Monday, October 18, 2010

Mad Men, Season 4, Episode 13: "Tomorrowland"

I think Mad Men will zig, and then it zags instead, but the zag is just as good as the zig would have been. There’s no white knight to bail out SCDP (I suspected, wrongly, that we might see the return of Honda), but a small victory instead from Peggy and Ken with Topaz – SCDP will recover, but slowly, building up business with smaller clients, and weathering the storm. It’s a good decision that gives the show more creative freedom. As for that zag, poor Dr. Miller! I was excited to see that Don seemed to have found an intellectual match in her character, so I was a little disappointed when Don knocked on Megan's door (we all knew where that was going as soon as he heard her return to her hotel room for the evening). It seemed to be another instance of Don’s penchant for cheating getting the better of him. So even when Don started to profess his love for Megan, I was still somewhat conflicted. But the more I thought about it, the more I warmed to it – especially once Megan walked into his office and asked if he’d told Faye yet. This was a nice moment that revealed a slightly restricted narration. Given Don’s past behavior, I was inclined to think that his proposing to Megan didn’t necessarily mean he was being straight with her about Faye. But the show played off that knowledge of his character, creating a pleasant surprise when Megan asks if Don told Faye, because it implied both that Don had already told Megan about his relationship with Faye and that he was actually very serious about Megan. Ultimately, I’m excited about this development: it’s good for Don to finally be with someone who makes him feel like himself again (even if he hasn’t told her about his past yet) – his not being able to be himself around Betty was something that was sorely missing from that marriage, and which contributed to its destruction. And it’s even better for Don’s kids, Sally especially – Megan’s already been a better mother to her than Betty ever could be.

And good for this show for finally giving us scenes that I’ve wanted to see for a long time, namely extended time of Don being a wonderful father (we got it with Sally’s sojourn into the city, but that ended sadly). I loved his face plant into the bed, and his swimming up underneath Bobby and tossing him backwards off his shoulders. Have we ever seen Don behave this silly before? Anyone who’s watched his appearances on SNL knows Jon Hamm can do comedy: Also, it was wonderful to see that for Megan, a spilled milkshake is okay. I couldn’t help but think that Don’s overreaction to the spill was in part conditioned by how Betty would have let it ruin the entire day, and how Don would then have had to deal with a pouty Betty. But for Megan, it’s no big deal. Great moment from Jon Hamm when he shows how refreshing this is for Don. It’s no wonder he feels like Dick around her.

Another wonderful scene I’ve been pining for and that we finally received: camaraderie between Peggy and Joan! We finally get to see the two most sympathetic characters on the show share a scene with minimal tension between the two of them – or, at the very least, with the tension directed at someone besides themselves. Joan had some great lines in this scene too. I doubt Megan will remain Don's secretary, or that she will even remain at SCDP, but if Don actually did make Megan a copy writer, it would certainly toss a few flies into the ointment that is Peggy and Don's burgeoning respectful relationship. That's some tension I would not like to see, especially after all progress the two have made over the course of the season (and especially after what in my opinion was the best episode the show has ever done: "The Suitcase").

In sum, it was a satisfying end to what I think has been the strongest season thus far. Can’t wait for it to be August 2011 already.

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