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Mad Men: The Color Blue - Review

"My goodness Sally Draper, try not to take everything so personally" - Betty Draper.

Crazy family members, lots of bedroom talk and secrets revealed is what Mad Men was all about tonight as the pace (and plot devices) picked up just in time for the home stretch. With only three episodes remaining the table is set for more than one massive showdown.

"The Color Blue"
was another wonderfully crafted entry in a universe that is becoming increasingly more and more richly layered with subtext and danger. Absent in tonight's proceedings were what became of Sal, Joan and her rapist/doctor husband and Pete with his superior people skills. We did get more of Betty's "Mother of the Year" stylings; Kinsey's attempted rise from mediocrity and hot teacher Suzanne's crazy brother. But more on that later.

It's amazing to me that no matter how sympathetic Don Draper becomes he is always Don Draper, even if he's not really . . . Oh, forget it. Mad Men works on many levels; the first and foremost it works as an impeccable character study of who people really are when they're cornered. It seems like there is always a test to pass; how they react is what makes it impossible to turn away from. Creator Matthew Weiner often states that he has absolute creative control with the show and if that's the case then he is one messed up dude.

On to the recap and review . . .

Betty shows once again what a mean mother and person she is by not only dismissing everything Sally says but by also insulting Carla about not needing to go to church every week. Don is busy using his weird relationship with Connie to his advantage by jumping into bed with Suzanne every chance he gets. During one of their pillow talk moments she tells a story about one of her students who asked if all people see the color blue the same. Don responds with clinical market research which sets the table on how people do see the same thing differently. Hence the title of this episode.

Welcome to Paul Kinsey theatre at Sterling Cooper where he presents his Aqua Net pitch with a whole story attached. Of course Don shoots it down which prompts Peggy to come up with ideas on the spot. She undermines Kinsey which makes the pretentious side of him go all crazy. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it! Just as the meeting is over Lane comes in with Don's signing bonus and final details of his contract two months after the fact. Lane is notified that his wife has come to see him and she's not happy. Apparently, she got taken for a ride by a New York cabbie, literally. If this type of thing was going on in the 60's no wonder NYC gets a bad rap.

Don is rolling around in the sack with Suzanne when they are coitus interruptus. Suzanne's younger brother Danny has popped by for a chat and some money and pegs Don as an arrogant jerk in all of thirty seconds. Oh, and he's an epileptic to boot. She vows to get him another low paying and I'm sure demeaning job as apparently that's all his qualified for in his condition.

Roger and Cooper are commiserating and complaining over the good old days wondering if they should attend the 40th anniversary of Sterling Cooper. Cooper doesn't want to go and neither does Roger because the Brits have decided to use the occasion to give Don a humanitarian award. Umm, okay. The big news here is that it seems Roger discovered Don working at a fur company. Really?

That night at the Draper residence someone calls and hangs up when little Sally answers the phone. Betty takes this opportunity to be a mean mother once again and scolds Sally for "taking the hang up too personally" all the while being suspicious of Don. Both Peggy and Kinsey are separately working late to come up with an idea for Western Union and it seems all Kinsey needs to get the juices flowing is to get his juices flowing. If you know what I mean. That and speaking to the night janitor, Achilles. Yes, you heard that right. Kinsey gets inspired and has more to drink.

Having cashed his 5k signing bonus, Don does what he normally does; he hides it in the shoebox locked in his top desk drawer at home. He's interrupted by crying baby Gene which is important later on. The next morning Don is taking the train to the city when crazy "Fatal Attraction" like stalker Suzanne follows him on board and Don, not used to having his indiscretions thrust in his face during daylight hours acts all weird. He asks if she called his house and of course she denies it. They have polite conversation about crazy bro but Don gets all gooey inside when she apologizes to him.

A passed out Kinsey gets woken up by the typically clueless Lois. Yes, the same Lois who Don fired and then ran over that British guys foot with the John Deere. Kinsey can't find his brilliant idea and it seems that in his drunken stupor he didn't write it down. Check your spare ascot! Meanwhile, Lane is practicing his dinner speech on John Hooker and gets a phone call from across the pond notifying him that the top brass are coming to the anniversary dinner and that they are selling Sterling Cooper. Oy vey!

Doing some investigation, Betty calls up Henry to see if he called the house; he denies it and thinks she's playing a game. A frazzled Betty hangs up. After the phone call Lane visits Cooper to get him to come to the dinner as the Brits are coming. If they're coming why shouldn't he? Finally Lane wins out by appealing to Coopers vanity. Betty hears something rattling in the laundry and when she investigates she discovers it's Don's keys to his ultra secret top drawer. She opens it and blows right past all the cash and hits the mother lode. All of Don's secrets are there; his parents, the real Don draper's discharge papers, his divorce decree to Anna Draper as well as the mortgage to her house! Everything the old Dick Whitman was and has become is in the shoebox of doom. Now Betty knows everything and that can't be good, not at all. She waits for Don to come home so she can confront him and get to the bottom of things but . . .

After work Don visits Suzanne and is greeted by crazy brother Danny again. Suzanne got him a job at the local VA hospital and was planning to drive him but Don offers up his services instead. On the road, Danny boy reveals he has no plans to go the VA hospital and gives Don a hard time, finally convincing him to let him out on the side of the road and let him take his chances. He does and you can't help but to think that Don will surely live to regret this especially after he returns to Suzanne and lies to her about taking Danny to his new job. Wanna bet the brother winds up dead?? Especially since Don gave him his business card.

