Things are heating up in Houston, literally. As some of the wives scour to find air conditioning, others seek new jobs as female astronauts and newspaper columnists. Life reporter Max already has his next gig lined up: The proud New Yorker plans to head to San Francisco after Gordo’s flight to work for a progressive newspaper. But soon news hits that the astronauts and their wives will be coping with with a more permanent departure — the death of President John F. Kennedy. Here’s how each couple adjusted to the weather, the surprising assassination, and everything in between:
Louise & Alan Shepard
Once Alan doesn’t notice Louise’s haircut, her attention moves to Max, who does recognize her new do. Max reveals Louise sent him a Christmas card (is that the 1960s version of sexting?), and after she learns of his upcoming move, she invites him to lunch because “I thought we were friends.” Like most men today, Max is not happy being in the friend zone and tells Louise he’s down for a rendezvous anywhere, anytime before he heads to California. After listening to the a radio program discuss Alan’s “rocket” and his love of Cape Cookies, it seems like Louise is going to take him up on this offer, but instead the two continue their beyond obvious flirtation through Gordo’s launch party.
When Trudy decides to head to Hawaii for Gordo’s splashdown, Max must make an abrupt exit and leaves Louise with a hasty farewell. “This isn’t the way I wanted to say goodbye,” Max says as his final words. Maybe you should’ve said something else then, Max. With her crush gone, Louise finally confronts Alan. “I know you’re with other women, and I pretend I don’t care,” she says. “People say I’m supposed to ask for what I want. This is what I want. You, all to myself.” (People = Max)
You tell ’em, Lady Louise.
Trudy & Gordo Cooper
Trudy and Gordo also get closer to reuniting in “Flashpoint.” Trudy’s old fly friend Dot (Mercedes Mason) comes to visit and cuts right to the chase. “Are you still faking it with Gordo?” she asks Trudy. At the time, the answer is yes. But after Gordo sticks up for her and female pilots in their quest to become astronauts, Trudy rewards him with a kiss. “You know I gotta come back because I’m not gonna let you off the hook about that kiss,” Gordo tells Trudy before he heads up for a 34-hour space orbit.
When Trudy receives word from John Glenn that Gordo’s rocket is overheating and he’ll have to come down on his own, she rushes to Hawaii to meet her husband for his splashdown. In talking to the media, Gordo credits Trudy for making him a successful pilot and the two share another passionate kiss, and this time, it’s on camera.
Trudy’s mind quickly jumps back to putting a woman in space, though, when she learns Russia has done exactly that.
NEXT: As America loses one politician, they could gain a new one … in the form of an astronaut
Rene & Scott Carpenter
Unfortunately Scott doesn’t believe women can handle space travel, and shares his opinion with NASA while testifying during a hearing on the subject. With women barred from the military at the time, he thinks a lady without test piloting experience can’t handle the pressure of the Space Race. So despite female pilots like Dot measuring up to the men during physical tests, they won’t be straying too far from earth for now.
Rene has her eyes on a somewhat more attainable job, or so she thinks. Armed with her self-written Life article, Rene asks for a spot as a columnist at a local Houston paper. But the paper’s editor, Carl Butterfield (Gary Grubbs), tells Rene he “doesn’t understand why a woman like you wants to write at all” and demands she bring him 20 more articles, Rene accepts the challenge. The audacious housewife takes to her typewriter and bangs out stories about hard-hitting issues, like the racially charged movie theater protest she witnessed and women’s pay in the job market, both of which the paper neglected to cover. And as a retort to Carl’s offer to become a recipe columnist, Rene even provides a clip on how to whip up a decent bundt cake.
Still Rene knows Carl has no intentions of hiring her despite becing able to provide 20 more articles, and though the astrowife wouldn’t accept a position from him anyway, she thanks the editor for helping her find her voice, and “for everything, go screw yourself,” she says. Rene’s perfect combination of sass and first-wave feminism are quickly overshadowed when she learns President Kennedy has been shot.
Betty & Gus Grissom/Jo & Wally Schirra
While Jo and Betty have been hanging at New Nine wife Marilyn See’s (Nora Zehetner) house to take advantage of her air conditioner (who hasn’t used an acquaintance for their AC during a hot summer?), they invite her to a cookout in the neighborhood park so everyone can be together following Kennedy’s passing.
Rene is crying under a tree in the park, and we realize that while the whole country felt for Kennedy’s loss, for the 16 Astrofamilies, Kennedy’s death meant uncertainty for the future of the space program, a.k.a. their entire lives.
Annie & John Glenn
The Glenns, however, have decided their next step. Though initially hesitant to the idea due to the media influx it would cause, Annie gives John her approval to run for office in Ohio.
So there we have it: We lost a journalist and a president this week, but gained a bit of marital stability, and a potential new politician. And anybody catch Alan gazing at Louise and the kids in the park, seemingly saying, “I wish I could be less of a cheating douche”? With only five episode left, I hope he is.