Warning: The following contains spoilers for For All Mankind Season 4, Episode 5. Proceed at your own risk!
The mystery of what happened to Danny Stevens on For All Mankind has been answered.
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As previously reported, Danny’s portrayer Casey W. Johnson exited the series with the Season 4 premiere, which hinted at a tragic fate for the character without ever sharing what became of him.
Well, in this Friday’s episode, flashbacks revealed that Danielle had been delivering some of her food supply to the exiled astronaut (Johnson reprising his role) on Mars, even as her own physical health started to take a hit with the dwindling portions. In his abandoned North Korean spaceship, a shaggy-haired and depressed Danny was keeping track of the passing days with marks on the wall. Suffering from the isolation of his situation, a tearful Danny pleaded with Danielle and asked if he could come back to Happy Valley, but Danielle told him that this was the way it had to be.
At long last, Ed — who’d been silently watching Danielle ready for her trips — offered to come with her as she delivered the very last of the food supply. But hunger was the least of their worries when they arrived and found a grim scene: a dead Danny sitting outside in his space suit, presumably having run out of oxygen, with a photo of his wife and baby daughter nearby.
Looking back on Danny’s arc, co-showrunner Matt Wolpert notes the role that NASA astronauts/icons Gordo and Tracy Stevens played in shaping their son’s life and his questionable choices.
“The way we viewed Danny’s story was really a tragic story about a kid [whose] parents were heroes to the entire world, but the sacrifice of that was they couldn’t be his mom and dad, and how does that impact somebody?” Wolpert tells TVLine. “Of course, they’re going to be messed up. And he didn’t have the support and the guidance that he probably should have had from the people that were left in the world to walk him through.”
Danny made one terrible move after another during the last two seasons, sleeping with Karen Baldwin, the mother of his childhood best friend, and causing a mining accident that cost several astronauts their lives, earning him quite the viewer backlash. And yet, you couldn’t help but get emotional watching his quietly devastating final scenes.
“One of the brilliant things about Casey’s performance is you actually feel the pain underneath that is driving him to do these things,” Wolpert says. “So the intention is that you feel the sense of loss and tragedy of, like, he was another casualty of the heroic action his parents took in Season 2,” when they sacrificed their own lives to save countless others on the moon.
The way in which Danny died, having taken his own life, also echoes back to his father’s mental health struggles on the lunar base.
“In the writers’ room, we explored lots of different avenues, but I think fairly early on that felt like the right ending for him,” Wolpert shares. “And because of things we saw with Gordo in Season 1, it felt like an even more tragic outcome because of that.”
For All Mankind fans, what did you think of Danny’s ending? Hit the comments with your thoughts!
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