole’s determined decision would be all for naught, as Svetlana is called in, whereby she drops the bomb that she has been recalled to the Soviet Union to stand trial for the crime she had committed under Soviet law.

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It doesn’t matter whether cosmonauts had never been recalled to their home base for grievances committed up here; Svetlana had committed a crime against a “patriot” of the Soviet Union (read: Vasily’s family is connected to the new regime), and thus she would have to pay. Understandably, both Poole and Ed are distraught, Ed more so because Svetlana will be leaving the next day, possibly to her death.

As Poole reports to NASA this new development, Eli Hobson is pretty confident that he can hash it out with the leader of Roscosmos because President Wilson and Gorbachev’s joint treaty and the creation of the M7 charter give every nation the right to recall their astronauts. As Hobson listens to the biodata of the new head of Roscosmos, Irina Morzovna, one thing is pretty clear. Unlike Gorbachev, Morzovna follows President Kurzhenko’s hardline policy. She is ex-KGB and had fallen out of favor with Gorbachev’s regime. Now in power in Star City, she is currently systematically purging all elements of Roscosmos found to be disloyal to the new regime.

But Hobson is pretty confident, almost misguidedly so, because, as it turns out, the directness of the Russians would lead to Hobson’s undoing. Hobson would try to maneuver and manipulate Morzovna over a video meeting but failed because she wouldn’t budge. According to her, because this is an assault on one Soviet citizen over another, this doesn’t fall under base discipline; rather, it falls under the enforcement of Soviet law. Hobson tries to subtly point out that the charter had been enforced by the previous regime, and Morzovna throws it back at Hobson’s face, asking that since Al Gore has become president, are Wilson’s treaties invalid now?

Check and Mate. And as Hobson tries to forcefully move forward by stating that the United States would not sanction this transfer, Morzovna, in no uncertain terms, threatens that if they did not abide by the rules of the M7 charter, the Soviet Union would be forced to reconsider its participation. This point of view is scary for Hobson because later in the episode, over the phone with the President, Gore emphatically states that having a conscientious relationship with the new Russian regime is equivalent to the beginning of a brand new cold war, something completely antithetical to what Gore started his election campaign with and which he does not want to hear repeated in the upcoming election. A chastised Hobson now finds himself cornered.

A similar cornering occurs for Dani when she learns the Soviet Union has changed the base computer language to Cyrillic, making it unmanageable for the NASA staff. Consequently, the cosmonauts decline to recognize her commander position at Happy Valley, and that sticks a crawl up both Dani’s and Ed’s throats. The plan to send Svetlana back is put on hold, with Ed’s strict instructions to keep her under security such that the “Soviet Union” wouldn’t grab her. It’s fascinating that the cracks are already starting to become so deep.

For All Mankind (Season 4) Episode 4 - HOF
Toby Kebbell in “For All Mankind,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

But the cracks had surely existed within the last eight years. Margo feels a chill from those cracks, and that’s not just because of the Soviet weather. She finds herself sitting at the meetings of the Roscosmos administration but not being asked for her opinions. However, she does get one poor soul’s copy of the report about the failed clamping devices of the asteroid capture drill (back in Episode 1), and late-night research and calculations reveal the problem had been in a faulty conversion done at the inception level ever since the plans had been shared with them by NASA.

Margo also has connections with two members of the administration with two completely different results: for one, her meeting with Tatiana, one of the female scientists, is one of bonding as fellow female scientists in the workplace. The other is with the head of General Seminov, who led the development of the Asteroid Capture Program and took responsibility for the mistake by his department. Considering Irina is KGB, we know what the consequence lies.

But that’s what makes Irina so mysteriously fascinating, at least to Margo. There might be a strain of loyalty towards Irina because she had saved her life, and now, by removing Seminov, Irina puts Margo in an even more important position of relative importance. Plus, Irina also recites a love poem by Alexander Pushkin and gives her a photograph of the 1969 Roscosmos team, crucially having Sergei in the picture.

