'Mad Men' Recap: Drowning in Champagne
'Mad Men' Recap: Drowning in Champagne
This week on Mad Men, Paul Kinsey returns as a Hare Krishna, Lane has money issues and Don and Joan bond over fast cars and failed marriages.

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The combination of Don and Joan is one the show hasn't played with much in its five year run. After tonight's episode, it's hard to see why. The scenes between the two this episode were fantastic and the chemistry between the actors spot on. It's fair to say that I would watch an hour of Don and Joan driving around in Jaguars and wingman-ing each other.

As an episode, this week felt more like setup with some awesome team-ups and nostalgia thrown in to distract viewers from all the parts moving into place. Lane's financial troubles are surely going to come home to roost for SCDP in some way before the end of the season is out.

Meanwhile, Don finally seems to be plugged back into advertising after being checked out of the business for much of the season. In his conference room pep talk, Don says that soon the world will know who they are. Before the season is out, we'll know if he's right. Will SCDP take a great leap forward and drown in champagne? Or will they be known for a much less pleasant reason?

Flowers for Joan

Joan is having a bad day, but seeing more of Joan this season makes it a good day for me. Sadly, Joan has been more or less out of sight since she threw her horrible husband out. Now she's being served with divorce papers in the office, the place where she feels most powerful. Joan takes it out on the poor new receptionist, throwing a toy airplane at her.

One of the things we all love about Mad Men are the little details the show manages to pack into every episode. Here, Joan throws an airplane at the new receptionist, breaking the toy carrier into pieces. Later in the episode, we learn that Mohawk Airlines, SCDP's big airplane account, is on strike and putting their account on hold. Only on Mad Men can dramatically throwing things also serve as foreshadowing.

Don sees this display and convinces Joan to come with him to Jaguar, where he buys a new fancy car straight out. At a nearby bar, the two bond in a lovely extended scene that lasts half of the episode. In fact, this episode could basically just be called "Don and Joan's Power Hour."

Joan explains about being served the divorce papers and Don thinks that she'll be better off. He tells her when he first started he was afraid of Joan, as was everyone. Don tries to be a pretty solid wingman after Joan turns down his dance offer, telling her a man at the end of the bar is staring at her.

"My mother raised me to be admired," Joan says of all the flowers she used to receive. The next day, Roger delivers a bunch of flowers to Joan because the receptionist is now terrified of her. The flowers are from Don, of course. "Your mother did a good job -- Ali Khan," the card reads. At the bar, Don had commented that Joan got so many flowers he thought she was dating Ali Khan, Ali Khan being the third husband of another famous redhead: Rita Hayworth. Nice job, Mad Men.

Money Troubles

Lane is also having a very bad day. It seems that the money troubles alluded to earlier this season have started to come home to roost. A tax issue means that Lane owes $8,000 that he doesn't have, or else its prison for him. To put this in context, Don bought the Jaguar for $6,000, so this would have been quite a lot of money.

Instead of explaining the situation in any way, Lane goes to huge pains to hide his money problems. Huge pains that could have equally huge repercussions for the firm down the line. First, Lane gets an extra $50,000 from the bank, and then passes it off as a surplus. He says they have enough money to give everyone nice Christmas bonuses, including himself.

Unfortunately, Jaguar once again bites him on the posterior. Now that the man they took out for hookers is out of Jaguar, SCDP has another chance to nab the account. So the partners agree that they should wait a few weeks for the Christmas bonuses, but Lane needs the money now. Instead of just explaining the situation to anyone, Lane dummies himself up a check like a master thief or an extra from an Ocean's Eleven movie.

Later, we learn about the Mohawk Airlines trouble. Lane manages to save the bonuses, but ironically not for himself. The partners agree to forgo their bonuses in favor of allowing everyone else to get paid. Lane, with his hands clearly tied, agrees to this plan. But what will happen when they realize the money is already gone?

For the Movement

Meanwhile, this week saw a familiar face pop up on Madison Avenue. Former copywriter Paul Kinsey finally tracks down Harry Crane for the lunch Harry has been trying to avoid. Except there's a pretty big new development with Paul: He's now a bald, robe-wearing Hare Krishna. Mad Men is really going hard at the cultural references this week. Even the show making fun of advertising that Don and Megan see, America Hurrah, was a real show staged in 1966.

Paul wants to leave the movement (and presumably grow back his hair? -- Bald is a weird look for Paul), but there's one problem. He's in love with a woman in the movement called Lakshmi. He wants to build a life for her on the backs of terrible Star Trek spec scripts.

At work, Lakshmi visits Harry and has sex with him in his office. Later, she claims to have done the deed "for the movement" to keep Paul around. Somehow. I'm still unclear on how sex with Harry really got anything accomplished.

Despite how terrible the spec script was, Harry gives Paul $500 to go out to LA and pursue his dreams. Paul is touched and even agrees to leave without Lakshmi. Of all the former office members who might turn into Hare Krishnas, Paul makes a weird amount of sense.

Next week, people are in offices and say things to each other. Please, it's not like there's ever going to be a clear promo on this show. So I'm making up my own. Next week on Mad Men, Don and Joan become superheroes that don't rescue anyone, but spend all their time drinking and being fabulous. Peggy gets in some great burns about people working at the A&P. Roger decides to only wear Hawaiian shirts and tell people about his LSD experience. And Lane hooks up with a rag-tag group of grifters for the perfect con.

Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of AMC)

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