"Home Again" is the sixth episode of For All Mankind.
A launchpad accident leads to delayed missions and FBI background checks.
On August 24, 1974, Apollo 23 was almost ready to launch. Gene Kranz, the new director of Johnson Space Center, wished the crew good luck. The commander was Michael Collins, who told Gene he would land better than Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had.
Deke Slayton was with mission control, contacting Jamestown Base, where Edward Baldwin, Gordo Stevens, and Danielle Poole were currently at. Administrator Weisner gave them a speech where he announced on behalf of president Kennedy, a new flight director, Irene Hedricks.
At Outpost, women were gathered, not so much to see Apollo 23, but to see the Equal Rights Amendment in the Illinois State Senate, which was a top priority by Ted Kennedy. When the final vote was cast in favor, Pam Horton and Ellen Wilson hugged, and Larry Wilson hugged Ellen as well.
Gene was told that there was a bad actuator, but he mentioned he had nowhere to be.
Deke had the prime crew of Apollo 24, which he read to Weisner in order of seniority: Ellen as mission commander, Harrison Liu, and Deke Slayton, which he seemed surprised to read. Weisner asked what he was doing, but Deke handed him his medical clearance for flight status. Since he no longer deemed his heart condition a problem, he believed he was ready, but Weisner was not sure, since the president would not like it. Deke stood up and declared that as cheif of the astronaut office, he was assigning himself to Apollo 24, which Weisner had to agree with.
Karen is at the principal’s office, defending Shane and Tracy’s kid against the principal, who is suggesting they are psychopaths. Karen tells him that all they did was a prank and that they would be punished for it, but the principal wants to get to the bottom of it, and would like to include Tracy in the conversation, which Karen mentions is not possible due to the nature of her work. Karen leaves the principal’s office and berates Shane and Tracy’s kid, telling them to not say a word until they got home.
At Outpost, Pam, Ellen and Larry talked about the Equal Rights Amendment, but Larry mentioned there was no way Americans would watch their daughters go to war, but Pam mentioned that they used to say the same thing about women and looked at Ellen. Larry told him equal rights does not mean the same as gay rights.
After a fix on the rocket Gene was working on, he walks away, mentioning he is hungry before a huge explosion engulfs him.
At mission control, Irene asks FIDO if they have updates on launch winds yet, which Margo confirms, telling her that they were within launch parameters. Irene asks her to keep an eye on the data, but they soon saw on their screen the abrupt explosion of the Apollo 23. All of mission control froze at the sight of the explosion, and Irene told someone to lock the doors.
60 days after the explosion, Ed, Danielle, and Gordo were still on the moon conducting experiments, while receiving supplies via unmanned Titan rockets while they waited for NASA’s board of inquiry to identify the cause of explosion.
At a meeting, the FBI told Irene, Deke, and Weisner that they thought the KGB was involved in the sabotaging of the Apollo 23, but Irene did not understand why they wanted to interview everyone. Deke told the director that they knew the cause, but the FBI told him that there had been breaches of security protocol at NASA before.
Margo was at her desk, and was told the Weisner was looking for her. Her colleague pointed out that they now had to look at a picture of Gene everyday, which Margo mentioned helped keep his memory alive, but the man said that it only showed how insignificant everybody in that room was, since if there had been an astronaut’s death, there would be a lot more than just a picture, so when they died, nobody would remember them.
Margo saw Aleida seated behind mission control, and asked her how she had gotten in there. Aleida explained that her father, Octavio had let her in after talking to a security guard. Margo put on her glasses and looked at the math Aleida was doing.
After that, she walked into Weisner’s office and was told that the board of inquiry wanted her to collect an outside report that was prepared on the Saturn explosion. She laughed, and wondered why she was being demoted to the mail room. Weisner reminded her that Irene had been the most qualified to be flight director, but Margo argued that she had been in NASA only five years, while she had started in 1966. Weisner apologized, but Margo told him that she was not a messenger. Weisner, however, wanted to restart the Saturn project and all they needed was the systems analysis report, which would only be given to her. Margo mentioned she did not want to see von Braun, but Weisner told her it was not personal and to go get it.
The Russians also set a lunar base on Shackleton Crater, called Zvezda, and would be sending three astronauts, which would be the first time that US, and Russia were on the moon at the same time.
At Jamestown, Gordo was talking to Tracy, who mentioned she had put down a deposit on an apartment, but had not told their children anything. Gordo asked Tracy why she would not move in to the apartment, but Tracy refused, because she did not want Gordo and Sheila to keep the house to themselves.
The FBI director interviewed Larry, where he asked him about the Montrose District and whether or not he had been to the Bayou Landing, which was a dance hall for homosexuals, which attracted many different people, and someone had mentioned seeing him enter the establishment. Larry mentioned he was a republican and did not hang out with many republicans, also saying that he was in bed at the time somebody had allegedly seen him. His alibi was his girlfriend Ellen, which he had not married due to his salary.
At Outpost, Larry told Pam and Ellen this, mentioning that usually the FBI gets these secrets out because the Russians can use these secrets to blackmail you. Larry told Ellen to be ready since what she was committing was a felony, but they needed it to keep working at NASA.
Margo visits von Braun, who asks her to come in to his house. She told him that she did not know why he wanted to see her. He changed the subject, telling her that she had left her father’s funeral without a word. Margo kept trying to get back on-topic, but von Braun distracted her.
Meanwhile, Tracy gets to the Baldwin home, where she finds out she is not really into her kid’s life, but Karen assures her she has it covered. She talked to Danny Stevens for a while, but then had to leave since she had an early day the next day.
