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Mad Men Recap "Christmas Waltz"

Mad Men's 5 Maddest Moments: "Christmas Waltz"

This week's Mad Men brings back a character we haven't seen in a while, Paul Kinsey, and gives us a look at a relationship between two characters — Joan and Don — who we don't often see interact (but wow, when they do, is it entertaining). Financial problems also start to make Lane Pryce sweat in a subplot that's obviously leading to something far more serious.

The Paul story line kind of feels like a filler-y diversion, but I still liked seeing the old character and getting to see a side of Harry Crane, who's been relegated to being made fun of by Don lately. There are big moments this week I want to discuss, though, so to get to it, just read more.

  • Harry Krishna: Paul is back and, since we last saw him, has become a Hare Krishna. He reaches out to Harry, and it seems like he's trying to recruit him at first (which Harry responds to rather well, chanting "Hare Krishna" like he was born to do it). But spiritual enlisting isn't what he's going for: what Paul really wants is for Harry to get him a job so he can support his lady friend, Lakshmi. He asks Harry to slip his spec script for Star Trek to an NBC exec, and Harry is conflicted — even more so when Lakshmi visits him at work and seduces him. It's a manipulation, though, to get Harry to stop encouraging Paul to leave the movement. I was disgusted by Harry's cheating behavior, but when Harry actually helps Paul by lying to him and giving him $500 to take off, leave Lakshmi, and pursue his dream, I started to change my mind about Harry. Despite what Lakshmi says, it seems Harry Crane is a good friend.
  • Holy sexual tension, Batman: Joan and Don have an interesting one-on-one this week when Joan confronts the fact that she's getting a divorce. After Joan gets served with divorce papers from Greg, she has a meltdown in reception, so Don gets her out of the office. He takes her to the Jaguar dealership, where they pose as a couple and take a new model out for a spin. At a bar, they have a heart-to-heart, in which Joan confides in Don about her divorce, and Don congratulates her on getting out of a bad marriage. They're so flirty (he teases her about how she intimated him when he first started working at Sterling Cooper, and she teases him about never making a move) and as much as I like Megan, I'm loving the Don/Joan chemistry. When it seems like the tension is getting a little too hot to handle, Don excuses himself to go home and steers Joan in the direction of an admirer at the bar.
  • Banking on a miracle: Lane's money troubles get pretty dire this week, learning that he owes $8,000 with no way to pay. He tells the office they have a surplus and suggests early Christmas bonuses, desperately forging Don's signature on a check to himself. However, Mohawk Airlines strikes, and they decide they can't give out bonuses — unless the partners don't accept theirs. Whoopsies, Lane! Don gives a rousing speech about how far the company has come in a year, and somehow inspires everyone to give up their weekends to try to get Jaguar, but Lane is obviously just sweating about how far he's gone now.
  • Domestic disputes: Megan and Don take in a show, America Hurrah, which takes aim at advertising. When the couple argues about it back at home, Don takes a shot at Megan for disliking advertising herself. Then after spending all day at the bar with Joan, who had ironically praised Don for finding the "perfect" partner in Megan, they launch into a huge fight as he walks in. Megan is angry that Don stayed out so late and comes home drunk, but when Don responds to her yelling with his usual sexy punisher routine, Megan isn't having any of it. It sort of seems like she has him "under control" by forcing him to sit down and eat dinner with her, but I feel like we're seeing more marital problems forming than being worked out lately.
  • Coming up roses: Don doesn't send Megan roses to smooth things over after their fight, but he does send some to Joan. She had remarked that Don never sent her flowers to make a move back when they first started working together, and clearly he's righting that wrong now. Is he just being a nice friend, making Joan feel better while she's going through a hard time — or could they mean something more? There are far less flirty ways to say "sorry your marriage fell apart."

What did you think of this week's episode?

Photo courtesy of AMC

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