FOR ALL MANKIND Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Every Little Thing - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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FOR ALL MANKIND Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Every Little Thing

Matthew Kresal visits an alternate 1980s for the opening episode of the second season of For All Mankind.
With its first season, For All Mankind had built a firm foundation for itself. What began as an exercise in alternate history (and has remained so at its core) evolved over those ten episodes as butterfly wings kept flapping. The result was that For All Mankind was a drama that mellowed nostalgia for the dreams of Apollo with the often stark reality of an imperfect past, optimism tempered by the experience of history. And, with a post-credit scene in its finale, a vision of where the show's second season would go as it moved from the late sixties and seventies into the eighties. Now, with Every Little Thing, that second season has arrived.

Watching Every Little Thing as it plays out, it's interesting to compare it to the first season's opening installment, Red Moon. Both spend their opening minutes on a montage of stock footage setting up the changes that are about to play out for our characters. Indeed, there are sequences echoed here from Red Moon, with one scene involving Wrenn Schmidt's Margo Madison going through her morning routine. Elsewhere, much of the episode deals with the large cast before building to a crisis in the closing twenty minutes or so, setting up events in the next episode. It's a delicate act of structural mirroring, to be sure, and one that suggests that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

But there are changes that the series co-creater Ron Moore has put in place. The opening three-minute montage of stock footage and news headlines (including news stories read out by Star Trek: Enterprise's Linda Park) offers up a vision of the late seventies and early eighties that are at once recognizable and yet different. Indeed, our UK readers are likely to get a chuckle out of one particular moment in the montage. From there, our characters are in all sorts of new positions, from Ed and Karen Baldwin to Gordo and Tracey Stevens marital status. NASA has become more militarized, with an Air Force presence just off Mission Control and hints about how NASA is funding its new endeavors. The change of decade serves the show well in this opening hour of the season as Moore brings the timeline of Apollo influences into the era of the Space Shuttle and rising Cold War tensions. The result feels like a natural extension of the mix of nostalgia with a more realistic, perhaps slightly cynical, hindsight about the era.

That vision is given a boost by how it comes to life. The production design and costumes all evoke the early eighties rather nicely. Though an alternate history, the series visuals remain firmly rooted in reality, with the choices in costuming and cars, in particular, doing much to sell the Earthbound sequences. The highlights, though, remain when the series goes into space, and For All Mankind does not disappoint here as it blends elements of the Apollo and Shuttle eras of NASA hardware beautifully. Indeed, those who followed the Shuttle in its early eighties heyday will likely delight in the design work and a particular character who pops up. It's everything that made the first season work so well, kicked up a notch, not to mention into a whole new decade.

And what more could you ask for from a second season opener?

For All Mankind is exclusive to Apple TV+.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.

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