For All Mankind season 1, episode 2 recap: He Built the Saturn V

Jodi Balfour, Sonya Walger, Sarah Jones, Krys Marshall and Cass Buggé in “For All Mankind,” premiering November 1 on Apple TV+.
Jodi Balfour, Sonya Walger, Sarah Jones, Krys Marshall and Cass Buggé in “For All Mankind,” premiering November 1 on Apple TV+. /

Now that the United States has landed on the moon, will they find a way to get back home? For All Mankind tells us just that.

For All Mankind ended its series premiere on a bit of a cliffhanger. After trying to compete in the space race, the U.S. finally makes it onto the moon. But now, they have to find a way to get back home. Uh, that’s not really assuring.

But no worries, For All Mankind would hit a dead-end if the story just ended there. As expected, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong get off the moon and make it back to Planet Earth safe and sound–and with a wild adventure to talk about.

Now that they’ve landed on the moon, the U.S. has to continue to compete in the space race, however, they can. They’ve already lost the race to the moon, so now it’s all about what can be done next.

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Basically, the next logical step in For All Mankind is to think about creating some sort of military base on the moon–the first-ever. That would give the U.S. some clout in the space race if they can actually manage to pull it off.

Then we have poor ‘ol Ed. He’s confined to doing paperwork, with minimal options on an exciting future. Things manage to turn around a little bit when Ed is asked to testify about where NASA has failed. Of course, this is the very thing that got him in so much trouble, but it’s also the very thing that saves him.

Ed shares what happened on his mission, and why he chose not to land on the moon, even though every fiber of his being told him he should. He ends up quitting NASA and decides he’ll just go back to the Navy. Enough is enough.

We learn a bit more about Werner von Braun in this episode (very much an actual figure in history). He does not want a military base on the moon and advises completely against it. This is why Nixon and company take matters into their own hands and call out von Braun for being a Nazi scientist in his past.


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An ambush leads to von Braun getting the boot, and with him out, Ed is brought back into the mix. He’ll be a part of the Apollo 15 mission. And as Vulture points out, this whole alternate space race ordeal makes it a bit difficult to come to terms with how we feel about Nixon. So far, he’s been very supportive of everything space-related, but we don’t really want to sympathize with him either. So, now what?

For All Mankind ends on a history-altering note as Nixon announces that the end of the Vietnam War may be approaching. In our actual history, this wouldn’t happen until 1975, but perhaps the space race is causing things to end more quickly. Had the war ended so early on in our actual history, many deaths would have been prevented–and I’m not sure what history would have looked like then.

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And if you thought that was a mindboggling reveal, then don’t worry, there’s one more thing. Apollo 12 launches, but the Russians manage to one-up the U.S. once again–by sending the first woman to the moon. Oh, snaps. It’s on!

What did you think of this episode of For All Mankind? Share your comments below!