Mad Men – 4×10: Coming Undone

Before anything, my sincere apologies for the extreme tardiness on this review, which hopefully is not yet irrelevant. Unfortunately, this blogging thing doesn’t pay the bills and I had to take care of things that do before getting around to it so… once again, pardon moi.

You can't tell but Roger isn't sitting, he's on his knees (AMC)

It’s. Going. Down.

That’s all I kept thinking throughout this week’s episode of Mad Men. Either Don or Roger or Joan or Lane or Pete or SCDP itself were going to fall apart. There was this freaky vibe that things were simply coming undone. And with all the characters that were involved (despite a missing Peggy), it felt that much more urgent!

I loved this episode more than any other yet this season. It wasn’t because of it’s sheer mastery or anything but — because I’m a masochist — for its suspense and how much it just caught me off-guard considering that all the events which put me in such suspense should have been more than expected already, by both myself and the characters.

If you’re living under a false name at the pinnacle of the Cold War, you might get caught.

If you’re having impromptu midnight sexcapades under the subway stairs in Harlem and off your birth control, you might get pregnant.

Or how about, if you tell your British father that you’re leaving your family for a “Chocolate Bunny”, he might bash your skull in.

We should have seen the blows coming. Literally.  Life catches up with you. You can only run for so long…

Don Draper

Seeing Don nearly crap his pants in fear this week was an even more surreal and unsettling experience than watching him break down crying in front of Peggy or get rejected by Faye and Pheobe-the-neighbor-nurse this season. Not everyone is going to want to sleep you and, yeah, who doesn’t need a good cry every once in a while? But fear is that one thing that a man should never project. Throwing up because you are so scared that you need to go home and hide? WHO EVER THOUGHT DON DRAPER WOULD COME TO THIS?

It’s so odd to think about, I can’t even discuss it  much longer. Cringe! Not even if it had been Tony Soprano would it have been this much of a shock because Tony was always a little vulnerable with his anxiety attacks and what-not. But Don… Don on the other hand… well, he might as well been a cartoon character when we met him back 1960. We knew people like that didn’t really exist but goddamn he made it look so believable, you just wanted to believe! Didn’t you? Yet he still somehow turns up the hero, getting those Beatles tickets for Sally at the last minute. Which, by the way, how scary was it to think he’d let her down, too? The writers did an amazing job putting that mini conflict in the episode because considering his family life, not getting those tickets would have been almost as big as having his identity discovered by the government!

And so the anti-hero is the pseudo-hero yet again when, by the episode’s conclusion, he’s also gotten Pete to throw himself under the bus for him somehow. Unbelievable. (Made Pete 100 times more redeemable of a character, by the by!) And then that look Don gave to Megan in the closing shot. I literally wanted to throw up. What. A. Creep! Why am I still so shocked? After everything that just happened, and everything that’s been happening since the beginning! Oh, what: He sees Megan as some mothering figure now that she’s (1) consoled Sally, (2) gotten her the Beatles tickets? Even that is his own bullshit. As Pete puts it:

“Why do they have to bring everyone else down with them?… No one knows except the honest people who have to pick up the pieces.”

Okay, fine, who is Pete calling honest here: himself? It’s a little laughable, of course, but by the time he blames himself at the partner’s meeting to cover Don’s ass, you’ve got to give it to him that he’s not far off.

Joan and Roger

Joan contemplates her third abortion (AMC)

I’ve been putting some attention this season on how little the show has brought up Jane, Roger’s secretary-turned-wife, or shown her this season. But with the rekindling of love between Joan and Roger it would seem we have an answer as to why. I wanted to believe that Roger was happily-ever-after with Jane for so many reasons. First, because I like him so much and wanted him to be happy. Secondly, because I thought Joan was too loyal to ever reciprocate and smart enough to leave well enough alone. Thirdly, I wanted to believe that it was possible to get over wanting to be with someone when all that ever stood in the way was timing and circumstance. But most of all, it was that I didn’t want to believe that anyone else on this show would cheat. Not again. Not everyone! This makes Don, Betty, Pete, Peggy, Lane, Joan, and Roger all cheaters. Every last one of them, adulterous. Casual infidelity is a theme I’ve been working on in my own writing lately, and something I’ve always been creepily attracted to in film (i.e. Woody Allen, Adrian Lyne) and I have to actively fight my urges not to cheer it on so often that when I actually convince myself otherwise, it feels like a failure if the characters do so anyway. Don’t you just want some of these characters to be stronger than yourself sometimes? Sigh.

But alas, here you have it. It’s official that Roger and Joan have started an affair. I would be simply shocked if Joan had an abortion for a THIRD time in her mid 30’s with the looming possibility that she may become a widow in the very near future. Honestly, its stupid. We all know how much she wants a child, and while she wants a family even more, I don’t think its enough. So, its my opinion that she did not go through with the abortion. We’ll see what happens but I think Roger’s idea of her having it and going on as if though it were Greg’s, whether he comes back from Vietnam or not, was a fabulous idea. If she didn’t have the abortion, however, why wouldn’t she just tell Roger if he approves of the idea? Oh, I don’t know. She’d just be such a moron for going through with it! And you know how partial I am to Joan, I couldn’t imagine her going so much against her own heart. Okay, I’m moving on…

Lane Pryce

Lane in Love (AMC)

I’ve been such a Lane supporter since his introduction and I’m not sure just why but maybe its because he’s so… average. In that good way (not that Faye, way). He’s just a guy with no huge secrets, unlike so many of his co-workers, but with still enough heart, soul, and ambition that the relatableness factor gets amped up into overdrive. And you know us Americans, we can’t resist the charm of a good British accent.

Unfortunately, Lane is also not as strong as all these manipulative, cheating, sacks of advertisement shtick walking around SCDP. We knew this, no surprise there. But watching it play out: OUCH. Of course we love him even more for being so “progressive” and falling for a Black woman and being so darn cute about it, too, which makes it that much more difficult to watch him get kicked around on his “Hands and Knees” (as the episode is so appropriately titled). Will he really be moving back to England? Will he be convincing his family to come back? It sounded as though the father found the latter to be a possibility as well, so lets hope for that because Sterling Cooper Draper Campbell just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce

And speaking of that nice long name — looks like our characters aren’t all that’s falling apart at the seams. They just lost (1) Lucky Strike, (2) North American Aviation, and (3) possibly Lane Pryce! Are they bankrupt?!? Take a moment to consider that. Remember the episode where they reveal that Lucky Strike is 60%+ of revenue? Without them they are done. Finito. Toast. I think this season will end with lots of desperation, as if we hadn’t gotten enough of that already between Peggy, Don, and even that disgusting Duck cameo. Keep your fingers crossed, kiddies!

This Weeks Theme

Somebody help! I didn’t see it coming!” Yup. Like I said up top, we all should have foreseen these consequences. The only blow that really came from left field was Lucky Strike dumping SCDP, but everything else was just a ticking time bomb. Don begging not to be uncovered as if he’d never planned or thought of the possibility although he’s built a huge life based on lies. Joan begging Roger for an answer of which he gives her several, and she’s still unsatisfied. Lane begging his father to accept his decision and then just begging for him not to crush his hand. Let’s not even get into Roger literally pleading to that scumbag Lee Garner, Jr.: “Please, I’m begging you.” Desperate times call for desperate bitching and moaning, apparently. They all look like kids who don’t know how to wipe their own asses right about now, and if they don’t get their shit together… the USS Blankenship will only have been the first ship to sink.


One Comment

  1. Time
    Posted October 3, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    I was surprised he told her his secret.


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