Mad Men Episode 9: Seeing Double


Last weeks episode of Mad Men seemed like more of an experiment for the writers than a slam dunk like we’re used to. It was impactful in the sense that we’ve never seen the show through that lens, but also disappointing for some viewers because it veered a little too far off the road that we’re used to traveling with this show. This weeks episode completely redeemed any wrong doings on Matthew Weiner’s part. Not only was episode 9 more traditional in its approach, but also indulgent in a way. Like eating a large piece of cake that you’ve been eyeing for a couple of years (though I wouldn’t recommend that). The new Don and Betty story line is one of the more interesting of the season. Episode 9 continues to explore the relationship between parent and child. And the idea that your relationship with your family helps to determine how succesful you’ll be throughout most of your life. Most of the characters in the show have strained relationships with their family members, which causes trouble in their professional lives. The episodes title “The Better Half” is also explored, and the idea that there are two prominent sides to each of the characters.

Joan can either be seen as vampy, sexy, and manipulative or motherly, protective and non-judgmental. Though we appreciate her for all those things, her “better half” would be considered the one that stands up for Pete Campbell in a boardroom meeting or lends an ear to Don in his office after a hard work day. Joan catches a glimpse of Roger in the office playing with his grandson and can’t help but imagine him to be tossing their son up in their air instead. Seeing Roger that comfortable with a little boy so close to Kevin’s age makes her question whether or not she’s making the right decision in keeping him away from their child. She is also exploring the idea of a relationship with Bob Benson. Joan is seeking reliability in her life, and Bob has proven himself to be just that. Roger on the other hand is the complete opposite. Which is exactly why she turns him away when he makes an effort to see Kevin. I also find it interesting that Pete and Joan have become such an unlikely pair. Pete now feels comfortable confiding in Joan about topics like his mother’s illness. And Joan has taken a responsibility in making sure Pete is treated fairly in the office. They are pretty much traveling up the totem pole at the same speed, so it only makes sense that they would look out for each other.


Roger is feeling like a failed father on numerous levels. His daughter doesn’t see him as fit to care for her child without supervision, and his relationship with her has been strained for years on top of it. Split down the middle, Roger can be seen as either kind, funny and charming or selfish, manipulative, and self-centered. The “better half” of Roger would be the part of him that allows himself to be vulnerable, and that doesn’t hide behind his sense of humor. He’s looking for a second chance at successfully fathering a child and comes to the realization that he has a perfectly healthy baby waiting for him in Joan’s apartment. He shows up unannounced carrying a bag of lincoln logs for Kevin, which is ironic given the fact that Lincoln Logs are used to build tiny homes. He’s shocked to find that Joan is actually there with Bob. He catches them just as they are about to leave for the beach. You get the idea that Roger was maybe hoping for Joan’s life to have been paused since they had stopped sleeping together.  As if she would open the door and suddenly they would play house with the baby he’s not been in the same room with for more than 15 minutes. He’s seems shocked, not only by the fact that Joan kicks him out hastily, but that Bob is there, and dressed like an extra in the background of a Beach Boys music video.


The jury is still out on whether or not we can trust Bob Benson. There are certain things about him that make you wonder whether or not his actions are genuine. A perfect example would be the scene where he confides in Pete about his knowledge of Pete’s mother’s illness. He doesn’t know Pete very well, but is completely over the top in his concern. He also carries around two coffees at all times looking for a person to hand one out too. From time to time he comes off as a bit of a schmoozer. On the other hand he seemed extremely genuine when he made sure Joan was able to get to the hospital and see a doctor the day she was feeling ill. Many fans of the show believe he could be the 1968 installment of a gay character. Not since Salvatore Romano has a gay, male character walks the halls of SCDP, or whatever it’s called now. It would make sense when you consider the fact that Bob has never once made a sexual move on Joan. He seems like more of a confidant than a love interest for her.


Ted finally opens up to Peggy about his feelings for her, and this time for more than 5 minutes. He’s never been secretive about his love of work, in fact he and Peggy have that in common. It’s always been that way for the two of them. He’s decided that it may be best for them to put an end to any thoughts of them ending up together. There has been a non-verbal agreement between the two of them that one day their relationship would end in an affair. He seems to harbor a great amount of guilt for being in love with her. The thought of being that much of a cliché, a man in love with his protégé, weighs too heavily on his conscience. Peggy’s attraction to him is based on the fact that he comes off as such a nice guy. So the idea that he’s ending their relationship out of kindness makes it that much harder for her. The “better half” theme is revisited slightly with Ted, expect in his case it’s a little more complicated. Ted is generally nice to everyone all the time. The only time you see the negative side of him is when he’s around Don. You can literally watch him go from compassionate, humble and all around nice to jealous, competitive and desperate after 15 minutes of being in Don’s office. This is frustrating for Peggy because she’s the only one who sees it, and resents Don for it.

Peggy is definitely being tested, both at home and at work. She has completely fallen out of love with her boyfriend, she’s constantly forced to be around Ted but can’t have him, and her relationship with Don is more complicated now than it’s ever been. Not to mention she’s stuck in an apartment that requires her to tape a knife to a broom stick in order for her to feel safe. She has also become the main casualty between Don and Ted’s ego war. Don is constantly forcing her to choose between the two of them, which she refuses to do. Even though it’s clear that Ted would be her obvious choice. The man she once saw as a mentor has become the biggest challenge in her life. There’s a great shot in the very end of the episode of both Ted and Don exiting their offices as Peggy stands directly in the middle. The conference room is empty and she realizes that she’s totally alone in this situation. She started off the season hopeful and confident that being away from Don would be her golden ticket to true happiness, and she is now right back where she started. She’s spent the last few years trying to escape from under Don’s patent leather shoe.


