Ahead of NASA’s attempt to put a man on the moon, Max Kaplan is back from San Francisco (looking incredibly hipster) to get the Mercury Seven wives’ opinions on the first lunar landing and their husbands’ time in the space program. In the doc’s opening, Annie reveals nearly stutter-less speech, Rene announces her new job as a local newscaster, and Louise declares that Alan’s vertigo is completely gone following a successful surgery.
With Apollo coming to an end and most of the Mercury astronauts out of the space game, “Landing” sets up post-NASA plans for the astronaut wives as they prepare to go their separate ways. Here’s how they all said goodbye to us (a.k.a. our final history lesson):
Rene & Scott Carpenter
At the Apollo 11 launch in Cocoa Beach, Rene admits it’s been months since she’s seen Scott. When they reunite at a gala celebrating the moon landing, Scott reveals he’s been seeing another woman for a few months, and Rene offers him a generic “I’m happy for you.”
During her new gig as a local newscaster, Rene can’t wait to tackle women’s issues on the air. So when she gets bumped to the cooking segment, Rene ditches the pineapple cake in favor of showing viewers how a diaphragm works. Eventually, Rene gets her own talk show to discuss birth control, employment, politics, and more.
Although they remain separated, she and Scott stay friends until his death.
Annie & John Glenn
Thanks to some speech therapy, a clear-speaking Annie takes up a career of her own, joining John on his campaign trail and becoming an activist for various causes, likely inspired by her encounter with protesting black students at a moon landing celebration party. Zavier (Akili McDowell)—the same space-loving kid who spoke with his hero Captain Dwight at the hand of Gus Grissom in episode 6—tells Annie that the money the government put into NASA and landing a man on the moon could’ve been put toward helping people on earth. He urges Annie not to “look the other way,” and she doesn’t—she tours the country speaking on behalf of those who don’t have voices. And though John fails to land a spot in the Senate during his first try, he wins the race in 1974 and serves for 25 years.
Jo & Wally Schirra
Wally might be over the flying thing, but he’s still down for calling the launches on TV. Just as Jo starts enjoying New York City (which isn’t Denver, where we last heard Wally was taking a job) though, Wally is called back to cover a Apollo 13 mishap and give America a face of hope. Once Apollo ends, though, Wally uses his on-screen experience to become a TV personality and business owner. He and Jo become one of only seven Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo couples to stay married.
NEXT: Apollo ends, but the A.W.C. endures
At the moon landing party, Gus is honored with a toast and Deke returns Gus’ gold pin to Betty after Neil Armstrong brought it up to the moon with him. Then at the Apollo 13 launch, Betty reveals plans to sue North American for negligence. But she’s not concerned about the money. Betty wants the company to admit they were responsible for Gus’ death. In the end, Betty and the wives of the two other astronauts killed with Gus receive a settlement from North American. Always thinking of Gus, Betty never remarries.
Marge & Deke Slayton
Marge says she’ll support Betty’s lawsuit and remains “Mother Marge” to future generations of astronaut wives. Deke’s grounding is lifted and in 1975, he becomes the oldest astronaut at the time to go to space. Like most of the 30 original Astrocouples, NASA’s power pair call it quits almost 15 years later.
Louise & Alan Shepard
It seems like Alan will have another shot at flying, too, when Deke picks him over Gordo for Apollo 13. But NASA overrides Deke’s decision and Alan is stuck on earth once again—presumably making millions from that bank he owns. (Years later, Alan goes to the moon, becoming the only Mercury astronaut to do so.)
When Trudy tells Louise her life revolves around her marriage, things get a little tense between the two before Louise reveals her vulnerable side. She admits she doesn’t want Gordo and Trudy to divorce because she doesn’t want to see Trudy leave the Astronaut Wives Club, the first place Louise has felt comfortable. Louise is also at ease with her marriage, to the point that when Max (who is married to his boss now) says he wishes the two of them had met when they were 20, she truly means it when she says, “I’m glad we met when we did. That things worked out.”
Who would’ve guessed Louise and Alan would last?
Trudy & Gordo Cooper
Though there were moments of hope throughout the season, we always knew Trudy and Gordo were heading for divorce. Trudy’s friend Beverly (remember her? The one living Trudy’s dream?) points an investor in Trudy’s direction to turn her courier service into a legit business. Gordo is completely unsupportive, saying they should keep their focus on Gordo going to the moon. So Trudy turns down the offer. But when Deke reveals he took Gordo off Apollo 13 because Gordo has lost his focus, Trudy is furious. “I spent the last decade of my life helping you get to the moon,” she says. “Please don’t tell me that goal was more important to me than it was to you.”
When the Apollo 13 flight hits a life-threatening snag, Trudy shows off her flying knowledge by explaining the mechanics of the issue to Marilyn Lovell, whose husband is in the capsule. It’s been clear all along that Trudy wanted to be the one up there, and when we leave the wives, they’re saying farewell to Trudy as she sets off in a plane of her own. Jo’s even returned from her big city life for the goodbyes, because as she says, “This is all that matters.”
And there we have it. NASA reached its goal of putting a man on the moon before 1970, many of the wives realized their own dreams, and lifelong friendships formed as marriages slowly came apart. Was Astronaut Wives Club the fun summer series you were hoping for?