It's a mad, mad, mad, mad 'Mad Men' world
Kathleen Edgecomb and Marisa Nadolny write a weekly blog in which they discuss "Mad Men" the day after each episode. Their latest blog is printed below, with the addition of their predictions for the season finale, which airs at 10 p.m. tonight on AMC.
There's a ton to cover, but I have to go with what's hitting me in the guts after Sunday's episode. Is it me or is young Sally just a wee bit more tolerant of her mother, now that her dad has let her down so terribly? As Sally says, "My father has never given me anything" - which, of course, isn't entirely true. I mean, thanks to Don's dough, Sally's at least enjoyed a materially comfortable life. Imagine if the Drapers were broke and COULDN'T afford therapy!
Still, despondent teendom affects even rich kids, and Sally's still coping with her father's smashed pedestal; so how bittersweet was it to watch her have a smoke with second-best Betty? Dear god let Sally continue to make her own way and not be a Stepford Betty clone, but, I sort of endorse any semi-normal bonding Sally can get from these maniacs. Is that wrong?
- Moody M.
Dear Moody M,
I feel your pain but for different reasons.
I am so sick of Draper. He's such a weasely, egotistical, small man who is falling, falling, falling. And frankly I can't wait until he hits bottom. I used to think he had some redeeming qualities. But there are none. And don't for a minute try to get us to feel sorry for him - all curled up in the fetal position on the couch in his office? - all he cares about is himself. He's poison, and he knows it, especially to the women around him - Betty (OK, she didn't help); shutting out Megan with the cold shoulder; he's worried Sally's going to rat him out; all his former lovers; and Peggy, who was probably the only true friend he had.
I think the line of the night was "You're a monster.'' Well said, Peggy.
Fabulous Ms. K,
I'm with you, completely. I think my heart broke a little when Peggy correctly called Don a monster…althhhhhough, come on, he did save the St. Joseph's meeting with that bizarre-o notion about dead CGC Guy's final idea re: the over-budget "Rosemary's Baby"commercial (which, PS. was probably not released when that dude died, but...). The client was cheesed, and Don uncheesed him. In a scumbaggy way, but still!
Which leads me to this: did you agree with Don when he told Ted, after that meeting, "Your judgment is impaired. You're not thinking with your head." Or do you suppose Don is projecting? Ted and Peggy aren't being super subtle…
Not sure if Don was projecting, but here's my question: Is it better to flirt out in the open and not cheat on your spouse, or was it better the other way when everyone pretended they were professionals and were clandestinely running around and screwing like rabbits?
As far as saving the account - maybe that was the way to save it, but he did it by toying with Peggy and Ted and he knew it. Very, very, mean.
And so I'm back were I started - Don schmon. I'm thinking about how he's going to crash. In a plane? Car accident in the new Vega? Falling off the balcony in a drunken stupor? Opening the elevator door, not realizing the car is broken and falling down the shaft? That happened in "L.A. Law" to a mean lawyer - it was shocking.
And then we have Bob Benson - the new Don Draper. I liked that twist.
OK, what the hell was with Bob and Pete? The very strange understanding they came to is giving me the creeps. What, to your mind, did they really "agree" to as they join forces to work on Chevy? I'm not convinced Pete will keep Bob's secret identity to himself. PS. How great is it that Bob speaks Spanish?
As for mean old Don, he illustrates just how great Ted is as a businessman. Don uses cheap tricks to save the day; Ted worries about doing bad business with Ocean Spray as the more lucrative Sunkist deal comes together. Ted's thinking about customer service; Don's still trying to sell everyone on Don. Ted calls for better communication in the agency; Don lies his face off.
I'm telling you, get ready for a Peggy-Ted-Joan agency - a supergroup! Like Blind Faith!
And don't forget Harry. I think he should join the new agency too.
OK, other things that were great about the episode:
Ken gets shot in face with buckshot? Then he calls the Chevy people "Fat yahoos in cheap suits." He should join the new agency as well.
Sally getting hazed at Miss Porter's School - hilarious. And one girl is wearing a buckskin jacket; fabulous. I so wanted one of those.
