Tuesday, October 5, 2010

At the Mountains of Madness- Part Eleven: "Chinese Wall"

Pete and Trudy had a baby! Big deal! Everything else is going to Hell in a handbasket!

Spoilers after the jump!

Boivin: For a while there, I was a bit worried that Mad Men was going to get all happy on us. Don took Anna’s death and used the passing of the last woman who really knew him as a springboard to revitalize his life, both personal and professional. SCDP seems to have built itself an impressive niche in the advertising world and was no worse for the wear as a new agency in a competitive industry. But now the rug is beyond pulled out from under Don and the gang. Lucky Strike is gone and more than half of SCDP’s business with it. Now, clients are running scared and everybody’s in panic mode. And Don’s drinking again.

Jordan: And fucking again. Or, rather, fucking people that aren’t his significant other again. His run-in with Megan made me feel about as ambivalent as I’ve ever felt about Mad Men. The chauvinist slug in me was rooting so hard for Don to get back to his old self, but part of me is happier when Don’s less “Don-like.” At least this secretary is in control of her feelings...or at least claims to be.

Boivin: This episode has really made me question Don’s “redemption” that he’s supposedly undergone since reconciling with Peggy and finding an equilibrium with Betty. It looked like with Faye he had finally found a relationship that wasn’t built on lies, after all she pretty much knows as much as Betty about Dick Whitman. But even now in his new found bachelordom, he’s philandering like his old self. Megan fulfils some bizarre role in Don’s life in that she is both a mistress as well as a protege; she has a genuine interest to break into the creative side of things but isn’t above bedding (or couching I suppose) her boss to do it. Donna Draper?

Jordan: I don’t know that she really does have an interest in the business. She may just be attracted to the cult of Don, and maybe even intoxicated by the notion that she can change him. I’ll direct the audience’s attention to the Roger Sterling portion of this week’s episode as proof that she’s probably mistaken. Look at how he interacts with the women in his life; Jane thought she could domesticate him, and all she got was a half-assed signed copy of his half-assed book. Luckily, Joanie knows better. I think she’s actually starting to make good decisions about the men in her life.

Boivin: I think Roger thought he could domesticate himself, but he’s been back to his old ways too. I think the first half of this season was about new beginnings, and we’re starting to see that things are just the same. Everyone thinks they’re found some sort of new happiness: new agency, new girlfriends, etc. But in reality they’re all back where they started. Even Peggy, who probably represents change and evolution as much as if not more than any other character on the show still, as a copywriter and a good one at that, finds herself getting hit on by a suspiciously Paul Kinsey-esque Stan Rizzo.

Jordan: I think Stan Rizzo might be my least favorite character in the history of the series. I’m not sure he’s a bad character, but I certainly wish he were dead. I’d like to see them explore his more radical side, as contrasted with his firmly chauvinistic views towards women. There’s something interest to be said about how the male radicals of the sixties were, in many ways, utterly traditional (see the Black Panthers, for example). I don’t think I could help being attracted to the Peggy on display in this episode, though. Elizabeth Moss was absolute fire; that scene where she described the things she’d like to touch with Playtex gloves? Oh lawdy; I feel faint.

Boivin: Yeah, the people who watched this episode with me will testify that I squirmed visibly during that sequence. I’m looking to Peggy to get the gang out of this mess with losing Lucky Strike. She seems to be the only one with her head on a swivel. I’m losing confidence in Don’s ability to function as anything other than a self-hating mess. If bullying Faye into ruining her integrity wasn’t an indication of his lapse back into heel status, I don’t know what is. And Roger just looked downright sad this week. But with Ted Chaough trying to tempt Pete away, will SCDP even survive this season intact?

Also, Ken Cosgrove is marrying Alex Mack, whose father is Leland Palmer.