“The Bleeding Edge” reminds us just what the cost of going to space is. Gordo is falling apart, and who can blame him? Tracy’s married another man without so much as a call, and he feels like he’s left some part of him up on the moon. Remember, he had a nervous breakdown when he was up there. His son, Danny (Casey W. Johnson), is back from Annapolis in his shiny white uniform, and his other son isn’t much to write home about. Gordo spends most of his nights reciting the same rote speech and jokes about life at the original Jamestown Base, clearly on the verge of a panic attack whenever he remembers the unspoken truth about what really went on up there. Ed even has to pull him off the road when the two men walk alongside one to sober Gordo up.
Then, Ed makes a decision that seems just plain wrongheaded; he makes the decision that Gordo will go up on a space shuttle back to Jamestown Base. Back to space, back to the moon. Ed clearly wants to help his friend, but it’s clear he doesn’t really know how to do that. Ed himself is struggling with the fact that he’s chained to a desk now. Even Tracy, for all her glamour girl persona, is supposed to be going to space relatively soon. Maybe Ed thinks he can live vicariously through Gordo, or maybe he just wants Gordo to get back the part of himself that he lost. It’s a weird decision. Ed also has the habit of playing golf with Wayne (Lenny Jacobson) and Molly now; Wayne is by far the best golfer. Man, that pot-smoking husband of Molly’s has so many hidden depths. Karen and Wayne even smoke pot on the green, which leads Molly to just convince Ed to ignore it.
Molly’s going through it, too, in “The Bleeding Edge”; her vision is increasingly failing, even if she claims she’ll be “20/20 until I die.” Famous last words, Molly, considering you gave yourself a megadose of radiation back there on the moon. Ed knows the truth, too; Molly wouldn’t have abandoned any of her fellow astronauts. The two have a mutual secret now. When Molly points out that Ed’s flying a desk now, she’s really talking about herself — she condemned herself to being Earthbound the second she went out onto the surface during that solar storm.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t mad about it, though, yelling at Wubbo Ockels (Bjørn Alexander), the astronaut she rescued, when he announces he’s returning to the Netherlands and quitting the program. “You don’t give up Wubbo, you keep fighting!” I’ve always loved Sonya Walger’s performance on this show, but she’s so sharp in that line delivery, I’m not sure how Wubbo didn’t just burst into tears then and there.
Dani Poole (Krys Marshall) makes her triumphant return in “The Bleeding Edge”; we learn her husband died, off-screen, and she seems terrified to reunite with Gordo and Ed, but she finally does it. And she has a request for Ed — send her back to Jamestown. Ed takes her up on it, and by the end of the episode, makes the aforementioned decision to send Gordo up with her.
In other, smaller storylines: Kelly wants to go to Annapolis; Tracy stole Ed McMahon‘s mug for Ed; Margo discovers the benefits of knowing physics and negative pressure when a sandwich gets caught in a vending machine; and Ellen starts her job as Deputy Administrator at NASA, in the hopes of getting the program to be serious about Mars. And there’s a possibility young Aleida Rosales (Coral Peña) might return too!
Molly and Gordo share a cigarette at the end of the episode, stewing in their mutual misery. Molly wants nothing more than to go back to space; Gordo wants nothing more than to never return. But you can’t always get what you want.
Watch For All Mankind Season 2 Fridays on Apple TV+.
FOR ALL MANKIND reminds us that going to space isn’t easy on the body…or the mind.
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