Sunday, June 9, 2013

MAD MEN 6.11--"Favours"

 So, last week on Mad Men, we got a rather problematic episode that nevertheless managed to get some plot legwork done--SCDPCGC had a new name "Sterling Cooper & Partners," or SC& P for short. Behind the scenes, it seems Cutler is playing a long game to take over, Don almost drowned because he's a terrible hash-head, and Pete took a rip of his first joint. It was, as I said, a rather problematic episode. Fortunately, not many folks were watching as they were busy losing their shit over the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones.

 What will happen this week as we begin the final lap for this season? Well, there's no time like the present to find out, is there?


 "Like everything else in this country, Diplomacy Club's just another excuse to make out"

 We begin on a succession of awkward notes--Peggy has an awkward encounter with Pte's painfully senile mother who blabs about having a child, mistakes her for Trudy, and confesses that she's having a physical thing with the nurse that Bob Benson got her a few episodes back. Pete and Peggy have a grim, awkward, and finally cathartic laugh about it soon after, which is a great little bit of business--they haven't really had a scene that's not been tense or guarded and when you add Ted to the mix (Pete can see he's crazy about her and considers Peggy one of the few people who really knows him, as Don told her a couple seasons back) It's a great scene because it shows that Ted, unlike Cutler, really wants to fit in here and some of the long-term members of our gang are happy to let him in.

 Sorta. More on that later.

 Less successfully, there's a bit with Don getting involved with helping Sylvia's son avoid the draft, thus forming a perfect combination of two things I haven't liked this season--THE SIXTIES horning in on the story in more blatant and thuddingly obvious ways at the expense of the story, and the dreadful Sylvia Rosen subplot that refuses to end even though we had the damn ending a few episodes back. Don makes some effort to help his kid (who is a real dolt) and I can see why they thought it made sense to do it (Don deserted, so putting him in the position to defend the war is dramatic irony) but . . .I kinda recall this show being subtler than this before.

 Ted,  though he likes working with Peggy and Pete and building relationships with them, is also in a hell-for-leather competition with Don (even though they're part of the same firm now, that need to prove oneself is a fire that is never quieted) and even more exasperating, Don's so disengaged he doesn't even see it, which only makes Ted even more exasperated. Though thanks to Don's clumsy attempts to feel out how the well-to-do at Chevy handle getting their kids deferred, it seems he has a sign of weakness, and Ted, who is actually paying attention at work, might actually do something with that knowledge.

 The two things dovetail, however--it turns out that Ted has a resource that can get Sylvia's kid in with the Air National Guard, and he offers to set it up if Don will stop fighting him and work with him. Don acts like he didn't even realise that he was doing it (thought considering how out to lunch he's been, that's entirely possible) and if this gets him on the same page, it might even be worth this rather leaden plot. Unfortunately, the main upshot seems to be Don and Sylvia canoodling some more and shit, I've seen enough of that by now.

 But I'm not the only one. Because, due to circumstances WAY too convoluted to go into here, Sally walks in on Don and Sylvia in flagrante dilecto. Don reacts like you'd think he would--as if the world were but a few seconds from ending and the Earth was about to swallow him whole. But while he goes on a bender and prepares himself for imminent doom it turns out that things aren't so bad--the kid may get his deferment and Sally hasn't told anyone anything (yet) and Don tries his best to defuse the situation. I can't say I rate his chances high.

 Meanwhile, Peggy is freaked out by the rats in her apartment, to the point where she tempts Stan with sexual favours to get him to come clear out the rat traps. Honestly, there has to be a better way to handle these crises than getting horizontal in the name of rodent extermination.In other news, Pete is grossed out by his mom's crush on his nurse and lays down the law to Bob, who (not so) subtly outs himself, and Pete responds with the usual withering irritated disgust which was summed up best by his senile mom in a moment of clarity when she called him unlovable.

 Well, I knew that whole draft-dodging plot would end in disaster and sure enough it did, as now Don's thinking with his Dick Whitman has led to a slow-motion explosion. Given we have but two episodes left, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out. I can't really call it a good episode as of yet--it's probably one that will work better in the context of the whole season. We shall see.

 And that's all for this week. Join us next week when Cutler decides to eat a whole pallet of margarine on a dare, Ted Chaough is deeply fascinated by a single Lego brick, and Don becomes the Beastmaster. All of these things plus the revelation of who's going to play Doctor Who next have a likelihood of not happening on the order of "metaphysical certitude"in a funky penultimate little kind of thing we're gonna call "The Quality of Mercy" (a title which, given the circumstances and people involved of this episode, feels a touch dodgy) Join us then, won't you?

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