For All Mankind Season 4 Review: Space, Sacrifice, and Survival
Apple TV+’s “For All Mankind” has always been a beacon of speculative storytelling, and its fourth season cements its status as a masterpiece of science fiction drama. Set in an alternate universe where the Soviets beat the U.S. to the moon, sparking an ongoing and intensified space race, this season leaps ahead to 2003. Humanity has not only reached Mars but established a thriving colony there named Happy Valley. This backdrop is a canvas for the series’ signature blend of personal drama, political intrigue, and a deep-seated optimism about human potential.
The series creators, Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert, and Ben Nedivi, have expertly crafted a narrative that is both expansive in scope and intimate in detail. Season 4 continues to juggle a complex array of old and new characters, each with uniquely compelling arcs. Joel Kinnaman returns as the grizzled astronaut Ed Baldwin, embodying a character as charismatic as he is flawed. His performance, layered with rugged determination and a visible weariness, captures the essence of a man fighting against the tides of time and history.
Joining the ensemble this season is Toby Kebbell as Miles Dale, an oil rig worker turned Mars colonist, and Daniel Stern as NASA administrator Eli Hobson. Kebbell’s portrayal of Miles is particularly noteworthy, bringing a grounded, everyman quality to the high-stakes space drama. His character’s journey from Earth to Mars and the challenges he faces there mirror the broader themes of the series – the pursuit of a dream, the stark realities of space colonization, and the personal sacrifices demanded by such endeavors.
The show’s strength lies in its ability to weave these personal stories into the larger tapestry of its alternate history. The geopolitical landscape is as fraught as ever, with Cold War tensions simmering beneath cooperative efforts in space exploration. This season sees a three-way race between the U.S., the U.S.S.R., and the private corporation Helios to mine rare minerals from asteroids, a plotline that neatly encapsulates the series’ blend of scientific ambition and political maneuvering.
However, “For All Mankind” is not without its missteps. The reliance on familiar narrative beats, especially the recurring theme of space tragedies, sometimes feels repetitive and formulaic. Additionally, while the series continues to impress with its visual storytelling and attention to detail, some character makeup, intended to show the passage of time, is less convincing.
Despite these flaws, the series triumphs in portraying humanity’s unyielding spirit. The characters, from the upper echelons of space agencies to the working-class staff on Mars, strive towards a common goal, albeit with conflicting motivations and methods. This tension between individual desires and collective ambitions is the heartbeat of the series.
“For All Mankind” Season 4 is a testament to the power of storytelling in exploring our potential and the complexities of human nature. It’s a reminder that even in the vastness of space, the most compelling stories are those of the people striving to reach it. With its blend of emotional depth, political intrigue, and sci-fi spectacle, the show continues to stand out in its genre.
RATING: 4.0 out of 5
For All Mankind season 4 is now streaming on Apple TV+.