DISCLAIMER: This recap of For All Mankind Season 4 Episode 5, “Goldilocks,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
We’ve found the narrative catalyst that’ll fuel the remainder of this season. “Goldilocks” is the season’s strongest episode yet, and it feels like For All Mankind is hitting its stride this go-round. The discovery of the iridium-rich asteroid sends a ripple effect through the M-7 nations and beyond as everyone scrambles to get a piece of history. It makes me excited for the conference, which will take place in next week’s episode, aptly titled “Leningrad.”
My acting MVPs this week are Krys Marshall and Edi Gathegi, who deliver dynamic, powerhouse performances in emotional turning points for their respective characters. Danielle’s scathing monologue to Ed has been a long time coming. That’s the beauty of a series like this that spans decades — we’ve seen this slow-burn conflict bubbling between these two characters. Their relationship is fascinating and densely complex, especially considering all they’ve been through. It’s even to the point that two words, “Hi, Bob,” can make any For All Mankind fan reach for the tissues.
Plus, this outing finally reveals the details of Danny’s tragic death and, on a bittersweet note, brings back Karen for an unseen video sent to Kelly. I love how we’re giving space to the characters that are no longer with us.
Ready to delve into “Goldilocks”? Let’s get to it.
Paine Space Telescope — July 2, 2003
We open with a gorgeous shot of the Paine Space Telescope as it sits on the outskirts of Earth. Then, we arrive at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. An employee notices something peculiar on a screen. She wipes at a particular spot, thinking it’s a smear. However, it’s a groundbreaking discovery for Earth and beyond — an asteroid, 2003LC, aka “Goldilocks.” Next, we see Hobson (Daniel Stern), Dev (Gathegi) and Irina (Svetlana Efremova) getting approached by their respective team members, informing them of this asteroid.
Margo (Wrenn Schmidt) joins Irina and the Roscosmos crew in dissecting Goldilocks, as does Aleida (Coral Peña) at Helios. We learn there’s a hefty supply of iridium in Goldilocks. In this alternate timeline, the Soviet Union is the leading supplier of iridium. However, mining this asteroid for its iridium could change everything for life on Earth. A newscaster reveals said iridium is worth trillions of dollars, making it a lucrative gold mine for the M-7 nations.
A Blast From the Past
Then, we return to Mars in 1997 with Danielle (Marshall) labeling food rations for Danny. We see the old Mars crew, including Kuz (Lev Gorn) and Lee (C.S. Lee). Aw, Kuz. My heart. Danielle visits Danny (Casey W. Johnson), who was exiled to the North Korean capsule Lee arrived in after putting everyone in danger last season. There’s a photo of Amber and their daughter and a series of tally marks etched into the side of the wall. Suddenly, Palmer (Myk Watford) wakes Danielle to reveal the asteroid discovery.
Meanwhile, Hobson chats with President Gore over the phone, encouraging the NASA director to do whatever possible to capture Goldilocks. Gore’s administrator pushes Hobson to get Happy Valley everything they require to secure the asteroid. Naturally, Hobson is worried about the Soviet Union’s response and the other M-7 nations, but the administrator reassures him that Gore’s team will take care of the other stuff.
Preparing for the Mission
At Happy Valley, Danielle chats with her team, including Ed (Joel Kinnaman), about designing and launching a capture mission within the next 10 weeks; otherwise, Goldilocks will burn right past them. Danielle urges all personal matters to take a back seat. Ed proposes they shut down non-essential operations and stockpile argon. He butts heads with Danielle. She pulls him aside and reminds him who’s in charge (that’s my girl). He’s her XO, and he’s been giving her grief ever since Svetlana was sent back to Earth. They must be a team and show a united front for the crew.
Elsewhere, Miles (Toby Kebbell) and Ilya (Dimiter D. Marinov) chat at the latter’s bar. They watch Sam (Tyner Rushing) flirt with another worker. Ilya doesn’t believe this man is right for Sam. Miles asks Ilya about progress regarding getting Lee’s wife out of North Korea. After dragging his feet for weeks, Ilya finally says he can’t do it. It’s too risky. However, they must wait for the right time to update Lee on this.
Later, Kelly (Cynthy Wu) overhears an interview with Dev, where he admits his plans to travel to Mars in light of this asteroid discovery. She arrives at Helios, where she and Aleida confront Dev in his office. They feel he should’ve apprised them of this before revealing it to the world. Then, Dev reveals he wants Kelly and her robotics team to accompany him to Mars. He’s not abandoning the search for life — he believes Kelly should stay on that path. He assigns Aleida the monumental task of essentially being his substitute on Earth. Aleida objects, reminding him she’s an engineer, not a diplomat.
Next, Danielle isn’t too happy that Ed made himself commander of this asteroid capture mission. He claims he’s “mission essential,” while others, you know, not too much. While piloting Ranger-1, Palmer notices Ed’s shaking hand. Uh-oh. Meanwhile, Kelly and Aleida have drinks at
The Outpost Julio’s Tex-Mex. They vent about Dev’s choices that were sprung upon them. A TV plays President Gore’s speech, where he takes full responsibility for discovering 2003LC. So, there’s that.
