FOR ALL MANKIND Season 3 Episode 3 Review: ALL IN - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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FOR ALL MANKIND Season 3 Episode 3 Review: ALL IN

Matthew Kresal suggests taking the stairs.
After last week's Game Changer of an episode, For All Mankind's third season has moved into high gear. Allegiances have changed, and gone are the certainties with which the series launched its third season. The ramifications begin making themselves felt as those involved go All In in the season's third episode. Before the hour is over, it's clear that nothing will ever be the same again.

The most obvious being the effect on the race to Mars. Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) moving to the Helios effort from NASA sets in motion a shift in personnel, which gives Karen (Shantel VanSanten) a chance to headhunt. Watching Ed becoming used to life outside of NASA, having his suggestions to Helios head Dev Ayesa (Edi Gathegi) taken on board, for example, makes for interesting viewing, particularly after events in Game Changer.

The consquences of Ed's switching teams starts playing out over at NASA from the opening scene. Margo (Wreen Schmidt) opens the episode with the mother of all "all-hands" meetings, which also sets Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall) and the Sojourner 1 crew scrambling in the weeks and months ahead. Loyalties are tested, of course, from Bill Strausser (Noah Harpster) in Mission Control to Karen approaching Margo's protege Aleida (Coral Peña). The new generation get caught up, too, from Kelly Baldwin (Cynthy Wu) caught between family and ambitions to Danny Stevens (Casey W. Johnson) continuing descent as his past demons reassert themselves.

The episode also addresses a subplot ticking away in the background since back in season two. Namely, there's something between Margo and Sergei (Piotr Adamczy). The episode's cold open plays out between the two in elevators at conferences in London that help bridge the gap between seasons. Game Changer last week showed how Margo's past choices were catching up with her as her sense of place in the world at NASA was challenged. Schmitt wonderfully plays the sense of unease here, as well as how Margo might be realizing some of the things sacrificed along the way. How Margo chooses to handle it once more plays out in ways that she (and perhaps the viewer) might not have expected. The resulting scenes open up a new storytelling venue ripe for exploration as the season unfolds into the future.

And what a future! Taking a page from the first season's The Abyss, All In's final minutes jumps two years into the future. The consequences of the episode are played out in a dramatic fashion, set to the tune of Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun. It's also a visual effects feast (as is the beautifully breathtaking shot of Helios' Phoenix in orbit early in the episode) as the three-way race to the Red Planet kicks off, perhaps far earlier in the season than most would have thought possible. Last but not least, it also reveals to viewers the winner of the 1992 US presidential election, having skipped over election day itself. It's a bold move on the part of the series writers but a calculated one that allows it to avoid the Earthbound feel that hampered parts of last season.

"All In," For All Mankind goes, no question. Will it pay off? Viewers will find out over the next seven weeks. For now, it's onto Mars!

Matthew Kresal is a writer, critic, and podcaster with many and varying interests. His prose includes the non-fiction The Silver Archive: Dark Skies from Obverse Books, the Cold War alternate history spy thriller Our Man on the Hill, and the Sidewise Award winning short story Moonshot in Sea Lion Press' Alternate Australias anthology. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, or follow him on Twitter @KresalWritesHe was born, raised, and lives in North Alabama where he never developed a southern accent.

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