Mad Men s5e13: The Phantom

“Stop being demure, you’re already on the bed!”

And here we are, another iconic season finale. Do people ever really change? Is that all there is? And so on. Will Roger drop acid with Marie? Will Peggy get her dolt copywriters to churn out good work at CGC? Will Pete get his existential dread in check? Can Don keep it in his pants? These are the days of our lives.

are you alone?? || image courtesy of RogerEbert.com

Turns out Beth is married to a total dick! Shocking, I know. Howard’s taking her to the city for shock therapy, and Pete happens to be on their Manhattan-bound train. They have an illicit bangarang in a hotel room, and Pete manages to sneak in a visit to non-remembering Beth to drop some truth bombs.

“He got involved with another man’s wife.”

“Why did he do it?”

“Well, all the regular reasons, l guess.. He needed to let off some steam, he needed adventure, he needed to feel handsome again. He needed to feel that he knew something.. that all this ageing was worth something because he knew things young people didn’t know yet. He probably thought it would be like having a few tall drinks and feeling very, very good. And then he’d go back to his life and say, ‘that was nice.’ When it went away, he was heartbroken. And then he realised everything he already had was not right either and that was why it had happened at all. And that his life with his family was some temporary bandage on a permanent wound..”

Let’s be real, none of Pete’s confession is breaking news. #thingsmensay and all that. What counts is that he’s facing the truth about his own shit both openly and voluntarily; nobody backed him into a corner. It seems as if he’s gone through his fancy bag o’Pete Campbell tricks; bitching, fantasising, banging around, pout-y resentful, etc etc.. and now there’s fuckall left to do but admit that he has some heavy shit to confront. It’s Pete Campbell conceding that he’s super damaged and confused, and it’s the most self-aware thing he’s ever done on the show to this point.

Megan is floundering with her auditions, and seeks out Don’s help to land a part in a Butler shoes commercial– he’s inherently reticent to throw her name in the ring, though he wasn’t bothered by the glaring nepotism of making her a copywriter at SCDP. And even though it sucks to tell her no, he has a point. You DO want to be someone’s discovery, not somebody’s wife. On top of that, her acting career also ain’t on his terms which he can’t quite grasp; that’s what happens when you help someone. They succeed and move on.

at last the 2nd floor is real! || image courtesy of MadMenWiki

Completely rattled by his laughing gas ghost Adam dentist visit, Don fucks off to the movies where he runs into Peggy. Along with his earlier visit to Rebecca Pryce to deliver a postmortem check, Don is reminded of how effortlessly the people in his life can leave him in the dust at a moments’ notice.

Both Rebecca and ghost Adam treat him with understandable hostility (“it’s probably difficult for you to believe, but it was even more than $50,000 that already belonged to him, so don’t leave here thinking that you’ve done anything for anyone but yourself” and “it’s not your tooth that’s rotten”.. fucking hell), but Peggy shows him genuine kindness and interest. Not everyone bounces after all, Don.

images courtesy of Tumblr

While Don mulls over submitting Megan for the ad, I’m taken back to The Wheel. Looks familiar– here’s Don Draper in a darkened conference room as a projector flickers images of the wife who’s slowly but surely slipping away. But even though he never quite knew how to captivate Betty, in this instance he’s able to give Megan exactly what she wants; even if it leaves him feeling a touch used and distant from her.

Maybe Don does that favour for Megan out of wanting to show kindness to someone close to him, unlike the way he pushed both Adam and Lane away with both hands. He’s not great at being close to people out of straight up fear, but baby steps in the right direction can’t hurt, even if it’s not necessarily the right fix longterm. Popping Megan in for Butler has healed the problems in their marriage for the moment, that old temporary bandage on a  permanent wound, but now Don will probs be on edge thinking that Megan will bounce like Peggy. The transactional nature of his band-aid scrubs some of the joy from their marriage, in the same way that Joan can no longer take a particular type of pleasure from fending off flirty advances at the office.

