"Pan Am" Episode 12 Recap: The Italian Job
"New Frontiers." Unlike last week's disastrously ironic episode title, I am thankful to say that, in context of last night's episode of "Pan Am,""New Frontiers" was delightfully apropos. It was kitschy, it was cute, it was unexpectedly fun. And that isn't just because Bridget was missing this episode, but rather that after several weeks of trudging through the muddy trenches of historical (or, in some cases, not so historical) drama, it was nice to see the show get back to what it really started as - easy, light entertainment.
So, what was "New Frontiers" really all about? Well, simply put, the Artful Dodger on a Roman Holiday with Captain America. Not-so-simply put, it was an opportunity for each character to be thrust out of their comfort zone, forced into an unfamiliar situation, a new frontier if you will, and the introspection and eventual adaptation that follows leaving the character either changed for the better, or enlightened but filled with regrets for the past they took for granted.
So, which one do you wanna bet Maggie is? Tricky little Maggie Ryan actually pulled a fast one on us viewers this week and did the unexpected: acted morally. Well, she did betray her promise to keep quiet about the kiss to Amanda, but in all fairness Amanda tracked her down in her apartment, acted all creepy, and hugged her for waaaay to long. Also, Ted was Maggie's friend… acquaintance… coworker. She owed him at least a warning sign of the hot mess of a marriage he was barreling into. But Maggie's truths were a little too much for Ted to hear so early in the morning. You know, you really should make sure someone has had a full balanced breakfast and at least three cups of coffee before sitting them down and telling them their fiancee is a lesbian. In any case, Maggie sensed this all was a little too much for Teddy dearest and delicately defected from her confession. It was all a joke. Suuuure.
But Teddy dearest wasn't the last person let down by Maggie Ryan last night. There was Captain Broyles, too, only we don't feel so bad for him. Captain Broyles (does his name make anyone else think of steak?) seems not only to be a captain of airplanes but a captain of industry, as well. The smuggling industry. He nearly got Dean arrested this week with his haphazard cigarette shipment, and now he wanted to take Maggie down with him, too. Sensing her liberal interpretation of all things moral and ethical, he propositioned her to be his smooth-talking second-hand-man. Like the Robin to his really terrible Batman. And he wasn't really propositioning her as much as blackmailing her with the knowledge that she sold out Dean's affair with Ginny (remember that train wreck?) to save her job. But Maggie was having none of this. She knew she had made mistakes before but she was nothing like Broyles. If the price was her Pan Am job, so be it.
It never got that far, thankfully but let's take a second to investigate the previous claim. Captain Broyles smuggled cigarettes, vodka, and who knows what else for monetary gain. He took advantage of his Pan Am position and was single-mindedly selfishly driven. Maggie Ryan lied, lied, lied some more, and impersonated a few people and betrayed a few others for personal gain. She did all this in pursuit of an opportunity like her Pan Am position, and was ambitiously driven. She may share a history of questionably hideous morals with Broyles, but breaking the law is where she draws the line. Jack Kennedy is her hero after all. Which makes the look on her face at the episode's close all the more powerful. But more on that later.
By this time you may or may not be wondering which characters fulfill my earlier Mad-lib of an episode description. Well, I'll let you in on a little hint - the Roman Holiday involves 1 Frenchwoman and 1 incognito prince. Stumped? Okay, okay, it's Colette and the sketchy, ambiguously accented Prince Omar. Still reeling from her recent split with Dean, Colette has gone colder than American- Soviet relations and iced him out completely. He literally, lit-er-al-ly, begs for her to come back to him. She says she needs to move on. All too easy, I suppose, once the random stranger Omar wanders onto the plane with no luggage, no money, really nothing but a ticket and some less-than-suave pick up lines for Colette. But I digress: accompanying him to the Trevy Fountain probably would have been better than walking the streets of Rome alone, wallowing. So Colette and Omar take off to be touristy and Dean is all but too quick to assume that Omar is the cigarette smuggler in question. He fit the profile after all. But none of these heroics are very effective in winning back Colette's heart. Not even Dean's unintentional discovery of Omar's nobility, nor his superhero display of punching the bad guy (Broyles) in the face, conjuring up a witty punch line, and stalking from the room exuding an air of brooding masculinity. If you haven't pieced it together from the last sentence, Dean is playing the role of Captain America. I can't help but wonder if he might have been more successful in his attempts to win Colette back if he had the awesome costume and shield Chris Evans was rocking in this past summer's production. But Dean decided his new game plan was to give Colette her space, and maybe she will work her way back to him in time. Worked pretty quick too, all it took was a national tragedy.
Sadly, I don't think Dean's tactic will work as effectively in Ted's case. Giving Amanda time will just be giving Amanda time to continue her charade. Enlightened by Maggie's sort-of confession, Ted now sees the signs everywhere - she kissed Maggie, she won't sleep with him, she was hugging Laura for, again, just waaaay too long. Proving no spectacular feat for his gender, Ted is easily baited and distracted from the truth with a little sexy time. Failed sexy time, is more like it, but none of this deters Amanda. She meets up with Teddy dearest at the end of the episode to admit that yes, she is more comfortable with women than with men (this reporter, for one, could not blame her when one considers the downright offensive brown paisley shirt Ted was sporting earlier in the episode. For a peek at it, if you dare, click here.), but that "it gets better." One could only hope her message was subliminally in line with the empowering "It Gets Better" movement, but no dice. Amanda instead bastardized the phrase and meant that once she and Ted were married, they could just date whoever they wanted but still have the facade of a family life at home. She even told Ted he could have Laura. We never quite got to hear Teddy dearest's response, with the breaking news of something even more of a crisis than his love life.
As for the Cameron sisters, they were each exploring new roles this week. Kate was becoming a pickpocket extraordinaire, learning to seduce then steal… and putting Maggie through one hilarious conniption that she gave off lady signals along the way. Her mission: epic success. Go Artful Dodger Kate. As for Laura, this "modern girl" got a chance to really be a modern girl when the nude photographs she took way back at the beginning of the series were put on display in an art gallery. She was horrified. Modern is one thing, playboy is another. But after hearing how her photographs were empowering and forward-thinking, even to the point of attracting the attention of one little nobody named ANDY WARHOL, Laura came around to her new identity and agreed to a meeting to potentially become the iconic artist's new model. But will she actually go through with the meeting after she hears?
And now the event I have been alluding to all recap, something so truly momentous and tragic it puts the plights of all the Pan-Ammies in perspective. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The show's portrayal of it was excellent. The juxtaposition of the light, upbeat story lines with the dark and traumatic event really gave it impact. And while now, 49 years in the future, we all know the outcome of that day, that contrary to Maggie's desperate claims, the president was very much not okay, seeing it through the expressive faces of "Pan Am's" cast gave it a new life, a resonating wave of sadness. Historically, this event brought the country together, bonded all in their mourning, but only time will tell how it will affect the ladies and gentlemen of "Pan Am".
It seems that "Pan Am" is taking a sabbatical, with no new episode airing for at least three weeks. A repeat of "Romance Languages" is playing just in time for Valentine's Day on February 12th, and I'll be back to recap all of the action, lies, and drama when new episodes return. Until then, ABC has posted a new game challenging your trivia knowledge of the characters. Do you think you know Maggie Ryan??
Reach writer Kelly Hanelt here
RELATED CONTENT: Read Kelly's previous "Pan Am" recap here.
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