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… Danielle returns for week 7 …
The most recent episode of Pan Am swirls around the romantic attachments of our two sister stewardesses, Kate and Laura, set to the backdrop of 1960’s race relations. The two’s traditional character roles seemed reversed, however, when the normally controlled and covert Kate finally gets vulnerable with Nico, and it’s mild-mannered Laura engaging in the risqué and bold behavior. No wonder the episode is titled “Truth or Dare” – these sisters cover both challenges!
The episode opens in Madrid, where our Pan Am crew is going to “do a favor for Uncle Sam” and ferry a group of submariners home after a 6-month deployment. That’s when Laura meets Joe (played by Gaius Charles of Friday Night Lights), an African-American in the Navy who catches her attention with his gentle humor and charm. Laura has discovered a kindred spirit in Joe as they both agree that the world, “seemed like too big a place not to go wandering in it.” They engage in a thrilling 24-hour courtship back in New York, as both grapple with the controversial (and dangerous) ramifications of their attraction. Meanwhile, the honeymoon period has ended for Kate and Nico when Nico is abruptly, and suspiciously, called back to Yugoslavia. Kate is desperate to protect him and since her contacts with the CIA are eager to turn him, Nico is kidnapped in the middle of the night and asked/bribed/threatened into spying for the United States. Kate must come clean about her role as a spy courier, and though she wins back Nico’s affection by the time the curtain drops, he’s still being sent home to what may be his doom.
My favorite Pan Am take-away of the season occurred during this episode when Dean offers the girls a remedy for the rowdy sailors onboard their flight. Apparently he can, “Decrease the cabin pressure by manually raising the cabin altitude” in order to “make boozy passengers fall asleep.” Wonder if that trick is still around!
We also learn that Laura is at risk for violating the “Pan Am code of ethics” by having had nude photos taken of herself, and I was a little surprised when Dean allows his favorite stewardess (Colette) to briefly “take the yoke” and fly the plane during the flight based on the reasoning that the sailors weren’t actually paying passengers. And finally, they allude to a special ‘Round the World flight at the end – 3 weeks long! Imagine having the same plane/seat/crew for your entire, multi-stop vacation! I dug around the internet to locate the below vintage advertisement for some authenticity:
The Real 1960’s
After listening to Laura’s sugary sweet whisper of “love trumps everything” to Kate at the beginning of the episode I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and settle in to watch what I thought would be another vanilla boy meets girl story unfold. But then when it’s revealed throughout the next 60 minutes that love and personal attachment can’t necessarily overcome harsh political realities of the day or protect against the violence caused by a racism, the candy coating on the Pan Am series begins to crack – giving it some much needed depth. Watching sheltered beauty queen Laura so far out of her element was certainly more interesting than it would have been if one of the more adventurous characters had taken the part. In one scene Laura struggles over the fact that she is compelled to lock her bedroom door while Joe is in her apartment, and the discomfort and confusion she feels about her own actions and the inherent prejudice it reveals is genuine and palpable. It was enticing to see her character break out of it’s cookie cutter image somewhat. One by one, Pan Am is winning me over – “Come fly with me?” yes, please!
And now, without any further ado, the winners of the Golden Days of Flying Twitter Contest are:
Congrats to all of you and thank you for participating! I will be contacting each of you in order to process your vintage style Pan Am passport cover prize!
See ya next time, Danielle
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