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'For All Mankind' creator Ronald D. Moore teases a race to Mars with 'Battlestar Galactica' vibes
The third season of Apple TV+'s For All Mankind ignites the Mars race and follows the Battlestar Galactica model.
For All Mankind returns for its third season on Apple TV+ on June 10, and the story will have seen another time jump. The show's alternate history has now reached the '90s, the moon has been colonized, and the United States and the U.S.S.R. on the precipice of a new space race to get to Mars first. It's represents another push into the "what if" at the heart of the series, as the writers conjecture through the astronauts and entrepreneurs within the show about what humanity might have gained if the stars still held our collective attention.
For co-creator Ronald D. Moore, a life-long NASA nut and teller of tales in space, from Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica, For All Mankind's third season offered an opportunity to add a new aspect of space exploration into the narrative. Commercial entities, not unlike real-life private companies like SpaceX and Blue Horizon, have entered the race in For All Mankind.
"We thought it'd be really interesting to have the second [space] race to be to Mars. And then to bring in the third player for the first time with private enterprise as an actual competitor," Moore tells SYFY WIRE in a recent Zoom interview. "All of that got us excited because it just felt like we haven't seen this story before and it felt very relevant to where we are in actuality. It seemed like this was gonna give us a lot of juicy stuff to play."
No longer the day-to-day showrunner of For All Mankind, Moore explains that he still works closely with his co-creators and the current showrunners, Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi, to play in the space exploration storytelling sandbox. "The show is very near and dear to my heart, so I keep tabs on it," he says. "And I weigh in periodically with thoughts or ideas that I might have. It's kind of a fun thing to still get to be part of it."
In particular, he's been excited to have the show weave in the new character of Dev Ayesa (Edi Gathegi), who is the wealthy owner of Helios, a private company very much interested in making the journey to Mars a uniting endeavor instead of a "us vs. them" competition, yet again. Ayesa is obviously loosely based on real-world figures like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and others investing in privatized space travel, and of their ilk, Moore says he thinks SpaceX and Blue Horizon as great boons to NASA.
"They're moving the ball forward in technology and spacecraft," he advocates. "Their rockets are becoming truly reusable in a profound way. They're actually going to the Space Station. We don't have actual current rockets that can lift astronauts anymore. So, I think you're seeing the difference between the public agency and what can happen in the dynamism of free enterprise which is an interesting contrast. Does it have downsides? Do egos get involved? Yes. Is it easy for people to take potshots at them, publicity-wise? Yes, absolutely. But there's downsides to everything, right? And I think, personally, to send Bill Shatner into space, that was a pretty great thing. Yes, I think that was cool.
"That's a wonderful thing," Moore enthuses. "Yes, you could have spent the money on something else. But you can always spend the money on something else."
With For All Mankind now reaching farther into the depths of space for its storytelling, we asked if there is anything from his days writing and steering Battlestar Galactica that is a direct through line to this series?
"Yes, I think the biggest lesson is that you have to always talk about it as a character show first," Moore says. "Mankind has a very high concept with a big alternate history. But at the core of it has to be these characters. And the conversations begin and end in the writers room with how does this affect Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman)? How does this affect Danielle Poole (Krys Marshal)? How does this effect Margo Madison (Wrenn Schmidt), et cetera, et cetera? Because that's who matters to the audience. And that's what gives the show life and makes the action adventure and "Big Picture Drama" of it worth going through, because you're wondering how our characters are going to experience these dramatic things. How will our characters experience the trauma and the tragedies of it? And that's what Battlestar was all about. We talked always about Adama (Edward James Olmos) and about Baltar (James Callis) and Six (Tricia Helfer) and who they were as people and how these events affected them. And as long as that's always the core focus, then you have a good shot at success."
For All Mankind premieres on June 10, 2022 with new episodes dropping weekly on Apple TV+.