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Pan Am Recap: The Twilight Zone

PAN AM - "Romance Languages" -- Dean is surprised by the ramifications of his fling with Ginny when she stalks him to Rome with, frightening consequences; Colette takes a precocious unescorted minor, Charlie, under her wing, who promptly develops a major case of puppy love; Kate struggles with the dangerous fallout of her strong connection with Niko; and Laura is spellbound by a handsome photographer, Graham, who shot her for the Life cover, on "Pan Am," SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/ERIC LIEBOWITZ)
MARGOT ROBBIE, BILL HECK

Boy, oh boy. I don’t even know where to start with this one. I thought about just writing “WHAT?” in very large letters and having that be the entire recap, but this train wreck — nay, plane wreck — deserves to have each and every misstep spelled out in detail, so that nobody can ever claim that Pan Am didn’t set out to deliberately destroy us all.

The word is that this episode was originally slated to air in week seven of the show, which explains pretty much everything. I guess it’s okay if we never know why they made that swap, but it would have been a nice gesture to throw up a “two months earlier” banner at the open, just to pretend like anyone cares if we know what’s going on. As is, one might assume that we’re meant to view this episode through the hazy lens of someone who has just smashed her face into a glass window. Ginny does that in this episode, by the way. What a hoot, that one!

To begin with, Kate is in bed with Niko in New York. Why? Don’t ask. If you start asking questions now, we’re never going to get through this. Anyway, he’s telling her she should visit Croatia; she’s telling him he should move to New York. He speaks to her in Italian and she melts, obviously. She’s like, “It seems only yesterday that you were carted off by the CIA and forcibly exiled to Yugoslavia, never to return.” He’s like, “I know, that was hilarious.”

Another inexplicable relationship status update is afoot, this time in the form of Dean and Hurricane Ginny. She’s angry that he just broke up with her and he tries to insist there was no breaking up to be done because they were just sleeping together, and those situations are always easily and happily terminated by both parties. Ginny tells Dean that she left Everett for him. She’s like, “I love you so much that I literally cannot stop myself from throwing milk bottles at your head.” So Dean makes that idiotic Dean face that says, “Hey, what’s going on here? Someone is behaving in a way they have always behaved, but I’m only noticing just now.” Although I don’t feel sorry for him, it can’t help matters that just three weeks ago he believed that he was in the clear. Except for Bridget. Hey, where’s Bridget? Someone should check on whether she got lost in the time-space vortex we just passed through.

On the flight to Rome, on a plane full of clergy members (I wrote down “Nuns on a Plane!” at this part; that’s a free idea if you’re interested), an incredibly annoying little boy, Charlie, introduces himself to Colette. He also steals Dean’s watch. Perhaps they are preparing us for a Pan Am spinoff in which Kate the Spy and her tiny sidekick Charlie wander around, uselessly stealing people’s belongings and defeating the Russians, all the while forming an unexpectedly touching bond. Until then, Charlie will be spending a lot of time trying to woo Colette, like just about everyone else.

In response to the first inductees into Pan Am’s Mile High Club, Laura asks the pilots to create a little bit of turbulence to … shake them out of the bathroom, I guess? Let me tell you, with the way things run around here, it is no surprise that Pan Am is no longer in business. While they inexplicably comply with Laura’s request, Ted tells Dean that all women are crazy, and he shouldn’t be surprised that old Jujubees is especially so. Laura and Maggie buckle up, the honeymooners tumble out of the bathroom, and Maggie badgers Laura into confessing to losing her virginity to the photographer. I thought that already happened, but there are a lot of things I thought I knew about this show. Anyway, it later turns out she didn’t sleep with Graham, which is a relief, because he seems a bit Terry Richardson–y.

As they check into their hotel room in Rome, Dean and Colette talk about their plans to take little Charlie out to dinner that evening, when all of a sudden Ginny pipes up from the lobby, where she’s lounging like every villain in a swivel chair. She’s all, “What’s the joke, Dean? Are you having emotions when I’m not around to tell you what they should be??” Dean then rationally decides to let the sociopath who followed him to Rome up into his hotel room, where he tries to break up with her again. In response, she literally smashes her head into the glass window. Ahhh, Ginny! Perhaps just … use the door? Later, when she’s laid up in the hospital, she apologizes to Dean and says that she feels “much better.” This lasts two seconds until it becomes clear that Dean still wants to end it with her (incredible!), at which point she banishes him and sends a cablegram beckoning V.P. Hanson to Rome.

Dean can’t make his dinner date since he’s keeping an eye on Girl, Interrupted. This leaves Colette with a very smitten and also-obnoxious Charlie. I feel like Colette’s been through enough on this show without also having to babysit. Charlie performs a few “magic tricks” for her, the second of which is an unwelcome kiss on the lips. She is still, however, a saint, so when he shows up the next night INSIDE HER HOTEL ROOM, holding daisies, she lets him stay. Maniacs! Everyone on this show is a maniac. Colette apologizes for embarrassing Charlie. She gives him a speech about love and life, and tells him she’ll never forget him. This has been Soothing Speeches With Colette, Round One.

Round Two finds Colette in the hospital, stopping in to visit Ginny, who called her (?). Ginny asks if Colette and Dean are together (that’s a harder question than you realize, girlfriend), and when Colette says no, Ginny pours her heart out. She tells Colette that she can’t be alone, and Colette tells her that trying to make someone love her can’t fix that. She gets a magazine thrown at her head in the process, but by the end, Colette has calmed the monster. It seems Ginny will be trying to patch things up with Hanson, who has been glowering outside the room, telling Dean he can’t sleep with literally everyone affiliated with Pan Am. Dean responds that, for someone with a wife and a mistress, he’s one to talk. Hanson says, “I may be foolish, but I’m not a fool.” What? Ugh, I hate everything.

Before they leave Rome, Kate and Laura make a trip to find the statue that Graham told Laura to look for. They talk about sex and boys and what it means to be a “modern woman.” It’s a nice moment, and one that made me realize how infrequently their sisterhood played a role in the show. Their talk convinces Laura that she wants to take the nude photos — the ones that will get her someday, in the future, or maybe the past, a meeting with Andy Warhol. In theory.

Coming home isn’t so “liberating” for the entire crew. Kate, who was pushed over by a random grunt in Rome and told to break up with her boyfriend (what is this, my middle school hallway?), is being forced to end her forbidden love for a second time. Richard tells her that she has to break up with Niko, for the good of spies everywhere. I know he says it’s for the good of the CIA, but something tells me Richard wants Kate single for his own covert operations, if you know what I mean. (Spy humor.) God, though: Having to break up with your boyfriend after you’ve gotten back together without even realizing it has got to be the worst.

This episode ends as every episode should: with Colette relaxing in a bubble bath, reading and having a cocktail. It’s her well-deserved reward for having not only inspired two troubled guest characters to change their ways, but for calling out the backstabbing ways of Maggie the Snitch as well. Colette knows that Maggie spilled the beans on Dean and Ginny, and that sort of tomfoolery will not be tolerated. May the finale find her equally content. No Dean. No Bridget. Just her prince, her new kingdom, and the comfort of knowing that she made it all worthwhile. Well, tolerable, anyway.

Photo: Eric Liebowitz/ABC