The writers have struggled with where to place Betty for the past few seasons of the show. Her story line has focused mainly on her being overweight or fighting with Sally. It’s refreshing to finally see Betty happy again. The dueling personality theme is extremely relevant for Betty this season. There’s the thin, blonde Betty that’s used to being wanted by men and getting by on her looks. Then there’s the fat and angry Betty who’s bitter towards world (especially if you’re a teen violinist). It’s been years since we’ve seen Betty and Don have a civil conversation. The only time they speak is when she calls him to remind him of how horrible he is as a father. Most of her anger towards Don can be traced back to her lack of confidence. Don represents a time in her life that was painful, but also happy because it was before she had every struggled with her weight. Don runs into Betty at a gas station on her way to taking Bobby to sleep away camp. He’s pleasantly surprised to see that Betty has gotten her body back.  No matter what happens, Don and Betty will always have a weird attraction to one another given the history between them. She, Don and Bobby end up spending the day together as a family for the first time in years. They even sing camp songs together over lunch. For a minute it felt very much like 1960 again. Betty’s confidence in her appearance is her sanity, and now that it’s back she’s able to finally see her relationship with Don, past and present, for what it really is. The difference between Betty and Megan is that Betty understands that Don’s affection is more of a temporary high. It’s like doing an extremely powerful drug that only last for a short amount of time. She also understands that loving Don as a wife is worst thing you can do to try to get close to him. After a few sips of liquor from a can and a walk down memory lane, Don and Betty end up sleeping together. This was an empowering moment for Betty on many levels. She has always been shamed by that fact that Don cheated on her with other women while they were married. She has taken control of it by now becoming the other woman. It was also a great confidence boost for her. A confirmation to herself that she is officially back in her original, and more comfortable skin.


The most interesting thing about Don and Betty reuniting is the fact that we learn so much about Don in the process. After they finish having sex, he explains to her that the sex itself is really unimportant to him. Don is more interested in intimacy than the actual act of having sex with a woman. That can be traced back to his constant search for a mothering figure in his life. He would be just as happy, if not more, laying in bed and talking. The “better half” theme is nothing new in Don’s story line. Aside from the fact that he has split personalities, he also has two different names. On one hand Don is powerful, stubborn, and can command the authority of any person who stands near him. On the other he’s extremely sad and vulnerable. A part of him will always be that 12-year-old boy, living in a brothel and wishing for a mother.


The “better half” theme is the most on the nose when it comes to Megan. She is literally playing twins on the TV show she’s staring in. There is a scene in the episode where Megan is describing the characters and says “They’re two halves of the same person and they want the same thing but they’re trying to get it in different ways” That couldn’t be more true for Megan this year. There’s the devoted wife side to Megan that packs Don’s bags without him asking and picks up the slack for him when it comes to taking care of his children. There’s also the selfish, career driven Megan who leaves the children at home alone so women like Aunt Ida can come in and make them eggs. She has spent a large portion of this season doing everything she can to get Don back. He’s only with her physically, and even that is seldom. In an earlier episode this season Pete describes Don as “only liking the beginnings of things” which is true. He only liked the beginnings of relationships and he only appreciates the beginnings of great ideas at work. He tends to check out emotionally as soon as he gets comfortable in a situation. While Don and Betty are in bed together she asks him about Megan. You can hear in her voice that she asks about her more out of pity than concern. Pity because she knows Megan will end up as hurt as she was by the time the relationship is over. Sleeping with Betty forces him to reflect on the currents state of his marriage, and just how badly he’s been treating Megan. When he returns home he walks out on the balcony and hugs Megan in a way we haven’t seen in ages. Megan tells him that she knows he checked out of their relationship, and that she’s there waiting for him to return.


The episode ends with a song called “Always Something There To Remind Me” by Burt Bacharach, famously revived by Naked Eyes in 1983. The song is playing as Peggy is standing in between Don and ted, and it references the fact that as soon as she thinks she’s rid of Don Draper in her life, he comes right back. It also references Don and Betty’s relationship, and the fact that they will always have an attraction to one another.

Well, how can I forget you, girl? When there is always something there to remind me. always something there to remind me. I was born to love her, and I’ll never be free. You’ll always be a part of me.


Mad Men Episode 8: Crash


Sunday’s episode of Mad Men was maybe one of the most polarizing episodes in the history of the series. You could compare it to Roger’s LSD trip but you’d have to give it a shot of speed in its left butt cheek for it to even come close. There was also a very prominent (almost overdone) theme of motherhood throughout the episode. From Don’s recurring daydreams of being mothered by a prostitute, to the burglar making Sally eggs, there was an obvious undertone that the writers were trying to get through to the viewers. Phil Abraham, who directed this episode, clearly wanted the viewer to feel that they were experiencing the effects of the drugs with the characters, rather than watching from afar the way Peggy was. I found this episode to be confusing and oddly obvious at the same time. Where Mad Men would typically take a more subtle approach, this episode was very “in your face” with its hidden meanings.


In the start of the episode we are dropped in a speeding, out of control car being driven by Ken. He’s with a group of strange men who are clearly drunk and completely out of control. They are forcing Ken to drive recklessly and are covering his eyes as he begs them to stop. As one of the men screams “Go faster, I wanna shoot that sign” the car spirals out of control. Nothing is explained, and the scene ends in a very old hollywood style crash. We later learn that the group of executives worked for Chevy and the whole point of the joyride was for Ken to present them with the 7th idea they’ve come up with for their campaign. The executives ended up not liking the concept, and sent Ken back with the bad news. Not many people in the office seem to care that he was almost killed, and he even gets scolded for not completing the task. The overall mood of everyone in the office is exhaust. They’ve all hit the same brick wall when it comes to ideas for Chevy.


