"Mad Men" will be , and here's one the of the . will be thrilled and we're expecting a great season, so get ready to break out the !
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AMC has announced that "Mad Men" for its fifth season. As you might expect, the delay is .
In the meantime, the , so you can get your fix by reliving the exploits of Don Draper, Joan and the gang from the past season.
The biggest storyline for season 5 will likely revolve around Don's surprise engagement to his hot young secretary, Megan (), which surprised everyone in the final episode of season 4.
If you haven't been watching this series, the season 5 delay gives you an opportunity to start at the beginning and get caught up. It's one of the best shows on television so we highly recommend it.
A lot of TV critics spent much of last week trying to work out what would come to pass in this season's final episode of "Mad Men," but I can honestly say that I didn't give it too much thought. The most I did, really, was reflect on how the season of "Mad Men" ended, which only served to leave me thinking, "Okay, there's no the end of Season 4 is going to leave me as excited about next season as the end of Season did." And I was right: it didn't...but that doesn't mean that Matthew Weiner didn't still do yet another fine job of setting the stage for the series' next go-round.
Maybe it's just the cocktails talking, but since this is the season finale, I don't think there's any point in going through the episode scene by scene by scene, so let's just look at the various events that went down, along with their repercussions:
: I think we all knew they were more or less doomed from the moment Don sexed up Megan in his office, but, man, it just got more and more depressing to watch them interact, especially knowing that Fay had basically betrayed her principles for the sake of their relationship. Her speech to him before she headed off on her flight underlined yet again how much she cared about him. I really do think that Don wanted it to work out between them, but as he proved last week with his letter to (and, of course, on probably a hundred more occasions in other episodes), he's a man who does things on impulse, rarely bothering to concern himself with the possible repercussions. I can't imagine that their final phone conversation will prove to be the last we see of Fay, but if it is, you can't say she didn't get the best possible last word, snapping, "I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things."
: As soon I saw Don start talking to Megan, I said to my wife, "Oh, God, don't tell me he's going to ask her to watch the kids for him..." But, of course, he did. I knew that the fire between them was destined to be rekindled at some point during the trip to California, but, really, did anyone anticipate that it would all go down so fast? Even when Stephanie gave Don the ring, I couldn't imagine that he and Fay would ever actually make it to the altar, but, Jesus, it never occurred to me that, before episode's end, the ring would be on finger…and, yet, looking back at the episode, it’s very easy to see how Don got so caught up in it all.
First and foremost, Megan loves the kids and the kids love Megan. Don’s initial line when he walks into the room to a French chorus – "You said you didn't have any experience, but you're like Maria von Trapp!" – was hilarious, but it still wasn’t as funny as the expressions on the faces of Sally, Bobby, and Don when Megan kept her cool after Sally’s milkshake spillage. On top of that, she’s gorgeous, smart, and respects what Don does, all of which are important qualities. Still, let’s not kid ourselves: it’s the way she handles the kids that seals the deal.
In the midst of post-coital bliss, Megan tells Don, “I know who you are now.” Except she doesn’t. Not , anyway. But she’ll no doubt find out at some point in the future. Maybe Betty and Fay can fill her in…?
: I thought it was pretty bold of Don to admit to Sally that the “Dick” painted on Anna’s wall was actually him, even if he did soften it somewhat by adding, "That's my nickname sometimes."
: The thing that struck me the most about the meeting was that, although Pete’s obviously proven himself as a businessman, he’s still a really shitty wingman. (“I have to say, it’s very interesting!” Gimme a break.) I liked the look of “gee, I never thought of that” which appeared in all of their eyes when Don suggested the idea of playing to the sentimentality and self-obsession inherent in all teenagers.
: I loved her line about being promoted to Director of Agency Operations without being given any sort of raise to go with the title ("Well, it's almost an honor”), but although I’d wondered about whether or not she might’ve kept the baby, I had to laugh when my wife said, “Her husband’s a doctor! How can he not know from her due date that the baby isn’t his?” Hey, nobody ever said he was a good doctor. Plus, who knows what she’s told him about how far along she is?
: For someone who didn’t seem to be much more than Pete’s nemesis for the past season or two, the dude really came into his own this episode. First, he showed serious cajones by standing up to Don and Roger and basically saying, “My marriage is more important than this company,” and although they might not have been happy about it, you could see from Don’s expression and Roger’s actions (which were partially obscured by his quick jab at Ken’s masculinity) that they both respected his decision. On a related note, he proved during his trip to Topaz with Peggy that, unlike Pete, he’s prone to respect and appreciate his coworkers rather than be jealous of them: she clearly showed him up with her knowledge of pantyhose, but in the end, all that mattered to him was that they got the client.
: Such a rollercoaster this week for Peggy, winning the client, only to find out that Don was marrying his secretary who…ouch…”reminds me of you.” That has to hurt. You know it's bad when she seeks solace in Joan's office...and, seriously, how funny was Christina Hendricks' delivery of the line, "Whatever could be on your mind?"
: I don’t even know why Harry’s there anymore. He’s in charge of TV advertising, for Christ’s sake. He should be one of the biggest people in the firm, and yet he was relegated to the kind of comic relief we’d come to expect from the late Ida Blankenship earlier this season. Here’s hoping he makes a comeback in Season 5.
: I secretly call him “Li’l Jackass” and I’m confident that he’s a budding sociopath, but damned if that hug between him and Sally wasn’t the cutest thing ever…and damned if he didn’t give Betty the verbal smackdown she’s deserved all season. (“Just ‘cause you’re sad doesn’t mean everybody has to be.”) I hope Sally ended up buying him something after all.
: Anyone who didn’t yell or at least mutter “that bitch” under their breath when Betty fired Carla just isn’t human. Unbelievable. What do you think the odds are that Don ends up hiring Carla back? (Or will Megan just turn into a happy homemaker?)
