Leaping Forward into For All Mankind’s Fourth Season
Pushing through the years from the mid-90s to 2003, For All Mankind ventures deeper into unchartered space, revealing plenty of untold stories in the alt-history drama’s latest season. While the original cast members are back, sporting various levels of old-age hair and makeup, their passion for interplanetary travel remains as strong as ever – even if not everyone is on board. On Mars, the Happy Valley station has expanded, showcasing new faces and conflicts that add complexity to the established dynamics. But even as certain storylines have limited room to develop, For All Mankind maintains its status as one of Apple TV+’s most thrilling and ambitious offerings.
Ending the previous season with the demise of two main characters and the fake death of another, increased the on-screen mortality rate and shook up the power dynamics. Space is dangerous, and Earth is no less unforgiving, and there’s a feeling that anyone is dispensable at any point. The approach adds an extra edge to the action sequences, creating a heightened sense of urgency – nothing and no one are guaranteed to make it out alive. With each leap forward the crew takes, there are sacrifices, and every time someone dons a spacesuit and ventures out, it’s a nail-biting experience.
Adding to the anxieties are the psychological and physical scars of those who survived the NASA bombing. Similar to the tragic losses in previous seasons, the impact of these events reverberates throughout the new season, particularly with regards to Ed Baldwin’s character. And like before, the opening montage fills in the gaps via news reports and other dispatches from the For All Mankind timeline, delivering a mix of political, technological, and pop culture events that occasionally tug at the heartstrings.
Introducing a new NASA administrator who’s a former automotive industry professional gives the season a breath of fresh air, and introduces new tension. The introduction of other new characters builds up the intensity throughout the season, leading to a pressure-cooker situation with several volatile elements. Fellow newcomer, Masha Mashkova, plays a critical role and brings a magnetic and unnerving presence to her interactions with other characters.
As the characters show the physical signs of aging, they also demonstrate the emotional toll of their experiences. Costume designer Esther Marquis has intentionally given certain characters drab attire to age them, while the actors excel in portraying how their new environment impacts them. These emotional anchors pave the way for some powerful stories to unfold throughout the season.
Even amidst the changes, there are moments of deep connection and shared trauma between the characters, bringing heartwarming and heart-wrenching scenes to life. The dynamics of core relationships are tested as the delicate ecosystem aboard the space station gives rise to conflict and a class system, similar to a working class versus a privileged class. The introduction of new characters adds an extra layer of drama and tension, making the new season one to remember.