Don begins this season doting on Megan and unable to entertain the idea of stepping out; shit between them ain’t perfect, but his visceral reaction to that fever dream says it all. And now, he ends this season walking off shrouded in shadows as Megan gains the spotlight in dazzling technicolour. Gimme an Old Fashioned.

image courtesy of Tom and Lorenzo

Even though Megan knows Don’s Dick secret, she doesn’t really know what he actually needs on any kind of deep level; it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love him, more that she simply doesn’t get the guy. He doesn’t know what he wants, but he is wanting. Lane’s suicide would of course have a profound impact upon Don for a few reasons, something she should have picked up on. And Don ain’t blameless here either– he obvi has trouble understanding women and what they want and need in a relationship. Sure, they have clear chemistry, but is it sustainable in the day to day?

~Are you alone??~

Asking a truly isolated guy if he’s alone, what a hoot.

Let’s see if Don fucks it all straight to hell. And as always, thanks very much for reading! I’ll resume with Season 6 reviews soon!

“You hate him because he voted for Goldwater.” || image courtesy of Tumblr

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Mad Men s2e4: Three Sundays

“He makes everything sound like Christmas.”

Man, do I love this episode. It’s cleverly structured over the course of three Lenten Sundays in April of 1962; Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday.

Sunday #1: Passion Sunday

Ahh, the appearance of Colin Hanks’ priest guy, or as I like to call him, Priest J. God.

Peggy is hungover during mass in Flatbush, and talks with new priest in town Father Gill as she’s getting some air. Then there’s one of those bizarre Catholic post-church luncheons where her mother and a rando lady from the ‘hood obsess over Father Gill at Anita’s house. He’s taken a liking to Peggy, even asking for her copywriting help with his sermons. Good thing Vatican II is around the corner and mass won’t be 99% Latin soon..

Cut to the ~sacrilegious~ Draper house, with Don and Betty awakening to the phone ringing at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. The kids barge in as they’re about to have a bang.

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image courtesy of Fanpop

Afterwards in the lounge, Betty is reading a copy of the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story Babylon Revisited. Coming back to survey the ruins of a once extravagant life during a crisis is speaking to Betty on some level, or perhaps Arthur asking her if she’d read a different Fitzgerald story stuck in her mind.

Don and Betty are relaxing in the lounge together, listening to dreamy Perry Como croon on the hi-fi. Bobby fucks with the stereo, Don barely looking up from his paper, and we’re back to Betty talking about how Don isn’t harsh enough on Bobby and doesn’t take responsibility. Frustration. They change the conversation by dancing to the song, enormous glasses of vodka with a thimble of tomato juice in hand.

Roger and Mona are out to dinner with their daughter Margaret, and her vaguely cro-magnon fiancé Brooks. They’re talking about the wedding, adamantly disinterested in a big wedding until Mona reminisces about her own wedding to Roger and how wonderful and perfect it all was. Roger is staring into space.

End of the evening at the Draper house, and they’re seemingly having a nice family moment.. until Bobby breaks the bed by jumping on it. Betty stiffens, pissed off, and tells the kids to go to bed, but it’s only 7:30pm.. ay yi yi. Grilled cheese all around then. Don does fuckall. More frustration on Betty’s end of things.

It’s Monday, and Kenny and Pete are entertaining some bald Marty when high class hooker Vicky strolls in. Roger pops over and is exceedingly charmed by Marty’s obvious Not Wife. The wheels are turning.

Bobbie pops in to Don’s office, talking about selling a Candid Camera knockoff called Grin and Barrett. As the deadbolt clicks into place, Joan rolls an eye.

The minute Don gets in the door at home, Betty lets him know that Bobby broke the hi-fi and lied about it to her face. She makes an assumption that his own father hitting him made him the man he is today. Betty is expecting Don to punish him in some meaningful (physical) way, but instead he delivers the much scarier Stern Dad Treatment. He knows Bobby’s aware he did something wrong, there are other ways to go about things.

