American astronauts and NASA leadership prepare for a new mission with unlikely partners. Ellen gets in touch with an old friend.
A ceremony is held, and Soviet cosmonauts are received by NASA. Margo tells Thomas that she believes if she can pretend to be happy, the Russians could pretend as well. They greet the cosmonauts, and Ellen greets one in Russian, but tells him she is not fluent, which makes Molly laugh. Danielle greets the cosmonauts happily, and they move forward.
Later, Margo explains how the mission will proceed, and does not receive any questions in the quiet room. However, when Margo referred to the cosmonauts as "astronaut three and four," the Soviet representative told her they preferred being called "cosmonaut one and two," so as to not sound like afterthoughts. Margo agrees, and Sergei Orestovich Nikulov tells her that they would also suggest naming the mission "Soyuz-Apollo" instead. Margo moves forward, saying that the astronauts and cosmonauts needed to get to know each other, and the Russian immediately asked for their RF encryption protocol. Margo glanced over at Bradford and Thomas for an answer, and told the Soviet that they would exchange the encryption protocols, but the Soviet demanded that they show them first. As Margo continued explaining, the Soviet interrupted her, establishing the Soviet Union as the active mechanism, which did not please the NASA team at all.
Later, Ellen asked how they were supposed to get anywhere if nobody wanted to share information, and Bradford simply responded that they would not get anywhere. Margo complained, and Bradford told her that he was confident that she would make things not move forward.
On the moon, astronauts are testing their new guns. When Paulson missed a shooting target, Tracy teased him, telling him that it was possible that the bullet was in orbit around the moon. They all laughed, and Tracy brought them to the canyon, testing to see how things would go if the Russians were there. She instructed a man on how to fly the LSAM, who was not able to control it was well as she could.
Aleida's boss tells their team that they needed to design a new docking system from scratch. Aleida complains that they have no Soyuz structural interface data, but her boss ignores her and tells the team that he wanted new proposals in the morning. Aleida asks him why he had ignored her, and he tells her that the problem she had asked about did not even correspond to her team, also adding that she should stay in her lane.
Margo visits Thomas and asks him to make the Russians go away, but he tells her that he wants this to happen, telling her that the handshake in space was his shining city on a hill so that people spoke about this gesture for years to come. He added that she needed to find a win-win scenario, which she does not like.
The Baldwin family watches the news, which mentions that people are protesting the launch of the Sea Dragon, since it contained nuclear fuel. Karen says that it does not seem very safe, and asks what would happen if it exploded in the atmosphere, and Ed mentioned that was why the launch was in the middle of nowhere. The launch begins, and after it successfully lifted off, Ed reassured her that there was nothing to worry about, which did not convince her. Kelly asks Ed what he had written his essay about when he had gotten into Annapolis, but Ed said he did not remember, and told her to simply tell them who she was, which left her stumped. She asks Ed why they had adopted her, and Ed tells her that when they walked into the adoption center, they saw her help a kid with a puzzle, being kind and patient and tells her that they knew right away. Karen told her that it was love at first sight, and Ed agreed. However, Kelly asked why they did not have another baby. Karen tells her that she had some medical issues, and Ed had been living away from Karen for a while, since it was a difficult time after Shane died. They remember getting excited over adopting a Vietnamese baby, which makes Kelly think she only served as their band-aid, but Karen tells her that she was their heart transplant.
Danielle thanks the cosmonauts for the gifts they had brought from Russia, and tells them that she wanted to get to know them. However, since they did not respond, she started talking and told them about why she had started flying. The first cosmonaut tells them that he was in the Soviet Air Force and joined the cosmonaut program when he was selected. The food gets there, and Danielle tells them that they had gotten it from the best Russian restaurant in town, but the cosmonauts tell her that they wanted hamburgers, so she took them to Outpost.
At Outpost, the cosmonauts enjoyed their burgers. Karen walked up to them and asked if they wanted vodka, but the Russian asked her if she had Jack Daniel's, which she agrees to bring. The Soviet looked at the bottle and poured them all a glass. When Danielle said cheers, the Soviet cosmonaut told her that they usually toasted to fallen comrades, which they did, followed by a shot. The other cosmonaut tells Danielle that if they had mixed nitrogen with their oxygen like the Soviets did, then the Apollo 1 might still be alive. She responded by telling him that if the Soyuz 11 crew had worn pressurized suits, then they might still be alive as well. They do the second toast, which they say is to the women of the world.
Ellen walks with Pam, who tells her that she does not know what will happen between them, and she could not toss her life aside for her again. Ellen told her that she was not asking her to, but wanted both of them to figure out what their relationship meant. Pam told her that it was an affair, but Ellen told her that it did not have to be just that, but Pam tells her that it was hard to trust her, and Ellen suggests that she did not have to be at NASA since she wanted her, saying that she was willing to do anything in order to keep her, but Pam tells her that since she was a public figure she did not want Elise to find out because somebody saw them holding hands in the park.
Ed, Gary, and Sally simulated flying the Pathfinder and they ran into a problem. Ed asked Gary to handle the situation, but he made a mistake, so Ed showed them how to handle it.
