‘Pan Am’ – ‘We’ll Always Have Paris’: Stick a fork in him

A review of last night’s “Pan Am” coming up just as soon as I let you drive…

Given the quick tankage of “The Playboy Club,” the solid debut numbers for the “Pan Am” pilot were a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, the numbers took a big dip last night, suggesting that many who tuned in last week weren’t impressed by what they saw.

And I wasn’t hugely impressed by “We’ll Always Have Paris,” which had the familiar kind of “repeat the pilot” structure you often see with second episodes. At least it offered some closure on a couple of stories that dominated the pilot, with the two major stories involving fallout from Laura’s runaway bride stunt and Dean’s continued search for Bridget, with the two dovetailing as Bridget interrupted Kate’s conversation with her mom. I suppose I’m glad to get some closure on Bridget, as I found her story (and, more importantly, her absence) one of the less interesting parts of the pilot, but as a side effect we’ve now spent large parts of the first two episodes on a character who won’t be around anymore, being pined away for by a fairly bland character in Dean. (Not coincidentally, the best parts of Dean’s search involved Colette enjoying herself on the journey.) 

And while Laura and Kate’s mother had to be dealt with at some point, I’d have rather seen other aspects of their characters and their new life before returning to the family backstory down the road. I also didn’t buy the last-minute attempt to make Kate sympathize with her mom, as it seemed to flow less from either character than from a need to reverse the earlier structure where it’s Laura who wants to trust her and Kate who’s skeptical.

Maggie still remains fairly marginal for a character played by the top-billed actress, and I wonder how far they can push her feminist outbursts. I get that it’s a broadcast network series and you want to have someone speaking out – or stabbing out – against behavior that’s horrid from a 21st century perspective, rather than having the women all suffer in silence for two or three seasons until they gradually turn into four flying Peggy Olsons, but this seems too much, too soon. The airline forgave one of Maggie’s past transgressions because they were desperate to have an experienced stewardess on that maiden voyage, but a few weeks into the route, I imagine they’d have no problem punishing her and putting another woman in that slot. So the trick will be giving her and the other women those kind of “You go, girl!” contemporary moments without having it ring false in 1963.

Second episodes for shows both good and bad tend to be problematic in the exact ways “We’ll Always Have Paris” were, so I’ll check back in a few weeks to see how the show is coming along.

What did everybody else think?