Monday, August 30, 2010

"Mad Men" Ep. 4.6: "Waldorf Stories"

First off, congrats to "Man Men" for winning its third consecutive Emmy for best TV drama series (and for best writing too, I believe). Gotta love those Emmy-Clio parallels: I'm willing to bet that timing was NOT coincidence.

Overall, I thought tonight's episode was a bit of a comedown after the last few weeks. Maybe that's just because it didn't move the season forward in any immediately discernible way. Rather, it hit the pause/rewind button to freeze-frame Sterling Cooper, Then and Now - or more specifically, Don and Roger, Then and Now, with a little bit of Roger and Joan for good measure - for comparison and contrast purposes.

Are we supposed to infer that Cure for the Common Midget could become the new Don, or that Don's becoming the new Roger? The latter seems more likely, though either possibility frankly depresses me.

The structuring of the episode wasn't particularly subtle - "Mad Men" has been less so generally this season, I think - but the flashbacks did shed an interesting new light on the Don-Roger dynamic and how Don got a leg up the Sterling Cooper ladder. Hard to believe that he was once that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, especially after seeing his sodden present-day self. (Oh, the bitter irony of Don and Roger laughing at Duck at the Clios!)

I have to say that Don's descent is starting to remind me of Alice's fall down the rabbit hole - it's going on so long that it's starting to get tedious. You've made your point, writers, and underscored it several times - do we really need to see Don on yet another bender or another sad, sad attempt to pick up Dr. Faye? Or did you just want to show that his drinking is now directly affecting the quality of his work? (His riff on the Life cereal ad was painful to watch.) Fine, but can't you just let him hit bottom already?

Similarly, Peggy seemed to be mostly running in place in this episode. Amusing as it was to see her get the best of Arrogant Prick Art Director, that plotline just felt like a distraction. It didn't show us anything about Peggy's character or her peculiar betwixt-and-between status (not one of the girls, but not one of the boys, either) that we didn't already know. Oh, and the scales are falling from her eyes with respect to Don. But we've seen *that* coming for a while, too. On with it!

Random notes:

-Don's hair during the Life cereal pitch, together with his drunken demeanor, made him look like his father.

-Flashback tidibts: Loved the brief shot of Betty in the fur store ad, looking surprisingly...austere. And Joan's Marilyn-esque 'do.

-Pete's reaction to Ken's arrival was predictable, and typically childish, but it wasn't unjustified. Did he get what he wanted with his little charade in the conference room, I wonder, or will there be more friction ahead between those two? I have to admit that if it comes to another showdown, I'm on Team Pete - even though I have no ill will towards Cosgrove, who seems like a basically decent guy with much less psychological baggage than just about every other character on the show.

Best line:

Peggy: “I only changed one little thing.” The accompanying hand gesture KILLED.


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