‘For All Mankind’ Season 3, Episode 4: Recap And Ending, Explained – What Went Wrong With Mars-94?


In “For All Mankind,” Season 3, Episode 4, the race for Mars continues as Phoenix, Sojourner 1, and Mars 94 are set on their way to the red planet. Phoenix leads the race, Sojourner follows right after, and Mars 94 lags behind. Congratulations were pouring in for Helios, and Dev Ayesa was proud of his success. He delivers a speech congratulating those onboard for successfully breaking into the battle between the superpowers and acing the race. Though the happy news was short-lived since NASA had plans up its sleeves. It majestically revealed its solar sails that could absorb photon radiation, providing them with constant acceleration. Dev was devastated when he realized that they would not be the first to land on Mars, and according to him, if they could not be the first, then their mission would lose its purpose.

The Ongoing Workers’ Protest

Even though the United States of America was winning the Mars race, the people back home were not all too happy about it. The use of helium-3 by NASA enraged those who were in the fossil fuel business. Workers protested as they lost their jobs due to a lack of demand for fossil fuels. Helium-3 had become the ultimate alternative, leaving many unemployed. Ellen Wilson, the ex-astronaut and current President of the United States, had to find a solution for it. To curb the problem at hand, President Wilson introduced a bill that would assist the workers who were unemployed to find their way in the new economy. Though her problem was not entirely solved, Congress refused to agree with her budget proposal. They were not sure if they wanted to make the budget cuts that Wilson demanded, and they instead wanted her to tap into the account of NASA since it was generating a grand amount of wealth. President Wilson refused to take money from NASA as the Mars program was financed by the profit it earned, but without it, she was all on her own to find a solution. Larry suggested they go to NASA, the place where Ellen always felt at home. As she appreciated the efforts of NASA, there was a visible problem at hand.

Mars- 94 Malfunction

The Russians were under pressure to gain speed, and they announced that they still had a chance to win the race. NASA was leading again, and Phoenix followed. The Russians fired up their nuclear engines in an attempt to get back in the race, but the sudden increase in temperature could potentially overheat their engines. Meanwhile, in space, Kelly used to conduct a daily space radio program for all-Phoenix, Sojourner, and Mars 94. She played the songs that she liked, and it helped in building a connection with those in space. She received a call from Mars-94 warning of the step they were trying to take to get back in the race, knowing the possible negative outcome of it.

The Conspiracy Theory

While chaos was unleashed in space, Jimmy Stevens went in support of the protesting workers. He chanced upon a young girl in the crowd who invited him to have a beer with her friends. One of them used to work for NASA, and he also worked with his mother, Tracy Stevens. He believed that the malfunctioning of the reactor was impossible, considering there was a backup cooling system. He also thought that it was unbelievable that a trained marine could be shot by a Russian in the back. For him, it was all connected. What had happened at the Jamestown base was all planned to divide the moon into two halves. This conspiracy theory blew Jimmy’s mind since it suggested that his parents lost their lives for the political gain of the nation.

‘For All Mankind’ Season 3, Episode 4: Ending Explained: Who Rescued The Cosmonauts?

There was a major malfunction at Mars-94, causing its engines to suddenly stop performing. Due to their engine meltdown, they had only 72 hours to be rescued before the radiation destroyed every cosmonaut. Ed suggested that they rescue the Russians even though that meant that they would not have enough fuel to make it to Mars. He believed that saving lives was more important at the moment, and he would have expected the same had his ship faced the same problem. He suggested this idea to Dev Ayesa, who was visibly distressed after hearing it. He asked his team to vote for or against what Ed had suggested, and most of the members disagreed with Ed. They thought it was NASA’s responsibility to help, considering it was a government agency and had previously conducted a mission with the Soviet Union. They wanted to go ahead with their Mars mission and delivered this news to Ed. Ed refused to go by what Dev had implied. He advised his crew to carry on with the rescue mission, but they were denied access. With a software update, all controls were taken away from them, and they could now only head to Mars. Ed now realized the selfish interests of the man he worked for, and he apologized to Danielle Poole since NASA had to now go forward with the rescue mission. Even though Helios had a bigger ship, and therefore, they could easily fit all the cosmonauts, they were not ready to give up on the race to save lives.

NASA advised its astronauts to go ahead with the rescue operation. The ships bridged their distance to help the cosmonauts. Poole also had information from Houston that the Russian ship might have liquid hydrogen—the fuel that they were using. This meant that there was a chance for them to use it to get back in the race. Nonetheless, their primary goal was to save the Russians. Everything was going according to plan; the cosmonauts had started to transfer from their ship to the Sojourner. But Houston noticed that there was an increase in temperature in one of the Russian engines that could be life-threatening. The heat from the engine would transfer to the liquid hydrogen tank and over-pressurize it, which could ultimately burst the tanks. If that happened, it would affect the Sojourner as well. Even though Houston tried to warn Sojourner, there was a delay in communication for over five minutes. And as predicted, there was a burst, and the ships started to lose separation. The Russian ship started to lose control and tumbled onto the Sojourner. One cosmonaut banged against the Russian ship and lost his life, while another astronaut was crushed by Mars-94. As an astronaut watched the catastrophe unfold before his eyes, the loose tether smashed his helmet, and the screen went black.

Whether or not Danielle Poole will be able to handle the challenging situation and head back home is what we have to wait and watch, though owing to the situation, their dreams of landing on Mars seem far from possible at the moment. If Phoenix heads on the Mars mission but Mars 94 and Sojourner return home, then they will be left alone to manage if any complications arise. We are just into the fourth episode, and the third season of “For All Mankind” is already exciting and nerve-wracking!

See More: ‘For All Mankind’ Season 3, Episode 5: Recap And Ending, Explained – Who Landed On Mars First?

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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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