So far, “Astronaut Wives Club” has done a good job of enabling the audience to get to know each of its central seven characters on a more personal level and understand their lives and families. Thursday (July 2) night’s episode centered on Rene Carpenter (Yvonne Strahovski), her strong will and the death of her six-month-old son.
In the episode, Rene — who has rightly been labeled as the rebel who knows they are all more than just wives — turns heads when she says she won’t be praying for her husband Scott while he’s in space. In the ’60s, turning your back on God is a big no-no, and NASA is having none of it.
However, being the fearless woman that she is, she sticks to her guns and lets LIFE magazine know that they cannot fix her image simply by writing an article about her. She will write the article herself and let America know who she is as a human being. The end result is a front-cover piece about her husband’s trip to space titled, “55 Minutes That Lasted Forever.”
Although the moving words she says in the final scene about the support of her fellow “wives” are not verbatim, the sentiment rings true to Carpenter’s real-life story. The majority of the actual article Carpenter wrote is about the anticipation leading up to the launch and the anxiety felt while Scott was in space, but she does make a nod to the other Astronaut wives.
“This feeling [I have] I share in varying degree with the other six Astronaut wives,” writes Carpenter. “Although we are not tested or certified for soundness, we have passed. Wearing better clothes now, cuticles carefully removed, we present gallant face to the world, and inside we are as tough as the heat shield that arcs behind our husbands’ backs.”
She continues, “People are always asking me, ‘How do you stand this?’ I can only answer, ‘I’ve been there before.’ I thrive on it. How dull if life were easy, and how fortunate to be in love with a man who loves the world.”
“Astronaut Wives Club” airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.