Mad Men – “The Monolith”

Computers and communes: the late 1960s were a crazy time. Mad Men‘s most recent episode got its title from the computer that SC&P got for the office, but it was Roger and Mona’s road trip to rescue their daughter from a commune that I think I’ll be chucking about for a while. (As my sister wrote to me today, “Who wears fur to a commune?”)

The computer was placed in the creative lounge – sometimes Matthew Weiner’s symbolism can be rather heavy-handed, but I liked the sense of self-awareness here as Don told Harry “No, it’s quite literal” when Harry assured him it wasn’t a metaphor. The computer showing up had the whole creative team in a tizzy, but it was only the tip of the iceberg for Don Draper. Sure, he agreed to the stipulations easily in the meeting – but he expected to return to work. Instead, he’s barely been used and when he was finally assigned to a project he was reporting to Peggy. The tension in that meeting made me cringe with discomfort.

2014-05-04-mad-men-stare-animIt was fascinating to watch Don cope. He secretly got drunk, tried to get Freddie Rumsen to go to a Mets game with him. (He found a Mets pennant in Lane’s old office.) Then, miraculously, Freddie was able to snap some sense into Don. Rather than playing solitaire in his office, he actually did the work Peggy wanted. This is the shape Don needs to be in when the office has the creative crisis Bert Cooper laughed off earlier. Not a booze-soaked, bitter, washed up hack.

Meanwhile, Roger and Mona had to drive upstate to retrieve Margaret from the commune she’s run away to – abandoning her husband and son in the process. Roger’s interactions with Mona are funny, but also have a sense of history and regret. When it’s clear that Margaret – or, “Marigold” as she’s known on the commune – isn’t coming back, Mona leaves. Roger stays, at first because he can see the appeal of Margaret’s new lifestyle. He’s not exactly a traditionalist himself. But he can’t do it, and by morning he’s trying to physically drag Margaret back to her son.

Margaret equated her leaving her kid to Roger traveling all the time for business. Certainly, Roger can’t chastise Margaret for abandoning her son as though he’s an expert on good parenting. Yet, I can’t help but hate Margaret for keeping this cycle going – for putting her kid in the same lonely place she’s been in her whole life.

Stray thoughts:

  • The scenes in California this week felt a tad pointless, but it’s interesting that Ted refused to return to the East coast. He’s making himself rather obsolete, isn’t he?
  • I love when Joan helps Peggy keep it real. “I have exactly two minutes”, pouring herself a drink and serving Peggy a dose of advice? Classic.

About Jill

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2 Responses to Mad Men – “The Monolith”

  1. Dana says:

    Yeah, I am not that happy with Pete Campbell being kept to the sidelines, This week he served only as a plot device. I wish he was more part of the story (although Ted can stay out there for the rest of his life as far as I am concerned, his character does nothing for me). This is the first season I can remember that I wasn’t rooting for Peggy although I think it is interesting that Peggy’s and Don’s journeys mirror each other yet again. It looks like Don might be over his wallowing and Peggy just continues it, I wonder how that is all going to impact work. Great season so far!

  2. Janet Allen says:

    Love what they did with Peggy and Don this week. LOVE. The dynamic is so rich. I’d really like to see the two of them try to work together as equals, but that would require Peggy handling things a bit better i.e. directly addressing the issue without flying off the handle. But her avoidance/whining seems par for the course these days. And how far has Don fallen that Freddie is his voice of reason?! (I kind of like that dynamic too). In the broad scope of the series it seems important that Don be humbled before he can become whoever he’s becoming, but I still find it really uncomfortable to watch… Awesome, but uncomfortable. Great review, Jill!

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