AppleTV+’s For All Mankind, the critically acclaimed sci-fi drama reimagines the space race in a visually stunning, breathtakingly immersive, character-driven adventure, will take you to the stars, dare you to imagine, and leave you yearning for more. “Glasnost,” the season 4 premiere of For All Mankind, blasts into orbit with complex root-worthy characters, sky-high stakes, and a thrilling setup for the rest of the season.
The show is the best at capturing the best and the most tragic moments of humanity, and it allows the audience the space to breathe and have the emotional toll of character decisions resonate. Science fiction and alternate history are expertly made and fitted into the show, but For All Mankind shines when showing people grappling with the complicated. Lows balance the highs for a throughline that works to move the story forward and beckons you to watch more.
[Warning: The review below contains spoilers for For All Mankind season 4, episode 1, “Glasnost.”]
Two tiers of space farers in For All Mankind season 4
In the opener, For All Mankind’s season 4 sets up a potential conflict between two tiers of space farers: the blue-collar workers, like the former oil worker and new character Miles (Toby Kebbell) from Baton Rouge, and the trained astronauts and cosmonauts. This conflict is highlighted in the news announcement of Kuznetsov’s (Lev Gorn) death when Parker, the worker who also died with him while harnessing the asteroid is relegated to a footnote. And even before Parker’s death, on the spacewalk with Kuznetsov, Samantha Massey (Tyner Rushing) comments, “He gets the glory, while we get to do all the work.”
It is a timely and socially relevant conflict that mirrors our world’s growing inequality. Given that one of the last moments in the episode is Miles blasting off to Mars, where he’ll be trapped for years in an attempt to “be flush” and provide for his fractured family, it makes for a potential pressure cooker. Kebbell’s billing is second this season after Joel Kinnaman, it’s not a stretch to think his role will be important and this conflict will matter.
Margo Reynolds isn’t dead
In the season 3 finale of For All Mankind, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” Margo Reynolds (Wrenn Schmidt) is presumed dead after the explosion at the Johnson Space Center. We even see her name on a memorial to the fallen of that attack in “Glasnost.”
But in this episode, we also learn she isn’t dead. Margo is just in the Soviet Union. She’s got freedom, but it’s clear she’s not free. She has minders and what seems to be a miserable existence in the Soviet Union, although she finally has an apartment. (And in typical For All Mankind season opening episode fashion, we get a scene where she gets ready.) Margo’s entire life was work and dedicated to space, and it seems like things have been terrible for her since we last saw her walk out of the JSC.
But there is promise for this season for Margo in the form of the mysterious woman who, after Margo makes an emotional break for the Soviet Space City to plead her case for her expertise to be used. The woman meets Margo on a park bench while feeding birds and offers her bird seed and a white business card with a phone number.
This will certainly pay off as we go on this season, and it will be interesting to see, particularly if the mysterious woman somehow leads her back to her colleagues. Margo’s death has left a hole, and it will be interesting to see how Aleida Rosales (Coral Peña) struggles, given her closeness with the mentor.
Overall, Wrenn Schmidt’s portrayal of Margo in this episode is excellent and feels appropriately heavy with the burden of what her character has undergone.
Aleida Rosales isn’t okay
Margo isn’t the only one suffering this season. Aleida Rosales (Coral Peña) has some major flashbacks to the JSC bombing and what appears to be PTSD. There was a lot of speculation that we would see the character emerge as the flight director at the Molly Cobb Space Center, but that’s not the case. While the Kronos mission is going wrong and NASA is all hands on deck to figure out why, Aleida, in a lower-level position, is mentally transported back to that moment and, when she steadies herself, walks out of mission control.
It will be interesting to see how Aleida navigates this mental health challenge and who it drives her toward, especially given her brilliance and setup in the previous three seasons. Peña shines as Rosales and this will likely be an emotionally hefty season for her to sink her teeth into.
Eli Hobson six-sigmas NASA in For All Mankind season 4
Eli Hobson, portrayed by Daniel Stern, is a newcomer to the cast of For All Mankind, but you can immediately sense where the conflict and tension will manifest from this character. A Lee Iacoca-type figure who helped Chrysler lead the way for America’s transition from gasoline to electric cars, Hobson is full of management aphorisms and, to some extent, himself. His dialogue is on point and sometimes sounds straight out of a biography assigned to business school students.
A political appointee tasked with overhauling the beleaguered NASA, Hobson convinces Poole to return to space. It’s not clear whether the character actually loves space or he loves that he is the one in charge of fixing NASA. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if his character tries to apply business consultant-style fixes to the agency and if that will be problematic. In “Glasnost,” Stern is charming in the role and brings an affable presence to it.
Danielle Poole returns to space
At the start of season 4 of For All Mankind, Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall) has left NASA after her travails being left on Mars and the drama surrounding the first person on the red planet. She’s not entirely out of the space family, and we meet her at a birthday party for the daughter of the disgraced Danny Stevens (Casey W. Johnson).
But the asteroid disaster and her friend’s death, along with a call from new NASA head Eli Hobson, draws her back. He’s persuasive, and at the end of the episode, Poole is on a Unity craft back to the Red Planet. Marshall brings so much life and drama to Poole, and the reckoning that appears to be in store for her character will be fun to watch.
Ed Baldwin is still using space to escape
Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) has been battered by grief and loss over the past three seasons of For All Mankind. From the death of his son in season 1 to the tragic passing of his wife Karen (Shantel VanSanten) in the season 3 finale, Ed has weathered asteroid fields, both personal and professional.
Ed’s suffering continues on Mars while working for Helios Aerospace. He can make his own rules and assignments to some extent but is still at the mercy of fate and the universe. The asteroid accident that claimed the life of his colleague, Grigory Kuznetsov, weighs on him, and he finds himself again escaping his earthbound family problems through the vast expanse of space.
His adopted daughter Kelly (Cynthy Wu), an astronaut in her own right, longs for his visit, but Ed, on a video call, supplies excuses for why he can’t go. But beneath the surface, a deeper truth stirs: Ed is afraid of confronting the pain of his past, and he’s running away from the people he loves most. We will likely see this continue to play out as season 4 of For All Mankind continues.
Kinnaman’s performance is one of the many highlights of For All Mankind, and it is a testament to his talent and versatility as an actor. The palpable sense of humanity that he infuses Ed with is somehow a mixture of vulnerability and the stature of command. He is a master at the craft and his work is always a pleasure to watch.
Be sure to check out For All Mankind season 4
For All Mankind season 4 is a slow-burn feast for the television soul. It transports you on a journey through the thrills and heartbreaks of space exploration. Now solidly established and pushing new frontiers to beyond Mars, For All Mankind offers up characters we’ve come to care deeply about along with new and interesting faces. The unhurried pace gives you time to savor every moment and be present and appreciate the immersive world-building.
This series excels at weaving complex stories together with humanity at the core, and season 4’s premiere sets up some intriguing conflicts and pressure points for the episodes ahead. Driven by powerful performances from a talented cast, this season is must-watch streaming.
For All Mankind season 4’s premiere episode, “Glasnost,” is a stellar start, setting up a thrilling season with juicy characters and sky-high stakes. It’s another solid entry in the impressive catalog of Apple TV+ Originals. Seasons 1 – 3 are already streaming on Apple TV with episodes of season 4 now premiering weekly.
Interested in learning more about the show? Check out our interviews from NYCC with some of the minds behind the vision.