FOR ALL MANKIND Season 2 Episode 8 Review: AND HERE'S TO YOU - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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FOR ALL MANKIND Season 2 Episode 8 Review: AND HERE'S TO YOU

Matthew Kresal is Back in Black.
It's safe to say that we are getting into the home stretch of For All Mankind. It might have taken a tad too long to get things in motion, but now that it has, things are moving quickly. With And Here's To You, it manages to both keep the ball rolling and start bringing a sense of closure to the season's events.

For starters, Michael Doorman's Gordo Steven finally makes it to the Moon. Gordo's journey has been one of the many plotlines burning this season, watching him try to restore some equilibrium to his life after events in the first season (eight years ago in the show's past). It's something that Doorman, to his credit, has handled well, especially in this episode, capturing moments of both vulnerability and validation that can come in the same scene. Of course, ex-wife Tracy (Sarah Jones) is at Jamestown at the same time and those sparks from earlier in the season linger on, even here. The Steven's plots reach a satisfactory sort of conclusion here, leaving one curious as to how the next two episodes will play out for them.

For that matter, there's a sense that everyone has their plot up in the air in this episode. Molly (Sonya Walger) discovers her actions in Every Little Thing have caught up with her, and the prognosis isn't a good one, forcing her to come to start coming to grips with it. Meanwhile, the past is on the minds of Kelly Baldwin (Cynthy Wu) and Aleida (Coral Peña) as the former discovers her biological father, the latter's anger issues cause her to face a moment from her past. Over at NASA, Ellen (Jodi Balfour) faces a decision about her future there as Margo (Wrenn Schmidt) and her Soviet counterpart (Piotr Adamczyk) try to get Apollo-Soyuz back on track. Finally, Ed (Joel Kinnaman) and the Pathfinder's crew training highlights the growing gulf between NASA's space ambitions and the military's priorities. It's a lot to take in, but the episode flows nicely thanks to director Dennie Gordon's deft handling of it.

Not that everything is "a-okay." One particular plotline involving Karen Baldwin (Shantel VanSanten) and Danny (Casey W. Johnson), the now-grown best friend of her dead son, has been quietly ticking away in the background for much of the season. If you know the source of this episode's title, you will know what it is. If there's been a significant misfire for this season, perhaps the entire run of the series to date, it's been this particular plotline. Undoubtedly, the writer's mean for it to show how Karen and her astronaut husband have drifted apart and how she's making her life her own. In practice, its execution has been lacking in recent episodes to the point of crossing into cliched dialogue.

As with Don't Be Cruel, perhaps the real highlight of this episode comes in the closing minutes. It feels as though the series has been saving its budget for expansive lunar sequences in these later episodes, something that is, likewise, continued here. But if the final minutes of the last episode were a triumph of a sort, the ending here is no less tense but far more tragic, if not gruesome, without being graphic. Even more so given that its cause is something not a million miles away from what you can read in a newspaper or see on the nightly news, perhaps proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

After a batch of episodes where it felt like very little has been happening, And Here's To You borders on having the opposite problem. But the script from co-creator/executive producer Ronald D. Moore manages to keep it on the straight and narrow as it delivers on promises the season has been making. And given the nature of its cliffhanger, things seem likely to get worse for our characters before they get better.

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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