Monday, October 11, 2010

"Mad Men" Ep. 4.12: "Blowing Smoke"

Blowing smoke, indeed...apt title for this week's episode. Maybe I'm just tired, maybe I'm still disillusioned after some of the recent developments on this show (see last week's recap), but it's not been working its magic on me lately. So the question for me isn't whether Don's daring ploy will save our favorite upstart advertising firm or accelerate its implosion, but whether I still care.

I guess I do. Just not as much as I once did. I have little sympathy left for Don, none at all for Roger, and at the same time full faith that Cooper's anger will abate and that Peggy and Pete will succeed wherever they go. True, I'd be sorry to see Lane unmoored from his American haven and Joan thrown into even greater uncertainty than ever - but not sorry enough to weep if SCDP goes under. As for the others, we evidently haven't seen the last of Faye (at least not yet); Harry and Ken have enough dumb luck between them to find a soft landing; and I couldn't care less what happens to newbies like Stan and Megan. Actually, on second thought I would be quite happy to see Megan go; unfortunately I don't think we've seen the last of her, yet, either.

At any rate, that feeling of bright excitement, that infectious sense of expectation that lit up the founding of SCDP is now diminished, if not completely gone. And it's not just because the firm's teetering on the brink of dissolution. If anything, that should provide a jolt of adrenaline, and to some extent it does for Don. Still, it's telling that his one flash of creative inspiration can be traced directly back to his grim encounter with bohemian-turned-junkie Midge. I haven't quite decided how I feel about that interaction, which shifted quickly from vaguely disquieting to distinctly creepy to just plain sad.

The same might be said of Sally and Glen, though I couldn't muster up much enthusiasm for that storyline, either. I don't know that I blame Betty all that much for her reaction to seeing those two together, even if she was at least partly motivated by the kind of indefinable jealousy that only the good Dr. Edna would understand. I can also understand why Betty might cling to the latter like a life-raft even as she bats away the idea of seeing a "real" therapist of her own. Yet it irks me that her attitude once again plays so easily into the hands of Betty-haters, who are only too ready to see her as an overgrown child. Let's not forget that that was the assessment of Betty's *previous* "therapist," hardly a reliable authority on feminine psychology.

Ah well. There's still one episode left for Weiner & co. to bring back the mojo - and we all know what happened this time last season. Whatever happens, I hope this one, too, goes out with a bang rather than a whimper. There's been enough whimpering.

Best line: Again, can't think of one for this episode, which overall was a downer. But the best moment was the sight of Don smiling at Peggy's approval (her parting line about shenanigans was a nice throwback to the beginning of this season). Runner-up: Pete learning that Don paid his $50,000 share. Finally some real recognition for Pete. It was long overdue.


Post a Comment

<< Home