: Despite the incredibly bitchy move of firing Carla, lest she continue to “poison the well,” it was hard not to feel at least a slight pang of remorse for Betty when she was lying alone on the mattress. After Glen scored his verbal victory, Henry shot her between the eyes with his one-liner: “No one’s ever on your side, Betty.” By the end of the episode, it had gotten so bad that she was even willing to admit to Don that “things aren’t perfect,” and when she visibly flinched when he said that he’d met someone, I got the feeling that we were seeing the opening moments of what will come to be a downward spiral for Betty in Season 5, much like the one Don dealt with in Season 4. Of course, I could be wrong...but, then, we won't know for another year, now, will we?
See you in 2011, folks!
Sorry for the delay in knocking out this week's blog, but I spent the weekend attempting to cover the New York Comic Con, and the end result was that, upon flying home and making it into my house at about 10:30 PM, my attempts to watch and blog the show while wearing my spiffy new "Mad Men" button from NYCC - it has an illustration of Roger Sterling, along with the words, "When God closes a door, he opens a dress" - were interrupted by my complete and utter inability to stay awake.
So here we are on Monday morning, and although I'm still pretty freaking tired, I'm at least slightly better rested than I was last night.
Guess I picked the right button: it's another episode directed by John Slattery. Things kick off with Don having an off-the-record meeting with a guy from Heinz, trying to get a feel for whether or not the company might be willing to hook up with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. It's clear that he respects Don and his work (though he may just be saying that because Don's behind his premise that beans don't have to be funny), but they're on different timetables. There are two people at that table, but only one of them has any real confidence that SCDP will be around in six to eight months, and, frankly, you can't blame Heinz for wanting to make sure that they're working with an ad agency that's going to have some sort of staying power.
Geoffrey Atherthon lays the state of SCDP on the line, using dating metaphors to make his point, and since "tobacco is your ideal boyfriend," he's helped provide the firm with a meeting with Philip Morris about their new cigarette line for women. "We will listen more than we will speak," says Bert, matter-of-factly. "Like a good girlfriend," smirks Atherton. Immediately after the meeting, everyone begins to break into small camps: Bert and Roger discussing what sort of clients they should be pursuing, Harry and Ken mostly just trying to figure out where they stand in the firm, and Pete and Lane talking about the state of the office and Don saving the day. Meanwhile, Don and Faye are chatting as well, but it's work-related, so the conversation ends in a handshake, a decision which clearly bemuses Don. I'm guessing it probably wasn't a coincidence that the shot was framed in such a way that Megan appeared to be between them.
Not that I want to come across as overly cynical, but when Sally started asking about eating dinner with Henry, my first thought was, "What's she up to?" Up to this point, all we've really seen is tension between Sally and Betty, and now Sally's trying to suck up...? It just goes against everything we know about her.
Why am I not surprised that Sally's new boyfriend has some experience with tricking psychiatrist? He's such a creepy little bugger. He's also got an ego, first asking her if she thinks he's smarter than her psychiatrist (wisely, she remains mum on the matter), then wanting to know if she talks to her mom about him. She did, but she doesn't anymore. Sally's modus operandi is to just do whatever her mother asks her to do, thereby keeping her off her back. That's great, but it's too late: the emotional scars from their mother/daughter relationship are already in place. The poor kid has no concept of a parent or role model who would actually feel a sense of from her actions. She doesn't even believe in . That's just sad...
And could Betty possibly have looked more horrified at the news that Sally was all better? "I'm afraid of losing this influence," Betty says, but it's clear that what she's afraid of is losing the chance to talk to a psychiatrist without all that nasty stigma of actually going to one on her own.
I'm pretty sure my expression mirrored Don's when Midge came onto the screen. Indeed, I actually had to Google her to refresh my memory on exactly who she was...but, in my defense, I wasn't blogging Season 1, so I wasn't following the ins and outs of the show quite as diligently at the time. It seemed more than a little bit odd that she'd invite Don, a former lover, over to meet her husband, so I was pretty suspicious about her intentions from the get-go, and once we actually her husband, I something was off-kilter. Not like it was hard to tell, what with the hubby all but pimping out his honey, saying to Don, "She digs you...and I can tell you, she'd do if you bought one." But heroin...? I definitely didn't see coming. Her state of affairs is pretty tragic, but it was almost as depressing to see Don twitch when she told him that she was glad hadn't changed.
It was a cute little scene with a nervous Don reciting the old "Peter Piper" line, having to get assurance from Peggy that he's going to do great with the Philip Morris meeting. How depressing, then, to have it turn into the same situation as Heinz: a desire to wait six months and see how things are going with the firm then. I laughed out loud at Harry's attempt to slip into the gathering of the partners, but there weren't any smiles being cracked within the office. When Don tossed back his drink and stormed out of the office, I figured he was probably off to beat the bushes and find a new client. Instead, he was actually heading back to his office to have drink and wallow in self-pity. After his brief rant about the unimportance of creative types, Peggy looked like she was going to cry, "I have no more heroes!"
Tensions are running high outside of the office, too. The way Pete reacted to the news that he - like the rest of the partners - would have to fork out a sizable chunk of dough to keep the firm afloat, I immediately wondered if he even that much, especially having just had a baby. He didn't, of course. When he went to Trudy and told her the situation, though, I didn't expect that kind of reaction, given that she's always been so supportive of his endeavors in the past. Is it sexist to suggest that maybe it's at least the hormones talking?
For Don, the time has come at last: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce may be, according to Atherton, "a certain kind of girl," but that girl is finally giving up cigarettes. It's arguably the ballsiest move Don's ever made, putting his thoughts on the matter to paper and running them in , but, damn, what a way to make the firm stand out in the crowd. Personally, I thought the move was genius, but everyone else was ready to throttle Don, and I laughed out loud at Roger's lone positive spin on the situation: "It's good not to be the reason this place went down anymore." Be honest: did you really think it was RFK on the phone? I knew it had to be a prank. In fact, my thought was, "Is it Ted Shaw, or is it someone from within SCD&P?" It was the latter, of course, but, really, it could've gone either way. The kids in the office have no respect for Don, anyway, and...well, you things are bad when Bert Cooper takes his shoes and goes home. (Megan's in his court, at least, but that doesn't count for a lot at the moment.)