Margo knocks at the Sergei's office, who tells her that his bosses loved getting reports, which she empathizes with. She recommends playing livelier music, but he says that it would not be appropriate for him to listen to non-politically approved music at work, which surprises her. She tells him that they needed to find a way around the roadblock they had with the docking mechanism, but he told her that it was non-negotiable. She mentioned that the whole mission required them to be able to dock both ships together somehow, but he pointed his gaze towards the man who was outside and he told her that he believed that Soyuz-Apollo was a ruse in order to gain military advantage over the Soviets. Margo told him that if he really believed that, then he should head back to Moscow, writing on a sheet of paper that he should meet her at 11:59 at Club 11:59.
Margo plays the piano at the bar and sees the Soviet. He congratulates her on how she played the piano, and they sit down. She tells him that she was not sure if he would be able to get rid of the bodyguard following him, but he tells her that the Russians knew he would never defect. He asks her if 11:59 was a secret place for her, and she mentions that it is because she chose not to share that part of her life with many people, and they toast to their shared secrets. She explained the meaning behind 11:59, saying that it referenced the "doomsday device," which he mentions is not far from the truth, telling her that they had civil defense drills in all their major cities. She told him that she remembered doing them as a little girl and asks what they should do about the docking problem. They cut their coasters and represented the docking with them, which excited them both.
Jimmy talks to Tracy through videocall. Tracy congratulates him on his birthday, which he mentions had been the day before. They reminisced about when Gordo tried to make him a cake when he was six since he had tried it again and his other birthdays. Gordo overheard while Tracy said that he really made her laugh at times, sometimes just by looking at him. She tells him that she wishes she could go back in time, but is told she had thirty seconds left. However, Jimmy hung up immediately, which she did not like.
Kelly wrote her essay, but was having a hard time, so she grabbed a book and got the number of the Houston adoption center.
Danielle's crew bonded, and the Soviet cosmonaut asked her if she liked Laika, the first living being to go to space. He tells her that he held her in his arms at the launch when he was still a boy. He mentions that she was very little and spirited, but balanced, and adaptable to new situations, which reminded her of them. However, he did not seem happy about her having to die, since everything she had heard had been a lie. In truth, Laika's rocket did not separate as planned and thermal control failed, causing her to suffer and die a few hours later. However, Danielle told him to give Laika some credit, since she had done it all for the people she loved. They toasted to Laika and drank.
Margo and Sergei make it to NASA, discussing plans, only to find Aleida in the room. Margo was surprised, but introduced both of them. Margo asked what she was doing there, and Aleida mentioned that the universal docking system and needed some inspiration, so she figured it would be best to go to the source, which Sergei agreed with. Margo asked her if that was under her purview, but Aleida admitted that it was not. Sergei mentioned that engineers who liked to get their hands dirty were the best, and told Margo to keep her. Aleida thanked him, but Margo mentioned he was drunk. Margo showed the drawings, which Aleida described as beautiful; Margo agreed, but Aleida told her that it would not work since there was nothing to disperse the energy of contact and the hull could be ruptured if they were hit hard, which Margo agreed with. Aleida told them that they could place a ring and the three got to work.
The next day, Margo, and Aleida presented the docking system to Thomas, Ellen, Bradford and the Apollo-Soyuz team. Sergei talked to the Soviets and they agreed that it would work for them. Margo told Sergei that they would need to coordinate their approach while in space, and Sergei gave her the frequencies, with Margo returning the favor. Thomas told Ellen that the cat was out of the bag now, and Ellen agreed.
Tracy went to Deke's grave and talked to herself. She mentioned Gordo was cocky at times, just like her, but they had changed now. She told Deke that he used to have a bad haircut, but would remain as he was forever.
Gordo visited Sam Cleveland's house, who greeted him warmly. Sam poured them some wine, and asked Gordo if he would be going back to the moon. Gordo mentioned that he was and told him that he wanted to talk to him. He tells him that he would be getting Tracy back and told him that he wanted to tell him his intentions face-to-face. Sam laughed and reminded him that she was his wife now, also telling him that he had some balls. He told him that he did not think Tracy would be going anywhere since she had made her choice. He told him that he could try his best, but Tracy was free and would probably stay with him since she had made up her mind.
Ellen sat with Larry and he mentions that he knew she was with someone because she was glowing. Ellen tells him that she had found Pam again through her book, which surprised him. He told her that he was happy for her, but realized that she would be coming out. Larry was surprised, saying that he did not know that they had a specific time planned for coming out. Ellen mentions that they should start living their lives and getting a divorce, which freaks him out, since he believed they were sharing a life together, and he loved her. She told him that she felt alone since she had lost Pam the first time. Larry understood, and mentioned that he would do anything for Ellen. She leaves and tells him they would talk when she returned.
Danielle and the crew of Apollo-Soyuz make it to Star City in USSR, where they were checked for weapons as a man looked at them from a distance.
- Joel Kinnaman - Edward Baldwin
- Michael Dorman - Gordo Stevens
- Sarah Jones - Tracy Stevens
- Shantel VanSanten - Karen Baldwin
- Jodi Balfour - Ellen Wilson
- Sonya Walger - Molly Cobb
- Krys Marshall - Danielle Poole
- Cynthy Wu - Kelly Baldwin
- Casey W. Johnson - Danny Stevens (credit only)
- Coral Peña - Aleida Rosales
- Wrenn Schmidt - Margo Madison
- Nate Corddry - Larry Wilson
- Jeff Hephner - Sam Cleveland
- Dan Donohue - Thomas Paine
- John Marshall Jones - Nelson Bradford