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


“For All Mankind” Season 3, Episode 4 ended with the Mars-94 and Sojourner collision, as a result of which three individuals lost their lives. The question was whether Danielle Poole would be able to manage the difficult situation. In Episode 5, it is concluded that Poole was able to take the right steps at the right time, though the loss of both astronauts and cosmonauts was painful to witness. The bodies were tied together, and the two countries said their farewells. The deceased humans were left to float and decompose in space. Even though lives were lost, there was still hope for the two countries to complete their mission since they used the same fuel. While Sojourner was ready to get back to their mission with the cosmonauts onboard, would they be able to reach Mars before Phoenix, who is heading the race at the moment?

Margo’s Challenging Past 

As the Soviet Union and the United States of America decided to work together on the Mars mission, Soviet government officials reached Johnson Space Centre. Margo was in a tough spot considering her history with the Soviets, but she had to put on a welcoming smile as she tried to figure out what had happened to her lover, Sergei Nikulov, whom she last saw in London. We never got to know whether or not Margo gave in to their demands, but the fact that she continued to work at JSC without any damage to her reputation indicated the choice she must have made. Margo was a little shaken when she noticed that Sergei was no longer heading the Mars mission. Instead, his subordinate, Lenara, had taken up the role.

Lenara discussed another off-the-records favor that they expected from Margo. Margo was surprised that she was again asked to go against the interests of her nation after she had helped them in the past. Even though she was previously assured that no further requests would be made, due to a change in circumstances, she was expected to help them again. This time they wanted her to help the cosmonauts continue with their original mission objectives, for which they required drones, rovers, and satellites. Lenara refused to discuss what their mission objective was, and Margo decided to make a deal out of the situation. She demanded that she wanted to work with only Sergei Nikulov, and they had to bring him to America in some way or another. Even though Lenara thought it was a wild request, she knew that they would need Margo’s help to execute their plans.

Within a few days, Sergei was brought to the United States, though he looked weaker than before. He revealed that he was thrown into a KGB prison where they tortured him and destroyed his lungs and kidneys. The KGB was smart enough to not leave a mark on his face, but rather on his internal organs. Margo was devastated, even though her relationship with Sergei negatively affected her life, yet she was torn after seeing his deteriorating condition. Sergei was another tool of the Soviets. They forced him to betray Margo by threatening to murder his family members. Sergei apologized for betraying her, and Margo was determined to not let go of him. She planned to find the right asylum for him and his family in the United States.

Danny Stevens And Karen Baldwin

Danny struggled to find his calm when he noticed how supportive Karen was of Edward Baldwin, especially after he dared to speak against Dev Ayesa’s decision. He continued to be a hero in Karen’s eyes, and Danny envied the man for it. He desperately wanted to know what the two talked about and whether or not they were planning on getting back together. He got hold of the Admin password to get access to all the video messages that were sent and received by the astronauts onboard. He watched Karen discuss how influenced she was by Ed’s courage, which motivated her to leave her position at Helios. She was visibly proud of him and respected his values and beliefs. Even when she was high, she chose to record a video for Ed to express how thrilled she was knowing that Ed would be the first man to step on Mars.

Danny poured his heart out to his brother, Jimmy. Along with watching Karen get along with Ed, it was also the fact that their landing on Mars got delayed that dejected him. He wanted to land on Mars for his father, who always regretted not landing on the moon during the Apollo 10 mission. He did not wish to go through the same experience again. He also discussed how the growing closeness between Karen and Ed affected him. What bothered him the most was how guilty he felt when Ed discussed Karen with him. Ed knew nothing about his relationship with Karen and treated him like his son. Danny wanted to put his past behind him, but he failed to do so.

Right after recording the video for Jimmy, Ed called Danny to play a game of cards. As they played cards, Danny asked Ed about his friendship with Karen on a light note. Ed discussed how they shared an everlasting bond even though they were no longer married. Danny intentionally asked the reason behind their divorce, to understand how it affected Ed. Ed disclosed that he did not know the man with whom Karen had cheated on him, but if he ever found out who it was, he would kill the man. Danny was walking on thin ice where the past could destroy his relationship with the Baldwins.

