Space union forms in For All Mankind‘s ‘Leningrad’ episode


Irina, Aleida and Eli chat in For All Mankind Leningrad episode★★★☆☆
Irina, left, Aleida and Eli discuss asteroid capture at the M7 summit in Russia.
Photo: Apple TV+

Friday’s sixth episode in season 4 of For All Mankind, “Leningrad,” ranks low on the deaths-and-hanky-panky scale of soap-opera criticism, but it’s not without a few revelations and highly emotional moments.

Namely, as plans unfold to capture the Goldilocks asteroid for lucrative mining, Mars may be getting its first union. Nice-guy Miles plays hardball with Ilya Brezhnev. And former NASA director Margo Madison reveals to the world she’s alive and working for the Soviet space agency.

For All Mankind, season 4, episode 6 recap: ‘Leningrad’

As the “Leningrad” episode opens, we see former NASA director Margo Madison (Wrenn Schmidt) keeping an eye on the asteroid-capture summit of M7 nations in Moscow hastily arranged in last week’s episode. She’s watching the arrivals and then the attendees in the room from a small desk in a dark room, like some KGB operative.

She zooms in on NASA flight engineer Aleida Rosales (Coral Peña), there with current NASA director Eli Hobson (Daniel Stern). Margo speaks through a microphone in the ear of her boss, Space City’s KGB-connected director, Irina Morozova (Svetlana Efremova), through much of the episode.

Ed Baldwin goes on a bender

Ed Baldwin in For All Mankind season 4 episode 6, 'Leningrad'
Ed Baldwin is waking up later and in rougher shape these days.
Photo: Apple TV+

In the previous episode, Happy Valley commander Danielle Poole (Khrys Marshall) fired XO Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) from his command position, but not from Helios. Ed’s new lack of responsibility becomes clear when he spends his days in this episode puttering around his room and smoking pot.

And it’s all the more clear Ed’s on a different track from “2nd in command” when he visits the off-the-books bar of Russian black-market trader Ilya Breshov (Dimiter Mariner), shocking him and his loyal customers. Soon enough he’s getting hammered and advising Ilya on how to improve his still.

Later, as these scenes intertwine with those at the summit, Ed makes the Russian nervous by asking questions about the trading operation, which we soon find out is in flux.

Grabbing that space rock will cost a fortune

For All Mankind season 4 episode 6 'Leningrad' Eli Hobson
Eli listens to the impossibly expensive plans for Goldilocks’ capture.
Photo: Apple TV+

Back to the summit, Eli tells everyone he hopes the asteroid-capture mission can launch in 8 weeks. But then Aleida weighs in on logistics, shocking the room with news of how many hundreds of new spacecraft and thousands of new vehicles will be needed. Questioned by incredulous dignitaries, she estimates Helios needs $2 trillion to do the job, but says the asteroid will bring in $20 trillion with its iridium, so it’s worth it!

But getting a bunch of countries to pony up that much money on an investment that could take 40 years to pay off with profit ain’t easy.

On Mars, Danielle and her new XO, Parker, go over the plans and are also flabbergasted (not clear how they even have documents so quickly). He says he doesn’t think they can pull it off. She gives him the “now’s our chance to show good people’s sacrifice up here wasn’t in vain” speech, a recurring theme with the show.

And back in Russia, where most of the episode’s action takes place, Hobson realizes maybe they can drag Goldilocks to Earth for mining in orbit rather than conducting a massive capture and mining operation on or around Mars. That could take 5 years, maybe.

As Aleida, Eli and Irina hash out possibilities, Irina is coached the whole time by Margo via the earpiece. When Irina starts talking about “working the problem” — a very Margo thing to say — it looks for a moment Aleida might guess what’s going on because she was so close to Margo. But nope, Aleida and the world think Margo is dead, which was part of the scheme for her to defect to the Soviet Union and avoid prosecution in the United States for sharing secrets.

Space union will put Helios in its place

For All Mankind season 4 episode 6 'Leningrad'
Who knew Miles could be such a badass?
Photo: Apple TV+

Meanwhile, back on Mars, Miles Dale (Toby Kebbel) finds he has lost access to the loading dock he needs to do business for Ilya. A big Russian throttles him and tells him he’s out of Ilya’s business and don’t come back.

Hungover Ed gets up in the afternoon and immediately hits his half-burned joint. But Palmer knocks on the door, informing Ed he’s still employed by Helios as a project manager so he needs to sign off on bonus schedules. Ed screws with him, saying he must “take it under review,” frustrating Palmer. But that turns out to be important, because Ed sees in the documents how Helios is trying to screw the workers.

Later, Ed pops in on Samantha Massey and a big group of Helios workers debating unionizing ahead of the huge asteroid project. He ends up sharing the documents with them and urging them to unionize, much to Sam’s surprise. In no time he has them all chanting “strike!” over and over again.

Meanwhile, Miles, shaken after the big Russian nearly wrung his neck, goes to the forbidden North Korean section of the base. He tells Lee that Ilya never intended to keep the promise of bringing Lee’s wife to Happy Valley. Lee says he’ll handle it, which he does by having a bunch of guys beat up the big Russian. And Miles, under protection from Koreans, informed Ilya he’s taking over the bar. Ilya withdraws, but you know the Russian’s not going to just take that.

Blissful-yet-bitter reunion in Russia

For All Mankind season 4 episode 6, 'Leningrad' Margo Madison
Margo reunites with Aleida, but elation quickly turns sour.
Photo: Apple TV+

Margo tells Irina she wants to work directly with Aleida on the asteroid-capture planning as the leader of the Russian arm of it. Irina points out Aleida thinks Margo’s dead and will be upset, and that Margo will be unmasked and accused of spying, hated on both sides.

Even so, in the next scene Margo visits Aleida’s hotel room. Work is there but no sign of Aleida. Until she comes back from the bathroom and is shocked to see Margo. But at first Aleida is not mad, she is overjoyed and overwhelmed that her friend is alive. She embraces Margo.

But Aleida loses it soon enough. As Margo tells the story of her escape to Russia, which culminated in a series of flights right when the NASA space center was bombed, Aleida seems to focus all of her rage on Margo for not being there when her colleagues were dying. The actress emotes well, but that much anger over something Margo had nothing to do with seems a little forced. But in the end, Aleida refuses to work with Margo. Margo keeps trying, and it starts to look like Aleida may cave.

The episode draws to a close after a TV news bulletin outs Margo as alive in Moscow and working for Space City. We see Margo making a statement about her 1995 defection, accusing NASA of putting profit over life.

Danielle and colleagues watch from Mars. Aleida, all packed to return to the US, watches from her hotel room but turns off the TV with Margo in mid-sentence, looking like there’s no way in hell she’ll work with Margo.

Watch For All Mankind on Apple TV+

You can catch up with the first three seasons of the alternative-history series, plus the new season, on Apple TV+. It’s available by subscription for $6.99 with a seven-day free trial. You can also get it via any tier of the Apple One subscription bundle. For a limited time, customers who purchase and activate a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy three months of Apple TV+ for free.

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