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


In the previous episode of “For All Mankind” Season 3, Sojourner landed on Mars, making Danielle Poole and Commander Kuznetsov the first humans to walk on the surface of Mars. The Soviets continued to depend on the resources of the United States, and they took shelter in the NASA base set on Mars. Since the number of people in the base was greater than what it was meant for, it created a shortage of water. Along with it, the thermal cooler was malfunctioning, and there was a rise in CO2 levels. In an attempt to be the first, Sojourner took a huge risk by landing, and because of that, their engines were destroyed. They now depended on Helios to help them get back home. Even though life was not easy on the red planet, it surely was breathtaking to walk on a planet where no man had been before. It was untouched yet ancient, a combination that gave one hope to start afresh.

Ed Baldwin And Danny Stevens

Danny continues to watch the video recordings that Ed sends to Karen. The more he learned about Ed, the more guilty he felt. Ed decided to not land on Mars and lost his only chance to be the first to save Danny’s life. He could not risk losing him, and for that, he gave up on his dream. The guilt consumed Danny to the point where he was often distracted and ended up making mistakes on the ground. His suit tore open when he tried to fix the drill. He was given some painkillers, but Danny started to depend on the drug to counter his overwhelming emotions. He lost his cool when Ed tried to confirm if he was following the drilling rules. He hated the man for being close to the woman he was obsessed with, but at the same time, he knew how much Ed cared for him, and it was the guilt and the shame that became overbearing. Ed noticed his unstable behavior, and he confided in Karen about how he felt that bringing Danny along for the mission might have been a mistake. He compared Danny’s behavior with that of Gordo. There was the same madness that he had once witnessed. Danny listened to this conversation, and he could not control his temper. He smashed the computer and, as a result, injured his hand again.

Ed now believed that Danielle was right to suggest Danny check in to a rehabilitation center instead of going through with the Mars mission. He had several unresolved issues that he needed to work on, but his denial made it worse. He had a wife and a daughter whom he loved, but his obsession with Karen was beyond any rhyme or reason. Also, the fact that he lost both his parents all at once affected him deeply. He was holding on to a secret that was consuming him, but he could not discuss it with anyone else. While he desperately needed therapy, he was now stuck on a planet far away from home with the man he envied the most.

The Coming Out Of Will Tyler

Will Tyler, a young astronaut, was thrilled to be on the red planet. It took him some time to believe that he indeed was walking on the surface of Mars and that everything around him had not been touched by mankind yet. He was one of the first, and that gave him the strength to confess a truth he held close to his heart. He thought that a video interview from Mars was the perfect opportunity for him to tell his truth to the world. He announced that he was gay, and as a gay man who grew up in Detroit, he never imagined that he would have the opportunity to be where he was now. And he believed that he had to speak up now more than ever because the new planet allowed him to hope for a better tomorrow.

This statement took the United States by storm. The Republicans were furious and Ellen Wilson, the President, had to bring the situation under control. Will Tyler was an active-duty military man, and according to the rules, a homosexual man was to be dishonorably discharged from his duty. The only problem was that Tyler was to remain on Mars for the next two years. Ellen had a tough decision to make. She was working hard to get votes for the jobs bill from the moderates. Therefore, a harsh decision on the Tyler case could lead to losing their votes. On the other hand, if she chose to not address the coming-out of military personnel, she would lose the support of Republicans. She had to come up with a diplomatic way to deal with the situation, though she hated the fact that she could not make the decisions she wanted to, even after having all the power in her hand. As a lesbian and someone who chose to stay in the closet, she knew the strength and courage required to state one’s sexuality with pride. She could never do it, and here she was forced to decide the fate of a man who dared to speak. While Ellen was driven by emotions, Larry was practical. He wanted his wife to retain power, but he also did not wish to completely erase what Ellen felt. Therefore, he came up with a solution: the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. This policy was introduced by the Clinton administration, whereby military personnel would not be required to state their sexuality. Instead of dealing with the discrimination, they chose to turn a blind eye to it. The series introduces this policy as something Larry came up with to keep both the Democrats and the Republicans happy, though the result was quite the opposite. It showed how the President did not have a clear stand. Ellen announced the policy and, along with it, the fact that Will Tyler would have to discontinue his service after returning to Earth.