We also learn in the beginning of the episode that Frank Gleason has died of cancer. This is obviously very hard for Ted to deal with. Frank was the person Ted was able to vent to about Don, and really played the role of confidant in Ted’s life. He takes the weekend off from work to attend the funeral.

It’s made clear very early on that Don is anything but over his relationship with Sylvia. In his first appearance in the episode he’s seen standing outside the door to her apartment, listening to her debate over dinner options with her husband. This is definitely not the first time he’s done this, which we can tell by the pile of cigarette butts left behind as he walks away. He can’t seem to grasp the fact that not only is he not getting Sylvia back, but he is also not getting his way in this situation, which is something Mr. Draper is simply not used too. The idea of being with her seems to be more powerful for Don than the actual relationship itself, which makes us wonder what exactly is behind the attachment. What makes her any different from the other woman he’s slept with? What about her drives him to be so obsessive? As the episode progresses we learn that it has much to do with the time he spent living in the now infamous brothel he was raised in.


A quarter of the way through the episode we learn that a doctor is visiting the office and giving “energy serum” shots to anyone willing. The executives are seen going into the office, and exiting with their pants undone. We later learn that the serum is nothing more than a pure form of speed, being injected into their butts. Those effected by the serum begin to hallucinate and lose track of very large chunks of time. The one good thing about the shot is that it gives an immediate burst of creativity, which seems like the end all be all for a group of executives on their 7th attempt at the same campaign. The only problem is that the ideas are completely unfocused and literally make no sense. Don is typically on to something good when he begins a grand speech that calls for silence. In this case he sounds more like a crazy person with a mega phone than anything

Don spends 3 days zipping around the office, having no idea that so much times has passed. He’s completely covered in sweat, his hair is a greasy mess and his shirt becomes more and more wrinkled as the days progress. Peggy is one of the few people in the office who has decided to not take the shot. She is, however, the only drunk one. Which is ironic seeing as how Peggy typically doesn’t like to drink while working. As drunk as she is, her mind is still a thousand times more clear than anyone around her. They’ve all gone from bags under their eyes exhausted to Willy Wonka insane in the span of a weekend.


During Don’s 3 day stint in la-la land, he is having reoccurring daydreams and hallucinations  of his days as a pre-pubescent boy living in the brothel. The combination of the serum and his break up with Sylvia has stirred something up inside of him that he spends the entire weekend trying to figure out. His emotional junk drawer is fully opened and things are spilling out all over the place without his control. He’s having flashbacks of a particular woman who lived in the house named Aimee. While suffering from a chest cold, she nursed him back to health and even invited him to sleep in her bed. Ironically, she was also responsible for taking his virginity. This season has been jam-packed with whore house flashbacks, but this particular one is by far the most telling. The only woman to every play any sort of motherly role in Don’s life, even if it was for just a few days, was also responsible for molesting him. This gives us a tiny bit of insight Into Don’s strange relationship with sex.

In Don’s delusional mind, he’s convinced himself that he is on the verge of a groundbreaking discovery for Chevy. In reality he sounds like a cattle auctioneer speaking in tongues. It takes him 3 drug induced days to realize that he is actually on track to discovering something about himself. Something that he has been repressing since childhood. It has nothing to do with Chevy and everything to do with Aimee, the hooker who stole his virginity. He is completely fixated on an old soup campaign from more than 10 years ago, telling everyone that it holds the key to Chevy. When he finally discovers the ad in the storage room he realizes that the woman in the picture looks almost identical to his last image of Aimee. She wears the same scarf around her head, and she is serving children at a kitchen table. Through all his years of sleeping around, cheating on his wives and forcing women to crawl towards him like dogs, all he’s ever wanted was for a woman to take care of him the way a mother would. The way Aimee did when he was sick. Don’s physical adaptation of a “mother” is a woman who fed him soup and raped him as a pre-teen. The irony in the fact that Don drew Aimee into this ad more than 10 years ago without even knowing it is what ties us to this character. His complexities make it hard for us to stay mad at him.


While Don and his colleagues are trapped in Pee Wee’s Playhouse, his children are at his apartment alone, as usual. These children are basically raising themselves. Megan is a great step mom, but her acting career is her main priority at this point in her life. Betty is cold and lacks the emotionally capability to give her children what they want, and not just what they need. Don has never been secretive about the fact that his children are his last priority. Though he’s realized in recent episodes that he needs to play a bigger role in raising them, it will take some time before we see any results. And their stepfather is too busy being mayor to be there for them as much as they may need. In the middle of the night an older black woman named Ida breaks into Don’s apartment while the children are there alone. She is able to convince Sally and Bobby that she is their long-lost grandmother and that she was invited by Don to pay them a visit. Don’s own children know so little about him that they actually believe that a strange black woman could possibly be their grandmother. The mothering theme is revisited when Ida demands Sally to get comfortable so that she can make her a plate of scrambled eggs. Sally goes back and forth on whether or not she can trust the strange woman. She allows her to make the eggs, and even chats with her for a bit in the kitchen, but then immediately calls the police when Ida turns her back. Sally is wise (sometimes a little too wise) beyond her years because she’s  been forced to grow up much faster than she maybe should have. You watch her go from 40-year-old woman to 14-year-old girl in a single conversation.


