Attention: Spoilers for all mankind season 3, episodes 1-3.
In the 3rd season of the series “For the Sake of all Mankind”, Karen participates in the space race more than ever before, and this allows her to overcome the difficulties she faced in the 1st and 2nd seasons. Formerly married to veteran astronaut Ed Baldwin, Karen began her arc in the Apple TV+ series on the channel fades into the background as a tough housewife. Since the third season of the series “For the Sake of All Mankind” focuses on the race of humanity to land on Mars, Karen finds herself at the forefront of the series’ narrative. The three—way competition involves traditional players NASA and the Soviet space program, which was recently joined by Helios Deva Ayesa – a private space company. Karen’s role in this endeavor takes her from co-founder of the first space hotel to Helios management, embodying a worthy reward for her limited role in the first two seasons of For All Mankind.
Karen has been through a lot of adversity since the creation of For All Mankind. In addition to the almost constant stress she faced due to Ed’s dangerous career in the Navy and NASA, Karen suffered a serious loss in the form of her son Shane, who died from injuries as a result of a bicycle accident. Ed’s astronaut duties left Karen grieving mostly alone, with no outlet to channel her pain. In the second season of the series “For the Sake of all Mankind”, Karen attempted to cheat on her husband with Danny Stevens, which eventually led to her divorce from Ed.
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In the first season of “For the Sake of All Mankind,” Karen subtly resented her life, Ed, and how she had to make sacrifices for his career, and there was little return from it. It is clear that this struggle pushed her to implement unhealthy survival mechanisms, but at the same time allowed her to eventually fully realize her individual potential. Despite the fact that the disaster at the Polaris space hotel extinguished Karen’s main entrepreneurial venture, her acceptance to work at Helios puts her in the midst of the Martian race For All Mankind, which she belongs to, given her unfortunate past.
The first season of the series “For the Sake of all Mankind” hinted at Karen’s dissatisfaction with the fact that she lives exclusively as a mother and housewife, which led to small changes. For example, Karen initially disapproved of Wayne Cobb and his marijuana smoking, but later joined him when they shared their feelings about Ed and Wayne’s wife Molly, who both traveled to the moon. In the second season, Karen broke out of her shell more because of the affair with Danny, and this is also compounded by Shane’s death. Season 3 “For the Sake of All Mankind” is part of Karen’s arc that allows her to thrive as a person, so her divorce from Ed coincides with her career growth.
Karen’s entanglement with Danny in “For the Sake of All Mankind” served as an important turning point in Karen’s story. While having an affair with someone who is both a friend of her dead son and the son of her dead girlfriend is an odd course of action, Karen’s disappointment in her life is understandable, especially given Ed’s wavering commitment to their relationship. At this point in the third season, ten years after the events of the second season, Karen has fully realized the wrongness of her actions. This clearly paved the way for Karen to move on to more advanced self-management methods, such as entrepreneurship.
Karen’s transformation from a disgruntled housewife to a pioneer of cosmonautics represents her growth as a character from the first season of “For the Sake of All Mankind.” Her development is also in line with the trend of the series, according to which women get more opportunities in the professional field as a result of an alternative timeline leading to a protracted space race that began in 1969. Now, in the midst of the 1990s, “For the Sake of All Mankind” has provided Karen with a reward for her struggle for the first two seasons of the show, giving her the necessary time to know her purpose.