PEN15 season 1, episode 7 recap: AIM


This episode of PEN15 tackles one of the most memorable aspects of the turn of the century for teens: AOL Instant Messenger. Maya and Anna are faced with the excitement and the dangers that come with talking to people hidden behind screen names.

The seventh episode of PEN15 opens with Maya and Anna getting on AOL. They sit in anticipation as the long, long dial-up tone plays. Eventually, they’re greeted with the signature “welcome.”

As they sit at the computer, the discuss screen names for AIM. Anna goes with “Babyspice666”—because six is her favorite number. After she signs in with her new screen name, Maya wants a turn creating hers. But Anna wants a chance to add “buddies.”

Maya jokingly points out that Anna’s only buddy is Brendan.

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Anna turns to a page in her notebook and pulls up Alex’s screen name. Nervously, Anna sends him a message. They exchange a couple of messages, but as soon as Alex learns that he’s talking to Anna, he signs off.

Maya thinks it’s shady, but Anna brushes it off by saying he probably got kicked off.

They decide to talk to Sam (LittlemanbigD1814) instead. Maya insists that Anna let Sam know that Maya is also there with her and it’s not just Anna typing. Sam asks if Maya has a screen name yet. When she says she doesn’t, he tells her to let him know when she does.

Just then, Brendan signs on and messages Anna on PEN15. She doesn’t want to message him, in case Alex signs on and takes up her attention. But she reluctantly responds. The briefly talk about Anna’s use of WUWU (What’s up with you), because neither Maya nor Brendan knew what that stood for.

Before they can talk more, Maya snatches the keyboard and forces Anna to sign off so she can set up her own screen name. After Maya’s screen name choice was already taken (Viper911), Maya decides to go with Diper911 despite Anna pointing out that it sounds like “diper emergency.” As soon as Maya messages Sam from her new screen name, even he can’t believe she went with it.

Anna butts in so she can check if Brendan is still online. She notices that he’s added Sugar Ray lyrics to his profile as his away message. Maya thinks they’re clearly about Anna.

As Maya tries to go back to talk to people online, everyone starts signing off. Anna suggests they check out chat rooms. They go in one for “Hot people of Franklin County.” Maya sends a message saying she’s a hot girl and someone asks “asl?” Neither of them knows what that means.

Before they can figure it out, they get a private message from someone in the chat room. They open it and the person wants to see how hot they are. Maya and Anna freak out, not knowing what to do.

Thankfully, Anna’s mom comes in and says she needs to use the phone so they need to get off the computer.

Still freaking out, they call Sam who tells them they’re fine since whoever messaged them doesn’t have their names and doesn’t know where they live. They’re still on edge after talking to him as they both jump when Maya’s mom honks outside to pick Maya up.

Back home, Maya tries to resist the urge to get back on the computer. Eventually, she puts aside her homework and gets back on AIM. Her mom comes in and Maya lies and says she needs the computer for a research project.

At Anna’s dinner, Anna’s mom teases that she knows Anna has a boyfriend. Both of Anna’s parents join in, excited for their daughter. But before long, they’re arguing again.

Maya again jumps into the hot people chat room and calls Anna (using their second, fax line) to tell her what she’s doing. Again, Maya is messaged by a random guy (FlyMiamiBro) from the chat room. Anna tells her to be careful. Working together, they craft messages to the guy, making up what they look like and how old they are.

Just then, Anna hears call waiting. When she switches over, it’s Brendan calling on PEN15. Anna decides to spend some time talking to Brendan, but she wants a progress report in the morning on Maya’s chat with the stranger.

As Maya chats, she starts to fall for the guy. She searches for words FlyMiamiBro associated with himself ( like “gym rat” and “miami”) and, after some scrolling, finds a picture of an attractive man. She prints the picture out. In her mind, the chat conversation plays out with the man from the picture standing in front of her saying what FlyMiamiBro writes.

Things start getting intense when Maya’s mom walks in and tells her to go to bed.

The next morning, Maya tells Anna that she thinks she’s in love. Anna thinks that’s a pretty big leap, but Maya says she can just tell from the way they’re talking. Even Evan walking by and saying hi to her has no effect on Maya anymore.

Brendan then comes up and gives Anna a cd he burned for her. After he walks away Anna tells Maya that she and Brendan talked for hours last night and she thinks things are moving too fast.

Later, they sit in Anna’s room and listen through the songs on the cd. As they listen to a slow, romantic song, they both zone out enjoying the song for a minute. Maya snaps out of it and asks Maya for her dad’s digital camera so she can send a picture of herself to FlyMiamiBro.

After initially refusing because she didn’t think it was a good idea, Anna gives in and does a photoshoot with Maya in just a (stuffed) bra and jeans.

Anna, still not trying to show too much of her friend to a stranger, suggests they send a picture that is just of Maya’s hand. As soon as they send it, they freak out. But when FlyMiamiBro messages back that he thinks it’s hot, Maya smiles and says that enough is enough, they have to meet.

Anna tries to convince Maya not to send the message asking to meet, but Maya does it anyway. FlyMiamiBro agrees. They’ll meet tomorrow.

The next day at lunch, Maya tells Sam and a few others that she’s meeting someone in person that she met on AIM. Even they realize it’s sketchy. Sam, uncomfortable, asks that they change the conversation.

Anna finally brings up that maybe this guy will be mad that Maya is a child, but Maya doesn’t think that can happen. Maya also doesn’t want to stand him up. Anna concedes, but says that they at least need backup and says they should ask Brendan to come.

Later, at the bowling alley, Anna and Brendan sit with an extremely nervous Maya. Finally, Maya starts to worry about the fact that she looks nothing like what she told him he looked like. Anna brings up that he might have lied about what he looks like too and he could be anyone around them.

Maya starts looking around and making eye contact with different men, thinking they’re all her mysterious FlyMiamiBro. Turns out that each of them is there with someone and not there to see her.

No sign of her AIM love, Maya speculates that maybe his Ferrari broke down. Then she starts to worry that he came, thought she was too ugly and left. She starts to cry. Brendan gives her some money so she can go get herself a Mountain Dew.

After Maya walked away, Anna thanks Brendan for coming with them. Brendan leans in for a kiss, but Anna moves away, not ready to deal with this moment in her life.

Before things can get too awkward, Maya comes back and says that there’s no Mountain Dew, so she’s ready to leave.

Back home, Maya messages FlyMiamiBro. He said he was too scared that he wouldn’t be who she wanted him to be, so he didn’t show up. Maya responds by saying that she was scared of the same thing, but she still showed up. He apologizes and hopes Maya doesn’t hate him now because she’s the best thing in his life. Maya says she won’t block him or anything like that.

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Then, PEN15 ends the episode by shifting to show who is on the other side of the FlyMiamiBro screen name: Sam.

What did you think of this episode of PEN15? Will Sam let Maya know how he feels or will he keep hiding behind this screen name? Let us know in the comments.