Naturally, Hobson is furious. He chats with Gore’s NASA administrator about the president’s decision to go off script and claim he discovered Goldilocks. That wasn’t cool.
We Need to Talk About Ed
At Happy Valley, Palmer discloses Ed’s condition to Danielle. He shouldn’t be commanding missions or piloting, well, anything. We revisit the past with another Danny scene. Danielle gives him his food rations, revealing he needs to make it last the entire month. An emotional Danny asks Danielle if he can return to the base. He promises to remain in his quarters. Danielle gently reveals it’s not possible, and he knows that. She places a Bible in his hand and grasps it.
Meanwhile, Kelly talks to Alex (Ezrah Lin) about her Mars mission. She tells him she’ll be gone for a year, but he’ll stay with his grandma. In tears, Alex runs to his grandmother (Irina Dubova), who embraces and calms him down in Russian.
Tying Loose Ends
Then, Miles watches a video from Amanda (Shannon Lucio), who gives the former a tour of their new house. Amanda was able to purchase one following the Mars rocks side hustle they started. Afterward, Sam enters their bunk to reveal she was selected for the asteroid capture mission. However, she feels conflicted. Miles encourages Sam to join his Mars rocks side hustle. It’s proven lucrative. Miles wonders why she wants to work for folks who don’t give a damn about her.
On Earth, Dev visits his mother to bid farewell. He claims he’s leaving for Mars with no intention to return to Earth. Naturally, she’s emotional. Dev accuses her of not supporting his dad’s dreams before departing, leaving his mom in tears. It’s heartbreaking.
At NASA, Hobson and Irina discuss Gore’s mistake in claiming responsibility for finding the asteroid. The pair decide to stage a conference with the M-7 nations. Irina believes it should be in Russia. It’s the only way to appease President Korzhenko.
Later, Brandt (Dustin Ingram), Aleida’s new Helios partner in the wake of Dev’s departure for Mars, informs her about the upcoming M-7 conference in Russia. She’ll have to attend to represent Helios. That means we’ll undoubtedly get an Aleida/Margo reunion, and it’ll be explosive.
Next, Kelly watches a video she saved from Karen (Shantel VanSanten). Karen reveals her excitement for Kelly’s impending birth. She already purchased wallpaper for the nursery. Kelly sobs after the video ends. I love that we’re seeing her grieve for her mother. I also love this short and sweet scene with VanSanten. Karen’s not perfect, but I didn’t realize how much I missed her until this episode. Plus, VanSanten is a severely underrated performer.
More videos! Danielle watches one from her husband, Corey (Sean Patrick Thomas), who asks her to record a speech for their son’s wedding. Aw. She starts one but struggles to finish it as she’s overcome with emotion. We get another flashback to Mars in the ’90s. This time, Ed accompanies Danielle to the North Korean capsule. They have to inform Danny that they’ve run out of food rations. Unfortunately, they spot a blue suit sitting outside. It’s Danny, and he’s dead. My guess is he let his oxygen run out. RIP.
It’s a Family Affair
Kelly informs Dev of her decision to bring Alex with them to Mars. She spoke with Helios and NASA professionals who believe Alex’s cardiopulmonary issues will improve on Mars. It makes sense, given that’s essentially where he was born. Dev gives her the okay but doesn’t turn to face her. Instead, we see him silently sob as Kelly states that she won’t leave her son behind. This scene is gut-wrenching. Dev is obviously a Musk-type character who makes questionable decisions, but this episode makes me feel for him. That’s thanks to Gathegi’s incredible performance.
Later, Ilya finds a flyer for Mars jewelry among the latest supply shipments. Of course, Ilya rejected Miles’ idea of selling Mars rocks on Earth, as he wants to fly under the radar regarding his business. Then, Miles went behind his back and did it anyway. We see Miles and Ilya drinking in the bar. Ilya looks like he’s cooking up a way to retaliate. Uh-oh.
Then, Danielle meets with Ed in his quarters. She informs him of her decision to revoke his flight status. He failed to disclose his condition to her. Ed believes he’d never put anyone in danger, denying that his “condition” is an issue. The discussion morphs into an argument, quickly building to an explosive monologue from Danielle. When she yells, “F*ck you,” … I felt that. Danielle is finally putting Ed in his place after decades of watching him act like he’s “God’s gift to the cosmos.” Perfection. No notes. Marshall kills it here. What a performance.
Danielle fires Ed as her XO effectively immediately. Ed threatens that she’ll regret this. Danielle replies that she has a lot of regrets, but this won’t be one of them. Damn.
Who will Danielle select as her XO? How will Ed cope with having his wings (rightfully) clipped? Will Aleida and Margo’s reunion for the M-7 conference be as high-octane as I expect it to be? Only time (and more episodes) will tell.
For All Mankind streams new episodes every Friday on Apple TV+.