Mad Men s5e10: Christmas Waltz

“You do not know how hard I’ve tried to ignore this at work. I know what I’m doing, I have some control.. but then he found a way to ruin that, too.”

image courtesy of ChicagoNow

Ahh, Christmastime! How appropriate considering this will be my final review of 2017. This episode is jammed full of advantageous lies and harsh/totally awkward truths. Don is finally back in action at the office, Joan gets served, Kinsey cosplays as a giant baby, and Lane is in deep shit with the British taxman.

Hey-o, once mega pretentious Paul Kinsey resurfaces with the Hare Krishna! He’s apparently fucked it up/tumbled down the ranks of every ad agency in town, and goes to the Hare Krishnas for guidance but at his core, he’s still that arrogant writer we know. He turns to Harry Crane for help getting his atrocious Star Trek spec script to Roddenberry and co. Oy vey.

Lakshmi comes to seduce Harry to keep Kinsey on the line, purely because he’s a great Krishna recruiter; she’s got zero romantic interest in him. Part of the reason Kinsey even sticks around there is the prospect of building a life with her, so it’s a real dick move on her behalf. Thinking of his friend, Harry decides to lie to Kinsey re:his garbage script, and pops him cash and a plane ticket to start a new life in Los Angeles (not unlike what Don tried to do with Adam). Just get away from it all, Kinsey. The lie is more beneficial than the truth here.

Sure, maybe he’ll get shit on in LA, maybe he’ll be rejected 1000 times over, but at least it’s real; Los Angeles would be way better than living in Krishna limbo just to be exploited by a lady who ain’t ever gonna fuck you, Paul. And for once, Harry isn’t acting like a total knob, it’s a Christmas miracle! (Though he does bang Lakshmi in the process. Whatevs.)

“You’re all getting bonuses, and we aren’t!” || image courtesy of Twitter

Let’s move on to Lane and his shady shit. Looks like he’s in a giant money hole with the UK government, owing a whole pile of taxes on his portfolio with no way to pay. Pride is one hell of a drug; he further’s SCDP’s line of credit at the bank semi-fraudulently, claiming that the numbers for 1967 were commitments instead of just projections. He spins it to the other partners as a ~cash overflow~, so his now-possible Christmas Bonus could cover what he owes. The other partners put the kibosh on their bonuses, opting to give them to the staff. It’s blinding how quickly his entire plan was fucked.

As if it all couldn’t be shadier, he forges a check. A truly shit idea; pride and desperation lead him down that path, as those books were once sacrosanct to him. He won’t even tell his wife what’s up.

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This side of Lane is super sketch, similar to his season premiere infatuation with the wallet titty lady. Lane is culturally (and somewhat literally) so far removed from the other characters at the office that any time we peep some insight, it feels like we’re seeing something he’s been grappling with for months, whether it’s this tax debt or his estrangement from Rebecca and subsequent Chocolate Bunny.

Lane very rarely opens up to others, so we can only take a stab at his motivations. We know he’s been knocked about and beaten down by life (and his total dick of a father), but instead of being Don about it he’s pretty .. meek? Stiff upper lip and all that, I guess. And similarly, Don is a guy who plays shit close the the vest, but we see him 24/7 and thus understand him a little better. Pride also interferes with Lane even entertaining the thought of asking Don for the cash, which we know that he would’ve given without batting an eye.

Joan gets served with divorce papers via Shit Husband (and person) Greg, and after launching an airplane model at poor Meredith, she’s more than ready to engage in some Jaguar roleplay with Don. Natch, they end up at a bar. Don and Joan are both survivors of failed marriages, wondering whether tomorrow will be better than yesterday.

image courtesy of Imgur

Don’s connection with Joan reminds me a touch of his relationship with Anna, in that their affection for one another is unmistakable but never turns physical. Intimacy can be profound and non-sexual; I think that for Don, this is super important. He’s a guy who uses sex for a lot of things, but feeling love/showing affection ain’t it. The emotional damage he experienced at the hand of Archie and Abigail growing up adds to it, especially living in a whorehouse. He has the ability to be open and relatively honest with ladies who keep him at arms’ length, like the numerous casual bang partners. Joan’s instincts about men are so keen that she knows this better than most. After all, she and Don are alike; they’ve both used their overt sexuality and attractiveness to entice and manipulate other people. They get it.

