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Mad Men, Season 4, Episode 3

by Chris Piascik

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Every week, Aaron Cohen ( ) writes a recap of Mad Men for his blog Unlikely Words, and I illustrate something from the episode to go with it. Here’s week 3.

I guess we need to start expecting weekly lines of dialogue like, “Is that what you want? Or is that what people expect of you” show up in the episodes. That is the theme of Mad Men, struggling to live within the expectations people have for you. Right now, Don is living it up right on the edge. Should we start 1965, everyone?
-Oh, look, there’s Joan’s creepy doctor. She’s wrestling with the expectation that she start a family. I don’t get the sense that she really wants to, but she does seem to want to fulfill expectations. 2 procedures, hmm? “Whatever will be, will be” is not usually how it goes on Mad Men. We’re talking about people who need control.
-Harry Crane looks a lot better this week. Not sure what his appearance was supposed to convey in week 1. I couldn’t put my finger on something about him since the middle of last year, but the character plays with a subtle confidence. He’s not arrogant, but he also doesn’t let Draper and the others push him around. He takes the abuse, but he doesn’t seem so neurotic anymore.
-Guess Don IS going to Acapulco, but first a quick stop in LA. He’s going away, running away, but stopping at the one place he feels at home, Anne Draper’s house. His familiarity with Anne’s sister and niece lead us to believe he’s spent a lot more time out in LA than we knew before. That wasn’t the 2nd time he’d met them, or even the 3rd.
-After Lane wishes Don a Happy New Year, Don says “Enjoy your family”. Kind of a weird thing to say, but in retrospect, it foreshadows trouble.
-”Consider me the incorruptible exception”. The Lane/Joan plot-line was fun, starting with this quotation leading to an epic florist screw up. Too bad Lane couldn’t FaceTime with his wife to smooth things over.
-More on Don in LA. “Are you sitting in?” Don’s conservativeness seems to be less about a personal belief structure, and more about a fear of change. Going to have to think on that one some more.
-”You’re in charge. Trust me, I work in advertising.” Indeed.
-Jan and Dean is who brought you Stephanie’s bathroom break.
-”Have you been there?” “No, but every time I hear this song, I want to go.” Don’s always wants to go. Somewhere. He likes the idea of the place, any place, but can’t figure out where it is.
-Oh, so it’s Breyer’s time in the fake Mad Men commercial world. This makes me want to buy your product less. Just know that, Breyer’s.
-Don making a move on Stephanie was something of a plot device to show us he’s still a cad. It was telegraphed as soon as she walked into the house in a bikini top. It’s meant to contrast his not caring about anything with his caring for Anne.
-”But no one knows what’s wrong with themselves and everyone else can see it right away.” It’s all so obvious that everyone is unhappy, but if we all ignore it, it’ll be fine. Anne doesn’t know she has cancer, but everyone else can see there’s something wrong. Don doesn’t know he’s in a downward spiral, but everyone else can see it.
-Anne’s sister sets Don straight. “You’re just a man, in a room, with a checkbook.” This is what Don has been in his family’s life for a long, long time, and I think hearing it was something of a shock. He sat Anne down to tell her she had cancer and then did the right thing by not. This is another interesting contrast because Don runs away from this problem, too. In this case, however, he did what was best for Anne and her family at the expense of the thing that would have made him feel better (commiserating with Anne).
-No idea what the discussions of UFOs means, though it did bring out the conversation about how thin reality is.
-Just noticed this Helvetica poster in the break room at SCDP.
-Is Joan a cutter? She certainly seemed to purposely cut herself to get attention of the doc. It worked for the time being.
-”Although things are precarious financially, it’s been a magnificent year.” SCDP really has done well in the last year to go from the hotel to 2 floors at the Time Life Building. It is part of the thin reality mentioned earlier. Don and Lane are having terrible years!
-When they go to the movies, they have a courtesy seat between them. Guess that’s not new. In fact, almost everything about Don and Lane on the town was funny, including Lane’s outburst in the restaurant. “Is that what you want? Or is that what people expect of you.”
-Did the comedian introduce Paul Simon or Rudy Jensen?
-This episode didn’t seem to move time along as fast as some of the other episodes, and I think that contributed to it seeming a bit slow. What’d you think?
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