“I cannot correct past mistakes, all I can do is share a simple truth—I’m gay and I have been since I was born.”—Ellen Wilson
Leadership means doing the hard thing because it’s right. We’ve seen many of our heroes wrestle with this notion throughout the third season. They know what they need to do but it it’s a struggle. In this penultimate episode, many did the right thing even though it was hard.
As we left last week, the Mars team was in crisis. A landslide claimed many lives, their way off the planet was buried and Kelly (Cynthy Wu) is pregnant, not a great situation on the Red Planet. We pick up five months later and things are demonstrably better.
While the ship has been unburied, time is short to get Kelly off the planet and the crew is short of food. The cramped living quarters and stretched supplies have made things dicey, too. But as he hears his grandchild’s heartbeat, Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) all that seems to fade.
Ed is recovering from his injuries and returning to normal condition. Danny (Casey W. Johnson) has finished his detox and is starting to rehab his behavior. Still, he’s stricken by guilt over his role in the accident—and rightly so. When a report is issued laying fault on his dead colleague, Danny takes it poorly. He’s had a horrendous arc this season but he feels internal pressure to tell the truth. It didn’t happen this week, but hopefully it will happen soon.
It turns out the ship needed to get the Mars team to Phoenix is damaged. Fortunately, there’s a replacement part in a North Korean probe a mere 89 kilometers away. Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall) and Russian Commander Kuznetsov (Lev Gorn) head that way, but all doesn’t go according to plan. More on that in a minute.
An FBI Investigation
Aleida (Coral Pena) has been on the hunt for a traitor for months. She has begun to believe that Margo (Wrenn Schmidt) is responsible. But she can’t quite bring herself to accept it. Margo has been a mentor and more over the years and Aleida wants to believe the best. But her investigation has been exhaustive and has led to one conclusion.
Aleida coaxes Bill (Noah Harpster) to her house to view the evidence. He, too, doesn’t want to believe it. But Aleida has been exhaustive in her research and the evidence is compelling. Bill turns from skeptic to true believer over the course of an evening, pushing Aleida to take the next step and inform the authorities. She refuses.
Bill, however, knows what’s right, even though it’s hard. He makes the call himself and tries to bring Aleida in on the process. She’s hurt—not just because Bill made the move over her objections but because she feels like she betrayed a friend. The investigation is moving forward and Aleida tearfully tears up her board. It’s been coming all season but Margo’s reckoning will have to wait another week.
A Presidential Crisis
Larry (Nate Corddry) has become a liability in the wake of his scandal and, worse yet, his lie. But Ellen has continued to push forward. Inside, she continues to wrestle with her decisions and the hard truths she got from Pam (Megan Leathers). None of that gets easier as the Republicans want to pass a bill stripping NASA and the Mars Program of its autonomy.
Ellen, a former astronaut, believes in NASA. She’s unwilling to act and that leads to threats. Either she passes the bill or goes down a road facing impeachment. As she listens to her incriminating recording, it seems bleak.
Larry finally steps up. He says he’ll share the truth. He’ll announce he’s gay, he had an affair and he lied—while Ellen knew nothing. It’s a sound plan, but it doesn’t sit right. As Ellen looks at the photos of her family, it’s clear what needs to happen.
The following morning, Larry gets up to the podium to sacrifice himself. Instead, Ellen steps out of the shadows, takes the podium and shares her truth. She calls Will Tyler (Robert Bailey, Jr.) a hero and reverses her Executive Decision and allows gay men and women, like herself, to serve openly. And, for the first time in a long time, she feels free.
It’s been building all season—for many seasons really. But seeing Ellen stand up there and proudly declare who she is despite the consequences was still an emotional moment.
Back on Mars, everything isn’t smooth sailing. While Rolan (Alexander Sokovikov) apologizes and makes things right with Will, Kelly collapses. She’s in distress and time is running short to get her the help she needs. As Poole and Kuznetsov reach the North Korean ship, they find more than they bargained for which will make this life-or-death mission even trickier.
We have only one hour left and it’s shaping up to be a doozy.
Episode MVP: Ellen Wilson. It takes courage to lead when its hard. Ellen failed her friends and herself earlier this season but she stepped up when it mattered.
Episode Grade: B+. We’re coming in for a landing this season and it’s been a heck of a ride.
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.