After a long weekend of talking really fast and forgetting what day it is, Don finally returns home. He is greeted by both his wife and ex-wife, children, stepfather to his children and a group of police men as well. This is the first time we’ve ever seen them all in the same room together. They are all standing in the living room, waiting for him to arrive. Megan is apologizing profusely for selfishly leaving the kids alone, and Betty is berating them both for not being there. Betty seems especially excited to be in the position to throw digs at Megan. She even makes a comment about Megan being too busy on the “casting couch” to be at home with the children. Betty has never been one to turn down an opportunity to release some pent-up aggression. While all of this is going on Don is staring at them blankly, seemingly unmoved by the news of a thief making a late night snack for his children. The amount of sweat on his forehead has reached an all time high and his shirt looks like an old dish rag. His body has reached its peak level of exhaustion, and plummets to the ground. An appropriate scene, especially with the episode being titles “crash”. There is a scene of Don sitting on the edge of his bed as he often does near the closing of an episode. Megan reaches around him and wraps her arms around his chest. What could be a perfect opportunity for Megan to console Don the way he would like for her to, she does the complete oposite. She apologises to him again for the burgaler insicent and acts like a wife. The seperation between Don and Megan is that he’s looking for a woman to feed him a bottle and swattle him in a blanket. Unfortunatly, Megan is simply not that person.


The executives and creatives return to work the next morning like a group of frat men waking up after a crazy party. Their 3 days of working on Chevy presents itself as nothing more than a few pieces of paper with chicken scratch all over them. Ted is shocked by the state the office is in, and how little work was accomplished. There is also a very awkward scene of Sylvia and Don riding together in the elevator. It features about 25 seconds of complete silence and uncomfortable glances up at the ceiling. Sylvia asks Don how he’s been and he responds with “busy”. It’s clear in that moment that Don is officially over Sylvia. He’s worked out whatever issue he had within himself causing him to not let go of her, and his focus has returned to work. Don also calls Sally to let her know that he is feeling okay after fainting. He lets her know that it was his fault the door was left open, and that she is not to blame.


This episode ends with a song by The Mama’s And The Papa’s called Words Of Love. The lyrics of the song relate to Don and Sylvia’s relationship, in that simply saying the right thing to the woman you love won’t win her heart. When talking about the Chevy campaign Don tells Peggy that the amber of his voice is just as important as the ad itself. In the case of Sylvia, that is not the case…

“Words of love, so soft and tender, won’t win a girl’s heart anymore. If you love her then you must send her somewhere where she’s never been before. Worn out phrases and longing gazes won’t get you where you want to go. Words of love, soft and tender, Won’t win her…”

Photos courtesy

Mad Men Episode 7: Plans


This episode of Mad Men focuses on the after effects of these two companies deciding to merge as one. What seemed like a great idea the night before in a dimly lit bar over infinite rounds of dark liquor is now presenting itself as a big mistake. Not a single person from either side was consulted or warned about this life changing decision. When it comes down to it, these two groups still see each other as extreme rivals, which makes it hard to coexist. Their like two large groups of self-centered, bratty children being forced to share toys. The office is now crammed and overrun with a general sense of confusion. The secretaries are cross communicating and finding it difficult to keep up with the chaotic decisions of the executives. Don is now realizing that the idea of the merger was one thing, the reality of it is another. There was an obvious “first day of school” theme in this episode. Joan even stood at the top of the stairs handing out desk assignments like a school teacher. It gave you the feeling of coming back after a long break or summer vacation.

Matthew Weiner is introducing us to a much different version of Don Draper than we are used to. The once charming ad executive has gone from hero to Grinch in a span of 7 episodes. He’s jealous, egotistical, and stomps around like a suit and tie version of early man. The comparison made by Pete last week of Don being like Tarzan, swinging from vine to vine still holds up. We’ve seen Don at very low points in his life (let us not forget the year he decided to rent himself a bachelor pad), but we’ve always rooted for him to succeed. Where we would once wait for Don to save the day, we now wait for him to ruin it. There is so little to like about Don this season that it will be interesting to see how the writers turn it around.


We were first introduced to Ted as nothing more than a rival to Don. Our loyalty, at the time, would obviously lie with our hero. It’s now come to our realization that Ted is made to be the yin to Don’s yang. They are completely opposite in how they approach almost every aspect of life. Ted is surprised by what it feels like to be around Don Draper. Ted is charismatic, cool, and sees the creatives as his equals. He plays word association games to come up with ideas and, and he even says the word “groovy”.  Don is stiff, cold, and completely closed off to basically everyone he comes in contact with. Ted shows up prepared, on time and sober to meetings. Don shows up 40 minutes late and gets angry when his colleagues don’t patiently wait for him. Ted is having a hard time understanding the complexity of Don’s power over everyone around him. Because of the merger, Don is loosing his ability to control every outcome of happens in the office. He’s realizing that he can no longer act the way he has in the past and get away with it. Having Ted around makes him seem less important to everyone else. The episode opens with the first meeting of the new company. While planning a trip to visit executives Ted reveals that he owns a plane, and would be more than happy to fly the group himself. This is the last punch Don’s gigantic ego can take before it gets knocked out. Finding out that Ted owns a plane makes Don feel as if he has officially lost the pissing contest. In the battle for dominance, owning a plane trumps all. In a jealous fit of rage Don basically resorts to giving Ted a roofie. He gets him too drunk in hopes to embarrass him in front of everyone in the office. A move more suited for a character like Betty, in her days of slapping women across the face at grocery stores. Don has never presented himself as a jealous person because he is so used to coming out on top in all situations. During their plane ride Don is forced to surrender himself over to Ted. He’s clearly afraid, and so wrapped up in his ego that he pretends to read a book in the tiny, two-seater as it shakes uncontrollably.


