DISCLAIMER: This recap of For All Mankind Season 4 Episode 4, “House Divided,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
For All Mankind‘s latest outing presents a politically charged narrative that showcases the consequences of one incident and how it affects not only Mars but the major powers on Earth. While there’s little action, the shift in focus to Roscosmos and Irina’s methods ramp up the tension. It’s one of the strongest episodes in the season thus far. Season 4 is a slow burn; however, I believe it’s all building toward an explosive third act, where all the dominos fall.
Learning of the different perspectives regarding the Svetlana/Vasily tragedy is interesting. Then, you have characters like Miles, who are apathetic to what transpires around them and would rather focus on themselves. These clashing viewpoints are exciting, especially as friction forms between the US and Russia. Could we see a second Cold War on the show? Perhaps.
“House Divided” does an excellent job planting seeds for what’s to come. Margo’s storyline is by far the most intriguing. The suspense is cleverly executed, as are the storytelling details that inform these characters’ perspectives and motivations. Side note: I could’ve done without the Ed/Svetlana romance plot, but it is what it is.
Ready to delve into “House Divided”? Let’s get to it.
In the Heat of the Moment
We open with Svetlana (Masha Mashkova) and Vasily (Eduard Osipov) arguing over whether Korzhenko will make a better president than Gorbachev. Svetlana is a vocal Gorbachev supporter, while Vasily supports the current leader. Their argument transforms into a physical altercation on the Martian surface. Svetlana shoves Vasily too hard. He falls onto the equipment behind him, which punctures his suit. Svetlana urges him to empty his lungs so they don’t explode and promptly calls for a medical team.
Later, Margo (Wrenn Schmidt) arrives at Star City for her first day at Roscosmos. She spots Director Irina Morozova (Svetlana Efremova) chatting with her advisors regarding the Martian incident. She overhears one of the advisors disclosing to Irina that Vasily may never regain consciousness. They flock into a boardroom to discuss the matter further.
Crime and Punishment
Meanwhile, on Mars, Danielle (Krys Marshall) and Ed (Joel Kinnaman) brainstorm about what to do regarding Svetlana. As commander of Happy Valley, Danielle feels she must dole out some kind of punishment. She decides to revoke Svetlana’s flight status and confine her to the base for 60 sols without pay. Ed protests this, claiming Svetlana is their best pilot. They need her for the asteroid training program.
They bring Svetlana into Danielle’s quarters. Svetlana reveals that Roscosmos wants her to board Unity the following day so she can return to Moscow to stand trial. As it turns out, Vasily is the nephew of someone high up in the new Russian regime. Danielle doesn’t believe this is right — the incident occurred at Happy Valley, meaning it’s her jurisdiction. She sends a message to NASA Director Eli Hobson (Daniel Stern) to communicate her opinion on the matter.
Will (Robert Bailey Jr.) sides with Danielle and Hobson. However, there’s some opposition on the NASA board. After listening to Danielle’s message, the board learns more about Irina and her rise to power. She’s always been an avid supporter of Korzhenko and with Vasily’s connections to Korzhenko, Svetlana’s position is precarious. Plus, Irina has been weeding out Gorbachev supporters at Roscosmos. Hobson hopes to persuade Irina to reconsider her stance on Svetlana. Perhaps she can remain at Happy Valley.
“That didn’t go well.”
Meanwhile, Miles (Toby Kebbell) presents a new business venture to Ilya (Dimiter D. Marinov). Maybe they can expand the operation by sending Mars rocks to Earth. Ilya’s contact can sell them for a pretty penny. Miles plays a message from Amanda (Shannon Lucio), who reveals she sold the Mars rock Miles sent to Earth to a jeweler for five grand. Imagine the revenue they could rake in. However, Ilya’s not about that, claiming it’s best to limit their operation to as few people as possible. They must avoid detection from the senior officers; otherwise, they’ll get into trouble. On a separate note, Miles asks Ilya for an update regarding Lee’s request to bring his wife to Mars. Ilya claims it’ll take time.
