Pan Am Review Week 8

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… Danielle is back again with this week’s Pan Am recap and review …

Pan Am’s 8th episode, “Unscheduled Departures,” showcased our favorite airline taking leave of its typical flight plan – instead of landing in paradise, the crew found themselves making an emergency touchdown in conflict-ridden Haiti. The move tested the inner strength of each character, and made for an exciting hour of television!

Turbulent Skies

On the way to Caracas trouble abounds for Captain Dean as the (historically accurate) 1963 Hurricane Ginny (remember his ex-girlfriend of the same name?) rages outside.  The inside of the plane is also beset with trouble when an elderly gentleman has a heart-attack. The closest airport is Port-au-Prince and so the Boeing 707 is forced to make a dubious and dark descent into Papa Doc’s war-torn territory. Since Collette speaks French, she and Ted take off in search of a doctor, while the rest of the those onboard gradually become more and more disconcerted, none more than Dean who realizes that the runway is 500 feet too short for take-off due to hurricane damage – the plane needs to lose some serious weight, and fast. Collette and Ted return too late to help Henry, but have rescued an orphan whose family was murdered by the tontonmacoutes (boogeymen) and they plan on bringing her back to Miami. The crew nearly mutinies over the stow-away (since they were all forced to toss their luggage overboard in order to make the plane lighter), but the valiant stewardesses band together and insist the teenager stays. All turns out well when Dean is able to facilitate a heroic take-off in a very dramatic exodus from Haiti.

The Good Old Days?

Above all else, this episode highlighted how far airlines have come in terms of emergency medical procedures, thank goodness. It appears as though Pan Am stewardesses were given next to no first aid training as evidenced when the flight surface manual recommends nothing but “absolute rest” and the application of extra pillows for passengers suffering from a heart attack. The pilots don’t seem to know any better either, and the crew is at the mercy of hoping there might be a doctor on each flight. We also learn that “engineers not pilots” dictate the published limitations of each aircraft as Dean is able to take off despite all odds. And the allure of  the life of a Pan Am flight attendant becomes crystal clear, when Kate announces she’s been to “35 countries and counting” because of her career choice.

Pan Am isn’t shying away from controversial 60’s subject matter, and it’s starting to feel like  getting a gritty history lesson in the midst of the stylish Pan Am glamour each episode. The writing is smart and just within the realm of possible. My biggest complaint by far is the vast amount of airtime given to the character of Maggie – who has yet another run-in with an uppity passenger this week – which I’m sure if meant to be sassy, but instead comes off as over-acted and annoying. Good thing Laura at least took a backseat to scene-stealing Colette and I practically cheered when she and Dean finally locked lips in the final moments of the show (right in the middle of the Pan Am administrative offices no less!). Too bad Pan Am is going radio silent for a 3 weeks – things were starting to get toasty!

Over and out, Danielle

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