Monday, October 20, 2008

'Mad Men' Monday: The Mountain King


This was another one of those Mad Men episodes which contained a jarring scene that -- like most problematic situations on the show (except for Freddy Rumsen's mishap that directly led to his termination) -- is not likely to be dealt with directly or openly. At least not right away. But more on THE scene of the episode in a bit. We must first dish on The Dish of Mad Men: Don Draper/Dick Whitman.

So many unanswered questions were addressed in this episode with regards to Don. The woman who we saw in the flashback a few weeks ago -- when Don was but an awkward-looking used car salesman -- was Anna Draper, the wife of the man whose identity Don stole. It was to Anna that Don sent the collection of Frank O'Hara poems, Meditations in an Emergency . . . which, by the way, is the title of the season finale next week. In a flashback we saw that after Anna initially confronted Don about his pretending to be her husband, he told her the truth, a novelty for the character we've come to know throughout these two seasons.

Anna and Don seem to have the most honest relationship of all the characters on Mad Men. In Anna's presence, Don was at ease, boyishly giddy at times and true. We saw scenes of Don at Anna's California house celebrating Christmas, fixing furniture for her and telling her that he'd "met a girl" (Betty) who was "from a good family. She's educated . . . I just like the way she laughs, the way she looks at me." (He had to ask Anna Draper to grant him a divorce so he could marry Betty.) Don thanked her for allowing him to create a new life for himself and for not divulging his secret; Anna thanked Don for paying for her oceanside home, his refuge of sorts too, where you can smell the salt air from the porch.

When the episode opened, we saw that Don had abandoned the spoiled socialite he met during his business trip, and retreated to Anna's. He slept while she made him food, bought him clothes. He talked and opened up about what's become of him, saying: "I ruined everything . . . I've told you things I've never told Betty. Why does it have to be that way?"

Poignantly, he also observed: "I've been watching my life. It's right there. I keep scratching at it, trying to get into it. I can't."

Later, as Anna was giving a reluctant Don a tarot card reading, she wisely remarked, "The only thing keeping you unhappy is the belief that you are alone." The final scene of the episode showed Don walking into the ocean, as if being cleansed -- baptized -- while a song about "a new life" played in the background.

Back at the Draper home in New York, Betty had to get on with the business of life, paying the bills, signing Don's signature to checks, taking care of the kids and disciplining her daughter (pulling her by the ponytail and shoving her in a closet!) after Sally was caught smoking in the powder room. After Sally blamed Betty for driving Don away, Betty realized she had to come clean with Sally about her "disagreement" with Don and tell her that she didn't know when Don would be back. Her outburst at Sally notwithstanding, Betty seemed much more in control and independent than we've seen recently.

But at Sterling Cooper, things don't seem so under control. Bert Cooper, while uncomfortable with the precarious economic situation in which Roger Sterling's libido has placed the firm, agreed to merge with another, larger company which has promised to deliver an infusion of money. (It's not clear if Bert understands the condition of Duck Phillips being appointed Sterling Cooper's president.) Peggy Olson landed a big account -- adored her Popsicle pitch! -- as well as a new office next door to Don's office, where she used to be the secretary in what seems like a lifetime ago.

Then there was Joan Holloway. If Don is just watching his idyllic life and trying to find a way into it that feels authentic, Joan is seeking what she thinks she's supposed to want: A marriage to a handsome, affluent, respected physician, Greg Harris. But he's an oaf, a coward and, as of this latest episode, a rapist. Cowed by Joan's sexual experience, he refused to let her take the lead in bed, then, after picking up on a vibe between ex-paramours Joan and Roger at work, Greg ordered Joan to fix him a drink in Don's office where he forcibly raped her on the floor as she tried to fight him off.

In the first scene with Joan and Greg in bed when he seemed put off by her history, Joan said, "There is no 'before.'" Well following this violation of Joan's body and her trust, I hope that the "after" does not include Greg, no matter how badly Joan wants to be a "Mrs."

Will Don be "reborn" into an entirely different persona yet again, or will we see him try to reclaim the life he says that, up until now, he's just been observing from the outside? Predictions for the season finale? Will Joan dump Greg?

Image credit: AMC.

4 comments:

shalini said...

Mad men is nifty show It's nicely lit and shot, acting is very good.

rookie said...

Mad Men is an American dramatic television series created and produced by Matthew Weiner. The episodes are premiered on Sunday evenings on the American cable network AMC and is produced by Lionsgate Television. It premiered on July 19, 2007, and completed its third season on November 8, 2009. Its forth season has premiered on July 25, 2010. All episodes are really very interesting.

rookie said...

Mad Men is an American dramatic television series created and produced by Matthew Weiner. The episodes are premiered on Sunday evenings on the American cable network AMC and is produced by Lionsgate Television. It premiered on July 19, 2007, and completed its third season on November 8, 2009. Its forth season has premiered on July 25, 2010. All episodes are really very interesting.

criss said...

The best show on television I have ever seen is Mad Men. I do not miss any episodes of this show now I am watching this show on every weekend.