Does Peggy really have so little self-confidence that she thought Don was going to let her go before anyone else? Another chuckle-worthy moment came when she instantly threw Danny to the wolves, but it was really quite sweet when threw his "shenanigans" comment back in his lap. Faye's support for Don is unyielding: his actions cause her firm to depart from SCD&P, but she's still ready to spend the evening with him. It's worth it, she feels, for them to now be able to have a relationship that doesn't find them working together...but what if work was the only real bond between them? What a great scene between Faye and Peggy at the end, too, revealing the similarities between their characters.
I knew that Sally's storyline would cross with Betty's at some point, but I can't say as I anticipated that Betty would stumble upon Sally's liaisons with her boyfriend. I feel strange saying this, but...for once, I actually feel comfortable siding with one of Betty's parental decisions: I know it's a heartbreaker for Sally, but Betty needed to cut ties with that house, and we know Sally's boyfriend is a creep, so the idea of moving seems like a no-lose scenario. Still, handling it with that "she'll get over it" mentality was 100% typical Betty, so it was pretty easy to go right back to disliking her.
The final meeting of the episode held several more funny moments - Lane seconding Joan's sage wisdom on the matter of making sure that office supplies don't walk out with the departing employees, the fact that the first significant call after Don's ad was from the American Cancer Society, Roger saying, "I've got to go learn a bunch of people's names before I fire them" - but it also featured a surprising one, with Lane revealing that Don had paid Pete's share of the money to keep the firm afloat. Maybe it's just to keep Pete's mouth shut (he does still know his secret, after all), but it was still a sweet gesture.
Things aren't exactly on a positive upswing for next week's season finale. Will the day yet be saved, or will Season 5 kick off with yet new firm? We shall see...
When I saw that this week's episode was entitled "Chinese Wall," I found myself overwhelmed by a sudden wave of deja vu. "Now, wait a minute," I thought. "I know damned well that phrase has been utilized before, because I posted the video for Philip Bailey's when it happened." And, indeed, that was true: Faye made the reference back in .
If you're not familiar with the term, it's an expression which, according to the never-fallible Wikipedia, means "an information barrier implemented within a firm to separate and isolate persons who make investment decisions from persons who are privy to undisclosed material information which may influence those decisions." In this case, the wall in question has been constructed by Roger, and he's put everyone else on the other side of it.
And, now, on with the episode!
Hey, look, Peggy's hanging with the lesbian from and her pals, including the guy who pissed her off with his writings a few episodes back. I guess all is forgiven now that he's asking permission to quote her, since she immediately brings him back to her pad (I was disappointed, though, that Peggy's reference to her roommate didn't result in an appearance from Carla Gallo), and a good night evolves into an even better morning. We're seeing a whole new Peggy, people!
Ray Wise in the house! Ken Cosgrove and his fiancee are having dinner with her parents - yep, Mr. Wise is her dad - when he gets word that Lucky Strike is moving out of business with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. As you can imagine, this information scares the heck out of him...so much so, in fact, that he rushes out of dinner and into the waiting room at the maternity ward, where Pete is waiting for Trudy to have their baby. Pete's immediately on the phone to Don, and although he interrupts his makeout session with Faye to take the call, the topic of conversation instantly puts a damper on his libido. The next thing you know, everyone who's anyone - minus Lane, of course, though it's acknowledged that he's been duly informed - is at the office, ready to pounce on Roger the second he walks in. He claims it's an impossibility and immediately calls Lee, except we know from his comments that he's clearly talking to him.
Don heads back to his place and immediately starts drinking, and you know ain't a good sign. He acknowledges that he's more or less dreaded this possibility for quite some time, but although Faye tries to remind him of how valuable a player he is, Don dismisses her level of concern, saying, "I'm not at that point yet." Clearly, he's not going to go down without a fight. Pete's father-in-law, meanwhile, is almost immediately dismissive of any chance of the firm's survival, basically saying, "Ah, well, you had your fun, now back to the real world."
Should I feel sympathetic for Roger? Well, I did, at least a little bit. It's not his fault that Lucky Strike decided to pull out, and I can't blame him for not wanting to admit the loss to the firm, but at the same time, he's clearly getting in over his head with this chicanery, getting a highly warranted smackdown from Joan for keeping his mouth shut when something could've been done to save the situation. After she once again relents and lets him swing by her pad, they share a sweet embrace, but even though he's pretty pitiful when he departs from the premises, she's seriously disappointed the next day by the fact that he's continuing to weave his web of lies, and the awkwardness between them is palpable. I don't think she'd betray him to them, mostly because it's not like they could save the account at this point, anyway, but his actions are putting her job in jeopardy, too, and I think it's pretty well established how much she enjoys her niche at the firm. For his part, Roger seems to have been temporarily swayed by the arrival of his book. Maybe he'll be inspired to become the ad man he once was...?
After Bert and Don give the State of the Union address, the feeling on the floor is that everything's more or less under control, but Don's not pulling any punches when he sits his team down. The best moment, though, came when it was just him and Peggy. They've definitely got their own special relationship now...if, uh, not quite as special as the one she had last night, which has put her in a stellar mood. Unfortunately, it's pretty transparent to everyone around her, which results in Stan being an Alpha Male to the Nth degree. What a jackass that guy is. Still, even his minor-league attempt at getting revenge on her for her rebuffing of his advances didn't do any damage: it takes more than a little lipstick on the teeth to stop the creative force that is Peggy Olson!
Don's pissed about Glo-Coat jumping ship - though he at least has the common sense to forewarn his secretary that she needs to make sure he doesn't overdo his angry drinking - but he's taking his anger out on Pete, which may or may not be warranted. Yes, Pete's mind is elsewhere, but this strikes me as residual anger and Don's general tendency to view Pete as less competent than himself. Even so, it proves perfectly timed when Ted Shaw shows up at the maternity ward waiting room, unabashedly trying to woo Pete over to the Dark Side.
