The Right Stuff 1×08 “Flight” closes out the season in the best way it could, by reigniting some rivalries that seemed already decided, by setting new goals and by examining what exactly the right stuff is, and what made these men the right people for the job. It, however, falls short of examine the question if they really were.
Overall The Right Stuff has been a positive experience, engaging, and warm, with compelling performances from Jake McDorman, Patrick J. Adams and Colin O’Donoghue, among others. But it has never been a particularly exciting or different one, never truly committed to making you think or consider things beyond what they were showing you.
And even with Trudy’s storyline, even when they tried, it wasn’t nearly enough.
If anything, despite the fact that it doesn’t always show the characters in the most positive way, it’s still a bit of propaganda for the program, and the “American Way” of life.
But it didn’t have to be that. There’s another universe where this show actually examines what that right stuff astronauts were supposed to have is, and why these men were chosen when others could have. Was it the right choice? We don’t know, as history has presented us with no alternatives. Maybe the answer is yes, but the show never tries to imagine a different world.
This ends up making the show, well, less than what it could be. Especially when shows like For All Mankind are out there, fighting the fight to tell a more interesting story that revolves around the same thing. Especially when, some years back, The Astronaut Wives Club did so too.
In this episode, in particular, there’s a lot of focus on that drive, that hunger, that men like Shepard, like Glenn feel, and whether that is all they are, if that is what pushes them forward. It seems clear the answer for Shepard is yes, and for a while there the show wants us to believe the same doesn’t hold for Glenn.
But it does. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it does so at the exclusion of everything else, of course, but then again, the show isn’t trying to go that far as they ask this question. They merely want you to consider the academics of what makes these men continue to strive for more.
The Right Stuff is history, but at the same time, it isn’t. It’s an approximation, an exercise in imagining what could have happened, what the people involved could have been feeling. Much like The Crown, we have no way of knowing if anything other than the bare facts are true, but does it really matter, spectacle wise, if the show is interesting?
I think the answer is no, I’m just not sure this show is compelling enough to earn that pass. I’m not even sure if I’d want a second season. I mean, I’d probably watch it, and likely not hate it, but I also don’t feel a desperate need for it. If this is the end, then that’s okay. And if it’s not, then I’ll prepare for that new adventure whenever the time comes.
Unlike the men of The Right Stuff, I’m not desperately pushing for anything. I’m content with what I got.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think about The Right Stuff 1×08 “Flight”? Share with us in the comments below!
The Right Stuff is available to stream on Disney+.