For All Mankind E1

So, I watched For All Mankind on Apple TV+ and felt they had a good storyline that followed the Story Grid method so I thought I’d review it. 

Here’s the Description, in case you aren’t familiar with it. It’s available on Apple for distribution.

Wikipedia Excerpt:

The first manned mission to the Moon during the Space Race in the late 1960s was a global success for NASA and the United States. But this drama answers the question: “What if the Space Race had never ended?”.

In an alternate timeline, the USSR beats the US to the Moon; thus setting its first Russian cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov, on it. Dubbed as “Red Moon”, this event leaves NASA in devastation. This doesn’t mean those working there have given up as they challenge the Soviet Union a second time to show that there is no giving up on hope.


This post will analyze the the Episode 1 of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.


Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Trailer on Youtube

Recap of Episode 1:

  • Russia is the First Nation to land a man on the moon
  • The United States is demoralized, President Nixon is angry, and NASA is distraught
  • NASA management feels if the Apollo 11 mission is not successful it will spell the end of the United States in the Space Race and the domination of Russia
  • In the background, a family of Mexicans is crossing the border into the United States
  • Astronaut Edward Baldwin vocally criticizes NASA for losing the Space Race to Russia
  • Edward Baldwin is taken off active status to support status
  • Apolla 11 moon shuttle, the Eagle, appears to crash land
  • NASA makes the determination to have the last astronaut, Michael Collins, return to Earth
  • Michael Collins refuses, then the Eagle astronauts are able to finally communicate that they are alive
  • Everyone celebrates as NASA makes a plan to Bring the crash landed astronauts to return to Earth 

Inciting Incident: 

Russia becomes the First Nation to have men walk on the moon.

As I mentioned before, the tension that the writers build up for the reveal that it is the Russians and not the United States is brilliant.

Turning Point:

Eagle moon lander crash-lands on the Moon and communications with the two astronauts is lost.

There are a number of Progressive Complications in this first episode such as: NASA funding, astronauts’ wives club issues, one of the astronauts getting demoted because he spoke to the press, and the US being depressed over losing the Space Race.

However, the I feel the Turning Point is the crash landing.

According to Shawn Coyne, a Turning Point “should be a life changing event that will lead to a crisis question that will catapult the hero into a new way of thinking; it should be big enough to prevent the hero from returning to their status quo”.

I think the crash landing meets that requirement in spades.

Crisis Question:

Does NASA order last astronaut to return to Earth?

What are the stakes of this Crisis Question? They are huge for the plot of the story.

If NASA orders the return of the last astronaut (Michael Collins) without the astronauts that crash-landed, then NASA is admitting defeat and they will lose the Space Race and funding. The US will be irrevocably embarrassed.

But if they don’t order Michael Collins’ return, they run the risk of losing the last astronaut, possibly showing an even larger failure and still admitting defeat and a lost Space Race.


NASA orders Michael Collins to return to Earth.


Michael Collins refuses to return without his team, then the Eagle astronauts are finally able to communicate they are alive. 

NASA must now determine how to rescue them.

Personal Story Notes:

1. The interspersed Mexican migration is interesting to me and I am wondering how this will play out in the show.  I suspect that one of the immigrants will have an impact on the space race, or be a family member to someone within NASA.

2. The build up and shock of the USSR flag being unveiled when the first man walked on the moon was very shocking to me, very well done building of tension.  I makes me wonder if the Mexicans are trying to get into Russia and not the US as the borders appear to be American, but it’s not 100% clear.

3.  The building of tension during the crash was also very well done, I was on the edge of my seat. I could have seen it going either way, both astronauts dying on impact, one dying, 1 mortally wounded, or both living.


For me, this series is working very well as an alternate history. 

Not completely sure of the genre right now.  There is the possibility of making it a Thriller/ Action series with space/ environment being the bad guy.  Worldview also as perspectives change.  We’ll see how it develops.  The main deciding factor will be what makes up the core value and on what value the core scenes change.

The Story Grid

For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

Read these articles for more information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services.

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