Sunday, April 8, 2012

THAT'S IT:  Our Twitter feed suggests that any Mad Men conversation can't wait until tomorrow. So a few preliminary bullets from me, below the fold:

  • It was all a dream, a horrible, horrible, overly literal dream, right?  And one which didn't need to be matched by having Sally cowering under furniture as well a few scenes later.
  • Yay, Joan. About fucking time, and especially because she didn't forget what happened before the marriage.  May Greg face the same fate as Doug Niedermeyer.
  • We almost never get Peggy-Roger scenes. That was brilliant. My goodness has she grown up.
  • Is this where Sally starts to follow her mother's path? Because Seconal's kinda hardcore.
  • Nice to get a Zosia Mamet sighting before her new job starts next week on HBO.
  • When was the last time a Mad Men episode revolved so little around the work? Yes, there was the stuff about the shoe pitch, but it felt so peripheral.
Last week may have been a misstep; we're back on track now.


  1. Adam C.12:03 AM

    Point 1 - yes. But I appreciated the parallelism in the Sally scene (and with the Speck case that dominated the real-world part of the episode)

    Point 2 - unreserved cheers for Joan.

    Point 3 - GREAT work between Moss and Slattery there.

    Point 4 - we always knew this was coming, right? It was just a matter of when and how. Wickedly perverse touch having the most dominant disciplinarian in Sally's life be the source.

  2. I found the Don stuff more than a bit heavy-handed and literal (despite it being fairly obvious from early on that it was a dream).  We get it--much as many folks have come to idolize Don Draper, he's not a sympathetic character.

    That said, really nice work from all the women this week--Moss, Hendricks, Shipka, even Pare in her relatively brief appearance.

  3. Joseph J, Finn8:53 AM

    And Pamela Dunlap as Pauline Francis as well.  I think it's the first time I've felt any empathy with that character.

  4. Carmichael Harold9:02 AM

    Weirdly, I thought this was one of the times when the show was actually portraying Don with a sympathetic eye, as it presented him as acutely aware of his failings and showed him sick at what he was/could be.  It was the fact that the show seemed to present Don as having a seeming inability (in his dream) to control the fact that he treats women as objects (in one way or another), that I found most troubling.  That lack of control almost makes him blameless.

    The episode seemed to allow that women could choose how to engage/avoid the monstrous reality of men (Joan could opt out of her awful marriage, Sally and her grandmother opting into self-medication, Peggy's doubt as to whether to continue her career in a world dominated by men), but there was nothing that the women or the men could do to change that reality.  It struck me as a distilled/less interesting version of one of the big Sopranos themes.

    I hope that watching this late last night led me to misread this, and when I watch the episode again it'll turn out that it the show is doint something more interesting than it appears to me now.

  5. kd bart10:10 AM

    Season Five so far, on Mad Men is the drug season.  Marijuana in episodes 1 and 2.  Speed, diet pills, in episode 2 and now barbituates, sleeping pills, in episode 3.  I'm so looking forward to Harry Crane's west coast acid trip later this season.

  6. Joseph J. Finn10:18 AM

    Say, when was the last time we had an episode dated quite this starkly?  The November 22, 1963 episode?

  7. isaac_spaceman10:24 AM

    What a great episode.  I liked last week's episode (unlike you, Adam), but other than the Don Draper dream, this was the funniest episode since the lawnmower foot incident.  Don and Ginsberg, Peggy and Roger, Drunk Peggy and Dawn, Sally and Lunatic Grandma, Sally and Don, even parts of the scenes with Megan, Don, and Madchen Amick.  All around goodness.  The only exception is that, as I always say, dream sequences are lazy writing. 

  8. isaac_spaceman10:41 AM

    Good point about how the illness is really about Don's guilt.  He is maturing, though in the least healthy way possible. 

  9. "It's 10 dollars for the work.  The lie is exrtra."

    Man, I love Peggy. Especially combined with Roger.

    I thought that Don's dream/hallucinations were pretty heavy-handed, although I liked what it revealed about Don.  He's not complacent in his second marriage, and he doesn't want it to echo his first - he knows his failings and is trying hard not to repeat them (but fears he will). 

    Really interesting moment with Peggy, Dawn and her purse on the table. 

  10. Joseph J. Finn1:34 PM

    I'm curious (this is based on a conversation with Watts); how much do people outside of Chicago remember of the Richard Speck murders?  Because I could tell you the basic history of what happened and why the body under the bed and Sally under the couch were important details in that context (the one survivor of the massacre hid under a bed at the last moment), but I wonder if that's missed without a little more explanation in the show.