Dancing around the idea of banging around and the lingering sense of ‘is that all there is’, Don references Bobbie Barrett’s attitude of “I like being bad and then going home and being good”. That’s obviously been rattling around in his head with all the recent changes in his life; and his analysis of those dudes who are obsessed with a sporty Jaguar is pretty telling. “He doesn’t know what he wants.. but he’s wanting.”

They’re both in a headpsace at that bar; boozing and deflated, Don feeling estranged from Megan in her new iteration, Joan begrudging her (soon to be ex) trashhusband. She admits that she tried to use her success at work as a way to be in control of her life, in denial about the end of her marriage. Don brings a touch of wisdom and lightness, a really nice gesture. Keep moving forward.

“Congratulations.”

“For what?”

“For getting divorced. Nobody realises how bad it has to get for that to happen.. Now you get to move on.”

And obvi, it’s way easier in the mid 60s for a Don Draper to get on with it than it is for a Joan Holloway, or even for a Paul Kinsey. But no matter who you are, moving forward is way smoother when you have someone in your corner to help and when needed, along with a good kick in the pants to force you to be honest with yourself.

At home, a rightfully pissed off Megan releases him back to the office with her bit about how he loved that job way before he ever loved her, and I suppose (along with Joan) that’s enough of an asskicking to launch him back into Inspirational Rallying Speech Don. Thank fuck.

“Last year at this time, whether you knew it or not, the survival of this company was on the line. l look at the faces in this room who have given their all to this tenuous recovery and l say, prepare to take a great leap forward. Prepare to swim the English Channel and then drown in champagne. There are six weekends between now and the pitch.. we are going to spend them all here. We will celebrate Christmas here, we will ring in the new year together.. And in the end, we will represent Jaguar, and it will be worth it. Every agency on Madison Avenue is defined by the moment they got their car. When we land Jaguar.. the world will know we’ve arrived.”

Thanks for reading, everyone! Here’s to 2018.

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Mad Men s3e9: Wee Small Hours

“But when I say I want the Moon.. I expect the Moon.”

Wanting and yearning, sprayed all over this episode. How do you give the person you’re bound to what they desire when even they don’t know what that thing is? What do you do when you’re trying to satisfy actual grown-ass human people who are as fickle and formidable as baby Gene?

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image courtesy of Fanpop

Hilton is blowing up Don in the middle of the night, while Bets dreams of snogging Henry on that whacking great hideous fainting couch. Betty decides to start writing him letters; after all, she is a person who has thoughts.. and nobody with which to share them.

Turns out Henry ditches the forced fundraiser at the Draper house, with good reason; infuriated, Betty drives the cashbox to Henry’s office herself and nearly beheads the fucking guy when she launches it directly at him. He talks her down from the ledge, letting her know he couldn’t just show up at her damn house like that; she’s married, after all, even though it certainly doesn’t feel like it to her sometimes.

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image courtesy of AMC

Sal is directing a Lucky Strike commercial, and Lee Garner Jr is sloppily sauced and ready to get weird in the editing suite. When Sal turns down his advances, Lee is PISSED. Lee Garner Jr is a man who never not gets whatever in the fresh hell he wants, the moment he wants it. Uh-oh.

Latenight meeting with Conrad Hilton and Don, father and son. In his life to date, Don has never once had approval from a paternal figure, but that concept profoundly matters to him. Connie and Don have an understanding. He’s worked his ass off while making his way up in the world, and Don is trying to do the same; neither of them had that boost of rich parents with cashflow, nor flashy Ivy League connections.

Though Connie sounds absolutely bizarre yapping about how the Commies don’t have God, he’s one of that generation that thinks of the USA as The Greatest Place On Earth(TM). He’s a ludicrously successful, wealthy self-made man; he built the most famous goddamned hotel chain in the world, after all.

The man is an icon, and Connie is also from a generation of men that believe American Democracy and our way of life is not only the best way, but the way of God. And after all, it’s the 1960s; we are at the peak of the Cold War here. Communism fundamentally preaches that religion is the opiate of the masses; “We’re good because we have God and Communists don’t. That’s their number one belief.”

In the office, Don Draper is fucking fried. He’s exhausted and at his wits’ end, and he’s creatively constipated. Even when he tears down Peggy and her team’s work on Hilton, she doesn’t respond with defensiveness so much as worry for his mental state of affairs. At this point in their working relationship, it’s obvious that she understands Don; it’s jarring to see him unravel.

Lee Garner Jr rings up Harry in the middle of the night, loaded and pissed off at Sal. He tells Harry he wants him gone. Awkward. Boob Harry does fuckall with this information; the meeting a few days later is a piping hot mess, which causes Sal to get the axe once light is shed on what happened.

