'A Go-Around Like You've Never Had': Mad Men Recapped
Mad Men took its soapiest turn in a while during last night's episode, eschewing lawnmower hijinx and child psychology in favor of the more conventional sexual and political crises that have long pervaded Don Draper's immediate orbit. For once, it was our difficult hero himself who wasn't getting lucky. Anything but, in fact. Needless to say, spoilers follow the jump.
I knew viewers were in for a treat of some sort as soon as Daisy Von Scherler Mayer was introduced as the episode's director; after all, who hasn't wondered what Mad Men might look and feel like through the eyes of the woman who brought us Party Girl and Woo? The results: Not much different than the rest, though she took nifty advantage of her non-linear intro: Peggy Olson in bed with an unidentified man; Don prone on a strange floor, bleeding from the bridge of his nose; Betty supine and sweat-beaded on a lush vintage couch. Three stages of repose in the honeydew light of morning, three threads braided over the next hour into a tight weave of sex, power and guilt.
In other words, the good old days. Grandpa Gene, Baby Gene, and Freaky Sally all but vanished -- though, alas, so did sorely missed Sterling Cooper resignee Joan Holloway. Von Scherler Mayer leaps back to the beginning of her arcs, with Don mostly deferring to Betty's interior designer on the look of their new living room ("Move the end table and the lamp to the other end of the couch," he suggests before exiting; of course he's right). He'll face a little stiffer challenge upon arriving at his office, where Conrad Hilton has dropped by unannounced with talk of his wandering eye, "significant needs," and, most importantly, an ad man for his New York hotels. Don's presumed to be that guy despite the lack of a Bible or family photos, but not despite the lack of a contract, which both Hilton's lawyers and Sterling Cooper's principals demand before a deal can be consummated.
Naturally that won't wash with Don, who spends the rest of the episode volleying one identity versus another versus another. Maybe its just that weekend's solar eclipse making him edgier than usual. He not alone: Pete Campbell is paranoid when Duck Phillips sends Peggy a Hermès scarf as an enticement to join him at the competition. "Send it back!" Pete mutters. I have to say, these two get along awfully well for accidental parents, one of whom gave their child away.
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