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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pan Am: Can’t Get Enough of Your Pan Am Service ...

Pan Am
Episode 106
"The Genuine Article"

The backdrop settings for this Maggie-centric episode (Aviva, I understand if you stop reading now) consist of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech, delivered August 28, 1963 (though we were only a week or two at most from the Monte Carlo trip which happened in July show time and May in real life … ok!) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the rise of second wave feminism, launched by the publication of The Feminine Mystique earlier in the year.  Dr. King’s speech is widely known in America and is a backbone, centerpiece of the racial equality movement of the 1960s. The larger context of freedom for mankind is the them to grasp onto for our purposes.  The rise of feminism (Ted is reading The Feminine Mystique to better his fake understanding of women) in the 1960s is about women standing up for their own sort of equality, in all spheres of life … for stepping out of the man’s shadow.  The Feminine Mystique deals with the growing restlessness of women who were still being forced into their assigned roles by societal norms (you also see this restlessness in Mad Men through the characters of Peggy and Joan).  Maggie and even Laura embody this ideal for this episode. On a nerdier historical front, its important to know that there was a guy named Josip Broz (who went by Tito or Marshal Tito) ruling the then country of Yugoslavia, basically as a (fairly popular) dictator and avowed communist. History has revealed that Tito ruled the country built on a house of cards and typical dictatorial suppression of competing ideas; a house which completely crumbled into chaos after his death in 1980. During his time, which coincided with the bulk of the Cold War, Tito made a name for himself by having a non-alignment policy with neither the USSR nor the United States, using and repelling each as it served his needs.  

And now that you're asleep, the episode ...

Maggie:  This Maggie-centric episode gives us the Maggie flashback treatment and basically explains how Maggie is a conniving fraud in every sense of her life … but that we should like her more for it? Cause she’s complicated? I don’t know. I am even more mixed about the character after this episode than I was before it.  In Tacoma, Washington, 1959, we see Maggie was “working” as a diner waitress (where there was a Portuguese cook who didn’t like her very much).  She’s not so much working as reading Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and complaining about wanting to escape her trailer life. When a guy, who has been listening to her whole conversation, stiffs her with a three cent tip, she chases him outside. He tells her that he didn’t want to encourage her waitressing dreams; you see he’s been driving a big rig since he came back from the war and has been sitting in that diner with the older waitress and the two of them gave up on their dreams.  Inspired, Maggie strips off her apron and chases the guy in the big rig down and jumps in. See ya later Tacoma!  Sometime later, we see she has found herself in a job at the registrar’s office of UC Berkley (natch for a feminist rebel like Maggie). When a Pan Am stewardess/student comes to drop her world literature class, Maggie sees opportunity and assumes her identity.  The World Lit professor, who looks like Keith Olbermann, asks his students to respond with their favorite book when he calls their name on the attendance role.  Roxanne Gibson Maggie responds with The Great Gatsby but make no mistake Professor Olbermann, she's Gatsby not Daisy. Sure, she ends up dead in a pool but at least she throws some awesome parties along the way.  Sometime towards the end of the semester, Professor Olbermann has caught on to Maggie’s impersonation of Roxanne. Seems that Maggie has been impersonating several women that tried to drop courses and has been taking tons of different classes unofficially. He asks if she knows how much trouble she’s in?  He tells her that she is smart and motivated; make someone see that.  Our last flashback is Maggie’s Pan Am interview. Which she technically missed.  However, through pure Maggie gumption, she bullshits her way through an impromptu hallway interview complete with a faked transcript “hot off the presses from Berkley’s registrar”, a faked fluency in Portuguese, some Pan Am buzzwords (picked up from her brief encounter with the real Roxanne Gibson) and a little ass wiggle.   In the present time, Maggie is brought before a review board over her Ms. Havemeyer shenanigans from previous episodes. She's eating crow super fast but since she has several infractions against her, her file is up for review by the base manager and she’s grounded until a decision can be made. However, they change her mind when she’s the only Portuguese fluent stewardess on the about to depart flight to Rio.  When Maggie finds out that Life Magazine is doing a follow-up on Laura, she gets the idea to stick close to her BFF as to rub some good PR dust on to her.  Maggie tries working Graham the photographer to get some attention. He's super not interested. Maggie encourages Laura to pretend she's playing a role as to make her time in front of the camera a little more bearable. Someone like Betty Boop or Bridget Bardot.  Maggie makes a deal with Graham for some favorable press if she can get Laura to play some ball on the ground in Rio.  However, Laura proves difficult to wrangle in the marketplace and is harping on getting the right bag for Kate since she never asks for anything.  Graham is running out of patience and then Maggie and Laura get arrested for something maybe related to the stolen bag and watch they just bought. Laura thinks the policemen’s "pull you into a scary jail in order to get bribe out of you" plan has worked very well and wants Maggie to speak some Portuguese to the cops so they can start working on fulfilling the bribe requirements.  Oops. Maggie’s a fraud, she doesn't speak Portuguese, just a few words relating to being a bad waitress.  On the flight home, Maggie tells Ted that while she disagrees with everything about him, in the end, he showed up and came through when it mattered (i.e., got them out of jail). She is teary eyed as she walks away and Ted is clearly thrown off by sensitive Maggie.  Maggie approaches Henson to see if he can pull some personnel strings but he stonewalls her.  Then, Maggie tries to make nice with Laura. Maggie comes off a little aggressive when she  says she’s already apologized, she totally hasn’t.  Maggie takes this as an opportunity to launch into a story about how every time she’s gotten caught in a lie, she has moved on to somewhere better. But, this time, there is nowhere better. She can't lose Pan Am.  Laura is confused as to why she would lose Pan Am (is there no gossip tree in the Pan Am organization that no one knows she’s about to get the boot?).  I note that Maggie still did not apologize.  Back in the airport, fresh off her eavesdropping Stupid Ginny’s love confession, she approaches Henson one more time, this time loaded with a juicy trade of information.  In her wrap ups, Maggie runs into Ms. Havemeyer in the Pan Am building. Ms. Havemeyer mentions that it seems Maggie made a new (and important) friend during her last trip.  So, I guess Henson saved her job after all. We close on Maggie listening to a language tape (presumably Portuguese) in the Pan Am language lab and she is looking … Conflicted? Worried? Not sure. Oh Maggie, how many bridges can you burn before there is nothing left?

