"Damn it, Whitman, this is a cooperative!" the fellas in the 1930s "Grapes of Wrath" wardrobe yell at Don's father during another dreary, overly mannered "Mad Men" flashback set in that sad, oil-cloth-covered kitchen. And indeed, those are telling words. Because this Season 3 finale was all about Don finally learning to cooperate.
This was a second-to-last installment that felt more like a shiver-inducing finale, with echoes of death -- and John F. Kennedy -- everywhere. And as Joan put it, there was "nothing funny about it."
This episode was the most explosive yet. Again, it was all about the search for identity, love and acceptance. It opens with Don telling Sally that Halloween masks are "plastic" and "crap" that "you wear once." In terms of being able to put together a costume for the long term, Don certainly speaks from experience. <
Weren't the Brits the ones who were supposed to be the wankers? One of my favorite episodes ever, it's called "The Color Blue." Blue robe, blue Caddy, blue headboard, blue princess phone, Miles Davis' blues playing in Paul's office, Miss Farrell's kid asking how we know blue is blue. But it's more like Code Blue for Don and his secrets.
This week's episode was all about the invasion of space, both personal and planetary, and wanting what you want when you want it, regardless of the consequences. I don't know how Matthew Weiner coordinated it, but there was a march on Washington for gay rights on the very weekend that the episode repeatedly referred to the September 1963 march on Washington for racial equality and Martin Luther King's historic "I Have A Dream " speech. Also, Connie, who seems to be achieving Howard Hughes-level craziness, told Don that he wanted the moon. And last week, WE (as in the USA, ...
Parts of Souvenir" left me feeling as cranky as Pete and Betty, the two petulant characters it focused on. Once again, it was all about reversals, and power and phalluses (or lack thereof.) With his wife away, Peter behaves like a dick, (or Dick) and was sexually abusive (or at least threatening) to poor Gudrun, the German au pair whose accent I couldn't buy. ("Zank you, Mistah Petah.")
Last week we got some pulp foot action, which lent a "Twin Peaks"-ish thrill to the proceedings. This week opens with a noir-ish mystery feel, with three forward-flashes (in medias res, to be fancy) on shots of recumbent characters. (Or as Jews ask at Passover, "Why on this night do we recline?") Don happens to be nose down on the grimy motel carpet, bleeding, while Betty, dressed daintily and watching the ceiling, faint with the vapors, is thinking about touching herself. I have to hold my nose here before I can describe the third scene: Duck and Peggy are post-coital ...
The fog has lifted, but it cost an arm and a leg! Ba-bum. Although the episode was full of death, blood, and hacked-off limbs, it was still very merry, and easily the best of the third season.
"The Fog" opens with an early morning meeting in a sun-dappled classroom: Don sits respectfully wedged behind a miniature desk, while full-term Betty stands towering like the Statue of Liberty, alone in the harbor, blonde hair piled formally on top of her head. (Whereas Miss Farrell sports long, loose brunette waves, all the better to play the Veronica type Don usually goes for in mistresses as opposed to his own blonde Betty.)
R.I.P., Pope John XXIII and Eugene Hofstadt No. 2. Plus, blood and helmets. Skins and carcasses. A salt tooth. Peaches and curbs. And, "Not tonight, dear! I have a Patio commercial to direct!"