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Cosmic challenge: Second season of ‘For All Mankind’ jumps 10 years in Russia-led space race

The second season of “For All Mankind,” premieres Friday, Feb. 19, on Apple TV+. (Courtesy of Apple TV+)

Joel Kinnaman reaches a wide range of emotions.

It’s part of the job.

As Edward Baldwin in the series “For All Mankind,” Kinnaman has had to celebrate the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

And he’s back for the second season of the Apple TV+ series which premieres on Friday, Feb. 19.

“Portraying someone who has gone through a huge tragedy, it’s difficult,” Kinnaman says in a recent interview. “I looked forward to this season, because there was so much variety in the first season.”

Joel Kinnaman returns as Ed Baldwin in Season 2 of “For All Mankind.” (Courtesy of Apple TV+)

“For All Mankind” dramatizes an alternative history depicting “what would have happened if the global space race had never ended” after the Soviet Union succeeds in the first manned moon landing ahead of the United States.

Season 2 picks up a decade later, in 1983.

It’s the height of the Cold War, and tensions between the United States and the USSR are at their peak. Ronald Reagan is president, and the greater ambitions of science and space exploration are at threat of being squandered as the U.S. and Soviet Union compete to control sites rich in resources on the moon.

Jodi Balfour in Season 2 of “For All Mankind.” (Courtesy of Apple TV+)

The Department of Defense has moved into Mission Control, and the militarization of NASA becomes central to several characters’ stories: Some fight it, some use it as an opportunity to advance their own interests, and some find themselves at the height of a conflict that may lead to nuclear war.

At the end of the first season, Baldwin experiences tragedy when his son dies.

He’s trying to balance his work life and his personal life – both of which are hitting roadblocks.

Michael Dorman in a scene from the second season of “For All Mankind.” (Courtesy of Apple TV+)

“Ed isn’t moving on, and he’s going to show himself in a different way,” Kinnaman says. “When I first read about Ed’s son dying, I was in shock. Ed is on the ground and processing what happened. What’s amazing about the writing is that they keep surprising us. They take paths that you would never see coming. I’ve listened to what they come up with.”

Kinnaman finds the role challenging as well.

He’s having to portray a man who is lost after a huge loss.

“We come in 10 years later, and those wounds are still there,” he says. “I’ve never been asked to portray that kind of emotional depth. I’m super grateful.”

Kinnaman also enjoys keeping his eye on what’s happening in the race for space again.

“I think there should be more put into space exploration,” He says. “We should strive to be a multiplanetary species. Technologies are developing quickly. I hope that the series is part of a storytelling project that inspires the changes needed in the world today.”

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