'Mad Men' Recap: Christmas in New York
Monday, August 02, 2010
This week's Mad Men was surprise, surprise about keeping up appearances. In order to impress the face of Lucky Strike, Lee Garner Jr., SCDP needed to throw a splashy Christmas party complete with bunny hop (thank you Joan). While I was excited about another holiday themed episode, I can't say I loved this one as much as last week's premiere, although I know with a series like Mad Men, getting the establishing shots of the characters is equally as important as story and plot.
The Good Son
Anyone remember that disturbing Macaulay Culkin movie from the 90's with Elijah Wood? I was reminded of The Good Son last night when Glen, the world's creepiest little boy neighbor (played by creator Matthew Weiner's son, Marten Holder Weiner) came back into our lives. Apparently Betty's hair wasn't doing it for him anymore and he's moved on to Sally. While I realize some of his actions are supposed to come off as sweet, he'll always be the little boy that walked in on Betty in the bathroom on purpose and since Betty is no longer seemingly available, Sally is next in line to seduce. That shot of Glen on his stairway balcony calling Sally was laughably frightening, although his allegiance to her in the face of parental dysfunction was kind.
Secrets and Lies
I laughed out loud last night when Peggy said no to her boyfriend's peer pressure. The first time can be difficult and I was very sympathetic to her cause. Except, oh wait! Peggy is certainly no virgin. Is Peggy lying to keep the guy around? To make herself feel better after her terrible choices in men? Does she just want to take it slow? Peggy's behavior at the Christmas party was telling to me. She doesn't seem to know how to have fun. She is seemingly awkward at social events. Remember last year's walk through of Sterling Cooper after the election party? She was disgusted at the mess and acted superior when really she should indulge a little and have some fun. Same type of walk through during last night's episode. She'll never be as bunny hoppy as Joan, but I'm sure there's a happy medium. By the end of the episode, Peggy lost her fake virginity and kept her man. Does she feel different? Sure...
Joan, our resident redhead has also been naughty. I was waiting for the shot of her on Santa's lap. I could imagine ten great lines that would accompany that visual. Joan is a perfect example of mixed messages and keeping up appearances. She says to Sterling he needs to be reminded that she is off limits, but she wears the dress he likes and then lies to him about the state of her husband's job. He's off saving lives? Is he really? Last time we saw him, he was crying about being a terrible doctor. I'm betting she's the sole bread winner.
"A Secretary is Not a Toy"
Don Draper has been drunk plenty of times, but I can't remember an episode where I've seen him get this sloppy. I love that at the beginning of this episode, he bailed on the questionnaire where he would have had to address who his father was, and effectively who he is. Any attempt to crack into Don's true identity is aptly deflected. Add five scotch neats and you have Don's recipe for avoiding the truth. And then we have the mess with his secretary. Shockingly, Don decided to drunkenly make advances on his nice secretary. But she's not helpless. Risk/benefit analysis. Is she more likely to get fired for sleeping with him or not sleeping with him? With Don, it depends on the day. On the day after the party, she received a bonus and a lovely parting "thank you for bringing me my keys." Maybe the subtext here was that there was no subtext. He wants absolutely nothing more from his secretary than for her to be his secretary. Although she looked crushed, she had to know on some level that Don wouldn't just run away with her and make her his new wife. Although Roger's urban myth example probably gave some of the secretaries some false hope.
"Here Comes Santa Claus"
The myth of Santa was used several times throughout this episode. Don was equated to the mythical man by his children since his appearances may be about as often as Santa's to the kids. Freddy was asked to be Santa to deflect Pete's obvious insult about Freddy's drinking problem. And then Roger is forced to be Santa by Lee to degrade him. Just as I was surprised not to see Joan taking up residence in Santa's lap, I was equally surprised to see Lee Garner Jr. ogling Jane instead of Don. Lee had a thing for Sal, which led to his firing last season. The office party needed to be pitch perfect and with Joan in charge, it was. Poor Roger had to deal with Lee making him dress as Santa and watch him hit on his wife all while holding his silver tongue. All is well though since Don and Roger made a crack comparing him to Hitler the next day. Ho, ho, ho.
Will next week be New Year's? More drinking and parties please.
(Imagecourtesy of AMC)