Peggy is probably the most aware of the rivalry between Don and Ted, and the level it’s reached. She is coming into this knowing the ins and outs of both men, especially Don. She’s seen Don in some of his most vulnerable moments, and most egotistical. She also has an emotional attachment to Ted, and has grown to really care about him as a person. She sees Ted as someone good, who appreciates the hard work of the people around him. She’s been creatively free as a bird since she left SCDP. All of the characters in this show sort of view the world selfishly, and Peggy is no different. She feels like the company merging was a way for Don to be able to work with her again. She expresses resentment towards him for never contacting her after they parted ways. There is a great shot of Peggy standing in front of Dawn’s desk while watching the phone ring. She looks up at Don and asks “Do you want me to get that?” An obvious reference to how their relationship used to be.


The most interesting relationship in this episode would be the one between Don and Sylvia. Don’s loss of power in the place he typically feels the most powerful has manifested itself into a chapter of 50 Shades of Grey. Sylvia reaches out to Don and tells him “I need you, and nothing else will do” It sparks something in him that makes him realize he does, in fact, still control one thing in his life. It started off as a playful retreat from reality for the both of them. Just as Don is feeling less-than at work, Sylvia is going through some of the same feeling at home. She initially enjoys the game Don is forcing her to play. He makes her crawl, tells her what to wear, and locks her in a hotel room for hours with nothing to do or think about but him. He even takes her book from her, the only form of entertainment she has. He buys her a bright red dress and makes her spend most of her day getting dressed, only to return back and take it all off for his enjoyment. She realizes towards the end that staying trapped in a fantasy for too long can be dangerous, and abruptly tells him that it may be time to end things. Not just the 50 Shades of Grey hotel experience, but the entire relationship. The fascinating thing about Sylvia is that she knows just how damaged Don is without him having to tell her. She has a strong grasp on what this relationship is, an escape. It means much more to him than it does to her. She gets what she needs out of him, then separates herself physically and emotionally. The difference this time is that the detachment will be permanent. In Don’s mind this would be considered his last and final defeat. Don’s relationship with Sylvia is symbolic of the entire episode, in that it’s often the person who appears powerless that possess the most power in the end. Don has been feeling like the shot caller in this relationship from the beginning, and he’s now realizing it was never the case.


Joan has been having her own quiet struggle with power since the beginning of the season. The merging of the companies has left her feeling like huge decisions are being made all around her and without her input. The feeling of being the “glorified secretary” is still eating away at her. The most frustrating thing about it is that she is still expected to clean up the messes these men make, and without any thanks. While in her office Joan is suddenly crippled by an extremely sharp pain in her stomach. She tries to manage it herself, seeing as how she feels very alone in the office already. Bob Benson finds her, and is surprisingly the one to help her through it. He sneaks her out of the office, and even takes her to the hospital. Bob has a tendency to feel like a pest, and in this situation he came off as genuine and compassionate. He also whispers to her “I’ll bug you all the way out, no one will notice” which shows that he is fully aware of how he comes off.


Pete and Don’s lives constantly seem to mirror one another. They are both suffering from a feeling of being completely powerless, both and home and at work. The difference is that this is Pete’s everyday life for the most part. If he isn’t falling down the stairs or being kicked out of his home, he’s showing up to meetings and being the only one without a chair. Pete’s mother is suffering from some form of Alzheimer’s, and the more time he spends tending to her, the less time he has to focus on work. Pete thinks that the merge of the companies is going to result in him being pushed out completely. He already fights tooth and nail to come off as an equal to Don Draper everyday, he now has to compete with a man who flies a plane.


In the final scene of the episode Don returns to his normal life and his sometimes wife. Megan is trying to fill Don in on the events of her day. She tells him that she would like to take another trip to Hawaii, probably because it was the last time she and Don really communicated. Don is completely disconnected from the conversation, and is totally looking through her with vacant eyes as she speaks. Her voice slowly becomes more silenced until she is completely mute. Don is realizing that he and Megan are nothing more than roommates who go to dinner and occasionally sleep together. Later, Don walks into the bedroom and catches Megan watching a news report on the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Don sits on the bed facing the opposite direction and stares off with a look of sadness.

The episode ends with a song called “Reach Out Of The Darkness” playing over the news report that Megan is watching about the assassination. The song references people stepping into the unknown and connecting with people they once saw as enemies, which is obviously very important to the theme of the episode.

Friend and Lover – Reach Out Of The Darkness:

I think it’s so groovy now that people are finally getting together. I thinks it’s so wonderful and how that people are finally getting together. Reach out in the darkness. I knew a man that I did not care for. And then one day this man gave me a call. We sat and talked about things on our mind. And now this man he is a friend of mine. Don’t be afraid of love.

Mad Men Episode 6: Impulsive Behavior


This episode of Mad Men should’ve been titled “chaos” because that’s precisely what it was. A mash-up of impulsive and chaotic decisions, with no consent as to how they’ll affect the people around you. The past few episodes have focused heavily on character reflection and long gazes into the mirror, and episode 6 was the complete opposite. Caution was thrown to the wind for all characters involved. If you had a camera panning over the top of SCDP it would look like a human boggle tournament.

This episode really hammers the concept of Don being the new anti-hero. People seem to view him as a sort of grim reaper or ruiner of good things. We as the viewers obviously see Don Draper as the heart, soul, and double whiskey of this series. We are viewing this world through his eyes. We are also lucky enough to have seen sides of him that he often hides from the rest of the world. Every character in this series sees him in a different light, and no two people view him the exact same. In this episode Megan compares him to Superman, while Peter calls him to Tarzan. Both similar yet very different characters. We’ve seen Don cry in the hallway of his condo with Megan just on the other side of the door, completely unaware. We’ve seen flashbacks of his childhood, growing up in a whorehouse and having to leave his brother behind. We were even there to watch him be forced to steal the identity of the man he still lives as today. That being said, we’ve also seen Don do some pretty horrifying things, which is why the character of Don Draper is so complex. The viewer is forced to struggle with the idea of whether or not we are meant to love Don Draper or loath him, which is why the writers of this show do such an amazing job.


