Monday, March 26, 2012

Mad Men -- A Little Kiss (Zou Bisou Bisou)

*Warning: Spoilers from the latest episode of Mad Men ahead.*

Finally . . . a new Mad Men episode to digest and dissect. Let's dive right into the fifth season premiere shall we?

Megan: Megan's little "burlesque" dance, as Lane called it, at Don's surprise 40th birthday party where she sang a sassy little French ditty to Don reminded me of Joan's sad French song C'est Magnifique, with accordion accompaniment, that Greg made her sing to his bosses. Megan was sexy, showed ample leg (in her later 60s-style short, short dress), shook her fanny then deposited herself into Don's lap in full view of all of his colleagues, in his very own living room. And when it was over, Megan was proud. (The shindig was quite a contrast to Betty's infamous dinner around the world featuring chilled Heineken.) In Joan's case, she was coerced into performing -- in the midst of her perfect, Emily Post housewife efforts -- to entertain her husband's colleagues. Joan was not proud, just sad.

But Megan was sad too, in a way. The performance wasn't sad, exactly, but Don's reaction to it was because it clearly demonstrated that they are in wildly different places in their lives and there's a huge gap of understanding between them which Don is going to have to work at bridging if he wants this marriage to survive. Even though Don has told Megan all about his Dick Whitman past, he still appears to be clinging to vestiges of his Don Draper-esque guardedness, the king of the brusque brushoff (like blowing off Megan's overtures to him after the party ended). He doesn't seem quite willing to emotionally bare all yet.
Megan, however, doesn't seem like she's going to take a lot of Don's garbage. She doesn't seem likely to be drunk in the middle of the day, still wearing last night's party dress, searching Don's suit coats and pants' pockets for evidence that he cheated on her like Betty did. Megan isn't afraid of her sexuality and power in a way Betty seemed to be (with the exception of her revenge sex before reuniting with Don when she was pregnant with Gene). Megan's unabashed, confident sensuality has got to terrify and thrill Don but, in this episode, he didn't quite know what to make of her birthday party stunt, followed by the really odd scene of Megan stripping down to her black underwear (definitely not the girdles Betty wore when she was hanging around the house) and angrily cleaning up from the party on her hands and knees, demanding that Don not touch her, commanding him to watch instead.
However if you ask series creator Matthew Weiner, he'd say that Don has indeed completely opened himself up to Megan and is, for the first time in the series, so happy in his relationship that he doesn't even care about work. True, Don doesn't seem to care much about work but I wouldn't go so far as to call Don an open book with Megan just yet. I don't know if he's quite capable of that with anyone.

Joan: Joan's story fascinated me. Her hostile interactions with her mother -- who was like the devil whispering in her ear that she was going to be replaced at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, that she should give up her notion of working and should get her figure back ASAP -- explained a lot about Joan. Seeing Joan with her little boy, and papa Roger declaring "There's my baby" in the office, were delicious. It was a whole new side of Joan. (It was a nice, comical touch to watch everybody play pass-the-baby with Joan's son at the office.)

Pete: I'm taking bets, how long until Pete continues to morph into a Don Jr. and steps out on Trudy (again)? Pete is openly complaining to guys on the commuter train to and from his new suburban house (which looks a whole lot like Don and Betty's Ossining digs) about his life and marriage, about how Trudy has lost her Trudy-ness since the baby. He's even fighting with Roger because he doesn't feel as though he's receiving the proper respect and appropriate-sized office for his role in the company. He's competing against Roger for clients' favor and took measures to fight back but at least he didn't trick Roger into sucking down a half dozen martinis and oysters at lunch before scaling a dozen-plus flights of stairs and puking on clients' nice shoes.

What did you think of the two-hour season five premiere? Thoughts? Comments?

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