About this week’s ‘Mad Men’…

I didn’t have a chance to write about Game of Thrones and Mad Men on Monday, but I wanted to touch on Mad Men before the last episode of 2014 airs since this week’s was so strange.

Every season, it seems, there’s one episode of Mad Men that really doesn’t work for me. This year it was “The Runaways”. There were parts of the episode that could have really worked, but I felt we hadn’t spent enough time with the characters for it to really pack a punch. The plots all felt very disconnected in this episode, and the overall effect was very scattered storytelling.

In California, Megan dealt with her jealousy and paranoia by a) sending away Don’s “niece” (Anna’s niece) who was pregnant and in need with a hefty cheque, before she had a chance to see Don and, b) convincing a drunk Don to have a threesome with her friend.

Watching Don and Megan at the acting class party did a great job of showing how far apart they’ve drifted – culturally, emotionally, geographically. But I had a hard time understanding exactly why Megan was acting like this. Why was she so threatened by a beautiful, pregnant and (literally) dirty hippie, and not by Don actually sleeping with another woman during the threesome? I understand, of course, the element of control. But I wish Megan were a more fully-formed character so these moments meant more.

I did enjoy Harry showing up at the party with his California girlfriend. There’s so much history between him and Don, their conversations were filled with it.

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In New York, Ginsberg finally went over the edge. His mental illness has been hinted at before, in some ways. (Vulture has an interesting piece up, where a psychiatrist analyzes his behavior.) The new computer caused a nervous breakdown – he was hallucinating, it seemed, and began acting completely irrationally. It ended with him presenting a gift box containing his own nipple, which he had cut off, to Peggy. I audibly reacted. Peggy had to call 911, and poor Stan accompanied Ginsberg in the ambulance. It was a memorable moment, but I wished we’d seen more leading up to this. This shortened season – half of a “full” season that’s been broken up between two years – has, I think, messed with the flow of the show.

In Betty’s world, she embarrassed herself at a party and threatened to break her own daughter’s arm. I was interested in her conflict with Henry over stating incorrect political views (he hadn’t updated her on what to think about the war), and how Bobby’s statement that he has a stomachache all the time indicated that these conflicts aren’t uncommon. The moment between Sally, home from school thanks to a nose injury, and her poor little brother was very sweet. Betty is so cut off from the rest of the show now, that I think her only relevance is how her parenting effects her and Don’s children. If Don had more contact with his kids, this would make everything gel better. I loved that early episode where he and Sally spent time together. But when was the last time he saw Bobby? Or that baby he hates?

The episode ended with Don getting some of his swagger back, it seemed. He broke a bunch of the rules that were laid out for him by interrupting a meeting with a tobacco brand. Again, there are so few episodes this season that the shift from the Don Draper who accepted those rules to the Don Draper who’s breaking them feels too fast. I’m not ready for Don to be back on top just yet.

What do you guys think?

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4 Responses to About this week’s ‘Mad Men’…

  1. KC says:

    I think Megan was acting how she did because she was upset that Stephanie said she knows all of “Don’s secrets”. And I think that put her off. After that, she became very cold towards Stephanie and basically kicked her out.

    I loved the last scene with Don. I still don’t think he’ll be on top quite yet…but it was nice seeing a glimpse of his old self.

    And poor Ginsberg! While the scenes were kind of funny, it was also sad. I liked how Stan took the ambulance with him.

  2. Dan says:

    The Ginsburg stuff was my favourite. It was hinted throughout last season (I think the first clues I noticed were when he was set up on a date with a nice local Jewish girl), but I agree it would’ve been nice to see a bit more in the past few episodes. It went from being really funny to then getting hit by the sad reality, which I think is an accurate representation of how similar mental breakdowns get viewed by people. I remember when I saw the nipple thinking, “Haha, he’s gone nuts!” and then feeling a lump in my throat when Peggy watched him leave and Stan says he’ll take the elevator with him. I’m sad to see him leave the show, but it was a great development of that character and certainly had a strong impact on me.

    And anything with Sally Draper is gold. Kiernan Shipka is fantastic, I wanna see her in everything! She has great chemistry with every actor she’s interacts with.

  3. Dana says:

    I am with you Jill, there’s always one episode that leaves me cold. Last season it was the one where they were all on drugs and this year, it’s this one. While the acting is always superb, a lot of these stories just felt out of field for me. Betty is Betty but Henry is usually kind and patient with her. I wonder how he got to be so exasperated with her. While Ginsburg has has always been a little strange, him going from doing nothing but telling stupid fart jokes all season long to having a mental breakdown felt out of place too. Megan’s storyline also felt out of left fields, when we last saw her she was basically saying the marriage was over, now she is so desperate to hang onto Don that she’s masterminding a threesome? In a way her sending Stephanie away makes sense, as we are never so appealing until someone else shows an interest in us, but why is Megan so desperate to hang onto Don? The entire episode I just kept thinking that she is a younger version of Betty, incredibly unhappy and desperately trying to get Don to notice her. Also an episode with no Roger, no Joan and no Pete is never a good episode in my opinion. The only promising part is maybe Don is getting some of his swagger back. Maybe there is hope for him yet.

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