Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for Season 3 Episode 8 of For All Mankind.
As For All Mankind gears up for the final episodes of Season 3, the show takes a sharp turn for the dramatic in “The Sands of Ares” when the astronauts on Mars suffer from a disastrous accident that leaves a third of them dead and the rest injured or traumatized. The landslide, caused by Danny (Casey Johnson), effectively left him trapped with Ed (Joel Kinnaman) while the rest of the survivors tried to find them before they ran out of oxygen.
The season has been teetering on the edge of something big after it is revealed that Danny never got over Karen (Shantel VanSanten) and after their tryst in Season 2, he has always had feelings for her. After getting sent up to Mars on Phoenix with Ed, tensions rose (unbeknownst to Ed) as Danny watched Ed and Karen’s video messages to each other and slowly spiraled down a hole of addiction to pain pills. Last week, we saw the culmination of that when Danny, zoning out while he was supposed to be monitoring drilling, failed to stop the astronauts before they caused a massive explosion and landslide.
We caught up with Casey Johnson and Joel Kinnaman about this episode to get their thoughts and opinions on what happened. Make sure to also read our interviews with Krys Marshall (Dani Poole) and Edi Gathegi (Dev Ayesa).
Therese Lacson: Casey, I feel like Danny has gone on a rollercoaster of a journey this season. I need to know, what did you think after you read the script for “Bring It Down” and “The Sands of Ares” and you realized Danny was the cause of all this chaos and like death?
Casey Johnson: It sort of felt as if something like that was a brewin’ as the scripts were coming out. You’re like, “Oh, I don’t know how this ends in the best way possible.” And it doesn’t. So, there was that aspect and then also reading the script, I was like, “Okay, now there’s all these emotional and heavy scenes that I now have to do as an actor,” which was daunting, but also very exciting, and very challenging. It was a whirlwind of emotions for me reading it as Casey and also seeing all the things that are playing out as Danny as the show is playing out.
Lacson: Yeah, I can imagine. I’m interested in knowing if you had any input when it came to Danny’s arc this season. I do think his story is one of the most compelling ones of the season, even if he is a mess as a person. Were there ever moments where you were reading the script? And you’re like, “This isn’t Danny,” and you might have tried to advocate for him?
Johnson: Honestly, no. No, I trusted the writers, our showrunners, and the creators behind the show. The show did so well through two seasons. And reading it was also very exciting for me. I was like, “Oh, I have to deal with all these complex things. And this is going to be a challenging journey that I am going to go on throughout the season.” [It was about] just taking in what was happening and trusting that this is all happening for a reason.
Lacson: I’m interested in hearing if you had any conversations with Joel in regards to Danny’s relationship with Ed and how Ed sees him as a son, but Danny definitely does not have the same level of respect for Ed. Can you talk about if you guys discussed the complications of that relationship or how you approached it personally?
Johnson: I think, personally, it’s such a complex — I mean, all of the relationships within Danny’s life are very complex and he doesn’t know how to deal with them. He’s confused and there’s so much in the past that is now being carried over into the present. And Ed takes him under his wing, as you would imagine, and Danny is pushing him away. He, in his mind, feels [that] is the healthiest for where his mindset is and his feelings towards Ed. I just think it’s very hard for Danny to get over the past. I don’t know how much he’s dealt with the past internally. Therefore, it’s leading to these things happening.
Lacson: And Joel, what was your reaction to reading that scene and realizing that Ed was getting into yet another disaster scenario on a far-off planet?
Joel Kinnaman: I love the culmination [of that] and when everything just came to a head with Ed and Danny. I thought it was really well written and just extremely satisfying. We see how losing a child is something that you always carry with you, it’ll always be there right under the surface, and I think when you’re facing death, it just comes right up there and that’s what we were seeing with Ed. I think that the disappointment of what Danny could have been.
Ed lost his son and his son’s best friend was the son of his best friend that he also lost. So, Danny should have been his son. It could have been that healing where he gets to step in and take care of his best friend’s son, and in some way, have a son again, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Personalities just don’t always match and Ed just meant something completely different to Danny than what he meant to Ed. I thought it was just very fascinating to read, and then even more fascinating to play out and embody.
Lacson: Yeah, I can only imagine. And Casey, what do you think was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Danny as far as his downward spiral this season?
Johnson: I don’t think it’s one particular thing, I think it’s just a build-up of a lot of different things. Danny has dealt with a lot. The past is catching up to him. He’s had so many tragedies in his life, as well as dealing with a bit of an addictive personality in himself, which is reminiscent of his parents. Also, he’s dealing with having to live up to the legacy of his parents. So that’s overwhelming; being reminded at every turn of his parents being heroes and dying in this heroic way. Of wanting to move on and be his own person. Everything just weighs very, very heavily on him. I think he’s just very lost and confused. I think it’s all sort of unraveling at this moment where we find them in Season 3.
For All Mankind streams exclusively on Apple TV+ every Friday.