For All Mankind - Season 4 Review

Factions clash over a priceless asteroid in the sci-fi drama's dramatic fourth season.

See other season reviews in the For All Mankind archive.

There's a moment midway through season 4 of For All Mankind where astronaut Ed Baldwin laments the fact that so many of the Helios crew on Happy Valley station don't appreciate being on Mars. It's passé to them; they're just there for the paycheck. This contrast between the Old Guard of NASA pioneers and the New Blood of Helios workers is the heart of the season's conflict, but also reflects a tonal shift in the show itself. As the timeline moves on (jumping nearly a decade between each season), the story is less about the cutting edge of exploration and more about the nuts and bolts of colonization. It's interesting, but I miss the more adventurous side of prior seasons. Even so, the story is engaging, and the multi-season investment in characters and story arcs pays off in a big way.

SPOILER ALERT! This review contains spoilers for season 4 of *For All Mankind*.

The season opens with the usual Mankind formula: a big action set piece, followed by several slow-burn episodes that catch us up after the time-jump and set up the dominos for the season's main conflict. In this case, the conflict surrounds a mineral-rich asteroid approaching Mars. It's worth trillions—if only they can figure out a way to capture and mine it. Then, in the last few episodes, everything kicks into high gear and barrels toward an epic finish.

I still love the show, but this season didn't grab me quite as much as the others. In an interview with Variety, co-creator Ben Nedivi said, "One of the things I’m most proud of are the reactions we have gotten from people saying they weren’t sure who to root for. That was a clear goal of ours all along." My problem was I spent a large chunk of the season not wanting to root for any of them. I'm all for flawed characters, but there's a point where it goes so far it's no longer fun to watch. Season 4 strayed too close to that point for me.

Dani and Ed

The conflict between Dani and Ed has been building for several seasons now, and the show does a great job leveraging that rich history. Krys Marshall, who plays Dani, talked with Collider about how the show's extended timeline is essential to their relationship: "We can't earn that in normal time. We can't earn that in a single season. You can't earn that in six months or in six years...It doesn't exist in traditional storytelling."

It was so satisfying to see Dani finally tell off Ed. She's right that he's always letting his personal feelings cloud his judgment. He's put his fellow crew in danger on multiple occasions—the Danny situation, hiding a serious medical condition, hijacking critical mission systems for his asteroid heist. Even when he's helping with the worker's strike, it's clear he's doing it for his benefit, not theirs. These are, after all, the same people he was complaining about not long ago.

Yet for all his flaws, Ed does have his bright spots. He's a bold explorer and awesome pilot. He's trying his best to be a decent dad/grandpa. Even with Dani—they're at each other's throats for much of the season, but when she gets hurt in the final episode, he's right there beside her. You can see how much he cares. My friend said that 70% of the time they love Ed, but 30% of the time they just want to slap him. My slapping percentage may be a little higher, but I think that's a pretty apt description of his character.

Dani, in contrast, is a good person who sometimes makes really bad leadership decisions. She could have handled the worker situation a lot better if she'd just spent more time listening. Also, she's clearly still carrying around a lot from the Danny tragedy. I liked the way they tiptoed around that for much of the season so they could unleash it with both barrels during the big confrontation. I'm glad she got her happy ending with her grandbaby, though. When they showed her tearful message to her son, I figured she was a goner. (Grandma Dani FTW!)

Margot, Aleida, and Kelly

Margot and Aleida remain the most interesting dynamic on the show. At first, I found Margot's meanderings in Russia to be an unwelcome distraction. It wasn't clear how it tied in with everything else, and I was still irritated over her decision to defect and let everyone think she was dead.

But it paid off in the end. I loved the reunion between the two, which has just the right amount of relief and righteous anger on Aleida's part. The way that Aleida charges over to hug her—sniffle. Margot watching Aleida at the tech summit was also satisfying. "She's an engineer's engineer," Margot says, and you can feel her mamabear pride in her protégée. Margot taking the fall for the asteroid heist was a fitting end to her arc, saving Aleida and accepting responsibility for what she'd done.

Kelly doesn't get a whole lot to do this season, and the team-up between her and Aleida felt forced. They'd barely interacted before that moment. It's clearly setting things up for next season, so I'll give them some slack there. It'll be interesting to see where it goes.

Miles and Sam

Among the new characters this season are Miles and Sam, two Helios workers. Seeing the other side of the Mars station was a nice change of pace, in a Downton Abbey kind of way. The "company town" economics and the black market were both interesting. But the conflict was so telegraphed that I dubbed it "Chekov's Worker's Strike" in the second episode.

I also didn't really connect with either Miles or Sam. Miles just makes one bad decision after another. He's so obviously heading for a fall that it was hard to feel much sympathy when he finally crashed and burned. Sam gets some cool moments, but we barely know anything about her. It was a wasted opportunity.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • Wouldn't it have been more humane to just execute Danny rather than maroon him in a tiny box? What did they think was going to happen?
  • The North Korean gun was a strange contrivance.
  • Sergei's execution was the most telegraphed jump scare that still made me jump. Poor Sergei. But really, it was pretty dumb of him to try to reconnect with Margot right under the Russians' noses.
  • Dear Margot, You can ask for your hamburger plain, you know.
  • Nice callback to Margot's relationship with Werner von Braun in the first season.
  • Kelly's message from Karen, which was probably the last contact Kelly had from her, really tugged on the heartstrings.
  • Season 5 is going to need a whole new cast, because everyone should be in jail after those shenanigans.


  • Princess Power: 5 Stars
  • Overall: 4 Stars
  • Bechdel Test: Pass

Learn about my Ratings System.

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Mom. Writer. Gamer. Geek.
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