Using a scene from "Rosemary's Baby" to sell children's aspirin? No way in hell I'd buy that product.
Megan tells Don "Pull back on the throttle, honey." Again, hilarious.
And Betty trying to be a chatty mum - "Get me a cigarette and give me some details.'' She is an evil woman.
Listen, that's as good as we're going to get with Betty, and Sally still needs some adult supervision, so let's hope for the best. At least she's TRYING to relate to her daughter. And, since Betty's pretty much a perpetual adolescent, she and Sally should have a few years of decent communication, right?
Speaking of Sally, how about formerly creepy Glen making with the gallantry when his pal Rollo got a little too handsy with young Sal? I hereby forgive him for any and all weirdness. Sally needs a champion. She looked so very young sitting next to that dumb boy. So glad she held her ground and didn't let him take over, despite his claim to Lady Whisperer skills (doubtful; no adolescent boy knows what he's doing when it comes to anything, amIright?).
And yes, I was a little weirded out by the whole "Let's use 'Rosemary's Baby' as a cheeky way to sell aspirin," too. Um, "Rosemary's Baby" is all about weird herbs, devil-babies and tricky, painful pregnancies - if I'm St. Joseph's, I don't want my product meant to heal at ALL associated with a devil-worshipping coven (remember the scene with all the naked, chanting old people? Yeesh.). But hey, what do I know? I also loved how Megan found the movie "terrifying," while Peggy and Ted just laugh it up about the Japanese member of the cult. Poor, sweet Megan. I worry about her, too. If she survives the series with her wits intact, I'll be very pleased indeed.
Never thought Glen was creepy. He's a kid. And Rollo, I thought he was kind of cool, in that bad boy sort of way. And he didn't do anything to Sally but sit close and put his arm around her. Glad she put a stop to it, but it was a far cry from "He tired to force me."
Ahh, what I don't miss about the teen years...
Time to move the story along. What is going to happen? I want some closure. Some of these story lines have got to come to an end - and it feels like it's time.
True, Sally extrapolated, but she shouldn't have had to tell Rollo to lay off more than once. She's a Porter's girl after all!
But I think I know why I'm so quick to judge so many of our heroes: I'm afraid of the closure we're going to get! I find their flaws in an effort to not get too attached.
Perhaps I need to get out more.
And so the season finale is upon us. Not sure what's in store. Do you think the writers will pull a Matthew a la "Downton" Abbey and leave us with Don in an overturned car with blood oozing from his head? I think not.
But what I do want to see is Don crashing. I mean really crashing, somehow, somewhere. Eventually, some of his indiscretions have to come back and haunt him. And next season can focus on him picking up the pieces. Does he remain Don or does Dick Whitman emerge? Funny his real name is Dick because that is certainly what he turned out to be.
I want Peggy to leave and open an all-ladies ad agency, taking Joan and a few secretaries with her.
Ken will recover from his buckshot wounds and the blows to egos from the "fat yahoos in cheap suits" and eventually work for Peggy.
Pete Campbell realizes he is gay and takes up with Bob Benson. They open their own ad agency.
Betty becomes first lady and pretends she's happy.
Sally goes into television news, eventually becomes an on-air commentator and writes a memoir "My mother and her shotgun.''
Yours in the future,
Great minds think alike; once again we are agreed on a few points: I, too, envision Pete coming out of the closet to run off into the sunset with Bob Benson. (Note: is it me, or must this mysterious character always be referred to by both first and last name? Seems right. He's just not a basic "Bob," you know?)
And, of course, I'm so with you re: Peggy's super-agency in the making. I'll also add this prediction: she and Ted will quit the giggling and finally get real about each other and make it official. Ted's so-over-the-ad-game wife will breathe a sigh of relief and live happily ever after on lots of alimony.
As for Don, I'm still too soaked in his Kool-aid to speculate about his fall, which, I agree must be coming down the pike. Haven't his kids suffered enough? Must they endure a splattered Don on a sidewalk or roadway? I'm nearly too ashamed to admit that it makes me sad to see this naked emperor. When he was on, he was on.
