Sunday, April 14, 2013

MAD MEN 6.3--"The Collaborators"

 It's time once again for Mad Men! One of the most highly-regarded television shows of our time by some, an excuse for good-looking people to look mopey and broody to others and for the person who writes this blog, a handy and reasonably easy excuse to have regular content on Sunday nights. Last week--Betty suggested her husband get in on a little rape, Don thought about Death, went to Hawaii and came home and banged Lindsay Weir and Peggy cracked the whip in an effort to sell headphones and everyone looks hideous because it's 1968 and facial hair and ridiculous jackets stalk our land like two giant stalking things. This week, it's still 1968, and what are our people up to? Let's find out!


 "He's demanding the unreasonable. How does that make him any different from anyone else who walks through that door?"

 Our story begins with Pete and Trudy entertaining the folks back in the suburbs. The guys flirt with Trudy, because despite Community not being invented for nearly 50 years, they know what they like, and they like what they see. Meanwhile, Pete, resplendent in a jacket that makes me think 1868 is the year fashion gave up and went home early, sets up a rendezvous in his apartment in the city.

 This is paid off with a scene with Don making time to go bang Lindsay Weir again. Apparently, the notion that Don and Megan was going to have dinner with the doctor and his wife got his loins in a tizzy, and so he goes to her apartment for a quick tumble.

 This leads to a rather telling moment during their pillow-talk, when Don flashes back to the day his mom dropped him off at a whorehouse (which, this being Depression-era, is about as sexy as dying of scurvy) and the man of the house laying down the law about how it is. It's a small scene, yet explains so much, as does the follow-up scene at the end of the episode. Don is deeply fucked up. In other news--water is wet and fire is hot. Keep breathing.

 During the pillow talk, meanwhile Lindsay (OK, her name's Sylvia, but I only really know her from Freaks & Geeks) and Don grapple with the guilt they feel over what they're doing. Don tries to talk about it in his favourite terms--"It never happened." But unlike before, when drawing a line under the past promised a new beginning and a new outlook, now Don uses it is a blanket excuse to escape and do what he wants to do.

 It's like he's become Bobbie Barrett. He enjoys being bad, then being good when he's home. Lindsay even says he seems to enjoy not only the sex, but the fact he's putting one over on Megan and the doctor guy. 

 The notion of lying and lying to oneself to keep the Jenga tower of lies you build from falling over is further underlined when Megan confesses to Sylvia that she's miscarried, and what's more, given what being on maternity leave could do to her career, she's not all that sorry it went down that. And yet she is. Sylvia tries the whole "you wouldn't be a good person if you didn't feel bad despite how hard you're trying to tell yourself that you don't feel bad" spiel, which only seems to make Megan sadder, and causes her to bow out of the dinner.

 Meanwhile, Peggy fails once again to get the people working under her to do their best work--too much scaring, not enough encouragement. During a phone call with Stan, he explains to her that it's a bit of an ask to expect the people who work under you to like you (best case scenario, they respect you) During their shop-talking, Peggy tells Ted Chaough about something going on with Heinz at SCDP, which let's talk about right now.

 Don and the boys take a meeting with the guy from Heinz beans, who brought along the head of the ketchup branch. This leads to the beans guy throwing the Ketchup guy out and ranting about how much he hates the ketchup guy and makes a veiled threat that he'll burn his bridges at SCDP before he lets them near ketchup.

Stan tells this to Peggy, who mentions it to Chaough, who parlays it into a meeting with the ketchup guy. This puts Peggy in an uncomfortable position, as this is now her actively hurting SCDP. Chaough reminds her that wars are won through the exchange of secrets (as this is all taking place during the Tet Offensive, war is much on everyone's mind) Peggy at least has the good sense to feel icky about the prospect.

But dear readers, none of that compares with what an appalling ass Pete makes of himself. His little afternoon delight wit the neighbour spirals into a nightmare--her husband beats her and sends her to Pete, and the whole mess comes out in front of Trudy, who's finally had enough of this bullshit (she was willing to accept his philandering, but not fouling their own nest) and throws Pete out. Pete replies with his usual wormy bravado. You know . . .you'd think that when his little dalliance last season needed shock therapy to erase Pete from her brain he would take that as a sign. And yet, you would be wrong.

Meanwhile, things are not so rosy with Jaguar. Herb the icky ass Jaguar rep comes in and tries to brace Joan, who drops him with a precision insult and not all the Bactine in the world will salve that SICK BURN. Herb wants the agency to pitch his Jaguar bosses for more local radio spots highlighting his dealership rather than the marque. Don, hating him, hating what it took to get Jaguar, and hating the whole idea does, in what was the one decent thing he did the whole episode, does a shittier job of selling the Jaguar bosses on Herb's idea than Han Solo did trying to convince the guy on the radio everything was fine in the Death Star jail.

 There's a whole current this episode of secrets being destructive, but secrets being power, and secrets being key to winning the war. Chaugh tells Peggy secrets win wars, Doctor guy tells Don they're losing the war, and Don and Roger liken appeasing Herb to the Munich conference. The notion of secrets being part of war also links up the notion that they're also as destructive as any weapon can be.

 Roger mentions to Don, after his performance, that "[Don] had a choice between war or dishonour and chose dishonour. You still might get war." Pete got his war. Don may yet get his.

 And that's all for this week. Join us next week when Don invents robot pants, Roger does his best to beat the world record for Donkey Kong despite the fact that it hasn't been invented yet, Joan builds a TARDIS, and Bert Cooper learns the secrets of Caste Grayskull at last. All of these things are virtually guaranteed not to happen in an episode they just had to call "To Have and To Hold." C'mon. All the cool kids are doing it.

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