Don didn't keep to his three-drink maximum, but at least he didn't go overboard. It's enough for him to upset Faye with his suggestion that she betray her ethics by providing him with inside information about other agencies. To his credit, he looks appropriately guilty as she storms out, but it's too little and far too late. More on that in a moment, but first let's look in on the next meeting with the partners. You know things are bad when Don's defending Pete, but it's inarguable that Roger wanted the glory but dropped the ball. Bert's last word was priceless: "Lee Garner, Jr. never took you seriously because you never took seriously." ...
By the way, I just have to make this observation: I can't recall hearing the name David Montgomery mentioned before, and it seems a little too convenient that he's suddenly such a major plot point in the efforts to save the firm.
As soon as Don's secretary stuck around, I knew it wasn't going to go well, though I have to be honest and admit that they did keep me guessing throughout the scene. No matter what that guy does, I think we all want to root for him to do the right thing, and it seemed for a moment that he might, with the conversation staying on matters of business much longer than they usually do when he's in such situations. Heck, I even briefly theorized that his would do the right thing, keeping things strictly business. But despite Don pointedly saying, "I don't think this is a good idea," it a good idea pretty damned quickly. Dammit, Don, you just can't resist fucking things up, can you? So, of course, he gets home to find that Faye has decided to go all in with their relationship and give him the help he's asked for. Once again, he looks appropriately guilty at the end...but, once again, it's too little and much too late.
Joan wants a chat with Roger...and the talk is serious: "I'm late. late." I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at how Roger immediately did his best to calm her down, speaking to her in a tender voice and assuring her that he'd take care of everything. His doctor, however, isn't as tolerant of the fact that Roger's gotten Joan pregnant, but he still passes along information so that she can get an abortion...if she decides to actually get one, that is. The mere fact that Roger broached the possibility of Joan keeping the baby made me sure that we were going to spend the rest of the episode playing "will she or won't she," and I was right on the money about that. Even now, Joan's impossible to read. I hate to believe that she actually went through with it 'til we get formal confirmation on the matter, but she probably did, as it would go against standard "Mad Men" storytelling for her to do something as cliched as say, "I changed my mind, I'm keeping the baby."
Lee Garner, Jr. is back...but not for long. After the Christmas episode, you'd think they'd be glad to see him go away for good, but since Lucky Strike is basically the client that's keeping Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce afloat, their departure could literally sink the firm. It's a little disconcerting to see Roger shift from angry into being legitimately upset. Will he be able to save SCDP in 30 days...or before he has another heart attack?
Isn't it amazing how the promise of a ticket to see - which dates the events of the episode as taking place near August 15, 1965 - can make up for years of half-assed parenting? But, my God, even Betty's icy exterior cracked when Don told her where he was taking Sally...and, perhaps even more impressively, mother and daughter actually shared a smile. Unfortunately, the way Don kept having to put pressure on Harry about the tickets, coupled with Harry's expression while assuring him that he'd get the tickets, had me worried almost immediately that the grand event wouldn't go off as planned. Little did I know that it'd be the only thing that pan out.
Poor Lane: he's expecting to see his son, but instead he finds his father, who's come to tell him that his wife won't have anything to do with him, not even a conversation, unless he's in London. Still, he's in town, so it's only polite to at least invite the old man to dinner. Next stop, the Playboy Club! Turns out Lane has more of a stake in the place than making it worth Don's while to come along: he's having a bit of a fling with Toni, one of the Bunnies. Except it's not a fling, is it? It's a full-fledged relationship. Obviously, Lane would like it if his father would accept his new female companion, but, uh, I think we can safely say that he doesn't, what with the hitting and all. My , that was embarrassing. I certainly hope that this isn't truly going to result in Lane Pryce crossing the pond once more.
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's campaign for North American Aviation, a company heavily invested in the space program, is resulting in Don having to get a security clearance from the Department of Defense. For anyone else, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but for a man with such a screwed-up history as Don, it's a living nightmare, especially when part of the process involves a couple of gentlemen from the DOD quizzing Betty about her ex-husband.
Fortunately, Betty backed him up all the way, though her nervousness throughout the conversation can't have helped her credibility. At first, it was hard to tell if Betty was upset because Don getting busted would screw up her life or if she was legitimately concerned about him, but either way, she wanted to make sure that Henry knew about the DOD guys stopping by, saying that she didn't want there to be any secrets between them.
Meanwhile, Don's freaking out (yep, he's having a drink, though it's hard to blame him under the circumstances), running to Pete and basically telling him that he'll do whatever he has to do to avoid screwing up the identity he's worked so hard to build, up to and including leaving the firm. Who would've thought that would be the voice of reason?
I loved the short but sweet scene with Don and Pete in the elevator, with Don looking slightly manic and Pete getting progressively more pissed off. "I don't have to live with your shit over my head," Pete reminds him, and it's true: not only are we reminded that Pete and Don are peers at this point, but Don's attempt to threaten Pete to get him to fix the problem came off as hollow. How intimidating can he possibly be when Pete...or, at least, Pete's friend...holds his future in his hands? I mean, geez, that'd be like trying not to laugh at the sight of Trudy in her big pink pregnant nightie...
Don's accountant is understandably concerned about how crazy his client sounds, but you can't blame him for wanting to make sure that his family is covered. And, now, on top of eveything, he's sick, too! But Faye can tell there's more to his odd actions than just illness, and her experiences with her father convince her that it's not a heart attack. I was thrilled that Don decided to open up to Faye about his past. It may not have been the great catharsis that it would've been under different circumstances, but at least it's out there now, and it increases the chances that their relationship might actually endure for the long haul. The back-and-forth between Don and Pete toward the end of the episode was phenomenal, with Pete demanding to know why he should walk away from an account worth $4 million just because Don can't be honest about his past, even getting in a jab about his relationship with Faye.
And, thus, we reach the meeting of the partners, a board room full of secrets. Pete pisses everyone off with the news that North American Aviation is out the door, Lane announces his ostensibly-temporary departure, and Roger explodes because of his underlying tension over Lucky Strike, soon descending into laughing like he's a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown...which he probably is.
Another week, another great episode of "Mad Men." The show has really settled into a solid groove of awesomeness over the course of the past several weeks. Not that it isn't always pretty darned awesome, but ever since , it's been good.
