For All Mankind’s Joel Kinnaman Talks Ed’s Legacy, Relationships with Karen and Danny

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For All Mankind is rocketing along, and by the end of Episode 3, Ed Baldwin had been taken off the NASA mission to Mars, prompting him to join forces with upstart space firm Helios, where he’ll be working with Karen.

Again in the commander’s chair, Ed tapped Danny for his Mars team, even though Danielle warned Ed about Danny’s state of mind and the trouble he’s been having with his mood and actions.

We caught up with Joel Kinnaman to get his thoughts on where Ed’s been focusing his energy.

By the third episode, Ed had his head in the game to become NASA’s Mars mission commander, and then it was taken away from him. Do you think it ever crossed Ed’s mind that his NASA Mars mission would be so easily sabotaged from the inside?

No, I don’t think he thought about that.

He moves pretty quickly to Helios. We didn’t even see him think about it; it was just a given. Why was it such an easy decision for him to leave NASA and go to Helios?

Because he got burned, he got burned, and it hurt. And I think about where Ed is in his life. He has lost his son, he’s lost his life partner, and now also his new wife.

So I mean, what he has left is legacy, and the head of NASA just told them that you are not the future of NASA, and you’re not going to be in charge of this mission, so even though, of course, NASA has been his life, he understands that he’s no longer going to be the choice.

And here, he gets an opportunity to both stick it to the people that burned him, Margo, and at the same time, fulfill his dream. And I think at this point in his life, what he’s very focused on is his legacy. I think that’s what it’s about. That’s what he has left.

Well, speaking of his legacy, he’s also trying to fulfill Gordo’s legacy, especially in choosing Danny as part of his flight crew, even though Danny’s been really off and Ed was warned against it. Why does he push forward on that? And is that going to come back to bite him?

Yes. I mean, that was dramatically the most exciting part of this season for me. And I feel that the writers always have this kind of hidden, explosive, dramatic arc in store for me every season.

And then, usually, every season starts out that things are kind of okay, and then they take a sharp left turn, and then it’s very explosive towards the end. They never failed to deliver that.

And here, it’s very much the story of Ed and Danny. Danny should be Ed’s son. Ed has lost his son, Shane, and he also lost his best friend, Gordo, and Shane’s best friend was Danny.

So, there was this opportunity where Danny should become Ed’s son. He would fill some kind of void from Shane, and it would also honor Ed’s friendship with Gordo.

There’s the potential of mending two of the great losses in Ed’s and Danny’s life, but that’s not the way that Danny sees the world and the way that he sees Ed. And he’s just a different person. He just has a very different trajectory, and life isn’t that easy.

That would be very convenient. It’s so convenient that Danny just becomes Ed’s son. So their journey becomes very, very fascinating — you fucked my wife…

With everything that’s happened so far in Ed’s life and in Karen’s life, do you think there’s a chance for them to find their way back to each other now that things have changed and they’re on a more even keel, I guess, power-wise?

Well, life continues, and they went through losing a child together; they were childhood sweethearts. They are each other’s life partners, but they got divorced.

There are so many couples that go through the ultimate tragedy of losing a child that don’t make it as couples. It’s very common that the majority of couples that lose a child end up breaking up.

It’s just one of those sad facts of life that going through that kind of tragedy, people seem to need to start over in some way, or it’s just the relationship becomes a daily reminder of that deep, deep grief.

Ed and Karen still carried on for many, many years, but then it’s just they couldn’t be each other’s partners, or Karen couldn’t be Ed’s partner, but they’re still life partners in some way.

I found really surprising what their journey is in the third season. I thought it was fascinating and heartwarming, even though it was also surprising.

For All Mankind airs on Apple TV+ with new episodes every Friday.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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