In New York Ellen and Thomas have a drink before negotiating a space alliance with Korea. He told her that the Koreans were party animals, which she says exhausts her, but he tells her she will do great. She tells him that she had been meaning to tell him, but is interrupted by a phone call. When she takes the call, she thanks the caller and tells Thomas that her father had a heart attack. Thomas remembered he was in Connecticut, so he told her to use the limo and he would take a taxi to the airport.
On the plane, Thomas tells Margo, who sympathizes, knowing that Ellen wanted to go to Korea. Thomas wishes her father good luck so she could join him later. She asks him if he slept, but he mentions that he cannot sleep on planes. She tells him to read novels, but he makes a joke about it. He asks how Poole and Morrison were doing in Russia and she tells him that training was going smoothly. He liked hearing that and told her he wanted to check on negotiations for the EASA before he landed. As he asked, a jet behind the plane he was on shot a missile, and Margo lost connection to him.
Ellen's father tells her he is sorry she missed her flight for nothing, but she tells him that he had a heart attack and needs to take care of himself. He reminds her that he is running a half-a-billion-dollar company, which she understood. He tells her that if she wanted him to slow down then she would need to help him, which would not happen soon, but she tells him that she is thinking of leaving NASA since she wanted to get to Mars and believed that private spaceflight would be the only way to do it. He wonders what Larry has to say, and she tells him that he only wants her to be happy, which gladdened him, since she would always have a solid man by her side, but he would like grandkids.
Ellen is interrupted and told that the White House wanted to speak to her. She went to the phone and received news that the flight Thomas was on had been shot by the Soviets, leaving no survivors. However, the Soviets had not confirmed this nor apologized.
At a meeting, Margo asks what the airliner was doing flying over Sakhalin and Molly says it could have been a navigational error, but Margo thought 400 miles was too much and wondered why a commercial airliner would be shot down. Bradford mentioned they had spy planes flying over Sakhalin all the time, so the Soviets were paranoid. However, he mentioned that it was more likely that they suspected that the plane was being used to spy, but said that it would be ridiculous. Molly was annoyed that she had not been able to reach Poole or Morrison, but Bradford told her that the FBI had shut down access to all Soviet officials in the US including the Apollo-Soyuz engineers. Ellen agreed and told everybody that she had spoken to the White House and until they found a replacement, she would be acting administrator. She mentions that their priority was contacting the astronauts, maybe contacting Sergei first.
Bradford asks if they will really ask for help after being attacked by the Soviets, and Margo tells him that Sergei will listen to reason. Ellen tells Bradford that they should consider all their available options before making the whole situation worse. Ellen tells Margo that she would contact him. When Margo leaves, she whispers something in Ellen's ear and leaves.
In Star City, USSR, Danielle tries using the phone, but hangs it up after getting no signal. She asks to be let out of her room, but is not answered.
Margo walks to Sergei's room, but is told that nobody could go in or out of the room. Margo tells him she is the director of Johnson Space Center, but the soldier tells her that she would not get in anyway. She asks him his name, and he introduces himself as Sergeant John Perkins. She sympathizes with his position, but tells him he has 15 seconds before she contacts his superior officer until General Bradford was contacted, which landed him getting a beer later, or being transferred to Thule, Greenland.
The officer lets Margo in and she tells Sergei she brought borscht. She goes in the room and she tells him about their situation. Sergei asks her if she tried contacting the embassy, but she tells him that she was met with silence. He tells her that he does not think anything will happen to the astronauts, but she is not comforted. She asks if he has a way of contacting Star City, but he says that he is trapped in there with no phone. She asks if she can arrange a call, since astronauts Poole and Morrison were not a part of what was going on. He reminds her that he is not part of it either, but he was being held against his will. She tells him that Thomas Paine had been killed along with over 200 others which is why they were where they were at. Sergei gives Margo his condolences and she tells him that Thomas was a good man. He lets her know that in his religion when someone dies, it is custom to make the first meal you eat after the funeral, since it was believed that the steam will carry the soul of the departed to heaven. They eat their borscht and he tells her that when she gets him the phone he will call Moscow and tell them that he was not being tortured other than eating bad borscht.