  11. isaac_spaceman1:54 PM

    I didn't know the details (I thought they were referring to Bundy's nurse murders, so I was confused; and all I knew about Speck was the weird stuff about that prison video that came out when I was in law school in Chicago).  It didn't matter.  They repeatedly explained that the survivor had hid under the bed, so the two callbacks (Sally and dream-Andrea) were extremely clear.  The thematic stuff this week was particularly explicit (the Cinderella story, Sid with the nylons over his head, Sally under the couch, Andrea under Don's bed), but I liked the way that Weiner & co. also were using it to make a point about how all of our main characters obsess about the exotic, distant danger when they are in daily contact with people who have more immediate and less farfetched fears (the uptown riots).  I think the solipsism point might have been more gracefully made without Peggy seizing up at the sight of her purse (which I bought at the level of self-fulfilling fear that Dawn would think that Peggy was worried about it, not at the level of actually being afraid that Dawn would steal money), but that's a relatively minor point. 

    Also, thanks to the folks on this blog telling us that DirecTV bought AMC HD, this was the first episode we watched in HD from beginning to end.  So much better!  The clarity of Megan's teeth!  The vivid color of SCDP's water!  The enveloping sound of garbage trucks roaring around the corner below Joan's apartment!  Accordion music!

  12. Joseph J. Finn2:11 PM

    Thanks, Isaac.  I figured Wenier & Co would get it across, but I was curious. Oddly, I'd completely forgotten about the prison video weirdness until I looked up a detail about Speck this morning.

    (Interesting that your mind went to Bundy; wasn't he captured a decade later?)

  13. Marsha2:55 PM

    I wasn't raised in Chicago, though I've lived here a long time. I was actually surprised that I knew Richard Speck's name as soon as they started talking about it (it's not mentioned in the episode, as I believe they hadn't caught him yet). I suppose I'm not an optimal case study, given my fascination with all things morbid (I first read Stephen King at age 8, and I read and re-read Helter Skelter starting at age 10 - Sally reading about the murders under the covers rang very true for me).

  14. isaac_spaceman3:04 PM

    Helter Skelter was one of my favorite books as an early teen.  Those photographs in the middle with the dead people's bodies or eyes whited out were so creepy.  Why did they do that?  Gah, so scary. 

  15. isaac_spaceman3:08 PM

    Yeah, Bundy was the 70s.  But I thought Speck was the 70s too.  It was the nurses that made me think that -- didn't Bundy kill a bunch of nurses as well?  In Florida, I guess.  Most of what I remember of Ted Bundy consists of Mark Harmon playing him in a TV movie and my friends all joking about how suave he was.  For a couple of years after a re-airing of that TV movie, "that's Bundy, dude" was our slang for particularly effective flirting. 

  16. Shani3:22 PM

    Joseph J. Finn - Grandma Francis explained to Sally that the survivor hid under the bed.

    I cheered when Joan kicked Greg out.  I frightened a cat, even.

    Peggy/Roger were great.  Peggy was great, period.  It broke my heart how she tried to connect with Dawn, and then to be stymied by her own handbag?

  17. Paul Tabachneck4:10 PM

    I'm getting kind of tired of the purse scene.  The point has been hammered home, the anvils have fallen. Plus, not leaving your purse with $410 in '60s cash out in front of someone you've only known for a month (if that) is a good idea, no matter who they are.  The goodness of man is not a reliable trait, and every time we sleep on that, bad things happen.

  18. Joseph J. Finn4:47 PM

    Isaac, Bundy did indeed kill at least one nurse as I remember.

  19. Becca7:06 PM

    I'm inclined to agree. I don't leave my purse in the living room regardless of who's present. Mine lives by the bedroom door so I can grab it on the way out in an emergency. Also, there's makeup in it I use when getting dressed. Peggy taking her purse with her to her room didn't NEED to be anvilicious and loaded. 

  20. Becca7:07 PM

    I've never heard of the guy, but I didn't have a hard time grasping details from what we were given. I did get the impression I was supposed to know more than I did, but that happens a lot when I watch TV, so I just give it a pass now. Too lazy to google. 

  21. Marsha9:52 PM

    Isaac, I can close my eyes and see all those pictures clearly. That book is one of the reasons I became a law school - I remain completely fascinated by the way Bugliosi put that case together.

  22. Marsha9:59 PM

    Bundy was known for killing college girls, with one of his most brutal sprees taking place in a sorority house. But he did kill at least one nurse.

  23. isaac_spaceman11:48 AM


  24. I agree with you, Paul and Becca, but that's what I found so interesting about the scene.  Of course you don't leave your purse with a lot of money lying out, especially with someone you barely know.  So Peggy's first instinct was to take it.  Then she worried that taking it would appear to be a racist judgement, even if it wasn't.  So she had to weigh her instincts (and most likely her usual routine) against that possible image of herself in Dawn's eyes.  And in that moment's pause, it was no longer possible to have it be a casual, routine moment, and the gesture suddenly had weight to it, no matter what she did.