Later, Hobson and Irina virtually chat about Svetlana’s fate. Hobson believes Danielle should punish her at Happy Valley, and Svetlana should retain her position there. Irina counters that this is an issue regarding Soviet law. Svetlana broke that law by attacking a fellow Soviet citizen. According to her, Vasily’s connections are irrelevant (yeah, right). Hobson cites the M-7 Treaty, with Irina responding that, as per said treaty, an individual can recall one of their own back to their respective country as they see fit. Irina hangs up. That crashed and burned spectacularly.
Would You Return the Knife?
Next, Margo joins Irina and her advisors for a meeting. One man voices his opinion that perhaps Irina should concede to Happy Valley. Allowing Svetlana to remain part of the asteroid program is crucial for the Soviet Union. Of course, Irina protests, asking the man if he would return the knife after his attacker stabbed him in the back. Then, Kirill Semenov (Gediminas Adomaitis) presents his accident report regarding the failed Kronos mission. Tatyana Volkova (Ania Bukstein), his mentee, hands out copies to those present. Irina orders her to give one to Margo.
When Tatyana claims there aren’t enough copies, Irina nonchalantly demands Tatyana hand the aforementioned man’s copy to Margo. You know, the one who claimed they should cooperate with the US. Methinks that dude’s in hot water now.
Later, Margo sits in her office, pouring over the accident report. Irina wants the advisors to figure out why the Kronos mission failed. I love that a jazz soundtrack plays while she works, indicating she’s back “in the zone.” It would be even better if she had a piano to play.
Venturing to the Martian Surface
Elsewhere, Miles, Sam (Tyner Rushing), Rich (Moses Jones), Gerardo (Salvador Chacon) and the other below-deck workers discuss the Svetlana/Vasily incident. Some have heard rumors that Vasily is brain-dead, while others claim he’s on the mend. Regardless, he’ll be in a hyperbaric chamber for a while. Miles pulls Sam aside to ask if she’d accompany him to the Martian surface. He wants to find more rocks to send to Earth, and she has access to the rovers. Sam refuses, claiming Miles is selfish for not considering that Vasily might die. Hey, Miles is in it for the money. He doesn’t want to get involved, and I kind of respect that.
Then, Margo leaves her office later that evening for coffee. She realizes she doesn’t have enough coins for the coffee machine. Tatyana gives her a coin hack for the machine before introducing herself. In turn, Margo offers advice regarding Tatyana’s problem-solving for the Kronos mission. Before Margo returns to her office, Tatyana reveals that Irina ordered everyone to inexplicably steer clear of Margo. Weird.
At Happy Valley, Danielle discovers that their interface is written in Cyrillic. She asks one of the cosmonauts why that is. The Soviet government ordered these systems to return to their older formats. Oh, and the Soviets no longer recognize Danielle as the Happy Valley commander. Uh-oh. Danielle organizes a meeting with Ed and her team to discuss this new development and the Russians’ attempt to usurp her position.
Ed asks Palmer (Myk Watford) to do a security sweep of the base and send a few officers to guard Svetlana’s door should the Soviets try to take her by force. Danielle urges her crew to keep watch on the cosmonauts. On Earth, Hobson has a chat with President Gore over the phone, who orders the former to fix this mess. They just got out of the Cold War; they don’t need a new one.
Next, Miles decides to trek across Mars alone for his money-making rocks. He watches a news segment featuring Dev Ayesa (Edi Gathegi), who claims the Svetlana/Vasily incident won’t affect Helios’ mission to find life on Mars. Miles hopes to wear one of the newer suits, but his contact claims he must don the old-school Helios blue suit. Hey, it’s nice to see that make a comeback.
Miles smiles while plodding across the Martian surface as he collects rocks to ship back to Earth. He tries to grab one particularly hard-to-reach rock; however, he loses his balance and takes a tumble, falling into a crevasse. Oh, that’s not good. At the Happy Valley base, Sam confronts Danielle regarding Vasily. She believes Svetlana should be punished. Why does she get to wander freely through the base while Vasily fights for his life? Danielle reminds Sam that she doesn’t know the whole story or what Danielle plans to do.
Then, Danielle meets with Dr. Mayakovsky (Goran Ivanovski) to get an update on Vasily’s prognosis. Aw, I’ve missed Mayakovsky. He’s a sweet soul. Mayakovsky claims arterial gas embolism is the concern, but it’s difficult to predict. Vasily is strong, though.
