Mad Men recap S06E08 - The Crash
I successfully avoided spoilers for this episode, but noticed the incredible buzz it generated on Twitter. I watched it expecting to be blown away, and from the opening scene of Ken Cosgrove in a car, speeding toward destruction with a gun pointed at his head, I knew I would not be disappointed. There’s so much going on in this episode that it’s sure to polarise fans… so let’s jump in!
I heard a conversation on a movie podcast about what it even means these days to be “cinematic”. Mad Men was mentioned as being more cinematic than some things at the movies, and I was struck by the directing of this episode as a great example of this. The composition of Don and Silvia talking on the phone, cutting rapidly between the two shows that they are facing opposite directions, certainly not simpatico as they struggle with the end of their affair. As the conversation ends Don throws the phone into his alcohol cart, certainly laying the imagery on thick without being too heavy handed.
Mad Men recaptch-up, S06E07 “Man with a plan”
With this we are up to date, and just in the nick of time…
A settling episode after the fireworks of S06E06, Don overhears an argument between Arnie and his mistress Silvia. When she calls him begging for his company Don takes full advantage and sets her up in a hotel with clear instructions that she is to stay there, “You exist, in this room, for my pleasure.”
With the merger in full swing at the agency office-space, not to mention seats in the partner’s meeting, are in short supply. Peggy gets Harry’s old office (Column-y? The Den? This office needs a nickname guys, tweet me @pandasizedtv), while Roger meets Burt in his office to be dismissed for the second time. Don and Ted faceoff, if you can call that, perhaps a better approach would be Ted trying to keep up - Don having dominated Silvia is in no mood for being spoken down to by his new partner. When Peggy later dresses him down and Silvia explains that the game was fun but the final siren has sounded things fall a bit flat for Don by the end of the episode.
Joan’s ovaries (which you can only assume are the sexiest ovaries in the world) have a cyst, and despite her bulldog front, she needs someone to take her to the hospital. Enter Bob Benson, the annoying guy that no-one can really get a read on, to whisp her away and follow up on her at home which charms the panties off Joan and her mother. Seriously, who is this guy… and don’t say he’s a spy or something other nonsense, that’s junk.
Pete’s mother shows up at his apartment, she appears to have a few screws loose (not the kind of loose screws that Pete is hoping for), and she generally bumps into things and makes a nuisance of herself and annoying Pete to the audiences great amusement before telling Pete that Kennedy is shot. You don’t need to be a genius to work out that she means Robert Kennedy, as the conversation is really awkwardly shoe-horned in to an earlier scene, and with that historical box ticked season 6 is free to throw down.
Mad Men season 6 recaptch-up, S06E06 “For Immediate Release”
We continue our catch up following our break, come along with us…
S06E06 - For immediate release
After a few less than brilliant episodes, Mad Men is back with a barnstormer. Change is in the air at SCDP with a public offering of the company in the works. It’s not made clear why but it was kept secret from Don, so you know full well who was behind it… Pete Campbell. Pete himself in being cut out of a meeting between Don and Herb from Jaguar, at which Don is told to consider the work of someone under Herb’s wing. Don tells Herb, in as many words, to go fuck himself and the account is lost. Losing Jaguar upsets Joan, thinking she’s gone through her night of ill-repute for nothing, but it’s always been what Don wanted. This would seem bad news against a successful offer on a floating share price for SCDP, but things are just getting interesting.
Celebrating what he thinks will be an amazing public offering of the company, Pete hits the whorehouses and runs in to his Father in law and head of the Vicks account. Ted convinces him there’s nothing to worry about, they will both be too mortified to mention it, but apparently Trudy is seen as a princess deserving a loyal prince (and we know Pete is nothing of the sort) so the business is taken elsewhere. All has imploded it would seem, until Roger stitches up an opportunity to pitch for Chevy. It’s a dream come true for Don, but with a handful of agencies in town, he and Ted from CGC reason out the reality of the situation - their smaller agencies will pitch the best work and the idea will be fed to a bigger agency.
Then Don has a great idea, the two join forces (while convincing Chevy it was their idea) and the win the business. Peggy, now renovating her new pad on the upper-West side, greets Ted at the office with the spectre of Don Draper once again standing over her. They have merged for all of three minutes and Don is giving her assignments, that being drafting a press release. She offers up the super-freudian, “Who do I give it to?” before Don responds, “Give it to Ted,” about whom she has been fantasising following an opportunistic lip-lock.
Great episode, I was genuinely excited in a way I haven’t been since the start of the season - and it wasn’t just because Christian Hendricks had her hair down in one scene. All this without even mentioning that Megan’s mother was in town and she and Roger almost hooked up again, it is a little weird though that she talks dirty to her daughter and it turns her on enough that he and Don recover their fire.
