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For All Mankind - Every Little Thing - Review

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Ronald D. Moore’s Every Little Thing goes back to the same school of thought as the iconic Battlestar Galactica time-jump in its second season premiere which switches focus to the front lines of the conflict rather than opt to pick up where we left off. Jamestown is no longer the small base that audiences are familiar with from the first season, instead, it’s grown, and with it, has its astronaut base, whilst most of the original Apollo crew are either retired or promoted, Molly Cobb isn’t – she’s still around, leading a team whilst Ed Baldwin sits at home in his office denying astronauts promotion because he doesn’t like those with red hair. It’s a very typical premiere befitting of the traditional weekly release format that AppleTV+ have kept, Every Little Thing has, for lack of a better term - every little thing that you’d expect from an average For All Mankind episode wrapped up and presented to you. You want a good music montage set to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds? You’ve got it. You want some high stakes, life or death astronaut drama as those in the stars battle a solar flare on the Moon? You’ve got it. Every Little Thing gives us some great character development whilst juggling such a large ensemble cast with the budget required to pull off something like this. >

The visual effects in For All Mankind utilise the biggest strength that AppleTV+ has to offer, its budget, or rather lack thereof, the whole episode has an air of cinema to it – it feels like it’s a show made for the big screen and For All Mankind more than delivers in that regard. One thing’s certain from the get go when “every little thing” kicks in over the speakers is that every little thing is not going to be alright – and almost immediately, things start to go wrong for Molly Cobb and her astronauts. Exposed to the radiation of the solar flare, they lose one of their members, and Molly is forced to brave the storm itself to rescue him without contact from their bosses down below. What’s worse is that the paranoid, Reagan-era bureaucrats, have looked at a situation like this solar flare that could trigger nationwide blackouts and view it not just as a chance for the Russians to capitalise on something like this, but also to counter-plan, and act in response to the Russians thinking that the Americans are up to something so upping their game to opt to the threat that may or may not be headed their way. It’s a classic case of Cold War paranoia and escalation that the ‘80s were full of, and with someone as Hawkish as Reagan in charge, you have a feeling that it won’t be long before For All Mankind gives us variations on the Cuban Missile Crisis in space, borrowing from real world history and giving it a science fiction feel, which is something that the series has done so, very well so far. I love that the space race isn’t as commercialised as it would appear to be here, remaining in the hands of NASA – and the multiple shuttle missions have really expanded on the potential for lunar missions.

Back on the ground and the fallout from the time-jump is quickly cleared up and run through as though boxes need to be checked. Gordo and Tracy’s relationship hasn’t lasted, and whilst Gordo cracks the same old joke at small-town events, Tracy is enjoying her time in the spotlight, having a new engagement and even going as so far as to announce it on television rather than tell Gordo himself. The little, subtle nods to the characters embracing change in their lives and those fighting against it is clear: Gordo and Ed are still very much stuck in the past, with Ed, now an Admiral, frowning at the thought of colour television and electric cars that barely hit 60 on the open road – whilst Molly spearheads NASA into a new technological age. The evidence of NASA’s technological advancements have had a knock-on effect to the people at home on the surface of Earth and as a result we’re seeing that the world of For All Mankind is already ahead of our world because of the extra effort put into space travel, and I love that the thought and innovation is given to even smaller details like these that help make the world feel all the more real.>

The problem with this episode however is that it almost looked too big. In its desire to focus on what had happened on the world around us, For All Mankind put its characters second. The premiere felt almost hollow – I wasn’t quite as invested in these characters’ stories as I had been before because it felt like such a whistle-stop tour we barely got to spend time with any of them in the same amount of detail of the previous season. But knowing this much about the world that the characters live in now puts us in a better place for the future, and if anything, For All Mankind’s past track record of excellence has shown us that we’re only going to love what comes next.

For All Mankind airs next Friday on AppleTV+.

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