The Astronaut Wives Club recap: Retroattitude
Faith, friendship, and fidelity get called into question before Scott Carpenter's launch.
On the heels of the next flight, we’re starting to get the hang of how these launches play out. Tension builds between the wives, the astronauts, and the couples as they try to live up to NASA and America’s expectations, and more often than not, the flight doesn’t go as planned. And then the media’s there to make matters worse. “Retroattitude” offers exactly that plus a discussion of faith, another surprise wives trip to Florida, and some alcohol-induced honesty.
Marge & Deke Slayton
Last week ended with Marge learning NASA had taken away Deke’s flight, and while he didn’t know why, it seemed like it might have something to do with Marge’s previous marriage. But it turns out, Deke has an irregular heartbeat and NASA wasn’t too fond of his refusal to step in for John Glenn. So Marge takes the next logical step—to call the POTUS to try to get Deke “ungrounded.” Surprise: She doesn’t get through to him. During a drunken fight in Florida, Deke blames John for his flight being taken away, and says Scott doesn’t deserve to go up instead of him. (This could’ve gone so much worse considering it was right next to the pool.)
Rene & Scott Carpenter
With Scott heading up to space in Deke’s place, the couple holds a press conference on their lawn. When a reporter asks Rene if she’ll be praying for Scott while he’s up there, like Annie did for Glenn, she tries to avoid the question before plainly saying that she will not be praying. This sends the press into an uproar, and Duncan tells Rene she has to be pretty and silent, like Annie, and should be seen at a church.
So Rene tries just that, heading to church with Louise, Betty, and Annie. She doesn’t make it to the door before realizing the press are swarming the house of worship and refuses to go inside. Instead, Rene hitches a ride on Trudy’s plane and the two head to Coco Beach with their kids.
It’s not long before the rest of the wives join Rene in Florida, as does reporter Max. But Rene insists on writing the Life article herself and watching Scott’s launch alone with her children. As Rene heads to the beach for the launch, we get our first hint of the segregation of the time when Rene invites the hotel maid’s black son to watch with her. Unfortunately, all the beaches in the area are “whites only,” he says.
John Glenn calls with updates as the launch progresses, but soon, NASA loses contact with Scott in space. Annie hurries over to the beach house because she wants to be there for her like Rene was during John’s launch. It’s during the uncertainty of Scott’s future that Rene opens up about why she isn’t religious: She had a six-month-old child who died in his sleep. Rene doesn’t explain any further, but Annie understands.
As history would inform you, Scott makes it back alive. He simply went off course investigating some space particles that might’ve been alternate life forms—turns out they were just astronaut pee. You know, a common mistake.
NEXT: Complicated marriages are tested for more than one Astrocouple
Trudy & Gordo Cooper
LBJ is moving the space program to Houston, so that means the Astrofamilies are heading south. While looking at the blueprints for their future home, Trudy gets upset that she’ll have to share a room with Gordo, who blames the arrangement on the contractor. But later Jo informs her all the homes are 100 percent customizable, meaning Gordo is trying to use infrastructure to reunite with his sort-of wife.
While down in Florida, Trudy spots a Cape Cookie straddling Gordo by the pool. He assures her that’s all that happened, but Trudy is fed up and heads to the hotel bar to drink her feelings and have the bartender make her feel pretty. That plan fails, but Trudy does meet a different Cookie who informs her some women come down to the Cape in an attempt to sleep with all seven astronauts, to which tipsy Trudy says, “I guess it’s good to have goals.” The Cookie also offers some other important information: Alan is the “easiest” of the astronauts, and while Gordo might be a flirt, he gushes about his wife when you get him alone.
Trudy marches into her hotel room bathroom where Gordo is asleep, turns on the water, and goes on a sass-filled, alcohol-powered rant. “You lied to me about lying. Who does that?” she starts. “A cookie told me everything. All you want to talk about is how much you love me. Is that true?” Gordo admits he flirts with other women just to impress the guys, but he really wants to get back together. Trudy responds by puking in the toilet.
Louise & Alan Shepard
Speaking of flirting, the sexual tension is starting to build between Louise and Max. He swings by the Shepards’ late at night seeking Louise’s help in getting Rene to speak to him for the article, but it’s clear he’d like a little more out of this house call.
Louise makes an out-of-character sarcastic quip about calling before he arrived, but then repays the favor by showing up unexpectedly to Max’s hotel room one morning in Coco Beach. Max found a Cookie of his own the night before, and we see Louise’s sink a bit when she sees her.
But at Scott Carpenter’s launch celebration, Max tries to end the love dance by admitting to Louise that he wants to spend more time with her. But it is still the ’60s, so we all know this spells trouble.
Jo & Wally Schirra
Jo starts off “Retroattitude” excited that Wally will be going up to space, since he was Deke’s backup. She tells a frustrated Marge to “trust the process,” but becomes just as upset when they learn the launch is actually Scott’s. Jo turns to chain smoking, but during a time in which cigarettes are 2015’s version of kale, none of the wives are concerned. But Jo soon loves “the process” again when Wally announces he’ll be the first one up when they arrive in their customizable Houston homes. Better pack up the moving vans.
The Astronaut Wives Club