Cooper of SCDP has decided that it may be time for their small agency to finally go public. He, Joan and Peter are the only ones privy to this information. This would basically result in the partners getting shares, and everyone involved becoming insanely rich. Pete sees this as an opportunity to not only become wealthy, but to finally mend his broken family.To cover the years of lying and cheating with loads and loads of money. For Joan this is just justification that becoming a parter was a good idea, and that sleeping with Herb was not for nothing. That after 15 years of being a powerless secretary, it’s all finally paying off (literally). Their only hurdle would be Don, seeing as how he’s stationed himself as the decision maker of the company. Even with all the resentments they have towards him, they are still constantly searching for his approval. Pete assures Joan that Don is already rich, and that for him it won’t matter

Without knowing any of this, Don agrees to a last-minute dinner with Herb Rennet of Jaguar, and his hilariously flighty wife. With the way the show has portrayed him as a difficult and almost revolting character, it makes sense that his wife would be so clueless. The dinner is filled with awkward moments of gulping down a gigantic, umbrella filled pina colada and telling stories about puppies. Megan’s mom telling Megan in front of the woman’s face that she’d rather shatter the Champaign bottle and stab herself with it than listen to anymore of her stories. Don impulsively decides to cut business ties with Herb because he finds him to be too difficult. It’s ironic that his partners are in the office debating  whether or not its okay to accept millions of dollars and potentially upset Don, while he makes life changing decisions for them across town without any concern. Loosing Herb as a client will be devastating for the company, and will guarantee them no longer being able to go public.


Roger is giving us the old school, womanizing, manipulative Roger of the past. He’s hooking up with a young, blonde airline attendant named Daisy and getting everything he can out of her for the short time she’ll be welcome in his bed. He got her to participate in bamboozling a possible Chevy executive, and ended up convincing him to partner with SCDP. One of my favorite scenes of the episode showed Roger ordering a double whiskey for the client and water with an onion for himself. He is succesful in brainwashing the executive into thinking they’ve met by chance and pics up Chevy as a new client. They are now responsible for coming up with the concept for Chevy’s newest campaign. He has inadvertently saved the company without even knowing it.

Don is greeted with pitchforks and burning torches during his arrival to work the next day. Pete and particularly Joan are extremely upset with Don’s decision to cut ties with Jaguar. This will, without question sever any chance they had at going public. The theme of Don being the anti-hero is revisited strongly in this scene. Every character in the show has some sort of bitterness towards Don. His wife, ex-wife, children, business partners and co-workers see him as a sort of plague. He’s become known as someone who ruins things when he gets to be a part of them. For these characters, Don’s arrival into a room means something bad is going to happen. One of the last people genuinely looking out for Don was Joan. Since the beginning, she’s been there to support him, and she’s one of the few people to still be on his side. She mentioned last week that she feels like nothing more than a glorified secretary, and this just reaffirms that. Joan slept with Herb against her will, not just for her own benefit but for the profit of the company. It now seems like everything she did was for nothing. It’s the idea that Joan could put up with Herb, but Don couldn’t that really upsets her.


Pete on the other hand has always been the anti-Don, but for different reasons. Don is everything Pete has always wanted to be. He does his best to impersonate him, but fails miserably. Nothing ever seems to work out in Pete’s favor, and he’s often left with egg on his face. From his failed business ventures to even him falling down the stairs in front of Don and the entire office, he’s constantly being emasculated. He also struggles with commanding any type of authority. Even while screaming at Don to his face, he still does not phase him. Don, of course takes credit for what Roger has done. Making it seem as though he always knew it would turn out this way.

Following all of the day’s drama, Don and Ted find themselves in the same bar in Detroit looking to drink away their memory of the day. They have a surprisingly enjoyable conversation regarding business. Ted realizes that instead of having routinely awkward run ins with one another while chasing after the same accounts, it would make more sense for them to partner up. They are both small agencies, and companies find it risky to work with them. If they work together they have a better chance at gaining clients. They make this decision without discussing it with any of their clients or partners.


Peggy and Ted finally address their obvious sexual tension and end up kissing in Ted’s office. She is clearly getting something from her relationship with Ted that she does not get with Abe. It’s left Peggy confused and fantasizing about Ted being in her bed.Just as she is starting to become more comfortable with the idea of being herself at work, she gets pulled right back where she started. She walks in to Ted’s office and finds him sitting with the her personal satan, Don Draper. Don is probably the last person she would expect to be sitting there. She is greeted with the news that they will be working together, and she looks as though she’s seen 3 millions ghosts. Yet another example of Don being seen as the anti-hero of the episode. Things are now terrible because he has arrived. It’s been an uphill battle for Peggy since flying to nest of SCDP, and for her this is a definite set back. The last place she wants to be is under the thumb of Don Draper. How do you think their relationship will pan out this time around, now that Peggy has had a taste of power?

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Mad Men Episode 5: MLK

MM_605_MY_1217_0318aThe newest instalment of Mad Men, titled “The Flood” takes place the day of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death. Matthew Weiner has always done an excellent job at shining an unexpected light on historical events of the past. He goes beyond textbook, and shows you how people were actually effected by these occurrences. This episode mirrors season 3’s “The Grown Ups” where we got a first hand look at how Americans coped with the loss of JFK. The subject matter is similar, yet everything surrounding it is much different. Different not only for our characters, but for the entire country. Seasons 1 through 3 of Mad Men were shiny, glossy and gave us a bird’s eye view into the homes of people desperate to keep up plastic appearances. Perfection was an obsession, and fitting in was mandatory. It’s as if the entire country was stuck in the brain of a 14-year-old girl. Times have changed  drastically since then. Women are no longer last on the totem pole, blacks are being integrated into the workplace and people are purposely going against the grain. Everyone is fighting for their own particular cause, and the country is moving at a much faster pace than in can keep up with.

