I loved the Pan Am premiere so much (see this post for proof) that I had some serious concerns that the show's second episode would fail to live up to the glittering (and above all, fun) promise of its pilot episode. Thankfully, I'm positively, giddily happy to report that "We'll Always Have Paris" exceeded my expectations. If the show continues to deliver episodes in this vein I'll be CRUSHED if it doesn't make it (are you listening, ABC???).
We spent less time getting a lot of back story dumped on us during the Clipper Majestic's trip to Paris in this hour and more time getting to know the principle players in the present, with a few deftly inserted (and brief) flashbacks that add a nice layer of emotional resonance to what everyone is dealing with during the current flight.
One of my favorite storylines in this episode involved the Cameron sisters, Kate (Kelli Garner) and Laura (Margot Robbie). They are so different, the independent and self-assured Kate and the gorgeous but easily intimidated Laura -- but this episode gave us some insight into the genuine affection the two have for each other in spite of their differences and the constant comparisons they've endured - especially at the hands of their mother, mostly to Kate's deteriment - which could have completely destroyed their relationship. I loved the fact that this trip was the fulfillment of a childhood dream for the Camerons, as evidenced by the childhood drawing Laura salvaged from their parents' home. But perhaps the best "surprise" was when their mother shows up on the Paris flight.
Watching Mrs. Cameron interact with her children raises all sorts of interesting questions about the changing role of women in society in the 1960s. Is Mrs. Cameron society-conscious and manipulative? ABSOLUTELY! I couldn't BELIEVE she dragged Laura's ex-fiance Greg to Paris expecting some romantic reconcilation -- however, I was nicely surprised by how supportive and understanding Greg ended up being of Laura's dreams of adventure -- very classy! On the flip side of this, I think the fact that Mrs. Cameron got her passport right after Kate -- the overlooked, "disappointing" daughter -- became a Pan Am stewardess hints at the fact that she wants a relationship with both her daughters, and perhaps there is a small part of her that empathizes with or envies Kate's gumption.
Poor Dean (Mike Vogel) is still mopey about the LOVE OF HIS LIFE Bridget's (Annabelle Wallis) disappearance, but isn't entirely immune to the a little flirtatious banter with Collette (Karine Vanasse). Dean riding to Pan Am headquarters in his convertible opens the episode and is a prime example of the show's delicious STYLE. The sequence just drips with 1960s glamour, and Vogel's good looks and easy charm are reminscent of the stars of the period, like Troy Donahue (I NEVER ever got that guy's appeal, but he was a favorite of my mom's so I'll give him a nod here) or even Rock Hudson in the classic romantic comedies he made opposite Doris Day. His lovelorn, lost-puppy devotion to Bridget is sweet (it's early in the season -- I'm not ready to smack him upside the head and tell him to MOVE ON...), and I appreciate the fact that he keeps his flirtation with Collette on a harmless level despite his coworkers' ribbing. (Did anyone besides me just love the fact that Collette went after Dean's car as part of their "bet"? That cracked me up!) Vogel and Vanasse have an appealing, fresh chemistry in their scenes together, and I desperately hope the show pursues a possible relationship between their characters. The end of the episode?? I die. Yes, Dean is tipsy, but pulling Collette into his arms to dance on the streets of Paris? I DIE, I REALLY DO...that moment was so ridiculously perfect. :)
This show is still holding out on Maggie's (Christina Ricci) and co-pilot Ted's (Michael Mosley) backstories, but they did get more screentime in this episode that revealed some tantalizing insight into their personalities. As revealed in the pilot episode, away from work Maggie is a free spirit with a rather bohemian lifestyle distinctly at odds with the regulations that come with being a Pan Am stewardess. While Pan Am provided ground-breaking career opportunities for women in 1963, many held the view that for the price of their ticket they were entitled to force unwanted attentions on the stewardesses, often well beyond the bounds of "casual" flirting as the boorish first-class passenger proves to Maggie (LOVED it when she stuck him with a fork!). When Ted attempts to be the "hero" and smooth things over with the passenger so he won't report Maggie, he's taken aback by how much she doesn't appreciate his "chivalry." Later in Paris she elaborates, explaining that what irked her was that Ted's actions basically excused that man's behavior, freeing him up to harass another stewardess. I get the feeling Ted has a good heart but is used to skating through life on fast talk and charming bravado. I rather like the idea of the fiesty Maggie getting under his skin -- goodness knows he needs a strong-willed woman he can't steamroll. Hopefully the show will explore that relationship possibility!
Two episodes in, I feel like the show is handling the Cold War spy angle really rather well. It's not overwhelming the human drama of the show, but adding to it by raising the stakes for Kate when it is revealed that her mission in Paris is to deliver Bridget's new identity. It turns out that Bridget was "burned" on a previous mission, her spy work costing her everything (i.e., Dean), and she's been "exiled" to Missouri (oh the HORRORS! j/k *wink*). Bridget's cautionary tale doesn't deter Kate -- she seems determined to succeed in undercover work. I would totally love for Kate to have a romantic fling with her spy handler Richard (Jeremy Davidson). When he stops her at the beginning of the episode and says "au revoir" (WHILE WEARING A FEDORA!!), I melted, I couldn't help it. Yes, I can be an over-the-top romantic SAP...but I'm okay with that. Really. :)
Here's hoping that next week's episode is even better. Pan Am is proving to be a thoroughly enjoyable, glossy, engaging escapist fantasy filled with ridiculously likable characters, gorgeous settings, and fascinating storylines. The main players are so wonderfully LIKABLE, that the show should be more soap opera-ish than it is -- and that is due in large part, I believe to the sincerity and nuanced performances by the actors -- they seem to be truly invested in making these characters real, not mere cardboard cutout caricatures. And hopefully that is just one reason this show will succeed. :) If you caught episode two I'd love to hear your thoughts!