For All Mankind’s Cynthy Wu on Kelly Baldwin’s Triumphs and Tragedies

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Another actress who is getting a lot of meaty material from For All Mankind is Cynthy Wu.

Cynthy plays Ed and Karen Baldwin’s daughter, Kelly. Kelly is on Mars with her father and one of her best friends, has fallen in love with a Cosmonaut and is having his baby. That’s a lot to unpack!

We jumped on the phone, and Cynthy shared her thoughts on everything Kelly has been experiencing.

So this is a huge season for Kelly, as her dreams are finally realized beyond her imagination. Can you talk about what it’s been like for her to get this opportunity to actually go to Mars to test her project?

Oh man, it’s been incredible and mind-blowing for Kelly. When we see her at the top of season three, she’s camped out in McMurdo Station in a lab, studying bacteria and she’s a happy little camper.

And then she gets an opportunity to take all of that research and go to Mars. So I think that she was pretty excited. And then I think as the season progressed, as you saw, she got to experience all the highs and lows along with the crew.

Oh, that’s for sure.

Yes.

What challenges has Kelly experienced being on a different Mars mission from her father? They had always imagined that they would do that together, and then that took a left turn.

Well, I think certainly being on the NASA mission, it’s her independent mission, right? So it’s not having Ed or dad there to guide her at every step, which I think is natural for a young woman who’s already out in the world with her own professional career.

So she’s hitting the bumps along the road that any young woman in a field would be coming across.

But the difference then is the race aspect that she’s competing against her dad to see who gets there first, which is both fun and also like, “Oh gosh, dad is not going to love it if he really doesn’t get to be there first, because that’s been his whole lifelong thing.”

But yeah, we do get to see throughout the season too, how Ed does show up and how all the teams work together to help each other out because Steph goes down and they need each other’s help to survive.

I thought it was interesting that she calls him out whenever she finds out about the water project.

Oh yeah. That was a big moment because, well, first of all, the Russians wouldn’t be alive without NASA’s help because Helios, under Dev Ayesa’s guidance, chose not to rescue the Russians who were in distress.

And so then to find out that Helios and the Russians have been working together with their secret of liquid water, you kind of go, “Well, okay, that’s a big betrayal because you guys need to bring us in on your findings because you wouldn’t even be alive without us.”

So that was definitely a huge moment. But obviously Kelly uses that to her advantage.

Sure, sure.

Because, hey, it’s like, “Well, dad, obviously, that sucks finding that you guys have been working together behind our backs, but bring me in. I can do this. I have the research, and I know how to handle this to gather what we need.” So yeah, like any smart person, she uses that connection to her advantage.

Kelly’s also managed to fall in love, which whenever you have close quarters like that, it’s probably going to happen.

Yeah.

And she also lost him, which, I mean, it’s a nightmare scenario to be someplace that’s going to remind her of him nonstop. How’s she going to navigate that loss? And that’s not even considering that other big moment.

Right. Oh my gosh. So I didn’t see it coming, but yes, you’re right. She’s a young woman; they’re living in close quarters, and she found a connection with an unlikely match, but it’s a Russian guy.

So I think it was very human, and I love that the writers wrote that because things like this do happen. And I think they had a great connection.

I think Pawel, who plays Alexei did a wonderful job, and we had such great chemistry working together. And so when he was killed off, oh my gosh, I think I actually cried when I got the script.

Aww.

I was like, “Oh my God.” We had so much fun working together. He is just the nicest guy. And his journey came to a close on our show, as it often does for folks because space exploration is dangerous, so that part was sad.

Gosh, Kelly’s world was just turned upside down because it’s like, oh, she fell in love. And then her dad is injured, and she’s going out to look for him. And she’s going with essentially this new love connection.

And then she comes back, her dad is found, but then her lover dies. And then the big spoiler, like you said, we find out that she’s pregnant with his child.

I can’t even imagine.

Oh, my gosh.

I mean, nobody planned for a baby on board.

Nobody planned for someone to get pregnant.

Let alone Kelly.

God, when I got that script, I was just floored. And my jaw fell to the ground. I was like, oh my God, is this really happening? I literally felt the implosion, like shit hitting the fan. Are we going there? And it was like, yep, we’re going there.

So yeah, it was hard for Kelly to wrap her mind around that, a youthful connection, something that’s so human as falling in love and making a mistake that you got pregnant in space, but not just your life, but all of your crew members at risk.

And that’s a huge, huge responsibility and such huge guilt that I certainly carried as Kelly towards the end of the season of just, God, of all places to get pregnant. How the fuck did I get pregnant in space? And now, what do we do? You know?

And I have to ask too, I mean, Danny is responsible for all of it; how is she going to wrap her head around the fact that one of her best friends just did this, and now, she lost somebody she fell in love with and who was going to be the father of her child.

Everybody is so close up there. I just imagine that explosion that we saw is going to be nothing compared to the emotional explosions that go through the last two episodes of the season. What can you tease about them?

Yeah. I think for Kelly’s purposes, in the remainder of the season in Episodes 9 and 10, I don’t think she is aware that Danny Stevens is the one who almost killed her father or got him killed. I don’t think she’s aware.

Obviously, the viewers were watching, and we know. You guys all know what’s going on and how Ed came to be in that place. But I think for Kelly, I don’t think Danny would be able to walk into a room without getting smothered if we all knew. You know what I mean?

Right.

But no, Danny Stevens is in Episodes 9 and 10, and he’s still a part of the crew and working with everybody to figure out how to help Kelly and how to help deliver Kelly’s baby. And that’s the end of the season: do they make it? Are we able to help her deliver her baby safely? Yeah.

Oh, nightmarish.

Oh, every day, I was walking in like, “Oh gosh, here we go. Are we going to survive?” It was really just like, oh my God. Forget about exploring space just as non-pregnant humans. Yeah. Strap on a belly and see if you can make it out alive!

Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to see it. I mean, this show is just so incredibly written and has so many unexpected turns that I’m sure we’re in for yet another amazing finale.

Our writers do such an incredible job of marrying the wonders of exploration and how exciting and forward thinking it all is with the emotional realities of when you’re out there fighting in space — fighting the elements, fighting the unknown.

All of the emotions definitely come to a head, I feel, throughout the season, but certainly to the end of the season. And I can’t wait for you guys to watch. It’s really remarkable.

For All Mankind Season 3 Episode 8 premieres on Apple TV+ on 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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