The next morning Don calls Betty from the office and she's pissed he didn't come home. Of course he says he was with Connie all night which she doesn't believe at all. He wants her to dress up and come to the party so he "can show her off" which is the perfect summation of their so-called marriage. Peggy is ready to pitch her Western Union ideas to Don and stops to get Kinsey first. Paul is totally defeated because he had what he thought was the perfect idea but since he didn't write it down he's preparing for the worst. Peggy says; "I hate when that happens" and drags him in to see Don. Predictably he hates all her ideas and Paul confesses (with Peggy's urging) that he lost his great idea cause he didn't write it down. Don responds exactly the same as Peggy did and right in front of our eyes she spins a great ad campaign from a nonsense comment Paul made five minutes earlier. You can see the blood drain from Paul's face as he realizes right then and there how much more talented Peggy is then he is. Nicely done.

Don comes home to pick up the kids and a dolled up Betty and she gives him the evil eye. Cut to Roger and Jane in a car with his mother mistaking Jane for Roger's ex-wife Mona and Lane and telling his wife that PPL is selling off Sterling Cooper. At the dinner Roger launches into a glowing speech about how great Don is while Betty looks on with her version of the "stink eye."

Random Thoughts:

It's amazing how the writers delivered so much tension out of seemingly simple and mundane things like a "hang up" and a shoebox in a drawer. Wow, storytelling at it's finest.

Hot teacher Suzanne is giving off a major "Fatal Attraction" vibe. This can't end well for Don and Betty. The crazy brother, her showing up on the train and Don lying about driving Danny to the VA hospital will all add up to complete and utter disaster. Not to mention the gold star on her face!

Peggy's revelation that Don hates her is not that far from the mark. I think he knows she can do well and therefore holds her to a higher standard on the other hand he may just hate her . . . I did like how their reaction to Paul was exactly the same.

We need to have some Sal and Joan closure!!! Enough said.

Great to see the hilarious Lois. I like so many others thought she would be toast after cutting of that guys foot but since it wasn't her fault and she wasn't drunk they must have taken pity on her. Besides, I get the feeling that she took Kinsey's notes to help Peggy.

I think it's nasty that Paul Kinsey keeps a "Flog the Bishop" rag in his desk drawer. He was also rockin some gross pit stains. Not a good episode for Paul Kinsey.

While it was pretty funny how Betty didn't give a second thought to all that cash Don had squirreled away it was pretty disturbing how she effortlessly went through the shoe box of doom. As a clever someone on Twitter said: "It's a Dick (Whitman) in a box!" She got the ammo she needed to dump him but chickened out on the confrontation. Next week should be pretty explosive! The question remains WHY a super secretive Don would keep all his lies in one place?

Why is PPL selling Sterling Cooper? Who's gonna be the buyer? Conrad Hilton most likely.

According to eagle eye Twitter follower greygoosegirl, there was the following 60's gaffes; Wrong laundry basket for the time, wrong fee for Lane's wife's taxi fee, wrong period dog tags and a sudden switch of washer and dryer color at the Draper's. There was also the matter of Betty having a top loaded washer that only came out in the Fall of 1964 - Spring 1965. Great catches!!

Now we know where Roger got his sense of humor, his mother!! Although she could just be senile since she confused Jane for his daughter Margaret and then asked if his ex-wife Mona knew he was remarried. Classic!

Lane didn't show any happiness with the news that Sterling Cooper is being sold especially since his last reward was a posting to India. He dare not tell the wife that!!

Best Exchanges:
Ken: "I love telegrams, but I never send them."
Don: "How is that supposed to help?"

Don: "I don't know if you're capable of understanding, but that job is important."
Danny: "Did you get me the job?"
Don: "No."
Danny: "So shut up! I'm not retarded, Julius Caesar had epilepsy, he ran Rome.
Don: "Things didn't turn out so well for him."

Best Lines:
"We don't need to go every week" - Betty answering Sally about church.

"Are you nuts? He hates me." - Peggy to Kinsey.

"Oh, he's such a toad." - Mrs. Pryce about John Hooker.

"That's true, I've been here 10 months and no one's ever asked me where I went to school." - Lane Pryce to the Mrs.

"Geez, Louise." - Sally Draper.

"Good God, will you shut up?" - Kinsey to Lois.

"Churchill rousing or Hitler rousing?" - Lane to John Hooker.

"I hate when that happens." - Peggy AND Don.

"Every time I hear 'And then' there's another chance for the ladies at home to misunderstand." - Don to Kinsey.

Overall, I give this episode 4.8 Lucky Strikes Out of 5 because of Betty discovering all of Don's secrets in a convenient way AND not doing anything about it! As mentioned the layers of tension were right out of a Hitchcock film and done very, very well. At times I can't believe this show is on basic cable. No wonder it continually wins best Drama and I bet if you could actually see the votes it would win by a landslide. There are only three episodes left before I go into hibernation until the new season premieres next year. Oh, what a long Winter that's gonna be!

I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts about this great episode (and my late review!) and in the meantime enjoy this sneak preview of next weeks episode as the firm gets a visit from an old client and former Roger flame. Very nice.

-- Janaki Cedanna

Next Week: "The Gypsy and the Hobo" - A former client returns to Sterling Cooper. Betty takes the kids on a trip. Joan and Greg plan for their future. Finally!!

Posted by Janaki Cedanna on October 19, 2009 8:41 PM
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