Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mad Men Episode 8 (Season 5): Lady Lazarus

Why Mad Men Episode 8 (Season 5) Worked:
  • Pete's fling with the desperate suburban housewife Beth and his subsequent infatuation.  He's certainly one of the uglier characters on the show, but he's now becoming the most interesting.  The set up with his one night affair with Beth was tension-provoking and intriguing.  Their pillow talk afterwards was realistic.  "This must never happen again," Beth says.  (Yeah...right!)  It's a strange season on Mad Men when Pete's getting more action than Don or Roger.  Wonder if Beth will be a re-occurring character.  The hope here is that she will be.
  • Megan's career dilemma.  The twist in this episode was that Megan really wanted to resume her acting career despite her success and talent as a copywriter.  The developments unfolded quickly and dramatically.  You felt the weight of her decision especially considering the position of Don.  The conversation she had with him in the middle of the night felt real and heartfelt.  Don seemed confused and even hurt.  Her decision may harm the marriage.  After all, their work seems all they have in common.  Joan's reaction to Megan's decision was completely pragmatic.  "She'll just be a failed actress with a rich husband," she predicts.  Ouch.  (But she's probably right.)
  • Don and Peggy argue in the test kitchen about the Cool Whip pitch. Finally, Don emotes this season but he lets Peggy swear at him.  Dude....time to slip into your big boy pants. 
  • Roger and Don's heart to heart after Roger learns that Megan has quit.  The old lions lick their wounds. 
  • The wordless sequence at the end of the episode set to the psychedelic music of the Beatles "Within You, Without You."  Brilliant song choice and great video editing.  Plus the shot of Peggy working at her desk smoking a joint was sly and pitch perfect for the times.  (CORRECTION:  The Beatles song was actually "Tomorrow Never Knows."  The New York Times published an excellent account May 7 on how the producers secured the rights for the song.)
Why Mad Men Episode 8 (Season 5) Didn't Work:
  • Don's passivity.  Except for the fight in the test kitchen, Don continues to be emotionally neutered for most of this season.  
  • The Jewish copywriter Ben Feldman.  This new character is cartoonish and annoying.
  • The open elevator shaft at the agency.  Was this an inside reference to the real tragedy of the advertising executive killed in an elevator shaft last December in New York?  If so, to what purpose?  It was confusing and felt somewhat in bad taste (or am I missing something?). 
Overall Grade for Mad Men Episode 8 (Season 5): 
  • B+.  Another very strong episode. Pete's fling and Megan's decision to quit elevated the night. 

1 comment:

  1. I think the elevator shaft scene was a symbol of how now that megan had quit to become an actress, Don's life was now changing so drastically that he was facing an abyss. At first he was afraid that he had turned into Betty: home alone wondering where the spouse was. But once she quit, it became clear to him when he came home to find Megan cooking, that's when he realized that his 2nd marriage might turn into his first.