Given the title of this blog, I feel obliged to start things off by discussing the late, great Mrs. Ida Blankenship. I've spent much of this season under the presumption that Bert Cooper would be the one to die in the saddle at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Not that I'm rooting for Robert Morse to leave the show, but it just seemed like we hadn't been seeing a whole lot of him this year, so I thought that perhaps that Bert's days were numbered...and maybe they still are, but I certainly never expected that Mrs. Blankenship would beat him to the punch.
Of Mrs. Blankenship's death, Roger quipped, "She died as she lived: surrounded by the people she answered phones for." Similarly, the character departed in much the same way that she existed: as a punchline. There was some straight-up "Weekend at Bernie's" schtick going on in the background as Don desperately tried to maintain his meeting with the gentlemen from Fillmore Auto Parts, and even though that isn't necessarily the sort of thing that I expect when I tune in to "Mad Men," it doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy it. If I laugh harder at a Don Draper line this season than "I'd have my secretary do it, but she's dead," I'll be very surprised. Still, Mrs. Blankenship's demise did also lead to a sad, sweet moment from Bert, when he poetically described her as "an astronaut," and it served to remind Roger of his mortality, which ultimately found him living life to the fullest...but we'll get to that.
Don's relationship with his hot blonde doctor has obviously progressed rather well since the end of last episode. Back then, he wasn't willing to take things beyond the back seat of the cab, but now they're indulging in a bit of early afternoon delightful at his place. There's a lot of flirting going on, but the depth of the conversation remains relatively limited, as evidenced by her refusal to be as open with her goings-on as he is with his. I have to admit, though, that as soon as she made reference to a Chinese wall, this is the first thing that leaped into my mind:
I wasn't terribly surprised to discover that Sally had essentially run away from Betty, seeking solace in the arms of her father. She's always felt closer to Don, and as Betty has become progressively more evil toward her, it was only inevitable that she'd press the issue about living with him. Having her there during the whole Mrs. Blankenship saga only added a further element of silliness to those goings-on, but things got more serious as the episode progressed. It's clear that, aside from Don's dalliances with the opposite sex, he and Sally get along very well together, and she's clearly doing her best to win her daddy over with her cooking (the bit with her accidentally using the rum as pancake syrup was priceless). Indeed, I'd guess one of the primary reasons for her explosion in his office was less to do with Faye trying to interact with her and more to do with the frustration of not knowing what else she could possibly do to show Don that she wouldn't be any problem if she lived with him. Watching all of the women congregate in the doorway as Betty prepared to take Sally away was one of the most depressing shots in the show's history, and I kept waiting for Don to say something about maybe having Sally live with him full time...but it never happened. Damn you, Don Draper...
Speaking of Faye, I was surprised both at Faye's reaction to the Sally situation at Don's tenderness toward her. Despite the fact that Faye's made it sound as though she and Don aren't exclusive, it's clear that both are taking this relationship rather seriously, even if neither of them are necessarily willing to commit to it 100% quite yet.
The Roger / Joan storyline this week was extremely interesting. I laughed at poor, deluded Roger trying to defend his book's quality in his first scene of the episode, and his delusional state continued as he unabashedly flirted with Joan when she came into his office. She wasn't having it, though, and we soon discovered that at least part of the reason for her tepid reaction was that she'd just learned of her husband's imminent departure to Vietnam. It was a sweet gesture on Roger's part to gift her with a massage, but, again, she went frosty when he dared to ask her to dinner. It isn't until after Mrs. Blankenship's death and the obvious affect it has on him that she finally agrees to go out for a meal, and they have a pleasant enough time together, though you'd have to be a fool to think that he really meant it when he said that he didn't expect anything to happen.
Similarly, though, it's not like they could've predicted that they'd be mugged after leaving the restaurant, resulting in such a tremendous surge of adrenaline that they'd succumb to their passions once more. I liked the way how, come the morning, Joan was willing to concede that there was a moment. If she's willing to admit that much to Roger, then it was clearly more than a moment. She knows him well enough to know that, by even acknowledging that there was one, he's never going to give up on trying to capture that moment again...and again and again and again.
All told, I found Peggy's storyline the least gripping of the episode, but it did serve to once again remind us that, although she doesn't suffer fools gladly when it comes to her romantic relationships, she does learn from her mistakes: even though Abe may have put his big, fat foot in his mouth when he mocked her premise that sexism and racism were inherently similar problems in the workplace, he still managed to open her eyes to the issue with Fillmore Auto Parts and try to do something about it. I still don't know what to make of her new lesbian buddy. Peggy definitely doesn't seem interested in crossing over to that side of the street, but it's hard to imagine that they're just bringing her around to show that Peggy's open-minded.
It was, as I said at the beginning, another great episode. What were your thoughts about the teaser for next week? I have this sneaking suspicion that Betty's having Sally institutionalized...but maybe that's just me.
Oh, come on: that line was to be the title.
When we first see Don this week, he's going for a swim...and, by the sound of it, he's also going to be coughing up a lung in the near future. Surely someone in the firm is going to be developing lung cancer from their constant smoking, but I always thought Don's liver would fail him first. Maybe I'm wrong...? Time will tell. We also hear him in voiceover as he bears his soul into a journal. I don't know if he's been inspired by Roger's excruciatingly awful ramblings for his memoirs or if the loss of Anna has caused him to realize that someone someday should be able to know the Don Draper, but whatever the case, these are some seriously deep thoughts that we hear over the course of the episode. Nice use of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," by the way, especially having the line about "the same cigarettes as me" roll off Mick's lips just as Don's preparing to put a cigarette to his.
Elsewhere around the office, Mrs. Blankenship has had eye surgery (I'm looking at her in a different light since the revelation that she used to be quite the hellcat back in her day, and I'm wondering if that might've been Matthew Weiner's way of sidestepping critical accusations that she'd been less a character than a punchline), and the office neanderthals are beating the living hell out of the new vending machine. Clearly, it deserved it, what with first not doling out a tasty treat, then for swallowing Joey's watch when he tried to go after said treat. I laughed out loud when Peggy said, "I feel like Margaret Mead."
