The alt-history sci-fi returns with an action-packed opener. Expect cinematic suspense from this Apple TV+ original.
This recap of the Apple TV+ series For All Mankind season 3, episode 1, “Polaris,” contains spoilers.
Apple TV+’s alternate history sci-fi series returns and this time we’re heading for Mars. The critically acclaimed show, which reimagined the space race of the late sixties, opens with a montage of global events leading up to the early nineties. That quick update blends together accurate accounts of 21st century history and pop culture references with the show’s own ideas of what crazy, scientific advances could have been made had the space race continued. Episode one, “Polaris” throws us straight into the action once again, with a thrilling debut.
For All Mankind season 3, episode 1 recap
We find ourselves aboard the Polaris Orbital Hotel, where the first-ever wedding in space is about to take place. Old cast members return, with Edward Baldwin (The Suicide Squad’s Joel Kinnaman) and Danielle Poole vying for the lead commander role on NASA’s next mission. Fellow astronaut Danny Stevens is the lucky groom, marrying Amber, with the earth’s surface just out of focus in the background of their ceremony. To say this is such a monumental event, the party guests seem rather blasé about the whole situation, until disaster strikes.
Back on earth, Russia announce that they are planning to launch their own planned mission to Mars in 1996. It would appear that the Americans are back at war with the Soviets once more. Creator Ronald D. Moore envisioned a history where the Russians won the space race and on For All Mankind, the Americans want retribution. Mars is their chance to finally outsmart their enemies once and for all. Russia has always played the bad guy, but with current world events this old trope has taken on fresh, new meaning. This series along with Stranger Things seems to have brought the common enemy back into the fold.
Margo Madison pushes for Danielle Poole to be announced as the American’s lead astronaut, yet Molly Cobb (Lost’s Sonya Walger) isn’t sold on the idea. She suggests the older, more aggressive Ed. It’s an interesting dynamic, these two at loggerheads over their preferred choice. Each candidate reflecting their own personalities. Margo likes the level-headed, calm Poole, whilst Molly would rather go with a risk taker, who is not at all by the book. Their argument is left unresolved as Margo has other chores to complete. She contacts Sergei, their Soviet rival, who secretly trades information with the American. His bosses want him to push her for Intel about their nuclear engine design, but he is hesitant.
Meanwhile, up in the great vacuum of space, tensions rise along with the gravity levels as a piece of a competitor’s space ship shrapnel hits the Polaris and causes a thruster to malfunction. It makes for a gripping finale to the premiere, delivering the action and suspense we were all patiently waiting for. Two astronauts perform a risky spacewalk to fix the issue, but a rogue cable knocks them out into the black void of space, instantly killing these unseen heroes. As the gravity rises, the wedding guests are violently thrown about and Edward is severely injured. His bedroom window smashes, thanks to that pesky, loose cable, sucking the contents of his room out into space. Karen Baldwin decides to evacuate the stunned party guests off her ship, although danger lurks around every corner and the elevators to freedom are equally hazardous, killing one integral member.
All hope rests on the shoulders of the macho Danny, who comes to the rescue, performing an unplanned spacewalk alone to rectify the malfunction. In a nail-biting climax, the groom manages to fix the problem and return the spaceship to its usual gravity levels, all in the nick of time. What an action-packed opening episode to kick start season three. Hopefully, the show can sustain this mixture of slow-burn character development and high-octane drama through its ten-episode run.
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