Mad Men season 6 recaptch-up
So we’ve been on a break, my hopes for recapping while I was away fell in a heap like a pile of laundry. Here we go, a mini-catch up/recap of the last few episodes bringing us up to speed.
S06E04 - To Have and To Hold
We open with Pete and Don having a secret meeting with Heinz ketchup, this leads to a private office being created for Stan to work on “Project K”. Thinking they are the only ones pitching, Don lays out his ketchup-less pitch with protests from the clients that you can’t even see their product. Waiting outside is Peggy and her entourage ready to go in and spoonfeed them exactly what they want. Hearing that SCDP made a play for ketchup infuriates their Heinz beans man and the account is closed.
Don and Pete aren’t the only ones having a bad day. After learning that Harry’s secretary asked Dawn to punch out her timecard Joan dismisses her. Hearing of the brash move Harry storms in and demands Joan apologise and reinstate her, undermining her authority. In the partners meeting Harry bursts in (he just can’ help himself can he? And Roger totally throws him under the bus in typical style) and defends his actions, demanding a partnership implying that he at least earns the company business during daylight hours. When he is offered a year’s salary as a bonus he asks again about a partnership, and when he is refused he storms out subtly hinting that someone else might offer him one. Apart from his disrespect for Joan, you’ve got to love this new Harry - and sadly Joan has to deal with the consequences of sleeping her way into upper management.
Megan gets offered a story arc involving a love affair in the soap opera, in exchange her co-star propositions Megan and Don for a night of swinging which they awkwardly refuse. Dawn takes us behind the curtain insisting that SCDP is full of “women crying in the ladies room, and men crying in the elevator”, and Joan, having been dumped on at work she’s a friend a night on the town including a trip to what looks like The Factory. The real scene-stealer was the two ad agencies staring each other down in the corridoor, like two high-school football teams - facing off in the dinner afterwards over pints of room temperature beer, with no elevators to cry in.
S06E05 - The Flood
This episode is timestamped by the MLK assassination, obviously nothing to be celebrated but those who look for clues as to the date and convert currency into modern equivalents will appreciate this one. We open with Peggy being shown a new Manhattan pad, her boyfriend shows up but he makes it obvious that Peggy is calling the shots. The decision is mulled over later in the episode when he suggests the area maybe isn’t the ideal one for raising children, which melts Peggy’s heart and she goes all gooey. Bobby Draper is caught peeling the wallpaper off his bedroom wall, and when the kids go to stay with Don they find him comatose, staring at the TV footage of riots in Harlem and father and son alike pretend to be sick. With TV off the cards, Don takes Bobby to see Planet of the Apes - the ending of which takes on a different context given the assassination. Megan confronts Don about his lack of emotion, and it’s obvious that in burying his pain he also sometimes loses grip on his feelings for those around him.
At work tensions bubble up between Harry and Pete, Harry’s recent bravado leading him to complain about lost revenues due to TV coverage of the riots, Pete takes the high road and calls him a racist. At home in his cold, lonely apartment Pete is left to eat Chinese food, calling Trudy and offering to comfort them in a thinly disguised attempt at returning to the comfort of his suburban life, the same one he was so willing to risk for a couple of booty calls. Henry drops the bombshell on Betty that he is running for a higher position of public office, with it will come a higher profile for her - at which point she is taken back, and later holds up some of her old dresses against her larger frame, lamenting her inability to retain her blonde, statuesque figure.
Mad Men is still one of the most thoughtful shows on TV, but these episode (and this season come to think of it) really isn’t blowing me away. I’m not disappointed, but… urgh. Give us more, Wiener, more!
New York’s hottest new club is “Bill Hader is leaving SNL”. This place has got everything….
The whispers are true, it has been announced that Bill Hader is leaving SNL after eight seasons. I’ve always seen him as the pivot around which the rest of the cast operate, a truly gifted performer with an everyman appeal (think of his gameshow host persona) with a range that extends to a variety of celebrity impersonations and wacky characters - the likes of which haven’t been seen since Phil Hartman, or perhaps original cast members like Dan Ackroyd or Bill Murray (a comparison Lorne Michaels himself has endorsed).
With former cast member Kristen Wiig returning recently to as host, it perhaps tipped the scales for Hader deciding to persue other ventures. Hader lends his voice to a number of animated series and pops up in movies sporadically (Superbad, Adventureland) but leaving the show will allow him to spread his wings and work on projects beyond the small summer break window that SNL allows.
“It was a hard decision, but it has to happen at some point,” he told the New York Times. With a question mark remaining over Fred Armisen’s head, and with head writer Seth Meyers taking over Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night the show is clearly in a transitional period. Producer Lorne Michaels has trialled a number of other quest writers perhaps hoping to find a new voice suitable for the show, including former Kids in the Hall member Kevin McDonald, Michael Che, Edi Patterson and Chelsea Peretti (who I have previously pegged as a potential cast member… maybe even a Weekend Update anchor?).
