DISCLAIMER: This recap of For All Mankind Season 4 Episode 2, “Have a Nice Sol,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
For All Mankind gives me Snowpiercer vibes this week with “Have a Nice Sol.” We’re seeing class warfare in real-time at Happy Valley as Miles, Samantha and the other below-ground blue-collar employees deal with unfair working conditions. Meanwhile, higher-ups like Ed brush off their concerns as par for the course. I love the Danielle/Ed reunion. On another note, I can’t believe it’s taken this long for Aleida and Kelly to join forces. I love their scenes and their new objective to do things their way.
Speaking of Aleida, “Have a Nice Sol” handles her PTSD and depression well. I’m glad we’re not sweeping the JSC bombing under the rug, as the aftermath affects more than the obvious, i.e., Ed and Kelly losing Karen.
This outing isn’t For All Mankind‘s strongest. Still, it’s entertaining and lays the groundwork for a few consequential plotlines, including the inevitable uprising between the below-ground employees and the senior officers at Happy Valley and Margo’s harrowing story. Seriously, that cliffhanger packs a punch. I’m setting up a prayer circle for Margo as I type this.
Ready to delve into “Have a Nice Sol”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Miles (Toby Kebbell) and Rich (Moses Jones) landing on Mars. Miles whips out his digital camera to snap a few pics during the descent. Oh, the digital camera — very 2000s. Upon his arrival at the Happy Valley base, he and Rich join Palmer (Myk Watford), who answers directly to Ed, for a tour. Miles learns his quarters are underground, on the third level. He’s gonna need to up his Vitamin D intake.
Meanwhile, Danielle (Krys Marshall) reunites with Ed (Joel Kinnaman). They exchange their requisite “Hi, Bobs,” and my heart breaks slightly. I was thinking about Gordo (RIP). Danielle notices Ed’s wearing a patch on his shirt with Grigory’s initials.
Elsewhere, Miles gets his bunk assignment and discovers he’s essentially working in maintenance, not on the Martian surface as advertised. Once in his quarters, he meets his bunkmates, including Gerardo (Salvador Chacon) and Ilya (Dimiter D. Marinov). He finds a photo concealed in his bed of the late Tom Parker with his wife and kids. Samantha (Tyner Rushing) snatches it from him.
Later, Danielle speaks to the senior officers, including Ed, her XO, and Lee (C.S. Lee). (Earlier, Lee’s reunion with Danielle was pretty tight-lipped and curt. He’s with the North Koreans.) Danielle honors Grigory, aka Kuz, and vows to work hard to improve Happy Valley. That includes restarting the asteroid project.
On Earth, Victor (Jorge Diaz) wakes up at 3:30 am to find Aleida (Coral Peña) deconstructing their living room TV. He reveals he’s worried about her. It’s been months since she walked out of NASA. She seldom leaves the house anymore. Her behavior is also affecting their kids. Aleida refuses to return to her therapist. My baby girl has been through so much.
Next, a montage shows Danielle and Miles going about their day-to-day in Happy Valley. It’s complemented brilliantly by “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz. Miles discovers there’s poor bandwidth for the below-ground workers, so the videos from Amanda (Shannon Lucio) and his daughters are slow to load. However, Danielle has zero problems with that access. We also see him drink subpar coffee while Danielle enjoys the best roast this side of Mars. It highlights the disparities between senior officers and lower-level employees. Plus, the editing is sleek and seamless.
At the Carl Sagan Center for Planetary Science, Kelly (Cynthy Wu) is hard at work on her robotics program. Hobson (Daniel Stern) stops by and gets a demonstration from Spot, Kelly’s robot capable of locating microbial samples. This program will determine whether there’s life on Mars. After said demonstration, Hobson pulls Kelly aside. He reveals President Gore wants NASA’s resources allocated to the asteroid program. That means other science initiatives, including robotics, will have to take a temporary backseat. Understandably, Kelly’s upset.
Then, Ed and Danielle have delicious-looking pasta in the mess hall for the upstairs crew. Ed tells Danielle that Kelly hasn’t responded to him since he revealed his plans to prolong his stay on Mars. Danielle doesn’t blame her.
Elsewhere, Miles sits with Rich as he eats something that’s supposed to be meatloaf. Samantha chats with them. She reveals the world has been consumed with grief over Kuz that they’ve forgotten about Tom Parker, who also lost his life that day. (Side note: Rich mentions the first Martian Thanksgiving. I wonder when that happened?)
