So did you see “Mad Men” Sunday night? (Spoiler alert!)
It’s not as much fun to tell people about “Mad Men” any more. With all the Emmys and attention, everybody knows about it. As do the people I know. But what does that mean now, “knowing” somebody?
The definition of “knowing” somebody really has changed in recent years. The definition of “friend” has changed too. I guess it’s not that unusual to have a thousand Facebook “friends.” Which means anything from somebody who knows somebody you may or may not have known twenty years ago to someone you might actually want to have coffee with, but I digress: the question is, who really knows Don, now that Anna is gone? More specifically, who knows Dick Whitman?
Nobody. Except maybe Peggy. Maybe.
This episode was extraordinary, as good as my other favorites, “The Hobo Code,” from season one, and “The Grown-Ups,” about the Kennedy assassination, from last season. I watched it twice and will again before I post this. The second time, I noted some of my thoughts in real time: here they are, with a minimum of commercial interruption, presented for your entertainment at the virtual water cooler.
Were Don and Peggy actually going to….no. This is going somewhere much more complex.
Brutality/power game from Don. He’s channeling Archie, his brutal, drunken father.
Peggy quotes market research to counter Don’s breezy “Women don’t buy suitcases” remark.
Say goodbye to hunch-based advertising!
Standing by the elevator, Peggy makes the crucial decision between work and family, and chooses work.
(Okay, okay. With the option being dweeb-boy Mark and the collection of gargoyles who comprise Peggy’s family, she wouldn’t choose work?)
Amazing gesture from Jon Hamm, when he taps Peggy’s hand after holding it (an affectionate knuckle-cracking squeeze, then a “buddy” tap).
Hamm has a face like Lon Chaney Sr. It seems to be made of plastic, putty or silicon. It’s as if he can arrange his facial muscles over the bones in different ways for different situations.
What did he have to do, though, to make himself look that bad? That wasn’t makeup.
I flinched when I realized there was going to be a vomit scene. Thank you thank you, we don’t have to watch. TV and film directors out there: were you listening, boys? You don’t have to actually show it.
Here comes Joan as The Office Dragon Lady. Is this what she’ll be?
When the copywriter defies Joan in that sneering, Dylan-esque way, it’s clear: the generation gap has come to Sterling Cooper Draper Price. Joan is on the other side of it.
So is Don.
Peggy, 26, is a creature of the moment, in this, her moment.
When Don draws a static image to illustrate his brilliant idea and Peggy says “how are they gonna put that on TV?” the torch is passed.
They have become creative partners. A creative partnership so much more interesting than an affair -- with more tension, similar battles, and about as good a chance at lasting.
The director of this episode gave the cast room to move. A minimum of reaction shots, jump cuts: the camera is trained on their faces, quietly, as the actors work.
Here is Don Draper, as the 60‘s pick up speed; the facade has to crack or he’ll shrivel inside it like a mummy.
As for us, in the nearly-new millennium, we’ve got bios and profiles and photos -- only the best ones, of course -- and LinkedIn, and likes and dislikes, and walls, and these are how we communicate with our nine hundred “friends.”
Social networking: let’s hope it doesn’t make Don Drapers out of all of us.
The photo came from an industrial-supplies catalog.
For a chance at winning the perfume samples (see last week’s post) just leave a comment below. The drawing is next Tuesday, September 14.