So with a heavy heart we farewell Hader and his pool of loveable characters, but I am completely confident that it will lead to bigger and better things in the movie and TV… at least for a few years before video streaming becomes the next massive thing and he launches a 24 hour “Bill Hader Channel” for us to glue our eyeballs to.
Mad Men recap S06E03 - “The Collaborators”
I’ve been putting off this recap for a few days. I wasn’t sure why until the AV Club tweeted that this week’s episode was disappointing, and suddenly I realised it wasn’t up to scratch. Much was made following the premiere that the show skipped over the “Summer of Love” and everyone now smokes pot, has long hair and sport mustachios. It’s a bit of a shock, one I’m not sure I’ve come to terms with… perhaps too much time has passed or some radical paradigm shift has occurred that is being kept from us. Pete and Trudy are entertaining guests, and as he gets the ladies their coats a lot of flirty exchanges pepper their farewell, and you know the temperature has changed when Trudy is entertaining ideas of cheating herself. It is explored further later when Pete’s mistress is delivered, beaten and bloody, to their suburban home and Trudy goes Thermo-nuclear on him. His love nest in the city isn’t playing out the way he wanted, and his indiscretion has seen him booted out of his house (with Alison Brie, I’ll remind you… the writers REALLY hate Pete). Don’s warning in the cab after their trip to the brothel was clearly unheeded.
Don, being no angel himself, keeps backsliding his doctor/neighbour/friend(?) to jump in to bed with his wife, Sylvia. He flashes back to his days living with his mother in the whorehouse, the similarities to his current situation not unclear as he beds her and slips her a wad of cash, because as she explains, “I have money, I just never have money.” She’s riding her luck, I don’t get why Don wants her and I can only hope she doesn’t end up being strangled and stuffed under his bed. It’s a situation as unappealing as young Don Draper himself (seriously, how the hell did he grow up to look like Jon Hamm?). The two couples attend dinner later, but with Megan feeling unwell and the doctor being called away the two lovebirds are left to… I don’t even know. This episode isn’t very good. So much time was spent on these two, and I just don’t care about their relationship. At all.
In the Draper household, Megan blows up at the maid and fires her - then confides in Sylvia that she had a miscarriage after, “being sloppy in Hawaii” and messed up her birth control schedule. The two share an intimate moment and lament the Catholic guilt their upbringing has saddled them with, before Don returns home. Sylvia excuses herself and leaves the distraught Megan and Don to talk. My mind started wondering to exactly how constricted Don’s anus must have been when he walked in, and whether the whole situation was a foreshadowing of a potential baby for the Drapers before the season is finished.
Peggy, with her black secretary and all, continues her transformation into a Don Draper-style Svengali. The staff are grossly intimidated by her, and decide to play a practical joke on her leaving a jar of Quest on her desk - a feminine hygiene product that promises to leave women feeling fresh and kills overly critical bacteria. Peggy laments that when she wants them to be funny they can’t, but really the story shows her inexperience at the higher levels of marketing and highlights the difference between her and Don: his cruel-to-be-kind bluntness may shock but it usually comes from an impassioned place, rather than a desperate striving for perfection. She’ll get em, it’ll be her struggle this season. During a conversation with “Beardy” Stan, he confides in Peggy that there’s a conflict between Heinz Beans and Heinz Ketchup, and although she is resistant due to the insider nature of the gossip, her boss instructs her to make a play for the Ketchup (the Coca-Cola of condiments!).
Finally in the SCDP office, the partners meet with Herb from Jaguar who has had the brilliant idea to switch from TV ads to radio commercials in the hope of driving foot traffic. It’s seems like the worst fucking idea in the history of bad ideas… you don’t talk about a car like that on the radio, you let it loose on people’s eyeballs so they get erections and open their wallets. Don hates it because it’ll mean a smaller ad-buy, but mostly because he hates Herb. (Or at least, the “idea” of Herb. Herb and Joan. Ahem.) Pete and Roger are persuaded to go ahead with the crazy idea, and further more, Herb asks that the firm pitch it as their idea. Don flubs the pitch, going through the motions in a passive aggressive manner, suggesting Jaguar need to target housewives and truck-drivers to increase sales, and predictably the executives don’t go for it, which disappoints Herb but it really upsets Pete and Roger. In Don’s office they blast him before Pete storms off the repair the damage done, as an audience we look to Roger to make a witty joke that eases the tension but, like the episode itself, it comes up short.
