Everyone is dealing with something that might not really be there this week and it really allows Mad Men to dig in to its characters state of mind.
We literally get into Don’s state of mind this week as he spends about half of the episode in a dream, tackling his past of infidelity. Sick and tired, Don heads home after a successful pitch meeting (more on that later) and begins to have a, seeming hallucination or dream surrounding an ex-flame Don and Megan bumped into on the way to work. Andrea is the woman’s name and after a flirty encounter on the elevator with Megan around, Don sees her at her door of the apartment as he tries to get some sleep. Her persistence leads to Don eventually sleeping with then killing her before passing out an waking up to Megan making him breakfast in the morning.
I found it interesting that the episode played these scenes as literally as they did, as the show usually has a different feel when it goes into dreams. Still, Don’s sickness and Megan’s departure time from work were fairly clear indicators that what we were seeing was in Don’s fever. Regardless of whether or not you thought what you were seeing is literal, the message that Don is trying to put his cheating past behind him was made clear. I find it quite interesting that Don still cheats even in his apparent defeat of this demon, but I look forward to seeing if he has really beat his past.
Peggy dips in a bunch of peoples’ stories this week, but her fear of being replaced or not being good enough is beginning to creep to the surface. The show has done a great job of building Peggy up as a strong and confident woman and I think showing that she still is vulnerable on the inside is a good for the character while also showing that Ginsberg is really good and Peggy does view him as a threat. The show wisely used this opportunity to not only dig into Peggy, but also gave us our first real look at Dawn as well. The turmoil of the times was also allowed to be put on display with their interactions as Dawn couldn’t go home due to the racial tensions and riots that the episode was revolving around. A lot of good stuff crammed into Peggy’s story this week, not to mention another great and hilarious scene between her and Roger.
Over in Henry and Betty’s mansion, Sally has to deal with her step-grandmother, Pauline, who is babysitting for the out of town parents. Over the course of the day that the episode takes place, a grizzly set of murders in Chicago hang over everything. Sally in particular is intrigued by the story that she is just hearing the fringes of, and gets a wicked bit of parenting from Pauline in the process. It is fantastic to see Kiernan Shipka play Sally so well and subtly sneak in bit of Betty Draper into her performance. I don’t know where Sally is going to end up, but Pauline giving her a sleeping pill and scaring the shit out of her with her horror stories can’t bode well for Sally’s near future sanity.
Joan is the last of our main story lines this week and she is in fear of the unknown circumstances surrounding her returning husband, Greg, from Vietnam. He comes back having not cheated, in one piece, and happy to be a part of his family, but something is off. We quickly learn that he has to return for another year of duty over there and Joan is ready to brave the storm, even if she doesn’t like it. It’s over dinner with her in-laws when the truth comes out that Greg re-enlisted on his own accord. Christina Hendricks is just wonderful as usual throughout these scenes and with her breaking up with the apparently still a douche Greg we can expect to see her back at SCDP in no time. They are making the most out of Joan being away from SCDP, but I think it is about time we get her back in the office.
Ginsberg again gets a lot of screen time this week and we get a number of fascinating nuggets into his quickly expanding personality. He doesn’t have a morbid curiosity, he is as cocky Don ever was (but not nearly as cool), and is extremely confident even after almost getting fired by his boss. Ginsberg is here to stay folks and I hope they can keep him as interesting and entertaining as he has been in these first couple of episodes. Don is certainly going to keep a close eye on him, “Think of those ideas in front of me.”
Mad Men seems to still be putting the pieces in place for the bigger game, but the character work remains as sharp as ever. Another very good episode all around but I can’t wait till things get less disjointed and the show gets a bigger overall story off the ground. It’s always great getting to know these characters more and more, but at this rate we have to miss out on a number of friendly faces every week. Even if the show isn’t meeting my goals, it is still pretty darn great and I have no complaints for the end of the first 1/3 of season 5. 1/3 of the way done, damn its going by fast.
-That was an awkward elevator ride, and Megan just takes it in stride. She is infallible this one.
-Stan in those pantyhose, priceless.
-I am not in touch with these murders nor these riots.
-I’m with Sally, I don’t much like Pauline either.
-Roger is getting desperate.
-Peggy played him like a fool.
-"Want me to take your watch?"
-This girl is going to cause some trouble.
-Was that a dream?
-I love Sally.
-Greg gets better with every time he shows up on the show.
-Whoops, maybe he is a liar.
-Nothing is funnier than an accordion.
-This has to be a dream, right?
-Oh, no, Don.
-Peggy is just perpetually drunk this episode.
-Trying to prop herself up here, having some serious confidence issues.
-This story is not helping Sally.
-Damn it, Peggy!
-Don has a strange way of fighting his demons.
-We mentioned the rape again, finally.
-Do it, Joan!