Don seems to be having the hardest time dealing with the news of MLK’s death. His viewMM_605_MY_1219_1202 on life is that everything is already horrible, so when bad things happen you hang your head, get drunk and bottle it up. Don’s emotions are of sort of like a junk drawer. Filled to the brim with crap that he’d rather not deal with. When the time comes that he must place something else in the drawer, he is forced to face the mess. In this case the mess would be his absence in his children’s lives. It’s very rare that you’ll ever hear Don Draper initiate any sort of conversation revolving around his children. You can be sure that his wallet does not contain any photos of Sally in her season 1 ballerina costume. He’s always viewed his children as more of a burden than a blessing. Don comes to the realization that Henry is replacing him as the father figure in his children’s lives. His children have lost their father in the same way the country has lost a great leader.

In an attempt to bond with his son for the first time, Don takes Bobby to see Planet of the MM_605_MY_1217_0734aApes. Don is truly only just started to get to know Bobby, and his interactions with him seem forced and awkward. Don realizes in the movie theater that he does, in fact, regret not having a relationship with his son. He watches Bobby innocently try to cheer up a black theater worker about the events of the day, and it changes his entire perspective on fatherhood.

Megan walks in on Don drunk and sitting in the complete dark, which at this point should not seem like anything out of the ordinary. It appears to Megan that on a day that seems to have bonded the entire country, her family has done nothing but grown even farther apart. Don explains to her the experience he had with Bobby in the movie theater, and expresses to her that it was almost as if he was seeing his child for the first time. He confides in her that he faked the feelings of compassion that most people feel for their children when they are born. And that he finally knows what it feels like to no longer have to fake it. This is a profound moment for all characters in this family. All Megan has ever wanted was for Don to be open and communicate with her, and not only is he communicating, he’s crying. Even going on to say things about his childhood being rough. She sits back and lets him talk, almost afraid to breath. Knowing that the slightest thing could snap him out of the vulnerable state he’s in.


In the final scene of the episode Don crawls into bed with Bobby, in hopes to continue the father son bonding they’ve experienced. Bobby admits to Don that he is afraid, and not for any reason Don would assume. He’s afraid that something bad will happen to Henry. Don realizes that it will take a lot more than a day at the movies to make up for all the lost time between he and his children. His response is that Henry is “not important enough” for anyone to hurt him. The amount of sarcasm in that sentence could fill a room. Don then reaches over and places his arm across Bobby’s chest until he falls asleep.

Mad Men Episode 4: Hunger Games

Episode 4 of Mad Men is heavily focused on the idea of cheating, lying, and how these characters work persona’s effect them in their personal lives.

ImageThis episode revolves around a private business meeting taking place between Don, Pete and one of the Ketchup executives in Pete’s now “bachelor pad” apartment. The men are in the middle of discussing the idea of working together. The project would have to stay between them, considering Don’s relationship to Raymond of Heinz Beans. It’s ironic that the men are sitting together in Pete’s single apartment discussing the idea of being unfaithful. They decide on the code name “Project X”, and allow only Stan in on the double dealing.

The men later meet with the executives to pitch their idea. Don’s campaign is simple and Imagefeatures pictures of food items that go hand in hand with ketchup. The viewer is meant to wonder “what’s missing” from the ad. Don seems extremely confident in the pitch, that is until he walks outside the door. While leaving they run into Peggy and her team from CGC. They have an intensely awkward stand off in the hallway, only feet away from each other. In one of the most profound scenes in the history of Mad Men, Don listens as Peggy outshines him on the other side of the door. This is a monumental moment in the series, in that it’s Don’s first time witnessing Peggy as the Don doppelganger he created. He gets a first hand look at her pitching an idea as him. he listens as she steals the account straight from under him, just as she’s watched him do to so many people at SCDP. Her campaign is very minimalist. You would think Don had slipped her a script from underneath the door as she states, “I always say If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation,”. She then flaunts the campaigns slogan: “Heinz. The Only Ketchup.”.

ImageIt’s made very clear that Harry, just like many of the others, is fighting for his throne at SCDP. He’s been sitting back and watching his peers inch past him in the race towards power, year after year. The idea of Joan being more authoritative than him is unacceptable. He sees her as a bogus partner, and feels that she dosen’t have to work very hard to get to where she’s going. He sees himself as an essential figure in the success of his colleagues, with little to no acknowledgement. He has his heart set on getting to the top of SCDP, and from the looks of it will tear down anyone who gets in his way.

ImageSpeaking of Joan, it’s refreshing to finally get a little more than a few seconds of her this season. Joan’s story line mirrors Harry’s in the sense that she’s fighting for more than just a title at work. You get the idea that Joan lacks any sort of real power in her life. Though she’s come a very long way, she’s still restrained by the way her colleagues perceive her. Her mother makes just about every decision regarding her baby for her, and is essentially running her household. And at work she’s still seen as the loyal secretary who sleeps around, only now she has a different title. Joan’s friend comes into town and reminds her of the power she has, and the power in her grasp. All she has to do is reach for it.

In an interesting turn of events, we get a little insight into the mind of Dawn, the AfricanImage American secretary at SCDP. She too is struggling to find her voice at work, and not for the same reasons as the others. She walks on eggshells, hoping to stay just below the radar and not rustle any feathers. It’s eye opening to see that she is fighting to reach the level of respected secretary that Joan is trying so hard to run away from. Being the only black girl at work in the early 60’s puts her about 100 steps behind everyone else in the fight towards equality. The one thing she does have in common with Joan is that she has a friend trying to show her the power she possesses, if only she would use it.