So we go from the symbolism of the premiere, which a lot of people have called “heavy-handed” but I thought was fine, to the no-symbolism of this episode. Every relationship is put through the wringer, the Drapers, the doctor’s, Megan and her unborn child’s, Peggy and her staff, Jaguar and SCDP. Let’s hope things pick up as we slowly inch toward Spring. I’m heading to New York next week, I don’t like the idea of it being snowy and cold. But thanks anyway.
Seth MacFarlane isn’t having a good week
It’s been a punchline for a while now that Seth MacFarlane is over-exposed. Maybe hosting the Oscars wasn’t his brightest moment, but there’s no denying that the resurrection of Family Guy all those years ago was a cultural apex, a triumph of pop culture sentiment. This week, one of Family Guy’s spin-off shows The Cleveland Show was cancelled due to sliding ratings. It’s been my favourite of the MacFarlane trilogy, it just made sense for the animated sitcom to pivot and focus on a black family that reminded me of TV in the 80s/90s. It was different to the thinly disguised copy of Family Guy that American Dad is… but sadly, it is no more. MacFarlane’s week would get only worse.
What was probably intended as humour has offended many with a few short clips from a Family Guy episode that aired in March called “Turban Cowboy” have been edited together to suggest Peter Griffin was responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings.
“I’m with Boston Marathon winner Peter Griffin. Peter, how did you do it?” On the television set Peter is driving his car and bodies are lying injured on the ground.
Peter holds a phone to his ear, a bomb goes off and Quagmire and Joe flinch. Peter says he must have dialled the wrong number, dials again and another bomb goes off.
The video has been condemned by Seth MacFarlane, understandably, and Fox have pulled the episode from which the scenes are taken from online sources like Hulu out of respect for the victims of the bombings. i quickly searched twitter and turned up the video in question, but attempts are being made to take down the offending clip from YouTube, presumably under the copyright provisions act.
There’s no doubt that Family Guy pushes the boundary of good taste. I doubt that the short clip is intended to offend and/or insult the victims of the Boston bombings - regardless, this is exactly what it does. I’m sure with time we may view things differently, and I know in the age of Reddit and 4chan the concept of “too soon” barely applies but there’s a difference between making fun of the perpetrators of such crimes and the incident itself. It’s especially offensive, when responsibility for the act has not been claimed by any groups and suspects have not yet been arrested, to suggest the deaths and injuries were carried out by cartoon characters is deplorable. When Family Guy satirises the argument can be made that it trivialises terrorism, but at least a little of it is commentary on the terrorists and the audience themselves, who are often who the punchline is aimed at. Just taking some clips out of context and making the victims of the bombing the punchline is a whole other thing.
Internet, I am disappoint.
First ep of Tim and Eric Go Pro Show drops
The show features five minutes of POV insights in to the life of Tim and Eric in which they struggle to understand that it’s meant to be casual and unscripted and discuss the magazines they received.
The pair always produced great content on their DVDs of extra footage, it seems that their favourite way to break through boredom/creative blocks is to riff on whatever is right in front of them - and the Go Pros allow them to ramp up the immediacy.
Game of Thrones recap S03E03 - “Walk of Punishment”
I bet all you Communications Majors out there were rubbing your hands together during this week’s episode of “Symbolism 101 - Why say things when you can show them?” Subheading: “Especially when you have endless horse parts at your disposal.” Those carcasses must have taken ages to set up in such a perfect swirly thing. And not a signature to be found. Selfless. And whilst that was powerfully foreboding, I don’t know what to make of Arya eating her own sigil. Is she ingesting the power of a wolf or just carbo-loading for the ride ahead?
Back in clearer skies we had the brilliant game of chess-with-chairs at the feet of the Hand of the King (which is exactly how many fingers and toes Jaime has now). Checkmate after Tyrion’s move of sitting smack-bang between the two parties at the opposite end to his father. Could this possibly mean that he is positioning himself against Daddy Lannister? I’ll let you decide!
If you felt you had been missing out in the boobery department, then you sure got your fair share this time around. They were literally coming out of the walls. And now this young chump Pod turns out to be the next Marky Mark. I’m surprised Littlefinger didn’t make that visit complementary after Pod so graciously carted the royal royal accounts back to the keep. That’s far more plausible, but Pod’s apparent sexual prowess is far more entertaining. Details! In all seriousness, hopefully there is some dark secret hidden in those ledgers because King’s Landing needs a bit of a shake-up. We can’t let Margaery do all the scheming. Between pandering to the poor and gorging on delicious cheese platters, she barely has time to get dressed.
What a day for the archers! All this swording around for two seasons and finally the archers get their turn. What I can’t quite understand is how much harder it was to hit Theon the closer he became. Yet our invisible friend from Misfits can hit four guys in rapid succession from a much further distance. I guess horses play a big factor. Or maybe they weren’t trying to kill him. Nobody wants to see a dead man’s arse, especially not in HD. Not great firing from Edmure Tully either; his target should have been much easier to skewer, considering he was already dead.