Even on Mars, Will Tyler had to face discrimination the moment he announced his sexuality. His close friend, Rolan, started to maintain a distance from him, fearing that he would contract HIV from Tyler. Even though Danielle stated how they were all examined before traveling to space, he was not satisfied by it. The virus was an excuse; he was simply disgusted by the fact that his friend was gay and also by how openly he discussed his sexuality. For Danielle, Tyler’s coming out felt unnecessary and selfish. She believed that they were on Mars for a mission, and he took away the attention from the mission to his sexuality. Though for Tyler, that was the best opportunity, he questions the rules that were man-made on Earth from a planet without human morality and codes.

‘For All Mankind’ Season 3, Episode 6: Ending Explained: What Was The Helios And Soviet Mission Objective? 

Karen Baldwin went back to Helios, but this time she wanted an office and a title. She wanted to be the COO of the company and take on a decisive role. Dev was glad to have her on board, knowing the resources she would bring. She fixed a meeting with Lenara Catiche of Roscosmos, who wanted to discuss a secret mission with Helios. During that meeting, Lenara disclosed that the Soviets had discovered the site where they could find liquid water on Mars, and they needed the help of Helios to fly to the site and drill it. Sojourner was damaged now, so they could not use NASA’s help to fly there. Since the Soviets would be using their resources, they were ready to pay the price for it. Karen Baldwin was quick to respond. She said that Helios wanted 50% of the water they would excavate. Even though the Soviets disapproved of what she had suggested, they knew that they had no other option.

Finding liquid water on Mars was nothing short of finding gold. NASA failed to find any; Helios had better chances at finding it at their site, though it was not the vast amount that the Russians suggested. Helios and the Soviets planned a joint mission to find water, which they would split in half. They chose to keep this information away from NASA, knowing how they were desperately searching for it and would want their share of it. Kelly asked her father what the mission was, but Ed had signed a non-disclosure agreement that forbade him from sharing any information about the mission. Even her lover refused to discuss the mission with her, making her all the more curious. It was ultimately Sergei Nikulov who wrote down an equation on Margo’s vinyl recording, which indicated that they had found liquid water on Mars. This news spread like a wild forest fire, and Danielle Poole now knew about it. Ed had entered the NASA base to meet his daughter and the cosmonauts to carry on with their joint mission. Danielle was furious after learning the truth. She could not believe that after all the help that NASA provided the Soviets with, they chose to deny them the information that they had.

The revelation creates a bitter feeling between the cosmonauts and the astronauts. Though we can expect that there would be a certain pressure on the Soviet Union by the United States to share the resource. Finding water on Mars meant the possibility of colonization, and it also meant that there could be a possibility of finding some sort of life form there. Thus, finding liquid water was crucial for each team, though it might be the cause of serious trouble.

While humans fought on Mars for water, the situation on Earth was not too stable either. From the very beginning of the season, it was known that Ellen Wilson’s room in the white house was tapped. Their secrets were no longer safe, especially now that Larry had a new boyfriend, Jeremy Zielke, with whom he made out in the white house. Jeremy quite innocently shared the details of his relationship with his trusted friend, who seemed to be a Democrat. After their friendly banter, the man confided over the phone that he had his hands on an exciting piece of information. The truth could jeopardize Ellen’s position as the President of the United States. If it is just Larry’s sexuality that is discussed, then she might have to legally separate from him to maintain her position. Or, she could use this as an opportunity to come out to the world. However, that might ruin her career completely. What would Ellen do, and how would the information be used against them? That is something that we have to wait and watch.

See More: ‘For All Mankind’ Season 3, Episode 7: Recap And Ending, Explained: Was The Rosso-Helios Mission A Success?

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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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