My Hopes for For All Mankind Season 5

Kelly's purpose, the next generation, Ed's end, more Miles, the next frontier of space travel, and more hopes for the fifth season of Apple's For All Mankind...

The fourth season of For All Mankind ended much like the second. After a season of storylines slowly brewing, they all came to a head in a barnstorming finale. Tensions between the Helios workers and their M-7 overseers became a full blown riot and the asteroid heist led to Goldilocks entering Mars orbit, ensuring both more jobs for the regular folk of the alternate timeline and the future of Mars and space travel in general. It’s the first season finale that feels like it could act as a decent series finale, ending most (but not all) character stories with a sense of closure, and making a thematic point about humanity and its future.

But please, Apple TV+, I’m begging you, don’t let this be the end. The showrunners have a plan for a 7-season run and I would love to see it all play out. A renewal or cancellation has yet to be announced but in a desperate attempt at harnessing the power of positive thinking, here are my hopes for a potential fifth season of For All Mankind.

A big surprise of the fourth season finale was that nobody died. It was great to see a show create drama around stakes that weren’t death. As viewers we’ve been trained to expect big deaths in a finale and I enjoyed this subversion. The season ended on hope. The stakes were about either humanity being content with getting fat off Goldilocks on Earth or keeping it in Mars orbit to push humanity forward, to continue technological and human advances into space. And they managed it. The final scene pushes the show nine more years into the future, that inconceivable sci-fi date of 2012, and shows us the mining outpost on the asteroid, hinting at where the show will go in its fifth instalment.

Yet some of the surprise of all the characters making it out of season four alive is that we’re going to have a very old cast in the fifth. The show hasn’t done the best job of introducing the next generation of characters and that needs to be a top priority moving forward: some new cast members to spend the next three seasons with. Danny seemed like a young mainstay but the writers squandered his story, and now the show is in desperate need of new blood.

Kelly will still be around and will hopefully get more focus next season after almost entirely sitting the finale out. For two seasons now they have been setting up the idea of her finding the first extraterrestrial life and it has yet to pay off. I was certain that was the beat the fourth season would end on, rather than Dev gazing at Goldilocks, but it wasn’t to be. Surely it has to happen in the fifth season, while Ed is still around to see it.

Speaking of Ed, he’ll be 81-years-old in 2012. Which is apparently the perfect age to run for president. They certainly can’t kill the character offscreen between seasons so he’ll be back, but given his age I don’t need him to be a main player. He can be the old man of Mars for one more season but surely the fifth will be his last. Maybe he’ll have to face his fears and return to Earth for one last conversation with Dani, or remain a stubborn old bastard and take his final flight into the stars.

I really like how Dani was presented as the opposite of Ed in season four and was able to just finally return home to Earth to be with her grandchild and retire. I don’t know what story is left to tell with her and am fine with just a final coda with the character rather than having her be a main cast member. I like the actress very much but, barring some new twist, I don’t know what is left for Dani to do in the show other than enjoy her retirement.

The same is true for Margo. I like how they wrapped up the season with her, calling back to her discussion with Von Braun in the first season, and finding the perfect bittersweet way of doing one last deed for humanity’s push into space, an act of revenge on the Soviets, and facing the repercussions of her actions by heading to prison. I love that as Margo’s ending but I imagine she will be back. One last waking-up-and-getting-ready montage, this time from prison. I’m sure there’ll be a problem only she can solve and Aleida visits her for her opinion, Hannibal Lecter-style. But I also have no issue with characters I love leaving the show when their story is told, like Ellen.

My favourite new addition to the cast in season four was Toby Kebbell as Miles Dale and I hope to see him return. It was great to see his evolution from down-on-his luck jobless mechanic to becoming a black market kingpin with the backing of the North Koreans to one of the conspirators stealing the asteroid in the finale alongside the richest man in the show, Dev Ayesa. Truly from the bottom to the top in one season.

Miles was a perspective character into the lives of the regular folk working for Helios and I wonder if that will continue in season 5. Will he be involved in the mining of Goldilocks, or, and I think I prefer this option, working directly with Dev at the upper echelon of Helios? Miles could now be Dev’s trusted right hand man. I wonder if the time jump will skip over the legal repercussions of his actions, or whether he will be exonerated after being tortured in the finale by a CIA agent with the most punchable face ever. Either way, I hope Miles returns. I’ve been a fan of Kebbell since Dead Man’s Shoes and he deserves better roles in the US than most of the ones he’s gotten over the years.

As much as I found the conversations in Happy Valley’s gloomy rooms engaging, I do hope there’s more scenes set in space in season five. Yes, I know Mars is in space, but you know what I mean. Clearly the show this year was operating with a reduced budget and only managed spectacular space sequences in the premiere and finale. I’ll take a shorter season if it allows a little more money to go to creating such scenes. The show does feel cheaper and cheaper each season and there’s only so far that can go for a sci-fi show about space exploration.

For All Mankind began with two seasons about the moon. The next two were about Mars. With season five, a new frontier is hopefully on the horizon. Mars and Goldilocks can still be hubs for stories but I hope the vital materials harvested from the asteroid can push space travel further and faster, with a new focus on the outer solar system. The moons of Jupiter and Saturn feel like a natural next step. Season four was about settling or expanding and the asteroid heist forced everyone’s hand: space travel would have to continue. More money and people dedicated to Mars and Goldilocks. And now, in season five, I want to see the consequences of that action: the expansion of humanity’s reach into the stars.

But really, the real reason I’m desperate for a fifth season of For All Mankind is that I can’t bear the idea that the show would end with that awful M83 song that closes out the fourth season. Everyone seems to love the choice but I personally can’t stand it. After four seasons of this show and its wonderful music choices, from profound to hilarious (that X Gon Give It To Ya moment was brilliant), that song being how the series bows out is too painful an idea and demands the renewal alone.

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