Margo tells a Senator over the phone that she was doing everything she could to contact the astronauts while Larry helps her with coffee. Pam walks in and asks if it was a bad time, but Ellen walks up and kisses her. Larry greets Pam as well and tells her that the phone had not stopped ringing all day. Ellen asks for money for NASA's security and is told that she would get it.
After a while, Ellen was still on the phone while Pam got bored. Ellen hangs up the phone and apologizes, but Pam tells her it was fine and mentions she was good at her job. Pam gives Ellen a massage and they kiss; Ellen tells Pam she is fine, but was exhausted and overwhelmed since she would have been on that plane if her father had not had a heart attack. Pam tells her not to think about it, but Ellen did not like hearing that Thomas was meant to die and says that he was a good man, but mostly misunderstood. Pam tells Ellen that she is alive and with her, which she was grateful for and the two hug. The phone rings once again and Ellen is told that the president would be speaking to her.
She greets the president, which shocks Pam. Raegan tells her that he is sorry to call her under the current circumstances and mentions Tom was a great person and friend. He tells her that he was sure Ellen would do a great job for him since Tom was a big fan of hers. He asks her if she is a Christian, and she says she is, so he tells her to pray and to show strength.
Bradford asks Margo if he was able to get Sergei to help them out, so she tells him that he would do his best. Bradford says that he expected that, but she believes it was worth trying. He lets her know that the Pentagon had received reconnaissance photographs in which it appeared that the Soviets had put their Buran shuttle on a launchpad, which they did not think was ready. He tells her that the photographs were from Sakhalin Island, where the Soviets had a secret military facility. She asks if the photographs were not taken by the commercial plane, and he denies it, but she did not buy it. He asks her if the Buran could be armed, but when she looks at the blueprints she asks where he got them. She does not get a reply, but tells him that it looked like their plans, so it could be armed. She sees their boosters and figures out that they were like their designs from two years ago, so they could blow up at any minute. She tells Bradford that they needed to warn the Soviets, but he says that smart Russians could figure it out. She tells him that if they decided to use Buran as a weapon it did not matter, since at the moment, they could save human lives, but Bradford refuses and tells her that the information was classified.
Danny asks Karen for an order at Outpost and sees there was a leak. He offers to take care of a clogged toilet. Sam Cleveland walks into the bar and greets Karen. Sam tells her that she hopes Danny was not giving too much grief, but Karen says that he was doing a good job. Sam tells Karen that he had not spoken to Tracy in a few days because she had been busy and asks her if he could buy Outpost now, but Karen refuses. He says that he could make the place grow by franchising it and making it go national, but accepts her answer. However, Karen changes her mind and asks him what he is offering. He offers her 250,000 dollars, but brings it up to 390,000 after Karen negotiates. They shake hands and he tells her that they could sign the paperwork the following week.
Danielle looks out her window when a Soviet soldier storms in the room. She stands back while he checks nobody else is inside when another man walks in. He introduces himself as an engineer and she tells him that she had been locked for nearly 48 hours with no explanation, but the man tells her to sit down. She sits after being told she did not have a choice and tells him that she is a pilot and engineer. He tells her that when he was a little boy he dreamed of reaching stars. They take a shot of vodka and toast to Soviet comrades. He asks her if she knows the names on the door. He tells her that they were symbols akin to the Russian flag on the moon. He tells her that the flag on the moon excites him and many others, also mentioning that when he first heard of Soyuz-Apollo he thought Raegan was a smart man since they had no choice but to agree, but hoping it could change the world. She tells him nothing would change if she could not leave the room and the man tells her that she finally went out, she should do it with her head up, and leaves. The phone rings and Danielle picks up, finally talking to Molly and tells her she is fine.