“Mommy says you broke the hi-fi. I believe her. Don’t do that again.”

“..I won’t.”

Sunday #2: Palm Sunday

Peggy is at mass again, and the Drapers are having tasty pancakes! Duck phones the house, yapping about Shel Keneally and American Airlines, as Bobby tries to put his mouth on the goddamned griddle and shrieks. Betty is pissed at Don, he says he’s got to go into the office. Since Bobby has to hit up the ER, he’s got to take Sally with him. More frustration.

Father Gill followed Peggy’s advice, her mother is glowing and saying that it felt like he was only talking to her. “So nice he’s taken an interest in her!” Anita is pissed off and resentful that Peggy does whatever she feels like, and expresses this to her mother who ignores her complaining. Woof.

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image courtesy of Maxim

At the office, everyone is blinded by Pete’s tiny shorts. Duck is asking about Don’s plan for American Airlines, they’re set to present on Good Friday. Don is uncertain, everyone is rattled.

Not Roger, as he rang up Vicky for a night out. Apparently this is his first hooker since he was in the Navy! I’ll be damned. “Don’t believe what they say. No one dies doing this.”

Sally is wandering around the office, not quite sure what to do. She finds a photo of Kinsey’s girlfriend Sheila, asks Kinsey, “is that your maid?” Y I K E S

Don delivers an iconic Don Draper Speech, where most of Sterling Cooper is left wondering what exactly in the fresh hell he’s on about..

“American Airlines is not about the past any more than America is. Ask not about Cuba, ask not about the bomb.. we’re going to the moon. Throw everything out.”

(“Everything??”)

“There is no such thing as American history, only a frontier. That crash happened to somebody else. It’s not about apologies for what happened, it’s about those seven men in the room on Friday and what airline they are going to be running.”

(“So.. what does that mean?”)

“Let’s pretend we know what 1963 looks like.”

Sunday #3: Easter Sunday

Good Friday, the American Airlines presentation. Everyone is in their Sunday Best (ha ha ha), ready to present and totally fried.

americanairlinesgroup

image courtesy of Tumblr

And then, the gunshot: “Shel Keneally was fired this morning.”

Anita hits up confession, knowing that Father Gill will be on the other side. She slyly throws shade at Peggy, expressing anger at her little sister, yapping about her child out of wedlock. “She acts like it didn’t even happen, and I hate her for it”. Anita feels invisible next to Peggy and all she’s doing and accomplishing, not understanding that Peggy is trying to move past all of this and live her damn life. Father Gill reminds her that she needs to forgive her sister, and that she loves her. Catholicism, man.

Cut back to Sterling Cooper; American Airlines meeting is over, all the shrimp is gone. Everyone looks both defeated and vexed. Don is pissed off that they jettisoned Mohawk Airlines for that wink from American, but Roger in his post-hooker glow rhapsodises that the chase is worth it. Old business is just old business.

Bobby is playing with a toy robot at the dinner table, and after being prodded by Betty Don’s finally had enough and throws the goddamn thing at the wall. Everyone is startled, Betty included. Betty tears into him, saying that he doesn’t take responsibility for raising the kids, that she’s stuck there all day with them, outnumbered. Betty insists that he gets to come home and be the hero, but Don battles all day with bullshit at the office. She shoves him and he shoves her back and immediately regrets it. No good.

Don has a bonding moment with Bobby. He apologises for getting mad and overreacting, and they talk about Don’s terrible father, his affinity for that perfume-y violet candy in the beautiful purple and silver packaging. It’s a nice moment, and they hug. Sometimes Don has flashes of good parenting. He tries explaining a bit of his upbringing to Betty, who is obviously uninformed. Unfortunately he wields this information in a way that’s manipulative, making her feel like she’s in the wrong.

