‘For All Mankind’ Season 2: Ending, Explained: Was The Apollo-Soyuz Mission A Success?

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“For all Mankind” Season 2 demonstrates the advancement that has been achieved on the moon. The base at Jamestown has expanded, and more astronauts have been assigned to the moon mission. Ellen continues to be at Jamestown, though she eagerly looks forward to returning to Earth and taking the administrative job she has landed. She has spent enough time on the moon and wants to make an impact on Earth now. Molly Cobb is on the moon as well. She continues to contribute to the excavation of the mining site. All the astronauts step outside to experience the sunrise from the surface of the moon. Molly communicates with an astronaut, Wubbo, who wants to capture the event through his camera. As the astronauts sang songs to celebrate the moment, the control room was alerted to a solar storm. This season is about the political turmoil that escalates to a point that seems beyond repair, but it is the astronauts who make it possible to bring back peace.


‘For All Mankind’ Season 2: Summary: What Is The Second Season About?

The astronauts on the moon were warned of the solar storm. They were instructed to stay safe at the underground shelter, and those who could not make it to the base were asked to find a safe spot. Molly decided to hide in a lava tube with Wubbo. She reached the spot but could not find him. She used her binoculars to search for him and found him lying on the surface, his rover tumbled over. The storm hit the moon, and leaving the lava tube meant that she would be exposed to radiation that would ultimately lead to loss of sight and cancer. But Molly has always been someone who thought about what was right at the moment and not the future. She left the instrument that was used to detect radiation exposure inside the lava tube. She walked through the storm to help Wubbo. She carried him to the lava tube, risking her life to save another astronaut. After the storm, Wubbo and Molly were instructed to return with Ellen. They knew that Wubbo was exposed to harsh radiation, but because Molly kept the detector in the lava tube, they assumed that she was safe and only reached out to Wubbo when the storm was over.

Meanwhile, Tracy Stevens has become a celebrity. She is invited to talk shows and has become the poster girl representing female astronauts. She has divorced Gordo and is now engaged to Sam Cleveland, a businessman, and television personality. She flaunted her engagement ring at a show, and Karen and Ed watched it at The Outpost. They have bought the bar, and Karen spends her time taking care of it. Ed is now the Chief of the Astronaut Office. He has not traveled to the moon since losing his son. They have adopted a girl, Kelly, who was born in Vietnam, and the Baldwins adopted her after the war ended. She wanted to be an astronaut like her father. She went through the United States Naval Academy brochure at Annapolis. She feared disclosing her interest to her mother since she wanted her to pursue the arts.

Gordo watched the news of Tracy’s engagement. He was heartbroken that Tracy did not care to share the news with him directly. He continued to love her, but he was aware of how he mistreated her when she was his wife. Gordo continues to experience PTSD. Even when he attends shows to discuss his time on the moon, he is met with a sudden rush of anxiety. He has gained weight and lost the will to do anything in life. His son, Danny, has joined the Naval Academy and dreams of following in the footsteps of his parents. The younger one, Jimmy, was more inclined to play video games and keep to himself. Tracy came to celebrate Danny’s return from the academy, and all four of them dined as they used to before. Tracy left early because she had to return home, and her sons went out with their friends afterward. Gordo was left behind with this empty feeling of having no reason to exist any longer. He shared the thought with Ed in a drunken state of mind. The next day, Ed announced that Gordo would be a part of an upcoming Apollo mission.


What Was The Apollo-Soyuz Mission? 

The President of the United States, Ronald Raegan, wanted a symbolic gesture in space. The idea was for a US astronaut to shake hands with a Soviet Cosmonaut in space. Danielle Poole was selected for the mission. Poole’s partner, Clayton, had committed suicide, and after his demise, she decided to take on an active role in the space program. Poole wanted to be more than the token black girl. She had a discussion with Clayton’s sister, who pointed out that she was working for the white man’s interest, which would perhaps ultimately lead to space war. Poole was determined to claim her position as the commander of Apollo-Soyuz to take on a decisive role, and she expressed her interest to Ed. Ed dismissed the idea, saying that it was not about skin color but the factors that are used to determine who deserves it. Poole added that it must be about race as well, since there were only eleven black astronauts in the space program. Ed realized the implication and discussed Poole’s interest with the rest of the committee. She was ultimately selected as the commander.

Meanwhile, the Soviet cosmonauts and engineers were welcomed to Houston. Initially, the cosmonauts were in disagreement with whatever was proposed by NASA. But the astronauts and cosmonauts finally got to bond without any inhibitions at The Outpost. They discussed their lives and tried to understand each other. Margo bonded with the Soviet engineer Sergei at the 11:59 club. They discussed how they could create a docking system that could be androgynous. It is through their discussion that they came up with the idea of an androgynous docking adapter. Aleida, who was now recruited by Margo, helped them redesign the idea better.

While everything was going according to plan, the United States decided to send weapons into space. The idea was to take over their mining sites from the Soviets. Astronauts were sent to the Jamestown base with weapons. This led to obvious tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. Ellen was supposed to fly to Korea with Thomas Paine, but she received a phone call informing her about her father’s heart attack. She left to meet her father, and Thomas boarded the plane alone. Korean Airlines Flight 007 was flying over the USSR. The Soviet jets fired at it and destroyed it, killing all those who were onboard. They explained that they thought it was a spy jet. The death of Thomas led Ellen to take the position of acting NASA administrator. She sanctioned the idea of taking weapons to space and claiming their sites. Under her administration, Pathfinder was equipped with missiles, and the astronauts were taught to use weapons. Ed had appointed himself as the commander of Pathfinder and handed over his job as the Chief of the Astronaut’s Office to Molly.


