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SYFY WIRE For All Mankind

Exclusive clip from 'For All Mankind' Season 2 finale, as Ronald D. Moore teases time jump to the 1990s

By Tara Bennett

It's T-minus one week until the Season 2 finale of the AppleTV+ alternate reality space drama, For All Mankind. All season, the narrative's been set in the alt-'80s revealing, and exploring, the repercussions of the Soviet Union beating the United States and NASA to the moon in Season 1. In particular, the militarization of NASA comes to bear in this season finale, which has the Pathfinder mission, lead by Mission Commander Edward Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman), heading to protect the Jamestown moon base from the Soviet Buran launch. 

In an interview with select reporters today, series executive producer/co-creator, Ronald D. Moore told SYFY WIRE that he and the show's writing staff made sure to lay in a lot of markers that will resolve the state of the dueling space programs in 1983 while tipping up another decade jump into the '90s for Season 3.

"As writers, it was important to us that we give the audience a big, satisfying, 'Oh my god!' edge-of-your seat ending to the season, but that we didn't get too far away from the characters," Moore teased. "The characters are really what the show is, so it was really important to us to spend some time at the very end of the finale, to touch base with everybody as that's where you leave them in the 1980s before your jump another decade ahead."

In an exclusive clip from the second season finale, "The Grey," the Pathfinder crew looks for their cosmonaut counterparts in the moon's orbit:

As each season of For All Mankind progresses, each a decade jump at a time, Moore said the series will get more and more sci-fi as the historical events of reality are morphed, or straight-up changed, for the needs of their narrative. He said for the writers, it's been more freeing the less tethered they are to actual history, but that it's also been more of a challenge to keep audiences connected.

"It makes us a little bit more careful in terms of, we do still want the audience to have a connection to the actual history," he detailed. "So as you get into the 1990s in Season 3, we still want the audience to remember some aspects of the 1990s. You want the sense memory of certain events that happen, certain pop cultural things that happened, certain geopolitical things that happen. But sometimes, you want to change them, so they happen in a different way. But it's important that the audience still feels like we're telling a story of us, and the story of the world that they knew, and that it just could have gone differently." Hopeful of more season pick-ups after Season 3, Moore said the diverging timelines will remain the biggest challenge of the ever-evolving series.

In the meantime, Moore admitted that he's thrilled to see audiences respond to the lavish amount of historical Easter eggs woven into not just the narrative, but the surrounding production design in any given scene. "I was hoping people would dig into all the Easter eggs that were planted in the background of the show, like on the televisions, or just in casual conversation, or the plaques on walls and newspaper headlines and television broadcasts. And what's been great is to see how many people are fascinated with the implications of different events, like a crisis happening in Panama instead of in the Middle East, or how the situation that divided Berlin would work out, different missions that happened and didn't happen like Challenger, and political problems and political ramifications of things like Reagan coming in in 1976 instead of 1980. And then pop cultural things like John Lennon, living, and so on."

He continues, "It's been really great because in the first season, people weren't quite sure what to focus on in terms of the alternate history because we started so close to what was real history. There was like a slow diversion as we went further and further down the line. But in the second season, it's a pretty big divergence. And I love the fact that people debate it online."

As to Moore's ongoing involvement with For All Mankind in light of his new deal developing scripts and properties into theatrical scripts and TV shows for The Walt Disney Company and 20th Century, he confirmed he would still have a creative hand in future seasons. 

"I've been pretty involved with Season 3 as we started working on it before I left Sony and started working for Disney," Moore explained. But he reiterated that he and the rest of the writers have already mapped out an overall plan for whole series early on, which remains the framework going forward. 

"I co-created the show with Matt [Wolpert] and Ben [Nedivi], and so now they're the day-to-day showrunners. But I'm very involved," he detailed. "I sit in on the writer's rooms. I read the scripts. I'm in post so I'm definitely involved. I'm just not there day-to-day. Matt and Ben are the two guys on the spot. But I love this show. It's very near and dear to my heart, so I'm looking forward to continuing to work with it. But yes, my principal focus will be on the new projects that I'm developing for Disney and 20th Century because that's the new deal. For All Mankind is in very capable hands."