Despite all the hype leading up to the show, Pan Am is still struggling to find loyal fans. According to this article, despite the show’s dismal performance in the U.S., it’s an international superstar. In Sweden, it’s even the most popular foreign series ever. Too bad there aren’t more Swedish people in the U.S!
In this episode, the captain makes the tough decision to make an emergency landing after a passenger has a heart attack. The conditions in Haiti are anything but welcoming, with a hurricane shutting down the airport and causing chaos everywhere. This episode might be entertaining, but it’s definitely nowhere close to believable.
What’s so crazy about this episode?
1. The crew chooses to land a plane in a hurricane with no runway lights and no ground crew. Helping an almost dead old man is definitely not worth almost killing hundreds of people on board.
2. The runway lights turn on 5 seconds before they land. That’s safe considering they didn’t even know they’re close to the ground. Couldn’t they have just circled until they saw the lights come on? I get the guy is in danger but seriously! He can wait 2 minutes.
3. Armed Haitians are everywhere. On the plane. In the woods. And yet the crew still thinks it’s a good idea to pay them off and wonder into the wilderness to find a doctor while people with guns take over their plane.
4. The Captain takes off using a technique that’s apparently meant for fighter jets since the runway is too short. The passengers even have to get rid of all their luggage to help make the plane lighter. Again, everything was miraculously okay.
5. The old man dies anyway. Why was this all worth it again?
Take a look at what Mike Vogel thinks of the episode. Clearly he’s more impressed than I am.
What I liked about this episode:
- Character development! Finally! We learned a little more about Maggie’s past this episode, shedding light on Pan Am’s spunkiest yet most elusive stewardess. Maggie worked her way up by picking up students’ dropped classes while working at a university’s registrar office, and got the job at Pan Am by passing as fluent in Portuguese with the phrase, “Clean up at table 9.” How little we know about the characters’ pasts has always bugged me. I’ve watched every show this season and still have trouble remembering names. That doesn’t happen with well-developed characters.
- I loved how Maggie told Mr. Havemayer about the affair between Captain Dean and Ginny to save her job. It serves the Captain right for hooking up with a Pan Am executive’s girlfriend. It’s also nice to see a little real drama that doesn’t have to do with the CIA
- Kate and Niko’s romance. It’s the most genuine and endearing relationship on the show. Can’t wait to see what happens when the CIA attempts to make him an agent.
What I didn’t like:
- Why was Laura so upset about Maggie lying about speaking Portuguese? She only got the job because of her sister and good looks.
- Who does Ginny think she is professing her love for Captain Dean? The line seemed very manufactured and downright bizarre. Hooking up twice does not mean they are in love!
- The disjointed story lines and bad writing. I love the premise of Pan Am but it has never really been a cohesive show. Corny, campy story lines that have nothing to do with each other are way too common with this show. This especially seems to be the case with anything having to do with Laura. It seems like they are trying to fit way too much in each episode.
Here’s a look into what life at Pan Am was like for the executive producer, Nancy Ganis. Even though it’s not quite coming through with the writing, it’s great how in touch she is with the show’s premise.
Pan Am’s pilot last night proved to be refreshing new addition to the sometimes lacking network TV lineup. Although the comparisons with Mad Men have been endless, the idea of the show is not that similar at all besides the time period and the fashion statements. While the “first ladies of the sky” are weighed regularly and are treated more like models than today’s flight attendants, the opportunities that Pan Am gives them are almost unheard of at the time.
Laura, a newest girl on the crew, even runs out on her wedding in hopes of traveling the world with her sister Maggie, who is a seasoned flight attendant with nothing tying her down. All of the women on the show are strong, independent women who want to make something of themselves rather than the sex objects Mad Men portrays. Even when Colette, a flight attendant from Paris, discovers that her new fling has a wife and child when they all board her transatlantic flight, she does not dismiss it in the “boys will be boys” way that Mad Men treats the subject. She is composed but angry and even jokes about whether to poison his drink or food.
While the romantic plots are interesting, albeit a little cheesy, I especially loved the parts involving the CIA. Two of the stewardesses are chosen to work with the CIA to covertly transfer documents across the world and check up on passengers of interest among other tasks, something I had no idea actually happened during the Cold War. I have to admit I first I thought this was kind of crazy and far fetched, but I went with it because it made for a great plot-line.
Then I did some research. Nancy Ganis, the show’s executive producer, was a Pan Am stewardess for years and is rumored to have had connections with the CIA during her time working for the company. Talk about authenticity. To further prove me wrong, in an interview I found discussing the pilot with former Pan Am stewardesses their biggest complaint was that the hairstyles are too long. Overall, I really enjoyed the pilot and can’t wait to see what happens next week!