Sunday, May 20, 2012

MAD MEN 5.10--"Christmas Waltz"

 Low down dirty shame/kicking it live like it ain't no thing/Yeah, low down dirty shame/Witless Prattle like it ain't no thing. Pitiful attempts at R & B aside, this here is yet another installment in Witless Prattle's occasionally popular and much desired Mad Men reviews, which is like erotic fanfiction for your miiiiiiiiind, man.

 This week,  we enter the home stretch of the season, and from the episode description, it looks like a Harry Crane episode. Does this mean we'll be dealing with his wormy needy people-pleasing, his alleged whoring and stories of his large penis? In a Christmas episode? Let's find out!


"They're projections. They're based in reality, but they're hopes and dreams."

 Our first big plot development is Lane Pryce's tax follies. Turns out he's in for a bit hit from Inland Revenue (the cause of a lot of tax exiles from across the pond) and he connives to get the money by extending SCDP's line of credit by 50,000 and then hitting upon the idea to distribute Christmas bonuses ("how conveeenient," I hear you saying) to boost office morale.

 Meanwhile, Pete has finagled a meeting with Jaguar, again. You may remember that the last time this went down it ended with the Jaguar rep getting chewing gum on his junk and Lane beating real on Pete, a set-to that nearly repeats itself in the meeting as the room simmers between Lane wanting to ramrod through the Christmas bonuses and Pete wanting to thump his chest about Jaguar and not getting anything from anyone.

 This culminates in a scene that they very helpfully scored with MUSIC OF DOOM as Lane forges Don Draper's signature on a cheque to clear up his tax problem. Then, just in case we thought this was done with, his tax lawyer shakes lane down for his fee. Because there's no way this doesn't end up blowing up in his face.

 And hey! This isn't even the thing most pregnant with doom in this episode! Because you demanded it, Paul Kinsey returns. And he's a Hare Krishna, because he wasn't enough of a supercilious douchebag before now. He drags Harry Crane to a Hare Krishna meeting because I like to think Krishna told him to find the most awkward Cyril Figgis-looking dude in New York City and get him to chant for hours and hours.

 As with human interactions in mad Men, Paul has an ulterior motive for inviting harry. He wants out of the Hare Krishnas, but he wants to take his main squeeze, Lakshmi with him.So he needs Harry's help to get his spec script for Star Trek (honestly, Mad Men . . .I . . .have no words) which is horrible and pretentious like pretty much everything that is Paul Kinsey. Harry does his usual job of trying to wriggle out of having to tell Kinsey that his script is godawful (generally by trying to make Peggy do it, a task which she looks as much forward to as swallowing bleach) and Lakshmi comes back to the office to see Harry because his chanting made her sari moist.

 Yeah, I call bullshit on that in pretty much every permutation of bullshit that it is possible to extrapolate from that situation. He is Cyril Figgis now, I swear.Fortunately, she's running a savage burn on him that culminates with her straight-up slugging Harry (making her blessed in my eyes, if not Krishnas) apparently Paul's an awesome recruiter, and she won't have him strayed from the path. So naturally she decided to slap and tickle Harry, in the literal and figurative meaning of the term.

 But Harry, bless him, actually tries to do the right thing, giving Paul $500 and telling him to go to LA and pitch his shitty teleplay. You can't really say his motives are entirely noble, but good on him for rising above solipsistic schlubbiness for a bit.

 Man, what was a more depressing outcome--finding out Midge was a junkie last season, or Paul being a Hare Krishna?

 Meanwhile, in plot C, Joan is trying to carry on with all the dignity she can muster, so much so that she's turning down Roger's off-the-books child support payments (explaining, not altogether incorrectly, that it's easier if he's completely out of the picture and they don't have to play the lie) This goes drastically southward when Joan is served with divorce papers from Doctor Rapist (and admit it--when you saw the guy with papers you were hoping he'd been KIA in Vietnam) Joan actually cracks under this, and doesn't just give the receptionist a stern talking to, but completely loses her shit, and it's only the timely intervention of Don that defuses her going completely nuclear.

 This does double-duty for Don, as Pete's been pressuring him to take Megan over and test-drive a Jaguar. In the wake of Megan leaving (a fact that is STILL causing tension and plenty of passive-aggressive barbs from Don) don't not so eager to do the husband and wife Nick-and-Nora-sell-ads fandango they were doing before and takes Joan instead. Joan is on-board with pretending and eyes a Jaguar XKE (also known as Emma Peel's car of choice. Joan has a good eye.) This leads to a great extended scene with Don and Joan talking about divorce and the olden days and really connecting and having a good time, which, given how grim this episode is about to get, was kind of wonderful.

 But in Mad Men, as with poetry, nothing gold can stay, so Don comes home to a furious argument with Megan (which he is unable to twist into some spicy angry sex) and some bitter words about how even she knows he's not giving his all at work. This seems to engage something in Don, and in the last scene, he gives a rousing speech that they're going to get the Jaguar account (getting your first car is a big milestone in an ad agency, and as we're in the heart of car fetishism here at the doorstep of 1967, you can see how that would be a thing worth chasing) and he will work night and day to make that a thing.

 And it's a good thing, because Pete's initial announcement makes nary a ripple. Partly because it's just a pitch and as with the Honda  thing from last season, that and 50 cents will buy you a cup of coffee. There's also a teeny weeny pall hanging over things, as Mohawk Airlines gets hit with a strike (which, if Wikipedia can be believed, labor disputes will ultimately finish them as a company four years hence) and pulls their advertising. Cooper suggests the partner forgo their bonuses so the lower ranks can have theirs, and it's a great idea.

 It just. . .kinda . . .screws up Lane's plans from the beginning big time, doesn't it?

 So with three episodes to go, we have some gentle embezzlement, sparks striking between Don and work (and to a lesser extent, Don and Joan) Roger being frozen out of Joan's life, Pete continuing to feel unappreciated, and everything hinging on getting the Jaguar account. It wouldn't be near-the-end-of-a-Mad Men-season  without everyone looking into an abyss, I s'pose.

And that's it for this week! Join us next week when Roger spikes the office's water cooler, Joan goes on a roaring rampage of revenge, and Don gets the Lego brick accounts and builds brightly coloured robots all day in a little Ray Parker Jr. joint we call "The Other Woman." Until next week--soupy twist!

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