Monday, September 14, 2009

At the Mountains of Madness- Part Five: "The Fog"

Hey remember the fog metaphor from episode one this season? It's baaaaaack (kind of)!

AMC really piled on the surrealism this week and we got to see Betty finally gave birth to the newest addition to the Draper clan, little Eugene Scott. There's money issues at Sterling Cooper and no one's sure who to blame, of course this is only adding to the mounting pressures between the Yanks and the Limeys. Pete's got a Big Plan, Peggy wants a raise, and there's an old face who has plans for both of them, not to mention knows a bit more about the two of them than most of their co-workers. Don makes a new friend at the hospital as we see more of his knack for chatting it up with the average Joes of the world.

And most importantly on the Don front- have we met the next Draper girl? Jump ahead to find out!

The biggest development this week of course concerned the birth of Don and Betty's third child, a boy as it turns out. Betty presents us with the startling (to me anyway) fact that her water never breaks (Ew? Is that weird?) and that she often trips the light fantastic into the magical realm of the cinematic device known as the "dream sequence"; again this is something that you may not have heard of unless you dabble in the somewhat exclusive practice of amateur television criticism. I think this is the first straight up dream sequence we've seen on Mad Men (I don't count Don's season-opening remembrance of his conception and birth) which was a trope utilized a fair amount of Matt Weiner's other project- The Sopranos. Betty dream-sequenced her parents back to life, her dad working as a giant (I think Betty was child-sized, did anyone else see that?) janitor and her mother as...well, her mother, who we haven't met until now. Also, we were treated to a vision of recently-slain Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers, who Sally has been quite fixated on, apparently. The bleeding Evers is sitting at the kitchen table with Mama Hofstadt who remarks, "You see what happens to people who speak up?" I must admit sadly, I had forgotten about Evers' place in American history until a couple weeks ago when I got bored and spent an afternoon watching Ghosts of Mississippi on HBO, but I'm glad got to see that courtroom drama starring Alec Baldwin now for that double benefit of learning more about the Civil Rights Movement and getting a Mad Men reference. Some life I lead, right? The silent, mortally wounded black guy at the suburban dinner table in a dream sequence seemed downright Lynchy to me. The mentioning of David Lynch is pop-culture-speak for "Guess what artsy-fartsy movies I like to watch!" and I've been trying to not mention him in my postings here on Charge Shot!!! because I think it makes me sound like a pretentious film school d-bag but honestly that was the first thing that came to me. I'm sorry.

While Betty churns out lil' Draper #3, Don spends a couple hours in the "solarium" (i.e. waiting room) of the hospital with another daddy-to-be by the name of Dennis. A prison guard by trade, Don coaches Dennis on the ins and outs of fatherhood and Dennis drops some knowledge on Don concerning the ins and outs of the American correctional system. Dennis, who sees and works with bad people every day, seems to trigger some latent guilt concerning the fact that you know, he's a pretty bad person. Upon hearing about the birth of his son, Dennis tells Don that he has resolved to be a better person. We the viewers are never exactly told why he needs to be a better person but we surely know why Don needs to shape up, we could roll off a few names as examples.

It looks like Don may be ready to get his third chance at being a decent family man (Didn't he already have a baptism-esque experience in California at the end of last season and then started off this season by hooking up with a stewardess? The man is unbelievable!), what with his wholesome late night snack moment with Sally. looks like a new cheating opportunity might be on the horizon and it's a TILF (Teacher I'd Like to Filanderwith)! Ms. Farrell: Sally's teacher who Don was toooootally checking out at the end of episode of this season as she danced around the maypole in all her bucolic splendor, looks to be the next in line for the Don Draper Treatment. In Season One we had Midge and Rachel, in Season Two we had Bobbie and Joy, will Season Three bring Ms. Farrell? When the Drapers were called into Sally's school to discuss some issues the grieving little girl was having with her fellow students (namely getting into fights with fat girls), Don and Ms. Farrell shared a capital M Moment while Betty was in the ladies' room. Note the parallel moment from two weeks ago where Betty had a capital M Moment with the belly-toucher while Trudy was in the commode. Interesting, right? I'm very perceptive, am I not? Follow this up with an oh-so-suggestive drunk dial and you have the makings of a home to be wrecked. AND EVERYTHING WAS GOING SO WELL!

Around the office, Pete has discovered that Admiral televisions sell well in markets with large African-American populations. Points to Paul with the assist- "Boy, all those cities have great jazz music! Ask me about how hep I am!" Enlisting the opinion of Hollis the elevator guy, Pete seems pretty determined to spearhead the campaign to sell TVs to black people, all in the name of objective profit! He proposes the idea of black targeted ads to his clients at Admiral but they seem appalled by it. For his valiant attempts to make money, Pete is chewed out by the partners, including Roger, whose new role on the show seems to be popping in for five minutes every episode to deliver a hilarious one-liner. This week's contributions: “Let me put it in account terms. Are you aware of the number of handjobs I’m gonna have to give?” and “I’m gonna have to pretend I had you killed!" This rejection of Pete's honest attempts to make an honest buck for the company, which is hurting for money btw, makes him all the more susceptible for an offer of defection from...wait for it...duh duh DUHHHHH Duck Philips- everyone's favorite alcoholic! Duck, now at a rival firm, is keen to pick up S-C's co-Head of Accounts who he tempts with offers of recognition of moxie and as well as nosh. Pete's felt unappreciated at S-C before, will this be the last straw, even now that he's so close to his dream of being Head of Accounts?

Also in Duck's sights (I tried to think up a Duck Hunter joke, but nothing came to mind) is Peggy, who is also feeling a little unappreciated (it's called the Glass Ceiling, Pegs). Duck thinks he's picked up on a secret relationship between Pete and Peggy (27 months too late, Herman) and wants to bring the two of them over to the Dark Side as a team. His claims that his new firm really respects creative talent (Peggy) and risk-taking in accounts management (Pete) strike a chord and seem to shake up these two and forces Peggy to ask Don for a raise. With the close relationship these two have, you'd think he'd go for it, right? Peggy's basically the best copy-writer Sterling Cooper has, right? She's definitely better than that no-account layabout Kinsey! However, lean economic times around the office mean he can't and do much to further drive Peggy's discontent. Oh no! Don't do it, Peggy! We're also treated to Pete and Peggy's first real interaction post-baby revelation. Awwwwwwkward...

Stay tuned, advertising aficionados! There's more madness to come next week! "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"