Monday, October 12, 2009

"Mad Men" Ep. 3.9: "Wee Small Hours"

Well, that just may have been the most unpleasant episode of "Mad Men" ever - at the very least, it was one of the most difficult to watch.

I'm trying to finish drafting something for work that's due tomorrow, so I'll have to make my thoughts relatively brief.

First and foremost, my heart bleeds for Sal. What will he do? How long can he keep Kitty in the dark? And how sad that his first full-on sexual encounter with another man (I'm assuming) is going to be with some nameless, faceless dude in a park.

Second, do we still need proof that Harry Crane = useless? How much longer can he get away with such schmuckitude?

Third, Don is officially dead to me. It's not that he didn't save Sal, coldblooded as that decision was - I don't think he was exaggerating the importance of the Lucky Strike account, and he may very well have believed he had no choice. But the manne of his dismissal! The disbelief that Sal was blameless. The cynical suggestion that Sal (or a girl, had she been in that situation and of a sufficiently slutty disposition) should have acquiesced to Client Thug. And then those two words, dropped like a bomb: "You people." And everything they implied, underscored by the contempt on his face.

We're supposed to see this brutality, I guess, as Don's reaction to losing control at work - a motif that's also been developing in his increasingly imbalanced relationship with Connie Hilton. Connie's demanding and a bit kooky, no doubt, and it was painful to see Don visibly deflate and crumple as his most prized client literally asked for the moon. But I had no sympathy for him at that point, between his treatment of Sal and his insane pursuit of teacher-lady. In fact, by the time he finally closed the deal with Miss Farrell, he was so ugly to me I couldn't see anything objectively attractive about him anymore - to my eyes, he was practically leering at her. There was nothing sexy about that tryst. Desperation and stupidity are not sexy. And the feeling of inevitability just made it all the drearier.

Fourth, a lot of viewers probably got bored and/or frustrated by Betty's handling of Henry Francis, and there's no question she behaved like a spoiled child when he refused to show up & play the part she assigned him. But I sympathize with her drawing back from a "tawdry" affair, esp. when juxtaposed with Don's rolling around & covering himself in all kinds of tawdry. Betty doesn't want an affair - she wants to be loved. I can't blame her for that.

Fifth, re: Betty's comment to Carla about the civil rights movement - though it made me cringe, I couldn't hate on her for it. Someone happened to make an almost identical comment to me about gay rights earlier in the day, which just goes to show that where a social inequity is still deeply enough entrenched, you can be a well-meaning person who says "not yet, it's not time" and just doesn't get it. Betty's remark was simply not on par with Don's "you people" because there was no malice behind it. Betty's undeniably self-absorbed, but she isn't cruel. Especially not compared to just about every other major character on the show.

Sixth and finally, Carla knows all and sees all. And probably wishes she didn't.


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