The trio also discusses the unfair conditions the lower-level employees endure while the senior officers and those above ground sit pretty. Meanwhile, Danielle mentions the bandwidth issue below ground and a host of other problems. Ed discloses the TV in the mess hall went kaput. It’ll take at least a year to repair it. Danielle orders her XO to push to get these repairs made ASAP. This would require fixing the satellite in orbit. Oh, and Ed pulls the “back in my day” sh*t when brushing off the lower-level workers’ concerns because they’re only on Mars to make a buck.
Next, Aleida meets with Hobson at NASA to ask for her old job. She apologizes for vanishing like that, claiming she had to step away due to a family emergency. Hobson reveals Aleida is more than welcome to return to work. He recommends she chat with a mental health professional before coming back. Aleida insists she’s fine — it’s all gravy. However, upon Hobson mentioning Margo, Aleida has a flashback to the day of the JSC bombing. She wanders through Margo’s destroyed office, thinking the latter fell to her death or died instantly.
Suddenly, Aleida stands up, asserting she made a mistake returning here. She declares her intention to quit before walking out. Naturally, Hobson is left bewildered. Aleida wanders into Julio’s Tex-Mex, which used to be The Outpost. She buys a shot before noticing Kelly sitting in a booth by herself. Aleida joins her. Kelly remembers Aleida as the flight director who catapulted her and her unborn child to the Phoenix in 1995. They sit together in commiseration.
At Happy Valley, Miles is taken aback by how many deductions Helios made from his first paycheck. He’s bringing in less money on Mars than his last job. He approaches Palmer to complain. Then, Ed gets involved. Ed urges Miles to show more gratitude and take responsibility. He’s just like everyone else. Okay, that’s easy for you to say, Ed. You make a decent living.
Later, Danielle and Ed watch while the satellite team makes repairs. They celebrate once said repairs prove to be successful. That means the bandwidth should be faster for the below-ground residents. Back at Julio’s Tex-Mex, Kelly and Aleida vent to each other about their sh*tty days while taking shots. Aleida reveals she quit NASA, while Kelly complains about Hobson cutting funding for the robotics program. Kelly insists they must confirm there’s life on Mars (cue David Bowie tune). Otherwise, what’s the point?
The following morning, Kelly wakes up on Aleida’s couch to Aleida’s daughter poking her in the arm. Kelly sports a wicked hangover. Victor makes her coffee while Kelly joins Aleida in the kitchen. Aleida declares she has the answer to Kelly’s funding problem. She could ask for private funding and run a robotics program by herself. Well, she won’t be alone. Aleida vows to work alongside her. They can make it happen together. Victor smiles. Aw, I love this duo already.
Then, with the bandwidth in working order, Miles watches the backlog of videos from his family. He feels overcome with emotion. Miles records his response, holding up Rich’s disgusting “meatloaf” and claiming it’s a Martian rock. Miles lies about how much he loves it on Mars.
Samantha overhears the recording while she tries to sleep in her bunk. She takes him to a secret spot — Ilya’s bar. Ilya can get you anything you need from Earth, from toothpaste and socks to porno. He also makes vodka. It’s a nice place for the below-ground employees to unwind. It reminds me of a Prohibition-era speakeasy.
Elsewhere, Margo (Wrenn Schmidt) wakes up to begin her day in Moscow. She watches TV but notices the program cuts out. Then, she picks up her usual order from the local bakery. The usually friendly baker brusquely suggests she head back to her apartment. We hear sirens in the distance.
Next, she notices a crowd around Artem’s (Constantine Gregory) newsstand. A few officers order him to shut down — only essential businesses will remain open today. Artem refuses. A bystander in the crowd demands to know where Mikhail Gorbachev is. He hasn’t been seen anywhere lately. The officers refrain from responding.
Instead, a host of vehicles appear. More officers shove onlookers into these vans. Margo attempts to defend Artem when one officer starts assaulting him. Unfortunately, she, too, is pushed to the ground. Her glasses fly off her face. Finally, the episode ends with Margo explaining she’s innocent in Russian as she’s led into one of the vehicles. Uh-oh.
Where did those officers take Margo and the other innocent bystanders? What happened to Gorbachev? Will we see a rebellion at Happy Valley? How will Kelly and Aleida get funding for their program (something tells me Dev Ayesa will be involved)? Only time (and more episodes) will tell.
For All Mankind streams new episodes every Friday on Apple TV+.
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