PAN AM “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” Review

PAN AM “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” Season 1 Episode 3 – The girls say “Wilkommen in Deutschland!” in “Ich Bin Ein Berliner,” this week’s episode of Pan Am. Yes, we’re off to Berlin, and in the months following the installation of the Berlin Wall, the only glamorous thing about Western Germany is John F. Kennedy’s now-famous visit.

Maggie, who might be a bigger fan of JFK than Marilyn Monroe, is thrilled to make the trip as the flight is almost entirely made up of journalists traveling to cover the president’s speech. She saddles herself to the cute reporter from the Village Voice (and his press pass) in her quest to meet Kennedy, which culminates in him waving at her from Air Force One. I loved her enthusiasm (which is going to turn into horrible, gut-wrenching sorrow in a few months with the assassination), but at several moments, I feared Christina Ricci’s eyeballs were going to pop out of their sockets.

Kate has another assignment in Berlin and manages to botch it by getting tangled up with an East German spy who claims she wants to defect. Unable to simply leave the girl to her fate, Kate brings her to what passes for the US Embassy during the party for Kennedy. We don’t learn exactly what happens to the girl, but Kate isn’t winning any points with her MI6 contact.

Actually, let me just pause here and say that while I adore Kate as a character, she might just be the worst spy since Austin Powers. Maybe she’s still just nervous, but if she wants to keep her double life going, she needs to get better at it before she’s decommissioned and made to disappear like Bridget.

Captain Ted tries to start something with Laura during Kennedy’s speech, but she’s just smart enough not to fall into his arms yet. Good girl. How long will she be able to resist?

But it’s Colette who breaks our hearts this week. I pretty much figured out right away why a French woman in her 20’s in 1963 wouldn’t be all that enthusiastic about going to Berlin and my fears were eventually confirmed. She grew up in Nazi-occupied France after the Germans presumably killed her parents. I liked the approach to this reveal though; yes, she hates the Nazis (and most Germans), but her real anger is over the president’s speech. Not only has America has seemingly forgiven Germany for its very recent crimes, but America’s president is proclaiming that he’s one of the German people (or a jelly doughnut, depending on your translation). For Colette, that’s a crime in and of itself.

I have to say that while I realize the show has a few kinks to work out (like deciding exactly what kind of show it wants to be), I still find myself thoroughly enjoying it week after week. As was pointed out to me by another Daemon’s TV writer, it be might be a sanitized version of 1963 as all of those reporters on the flight would have been chain-smoking their way across the Atlantic, but if I want complete and total historical accuracy, I’ll watch Mad Men.

Pan Am is a fantasy show. We’re still in the honeymoon phase, where everything is exciting and light-hearted…and I’m not sure I want the writers to go too much darker with the stories. Maybe a little eventually, but for now, I’m just having fun taking weekly trips to far-flung locales with a crew of very pretty people.

What did you think of the episode? Are you a jelly doughnut? Can Kate turn herself into a proper, Cold War spy? Let me know below