Warning: spoilers are ahead for the Season 4 premiere of For All Mankind, called "Glasnost."
For All Mankind has officially returned with a new season for Apple TV+ subscribers, and the eight-year time jump into the 21st century showed positive changes for some characters, including a happily-ever-after for Ellen Waverly that helps compensate for the absence of Jodi Balfour as a series regular. "Glasnost" was less positive for others, with Margo's circumstances even worse than her Radiohead cliffhanger, Danny forebodingly absent, and the future uncertain for others. The biggest blow was the death of none other than Grigory Kuznetsov, played by Lev Gorn, and the showrunners explained to CinemaBlend why the premiere's tragedy should be seen as "great."
To recap: the Mars mission has shifted to focus to mining in the 21st century, with an ambitious plan (actually based on real-life theories) to drill for resources on asteroids. Ed, who hasn't permanently returned home in the eight-year time jump despite Kelly going back to Earth with his grandson, was leading a joint mission for the asteroid, with his old pal Grigory Kuznetsov winning the honor of becoming the first person to walk on an asteroid. The mission seemed to be a success at first, but the cables attaching a ship to the asteroid began to snap after Grigory was joined by another man.
The other man – who was neither astronaut nor cosmonaut, but simply in space for the money – was quickly skewered and killed, while Grigory seemed like he could survive... except that he was pinned down, and running out of oxygen even as Ed Baldwin scrambled to save him. Doomed anyway, the cosmonaut convinced Ed to cut him loose, ending his life but saving everybody on the ship.
It was a heartbreaking twist, even though Lev Gorn only joined For All Mankind in Season 3, and I seized the opportunity to ask showrunners/co-creators Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi about it at the recent press day for the series that I rank as the best Apple TV+ shows. When asked if the plan was always to kill off Grigory early in Season 4, Wolpert explained:
That was not necessarily in the plan until we started talking about this season, and really figuring out how we wanted to start off the season. It felt like a great way to show the stakes of what people are trying to do this season, and just how dangerous this asteroid harnessing can be. And that yes, space has become more commonplace. Space travel has become more commonplace. But it's still really dangerous at its core, and so it felt like the right way to start the season off.
Well, the familiar faces in space were Ed and Grigory, and it's hard to imagine leading man Joel Kinnaman being cut from the show in its first episode in more than a year. I can see Matt Wolpert's point about the cosmonaut's death as a "great way" to start Season 4, even if it was also extremely tragic. It'll be hard not to worry about more catastrophe in space in Season 4, if Grigory could be killed off!
Plus, for as much as I came to love Lev Gorn as part of the For All Mankind cast, Grigory got a pretty cool death. Even though Season 3 ended on two characters being killed off, Molly's death was off-screen, so seeing Grigory's demise – which he peacefully accepted in order to save Ed and Co. – was a powerful moment in the fourth season premiere.
It remains to be seen if he's going to be the only important casualty this season. Executive producer Maril Davis previously told CinemaBlend that the For All Mankind team had "like a ten-year plan," and any further big time jumps would presumably take Ed and any others of his generation out of the outer space action.
There's a lot of Season 4 to enjoy before worrying about the next time jump in a fifth season, though! For now, new episodes of For All Mankind Season 4 will continue releasing weekly on Fridays on Apple TV+ in what remains of the 2023 TV schedule. You can also revisit every episode of Lev Gorn as Grigory Kuznetsov streaming on Apple TV+. If you want to start planning ahead for the new year, take a look at our 2024 TV schedule as well!