“He’s a little kid. My father beat the hell out of me. All it did was make me fantasise about the day I could murder him.”

“I didn’t know that..”

“..and I wasn’t half as good as Bobby.”

Don and Betty are a couple that lack true intimacy in its purest form. There’s a faint flicker when they have that exchange, but it’s not enough. Part of the idea of marriage to me, is that you swap places emotionally, you let that person into your life and your mind so they can understand you and vice versa. Neither Don nor Betty can do that because neither one has any clue how to let the other in, and deep tensions are created, festering over the years. The banging around, the accusations, constant boozing, fights with shoving and other bizarre behaviours are propelled by this stalemate.

Easter Sunday after mass, Peggy is standing around with the other ladies watching kids gather up Easter eggs from the lawn. Father Gil hands her a Judgement Egg, stating that it’s for “the little one”. DAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN

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image courtesy of Tumblr

.. And now, the word “Sunday” has lost all meaning to me.

Mad Men s1e3: Marriage of Figaro

This episode opens on the train, Don staring at that ironic Volkswagen ad in his Playboy. He gets called Dick Whitman by some schlub rando, and he’s visibly rattled. More on that to come!

Oh hey, it’s Sally’s birthday! Time for Don to get absolutely shitfaced and assemble a playhouse. #men

From the women of the club, we hear about the arresting suburban scandal of Helen Bishop .. AND HER WALKING.

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I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE

image courtesy of Imgur

A lot of this episode centres around marriage and where these characters fit in. It’s pretty plain where Don fits vs. where he doesn’t fit; at work, and at home. He’s in charge of it all at the office, but at home he’s relegated to filming the party, building the playhouse (yet he’s not permitted to wash his hands with the weird porcelain-handheld soap), being told repeatedly to pick up the cake.

Don doesn’t wear a wedding band (and is continually losing his cufflink in this episode), but Pete Campbell actually digs it.

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image courtesy of 9gag

Ladies and gentlemen, Pete Campbell. He’s back from his honeymoon and trying to clumsily navigate being a married guy in a post-banging Peggy world.

Speaking of Peggy, she is trying to figure out where she fits in at Sterling Cooper. It’s clear that she’s very different from the other ladies in the steno pool; Pegs is cut from a different cloth.

The way Don’s written is fascinating. Here we have our main character, the guy we’re ostensibly rooting for; he’s simultaneously good and infuriating, yet we can relate to all of it. Who hasn’t just wanted to ghost on some garbage party filled with a simulation of friends? These people can be absolutely exasperating in reality, yet he’s relatable in this instance. Sneaking a peek at his world allows us to see the motivations behind bouncing, his desire to get way the hell away from those faux friends.

Pausing on that secret kiss he captures with the camera – Don feels a pang, and he feels even more isolated. Maybe he’s realising that love he haughtily claimed he created for products may be legit. But then again, Don is a guy that so clearly does not understand intimacy in real life. You can’t be ~mysterious~ and play everything so close to the chest but also have true intimacy; shit just doesn’t work that way. Gotta give some to get some. At first, Don is cloying with Rachel, listening and probing with questions like a fun flirty first date but revealing nada of himself, and she already seems to be over it. Especially when he pulls the “I’m married” card. Mess.

As he’s watching the train to Manhattan blast by in Ossining, I bet he’s thinking of trying to reach Rachel somehow. How to Human, 101.

Hours later, daddy saves the day by bringing home a dog for Sally. Betty is seething with palpable rage. He’s thinking back to when he snogged Rachel Menken on the rooftop, and her saying that, “For a little girl, a dog can be all you need. They protect you and they listen”. She told all her secrets to those dogs, apparently; and Don knows that he’s probably total shite at being a father to Sally, so uh.. here’s a dog.

But where in the fresh hell did he get that dog? Did he just jack someone else’s Golden Retriever from their yard? Fucking bizarre.