2
Oct
2011
Pan Am: Season 1, Episode 2
We'll Always Have Paris
Rachel
I'm not going to lie to you, dear reader. I am really enjoying Pan Am. I think the show is doing a lot of things right, setting itself up for a really solid season (if it keeps on the track I hope it will). It is significantly outpacing the Play Boy Club when it comes to shaking off the shadow of Man Men, establishing itself as its own show rather than just a pale imitation.

In a weird way, I think that a point of comparison for Pan Am is the cult favorite Pushing Daisies. Both utilize a highly stylized sense of drama, with a special focus on the little things that create a solid sense of atmosphere to establish the diagetic universe of the series. Watching Pushing Daisies always reminded me of reading a pop-up book: the dialogue seemed idealized, perhaps because of the narration, as if each character (supplemented by the narrator) was getting the chance to say exactly what should have been said in the situation, complete with witty remarks and emotional declarations. The look of the show, its bright colors and special costuming and exaggerated details, also reminds me of Pan Am, which utilizes similar elements to create a storybook version of the 1960s that is only roughly equitable to the hyper-realistic style of Mad Men. In a world where air travel means uncomfortable security checks and minimal legroom, Pan Am flights seem like a dream. I also nearly swooned at the idea of paying $350 on a first-class flight to Paris.

Stewardesses

Pan Am is dripping in kitsch, which works well to establish a sense of whimsy rather than realism. It's like a dream of life as a Pan Am stewardess, rather than a legitimate factual account, per say. I could, of course, be giving this show waaay too much credit, but for the time being I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. The dream theory is sort of reinforced by the first real episode (pilots never count) focusing on Paris. I mean, what little girl doesn't dream of going to Paris? I mean, Laura looks like a Barbie and Christina Ricci turns Maggie into some kind of wide-eyed porcelain doll. But we know that these women are no dolls: Laura took a major step in running away from a wedding she realized would make her unhappy, and Maggie's philosophical, radical leanings, and her acumen in sticking up for herself (her wit is as sharp as that serving fork, if not worse) make it clear she is made of tougher stuff that porcelain. Yet she manages to turn around every difficult situation with a pun and an assertion of character strength. I'm excited to see how the show progresses, breaking these girls out of the mold of "Pan Am Stewardess" and turning them into real people. But the show, with a surprising and ironic subtly, creates stereotypes specifically to break them down, allowing the audience a prime opportunity to appreciate the complexity of the characters.

Dean

Dean (Mike Vogel), the captain, is a prime example of this. "We'll Always Have Paris" works to firmly establish Dean as the golden boy stereotype he was introduced as in the pilot. He's a typical hot-headed American boy, particularly in the flashback scene with Bridget, where he finds himself a complete ignoramus in Paris, unable to communicate at all because of his lack of language skills and his lazy accent. His first instinct is to act like a cave man and protect Bridget when another man enters the picture, referring to his boxing past as a means of intimidation. But, of course, his instincts aren't that far off, and he's ultimately right to feel protective of his fiancé, seeing as she's about to disappear. In the present of the episode, the time Dean spends with Colette proves that he is more than just a vessel for well-coiffed testosterone.

His missing fiancé has clearly done some damage, and the poor boy is vulnerable. At first he latches onto Colette out of necessity, but by the end of the episode it seems there's a real connection there. He's cute, and she's adorable, so that would be super fun. I don't like the idea of the free-spirited, fun, easy-going Colette getting caught up at the wrong end of a rebound situation, but she could be just the right thing to ease sweet, simple Dean off of Bridget, who is clearly a complicated mess (I mean"¦.a husband? Who is this girl!?). And Dean's final comment, that Colette smells like Paris, makes it sound like his evening with her is helping him forget the baggage that his former flame saddled him with.

Dean and Colette's budding friendship is the most delightful evidence of the emergence of relationships among the crew. If we assume that the same group of stewardesses always flies with the same pilots, then these people spend a lot of time together in very close quarters. It makes sense for them to have close friendships, rife with banter, disagreements, and loyalties (which we saw in the pilot, when the stewardesses rallied around Colette when her fling appeared on the flight, and is made even more clear during the weight and personal grooming check that comes towards the beginning of this episode). It makes sense for Ted (Michael Mosley) to come to the aid of Maggie and the other stewardesses on his crew. It makes sense for the stewardesses to look out for Maggie after she is accosted by a wretch of a passenger. And it makes sense for crushes to develop and bonds to form.

Maggie

I like the stirrings of a connection between Maggie and Ted. He likes her because she's "scrappy," which, of course, means that there will be many bumps on the development of that crush. He's clearly no lovesick puppy, though, considering he finds himself some company in Paris. So I think this will probably be the sustained will they/won't they of the season, mostly because I don't really imagine that Dean and Collette will continue to be a thing (although I'd love to be wrong about that).

Also being unfurled at a good pace is the clear baggage between Kate, Laura, and their mother, who appears in this episode with Laura's jilted groom in tow. Except he isn't jilted, he's incredibly sweet, and we see that rather than being a square who would have tied Laura down, he has the same dreams of adventure as she does. This plotline has none of the harsh cruelty associated with marriage in Mad Men, where everyone lives a life of silent desperation. Instead, these characters are getting the chance to lives their dreams, and their optimism is infectious. I'm excited to see how it goes, and really hope the show doesn't disappoint.


Grade: B+

The Little Things

"She should have saved the fare and flown a broomstick."

I appreciate the neat symmetry of everything in this crew's life apparently happening 6 months earlier, on either side of the Atlantic. Laura ran away from her wedding 6 months prior in Connecticut, Bridget got made in Paris at the same time.

"I am not included in the price of your ticket!"

I laughed at the joke about the newly formed Mets. But maybe that was just me

"Everyone keeps directing me to Versailles"¦"

The setting of a church for Kate and Bridget's meeting is of course appropriate, considering Bridget, as we know her, is basically dying, being reborn as Elizabeth Reese from Kansas City. I'm intrigued by Bridget, particularly because of her note to Kate, saying that she can get out because she "volunteered for this." Does this mean that Bridget didn't? In the first two episodes, at least, the pacing of the Bridget unveil has gone well, and I hope the show keeps it up.

"He was a surrealist"¦.I had four noses."

"Good God, where on Earth is Missouri?"

"What I can't handle is that you made it ok for him to try that with another girl."

Tags: Pan Am
comments powered by Disqus