Coaxing what went down out of Sal in an attempt to help him, Don is cold as fucking ice and lets the axe drop; it’s actually shocking. At this point, Don perceives himself as trapped at Sterling Cooper via his contract (thanks to Hilton), and he seems to be lashing out in bizarre ways as a result.

Sal: “He was drunk, and he cornered me in the editing room. And I backed him off, I told him I was married, and he was embarrassed and he left.”

Don: “You must’ve been really shocked. But nothing happened, because nothing could have happened because you’re married?”

Sal: “Don, I swear on my mother’s life..”

Don: “You sure you want to do that? Who do you think you’re talking to?”

Sal: “I guess I was just supposed to do whatever he wanted? What if it was some girl?”

Don: “That would depend on what kind of girl it was, and what I knew about her. You people.”

Sal: “I didn’t do anything but turn him down. He’s a bully.”

Don: “Lucky Strike can shut off our lights. I think you know that this is the way this has to be.”

WOOF.

Sal was hoping Don would understand, as a man with two lives; he might become his saviour and his champion. Instead, he just turns out to be a bastard. Truly devastating.

In a Central Park phone booth swarming with an enclave of hot dudes, Sal lies to Kitty about his whereabouts. What is he doing? It’s a heartbreaking end for this character. All I can do is hope he lives happily ever after on Fire Island.

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image courtesy of YouTube

And to top it all off, Don’s Hilton pitch bombs catastrophically; apparently Don didn’t think big enough. When Connie said he wanted the Moon** and didn’t get the damn Moon (apparently he was being literal), he’s deeply disappointed in Don. He takes it very hard, feebly defending his campaign on deaf ears. “What do you want from me, love?”

**(Fun fact– apparently, the Lunar Hilton idea is real.)

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Y A W N || image courtesy of MadMenWiki

Faking a Hilton call, Don splits in the middle of the night to go see thirst trap Suzanne. Sigh. I guess it’s one way to deal with his apocalyptically awful day, diving headfirst back into what you know. Similar to Pete with the German Au Pair, Don is about to shit pretty close to where he eats. Not a good look.

“You’re my angel, you know that? You’re like a son. In fact, sometimes you’re more than a son to me because you didn’t have what they had .. and you understand.”

Mad Men s2e10: The Inheritance

“It’s not easy for anyone, Pete.”

An LA trip is looming! Looks like Pete and Kinsey are going to Los Angeles, due to a hookup from Crab Colson. Time to hit up the JPL Rocket Fair. The Space Race is on!

Trudy is strongly suggesting her and Pete adopt a baby, and he ain’t having it in the least. His WASPy mother certainly won’t have it, after Bud let that tidbit ‘slip’; Pete retaliates by cooly letting her know her assets are in the toilet on his way out. So bitter, but his parents never seemed to treat him all that well anyway.

Betty’s dad had a stroke, turns out it isn’t the first time either. Thanks, Gloria. Betty phones Don and they drive to NJ together the next day, keeping the appearance of normalcy as best they can. Gloria answers the door in an outrageously absurd cocktail dress with a mammoth foofy hoop skirt, 1955 incarnate.

Every scene with the Hofstadts is strange, with an easily detectable tense undercurrent between everyone. It’s a family on paper, but there’s no discernible warmth to speak of; Betty is excluded from things here, just as she’s excluded from her own life by Don. Maybe her father Gene — apparently a strict, traditional guy.. fining his kids for small talk — is what she wishes Don would be like around their kids. (Y i k e s….)

Her family resents her for moving out of NJ, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve given her any reason to stay. Her brother William is a fairly unpleasant guy, making jabs about New York and Don having mad cash. Rude. He also sheds a little light on how Gene’s been acting as of late, apparently he’s been ‘off’ for a while now. They are both concerned about Gene, and show it differently. Betty slips into the childlike loving daughter persona, excited about milkshakes and the like, whereas William tries to be in charge.

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image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

But Gene’s got Don’s number, and berates him in an outburst during puzzle time.

“Who knows what he does, why he does it. I know more about the kid who fixes my damn car. Nobody has what you have. You act like it’s nothing. He has no people! You can’t trust a person like that.”

That night, though they share Betty’s childhood room, Don gets to sleep on the floor. They disrobe in silence, and a few hours later, Betty comes down to the floor with affection. She realises she holds the cards right now, and uses it to her advantage. They have a midnight bang on the floor, and Don wakes up alone in the AM.