Also: Megan will leave Don to ramp up her acting career in Cali; Harry will stay in Cali and go all movie mogul (and help Megan?); Sally will sneak off to Woodstock (and so will Roger Sterling); and Bobby will be replaced by yet another young actor. Oh, and Betty will get fat again.
Elsewhere in the Mad-iverse, our colleague, Meredith Crawford, over in the Shore Publishing offices in Madison, has a prediction for Mrs. Sylvia Rosen.
Crawford notes, "I honestly have no idea what is going to happen in the season finale, but there is one thing I'd bank on: Things are not going to end well for Sylvia Rosen - her name can't be a coincidence, right? We all know what happened with the other Sylvia (Plath), plus it's interesting to note that it was the *Rosen*bergs' impending deaths by execution that fascinated the poet at the beginning of "The Bell Jar." A little hint from Matt Weiner, perhaps?"
Crawford is why I love American Studies students.
And our new colleague in "Mad Men"-ology, Julianne Hanckel, has some season-finale thoughts too, and they're most intriguing.
Hanckel notes, "I am so over Don. What's his issue? His marriage with Megan is crumbling because he is not in control. While Megan loves him dearly, he cannot quite bring himself to truly love her because he cannot control her. That's why he got off on locking Sylvia in the hotel room all day. Megan is calling him out on his heavier drinking and it's only a matter of time before she has enough - she's only an accessory for Don whenever he needs her to be around and she's independent enough to do her own thing. I feel like she's about to get her big T.V. break.
"Peggy and Ted may have kissed. Everyone kisses someone on 'Mad Men.' It's just which kisses go further than kisses. There's definitely something lurking under the surface between Peggy and Ted, but he's letting it affect his work and Peggy continues to truck on. I think she feels a stronger attraction to Pete. If Pete can handle the issues around his mother, I predict a love triangle between Peggy, Pete and Ted.
"Sally is growing on me. She was a brat, but what pre-pubescent girl isn't? She endured a major peer pressure moment at her overnight at boarding school, fended off a touchy-feely boy and earned rave reviews. Too bad the girls she had to prove herself to were losers. If she knew better, she wouldn't pick that school and she'd return to therapy. It killed me when she said her father hadn't given her anything. In a way, Don has provided for her every material need but Sally needs more than that. She needs a father figure, not an alcoholic serial cheater.
"I'd like to see Joan break away. I'm not sure how yet but she's been an underling for too long and while she's acknowledged sleeping her way to the top she's not really at the top. She slept her way to a partnership but she's still in a secretarial role. I kind of wish she'd give Roger a chance at being in Kevin's life."
Which reminds me, dear KE, I also would like Roger to get a chance at redemption with Joan and Kevin. Joan just gets him, you know? Talk about a power couple!
Keep on truckin',
No, no, no, no. Under no circumstances is Roger to go near any children.
That's all. I'm totally drained thinking about the lives of these fictitious characters. After Sunday, back to reality.
SUNDAY NIGHT SOUNDTRACK
Don Draper needs a theme song. We've come up with a few suggestions, with some of the lyrics we think Draper would appreciate.
"Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash
"I fell into a burning ring of fire/I went down, down, down and the flames went higher/And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire..."
"Free Falling" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
"And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows/All the good girls are home with broken hearts/And I'm free, I'm free fallin' ... "I wanna free fall out into nothin' /Gonna leave this world for awhile
"Black Friday" by Steely Dan
"When Black Friday comes/I'll stand down by the door/And catch the grey men when they/Dive from the fourteenth floor"
"White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane
"And if you go chasing rabbits/And you know you're going to fall ... When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead/ And the white knight is talking backwards/And the red queen's off with her head/Remember what the dormouse said/'Feed your head, feed your head'"
"I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down," made famous by Elvis Costello
"I'm the living result/Of a man who's been hurt a little too much/And I've tasted, the bitterness of my own tears/Sadness is all my lonely heart can feel/I can't stand up from falling down
"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M.
(Fairly self explanatory, but...) "Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down/ Watch your heel crush, crush, uh-oh/This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear/A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies/Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline/It's the end of the world as we know it ..."
"All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dylan
"'There must be some way out of here' said the joker to the thief/'There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief'"
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