Dean:  The episode opens with a post-coital Dean lying in Ginny’s bed of sin and infidelity, complete with a picture of Henson and Ginny on the nightstand.  Ginny comes out fully dressed (including socks, eww) in Dean’s pilot uniform.  Later, on the plane, Ted is waxing on about he hopes to be able to fake understand women better after having read The Feminine Mystique when he spies a mink coat wearing (in August in NY?!?!) Ginny boarding the Clipper Majestic. Dean ... is not pleased. He clearly feels like she is pooping where he eats (to bungle a nasty metaphor).  As Ginny eases her way into the cockpit and engages the three member crew into helping her with a Rio de Janeiro-themed crossword puzzle (who is flying the plane?!?!).  Dean answers a 9 letter word for mountain with Corcovado (the mountain that the famous Christ the Redeemer statue sits upon), leading Ginny to reveal that she is meeting Henson and Graham (the Life photographer) at the mountain for some pictures for their article.  Everyone is like, Henson the VP is coming?!?! Once in Rio, Dean is not happy about (a) Ginny being in town and (b) right next door to him in the hotel. He tells her that Monte Carlo was a lark and they got lucky not be caught.  And if they continue, Rio will surely be where they’re busted.  They should stick to New York. Ginny responds, “hit with logic, the mighty warrior falls.” Ooook crazy.  Later, at a bar, Ted is sharing silly failed sexploits with Colette and Dean. When Henson and Ginny show up, Ted excuses himself from having dinner with them (Henson hysterically calls Ted the wrong name twice which is a classic move of male dominance).  Ginny kind of invites everyone to dinner and VP Henson doesn’t seem overly pleased with dining with his workers.  At the uncomfortable dinner, a very drunk Ginny is making googly eyes at Dean while he tries to deflect his awesome piloting skills to the Air Force training. Henson seems oblivious enough to the awkwardness and Ginny wisely excuses herself to the ladies room. Colette, looking none to pleased at all, joins her but not before Ginny makes a cockpit innuendo.  Stay Classy Ginny! Once the ladies are gone, Henson confesses to Dean that he is shtooping Ginny, even though she is “over the rainbow whacky.” Henson thinks Dean and he are some sort of kindred spirits and that if anyone understands why he loves Ginny, it would be Dean. Later than night, a sobering up but still drunk Ginny paws at Dean’s door, mewing about being sorry.  He is inside, ignoring her and she finally gives up, kissing the number plate on the door goodnight.  The next day, Ginny corners Dean in the cockpit and says she's fallen in love with him. Maggie overhears this unfortunate confession.

