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Mad Men knocks one plot line out of the park and it carries the weaker elements of the episode across the plate.
Let’s start with those weaker elements first, the weakest being Henry Crane and Paul Kinsey’s ‘Hare Krishna Adventure.’ I always figured we would get to see Paul Kinsey again, but not like this. Now a seemingly devout Krishna, Paul seems very anxious to get Harry to join up and Harry hesitantly begins to enjoy himself. We meet Paul’s “partner” Lakshmi and as the episode unfolds everyone seems to be driven by ulterior motives. Paul wants to use Harry for a Star Trek script he wrote to leave the Krishna’s, Lakshmi seduces Harry to try and gain the upper hand on him not letting Paul leave the Krishna’s, and Harry just seems to love and begrudge all the attention at once. Harry ultimately lies to Paul about his script’s quality, gives him five hundred bucks and sends him off to LA. I don’t know what we were supposed to get out of this, other than Harry finally becoming the cheating sleazebag we all have expected him to be, and I don’t know if Harry grew at all as a character either. It seemed to be a wash of a plot line, unless Lakshmi or Paul circle back into his life down the line, and it certainly seemed like a waste of air time this late in the season.
The next, and far more successful, story was Lane doing some shady bookkeeping to pay off the back taxes in England he has foregone since he moved to the states. It’s sad to see Lane get this low, and he is about as unsuccessful at getting things to go his way as he has been throughout the season. He eventually gets his money, but deceives the partners straight to their faces to do it. At the end of the episode he still hasn’t been found out, but I imagine it’s only a matter of time before Joan puts the pieces together. I really like Lane, but I just don’t see this turning out well; I hope he can turn it around in the next couple of weeks.
The real showcase of the episode is an extended sequence between Don and Joan who both have some tough realizations to face in life. Don finally gets called out by Megan for slacking at his job and after weeks of everyone else telling him he needs to pick it up this time it finally seems to sink in. It doesn’t hurt that Megan tells Don this after ripping him a new one for coming home late and drunk in a rather over the top and ugly moment for Mrs. Draper. This seems to thankfully be the kick in the ass Don needed and he delivers a rousing speech to the company about winning Jaguar in the New Year.
I did mention Don and Joan and that drunken late night was due to them giving us one of the best scenes of the season. After Joan loses it on the receptionist for letting a Servant of the Peace in to serve her divorce papers, Don swoops her off to a Jaguar showroom to test drive a car. Seeing these two together, which we haven’t got in a long time, was gold and as the two work the car salesman and reminisce at the bar during their test drive, I was in Mad Men heaven. Hamm and Hendricks just have an amazing chemistry together and it was great to see them show it off for a good chunk of the episode. We even got some great stories about their early times at the office and why Don never made a run at her over all these years. Don is incredibly sincere and charming with her and it is just the pickup Joan needed to make sure she knew she was going to be ok as a single Mom out on her own; excellent call back by the way with the Ali Khan roses, Don.
Take out those Don and Joan moments and we might have had a really weak, potentially bad, episode of Mad Men; even if it set up a resurgent Don and a potential blow up with Lane. Harry got his, I think, first featured plot line and it was about as big a dud as we have ever had on the show. Don and Joan more than made up for this weak spot, but one really has to wonder what the point of all of this was. Anyways, give me more Joan and Don and I really hope Draper lives up to his speech at the end of the episode. Three more episodes to go.
-Looks like Lane is going to be back this week, he's been gone so long.
-Paul coming back?
-That pole is messing with Harry's reception.
-Don't do it Lane.
-Pearl Harbor Day?
-Bazooka Joe, ha.
-"It's a lot of work." Oh Don.
-"What the hell happened to you?"
-Oh boy, Harry.
-"What ghost visited you Ebenezer?"
-What is Roger wearing?
-Where did this Scarlett come from, getting lots of face time.
-"Holy shit, how long have I been here?"
-Paul's a little weasel, as usual.
-I feel like Don in this audience.
-Forgery used to be so much easier. This doesn't bode well for Lane.
-Working hard as usual there Don.
-"Maybe you and I should go as a couple?"
-Haven't gotten to see these two together for awhile.
-"I'll drive her around for free."
-"You scared the shit out of me."
-They make a cute little couple. Great stuff there with Don and Joan.
-Harry Crane has wanted something like this for a long time.
-"He doesn't know what he wants, but he's wanting."
-"Poor me, I struck out."
-Uh oh, Megan is pissed.
-I don't like manipulative Lane.
-Those roses from Don? Who is Ali Khan?
-Harry protecting himself or genuinely helping Paul?
-Big Don moment here?
-He's still got it.
-Lane isn't home free yet I feel. Only a time before Joan figures it out.