For All Mankind E2

This post will analyze the the Episode 2, titled “He Built the Saturn V”, 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.

Recap of Episode 1 “Red Moon”:

  • 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 

Review of Episode 2 “He Built the Saturn V”:

  • Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin return from the their crash land on the moon
  • Nixon orders NASA to win the “Race for the Base”, to be the first to have a lunar base
  • Ed is asked to testify against NASA, but he refuses
  • Ed resigns from NASA to return to the Navy
  • von Braun is confronted with his atrocities as a nazi and his image is tarnished
  • Deke asks Ed to come back and be part of Apollo 15
  • Nixon announces that they are in negotiations to end the Vietnam war
  • The last scene shows a Russian woman walking on the moon

This episode seems to be a setup for future episodes, so the 5 commandments are not as strong as in the first on the next two episodes.

Inciting Incident: 

Armstrong and Aldrin return from Earth

Turning Point:

Ed is confronted by Congressman Charles Sandman to testify about NASA’s failures, in particular, the failure to reach the moon first with Apollo 10, which he commanded.

Crisis Question:

In this case, the Crisis Question belongs to Ed and whether he speaks up against NASA or not? The stakes are high for him. If he does speak up, he is only saying what he already stated to Newsweek, he is promised a position as an astronaut again, but he will be betraying the organization and people he has dedicated his life to. If he doesn’t speak up, he will probably never go to space again.


Ed chooses not to betray NASA and takes responsibility for not landing on the moon as the commander.


Congressman Sandman hits NASA from another direction by confronting van Braun with his Nazi past and Deke asks Ed to come back to the program anyway.

At the end of the episode, the news channels reveal that the Russians have landed the first woman on the moon.

Personal Story Notes:

1. I’m still interested in where the Mexican family plot line is going.

2. The final scene is a great hook. The screenwriters have done a great job with finding cliffhangers that don’t affect the 5 commandments of the next episode.

3. I think the screenwriters are doing an excellent job weaving real life characters, like van Braun, into the storyline, as well as altering significant events, such as the possibly early end of the Vietnam War.


This was a slow episode, but I’m still hooked. Still not sure about the Genre though. I’m leaning toward Thriller, I can see a lot of life and death turning scenes in the future, and honestly, that is what I am looking for in this series, it’s what is bringing me back.

More Story Analysis

If you want to see more applications of the Story Grid methodology, below are links to my analysis of various novels and television shows in blog posts and podcasts:

Story Grid Showrunners Podcast – Parul, Melanie, and I analyze hit TV series using the Story Grid methodology.

My blog posts analyzing other Television series – my person take using the Story grid 5 Commandments to look at my favorite TV series – Jack Ryan, Batgirl, For All Mankind, Hanna, and more.

Novel analysis – I analyze some of my favorite books using the Story Grid 5 Commandments and 6 core questions – First Blood, Old Man’s War, Waylander, and more to come!

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