For All Mankind Recap: Game Changer

“You rolled the dice on an idea and it didn’t pan out. So what? Show me somebody who never failed and I’ll show you someone who never took risks.”—Dev Ayesa

In every failure, there is a lesson. In every setback there is an opportunity. The spirit of innovation and technology is built on that premise. That’s something that clearly resonates with Dev Ayesa (Edi Gathegi), the cutting-edge businessman who has his sights set on Mars. He also has his sights set on Polaris, pulling in Karen (Shantel VanSanten) for a meeting. He wants to buy her company and hotel—despite its issues—and he’s offering top dollar.

Karen, no slouch when it comes to business and dreaming, correctly guesses that Dev wants to go to Mars, he just doesn’t have the ship to get there. But with the purchase of Polaris, he has nearly all he needs to make it a three-team race to the Red Planet. The space race is heating up, and Dev plans to be a part of it, hoping that a private company landing on Mars first will prevent the near war that happened when the United States and Soviet Union set their sights on Mars.

It’s just the first of the bombshells dropped in this week’s episode, “Game Changer.”

Ellen Wilson For President

The 1992 Presidential race is heating up. While Bill Clinton is holding it down for the Democratic Party, Ellen Wilson (Jodi Balfour) has been tapped by the Republican Party. She’s a space veteran and a Senator, and Wilson seems to have the ideal American life. She’s still married to Larry (Nate Corddry), and now they have a child. They seem like the perfect American family, and Larry is still helping Ellen navigate the political waters. That means pushing her to consider uber-conservative Gov. Bragg (Randy Oglesby) as her Vice President. He’s far to the right and Ellen is worried about what it might mean. She’s also worried about what it might mean to her chances of winning if she doesn’t pick him. Doubtless, this will continue to be a touchy issue.

Infighting at NASA

Meanwhile, at NASA, things are not all that smooth. The pressure is on to beat the Soviets to space, and that starts with picking a mission commander. The problem is Margo (Wrenn Schmidt) and Molly (Sonya Walger) are not on the same page. Margo is planning to use a committee approach to find astronauts, while Molly is old school. With Margo away, Molly uses her position to select Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) as the commander of the 1996 Mission. She further picks Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall) for the 1998 mission. Ed is pleased, Poole is disappointed.

Ed begins tapping a crew, including reaching out to his daughter Kelly (Cynthy Wu) to join the mission. She’s unsure at first, but reluctantly agrees. Ed sets about pushing forward but when Margo finds out about the choice, she’s not pleased. She fires Molly, ending her time at NASA, and institutes the committee selection process, going with Margo as Mission Commander in 1996 and turning the tables on Ed, who subsequently feels lost.

Ed is less than gracious with Margo, and less than gracious with Poole, a friend who’s long stood by him. He commiserates with Molly as she packs her office and shares his fears of being forgotten with Karen. This spurs an idea for Karen, but more on that in a minute.

Dangerous Obsession

Danny (Casey Johnson) spots Ed pouring his heart out to Karen because he’s sitting outside her house. It seems Danny struggled mightily with their breakup and seeing Karen aboard Polaris—then nearly dying to save everyone—has rekindled that desperate romance. The fact Danny’s now married doesn’t seem to phase him, nor does Karen’s plea that he finally move on. It’s clear he can’t, he won’t and nothing good will come of it…

The Third Mission to Mars

…and we might see it come to a head on the Red Planet. While Poole is looking at Danny as her co-pilot, Karen heads to see Dev. She pitches Ed as the commander of his Mars mission. Intrigued, Dev talks it out with the team, settling on Ed as the perfect choice to be the first man on Mars. Dev then turns the tables, finishing the recruiting pitch that opened the episode and inviting Karen to join his team.

As Margo and Poole attempt to pick up the pieces of the upcoming Mars mission, a call comes to flip on the TV. They do just in time to see Dev announce his own Mission to Mars, with Karen by his side and Ed as his commander. And he’s going to do it in 1994.

The race is on, and it’s going to be a good one. NASA is no longer just battling the Soviet Union, they’ll be battling the private sector, one of their own and a two-year advance on the timeline. Buckle up, this is about to get good.

Episode MVP: Karen Baldwin. It’s not easy to pick up the pieces after seeing your dream fall apart. Yet, Karen moves forward and finds herself in the thick of the most exciting advancement in space travel yet.

Episode Grade: A- This one didn’t have the fireworks of the pilot, but it sets the stage brilliantly for what’s to come.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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