Season 4, Episode 10: Everybody's Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Mickey)
Cottontails, bunny ears, and tell me about the rabbits, Joan. Talk about Groundhog Day, and chickens coming home to roost.
Really, Don, vomiting so soon? And pulling that exact same mode of panic attack again, pu-leeeze!!!
I hate to go so neg, Mad Blogsters, but after the high of last week's episode, I was at first put off by the stilted tone and implausibly soap opera-ish turns of this week's nonstop depressing -- and even horrifying -- revelations.
Really, there were only three high points: Sally's delighted squeal about the Beatles' tickets, Trudy's lulu of a maternity nightie, (what a wedding-cake-like confection!) and Don's line to Faye: "You're not a real doctor."
The rest were lies, lies, lies. And buying time: a month, to be exact. But then again, this is "Mad Men," which requires extra viewings. Those bring the realization that in reality, most people keep repeating the same crazy stuff in their lives, while vowing to change. It's depressing, yes. And human.
Let's start with Lane, whose name is only one letter away from lame. Actually, his completely sadistic father is the one who requires the walking stick, and he treated us to something I've never seen before: a caning.
It wasn't enough that the father beat his child so violently on the head that he drew blood. Then he had to step on Lane's hand, possibly crushing it (more gratuitous Weiner-style limb-based drama!)
Even worse, the historically bullied and abused son (he had previously disclosed that his father was an alcoholic) submitted, literally blindly, while searching for his glasses. (Now I understood why Lane took the news of being moved to India as a reward for his hard work so stoically.)
I was surprised to learn that Lane's father was a salesman -- "in trade!" No wonder Lane's wife is so snooty; she feels that she married down. He's dating a Toni, but Lane's back round is not so tony. The only thing left out, in terms of brutal British stereotypes, was for Robert Pryce to have buggered his son with his cane. For Lane's part, there will be no mutiny. Forget Mickey Mouse and his new American-ness, with his newfound love of jazz and Negroes; he's going home to take care of business.
In a previous episode, Lane was shown reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Lane's relationship with his "Negro" is more a poignant stab at personal freedom (his life raft, if you will) than poseur Paul's interracial dabbling with the supermarket clerk to prove his progressive liberal bona fides. But both situations came off as dramatically awkward, and to a modern eye and ear, embarrassing. Indeed, a friend told me he thought the situation was redeemed only by Lane calling Toni his "jungle bunny," which caused him to laugh out loud. (That would suggest that Lane is more like his class-bound wife in his view of the colonies than he admits.) But my friend rewound and found that Lane had said "chocolate bunny."
At one point while Lane, the key holder, was entertaining Don and his father at the Playboy Club, he pointed to cocoa-lady love and called her the "finest waitress here." I was thinking he was going to say "finest piece of ass I've ever had," which is what Roger once said about Joan.
Roger's treatment of Joan is just plain sickening. And she actually apologized for getting pregnant. (Just as Megan apologized to Don for not telling him what he signed.)
But let's talk about the "Mad Men" preoccupation with monster sperm. We know that, like God, Matthew Weiner works in mysterious ways. We've got a holy trinity in terms of practically immaculate seminal events here. This is the third pregnancy on the show from a one-time assignation: Peggy and Pete, Don and Betty, and now Joan and Roger.
Talk about implausible, and shooting heat-seeking missiles: how the hell did two almost-elderly people do it standing up, on a street, with all of her majorly defensive foundation garments in the way, and end up preggers to boot?
Plus, all these non-abortions are beginning to tilt the show toward a decidedly pro-life leaning. Is Weiner trying to tell us that some of the more interesting souls populating our planet these days got here unintentionally?
The episode was directed by Lynn Shelton, and while she had to deal with a tough script with some decidedly non-mumblecore dialogue, one moment of beauty came through loud and clear: the vision of Joan coming home alone on the bus. (Geographic mistake alert: she would have certainly taken the train from Morristown, N.J.) Regardless, it was a gorgeous visual that reminded me of Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks." (More bird references!) Certain lush, ruby-red infused images in episodes past have also seemed to refer to Hopper, the master at reflecting urban angst, isolation, and alienation.
I think Joan did not go through with the abortion. She mentioned that her daughter was 15 because that's when her first abortion happened (this would be her third.) She told the other mother that her daughter was beautiful; between what the doctor said in scolding Roger and the mother's mistake, it hit her that she's getting long in the tooth, can no longer trade on her own beauty, and this could be her last opportunity to have a baby.
I believe, in a perfect parallel to Roger's scene with Lee Garner Jr., that in her own mind, Joan is saying to herself, "Give me 30 days. After all the lies I've told for Roger, he owes me that. Thirty days to keep it under my hat and get my affairs in order."
Meanwhile, Don was back to his panic-attack-y self, and repeated the same behavior that led him to want to abandon his fake life and run off with Rachel. At the time, she told him, "You haven't thought this through." This time, Don has thought it through, to the extent of wanting to set up "a trust" for his children. A TRUST! That's rich.
In a vulnerable moment, he did tell Faye about the identity change. His behavior seems as familiar to her as a fake heart attack -- maybe her own father has wanted to run off as well.
For Sally's sake, I hope Don stays, at least through the Beatles' concert. That Shea Stadium event in the summer of 1965 was a revealing predictor of pop culture: very telling, in that no one could hear the band play, including John, Paul, George and Ringo themselves (the music was all redone secretly for the documentary release), and the experience, complete with security and armored van, made the Beatles want to stop touring.
But back to lies. Think of all the people who can now blackmail Don: Betty, Pete, and Faye. Pete is really in the driver's seat, having to subject himself to such abuse from Roger for lying for Don. What he has up his sleeve is now as huge as Trudy's maternity nightgown.
The final song, an instrumental version of "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" sounded tinny and cheap. I guess that was intentional. The song that would really cover things, though, was "I Should Have Known Better."
Editors' Note: Mad Blog return to an earlier posting date next week.