Sunday, May 6, 2012

MAD MEN 5.8--"Lady Lazarus"

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away, only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air. That unease being, of course, Witless Prattle's occasionally dubious, definitively inaccurate (for all I know) coverage of Mad Men. Last week culminated with A lot of illusions being shattered and a blowjob scene that was clearly mentally scarring. What fun awaits us this week, I wonder?!

"Is it harder to lie to me now that you know me?"

 Well, it's been a bit of time since we dwelt on Pete's problems (one could hardly blame him for receding into the background given that the last time he tried to break bad Lane beat the shit out of him) and we see that he's still the same awkward, unpleasant, cauldron of drives that he was previously.

 He can't even take Roger's gift of new business (and skis!) with any grace, and pretty much everyone ends up giving him shit as he awkwardly tries to get the skis home in his car (he passed Driver's Ed! And people say Mad Men never pays off plotlines) a situation which is complicated slightly when the wife of one of his train-ridin' buddies (who just told him he had a woman in town he was banging on the side) locks her keys in the car and is futilely waiting for her husband (a parallel to something else that's going on which we'll get to in a tick) One thing leads to another and, after an elliptical car ride home wherein Pete shows he didn't pay much attention in Driver's Ed and keeps whacking her in the face with his skis, they decide to have sex because why wouldn't you?

 I was stunned by this turn, mainly because I thought she was too old for him, as his thing used to be mad jailbait.

 Pete being Pete, of course, treats infidelity the same way you and I used to treat having a loose baby tooth when we were small--by constantly picking at the damn thing, even if it hurts and making the whole situation that much more awkward.

 But Pete always has Harry to abuse, so there's that.Of course, he does this in the midst of an anti-woman rant which is a bit staggering in terms of its venom and also because it's basically "waah wahh, the woman I'm not married do won't let me put my penis in her again!" Pete being Pete, can't really leave it alone, so, flexing the same nuts that got him totally schooled a few weeks back, invites himself to the guy's house so he can make a pass at the guy's wife . . .and nearly tries to fingerbang her right then and there. I'm trying to think who comes off as more awkward and unpleasant as Pete in these moments, but there's really only someone like Torgo who exceeds his oily creepiness.

 While this is happening, Megan is keeping secrets. Nothing quite like that--she's been doing auditions for acting jobs (her father ran her down for turning her back on acting last week and we've heard a few times about her ambitions previous to this) She's been keeping it on the QT as much as possible, but circumstances lead to her lying to Don and relying on Peggy to keep up her side of the lie.

 This fails, believe it or not, and Don starts pestering Peggy with calls (which Peggy blows off hilariously by making it seem like he's called the pizza place) and Peggy, who one gets the idea that she's sick of getting calls like this even when she wasn't tangled up in some elaborate web of lies. This leads her to blow up at Megan, who finally lays it on the line to Don.

 Don actually takes it pretty conciliatory, all things being equal, and Megan's on her way out the door at SCDP. What this means for Don is another question entirely. He was finally willing to let Betty go off and be happy, but there he had no choice and there had been a scorched Earth catastrophe previous to that. Plus, being with Megan has been the source of any and all engagement he's had with work, and his big win this year was when he and Megan worked together to get Heinz. With that particular spell being broken . . .what happens?

 Besides a very leaden bit of symbolism where, shortly after seeing Megan off, Don looks down an empty elevator shaft, a yawning abyss and OH MY FUCKING GOD THE SYMBOLISM.

 It's like a fecking bowling ball to the groin sometimes, I tell you.

 Anyways, while Don talks a good game about being OK with Megan going back to acting, in practice, things fall down a little when Peggy proves to be a rather poor understudy for Megan, which loses them the chance to shill Cool Whip and leads to an argument between Peggy and Don where both of them fight over why they thought Megan quit (Don things Peggy made her leave because she felt threatened, Peggy things Megan didn't really think advertising was a sufficiently worthy endeavour)  and Megan, trying to help Don be a bit more with it, gives him a Beatles album to listen to, and while Revolver is a actually a pretty good album, I can't say "Tomorrow Never Knows" is a thing I would play for people to get them to like them. It. . .just doesn't scream "gateway song" is all.

 Then again, I like "Eleanor Rigby," so what the hell do I know?

 Over and over again Don voices his fears that he doesn't want his marriage to turn out like his and Betty's. But there is a feeling that maybe with Megan out of the office (costing him some of his engagement with his work, which everyone had noticed has flagged somewhat) and her pursuing something that he couldn't even conceive of (he and Roger talk about the fact that to their frame of reference, the notion that you can choose a career is a bit mystifying) that maybe what Don fears is being Betty as she was when married to Don--on the outside looking in. We've had inklings of that fear already this season, and rather than defuse this . . .I have the feeling that things are only gonna get more tense.

 In all, a pretty good episode, I thought. Could have done without the elevator shaft gag and also, Pete acted like a right creep. Just thought I'd say it again.
 And that's it for this week. Join us next week when Pete confesses his love of schwarma, Peggy asks what the hell "schwarma" is and Don just wants Megan to shut up so they can rage-hump in a little. Join we like to call "Dark Shadows." It can only be better than the movie coming in a couple weeks. Until next time, y'all--soupy twist!

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