Yes, it's definitely still a man's man's man's world at Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce, as evidenced by the treatment Joan has to put up with from the jackasses in the office...emphasis on "asses," if you were watching closely during the discussion she was having with Peggy. Speaking of which, I thought that was a particularly nasty jab about how she could do with taking a few extra steps, but we soon realize that it isn't (entirely) the goings-on at the office that have gotten her riled up but, rather, the fact that her husband is preparing to head to basic training. Given Don's subsequent viewing of Vietnam footage on the telly and Joan pointedly referencing it in her later verbal attack on the guys ("Remember, you're not dying for me, because I never liked you"), it's hard to conceive of a scenario where she doesn't end up as a widow in short order.
When Don began to space out during his meeting with the team, I thought for one moment that he was looking at Peggy in a different light after last week's episode...but, no, it was much more likely the effects of the alcohol. That, or the simple fact that his mind just isn't on his work the way it once was. Either there's too much going on in his personal life or there's not enough of what he wants there to be in it, but either way, this is not a happy camper that we see before us. An attempt to drown his sorrows in an evening with Bethany might possibly have worked, but however he might've anticipating things going, things changed at the precise moment that Betty and Henry stopped by their table.
Frankly, I was surprised that they did so, as I figured Betty would want to just run far, far away, and as quickly as possible. It makes sense, though, that her obsession over Don would inspire a need to find out more about his dinner companion. Another laugh-out-loud line for the episode: Don describing Betty and Henry's dinner companion as "some slob who's about to have the worst dinner of his life." As it turns out, the gentleman has profound political aspirations for Henry, but Betty isn't paying a lick of attention: she's dwelling on Don and Bethany and, based on the way she's suddenly smoking like a chimney, is having a pretty serious anxiety attack about it. I guess I wasn't really aware 'til this episode that Betty, too, is now using alcohol to battle through her memories of her broken relationship, but that's clearly the case, given how Henry calls her out for her use of the phrase "I a drink." Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bethany is turned on by having seen "the competition," and she promptly takes Don to third base in the back seat. A happy ending, indeed...at least for Don, anyway.
Betty's apologetic the next morning, and Henry seems to be somewhat receptive, if ultimately a bit cool on the idea of further conversation. He enjoys the opportunity to be a little vindictive before leaving the garage, however, bashing into some of Don's stuff. He must've gotten off on it, since he then proceeds to call Don and basically tell him to get his shit out. Sure, he couches it in claims of needing the space for a new boat, but Don recognizes it for the dickish move that it is. What he also does, however, is view it as a wake-up call to move forward with his future: he picks up the stuff...and promptly throws it away. He hears the beautiful blonde doctor battling through some personal problems on the phone, and he decides that the time is right to make his move: they go on a date and, instead of rushing things, he takes a page from Bethany's book and takes it slow. This doesn't bode well for Bethany, unfortunately, but you can't say he hasn't learned something from his time with her, at least.
Back to the office. Despite how well they'd been getting along when the season began, Peggy's clearly pissed off with Joey. Well, actually, she's pissed off with of the guys who are refusing to acknowledge women as equals, but for my part, I thought she was more pissed off with him because they'd had such a good working relationship once upon a time. Just doing the artistic rendering of Joan and Lane was bad enough, but the fact that he'd actually put it in in Joan's window for her to see it...well, hell, I'd think that'd piss off. It's just a shitty thing to do. I don't think there's any question that Joan handled the situation about as well as she could have, offering that aforementioned line about Vietnam, which was , but nor do I think that it was wrong of Peggy to want Joey to suffer further disciplinary action belong just a tongue-lashing, especially when she pointedly told him not to do the drawing in the first place.
The brief one-on-one between Peggy and Don confirms that something changed about their relationship after last week's episode. I mean, I guess you could just chalk it up to Don just being desperate to avoid having to actually get involved, but, no, I think he actually does view Peggy a little bit differently now, and he trusts her to be able to fight her own battles...which she does. Joey was pretty well asking for it by the end, and I was impressed that Peggy didn't back off but, indeed, let him go. (I don't necessarily think we've seen the last of him, though: I can't believe the scene where Harry observed that he thought Joey had potential as an actor was there for nothing.) It's no surprise that Joan didn't agree with the way that Peggy handled the situation: Joan has convinced herself that she's happy with her station in life, while Peggy's convinced herself that she can make more of hers. They've never seen eye to eye on matters of women in the workplace, and it's underlined here that they almost certainly never will. Meaningless secretary...? Meet humorless bitch.
To wrap up, let's revisit Don, who has taken a cue from his beautiful blonde doctor and decided to attend baby Gene's 2nd birthday party after all. He'd been so close to just throwing the child to the wolves, i.e. Betty and Henry, but in the end, he does the right thing and stakes his claim as the lad's father. Has Don turned a corner? Is he climbing out of the abyss?
Let's see what next week brings...
Tonight's episode of "Mad Men" was one of the strongest offerings of the season, once again focusing on the unique relationship between Don and Peggy that's been a hallmark of the series since the very beginning. He used to be the lord of the manor and she used to be as meek as a mouse, but Peggy's come a long way, baby, and Don...well, he's still got his title, but his power would seem to be somewhat on the wane. This week, the two went head to head, and while neither necessarily came out a victor in the end, they both learned a great deal about each other in the long run.
First, a look around the office. The gang's all geared up to watch Sonny Liston battle Cassius Clay for the second time in their respective boxing careers, which places the precise date of the episode as May 25, 1965. As it happens, it's also Peggy's birthday, and since she's 26, that means she was born in 1939...and, as it happens, on the same day as and the late Dixie Carter of "Designing Women" fame. Just an FYI. Before they can embark on their fun-filled fight extravaganza, however, they've got to present Don with their pitch for Tourister, which involves the then-mostly-unknown Joe Namath. It's pretty funny, but Don all but sneers at it, saying, "Endorsements are lazy," once again confirming that, for all of his gifts as an ad man, he's destined to become a dinosaur sooner than later if he doesn't change his attitude. And make no mistake: Don does an attitude, snapping at Peggy, "I'm glad this is an environment where you feel free to fail."
