Astronaut Wives Club Recap: Never Trust NASA

In "Protocol," secrets are spilled and alliances are formed.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen June 26, 2015

Betty's turn as the Second Lady of Space doesn't go as planned this week.

Wifeys, I think we can all agree that the second episode of The Astronaut Wives Club, "Protocol," was markedly better than the premiere, if only because of the abscence of any excrutiatingly cliché impromptu dance scenes. Less dancing, more parades. We're moving in the right direction.

Last week we learned that Gus Grissom is next in line to go into space, and last night's episode opened with Betty shopping for a dress to wear to the White House. Betty worries that she is jinxing the mission by buying a dress before her husband is home safe, and I'm immediately concerned. Not only because none of the dresses in that store are better than the pretty plaid frock she was already wearing but also because even the suggestion of a jinx could mean that Gus is not long for this world.

Next Betty and Gus are in a hotel and he's giving autographs to the maid's son—a young Neil DeGrasse Tyson?—and telling him he could totally be an astronaut if he studies hard at that math. Betty is gushing about what a great husband and father he is. Oh man, Gus, you were not the cutest astronaut but you are making a great case for being the best one. We'll miss you.

As the Wives arrive to watch his flight, shoutout to Rene for getting press attention literally just for showing up with her fancy newfangled Chinese chicken salad—it has cashews!—and for reminding us all again that bright prints are our friends. In the kitchen, Marge confesses to Jo that a private detective has threatened to publish secrets from her past, and Jo suggests that the military takes care of their own. Good idea, right? Hopefully?

The champagne has already been popped before the news anchor breaks in with a late problem—the hatch was blown early and the capsule is filling with water. Gus survives, but instead of a celebratory press conference on the lawn Betty is faced with questions about what went wrong. Wow, America, you went pretty quickly from being glad the second American in space is alive to blaming him for all the issues. This must have been what the country was like before Oprah convinced everyone to keep a gratitude journal. Sheesh. Anyways, no trip to the White House or new dress for Betty.

It's not until later in the episode that we learn that Gus not only was cleared of any possible wrongdoing, but that NASA almost let him drown by prioritizing lifting the capsule out of the water over him, despite his poor swimming skills and a spacesuit that was half full of water. If this is protocol, it's a bit chilling. 

John Glenn is the next astronaut scheduled to launch, and he assures NASA that Annie can rehearse her lines and be ready for the press. But when his flight is delayed, she's thrown a curveball when Vice President LBJ wants to come visit her with press from all three networks. With a NASA tech threatening to ground him if she doesn't go along with it, John tells Annie that if she doesn't want to talk to him, she doesn't have to. It's the second great husband scene in this episode and a nice change of pace from the premiere. John's flight is reinstated after all the other astronauts refuse to take his spot, in part because they know if they let NASA bully one of them it could happen to any of them. Eventually John goes up, watching the sun rise and set three times in five hours, and Annie makes sure all the astronauts and their wives are included in the parade.

Elsewhere in the Club, the cracks in Gordo and Trudy's sham marriage are starting to show after she hears one of her old flying buddies (she's a pilot too, remember?) has won a race, and when she goes to fly with Gordo he refuses to take a turn in the passenger seat. Louise takes baby steps towards becoming a person who doesn't always show a perfect facade to the other wives after the Life reporter berates her for not being honest with Betty. Finally Deke Slayton comes home drunk and angry and announces that he's been grounded. Is it because Marge confessed her secret—she's divorced—to Duncan over at NASA to get him to kill the story? Is that protocol too? I guess we'll find out next week.

Best Outfit: I really thought it was going to be Betty's dress-shopping dress, but nothing can top Rene's hot pink suit for the parade. Rene: she's more than just floral prints and mayonnaise-based foods!

Best 60s Sexism: The reporter who asks Betty if she makes Gus clean up at home following a rumor that he was "tidying up" the capsule when the hatch blew. 


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