‘For All Mankind’ Season 2: Ending Explained: What Led To A War-Like Scenario? How Was It Stopped?

Margo continues with her secret friendship with Sergei. She helped him with the O-ring problem of Buran, a space shuttle the Soviets were sending to the moon. Even though the rising tension between the two countries became a concern, Margo was hell-bent on continuing with the Apollo-Soyuz mission. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marines who were sent to space to claim the mining site found two cosmonauts on the spot. They were searching for something from a box that the Marines assumed to be weapons. They shot the cosmonauts one after the other. When they went close, they found that the cosmonauts were searching for their language cards to explain themselves to the astronauts. One of the cosmonauts immediately caught fire and burned to death, whereas the other survived but was unconscious. They carried them both to the Jamestown base, and the surviving cosmonaut was provided with medical attention.

Meanwhile, Tracy had joined the astronauts at the Jamestown base. She felt out of place on the moon; she missed her luxurious life and celebrity status. One month into staying at the Jamestown base, she felt an overwhelming feeling. She started to sneak and drink, and found a way to smoke cigarettes in space. However, her failure to control herself led to the blockage of the vent as a result of excess CO2. She was warned and asked to correct her behavior if she wished to stay any longer. Tracy gradually started to find comfort in this life. She was reconnected with her passion for being an astronaut and worked hard to prove herself. Gordo was sent to the moon soon after. Before leaving, he warned Sam Cleveland that he would win over Tracy in space. Gordo tried to support Tracy in Jamestown. He confessed why Poole had a broken arm when they returned from the moon. Tracy could relate to the anxiety Gordo had to deal with once. She shared her secret of smoking in the Jamestown base, and the two started to spend their time together. Gordo confessed to having mistreated Tracy when she was his wife, but his love for her never died. He arranged for some wine to celebrate their time together in the vault where they used to smoke together.

The news of the bullets fired into space reached the Soviets, and tension between the two countries started to rise. The Soviets launched the Buran to block the Pathfinder and the Sea Dragon, which they believed carried nuclear weapons. To avoid the Buran, the Pathfinder was launched before its launch date. Before Ed left for Pathfinder, he argued with Karen after she confessed that she had slept with another man. She wanted to go for marriage counseling, whereas he could not bear the thought of his wife cheating on him. Needless to say, Ed was in a terrible mood when he took the role of the commander of Pathfinder. Meanwhile, the Soviets entered the Jamestown base with weapons and captured the commander. They wanted to take along a living cosmonaut with them. The cosmonaut, after gaining consciousness, declared that he wanted to stay in America, and the President granted his request. The Soviets tortured the commander to release the cosmonaut. As a result of the bullets fired by the Soviets, there was severe depressurization in Jamestown, and the cooling system of the nuclear reactor was also damaged. As the Soviets shot one of the Marines, Gordo and Tracy managed to contact Houston. The headquarters asked them to manually fix the cooling system, or else the base would be destroyed. There were no space suits in the vault Tracy and Gordo were hiding in. They were asked to build a makeshift suit with whatever was present. Gordo and Tracy wrapped each other with adhesive tape and made a suit out of it. They had only 15 seconds to fix the problem, and a second more than that would be dangerous for their health. Putting their face masks on, the lovers of the sky approached the cooling system.

Apollo-Soyuz’s mission was now neglected. Poole waited for the Soviets to confirm docking, but they avoided it. They blamed it on technical issues, but it was clear that the conflict was the reason why they were avoiding the docking. When the Soviets threatened to attack the US military in Panama, every American citizen was asked to go to the shelters to protect themselves from bombing. Ed was about to launch missiles on Buran since it was threatening to destroy them, even after his fellow astronauts asked him not to do it. But at the last minute, he sends the missiles to Sea Dragon and destroys the supply ship. His decision to not attack Buran helped prevent him from engaging in another space war. Meanwhile, Tracy and Gordo walked to the cooling system and were able to stabilize it, but as a result of the vacuum exposure, they started to lose blood. By the time they reached the base, they were bleeding from all over their bodies. The lovers died in each other’s arms; they were the heroes who risked their lives to save others. Poole decided to go ahead with the Apollo-Soyuz mission even though she was instructed to return to Earth. She contacted the Soviet cosmonauts, and they agreed to shake hands even though their leaders were not in favor of it. Poole was tired of taking instructions. She wanted to do what she thought was right. The astronauts and cosmonauts docked their ships and shook hands. This was televised all across the globe. This gesture made the leaders rethink the war they were about to engage in. President Ronald Raegan went to the USSR to discuss a peaceful way to resolve the issue.

Normalcy returned, and the Apollo-Soyuz mission was celebrated. At the same time, people mourned the deaths of Gordo and Tracy. In the end, we get to know that Sergei is controlled by the Soviets, who want him to take advantage of his friendship with Margo and seek classified information from her. Season 2 also witnessed Ellen take the role of the administrator of NASA, though she lost Pam in the process. She knew Ellen was busy with her life, and she had an opportunity to reach great heights. Pam did not wish to be the reason Ellen would be held back from achieving all that she deserved. The friendship between Karen and Danny was also explored this season. Karen’s relationship with Ed was far from perfect, and she found comfort in Danny. He was her secret while she was his first love. Karen advised him to move on since there was no future in their relationship. Kelly joined the Naval Academy, even though Ed was initially against it, but after discussing the reason for her interest with her, he agreed to it.

After the credits, we witness a man landing on the surface of Mars, and the year is 1995. The Mars mission is the next big thing, but the question remains who is the first one to manage to land on Mars since much of the politics on Earth depends on it.


See More: ‘For All Mankind’ Season 3: Episode 1 – Recap And Ending, Explained – How Did Polaris Go Astray?


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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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