Peggy retreats to her office, where we find that good ol' Duck has remembered Peggy's birthday, which is more than Don's don. Duck's present to her: business cards with her name on them as well as a possible new title, provided that she's willing to join forces with him. It sounds like a great idea at first, with his pitch about how it's going to specialize in women's products and his excitement over the likelihood that Tampax will be one of their first clients, but then things start to go south as it becomes evident that Duck's been let go from his firm, probably because of his severely increased drinking habits. Peggy shifts from excitement to concern, Duck moves from business into personal, and when he begins to drunkenly plead with her to see him, she takes the opportunity presented by her co-workers entering her office and hangs up. I'm sure I'm not the only one who knew we'd see Duck again before episode's end, but I can't say as I quite expected to see him doing what he tried to do.
But we'll get to that.
Although it didn't have anything to do with his earlier annoyance, Don soon has a decidedly legitimate reason to be in a bad mood: he receives an urgent message to call Stephanie in California. Stephanie, of course, is Anna's niece, and Don knows full well that the only reason she'd be calling him is to tell him that Anna has succumbed to her cancer, which is why he can't bring himself to call her. Instead, he decides to blow off the Liston / Clay fight - much to Roger's annoyance - and drown his sorrows in the Tourister campaign...oh, and also in lots and lots of liquor.
Peggy, meanwhile, is preparing to leave for her romantic birthday dinner with her boyfriend when she has a close encounter with Trudy Campbell in the ladies room. I thought sure Peggy would tense up, but, no, she keeps pretty cool through the conversation...right up until Trudy offered the pitying closing comment, "26 is still very young." Another "ouch" line, to be sure. Before Peggy departs, she makes the foolish mistake of swinging by Don's office, something the others on the team know is a bad idea and pointedly avoid going anywhere near. Sure enough, Don drafts her to stick around and come up with some better ideas for the Tourister campaign, forcing her to call her boy and tell him that she's going to be late for dinner, at which point we discover (even if she doesn't yet) that he's tried to surprise her by inviting her entire family out for the dinner as well. Whoops.
Peggy presents her new ideas. None of them meet Don's approval. She's pissed. He's pissed. Things only get worse between them, and it descends into a yelling match, in no small part because Don's continuing to toss back drinks. Peggy's boyfriend calls to find out where the hell she is, and she tells him she's finally going to be heading to dinner...but, then, she changes her mind and decides that she isn't. Soon, there's an explosion of emotion in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, with Peggy's boy breaking up with her over the phone (and in front of her family, no less!), an angry bitchfest between Peggy and Don over who deserves credit for what, and Don screaming at the top of his lungs, "You should be thanking me every morning when you wake up, along with Jesus, for giving you another day!" It's brutal, but it's been building for several episodes now, and it's good to finally see these two get it out of their systems.
What brings Don and Peggy back together into civil conversation is, of all things, a tape recorder. In the process of trying to record his ideas, Don stumbles upon one of Roger's memoir sessions, and he finds them so funny that he calls Peggy back into his office to listen. We really only learn two things of note - Mrs. Blankenship used to be quite the hellcat, and Bert Cooper may be working with limited means below the belt - but it breaks the ice between Don and Peggy once more and results in the two of them going out for dinner and, later, drinks. The subsequent conversations between Peggy and Don were sweet and enlightening, with a lot of lovely little moments, including Peggy's awkward laugh when Don tells her how his father died and Don's warning comment, "You don't want to start giving me morality lessons." I knew that Don had visited Peggy in the hospital, but was it ever actually clarified outright that he knew that she'd had a baby? He obviously does, but I just didn't remember that he'd been definitively aware of it.
You know, you just don't get enough full-fledged vomiting sequences on television these days, but Don's was a doozy, though what I think I loved most about it was Peggy's look of legitimate fascination when she looked over at the urinals. Lord knows how long we would've had to endure the sounds of Don's retching, however, if Duck hadn't turned up to try and take a dump in Don's office, an event made all the funnier by the fact that he was actually in office when he was trying to accomplish the act. Duck definitively confirms himself to be a dick by besmirching Peggy's reputation, while Don, God bless him, steps in and defends Peggy's honor. Not very well, admittedly, but you have to give him credit for trying. I was shocked when Peggy left with Duck, but I breathed a sigh of relief when she soon returned, explaining that she'd gotten rid of him.
"How long are you going to go on like this?" Peggy asks Don. At least until he makes that phone call to California. After a long night spent with his head in Peggy's sympathetic lap, dreaming of Anna's ghost, Don wakes up and finally makes his call to confirm that which he'd already known...and when he gets off the line, he immediately breaks down in tears. Peggy is stunned at first, then quickly sobers and becomes sympathetic. Through his tears, Don claims that the person who has died was "the only person in the world who really knew me," to which Peggy replies, "That isn't true." I think it's notable that, true or not, Don does not argue this point.
Although Don tells Peggy to go home and get some rest, she instead goes to her office and crashes on the couch. Bad move: her boorish co-workers wake her far sooner than she'd have preferred. She finds her way back to Don's office and is taken aback at how fresh he looks, but we're not: he's vented his emotions, he's sobered up, and he's got a great new idea for Tourister. She's not quite as enthusiastic about it as he is, but she quickly concedes its worth, leading to the sweetest handhold between two TV characters that I've seen in a long time.
You know, in Season 1, it would've been too easy for Don to sleep with Peggy, but in Season 4, given how much she's matured as a person and how far down the ladder he's fallen, call me crazy, but I actually think these two characters would be a potentially perfect fit for each other.
What say you?
I'll bet you thought I was going to entitle this week's blog "The Cure for the Common..." or something relating to the gag that kicked off tonight's episode. Believe me, I was tempted: I thought it was pretty hilarious that this young punk - 36-year-old Danny (Strong) claiming to be a 24-year-old - strolled into Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce with half a dozen ads based around the same general theme, with his only real defense being, "Uh, did you see me shaking hands with Roger Sterling out there?"
