After last week's holdover from November, Pan Am aired its season -- and likely series -- finale, "1964," on Sunday night. As the title implies, this final chapter in the saga of the crew of the Clipper Majestic took place at the end of a very eventful 1963, which culminated in the assassination of John F. Kennedy that ended the last in-continuity episode, "New Frontiers."
"1964" picked up roughly a month later with New Year's Eve looming and the characters' lives in various states of flux. Ted agreed to wed Amanda despite her progressive thoughts about marriage, only to back out when he finally woke up and realized his true feelings for Laura -- whose mild annoyance with Ted apparently always masked romantic longing for the puffy co-pilot. But then Amanda went and played the "I'm pregnant" card, sealing Ted's fate
until Season 2 forever. CIA recruit Kate protected her mentor against a rogue agent and was informed that the Agency wanted to put her on the path to becoming a for-real agent, complete with a boot camp course at Langley. The trade-off? She'll have to give up her Pan Am gig, but we frankly don't see the downside in not having to serve drinks and food to pushy passengers anymore.
Meanwhile, eternal hellcat Maggie bounced back from the death of her idol (JFK) and the end of her affair with that conservative senator by throwing herself into the international smuggling game, becoming Sky God George Broyles's partner-in-crime and Dean got his license suspended over that Haitian pit stop but managed to save his job thanks to a letter of recommendation from the company's big boss, Juan Trippe. And, finally, our beloved Colette was flying high with her new beau, Prince Omar, but that romance crashed to Earth when a background check initiated by his royal parents revealed that: 1) Her name was changed by the nuns who sheltered her during World War II to hide the fact that she's Jewish and 2) She has a brother somewhere out there who also survived the war. The final shot of the episode found all six core cast members standing on a balcony overlooking Times Square as the ball dropped, ringing in 1964. (In case you were wondering, yes that tradition does date back to the '60s; the first Times Square ball drop occurred in 1907.) While it wasn't the strongest episode to go out on ("New Frontiers" would actually have made a better series finale), "1964" did remind us of some of the things we'll miss about this sure-to-be cancelled series. For example...
5. The Period Details
From '60s icons like Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan to less well-known pop culture artifacts like Under the Yum Yum Tree and I Get Chet, the Pan Am writers mostly did a nice job bringing that era to life without being gimmicky with the name dropping. While it never approached Mad Men levels of incisiveness in its presentation of the '60s, the show had a firmer grasp on the past than its ill-fated fall TV counterpart The Playboy Club.
4. The Clipper Majestic Itself
Early on, we wondered how exactly a series set almost entirely onboard an airplane would avoid cabin fever. But by the end of the show's run, we came to really look forward to grabbing the catbird seat on this gleaming jewel of the Pan Am fleet and flying off into the wild blue yonder along with Dean, Ted and the rest of the gang. Granted, part of that was due to the fact that the various dramas on the ground were generally not as interesting as the stuff that happened at 20,000 feet. But the Clipper Majestic was also a genuinely great set that often had us bemoaning the cattle car layout of modern commercial aircrafts.
3. The Promised Beatles Episode
All season long, we were looking forward to the Beatles-themed hour that Pan Am creator Jack Orman promised us back in the fall. The idea was that the Clipper Majestic would ferry the Fab Four on their first trip to America in February 1964. (Orman also said that he didn't plan to hire actors to play the Beatles, although we know of the perfect ensemble for those roles.) Now, that potentially great episode is almost certainly never to be, which is almost as sad as the whole "Free as a Bird" fiasco.
2. The Times That Would Be A-Changin'
We can only speculate what Orman's plans for Pan Am might have been had the show been a breakout hit, but we would have loved it if he had opted to leap into several years future with each successive season. Just think -- Season 2 could have taken place against the backdrop of the Summer of Love in '68 and Season 3 might have leaped into the early '70s, specifically 1973, when the Pan Am company suffered its first serious setback in the wake of the year's oil crisis. It would have been fun to see how these men and women changed (or didn't change) with the times and, better still, characters that just weren't clicking (Dean, we're looking at you) could easily be written out. Guess we'll just have to pull out our Life on Mars DVDs (the British original, not the American remake) to get our '70s fix.
1. Our Fair Colette
Colette Valois, we'll miss you most of all. Although initially the low woman on the totem pole in a cast stacked with a movie star (Christina Ricci), a glamorous Aussie import (Margot Robbie) and a homegrown starlet (Kelli Garner), French Canadian actress Karine Vanasse quickly became our favorite member of Pan Am's ensemble with her charming accent and spine of steel. (We're still so, so glad that she kicked Dean to the curb and the show not returning at least spares us from having to see her potentially fall back in love with him.) We hope she books a first class ticket on a more successful series soon.
What will you miss most about Pan Am? Sound off in the comments below.
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