Aleida Rosales Attempts To Find The Traitor At JSC

Aleida noticed the similarity between the designs of Mars 94 and Sojourner. She reported to Margo that the Russians stole her design. She showed Margo how similar the nuclear thermal engine design was, but she was unaware that the woman she was reporting it to was the one who shared the design. Margo dismisses her assumption, stating that such similarities are coincidences, but Aleida refuses to let it go. She explained that it was not just a similar model; it was the same model with the same expansion ratios. This similarity in structure helped them to refuel and was the reason why their LH2 drain coupling could mate with the United States’ situ propellant hose. Margo refused to take Aleida’s readings seriously; she wanted Aleida to focus on the mission at hand instead of working on something that was not significant at the moment. Even though Aleida agreed, she did not stop investigating it.

After talking to a cosmonaut, Aleida realized that every procedure that the Soviets followed was the same as theirs. The documents gathered from Mars-94 and the readings stated by the cosmonaut were values that matched with their NERVA. Margo tried to refute the point by stating that the Russians could have memorized the numbers from Sojourner, but Aleida was not done explaining. She continued that the numbers were not similar to those of the Sojourner engine but were taken from the NERVA Operations of 1992. Knowing that it had gone way out of her control, Margo tried to play along by asking Aleida how she thought the Russians got their previous numbers. Aleida responded by stating that someone from NASA provided the Soviets with a copy of their engine design from two years ago. Margo asked Aleida to trust her to bring the documents to the Department of Justice and, in the meantime, asked her to concentrate on the Mars mission. Aleida is not a woman who will rest even after knowing that there was a traitor at JSC, but what would she do when she would learn that the traitor was her mentor, Margo?

‘For All Mankind’ Season 3, Episode 5: Ending Explained – Who Landed On Mars?

Due to a heavy storm at the landing site, Phoenix was unable to land as early as they had aimed for. By the time they orbited around Mars and reached the point of landing, Sojourner was right behind them. Even though the storm had not completely stopped, Ed knew that if they did not land now, Phoenix would win the race. Danny signaled his interest in taking the risk, and Ed announced that they would land. Meanwhile, Danielle Poole had to decide within six minutes if she wanted to land on Mars or orbit around Mars one more time. Poole initially thought that the storm was too strong for them to safely land, and she refused to risk the lives of her crew members, but after studying the reading of the storm, she concluded that it was clearing and made the landing call.

Ed and Danny headed for the Mars landing, and soon they lost the gyroscope reading. They were warned that without the readings, it would be too dangerous for them to land, but Ed chose to continue with the landing. He did not wish to regret the way he did after choosing to not land Apollo 10. Meanwhile, Sojourner, too, joined the bumpy landing journey. Ed constantly received warning signals, and they lost altitude readings as a result of the storm. Ed switched to manual control, but as he looked out, he noticed the rough surface of Mars and decided to abort the mission. He did it to save Danny. Even though he wanted to be the first man to set foot on Mars, he could not risk losing his best friend’s son. Danny tried to stop Ed from aborting the mission, but Ed did not pay any heed to his request. As Ed and Danny retracted, Sojourner landed blindly on Mars successfully. Everyone at JSC rejoiced at their success. In the end, a cosmonaut wanted to be the first to walk down the ramp and set foot on Mars, but Poole was not ready to let that happen. The world witnessed the cosmonaut and astronaut walk down the ramp together and walk on the surface of Mars together. The world saluted the friendship and spirit of the astronaut and cosmonaut who decided to go for it together. But in reality, they were fighting their way to the surface of Mars, which the viewers assumed to be a friendly walk and hug.

“For All Mankind,” Season 3, Episode 5, concluded on a happy note, with the two superpowers uniting to fulfill their Mars mission. But that does not imply that the competition between them is over. Meanwhile, Dev Ayesa was visibly upset with their failure to land, even after being ahead of the race. He chose to not help the Russians win the race, but somehow even that did not help his cause. After aborting the mission, Danny was heartbroken. Would he blame Ed for not fulfilling his father’s dream? The most difficult situation is that of Margo, who is forced to make choices she never truly wanted to. While she planned to help Sergei stay back in America, there was another problem at hand, Aleida. If the truth came out, she would lose everything that she had worked so hard for. Even with its hour-long episodes, the series manages to keep the audience guessing with its multiple twists and turns.

See More: ‘For All Mankind’ Season 3, Episode 6: Recap & Ending, Explained: What Was Helios & Soviet Mission Objective?

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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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