One could cynically argue (because this is for all mankind) that this is a form of manipulation. At no point has Irina ever shown herself to be a closeted softie, but she does show herself to be ruthless and manipulative enough to corner everyone else on the drawing board and vault on the top of the pile. And right now, Margo is on a crucial ladder for her to have Roscosmos move into a higher position of development.

There is also the slow realization that Danielle is facing regarding the Helios workers and the astronauts at the upper levels. Like the death of Kuznetsov, which conveniently brushed aside any sort of acknowledgment of the death of another technician, the current hullabaloo is moving perilously close, such that Vasily might not be getting the desired importance.

To a certain extent, Danielle is apprehensive about Vasily because of her connection to her. Massey thinks Svetlana’s actions, not having major repercussions being done to her on base but rather being granted protection, are an extension of the favoritism of the elites in Happy Valley. They are both right, though, and in an ideal scenario, both should hash out and work together. Unfortunately, Danielle herself unknowingly shows off her bias while conversing with Massey, rather than the good intentions she had when she stepped foot inside Happy Valley months ago.

Unbeknownst to Massey, Miles had fallen (literally) into a spot of trouble. His work with Ilya had raised Miles’ entrepreneurial spirit, such that he plans to implement his wife’s idea of sending the Mars rocks back to Earth as novelty items or raw items for expensive jewelry in exchange for a pretty penny. It is against Ilya’s code of ethics (as questionable as they are), but Miles is undeterred. He asks Massey to accompany him, but she shuts down his attempts. Miles is unbothered and chooses to go out on his own (with the old Helios spacesuits of Season 3), and while searching and loading those rocks in a sack, he tries to get one rock from a cliff just beyond his reach and falls into a crevasse.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Massey finally gets to know about the missing Miles five hours later, after her conversation with Danielle. Understandably worried, she goes out on a rover on her own and finally manages to find Miles stuck below a crevasse, his radio broken but his spacesuit still intact. Pulling him up, Massey is worried and starts hitting him out of rage. Later, inside the rover, she stitches up Miles’ wounds, and wouldn’t you know it? We might have a new burgeoning romance on our hands if those longing glances are any indication.

For All Mankind (Season 4) Episode 4 “House Divided” Ending Explained:

Eli Hobson is understandably enraged after getting a verbal lashing from the president. After an angry workout, he has a conversation with his wife where the topic shifts to vacationing in another country they haven’t visited, and as Hobson’s wife mentions India, a brainwave hits him. Hobson plans for Svetlana to be tried for her crimes on Indian soil, neutral ground in accordance with the M7 charter, without the possibility of Svetlana facing unjustified and illegal retribution. It is a win-win situation for the USSR as well in showing that they are protecting a true believer and punishing the assaulter, while the United States can wash their hands off this.

What that, however, entails is the move of Svetlana to Earth, which doesn’t sit right with Ed. This finally leads to an inevitable blow-out with Danielle, where Danielle rightly points out that Ed is a stickler for the rules until it affects the people he cares about and that he is comfortable bending them. Danielle brings up the late Danny Stevens as well as Gordo Stevens as an example, and while that is a low blow, it also reveals that the fate of Danny Stevens had been a permanent one. The fate of Svetlana, as it turns out, also feels permanent—the kiss shared between Edward and her in the privacy of her quarters or Ed’s decision to walk her out of Happy Valley in front of all the astronauts—feeling like the end of a relationship we were never privy to, but we did understand existed.

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For All Mankind (Season 4) Episode 4 Links: IMDbRotten TomatoesWikipedia
The Cast of For All Mankind (Season 4) Episode 4: Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Jodi Balfour, Wrenn Schmidt, Sonya Walger, Krys Marshall, Cynthy Wu, Casey W. Johnson, Coral Peña, Edi Gathegi, Toby Kebbell, Tyner Rushing, Svetlana Efremova, Daniel Stern
For All Mankind (Season 4) Episode 4 Genre: Drama, Sci-fi | Runtime: 46–82 minutes

 

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