Margo hears Aleida struggling with the vending machine. She tells her to try negative pressure, which in the end works for her. She asks Aleida if she wanted something to wash her food down with since they had finally been able to reach their astronauts in Star City. Aleida thinks it is good and follows Margo.
In Margo's office, she pours them some brandy. She teaches Aleida how to hold the glass and the latter mentions it is strong, and points out that she never thought she had seen Margo that happy. Margo admits she is happy and adds that she can still be surprised by humanity at times. However, Aleida tells her to say that to Bill Strausser since he was the biggest jerk of all time. Margo tells her that he was harmless, but lacked social skills, calling him complicated but a good engineer and committed to his work. She tells her about an incident in which he had been at his console for 23 hours and refused to leave it, even urinating there which earned him the nickname Peanut. Margo tells her that if she could find a way to get along with Bill since even she did it, also reminding her that she would face many difficult people in her career.
Larry helps Ellen with her coffee and they both mention they could not sleep. He asks her how she is doing, and she mentions she does not know since she was overwhelmed. He tells her that she would have to say goodbye to Mars for at least a decade since the military was taking control, but she did not like that, though she does not know what to do about it. He tells her that she is the acting administrator of NASA and needed to prove she had things under control so she could have everybody's trust.
Margo, Molly and Bradford are called to a meeting along with other people who did not know what the meeting was about. Ellen walks in and greets everybody, telling them that the president had decided to arm Pathfinder. Bradford agrees with it since they were being left with no choice, but Margo mentions it is a defensive measure until it suddenly is not. Ellen ignores her and proceeds to say that they were moving up the retaking of lunar claim site 357 Bravo, which would happen within 48 hours. Molly says that the plan was to use lunar night in order to maintain the element of surprise and reminds Ellen that the astronauts had not finished training, but Ellen tells them that the president was comfortable with moving forward after her recommendations. Margo and Molly were left in shock.
Margo visits Sergei, who tells her he would be going back to the Soviet Union, and she thanks him for his help. She tells him that after everything got resolved she wanted to see him again to continue planning the mission together. Sergei agrees, but Margo tells him that it might be a good thing to take a step back and see if anything with the docking module specs was wrong. He asks her what she means and she replies that she was worried they might have overlooked something, telling him that they had discovered a flaw a year ago with their boosters. Sergei understands and smiles, saying goodbye.
Ed calls Kelly, who is looking at the mail. She opens a letter up which is from Vietnam which has all her papers, finding out she was declared as dead in childbirth. She looks at a picture of her real parents and starts to cry; after that she turns on her computer and starts asking about a soldier in the 18th infantry division.
At Outpost, Karen looks around and has a beer given to her by Danny, who would be leaving the following week. They toast to what is coming and Karen tells him she is ready to move on. He tells her to celebrate with him and he plays Billy Swan on the jukebox, who was singing Don't Be Cruel. She starts dancing to the song and invites him to join her. They start dancing together and Danny kisses her. She kisses him back afterwards and leaves directly after that.
Karen makes it home and sees Ed sleeping. She joins him in bed and hugs him. He asks her if she had been drinking, but she gets on top of him and they start having sex.
Tracy is told to prepare the LSAM so that they could retake the claim. She asks her officer why he was telling her that and another astronaut asks Tracy if she thinks Charles could pilot the LSAM. She says no and is asked if she could do it, since she could not be ordered to do it yet. Tracy says she is in and prepares the LSAM.
Danielle leaves her room, which now has her name written on the door.
Kelly looks at a message sent to her, which gives her the address of Le Nguyen, who now immigrated to the United States.
Tracy and the armed astronauts get ready to retake the claim and fly on the LSAM. They approach it while humming a tune. Tracy says the landing site was not clear, but she found one after a time. Tracy lands the LSAM and the astronauts get into the claim with their guns in hand, which make the Soviet cosmonauts leave. Bradford celebrated while Margo remained expressionless.