Am I the only one who thinks that trading one medium-sized dragon for two-thousand soldiers is a pretty good deal? Especially since Khaleesi will probably just call to the dragon with some supernatural power and it’ll come flying straight back? I can’t imagine you can just chain-up a dragon. Yep, that deal is definitely going to bite the slave-master right in the butt. He can only hope we don’t have to see it in HD.
I’m going to leave you with this final thought: Can’t we just slaughter the disgusting old man who rapes his daughters and kills his sons? He serves no purpose whatsoever. Unless he’s there just to make us all feel grimy as a juxtaposition against the positively joyous environment.
Game of Thrones recap S03E02 - “Dark Wings, Dark Words”
We might as well call this episode “Checkin In! Part 2”, because anybody who didn’t feature last week sure gets some airtime this week. So let’s just choose a character at random and jump right in.
It’s nice to see Bran again, and his fancy wheelbarrow, but why can’t he ride his wolf? What I have noticed is that between him, the little drummer boy from Love Actually, and the creepy Warg from over the wall, one thing is certain - if you can’t fight, you get the Sight. It’s a pity Bran didn’t see himself falling off that wall. Swish.
Must we keep picking on poor Joffrey? Margaery is putting her feminine wiles to great use, and at this rate she’ll be running the place by next week’s episode. And when will baby Lannister become a man? He can’t even draw the string on his own crossbow. Does he even lift?
On a warmer note, we finally discover that Lady Stark totally cares about stuff. And things. And weaving. I bet that stern facial expression really had you fooled. It was especially nice of her to kick Ed Stark whilst he’s down. “I really wanted to give the bastard the name he deserved, but you know me, never wanting to make a fuss.”
Poor Sansa is stuck in this limbo of being nobody’s wife, daughter, or even friend. What does she do all day? Hopefully more cheese-themed hangs with Lady Olenna. Sansa should be ashamed that an 85-year-old retiree has more backbone than her, and such spunk! That seaside interrogation was tense and shot beautifully, and it’s the first time I can think of where powerful women are featured working together. We have seen lots of women working to progress their own motives, but now we have a veritable gaggle.
What a “Saul Goodman” spin off means for the Breaking Bad finale
As far as I’m concerned, successful franchise spin offs are as close to an oxymoron as you can get while avoiding mathematical absolutes, but I would probably be interested in a half-hour series that checks in on the criminal dealings of Saul and the various characters he deals with. The mere possibility of a spin off shows that Gilligan must be planning a thing or two (or maybe three?) for Saul and the Breaking Bad finale.
1. Saul doesn’t die.
It’s a fun pasttime of fans to try to predict who is going to die and under what circumstances. There’s only eight episodes left and we’ve already farewelled Gus and Mike, and with Hank closing in on Heisenberg a lot of balls are in the air. Will Walt/Jessie/Hank/Skyler die? Can Walt shield/redeem himself and his family? Breaking Bad has always been a dark show so my money is on a tragic ending, as much as I love binging on it it’s too much for my girlfriend - and what I can only assume was the impetus for introducing the Saul character in the first place. One thing is for sure, as loyal as Saul is, at the first sight that a bullet with his name on it he’s ducking for cover. So maybe he sides with Walt, maybe he assists the DA, the obvious conclusion is that for a Saul goodman spin off to even be a possibility, he has to survive.
2. Saul doesn’t use the “disappearerer”.
Saul has contacts, he’s the wide angle view legally speaking for Walt and Jessie. While he may not have the mastermind instincts and steadfast confidence of a Walter White, he certainly has the connections to make things happen that are not even concievable for Walt. The idea of disappearing has been raised a number of times, a lump of money is dropped in exchange for a new identity, appearance, papers and no further questions asked. Walt came close in the episode “Crawl Space” (considered by many to be one of the shows best) but without the $500,000 it takes to “disappear” four people he was left up the river without a paddle. So another variable enters the equation (Walt/Jessie disappears, Hank dies, etc.) but again - it would be problematic to launch a show about Saul’s on-going hyjinks if he’s got a different name and is laying low in Nova Scotia.
Bonus option: If you’ve never experienced a Gilligan twist, I would question your loyalty as a true fan. This is the man who hid a clue about the season two finale in the titles of the episodes. This is a man so protective of his storylines (ala Mad Men’s Matt Weiner) that when Bryan Cranston’s car was recently broken in to, the main item of interest is the stolen script. He has said many times on the Breaking Bad Podcast how clever the audience is and how tough it is to remain one step ahead from week to week. So let me throw out a crazy conpiracy theory… maybe this is all just a red-herring designed to throw us off the scent. I wouldn’t take anything as certain when it comes to Breaking Bad, and the possbility that Gilligan is leading us down the garden path so that he can snuff Saul at the one yard line is certainly possible.
