The Right Stuff 1×07 “Ziggurat” brought as much drama as the show ever has, with Glenn and Shepard once again butting heads, Scott Carpenter finally getting some screen time and Gordo Cooper failing to straddle the line between being one of “the boys” and supporting his wife.
We could have seen all these things coming a mile away. Glenn and Shepard have done nothing more than butt heads, and at this point, it’s getting tiresome. Why is Al so mad? He won. He was chosen, and he’s about to be the first – or second, if you wanna get technical, the Russians did win that one. But he beat Glenn.
And yet, his own baggage is getting in the way of …well, everything. Glenn might have become a more or less polarizing figure in the last few episodes, but he’s still the only one of the two of them actually trying, or at least pretending to. And the thing with pretending is, sometimes, if you do it enough, you can actually make it true.
But Shepard was always meant to be this complicated figure. He’s a hero, but he truly isn’t, because he’s not the man anyone – especially the people around him, look up to. He’s just a man who’s very good at his job, and that’s it. He isn’t a good husband, and he is still the man who is so uncomfortable in his own skin that he’s willing to risk anything for a thrill.
Glenn might be many things, but he isn’t any of that.
As for Carpenter, well …I’m not exactly sad we got to see more of him, but it’s kinda annoying that we only got to see more of him as Shepard was pushing him out. And then when his wife Rene confronted Louise, well …Louise had a right to know. I’ve said so before, Shepard is no saint and she should at least know what he’s up to. But that doesn’t mean I enjoyed the pain in her face at learning it.
Now we’re onto Cooper, trying to straddle the line between what “the boys” think and supporting his wife, and failing miserably at it. He tried, I’ll give him that, but this was never going to be an easy fight, and he was never truly committed to it. This is the kind of thing you have to believe in to stand up for, and I never truly believed he did, not for what it means, just for Trudy.
So that’s 1 out of 3 of the ones we mentioned, because the only one that ends the episode still liking her husband is Annie Glenn, which is pretty much where we started this show too. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
With one episode to go there’s a temptation to try to put this show in perspective, because as many good things as it has done, it has also been, at times, overtly slow and relying on the same trope, over and over again. You’d be tempted to say: this is the story, how else can they tell it, but there are countless other representations of this same story that have managed, if not better, at least differently.
This works against the show, because there’s nothing new or exciting about it. And sure, as a fictionalized history lesson, it kinda works, but it’s hard to say it works as a drama the way they wanted it to.
And it’s hard to decide if we want more of it, or we’re just fine with this story ending here.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think about The Right Stuff 1×07 “Ziggurat”? Share with us in the comments below!
The Right Stuff is available to stream on Disney+.