Rich asks Sam if he’s seen Miles. Miles should’ve returned after his Mars trek. Sensing he’s in trouble, Sam puts on a suit, snags a rover and ventures onto the surface to save him. Thankfully, she spots him in the crevasse. He can’t hear her, though, and his suit is losing oxygen. Sam tosses a small rock down into the crevasse to get his attention. Sam helps him climb out of the crevasse. Once Miles is topside, Sam smacks him in the arm for attempting this rock-collecting mission alone. Inside the rover, Sam stitches up Miles’ arm wound. Interestingly, the old-school suit could withstand a puncture without significantly harming Miles, but not Vasily’s newer suit.
Miles and Sam look like they’re about to kiss when Rich contacts Sam, asking if Miles is okay. They decide to return to the base. I knew this show would potentially shove these two together.
Meanwhile, at Roscosmos, Irina calls Margo and Kirill into her office. Margo has discovered a manufacturing error in the asteroid anchor bolts. Roscosmos designed and built these bolts, but quality control did not catch the error. Irina accuses Kirill of withholding this problem from his accident report.
He takes responsibility for it since his team ran the checks. After Irina escorts Kirill from her office, Margo lingers, looking at Svetlana’s files on Irina’s desk. Then, the framed poem on Irina’s wall catches her eye. Irina returns. She reveals the origins of the poem and why she loves it. The conversation turns to Margo’s immense capabilities and how Irina knew she was capable of greatness.
Margo asks Irina what will happen to Kirill. Irina states that Kirill will find “new employment.” Sure, Jan. Before Margo departs, Irina gives her a gift: a framed photo of the 1969 Roscosmos engineers, which includes Sergei. Irina reveals she and Sergei were quite close, working together as colleagues. Hmm. I wonder if she and Sergei were lovers at some point.
On Earth, Hobson gets an idea from his wife about what to do with Svetlana. Danielle relays said idea to Ed at Happy Valley. Svetlana will now stand trial in India, a neutral country among the M-7 nations. Even Korzhenko gave it his stamp of approval. Danielle’s position is also restored. It’s much better than her standing trial in Russia. Ed vehemently protests this, claiming Svetlana shouldn’t have to leave. The pair argue. In the heat of the moment, Danielle reminds Ed that he’s always let his emotions cloud his judgment (Gordo, Danny, etc.).
When she brings up Danny, Ed fires back that what happened to Danny wasn’t his fault. She almost reveals Danny’s fate but stops herself. Ed urges her to finish her sentence. I mean, I’m pretty sure Danny committed suicide, but the show’s taking great pains to conceal it. Danielle puts her foot down, declaring that her decision is final. Svetlana will leave on Unity that night. That’s right, Ed—Danielle’s in charge (as it should be).
At Star City, Margo sits with Tatyana in a bustling cafeteria. She notices that Tatyana is crying. That’s when Margo learns of Kirill’s fate. The KGB took him in view of the public. He’ll never see the light of day again. Margo sits in another meeting with Irina and her advisors. Irina informs the group that “the Americans have folded,” and Svetlana will stand trial for her “crimes against the state.” Margo looks at the empty chair where Kirill used to sit.
Lastly, at Happy Valley, Ed tries to persuade Svetlana to flee. He can hide her in the fourth level below ground, where it’s pressurized, but nobody’s there. They can brainstorm a way to save her. However, Svetlana doesn’t want Ed jeopardizing his career for her. She kisses him on the lips. Damn, Old Man Baldwin is still getting it.
He tries to go in for round two when Palmer arrives, revealing it’s time for Svetlana to depart. Ed escorts her to Unity, withstanding the glares from the staff watching Svetlana leave. After they bid farewell, Ed gives Danielle the cold shoulder as he barrels past her.
Will the rift between Danielle and Ed widen with each new conflict? Is Margo’s position secure at Roscosmos? Will Miles’ risky move put Ilya’s business in peril? Only time (and more episodes) will tell.
For All Mankind streams new episodes every Friday on Apple TV+.