Gene is all mixed up at breakfast, and mistakes Betty for her (dead) mother and gropes her right there in front of everyone, the harsh morning light filtering in. Everyone is in shock, Don is completely horrified; good lord that’s a lot to handle. Gloria insists they have another doctor’s appointment lined up. Good GOD.

Thankfully Viola shows up to talk some damn sense. Turns out Betty’s childhood nanny still pops in to take care of the house, and Gene. Instead of just acting like things are normal when they’re anything but, Viola sees through it.

Viola: “He’s very very sick.”

Betty: “You don’t know how nice it is to hear someone say that.”

Viola: “The minute you leave, you’ll remember him exactly the way he used to be. It’s all good outside that door.”

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image courtesy of Coco hits NY

Viola reminds Betty that it’s her responsibility to take care of her husband and her children, for they are hers. It’s OK to move forward and to love what you have, to remember the better times, but all it does is remind Betty that everything is in shambles. She breaks down and cries, truly at a loss.

Back in Ossining, Don gets the boot from his house; Betty curtly tells him that they were only pretending. Things are still as they were, so he heads to the office a day earlier than expected. Everyone is throwing a baby shower for Harry, another guy who’s uncertain about the reality of kids as much as Pete.

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image courtesy of Imgur/my own nonsense

Bert Cooper pops into the shower for one of the more bizarre moments of the day.. and everyone raided the store room with ‘gifts’ for Harry and Jennifer’s impeding arrival. Kenny gifts him with a massive stack of Playboys, as you do.

(Offices in the 1960s aren’t that dissimilar from offices today; any excuse to have a party where you eat some form of trash cake from the grocery store.)

Don changes up the plans and decides he’s heading to LA with Pete, axing Kinsey from the trip. Roger gives him his blessing with a vaguely icy exchange; things aren’t exactly healed there just yet.

Joan gets to publicly ask for Kinsey’s credentials back during the baby shower, and relishes it. Kinsey frames it well to Sheila, trying to mend their spat earlier in the week when Pete let it rip that he was headed to Los Angeles. He made it sound like it was his idea to ditch the LA trip (LOL) and ends up heading to Mississippi to fight for civil rights alongside her, likely irritating the shit out of everyone around him.

Everyone’s loaded on punch post-shower, heading home for the day, yet Pete lingers. He’s a little tweeked about flying to LA since his father died on American Airlines Flight 1, but that’s not really the root of his issue(s). He may never truly grasp why he doesn’t get what he feels entitled to, and on top of that, he may never understand how grim it is for everyone who doesn’t have what he has in the first place. Pete’s got some privilege, everyone. Peggy handles his “woe is me, first world problems of the now” drunken schpiele fairly perfectly. She is friendly and cordial, actively listening, but keeps him at arms’ length. Probably a good idea, Pegs.

Hey-o, Glen Bishop shows up at casa Draper, having run away from home a couple of days ago. Glen has been crashing in Sally and Bobby’s playhouse in the back yard. He hasn’t seen Betty for ages, and is in need of some kindness and attention. He insists that he’s there for her– “I came to rescue you. We can go anywhere, I have money!” His name is Don, etc.

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image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

Once Sally and Bobby get home, she does the right thing and rings Helen Bishop knowing she’d be worried about him. Betty endures his child wrath as he spots his mother in the foyer, feeling betrayed and shrieking that he hates her. Betty responds calmly with, “I know”. Maybe it’s some catharsis for her, some link to the way she thinks Don feels about her. She accepts it.

After things quiet down, Betty and Helen Bishop have a moment in the kitchen. Helen admits her shortcomings as a mother in the wake of her divorce and new boyfriend carousel, which compels Betty to share the news with her. After all, Helen is a divorcée; Betty confides in her that Don isn’t living with her anymore. She’s unsure if it’s forever at this point.

Helen: “Is it over?”

Betty: “I don’t even know.”

Helen: “That’s the worst. For me, it wasn’t that different without him there.”

Betty: “Sometimes I feel like I’ll float away if Don isn’t holding me down.”

Helen: “The hardest part is realising you’re in charge.”

On the plane, and true to form, Don just wants to watch the city disappear behind him. Time to get the hell out of Dodge for a bit to recalibrate.

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image courtesy of Fanpop

(Fun fact, the guitarist from The Tornadoes is George Bellamy– the father of Matt Bellamy of Muse fame. Not bad!)