Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Mad Men" Ep. 3.3: "My Old Kentucky Home"

OMG, best. ep. ever.

Ok, maybe not if I think back and remember the best of seasons 1 and 2. But this one just sparkled in a way I haven't seen in a while. It's the musical episode! And easily the most comical episode in MM history - I must have laughed out loud at least half a dozen times. At the same time, there was so much going on underneath and in between the funnies - the usual rich thematic layering, the acute observations of a society on the brink of change (though its members don't know it), and the nuances of the characters' positions in the social pecking order and their shifting relationships with one another. And of course, there was that jaw-dropping image - Roger in blackface - that's sure to rocket to the top of the list of "most shocking moments" in "Mad Men."

I'm too tired to do a recap that does the episode any real justice, but thought I'd flag some highlights (and lowlights):

-The entire reefer party in Paul's office: it's a toss-up who was more hilarious stoned, Peggy "I am so high" Olson or Paul Tiger Tone Kinsey.
-Jane falling down drunk ("I'm a nice person! Why don't you like me?"), esp. when bookended with her pathetic snobbishness towards Joan earlier
-Don's response to Gene's grumpy "You people think money is the answer to all problems"

-The Campbells' Charleston. That Pete sure can cut a rug!
-The ravishing concluding shot of Don & Betty in the woods. So beautiful, and yet there was something melancholy and fragile about it, too. Or maybe I'm just projecting my feelings about the Draper marriage onto that image.

-Don telling Roger he's an old fool. Roger's response puzzled me, though. Was it meant to be ironic?

-Roger's tribute to...Al Jolson? Paul Robeson? Whomever. That shit is just wrong. (btw, while Don's reaction was the most noticeable - I think he was just uncomfortable with the ongoing spectacle of Roger making an ass out of himself - Pete also had a very peculiar look on his face. Is this supposed to be yet another clue that Pete, however improbably, may be the most forward-thinking of that lot?)
-The triangulated tension between Gene, Sally, and Carla over the stolen money. Good on Carla for not taking crap from Gene, though the latter was surprisingly lucid. No fool he. The incorporation of Gibbon's Decline and Fall was perhaps a bit too on the nose, but I liked it.

-Every time Joan picked up on a hint that her husband wasn't the BMOC she thought he'd be. And her accordion solo - lovely, but so, so sad. Terrific acting by Christina Hendricks in this episode.

-The belly rub, and Betty's glances at that dude afterwards. Are we going to see her venture into Don territory? This would be much riskier, though, than her anonymous fling with Captain America last year.

Can't wait till next week.


Blogger EC said...

re: Roger

1. I think Don's "people think you are a fool" comment is the first time anyone other than his daughter has bothered to tell him the truth. And even with his daughter, Roger was in his denial with "Mona's turning her against me." So, I took Roger's quip back to Don as Roger unfriending Don on Facebook (i.e. you won't be invited back to my country club).

2. On the blackface, it's supposed to make you squirm, but I don't think it was wrong to include it in the show. The thing that struck me is when Roger kissed Jane at the end of his ditty, he got two dark marks on his face, as though he's sullying her in some way. It makes me think back to Season 1, when old Cooper tells Jane, not to waste her youth on old men. Jane's made her mistake here with Roger.


I don't quite get how Cooper can be so ahead of the time with his art collecting, and so behind the times with politics (i.e. his Rockefeller is committing hari kiri comment, his earlier push for Nixon).


Finally, thanks for blogging Mad Men. I like checking in here, like that one season when I watched Idol (the Cook v. Archie season).

8:10 PM  
Blogger EC said...

Yikes, under my second point, I meant to type, "When Cooper tells Joan." Jane Joan Jane Joan, so easy to mistype!

8:11 PM  
Blogger ToastyKen said...

I think Roger's comment was more or less "I thought you were my friend."

EC, the paint on her face part: I hadn't thought of that literary interpretation! What I was thinking was that the paint-on-face thing is usually used for laughs, but here you were too uncomfortable to find it funny. I found that interesting.

When Joan sang, she looked like she wanted to cry. :'(

I did like that they showed Gene as potentially actually being a good caretaker. Hadn't seen that side of him before. I can't tell.. was he supposed to have been a bad father to Betty? I know they didn't get along later in life at least?

Re: Pete dance: Harry's wife left to go to the bathroom or something. Was she upset that Harry couldn't dance?

7:32 AM  
Blogger ToastyKen said...

Hm. Interesting bit from the commenters on Sepinwall's blog. "Connie", the old guy at the bar, is likely Conrad Hilton. The age and home town fit.

7:20 AM  
Blogger lylee said...

Oh, I didn't think Roger's blackface was a bad move for the *show*. I actually thought it was brilliant. Just a bad move for him, and one that was meant to jar us. But not gratuitously.

As for Bert Cooper, I find the contrast between his aesthetic and political inclinations kind of fascinating. It's esp. ironic he's into Ayn Rand, considering Ayn Rand was actively hostile to all things "Oriental" and didn't seem to have much use for contemporary trends in art, either.

Nice obs re: paint on Jane's face.

Yeah, it is interesting & I've seen comments elsewhere to the fact that Gene seems to be doing a better job parenting Sally than her own parents...or at least is more attentive, even if he is on the decline. I have no recollection of whether he was a bad parent to Betty; I was always under the impression she was his little princess, but can't really back that up.

Re: Connie = Conrad Hilton, yep, that's been verified by several sources. Almost too cute, but a cool touch.

I think Harry's wife was just PO'd that she & Harry were getting upstaged by Pete & Trudie (who had been kind of snubbing them before, too).

Thanks for stopping by! I'm actually going to miss the next episode of MM because I'll be on a plane, but I am DVRing it and will recap it when I can.

5:33 PM  

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