At von Braun’s home, Margo and Wernher were having dinner. Von Braun could not believe Margo could not simply talk to him since they had known each other pretty much Margo’s entire life. Margo told him she forgave him, and to just give her the report, but von Braun told her that he wanted to tell her something her father never had, but that made no sense to Margo.
He told Margo about how he had met her father, and presented her with a suitcase, which contained something he mentioned he did not agree with. Before he started, he told Margo that her father loved her, which she did not see. However, von Braun mentioned that what he was telling her were facts that her father did not know how to tell her, but Margo did not agree since her father had been beyond “remote.”
Von Braun told her that during the war, her father had worked on very secret work for the government, which involved the Manhattan Project. Margo denied it, but von Braun presented her the files where it was explained that he worked on compressing a plutonium core to a critical mass through a spherical implosion, which led to the creation of the weapon that was used on Nagasaki. The bombing had a profound effect on her father, and both he and von Braun talked about the moral ramifications of the bomb, but Margo’s father ended up retreating from the world, and Margo.
Pam and Ellen were hugging in bed, but Ellen tells Pam maybe they should take a break since the FBI investigation has her wound up and she also does not know where her relationship with Pam is going, since she was not sure it could go anywhere or if being a lesbian was a phase for her.
Margo asks von Braun if she can keep the files, which he agrees to. She thanks him for having told her, and asks him for the report so she could go. Von Braun told her it was a long drive, so perhaps she could stay, which she refused since what they had talked about did not just wipe away everything that had happened between both of them. Von Braun reminisced with her, and told her he had pushed her when her father had wanted to but could not. Margo thanked him, but von Braun told her she was wasting her talent, not doing as well as Irene Hendricks. He asked her what she wanted to be doing in ten years; she said she would be running NASA, but von Braun told her she would not since she was not a team player. Margo defended herself, saying that she was in mission control, but von Braun told her that that was because he was her mentor, and Gene looked kindly upon her, but even with all her credentials, she was passed over for flight director which Wernher blamed her lack of social skills for. Margo once again asks him for the report, and von Braun gave it to her. He told her she had the key to her success in her hands, and told her to evaluate why the valve on the Apollo 23 had failed. He told her when he reviewed the supply chain for the Saturn, he found out the LH2 valve was manufactured by Kirkland Aerospace, which means NASA had changed the contractors in early 1973, asking why the change had been made.
Margo was going to read the report, but von Braun told her it was not necessary. The change in contract was so that Illinois would back the Equal Rights Amendment, so that the governor would be re-elected. Margo sat down, and wondered if Gene had only died for a political vote, but von Braun reminded her that eleven other men had also died. She mentioned the report would cause a fire in NASA, congress and the White House if it was made public. Margo asked why it would not be made public, and von Braun told her that the reason was that it holds potential to do great harm to the president, so the report would be buried. So, von Braun asked her who would benefit from the situation since every bureaucracy was corrupt.
Shane did not want Karen to tell Ed about the water meters he had smashed with Danny, but she told him that she would, and ordered him to wait while she video-talked to Ed, who asked if she had spoken to the doctor. She mentioned she had, who had told her some good news about getting pregnant. Ed told her he was fine, but was working long days; he asked about Shane, who Karen told him was missing the astronaut. However, Ed told her that he had to follow orders until relieved. After Karen left, she told Shane he was grounded for three weeks.
When Margo handed Weisner the report, the latter mentioned that von Braun writes a compelling report. Margo asked what he was going to do with it, but he evaded the question and told her the board was thankful she had gone to von Braun’s home. She asked him if von Braun’s findings would be included in the final report on the explosion of the Apollo 23, but he told her that he was classifying it as top secret on his authority as NASA administrator. As an oath she had taken, she was bound not to reveal any knowledge she had about the report. Doing so could open her to being charged with revealing classified information and spending 20 years in a federal penitentiary. She muttered what von Braun had said, “every system is corrupt,” and told Weisner that she had made a copy which could be sent to The New York Times. Asking what she wanted, Margo told him she wanted what she deserved, and left.
Margo went to Aleida, and gave her a slide rule, telling her to go to her office in 20 minutes so she could show her how to use it. She asked Aleida if she could play the piano, and told her she would learn later.
As Gordo walked on the moon, he saw unrecognized lights from the distance.
- Joel Kinnaman - Edward Baldwin
- Michael Dorman - Gordo Stevens
- Sarah Jones - Tracy Stevens
- Shantel VanSanten - Karen Baldwin
- Jodi Balfour - Ellen Waverly
- Wrenn Schmidt - Margo Madison
- Chris Bauer - Deke Slayton
- Colm Feore - Wernher von Braun
- Eric Ladin - Gene Kranz
- Wallace Langham - Harold Weisner
- Krys Marshall - Danielle Poole
- Olivia Trujillo - Aleida Rosales
- Nate Corddry - Larry Wilson
- Meghan Leathers - Pam Horton
- Ben Begley - Charlie Duke
- Leonora Pitts - Irene Hendricks
- James Urbaniak - Gavin Donahue
- Noah Harpster - Bill Strausser
- Nick Toren - Tim 'Bird Dog' McKiernan
- Ryan Kennedy - Michael Collins
- Spencer Garrett - Roger Scott
- Megan Dodds - Andrea Walters
- Martin Grey - Scott Kraus
- Tait Blum - Shane Baldwin
- Mason Thames - Danny Stevens
- Michael James Bell - Principal Mike Russell