Mad Men, Season 4, Episode 5by 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 5.
I’m going to watch Mad Men until the series ends. It’s my favorite show right now. I’m not giving up or anything, but in a couple years, I wouldn’t be surprised if people refer to this episode as the one were Don Draper water skied over a shark. From the first scene with Mrs. Blankenship wearing the silly magnifying glass and providing general comedic relief, to the Italian Job-style montage when they hoodwinking an up-and-coming agency into blowing a pitch, this episode just seemed to have far more fluff than usual. I like the hoodwinking and I’m tired of Blankenship, and this episode was different.
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-The mention by Roger Sterling of Selma probably puts this episode at the first week of March. “You still think they don’t need a civil rights law.” It was interesting that Sterling was the one to say this to Cooper, as he doesn’t seem the most liberal of all the characters. On the other hand, Cooper, while appearing conservative, doesn’t seem like a total dick.
-A lot of Sterling’s appearances this year have been littered with one liners and jokes. The poop puns at the beginning of the partners meeting is no exception. “Lucky Strike is great, meeting adjourned.”
-Who is Dr. Lyle Evans? Seems like it isn’t a real historic figure, which… Well, no reason not to make up historical people and send your viewers to Google, right?
-Sally was obviously a big part of the episode, acting out by cutting her hair so Don would like it, and then being an adolescent at a slumber party. (Uh… I don’t even think I can write about it, but when was the last time you saw THAT subject matter covered on TV, even on, gasp, cable?) Is there any connection to how Sally is acting out and how Roger is acting out. Sally wants to make a statement about the divorce, and if Pete is right about Roger, Roger wants to make a statement about not being the top dog at SCDP. “The rest of us are trying to build something.”
-Oh, Ted Shaw, Good luck, champ. “Well, if it isn’t the inscrutable Don Draper.” He looked like James Spader didn’t he? Don played him pretty well with his misdirection. Additionally, the scene where Don goes in to resign the motorcycle campaign was Kodak Kodachrome-level Don Draper… There hasn’t been a ton of that energy yet this year.
-”Do you know the river of shit I’m gonna get from her mother.” Is Betty Draper the coldest woman on TV? If not, she’s in the running. Interesting that both Don and Henry push back on Betty slapping Sally. “That was impulsive, I’ll apologize.” Don used to call Betty a child pretty often. That got addressed in tonight, as well. When talking to the school psychiatrist, Betty started talking and couldn’t stop, and she got that creepy smile when looking at the doll house. Betty needs help. “I feel like Sally did this to punish me.” Damn it, Betty, it’s not all about you.
-Remember when Carlton slapped that other dude’s son and the other dude got weirded out?
-Did you see the sigh Henry Frances let out after Betty went up the stairs? There is a lot of regret in that sigh.
-All of the scenes with Honda were funny. Mostly because of Pete Campbell or the translator, “I don’t know what this room is for.” “It’s a cantaloupe.”
-”I’m still wondering what makes you work.” Love it.
-The auteur commercial director, is there anyone more annoying? Besides Ted Shaw, at least. It’s hard to tell if Ted will be a recurring character or not. It makes sense to give Don an external competitor, it seems a little late in the game to introduce a new agency to play that role. We’ll just have to wonder, though I’m glad they didn’t just the easy way out of using an ex-Draper employee. “And give me 20 different words for pimples.”
-”Why does everyone need to talk about everything?” Don started by talking about not seeing the value of talking, and then shared a lot with the good doctor, an “interested stranger”. On the other hand, she must find Don pretty irresistible to let him in on her fake marriage act.
-”And when I drop them off, I feel relieved. And then I miss them.” Unlike Don regressing into eternal badness, if last week he was neutral, I’d have to say this week he moved forward, towards the light. If only for showing concern after Betty slapped Sally and opening up about missing his kids. The theory that Don was going to continue to spiral downward with each irredeemable act is not looking good right now. Not saying he couldn’t continue to fall, or that there were any great reveals this episode, just that the trend was reversed.
-”Since when is forgiveness a better quality than loyalty?” It’s hard to know what loyalty means on Mad Men. Sterling is probably the worst philanderer than Don.