Monday, September 21, 2009

At the Mountains of Madness- Part Six: "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency"

True story: today, this Monday afternoon, I had to mow the lawn. It was a terrifying experience.

The British are planning a "big" re-vamp of Sterling Cooper, Joan's husband continues to pile on the failure, Don may have a possible promotion on the horizon, and Grandpa Gene is haunting the Draper house. Also, there are some snake metaphors and a dire warning about the dangers of lawn care equipment. Most importantly however, Paul's beard seems to be becoming more of a problem than ever. Well, not really, but I was really hoping there would be more beard-centric plot lines this season. Aw, well. A guy can dream, can't he?

In other news, Mad Men won the Emmy for best drama series, again! You now have the unique privilege of reading a blog about a two time Emmy winner! Excelsior!

In the sleepy suburb of Ossining, New York there's a scared little girl who thinks her grandfather is haunting the place. Sally Draper seems convinced that Grandpa Gene is terrorizing her family from beyond the grave due to their naming the newest addition of the family after him. This is the sort of twisted logic that you can only get from a nine-year-old; I for my own part would consider it an honor to have a grandchild named after me, and I certainly wouldn't mind if the baby used my old room as a nursery. Get over it, Sally! Also, question: does that "babies get fairies to write for them" thing that Betty utilizes to win Sally over really work? I think even a child is aware that a baby is an overly sensitive, incontinent mess of a protohuman with very little mental capacity and certainly not enough to enlist the services of fey spirits to perform tasks such as bribing their siblings with offers of presents. It wouldn't have fooled me, I was "gifted"! Then again, I guess the Sixties were a different time.

I have this image in my mind of a Draper family civil war. Is that weird? Don and Betty are pretty much as reconciled they're ever going to be, spats over baby names aside, but the way that Sally seems to idolize and love Don seems like a perverse loyalty more than anything. I constantly envision, a couple seasons down the line I guess, some sort of conflict between Don and Betty that forces the children to choose sides. Don gets Sally of course, and Betty gets young Gene. Poor Bobby is forced to make a difficult decision. Poor, poor Booby, indeed; I sometimes forget he exists. He's like Geoffrey from The Lion In Winter! The similarities between the Drapers and the House of Plantagenet are quite, striking. Ask any medieval history major you know and they'll explain it to you.

Joan's domestic and professional troubles mounted this week. Her husband continues to be more and more of loser, hitting what could only really be described as rock bottom- losing his promotion and his chances of working as a surgeon (in anywhere but Alabama, ugh). I must say, the scene where Greg comes home stone drunk and Joan consoles and undresses him was creepily maternal. Weird. I'm really wondering where Greg's character is going. Last season we were introduced to the good Doctor Harris as the all-American dreamboat: handsome, successful, a real catch for a woman like our Joanie. But then of course he had to go and spoil all of that goodwill by raping her in Don's office. From that point on he's been persona non grata for those of us who follow Mad Men, the lowest of the low, the irredeemable bad guy. But this season he hasn't done anything too loathsome, his attempted humiliation of Joan at their party where he made her play accordion ended up just being quirkily adorable (you could hear the sound of men across the country swooning while she sang in French that night), but aside from some asshole behavior regarding party etiquette, he's just been kind of a loser. I trust the writers to bring back some truly evil behavior on his part later this season, as the chances of his redemption are pretty close to nil I would say: raping your fiance tends to do that on a TV show.

Also, now that Joan is retiring to lady-who-lunches status (my second Company reference this week, huzzah!), what will become of her on the show? She has no real link to keep her on the show. She's back in need of a job after Greg's failure, is she going to be crawling back to Sterling Cooper for her old position? Is she going to have to kill Mr. Moneypenny? Will Roger be involved? For those of you attuned to irony, isn't it ironic that Joan's quick thinking at the medical emergency at the office in this episode mirrors Greg's failings as a surgeon, don't cha think?

Putnam, Powell, and Lowe came around to visit the office, with Lane's replacement (the Guy of the episode's title). They're impressed with Lane's work over the past year and are ready to send him to far Bombay to work his same magic over there. Lane seems to have grown accustomed to New York and is sad to go, the scene of him trying to find a place for his stuffed cobra parting gift is the first time we've really been pushed in direction of building sympathy for him. I predict a shift in his character from "heel" to "face" (wrestling terminology, more on that in my Saturday post).

There's rumors of promotions on the horizon with the Brits' visit and Cooper believes that a joint New York/London posting might be in Don's future, a prospect which delights him (how often does that happen?) and Betty to no end. He plays it cool and when a chance meeting with Conrad Hilton (remember him from a few weeks back?) yields the possibility of landing the Hilton hotels account (via some pro bono ad consulting) Don breaks his usual cool professional veneer to scramble for the promotion, again how often does that happen? Enter snake metaphor #2. However, circumstances soon get out of hand.

The PPL game plan involves just one promotion, that of Mr. Harry Crane (Go Badgers!) to head of the joint Media/Television department. There's nothing about Don's promotion or the Pete/Ken situation and Roger is forgotten on the big fancy flow chart entirely. He and Don now have even more to commiserate about with their new found hatchet burying besides a fun trip to Cooper's favorite barber shop and a mani-pedi. The new guy...Guy, is a young British prodigy who's up to replace Lane as president (or whatever his job title is) at Sterling Cooper. Unfortunately for Guy, a tragic lawnmower accident courtesy of Lois the secretary, and with assists from Smitty and Ken cuts his career (and his foot) grotesquely short. To quote St. John Powell "The doctors say he may never golf again." Perfect. So it looks like the status quo will be maintained around the office, and that capital M Moment shared by Joan and Don in the hospital waiting room was one of those great TV moments that only come around every so often.

Who gets horribly mangled next week? I predict Pete gets a badass Rurroni Kenshin scar on his face. But the preview for next week's episode make it look like there's going to be another medical emergency in Manhattan this month.