Looks like the candidates are pretty slim pickings, which would certainly be enough to bum Don out even if he have all of this other stuff going on in his life, but, man, he really tried to drag Peggy down to his mood, despite her unabashedly optimistic attitude about how well things are going for her. You'd think he'd be in better spirits, what with his CLIO nomination and all. (By the way, is this the first time we've heard mention of the CLIO Awards? It seems like it might be.) Then again, you'd also think he would've noticed after all of this time that Peggy isn't the same shy girl who used to cower every time he raised his voice...although, in fairness to Don, she does tend to fall back into that old pattern when she's around him.
Huh. I wasn't expecting a flashback to the first time Don and Roger met. Don was selling furs...? I don't remember hearing that tidbit of information before, either. Funny how Roger's first reaction to one of Don's ad slogans was to disparage it. And, holy cow, look at Joan, would you? She's a red-headed Marilyn Monroe, especially with her hair done up like that. Man, when she dropped that fur coat, I found myself wishing "Mad Men" was on HBO...and then I laughed out loud when they cut back to Roger reminiscing about what I'm pretty sure I was imagining myself.
I couldn't begin to guess how many bowls of Life I ate as a child, so I had a smile on my face as soon as I saw the familiar multi-colored letters of the cereal's name...which is the exact opposite of the expression on Pete Campbell's face when we first see him. He's so serious these days, not unlike a li'l Don Draper circa Season 1. (Probably not a coincidence.) I liked Lane's dismissal of Harry's attempt at namedropping as well as Joan's reminder to New Boy that he can get up and get his own damned drink. Peggy's not going to waste her time drinking, though. Instead, she has to do battle with Stan, the firm's new art director. What a jerk. Clearly, she's going to end up sleeping with him...or kill him. One or the other.
And speaking of jerks, here's Ted Shaw, coming up to Don and Roger in order to be his usual dickish self. As a Marx Brothers fan, I had to laugh at Roger's description of the purported general as "Rufus T. Bullshit," which was almost as funny as the expression on Pete's face when he realized that he might have to work with Ken again. Great guest spot from Mark Moses, getting a chance to play a drunken Duck Phillips. The menage a trois of handholding between Don, Joan, and Roger was too cute, but...wow, they're really going to go for broke and head straight from the CLIO Awards back to the office to meet with the people from Life? Ballsy, Don, real ballsy...especially when it's Harry who's stuck having to entertain the troops until he gets there. Good thing most everyone was a "Peyton Place" fan back then, I guess. That, and it's a good thing that the SCD&P bar is always well stocked.
Or that a good thing?
Roger's whistle is clearly pretty damned wet as he makes the victory lap around the conference room, and Don's obviously snockered when he begins his presentation. Really, the big question here is, "Are the men from Life drunk?" Actually, they're pretty well on par with him, but it doesn't change the fact that they aren't quite on the same page as Don when it comes to his slogan, and, wow, his alternative suggestions just ain't cutting it. The cut to Lane's expression after "life is just a bowl of Life Cereal" was classic. But, wow, going with Danny's crap "cure for the common..." idea? Wow, he is ...but just because he's heading toward a blackout doesn't mean that Peggy's going to forget how he acted to her anytime soon. Or how Pete and Lane blew her off, for that matter.
Pete's pissed about Ken being brought back into the firm... pissed...and he's throwing Lane's previous gameplaying between the two of them right back in his face. But that was a long time ago, and Lane's very much seeing the value in Pete and his abilities as an ad man now, explaining that the only reason he's hiring Ken is that "he's hungry and he has accounts."
Peggy totally and utterly called Stan's bluff, God love her...and, once again, another case where I really wish this show was on HBO. I would've thought that Peggy's victory would've been slightly tainted by Stan calling her "the biggest bitch in the world," but, no, she seems pretty proud of that title.
Don and Roger are enjoying their after-party with Joan, and the alcohol is continuing to flow freely, as are the dodgy comments from Roger's mouth. Don sees his favorite blonde doctor and starts with the flirting again, but it looks like the CLIO is the only award he's taking home tonight, as she shuts him down. Like that's going to stop him: if there's anyone who enjoys a challenge, it's our man Don. Meanwhile, Roger's a little flirty with Joan. Nothing like a little alcohol to put him back into his old mindset. It was a little sad, though, when she told him that he'd crossed the barrier between "lubricated" and "morose." Cue another flashback. Wow, I can't believe how eager Jon Hamm is playing Don in these scenes, grinning like a fool, but it's interesting - if, when you think about it, unsurprising - that it takes alcohol for Don and Roger to first find themselves on even footing.
Cut back to the present (relatively speaking, of course), with Don gettin' busy with the woman who'd asked about his relationship status at the after-party. After that stirring rendition of the National Anthem, it's no wonder that he ends up sleeping 'til noon, but Betty is that he's two hours late to pick up the kids...on Sunday. What the hell happened to Saturday? And who the hell is this new blonde? Clearly, Don's not entirely sure himself, and that's worrying. It must've been a hell of a bender, though, if he gave her his name (Dick). After sleeping the rest of Sunday away in solitude, he's awoken by Peggy, reminding him that he swiped the slogan from Danny. And just like that, it feels like even has a better future with the firm than Don.
Meanwhile, back at SCD&P, Pete's decided to avoid lunch with Ken in favor of a meeting in the conference room, informing him that he'd be happy to have Ken on his team. Ken thinks he's kidding. He's not. Surpisingly, Ken swallows his pride...and Pete feels the power coursing through his veins. And Don - who has lost his CLIO - finds his "little friend" Danny sitting in his office. He offers him $50 for the slogan. Danny wants a job. Don ups it to $100. Danny still wants a job...and Don can hardly argue the point. He ain't happy about it, though, and Peggy is downright incredulous. Roger, however, is pleased that Don's come around (even though he really hasn't) and presents him with his CLIO, which he rescued from the bar, and we close on the reminder that just about every major decision made within Sterling Cooper...and, now, Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce...has been made under the influence.
In closing, I have one question that hadn't occurred to me 'til just now: where the hell was Bert Cooper during the CLIO Awards? Maybe he's just getting too old for this shit...
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