I can't take any more bad news. - Don Draper
Sunday's episode of Mad Men was titled "The Good News" was ironic to say the least. Nearly every major character receives bad news at some point and the way they handle it is as smooth as a fine bourbon. I can only imagine that more bad news is coming and in a big way. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Before I get knee deep into the review I want to give Mad props to my guest writers for last weeks review. Twitter followers @alperelman, @clarabela, @maPeel, @dazzlingrayn and @brookeashleyb brought great insights and I appreciate it very much!
The episode was all about Don Draper and our favorite office manager Joan Holloway with a little dash of Lane Pryce thrown in for good measure.
Joan has baby fever. She wants to starts a family with her rapist husband in the worse way. Why I'll never know. Greg is an insensitive and sexist jerk with a terrible bedside manner. When Joan cuts herself in the kitchen he treats her like a child as he stitches her back up against her wishes. Of course it didn't help that Joan got all emotional but that's another story. The reality that he's about to leave for basic training and most likely get shipped off to Vietnam is finally setting in and Joan is not happy about it. She does what any woman does, she goes a little nuts. Mostly on Greg but especially on Lane after what she believes is a major slap in the face.
Lane is immune to her considerable charms when she asks for time off after the holidays and he abruptly tells her so. It was her mistake to ask for a favor under false pretenses but hey it's always worked before so stick to what you know, right? Wrong. Lane tells her not to cry which really gets her Irish up. Later he sends her flowers to apologize but his doorknob of a secretary Sandy mixes up the notes and Joan gets the card meant for his wife in London. What follows has got to be the best Joan scene ever as she storms into his office and heaves the flowers at him (good thing they didn't come in a vase!) and releases all her pent up frustrations all in one go. It must have felt pretty damn good for Joan to finally tell one of her bosses off and you could tell she really relished it. The best part was even when she found out about the mixup she not only didn't apologize to Lane but fired Sandy on the spot! I only wish Roger was there to see it.
The real burning question was the revelation that Joan had two abortions in her life or as she calls them, "procedures." Who could be the culprits? My money is on Roger Sterling and Paul Kinsey. Or could it be that she had an abortion after Greg raped her? Maybe that's why she is so desperately trying to have his baby now. Hmmm. Every bone in my body tells me that not only will she get pregnant with Greg's baby but that he will be killed in Vietnam almost right away. This will leave Joan a single mother on the hunt for a new baby daddy. Call me crazy but Joan and Don would be perfect for each other. She may be the one woman who could keep him faithful and more than happy to slap him around during sex. After all Don's favorite hooker is a Joan type. Now that would be interesting and would most definitely drive Roger bonkers.
As we learned last week, Don is headed to Acapulco for the holidays but first he plans to spend 24 hours in LA and visit Anna Draper. Anna is the only person he can be totally honest with and be himself. There he is Dick Whitman and usually his whole demeanor changes. When he arrives, Anna has a broken leg but looks uncharacteristically radiant. Seems like the burgeoning hippie life agrees with her. He's introduced to his fake niece Stephanie who is a stereotypical representation of California at the time. She's a blonde college student who is starting to rail against the establishment by smoking pot and ridiculing all the out-of-touch old people like Don and Anna. Naturally Don is attracted to her and more than a little intrigued. What better way to stay fresh and current in the world of advertising then to have sex with a college girl? Predictably he puts on the old Don smoothie act but is shot down. Maybe it was his Dick move?
Pseudo hippie/surfer/beatnik girl Stephanie rebuffs the Dick move and drops the bombshell that Anna has cancer and even worse she doesn't know about it. Dick/Don is absolutely shocked at the news but then gets angry that Anna's sister Patty is keeping the news from her. Stephanie and later Patty plead with Don to not tell her the truth and to what I'm sure will be his newest level of guilt Dick reluctantly complies. Personally I don't buy into the fact that Anna is not aware that she's sick or that it could actually be kept from her. What doctor would do such a thing? I don't like Patty's reason for not telling her either. Who is she to keep such major news from her sister? Given the fact that the cancer is all over her body and in her bones is she just waiting for her to be on her deathbed not knowing what's wrong and then tell her? Seems especially cruel. Is Anna having to good of a time smoking pot all day so why ruin the happiness? Nonsense. What will Don do when Anna is gone? She's the only person he can be himself with while recharging his batteries. Stands to reason he won't let this go. The performance Jon Hamm delivered during his talk with Anna was superb. Probably some of the best acting he's done.
Foregoing his trip to Acapulco Don returns to New York and finds Lane working in the office alone. Apparently he's been number crunching and tells Don that they had a very good year. Lane also tells him about the flower mixup and explains that his wife is probably not coming back. Sensing that Lane needs a guys night out he invites him to a movie. They end up at a Godzilla flick after lots of drinks. Throughout the night Jared Harris channels his real life father, legendary actor Richard Harris and gets wild drunk. He abuses a steak at a restaurant with a hilarious Texas accent and agrees to let Don get him a hooker. The sweaty red-headed hooker returns!
Turns out that hookers in 1964 are quite a good deal. For $25 they join you out on the town, fix you drinks, kiss you on the mouth and have sex with you. Of course Lane gets the friend hooker with a giant face-eating mole and I have to wonder what kind of disease he'll walk away with. Probably herpes. The next morning Lane tips pimp Don five bucks and does the walk of shame out of Don's "manly" apartment. What a great way to spend New Years, right?
Some random thoughts . . .
It was pretty MASH-like to have Greg stitch up Joan while they were wearing lei's. His treatment of Joan is unbearable to watch. Personally, I can't wait till Greg is finally gone!
Again love the fact that Joan tried to butter up Lane with chicken breasts and thighs. She was working that sexuality and it must have been a real shock to her system that Lane not only saw right through it but belittled her in the process. More proof that Lane is a robot alien of some sort.
Seems like the big C agrees with Anna. I know it's nasty to say but she never looked better. If she actually has cancer throughout her entire body and in her bones wouldn't she look a little sickly instead of radiant? What if Patty faked the news to get Don out of her life? That would be interesting.
Jon Hamm gives a whole new meaning to "Dick in his underwear" but what's with all the UFO talk? Is Stephanie slipping some hash in Anna's pot? Weird but funny.
Anna's sister Patty hates Dick for some reason. Presumably it's because he assumed the Don Draper identity but I think she believes Dick broke Anna's heart. Who knows? She could also just be the angry and bitter older sister.
Very funny that given the choice of a Catherine Deneuve film or a Godzilla flick, new best pals Don and Lane pick the latter. And was that insulting stand-up comedian supposed to Lenny Bruce or what?
I was surprised that you can actually say "shit" and "handjobs" on basic cable. When did that change? Love that the show is pushing the boundaries. Keep it up!
The partners meeting at the end clearly showed that both Pete and Harry are at the big boys table but where was Bert Cooper? Peggy was also glaringly missing. I'm not sure if she is a partner though. Most likely not. It was great seeing Joan at the head of the table though even if she doesn't get the respect she deserves.
Overall, we were treated to another stellar episode of the best damn drama that apparently no one watches on television. I look forward to what Matthew Weiner is gonna give us this season. Aren't you??
-- Janaki Cedanna
Editors Note: I have some sad news to report. I've been informed that all of the Fodder sites including my very own Mad Men Fodder will be shut down effective 9/1/10 due to economic reasons. I will be doing my weekly reviews right up to the end but not after 8/29. It's been a pleasure to write my thoughts on this show and I hope you will still follow me on Twitter @madmenfodder.
Here is a sneak preview of next weeks episode "The Rejected" as Ken Cosgrove reappears. Enjoy!