Keep your options open is all i’m saying. That and, watch out for Todd - he and his relatives in the Aryan Brotherhood behind bars are absolutely going to play a big part.
Mad Men S06E01/E02 recap - “The Doorway”After months of speculation and decoding mouth-watering teasers like they may have been in Hawaii or someone may have a mustache, etc. we finally have the season six premiere. Indeed both Ginsberg AND Peggy’s boyfriend Abe have mustaches. Mind blown. We appear to have jumped ahead eight or nine months, in the finale episodes of season five Don tells the group they will be working through Christmas to win the Jaguar account, and season six opens in December - christmas trees are seen in offices, it’s snowing in New York when Megan and Don return from Hawaii and Betty discusses with Sandy how difficult it is without your loved ones, especially “at this time of year”. Wikipedia suggests the opener takes place in December of 1967 and ends on January 1st, 1968. A luxurious double episode allows us time to be reintroduced to all the SCDP gang and while the name on the building hasn’t changed the same can’t be said for their hairstyles.
Any thought that Peggy wouldn’t play much of a role in the new season is squashed fairly early, it’s obvious that we are going to see almost as much of her as when she still working at SCDP. It’s amazing how Don-like she is when talking to her staff; so confident, committed to the work rather than the workers. Stan with his extra weight and beard (almost Galifianakis like?) talks to her on the phone, both still working on New Years Eve. When she solves the headphones issue her boss remarks, “You’re good in a crisis,” which prompted me to wonder exactly what crisis could happen at SCDP that would make them miss her, what problem could hit that company that leaves a Peggy-shaped hole that is worse than anything they’ve already dealt with. Our first glimpse of the office is shows the executives getting portraits taken on their stairwell, indeed every time it’s framed we are reminded of the expansion of the company and the mixed fortunes that befell them in the previous season. In the space between seasons they have landed the Dow Chemical account, and others including Leica cameras are discussed. When Don encounters his neighbor in the elevator he invites him to his office to grab one, on the house as it were, and the two seem to get on swimmingly. Plans for New Years Eve between have been made by their wives, but when the good doctor is called away on business Don take the opportunity to swoop in on his wife. “It’s good to have the old Don back,” is a sentiment I saw quite a bit on Twitter while I was dodging spoilers. It would appear that, like the service-issued lighter that Don can’t seem to get rid of, his mental anguish and the coping mechanism of finding comfort in a woman’s bed (any woman) has certainly not abated.
Roger similarly has a lot on his plate. We are shown a number of psycho-analytical sessions, leading us to presume that LSD didn’t hold all the solutions he might have hoped, and when the news that his mother has passed away is brushed off like an unfavorable dental report, we question whether it’s even doing him any good. He certainly doesn’t seem to take it very seriously, explaining to the analyst how life if like going through a series of doors, that you hope will deliver you somewhere but are all the same and close behind you. In bed with his new fling Don is asked what he wants from the new year, he responds, “I want to stop doing this,” he too is tired of doors hoping for new beginnings and finding the same results. Roger relies on Joan to organize the funeral for his mother, and manages to charm the elderly ladies in good spirits, but the sight of his ex-wife’s husband sends him crazy saying his mother never liked him and tries to kick him out, screaming ferociously, “THIS IS MY FUNERAL!” with the brilliant duality that we’ve come to expect from Matt Weiner and the Mad Men writers. He passes on to his daughter a jar of water supposedly from the River Jordan with which he was baptized, and as he returns to the office more bad news befalls him when he is told the guy who shines his shoes has died. The brushes are delivered to him, Roger being the closest thing to family the man had, and his emotional dam finally overflows, reducing him to a blubbering mess.
The Francis family are visited with Sally continuing to develop and her friend Sandy being admired for her musical abilities, and other things if you would believe Betty. Man, she has a twisted idea of men’s sexual fantasies - her suggestion that she hold the young girl down and gag her while Henry rapes her is the furtherest thing from anyone’s idea of spicing things up in the bedroom. Sandy’s wish to live in the city gets Betty worried, and without her mother to save her she takes it upon herself to track down her flophouse and bring her home, or at least talk some sense into her. Upon discovering her violin she knows she’s on the right track, and after helping the squatters make goulash and seeing how desperate they are she leaves the violin for them, presumably so they could sell it - “groking” in some small way their desperation. Betty told Sandy about how she used to be a model and lived with five girls in a two bedroom apartment, eating soup out of a can. Sandy replies how it sounds great and she wagers that Betty looks back fondly on the time, and the look in her eyes confirms that she probably does. For this reason I found Betty was just as annoying as ever, taking it upon herself to tell a young girl what’s best for her. If her sexual fantasies are anything to go on, I’d take my chances with the vagrants as well. She dyes her hair brown at the end, and she’s still fat. Fat-ish.
