At this point, there are only two more episodes left, so why not just finish this out, right? Rene Carpenter, as ever, wins the wardrobe competition, and she ALSO wins for the Best 60s Kitchen. She loses the Best Accent Competition, however, because I guess Yvonne Strahovski decided she was going to just go with a modified Mid-Atlantic accent like a bit player in a 30s screwball comedy. As I say every single week: Her American accent was SPOT ON when she was on Chuck – like, flawless — so I…just really don’t know what happened here. I blame her wig.
Let’s check in on everyone’s plotline and then…to the kitchens! The costumes were also very good this week. Set and Costume are killing it.
Louise and Alan Shepard: It’s like Max Caplan: Reporter never even existed, and the big issue here is that Alan’s got Ménière’s disease, which messes with your inner ear and causes balance issues, nausea, and all kinds of other problems that get him grounded. (Obviously, this is fixed before he gets sent to the moon.) Beyond the drama of Alan careening into walls, it’s rather boring, mostly because Desmond Harrington has played Shepard as such a terrible cold fish, it’s hard to care. Additionally, I don’t know what’s going on with Harrington, but he has looked REALLY rough in this series. He’s only 38!
Annie and John Glenn: Continue to be noble American heroes the likes of which we shall never see again, etc, etc, etc. Also, John’s run for Senate, which we discussed last week, is derailed because of his concussion. NOTE: The show has him crack his head “fixing a closet door,” when the truth per Wiki is that he hit his head on the bathtub. THIS is the sort of detail they feel free to change? SHOW, YOU CONFOUND ME.
Betty and Gus: Gus has a stalker who might also actually be his side piece (??), which means he gets Secret Service protection after she sends Betty a threatening note and also shows up at the base screaming for him. He still has not died. (This show loves to send Gus into space, and I don’t know if they THINK the audience is thinking, “oh, shit, he’s gonna die HERE” and then he doesn’t — which is what I do, because I didn’t know how many times he went onto the launch pad before tragedy hit — or what. Shocker: the pacing on this show is weird!) Is the Gus’s Secret Girlfriend We’ve Never Seen Before And Never Will Again based in truth? WHO KNOWS.
Gus is, however, our entry to a brief plotline about Cute Zavier, the Housekeeper’s Son Who Loves Space, who at this point in his life and American history is pretty sure that NASA will never send a black man into space (in fact, this didn’t happen until Guy Bluford, in 1983). Zavier’s Mom finagles a meeting between him and Ed Dwight, who was the first African American to be trained as an astronaut (and who is played by Ray Fisher, who is quite handsome, FYI). Dwight is really interesting. Per his Wiki: “In 1961, the Kennedy administration selected Dwight as the first African American astronaut trainee, at the suggestion of the National Urban League’s Whitney Young. His selection garnered international media attention, and Dwight appeared on the covers of news magazines such as Ebony, Jet, and Sepia. Despite facing discrimination from other astronauts, Dwight persevered until the assassination of President Kennedy, after which government officials created a threatening atmosphere and he was assigned to be a liaison officer in Germany to a non-existent German test pilot school. As a result of this climate, he resigned from the Air Force in 1966.” We don’t see any of that here, because this show doesn’t want to show its ostensible heroes being racist jerks, and they have no time to actually spend with Dwight so we can see this happen with him as the protagonist in the story, at the hands of people they feel they can paint as racist jerks. After leaving the Air Force, Dwight became a very noteworthy sculptor, who is still working. I get that it’s not possible for this show to cover everything that ever happened in the Space Program, and they’re hamstrung here because Dwight was (I think?) single, but there is no way that this man’s life isn’t more compelling a story than The Ballad of Jo and Wally, and getting ONE SCENE of him and then cutting back to, like, Marge playing bridge is just a narrative thunk. This show really needed to devote one episode to each couple — just pick one really good story from each couple’s history, and anthologize this thing. That gives you more story-telling latitude when you have so much ground to cover, and you could tackle Dwight by — for example — telling the story of his mother, or his girlfriend, if he didn’t have a wife. Make the “wife” in the title sort of…metaphorical.
Jo and Wally: Jo is, however, the ringleader for an amusing low-level storyline where all the Wives are hot for Ed White (who eventually ends up dying with Gus, sadly) who is played by Matt Lanter, who is definitely someone I’d love to watch jog, so…I’m with you on this one, Jo. The wives also kind of adopt Ed’s wife because she knows how to play cards better than Trudy. Yes, compelling.
Marge and Deke: Are really, really boring and could 100% be 86ed from this show except for, I don’t know, Reasons of Truth. (I get why they need Deke, because he’s In Charge of Stuff at NASA, but Marge doesn’t have anything to do. Why not send her off on a super-long visit to her secret husband in Japan?)
Trudy and Gordo: Trudy wears a GREAT dress.
Rene and Scott: Scott leaves NASA to go work on SeaLab in Bermuda — this is true — and she doesn’t come with him because she wants to Find Herself As A Professional, an awakening she had when she was working on John Glenn’s Senate run, at which she gave a lot of speeches and acted, basically, as Annie’s Voice on the Road. This experience makes her decide she should be Glenn’s press secretary, and Annie is like, “it’s convenient that I don’t speak that much because THAT’S CRAZY but I can just make a ‘we’ll see!’ face and leave it at that.” Interestingly, Rene Carpenter did actually go on to become a successful journalist, and she’s announced that every scene of this show is fiction. THEN WHY ISN’T IT BETTER, RENE? WHY?