ImageMegan is fighting desperately to appear as the wife she thinks Don wants her to be. She’s been trying all season to communicate with him effectively, but it dosen’t seem to be working. She wants to be open with him, the only problem is that she’s dating the most closed off man to ever exist. Don has never been fully supportive of her acting career in the first place, so she finds it difficult to talk to him about it. He is completely comfortable in his role as hypocrite, and he always has been. He’s aloud to lie and cheat in real life, as long as it stays between he and the person involved. Megan on the other hand deserves punishment for acting in a fake kissing scene that lasts for less than 15 seconds. Don can sometimes be the kind of guy that will watch you sail up stream with no intention on extending a helping hand. He will, however, expect you to save him in return.

ImageJust minutes after Don leaves Megan in tears for screaming at her about the kissing scene, he’s knocking on Sylvia’s door. He kisses her on the bed, in a very similar way to the kissing scene between Megan and her costar. The only difference is that this is not acting, and he is emotionally engaged with this woman. He notices a silver cross around Sylvia’s neck, and asks her to remove it. Don’s conscience decides to show itself in the most interesting of times. Sylvia looks at Don in a way that you would look at someone you pity, and tells him that she prays for him to find peace every night. Not realizing that if Don were to actually find peace, he most likely wouldn’t be in her bed.

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Mad Men Episode 3: Rule Breaking

Episode 3 of Mad Men deals heavily with marriage, infidelity, and the consequence of broken agreements made between two people in a relationship. It’s interesting to see that even in the 60’s the idea of a “modern family” was always there, just not talked about or given a name.

ImageIt’s painfully obvious that Don and Sylvia’s relationship is heading towards disasterville, while going 90 miles an hour with burning tires and cut breaks. The original set of rules that were mapped out when they decided they were going to occasionally sleep together are constantly changing. The only thing they can agree on is that they will continue having sex as often as they can. Sylvia is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the situation they’ve gotten themselves in. She’s having a hard time sitting across from the spouses at dinner while they stare at them with egg dripping down their faces. Don is also slowly but surly realizing that these two women are becoming a little too close for his liking. They are definitely playing with fire. Megan confides in Sylvia that she’s recently had a miscarriage, and Sylvia’s immediate reaction is jealously. Her only concern is that Don is still sleeping with Megan, and that she’s starting to get emotionally attached.

ImageWe are also granted another piece to the puzzle that is Don Draper’s childhood. We’ve always known that Don was raised by a prostitute, but we’ve never been given the opportunity to connect it with how he treats the women in his current life. He was brought up believing that women were nothing more than sexual objects, and that being a man grants you the power to have them as you please. This speaks volumes for who Don is at his core. It’s unclear if we’ll ever truly know who Don Draper is at the root of all this, but it does give us a better idea.

ImagePete Campbell is going through a similar set of “rule breaking” issues with his wife, Trudy. Though the ball park is the same, you get the sense that his reasons for cheating are much different than Don’s. Pete comes off as a highly insecure guy, constantly looking to fill the voids in his life. He’s driven by his need to appear powerful, and he’s drawn to women that fawn over him. Pete is so visibly jealous of Don, if only he would realize that it’s just as much an act for Don as it is anyone else. Trudy eventually finds that Pete has been sleeping with Brenda, and she confronts him about his decision to break her well thought out plan. She fills him in on the fact that she’s always known of his infidelity. She allows him to rent the apartment in the city so that it can be kept away from her home. Now that Pete has broken their given rules, a new set must be created, and on Trudy’s terms. You get the idea that Trudy is fully aware of how insecure her husband is. She does what’s necessary in order to make him feel like a man. She also won’t hesitate to tug at his leash whens she sees him getting ready to lift his leg on the wall.

ImagePeggy is still dressed head to toe in her disguise as her idol, Don Draper. Her employees live in constant fear of her, and will look for any excuse not to have to walk into her office. She’s cold, ball busting, and unapologetic when it comes to her work. Her creatives stand in front of her desk to pitch ideas in a police lineup formation. She tells them to sit down and stand up twice in the same sentence. And she constantly teases them with the idea of things like lunch, and fresh air. You can tell that it’s starting to have an effect on her. At her core, Peggy is a warm person with a big heart and it’s being clouded by her commitment to perfection in the workplace. Peggy’s only genuine relationship is with Stan. Stan is able to pull something out of Peggy that not even her boyfriend can. She lowers her walls when she speaks to him, and is able to have genuine conversation, not revolving around work. This could be because she and Stan were able to form a well rounded, fully functional friendship.

ImageEverything going on in this episode is centered around SCDP’s relationships with Jaguar. Herb stops by the office with the request that they spend more money on local advertising than national. During a meeting with the higher-ups Don purposely tanks, without filling Herb in on his plan. He then sits down with the executives of Heinz Ketchup in hopes to add them to the company client list. The meeting dosen’t go as planned, and this can officially be marked as the first time we see Don make such an obvious negotiation error at work.

In the last few minutes of the episode we get another flashback of Don watching sexual acts through the peepholes of the brothel he was raised in. Studying women as they negotiate what will happen with their bodies to sleazy men in suits. As Don goes to enter his apartment he stops, drops his head and slowly lowers to the floor.

ImageAs the episode ends, a song by Louis Prima plays called “Just A Gigolo“. The lyrics of the song really relate to what Don is going through. Especially in relation to his new found obsession with death, and the way he treats the women who love him.

Just a gigolo everywhere I go people know the part I’m playing. Paid for every dance selling each romance every night some heart betraying. There will come a day youth will pass away then what will they say about me. When the end comes I know they’ll say just a gigolo as life goes on without me

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