Megan, seemingly unaware of Don’s cheating, is having success in her acting career having landed a role on the TV show Berkshire Falls, and is approached in Hawaii by an autograph hunter. Despite her mother’s insistence that she has the artistic temperament without the ability, she certainly has the knack of carrying herself as a low-level celebrity. Don’s lack on control over her and his post-traumatic struggles spell long term problems. With all the drinking he’s done over the years I can’t remember a time when he’s thrown up (a cocktail of booze and stress), and with the amount of times hash/reefer/etc. is mentioned and the doctor’s insistence that giving up cigarettes is a good new year’s resolution, we might wonder if weed is on the cards for him as a potential creative catalyst. His fascination with what the doorman, “Jonesy”, saw when he collapsed in the opening scenes and “died” his reply is a cliche, designed to please. “A white light”, he guesses. Don fills in the blanks himself, “Like a tropical sunshine? Did you hear the ocean?” As Don looks out over Manhattan (“Draper-ing” as fans call it) during his portraiture shoot, he zones out looking at the lighter, snapping back to consciousness when asked to, “be himself” for the picture. Awkward. The sounds of the city are superimposed over his own, internal soundtrack: either the crashing of waves on a polynesian beach or the rumble or fighter jets and flames burning in a war zone. He hopes, the former.
Interesting times in the Mad Men universe. What did you think?
Mad Men season 5 binge recap - part 4
Zomgoodness, we’re at the finish line! Here’s the final recap, read it slowly and on your own. Smoke if you’ve got em.
S05E11 - “The Other Woman”
From the opening scene it’s all hands on deck to come up with the Jaguar pitch. It becomes apparent that the best advertising copy in the world isn’t going to be enough, not while the lead executive Herb has his gaze fixed squarely on Joan’s luscious booty. Pete, at his weasely best, puts the offer to her explaining that unless she wants to let the company go down the drain she’ll spend the night with Herb, and if she declines she can justify to the partners why. Pete twists Joan’s rebuttal of, “You couldn’t afford it,” in to an expression of interest if the price is right. Having recently aired his thoughts about houses of ill-repute, Don storms out of the room. Roger, Lane and Cooper are not against it - and Pete instructs Lane to extend the company’s credit, which gets him sweating like he’s eaten a five-alarm chili. Being left in charge of all business apart from Jaguar, Peggy is left despondent after hitting some home-runs only to have Don dismiss her efforts. Lane considers himself Joan’s knight in shining armor (amour?), telling her she’ll be better of asking for a partnership and a stake in SCDP instead. Megan gets an acting opportunity that would involve her heading off the Boston for three months, which gets Don’s head spinning. A partnership and 5% stake is demanded by Joan, it’s around now that the audience stands up and starts shouting at the TV.
Peggy has lunch with her old pal Freddy Rumsen, who suggests she take a bunch of meetings and give SCDP the ass. When news of the professional arrangement between Joan and Herb gets out, Don races out of the office hoping to catch her to explain that the vote was conducted without him and the justification that all partners were in favour doesn’t apply to him. As Don walks across the Jaguar showroom on the way to the meeting you really feel what a bunch of badasses these guys are, like a bunch of gangsters running a bootlegging racket. We cut between Joan’s evening with Herb and Don’s pitch, about the, “beautiful thing that passes by, because they do that. Don’t they?” As the killer line is delivered it becomes obvious the con is on - we cut back to Joan’s apartment and it si revealed that Don’s impassioned speech was too little too late. A lucrative job offer that gives Peggy exactly what she wants is enough for her to betray Don (obviously, not for the first time this episode), and as word spreads that Jaguar are turning down all the other agencies, the partners (including Joan) gather for the good news that the account has been won and they are all Made men… and woman. Deflated by how the deal was sealed, Don corners Peggy in his office so he can self-flagellate even further. He sits, she stands. She thanks him graciously, and explains she is giving notice. Don mistakenly assumes she’s asking for a raise, with disbelief he contains himself and says he’ll beat their number. It’s not just about money, Peggy wants recognition and respect - the kind she can’t get at SCDP, Joan’s treatment is testament to this. For any lesser show this would be a season finale, and having being put through the emotional wringer we may be through with this season - but this season isn’t through with us.
