When the Space Race Forgot to End
It’s sad that San Diego Comic-Con has been cancelled this year, but that won’t stop them from making Comic-Con@Home 2020. And this year, we’ve got a whole bunch of stuff you can enjoy at home. One of these is an exclusive interview with the cast and staff of For All Mankind, exclusive on Apple TV+, which includes some previews of the show itself and a sneak peek at the upcoming second season.
For All Mankind is a new sci-fi series about the US space program, which is already a big plus for me. More specifically, it depicts an alternate history where the first man on the Moon wasn’t Neil Armstrong, but Alexei Leonov of the Soviet Union. This completely tanks morale at NASA, but reignites the Space Race with renewed fury.
In the events of For All Mankind, this For Want of a Nail event forces NASA to increase the number of astronaut candidates. How, you may ask? Why, they finally decide to include women and racial minorities in the candidate list. In fact, the entire list of initial candidates are women. Sure, the initial list of candidates is winnowed down to just 5, but that’s just part of the process. By the end of the training period, there are 5 female astronauts, and thus history is made.
And Now For Some History
There was actually one moment at the beginning of the For All Mankind panel where one of the directors, Matt Wolpert, asks some of the female cast members what they thought this alternate history would’ve produced had it actually happened in our timeline. Most of the cast members agreed that it likely would’ve resulted in a more gender-equal society than we had in real life, but one of the cast, Sonya Walger, actually discussed the history of female astronauts. Specifically, she mentioned Valentina Tereshkova: the first woman in space.
Walger noted that the events of For All Mankind did technically happen. It just happened in a different place: the Soviet Union. Valentina Tereshkova went to space aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963; and thus became the first and youngest woman in space. Walger also noted that even though this happened in our timeline, it still took an enormous amount of time for women to gain any kind of power.
I have to agree with Walger here. Given the historical precedence set by Tereshkova, even if the events of For All Mankind did occur in real life, it’s unlikely to have changed anything significant in regards to women and how they were seen at the time.
Sneak Peek Time!
Finally, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for: that sneak peek into the second season of For All Mankind.
The sneak peek at the end seemed to imply that the Cold War will turn hot. Or at least, tepid. That short preview depicted Ronald Reagan making a speech on live black-and-white TV, suggesting that the second season skips ahead a decade or so to 1981. This suggests that Reagan’s increased pressure on the Soviet Union is the source of conflict here.
Most tellingly, the preview also depicts US astronauts arming themselves with M16 rifles. These rifles were painted white, some had M203 grenade launchers mounted underneath the barrel, and they appeared to be fitted with barrel shrouds judging from the holed parts covering the barrel near the front. I’m uncertain why the rifles were fitted with barrel shrouds. The holes are to allow air to circulate through them and thus cool the barrel, but unfortunately there is no air either in space or on the Moon. Maybe the holes are part of modifications to keep the barrels cool in space, but this is going into speculation territory here.
In any case though, the presence of these possibly modified M16 rifles suggests that the next season of For All Mankind will see a firefight occur on the Moon. Does this mean we’ll get to see the Soviets use modified AKMs for similar reasons? Or will we see the real life TP-82 Cosmonaut survival pistols instead? Or, will we even see the more exotic Soviet laser pistol being developed and used?
We just don’t know, but it’ll be interesting to find out.
For All Mankind looks like it’ll get hot for its second season. Real hot. Having the Cold War turn hot would be a real treat for the audience here, and seeing our protagonists surviving through a space war would be a great source of drama and action. Hopefully, we’ll get more details when the second season actually comes out on Apple TV+.