"The second season of For All Mankind had a massive number of stories to juggle," says Emily VanDerWerff. "That’s in keeping with how sprawling the show’s cast has become. There are 11 series regulars who all have storylines that need to wrap up, and that’s before you get to recurring characters both fictional and historical...What’s even more impressive isn’t just that every storyline wraps up but that every storyline wraps up in a way that ties its resolution into the larger struggle for dominance of the moon. Ed’s journey this season has largely been defined by powerlessness, for instance. His sorrow over the death of his son, Shane (in season one); his inability to stop his daughter, Kelly, from going to the Naval Academy; his wife’s infidelity — all combine to give us a very good idea of just why Ed might listen to the devil on his shoulder and blow the Soviet spacecraft out of the sky at the episode’s climax. But he doesn’t. He chooses to listen to Sally Ride(!), who tells him he doesn’t have to do the violent thing. An uneasy peace lasts another day. Knitting together personal and global stakes like this is incredibly difficult, but, again, 'The Grey' manages this feat for nearly 20 separate characters in ways both big and small."
For All Mankind was a much-improved show in Season 2: Too much of Season 1 "was a timid, slightly ahistorical re-creation, and it was hard to see how things would eventually escalate," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "Wow, was that ever not a problem in Season 2! It’s difficult to think of another TV show where the stakes increase so dramatically from the first season to the second, but For All Mankind started with the premise that early Russian wins in the space race might’ve prompted the U.S. to train women as astronauts much earlier in the process. By the end of season two — here come the spoilers, you have been warned — multiple threads converge in a potentially humanity-destroying four-front crisis that plays out on Earth, on the surface of the moon, and in several spacecraft orbiting both of those bodies."
Ronald D. Moore says the shocking events of the Season 2 finale were decided "relatively late in the game": "As time went on and we kept talking about the story, we just kept coming back to it," says Moore. "It was like a gravitational pull, and at a certain point, you start listening to that as writers and going, “There’s a reason we keep talking about it,” and we started to seriously talk about it and game it out and talk about the pros and cons, and what really became clear to us was it was the right ending for their story."
Michael Dorman explains his rapid weight gain for Season 2: “Before Season 2 started, (producers) told me they wanted Gordo to be out of shape,” says Dorman. “And they said, ‘Prosthetics?’ And I said, ‘Nah.’ If we’re gonna do it, I have to do it. So I saw a bunch of doctors and dietitians, and I put on 40 lbs. in a really short amount of time. I (am) usually 170 lbs. I got to over 210. I pushed it as far as I could.”