Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TV: Pan Am (episode 8)

This week was the airing of the eighth episode of ABC's Pan Am. Looking at the ratings numbers from Sunday night, the show actually recovered some lost altitude over the previous weeks. There were 5.69 million viewers this week which is slightly better than week five. Could we be seeing a comeback here?

Episode eight is entitled "Unscheduled Departure" where in the crew has to alter their course from Venezuela to Haiti due to a medical emergency. Let's take a look at the details.

A new navigator is introduced - Charles "Chuck" Moore. I wonder how long he'll be sticking with the cast. He seems like a real tool.

It looks like a hurricane is brewing though Captain Dean is not worried, despite Ted's joking about the name (Hurricane Ginny, which shares the same name as Dean's troublesome woman from the previous episodes). Elderly passenger Henry is on his first flight ever and Kate tries to calm his nerves. Surely it wasn't her conversation that caused his sudden heart attack? Boredom, perhaps, but not a heart attack.

Chuck isn't all that happy that Dean wants to land in Haiti. He is even more unhappy that Dean asks Colette to speak to the tower (they only speak French). The airport says they are closed with no one in the tower. Dean plans to land it anyway. No runway lights until the last minutes and the plane is coming in too fast. God bless the airbreaks. And then the runway lights go out! (cut to commercial)

I have to jump in here and applaud the pacing so far. Nicely done. Finally the show gives us some real dramatic tension. And, we're back...

The crew is met by two armed rebels, never a good sign. Colette tries to keep things calm in the cabin until she is needed to speak to the rebels. Turns out, they want cash in exchange for use of their jeep to go to the nearby village for the doctor. Ted drives Colette (a first time pairing of these two characters - nice), and he shares his major opinions about the situation out of nervousness. They encounter dead in the road and a local girl who can show them how to find a doctor. Sadly, the doctor has his hands full with triage of victims from the uprising and refuses to go. He offers some nitroglycerine to stop the heart attack. Colette also has promised to take the girl with them, much to Ted's dismay.

Dean and Maggie are pacing outside, and they conclude that the runway is too short (thanks to hurricane damage) for take-off. Ooops. That's going to be a problem. Dean and Chuck try to figure out the best way to get them out of there, and again Chuck is being a Debbie-downer. Staying is not an option in Dean's eyes.

Maggie and Laura try to calm the passengers when the rebels come on board. Surprise surprise, Laura speaks a little French too and offers to get them some food. It sort of makes sense though; I recall French being taught in high school in the 70's so surely it was in the late 50's too. Maggie meanwhile puts a loudmouth passenger in his place. Score one for the fiesty stewardess.

Kate continues to keep Henry company and talking. Okay, she isn't so bad when she's just being normal and not a deceptive pseudo-spy. But her warm smile and sweet story is not enough; Henry passes away right there. Colette and Ted arrive too late. And Dean doesn't look too happy that Colette has brought a native with her. When they are worried about lightening the load, one more body is not going to help - not to mention there are policies against bringing someone from a foreign country onto the flights too. Colette is persuasive (and Dean has a weakness for the ladies and thus gives in).

So, Dean decides to burn off the excessive fuel and then take the flight back to Miami. He also tells everyone that all luggage needs to stay on the runway. That does not go over well. Maggie again puts the guy in his place (score two!). Kate makes the decision to sacrifice Henry's corpse as well so that the Haitian girl can stay on the flight.

Chuck's purpose of the naysayer comes to a head, and Ted stands up for Dean's decision. The rebels arrive to stop them but Dean won't have it. Off they go (come on, we all knew they would get out of it okay - the show hasn't been cancelled yet - though if they had been at this point that would have been a creative way to end the series with all of them becoming Haitian hostages).

In Miami, Kate calls in a favor with Richard to get immigration to turn the other way (nice to have those government connections handy - big points for her all the way around). The gals listen as Dean gets chewed out. The coordinator of the stewardesses wants to know who is to blame, but the entire crew of four stand as one. As Dean is ready to leave, Colette waits for him and plants a major kiss on his lips. This whole incident and his willingness to do the right thing despite policy has changed everything between them, for the good.

All in all, a decent episode. Action, drama, tension, new character interplay and plot advancements. All you would want in a drama. All the main characters had good, key parts to play. It really felt like a team effort.

Maybe this one is the start of saving the show.

We'll see how next episode fares.

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