“Prime Crew” sees For All Mankind find its space legs, and its potential soar higher than ever.
This recap of For All Mankind Season 1, Episode 4, “Prime Crew”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the first three episodes by clicking these words.
As predicted, For All Mankind is better than its first three episodes suggested it would be. While nobody was looking it suddenly morphed into proper big-idea sci-fi, imagining an alternate-history that doesn’t just alter some political events but demands real social change. In the previous episode, Patty died tragically, throwing the entire idea of women in space into some jeopardy. By the end of “Prime Crew”, Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger) is going to the moon.
That isn’t to say that For All Mankind Episode 4 brushes Patty’s death under the table — on the contrary, a lot of it is about the rest of the crew dealing with their grief in its aftermath while also preparing for the launch of Apollo 15. Nixon’s government, determined to pull the plug on the women and instead concentrate efforts on beating the Russkies to the construction of a lunar base, wants to use the upcoming launch to scout for potential locations. But Deke (Chris Bauer) recognizes that the optics of four women astronauts completing their training — and one going to the moon — are too powerful to simply abandon, so he stubbornly disobeys orders and officially announces their success to the world.
Among all of this is the furthering of various personal and romantic subplots: Ed’s (Joel Kinnaman) grief over Patty’s death and readying the stubborn, glib Molly for the mission; Molly’s low-key marriage to Wayne (Lenny Jacobson); and Larry (Nate Corddry) and Ellen’s (Jodi Balfour) for-show romance to obscure their real sexual proclivities. Aleida’s (Olivia Trujillo) burgeoning obsession with space gets some further development, and noted real-life sexist pig John Glenn (Matt Battaglia) arrives to remind us that this alternate world in which the Vietnam War has ended and women are going to the moon is still a reflection of our own history, in which men like this campaigned against such things ever coming to pass.
For All Mankind Season 1, Episode 4 ends with a hell of a tease for the next episode, with Molly and Ed blasting off, and Deke’s career resting on their success in space. It’s a big deal, even if Molly herself doesn’t see it as such. “Buncha people cheering for s**t. I haven’t done anything yet,” she quips. Not yet.