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'Mad Men' recap: 'You're a new and better man'?

By Kathleen Edgecomb and Marisa Nadolny

Publication: theday.com

Published May 20. 2013 12:00PM   Updated May 20. 2013 4:22PM

Dear Marisa,

What an episode! So funny and soooo dark.

First the fun stuff.

Half the staff hopped up on amphetamines and talking gibberish was hilarious. Racing through the hallways. Ken tap dancing a la Fred Astaire, cane and all. And the re-re-enactment of William Tell's famous shot, which resulted in Stan getting an x-acto in the arm ... I burst out laughing so many times last night.

I know over-indulging in drugs and alcohol isn't always funny — but sometimes it is. Kudos to the writers for this one.

Soberly yours,

k

***

KE,

Last night required a lot more gin than usual for me. I wanted to laugh, but found myself utterly depressed by the SCDPCGC staff all hopped up on goofballs. (Indeed, kudos to the writers. My husband kept wandering in going "what the hell?" and I could barely explain.) But the drug-addled execs actually brought back to mind some acquaintances from the old country (New Britain) who never really made it back from those sorts of trips — behavior that, at the very least, is super unprofessional. I would've been totally freaked out in that office, and cheers to Peggy and Ginsburg for attempting to stay focused.

Unamused Peggy was the best part of last night. She looked sad, confused, then happily rid of Don as he skipped off to try and sell Sylvia on another chance. I'm a tad annoyed she made out with Stan, though...

And seriously? Who takes a random shot of whatever from some "doctor" with only a few questions asked? This, I believe, means I'm officially an old person, but shouldn't Don and Roger know better than to take an unmarked needle-ful of "vitamins"? Seemed desperate. The Beatles song "Dr. Robert" comes to mind, but not in a good way.

I think that's what got me the most: Don, the desperate man. We've not seen much of him before. For once, I agreed with newly blonde Betty when she ripped him a new one at the end of the episode.

Glumly,

M.

***

My Dear Ms Glum,

I think you are looking at this through the eyes of a person in 2013 and not 1968.

Doctors were the authority then, no one questioned them.

As we know alcohol was abundant in the workplace already, and marijuana, so what's a little shot of something to keep you up for 48 hours?

About that scene with Peggy and Stan — I wasn’t disappointed she kissed him. I think it made her realize that she is in charge. She could kiss him or not, totally her decision. Peggy was the only one in control. I think she realized it and found it empowering.

Also, Don really seems to be the emperor wearing no clothes. Everyone loves, adores, admires and is mystified by him. When he says something, all the underlings swoon. They think he’s a genius. Except last night, Peggy saw a frightened, scared, possibly washed-up ad exec who is losing it. I think she got power from that, too.

Seems the lower Don goes, the more Peggy soars.

Then again, nothing is as it seems. As Bob Dylan sang in 1964, “The times they are a’changin.’”

And I think we have to take a step back and thank our sisters for paving the way for a better workplace and putting up with all that bull — jeez — they really were trailblazers.

Yours in 1968,

k

***

Sister K,

You know, I can't tell you how many times I've thanked my trailblazer sisters ever since I started watching "Mad Men." For reals. I mean, when we were in high school — softened by years of "Sesame Street" — we used to fancy ourselves Fighters for Femme Freedom with our clever bumper stickers, abortion arguments, and love of Kim Gordon. Indeed, we didn't know the half of it. Here's hoping the days of bum-pattings and uninvited innuendo have entirely gone the way of the Vega;)

But you're right. I'm way too 2013 over here. If (former Day reporter) Jeff were here, he might advise me to get off my high horse about the drugs, the doc, and maybe Don—who, I should mention, shocked even me with the depths he dropped to in this last episode. Stalking Sylvia? Forgetting the kids (again) at home? When he's required to parent them a mere 2 days a month it seems?

All of which pales in comparison to another bizarro twist: "Grandma Ida." What. The. Frick?

Ms. M

***

Ms. M.

Yes. What about Grandma Ida? I was on edge that whole scene. Scary enough Sally was reading "Rosemary's Baby" ... in which Rosemary lives in a multi-story apartment house in NYC much like the Draper establishment.

Then for Sally to hear a noise, come out into the living room and confront the intruder. I would have been hiding under the bed — today or back when I was 14. Brave, brave Sally.

I kept thinking thank god it's not 2013. Ms. Intruder probably would have had a gun, tied up the kids, and I can't think about the rest.

But what I loved about the scene was how it showed how little Sally knows about her father. A conclusion she quickly came to on her own the next day. She only knows things a stranger could say about anyone's dad — he's handsome, he has a gold watch, yadda yadda.

In the end Don falls flat on his face — is that where he's heading? I think so. With his mind racing on drugs, we get a better glimpse into his past, and it is worse than we thought. I think all those repressed memories are going to have to manifest themselves somehow — more drink? Drugs?

I wonder if it registered to Don when his daughter told him she didn't really know anything about him?

K.

***

K,

I tell you that line of Sally's made a crack on my grinchy heart. She was so very mature about it; wise beyond her years, which is bittersweet: wisdom is useful but maybe too much for a young teen — with Betty as a mother — to bear alone. $10 says Sally hitchhikes to Woodstock.)

And how funny was Bobby, who, not bothered by a stranger in the apartment, is content to watch the tube while things shake out. AND, Grandma Ida knew Bobby's name I think. There's no LexisNexis or Internet for her to use to look up what is easily findable info nowadays. What the heck? PS. Give that actress an award: she went from sunny "Hi there, I'm your good fairy Grandma Ida!" to, stormily, "You better be asleep when I get back" in about 2 minutes. She made me so incredibly nervous! Brave Sally, indeed. Of course, she learned false bravado from the master, right?

Sigh, just think of all the damage Don has yet to bring down on his family…he's definitely worse than we thought. Nursed back to health by a prostitute with a heart of gold, who pretty much robbed him of his virginity? That'll leave a mark. Paging Dr. Freud…or, perhaps given the times, Dr. Leary.

M for Mopey

PS. In another display of late Gen. X wuss-dom, I meant to note that "Rosemary's Baby" scared the ever-loving bejesus out of me when I first saw the movie. That didn't stop me from seeing it several more times, but still! Not a book to read alone at night!

***

Dear M,

I wanted to give a shout out to the set designers and researchers -- loved the pink chenille bedspread on the prostitute's bed; playing checkers in the boardroom; Sally's mini-skirt; Megan's mini-dress; Peggy's more conservative office attire; the hippie and her flowing skirts; and The Mamas & Papas' song at the end. All very nice touches.

K.

***

And, of course, let's not forget Don's latest words of wisdom: "The timbre of my voice is as important as the content."

I tend to believe the voice of Mercedes, you know?

-M.

We're on Twitter: @TheMDesk and @edgecombday.

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