FOR ALL MANKIND Season 2 Episode 5 Review: THE WEIGHT - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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FOR ALL MANKIND Season 2 Episode 5 Review: THE WEIGHT

Matthew Kresal feels the weight of worlds.
When I reviewed Pathfinder last week, I mentioned my major criticism of For All Mankind's second season to date: that the series was spending too much time on Earth and not enough on the Moon. That for all the fine character moments, there were times it seemed to forget it was an alternate history series dealing with a space race that never ended. The Weight, the season's fifth outing, sets about redressing the balance a bit.

In fact, we're on the Moon from the very first scene. Tracy Stevens has, after a decade, finally gotten herself to the Moon. Not only that, but she's a media darling who is shinning a spotlight not just on herself but on the Jamestown colony. Through her being the latest arrival (dubbed "Linus" in honor of the Peanuts character by her fellow residents), we get some more insight into how this moonbase operates and just what life is like there. After glimpses of the expanded Jamestown in other episodes, especially the season opener, this episode firmly hits the spot, showcasing it and some other hardware along the way.

Except, of course, it's not all roses. The theme that writers Nichole Beattie and Joe Menosky bring up throughout the episode is past actions catching up with characters. Tracy's years in the spotlight not flying have taken a toll on her, one that doesn't become apparent until she has to settle into a routine at Jamestown, somewhere her media savvy and popularity mean very little. It's a trip into a potentially self-destructive depression as she struggles to adapt while increasingly kicking some Jamestown moonshine gives actress Sarah Jones some of her best material to play with in the series to date. Not to mention helping balance the series character dramas with its space-based premise once more.

Back on Earth, others are dealing with issues all their own. The Baldwin's deal with the cliffhanger from Pathfinder, leading to some family tension that finds some comic relief in the single most humorous moment the series has had to date (and one that SF fans everywhere should get a kick out of). Gordo works to deal with his anxiety that has been on full display for a couple of episodes now, leading to moments that range from comedic to hopeful. Meanwhile, Molly is settling into her new role as head of the astronaut office, wearing an air of bravado that suits the character well, even as both her and the viewer know what's lurking beneath the guff. And both Aleida and Ellen get some moments this week, the latter seeing the return of a supporting character from last season that rekindles a spark. All of which continues the character arcs from earlier in the season, to be sure, but which Tracy's lunar experiences help to balance out.

As mentioned in previous reviews of the season, many episodes have mirrored ones that aired in the same slot last season. The Weight's various plots feel by and large as if they're setting up events to come in the back half of the season. In that regard, it's a transitional story as much as Into The Abyss was in this slot in season one, except that episode contained a story that was, by and large, settled in an hour, only revealing what it'd set-up in its closing minutes. The Weight, in contrast, feels like the storytelling equivalent of the filmmakers dissolve: always in transition, yet never quite settling into one thing or the other.

The result is always watchable, engaging, and even funny in places. But while The Weight addresses the show's Earth/Moon balance, like much of this season, it still feels like it's engaged in a prolonged build-up to something. What that destination appears to be is exciting, even if the journey to get there is taking longer than expected.

Then again, sometimes it's about what you find on the road as when you arrive, and whatever else you can say about For All Mankind, it is never dull.

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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