Monday, October 19, 2009

At the Mountains of Madness- Part Ten: "The Color Blue"

"The Color Blue" is not the first movie in the Color Purple saga (nor is it followed by the Color Red) but rather it's the title of this week's Mad Men episode! It refers to a question asked by one of Miss Farrell's students- is the color blue we see the same as the color blue someone else sees? Really this isn't so much about color observation as it is about Don Draper. Whose Don Draper is he? Does everyone see Don Draper the same way? Is he the nobody pulled up by his own bootstraps? Or is he a two-faced dirtbag who steals the names of dead men and cheats on his wife? Or is he both? Neither? What's going on here? Am I high? Or just afflicted?

Don's getting serious with Miss Farrell, who has a brother by the way, the Brits are looking to sell Sterling Cooper and need to make a big impression at the upcoming 40th anniversary party, Paul and Peggy are suffering from writer's block (again), Betty learns a secret, and someone is calling the Drapers and hanging up!

Allow me to appeal to your vanity and say that if you jump ahead I'll think very highly of you.

Don's affair with Sally's old teacher Suzanne Farrell is going into high gear with his visits to her garage-top apartment becoming more and more frequent. He's using the excuse that Connie is making him work late but regardless it still seems like he's philandering a little too close to home, wouldn't you say? Can't you learn something from Pete Campbell, Don? Or are you too proud to give that weasel the satisfaction? Mid-coitus, the happy couple are interrupted by her brother Danny, an epileptic who needs money and help finding a job. Don seems a bit weirded out (in all honesty, who wouldn't be?) and leaves with all deliberate speed. The next day, she follows him onto the train (creeeeeeeepy...?) and says how into him she is. Awwww...this seems to be the first Draper fling that has really taken on a romantic character (well, maybe Rachel) and not just a screwfest. There is of course the weird "I'm having sex with a teacher!" angle to it, of course but I wouldn't read too far into it as far as Don is concerned, he's above that. When Danny needs a ride to Bedford, Mass for a job at a VA hospital, Don steps up and volunteers to drive him as an act of contrition. Along the way, Danny tells Don that he plans to give him the slip and run away with the money Miss Farrell gave him, never intending to take the job in Bedford. He explains that due to his condition, steady work is an impossibility and he is essentially hopeless in terms of settling down and fitting in. Don, perhaps seeing a bit of his old Dick Whitman self in the guy, gives him some more money and his number should he ever need help. Will this selfless act come back to haunt him? Danny knows about his affair with his sister and seems like a somewhat shady time in need of money. Blackmail?

Paul Kinsey is getting jealous of Peggy's rising star status in the Creative Department: she's spontaneous and cute, he looks like Orson Welles. He's also under the impression that she's Don's favorite disciple, a claim which she rightly dismisses as untrue. The two pull a near-all-nighter trying to come up with some ideas for a Western Union campaign, the kind of all-nighter that involves copious amounts of drinking and in Paul's case, masturbating while listening to jazz (symbolic?). While talking with a janitor named Achilles (awesome!) Paul has an epiphany and promptly passes out and forgets it. When his secretary Lois (yes, she still works at Sterling Cooper even after chopping off Guy's foot and thereby sabotaging the Brtis' nefarious plans for the agency) wakes him up, he's pissed and utterly lost. Fortunately for him, so is Peggy. They present a weak pitch to Don which he rejects, but in the middle of what looks like a sinking ship, Peggy makes a save and turns a Chinese proverb about remembering to write things down into a pretty swell idea for an ad for a telegram service. Don likes it and tells them to present him with something by Monday. The only question is: does Paul see his contribution as an assist or an idea stealing on Peggy's part? The plot thickens.

Betty is still idling over her possible affair with Albany politico Henry Francis, but she just thinks that having sex at his place is so tawdry! She calls him up, wondering if he called and hung up on Sally earlier (also worth noting: Miss Farrell told Don it wasn't her either). Both of the Drapers' respective pieces on the side are denying the immature "call up the person you like and hang up when they answer" trick. But that's neither here nor there (I think it's Roger), because Betty has discovered Don's secret box! The Shoebox of Damocles as comrades-in-Mad Men-blogging and home of the Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level, Movieline call it is the container of Don's past that was given to him by his half-brother Adam early in the series and is full of pictures of a young Dick Whitman, as well as a couple thousand dollars and the dogtags of Dick and the real Don Draper. So that's it, the secret's out! But Betty doesn't know how to confront Don about it, nor the full implications of the information she's uncovered. When she stays up to talk to him about it, he's too bust shtupping Sally's teacher. Fail. This has really changed the dynamic in the Drapers' flawed, flawed relationship. AND EVERYTHING WAS GOING SO WELL.

It's time for the Sterling Cooper 40th birthday celebration! Wooooohoooo! There are tons of problems though: Coop doesn't like seeing the other surviving founder because it reminds him how goddamn old he is, Roger doesn't like talking up Don in front of a room of people who like him better, and Putnam, Powell, and Lowe are looking to sell the agency after Lane has cut costs and increased profits significantly. Lane, whose wife Rebecca (Embeth Davidtz!) doesn't like New York because London is soooooo much better, is tasked with getting everyone on board to make an impression on potential buyers. He presents Don with his $5,000 signing bonus, which finally makes him smile, and tells Coop how much everyone will think of him when he shows up at the party looking hale and fit. Roger shows up with his elderly mother who mistakes Jane for his soon-to-be-wed daughter Margaret. Ha! Get it? When Don gives his big speech (am I the only one who thinks it's weird to hear him speak in public?) Betty just glowers at the man who may not be the man she thought she married. You know what that means...