S05E12 - “Commissions and Fees”
With Jaguar calling the shots, they ask to pay a flat rate for SCDP’s services rather than a commission rate. An investigation of the logistics of the request turns up Lane’s forged cheque. Don doesn’t entertain any nonsense, demanding his resignation. Don gets riled up having won the Jaguar account only for Campbell to take the spoils, he is determined to slay some giants on his own terms. Ken is given the bad news that his father in law’s account at Dow Chemicals is fair game, and despite his protests about mixing business and family - an understanding is reached that he’ll do nothing to stop the pursuit of business and in return Ken will be put on the account… and that Pete can’t be involved. With 48 hours to prepare Don returns home to the news that Sally is spending the weekend with them, and gets blasted by Megan worsening his depression over Lane’s dismissal. Upon returning home, Lane is surprised with his wife’s purchase of a new Jaguar (racing green!), a celebration of his great career achievements. Someone said recently that all suicide attempts are designed to hurt those around us. As Lane snaps his glasses in two and runs a hose from the tailpipe of the car in to the driver’s side window, it would appear that he is intending the hurt his wife the most - or at least it would be the case, if Burt’s succinct insight into Jaguar’s starting performance wasn’t painfully accurate. With Don at his big meeting and Megan at an audition, Sally and Glen catch up to run wild in the city visiting museums and playing boyfriend and girlfriend (Sally wears the boots her father didn’t like). Complaining of being unwell Sally goes to the bathroom and discovers womanhood is upon her earlier than she would have liked.
Central to Don’s pitch is the notion of not having enough. His behavior is unrecognisable, there is nothing smooth about his delivery, suggesting that their ad company is holding station rather than fighting for more market share. Sally deserts Glen and jumps in a taxi, her maternal longing makes Betty feel fulfilled. As Lane’s body is discovered hanging behind his office door, the office is dismissed - Don and Roger return from their chest-beating to be told the bad news. Don bursts in to the office to cut him down, many redditors noticed the similarities between his reaction to the discovery of his brother’s body when he took his life the same way. Riddled with guilt, Don returns home to discover Glen, concerned at the boy’s downcast attitude, he asks what he would do given the opportunity - having control of a heavy automobile would seem the antidote to a bizarre day for all concerned.
Foreshadowing - Obviously, this is the episode where it all goes down, but as Lane flirts with Joan one last time he bids her bon voyage.
S05E13 - “The Phantom”
With the parachute company on the higher floor moving to Washington, rumors start flying that more office space could be a possibility - and nobody wants to move in to Lane’s office so it would seem that a fresh start would have more than one benefit. Seeing Peggy yelling at the copy writers in a different office is a shock at first, but something we will have to get used to as all signs from the writers are that we’ll continue to see Peggy into season six. Beth calls Pete offering a rendevouz at a hotel, explaining that she’s been diagnosed with manic depression and will be receiving electro-shock therapy. Usually patients lose months of their memory, but she’s hoping another go around with Pete will stick this time. Megan’s mother, Marie, is visiting for easter - and presumably has the fertility god Ishtar on her mind. Nursing a sore tooth and mistaking someone for his dead brother in the elevator, it’s clear that Don is carrying the guilt of Lane’s death. Following a number of mysterious phone calls, Roger finally gets the woman he wants on the other end, inviting Marie over to his apartment for “conversation”. An insurance benefit is paid out to the company, leaving Joan wondering why she didn’t just give Lane what he wanted. Between Don and Joan it is decided that from the benefit payout the balance of Lane’s investment in SCDP be returned to his widow. As graceful as Don is he can’t avoid a scolding for having led Lane astray, the picture of Delores is uncovered and the worst is assumed.
Against her better judgement, Megan asks Don to get her an audition for an ad he is over-seeing. When he voices his concerns at how it will be perceived she drinks herself stupid and throws herself at him insisting that’s all she’s good for. The pain gets so bad Don finally visits a dentist, and as he is being knocked out the phantom of Don’s brother reappears. “I’ll take it out, but it’s not your tooth that’s rotten,” he explains. Pete pays a visit to the hospital Beth is staying in, but following her therapy he is welcomed as a stranger. Taking in a mid-afternoon movie, running in to Peggy (hand jobs are imminent you might think. Silly, perverted you) and pleasantries are exchanged. On the train home Pete runs in to Howard who suggests they go back to the city and look for trouble - his treatment of Beth disgusts Pete, who can’t resist absconding him and for the second time this season Campbell cops some chin music. With his self-esteem in tatters Trudy finally agrees to let him take an apartment in the city. In the office Don watches Megan’s showreel and sees for the first time the joy she gets and the focus in her eyes. With the new office space, and Megan’s role in the commercial secured there’s only one issue left to settle. Don has remained faithful to his wife all season, but with not one but two seductive beauties asking, “Are you alone?” we can only assume the credits role just in time.
The Draper Walk - Don enters to office with a cheek padded with gauze and he looking like he hasn’t slept in a month. And he is alone, more than anyone can realise.
And we’re clear. See you next week for the S06E01/02 recaps…