Oh, hi. I’m just over here enjoying a slice of humble pie after the weeks-long fit I’ve been pitching about how Pan Am‘s last-minute lesbian storyline was nothing more than a show-savings ratings grab. “New Frontiers” may very well be the second-to-last episode of the ’60s escapist drama, but it was the show at its very best. Not only did we get a satisfying follow-up to Maggie’s kiss with Amanda; we saw Kate finally getting some much needed spy training, we saw Collette finally getting the attention of a man who deserves her (an actual prince!), and we saw Laura taking another step toward the empowering life she was seeking when she ran out on her wedding and ran toward the Pan Am recruiting office.
After kissing Maggie last week, Amanda shows up at her apartment this week to process the whole situation. She says it was a mistake, that she just got swept up in the moment, and Maggie tries really hard to believe her. After all, it’s not the first time some random girl has kissed her on the mouth. She figures she’s sending off some kind of lesbian signal. (She is.)
Maggie can’t help herself from diming out Amanda to Ted. He explodes into a co-pilot anger ball, accusing her of being a rumormonger, but then he starts to pull at the string and unravel the mystery of his fiance. Every time he tries to approach the subject of her hidden gayness, though, she makes out with his face to distract him. When he finally comes out and asks her if she’s more comfortable with women than with men, she sleeps with him to prove to both of them that she’s not. It doesn’t work. Amanda proposes a new plan to Ted: They can get married, have the white picket fence and everything, and Ted can sleep with whomever he wants and Amanda can sleep with whomever she wants. It’s heartbreaking to watch because it’s so real.
We won’t find out how Ted responds until next week, though, because this episode was full-on rising action that ended with the Kennedy assassination.
FEELINGS, FEELINGS, FEELINGS
I loved “New Frontiers.” Not just because of the lezzy stuff, but because the episode was exactly what this show has been trying to do all along. Pan Am promised to show us the evolution of “a new breed of women.” Laura and Amanda both struggle with the war between societal expectations and following their hearts. For Laura it’s posing for some empowering nude photos and for Amanda it’s embracing her sexuality. Kate is finally able to pull off a (reasonable) mission on her own (with some hilarious pick-pocket training attempts along the way). And Maggie confronts her reality — fake degree, ratted out Dean’s affair with a Pan Am boss to keep her job, won’t be a pretty face forever — but doesn’t bend to the bullying of George Broyles. I felt proud watching this episode, but bummed, too, because this show could have always been this good.
The thing about JFK’s assassination as a storytelling device is that it’s always a game-changer. Anything that comes after it is believable because that kind of tragedy is a catalyst for all sorts of character upheaval. It’s too bad we’ll never really get to see that play out since it’s likely this show will end in two weeks.
I loved the way the writers played with the idea that Maggie is always getting hit on by lesbians. She doesn’t freak out on Amanda, and she also doesn’t freak out on Kate when she is trying to lift Maggie’s wallet from her purse and Maggie thinks she’s putting the moves on her. It’s totally in-character for Maggie and a good way to lighten the mood without falling into gay-panic cliches.
What did you think about “New Frontiers”?