This week's Mad Men episode has got to be the most bizarre yet. I was looking forward to Don and Pete's trip to L.A. (especially for the fashion and sets!) but did not see Don's little sojourn into an eerie little "family" coming. The mood in L.A. is surreal and exotic, with the figures around Don often moving around him in slow motion, making his departure from the realities and responsibilities of his life all the more creepy.
Back in New York, Roger and Jane get extremely serious and move their relationship to the next level even as Roger stares down what I'm guessing will be a nasty divorce. Also, Peggy gets a mini-makeover, Bob Dylan is the hot concert ticket in town, and someone comes out of the closet in the Sterling-Cooper break room. Ready to chat about this fascinating episode? Just read more.
Don Draper: Do we even call him Don still?! By the end of the episode he is speaking as Dick Whitman. . . but I'm getting ahead of myself. Los Angeles is, as expected, totally awesome in terms of a new swinging set of people and fabulous fashion. There's an interesting scene in the poolside bar when Don thinks he sees Betty but it turns out to be some other blonde. Pete's digging the pool scene but Don cracks the whip and makes him work only to ditch him later for a young (really young), mysterious woman named Joy who hangs out with a Count named Willy. Um, yeah. The Palm Springs abode is a den of temptations and offers Don a chance to indulge in a life without strings attached — even Joy explains she wouldn't expect him to be faithful sexually. The song at the end of the episode has the lyrics, "What'll I do?" and the sight of Don's luggage arriving on a quiet Draper doorstep makes me feel ill about what his choice might be.
Peggy Olson: Aw, Peggy. She's getting more respect at the office in some ways but we finally see how confused she is about other aspects of life, like men. It's interesting to compare the sophisticated way Jane uses her sexuality at such a young age to dazzle Roger and Peggy's innocent question, "I don't know why I pick the wrong boys. What's wrong with me?" I love her budding friendship with Kurt ("I fix you") and love her haircut even more. Of course, Pete notices her new 'do as soon as he returns. I hope Kurt helps Peggy become less insecure and I hope the Mad Men folks give her a cute straight boy to go to concerts with soon.
Some more thoughts:
- How's this for coming out of the closet in the office during the early '60s? "I make love with the men, not the women." It was an awesome moment followed by homophobic slurs and jokes (once Kurt left the room, of course). Poor Sal's face broke my heart in two.
- Duck's fighting for his life and drinking again. He's been a truly sad and pathetic character thus far so I'm glad to see him find his mojo in the firm. I find his desire to take over Sterling-Cooper very interesting. With three weeks to go you know things are going to get nuts now that this little plot has been seeded.
- The staging of the scenes in this show is so magnificent sometimes. I was struck by the final shot of Don from behind, sitting on the couch in Palm Springs with his arm draped along the top of the couch — a replica of the black silhouette we've come to associate with the show.
- In both Don and Roger's scenes the women's ages come up. They're really young. I have to admit this skeeves me out, big-time.
- Back in L.A. I noted the scene where Joy asks Don if he's ever had Mexican food and he says no. In this day and age, I can't imagine a world where Americans have never heard of Mexican food! And frankly, that's not a world I want to live in. Mmm. . . burritos.
- I still love the business-related scenes where the creatives brainstorm around brands like Right Guard. It's so hilarious to hear them position these products at this early stage ("Men will be men," and "Women smell bad, too").
- The episode opens on a pretty chilling scene: Don and Pete watch a scientist gleefully explain America's new missiles, excitedly talking about limiting second strike capabilities via total annihilation of cities. If I had to sit through that presentation I might have hopped in a car to Palm Springs with a total stranger too, truth be told.
- So, ew. Joy is Willy's daughter and he is quite involved in her sex life. Creeps-ville!
- How amazing is it going to be when Joan finds out about Jane and Roger?!
What did you think of last night? Was it weird to not see Betty at all while Don is off in the Garden of Eden with a 21-year-old? And who did he call in the end? Do you think Roger will go through with this marriage to Jane? Or will the divorce get too expensive?
Photos courtesy of AMC
— Additional reporting by Kate Emswiler and Kimra McPherson