Kate: Kate’s storyline this week begins by her being grounded from the Rio flight due to a loss of her small pox vaccination records.  Of course, this is subterfuge on CIA Richard’s part so that he can deliver her assignment (he also lets us know that its August, at least in NY).  He totally knows she been boning seeing Niko since the Monte Carlo trip and now wants her to get closer to him; find out his itinerary for his upcoming trip.  You see, Niko is at the UN as part of Tito’s Yugoslavia delegation and since Tito is playing the US and USSR against each other (see the non-alignment policy discussion above), CIA Richard wants to know more about Niko’s doings.  CIA Richard helps send her on her way by giving her admission tickets to the [Rye] Playland Amusement Park.  Kate finds it easy to get closer to Niko since she totally in lurve with him. For his part, Niko tells Kate that she is always with him, she follows him like a ghost an then he makes kissy faces with her.  Oh, by the way, he’s going home for a week to see his family in Zagreb.  We learn more about Niko’s motivations, yes he works for Tito’s government but he doesn’t like Tito; Tito’s dreams aren’t the dreams of the Yugoslavian people. As they watch Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech, Niko shares that he has no hope for Yugoslavia; Tito's changes are not for the better (Niko is no communist it seems). As he and Kate discuss the merits of Frankie Valli and the Four Season’s classic, “Walk Like a Man,” Kate tells him that change is possible in every minute, that if there's something you wanna do, its never too late. Later, Kate walks in on Niko finishing  a heated discussion on the phone. It seems his cousin has been caught up in a show trial, popular under Tito and that he has been tortured and coerced into a confession of sorts. Niko is changing his plans an is now flying to Belgrade to help his cousin instead of visiting his family.  In response, Kate tells him that her mind is full of him too and they kiss and say goodbye, maybe forever. In her wrap ups, she reports Niko’s goings on to CIA Richard and in turn, CIA Richard wants Kate to turn Niko … to get him to spy for them. “Welcome to the big leagues.”  Kate hems and haws that she just a courier, that she can’t do this. CIA Richard tells her that with his anti-Tito feelings, how long with Niko last if he doesn’t come over to the US side of things? 

Laura:  Laura’s purpose in the episode was to become disillusioned with Maggie and to expose her for a fraud of sorts.  Her A storyline was dealing with Pan Am’s last minute decision to authorize a follow-up story for the Life Magazine article which had hit stands just as the show premiered (back in April 1963?). Basically, a photographer named Graham follows her around trying to candid shots of her doing her stewardess thing.  She’s EXTREMELY uncomfortable with the attention and wishes they were focusing on someone more experienced.  I noted at the top of this post that she embodies the feminist ideal; I mean that in so far as she is clearly increasingly uncomfortable with being taking for granted and put down for getting by on her looks alone.  I think they are moving her towards a character development where she almost resents her blond bombshell looks in so far as they hinder her from being taken seriously.  Her C storyline is shopping in the Rio marketplace for an alligator purse that grounded Kate requested and a replacement Rolex for Ted (since he sold his to get her engagement ring back from the Shoop Man last episode) which turn out to be stolen items and land her a night a Rio jail … sitting on a bench … with Maggie.  Laura takes the time to bone up on some Portuguese phrases so that she might be able to bribe the Rio policemen and make it to her breakfast meeting with Henson and Graham (she doesn’t make the meeting).  Laura’s B storyline is getting to smack Maggie around (verbally) and expose her as a fraud.  When Maggie says reading the dictionary isn’t necessary, Laura gives her a litany of things that are necessary, like being able to speak Portuguese when you are a stewardess on a flight to Brazil and have held yourself out as fluent in Portuguese.  Though Maggie tries to throw a weak, “how did your food taste on its silver spoon” jab at Laura, she is armor plated at that very moment to any such insults and takes charge of things herself.  Until Ted comes in and saves the day that is. By pretending to be the Pan Am “boss,” he is able to spring the girls with a cash bribe and the new (stolen) Rolex. Once day, he’ll get to have ne again I think.  In her wrap up, Laura is able to make nice with Graham (the Life photographer) and agrees to meet him in New York for some picture taking.

Colette: Continues to have no storyline other than the occasional eye roll and/or waggle at Dean. I thought she was going to get into it with Ginny in the bathroom but alas, no.

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