Monday, April 9, 2012

Mad Men: Mystery Date

What an odd, surreal episode.  It's really interesting, because although it's sort of slow-paced and lackadaisical in its approach, there's actually a lot that happens here.  Where to start?

Don is sick, but ends up trying to do damage control after running into a former flame while in an elevator with Megan.  This is what comes of bedding every woman in the tri-state area, Don.  Still, it's hard not to feel a little bad for him while he coughs and wheezes his way through a client meeting with loose cannon Michael Ginsberg at the wheel.

I don't know what Ginsberg is trying to pull, but the whole wild card thing is not exactly making him friends.  He comes up with a pretty solid ad campaign for pantyhose, but even after he gets the clients' approval, he decides to tell them about another idea he had (one that Don kinda sorta already rejected as too cliche).  Papa Bear is not pleased.

He's got bigger fish to fry though.  Specifically, a feverish dream state that forces him to confront the ghosts of his cheating past.  Does the fact that Don murdered the woman he used to have an affair with (in his dream, don't get too excited people) mean that he's effectively ended that part of his life, and is now going to be a faithful husband to Megan?  OK, well maybe that's his intention, but I have a hard time imagining that panning out for more than a few episodes.

Meanwhile, Joan's husband is home from Vietnam all of five minutes before dropping the bomb that he's reenlisted (unfortunate bomb pun was unavoidable).  What he doesn't tell her (right away, anyway) is that he volunteered.  Because being in the army makes him feel valued and like he's not as much of a manipulative prick as he is stateside.  Joan is Not OK With This.  So not OK, in fact, that after giving him a dressing down for the ages, she sends him packing.  This pleases me, because it finally deals with the awkward 60s rape from like two seasons ago that just never got addressed, puts Greg down in a way that he desperately needs, and reasserts Joan as the strong, smart woman who takes shit from no one.  I approve of this.

Also, no one seems to be able to stop talking about the Richard Speck murders in Chicago (where one man raped and killed eight nurses).  Including Sally and the woman I can safely say is the worst step grandmother EVER.  She scares Sally half to death with stories of the murders, and then gives her Seconal.  Seconal.  The sleeping pill that took out Judy Garland, Jimi Hendrix, Tennessee Williams, and Dinah Washington.  So this presumably begins Sally's long and torturous descent into drug addiction.

I love that Peggy is willing and able to take Roger for everything he's got.  She didn't get to be the first female copywriter at Sterling Cooper without a little pluck and a no mercy attitude, and it's fun seeing her turn that against Roger.  I also like her relationship with Dawn, which feels realistic, and although Peggy may not be saying or doing all the right things, she's genuine and does seem to be coming from a place of good intentions.  I don't know how I feel about the moment with the purse though, where she questions whether or not to leave it where Dawn is going to be sleeping, knowing that it has several hundred dollars in it.  Look, if I had a purse with that kind of money stashed inside, I would not be leaving it alone with anyone I didn't know that well, regardless of race.

One more thing: do we think Ginsberg might be a Holocaust survivor?  He got really bent out of shape when the crew was looking at the pictures of the murder victims from Chicago, maybe that sort of thing brings back painful memories.  And he would be the right age to have been a child during WWII.  Ooh -- they make a big deal of playing up his accent, Ginsberg even gets defensive about it with Don, telling him that it's a regional accent and he has one too.  Maybe he moved to NYC when he was a kid from Eastern Europe and worked hard to develop that accent so that he would fit in more.  That kind of thing could add some interesting conflict between him and his old-country father that we saw last episode.  OK, I don't know if that's where they're going with that character, but...I kind of want them to go there now!

What do you think?  Am I way off base?

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