Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mad Men Season 5 (Episode 13): The Phantom

Why Mad Men Episode 13 (Season 5) Worked:
  • Pete's scenes with Beth. Even though Pete's a dirtbag, you had to feel sorry for him.  And Beth's beauty is matched only by the dark cloud of depression that hangs above her.  The dialogue was sharp and brought into focus the complexity of their relationship.  Her peach-colored dress with the wide, white collar was a knockout.  
  • Roger's affair with Marie Calvet (Megan's mom).  Again, good dialogue.  Witty, sophisticated, adult....all helped by that sexy French accent and Marie's fabulous great dress and matching hat.  
  • Megan 's duplicity.  Her sexy friend Emily asks for her help landing a part in a tv commercial but instead Megan goes for (and gets) the part.  As Megan sinks into despair, she's getting a bit more interesting.  But does Emily have the last say?  In the season's final scene, Emily is scene hitting on Don in a bar.  (Although, I am a bit confused.  It looked like Megan was sitting at the end of the bar and Emily referenced "her friend."  Was this meant to be murky on purpose?  Weigh in.)   Are we meant to infer that Emily is starting an affair with Don? 
  • The ghost of Lane.  The producers referenced thim in a few smart ways.  First, the camera lingered at Lane's empty chair at the partner's meeting.  Then there was Joan's brief exchange with Don about Lane.  Joan:  "Why didn't I give him what he wanted?"  Don:  "What was that?"  Joan:  (raises her eyebrow).  And of course, there was Don'w well-written and uncomfortable scene with Lane's bitter widow. 
  • Peggy's scene at her new job.  She's not having fun.  This sets the stage for her return next season.
  • The camerawork.  Awesome.  Examples abound:  the shot of the five partners standing in their new, unfinished space (business is very good); Don looking at Megan's black and white screen test, Roger standing naked (presumably tripping on LSD) in front of a hotel window; and tracking the shot of Don on the soundstage where they are shooting the tv commercial starring Megan.
  • The soundtrack. "You Only Live Twice," sung by (I believe) Shirley Bassey.  Fit the mood and montage of those last wonderful shots from this season perfectly.   And a nice nod to James Bond. 

Why Mad Men Episode 13 (Season 5) Didn't Work:
  • Don's toothache.  It made Don look weak and toothless (metaphorically speaking) and when he's not the lion king, the show lacks bite. 
  • Ginsberg in the meeting with the client.  Over the top and strident.  Can't he get hired away by Y&R next season?
  • Pete's fight with the train conductor, which hopped the track.  
Overall Grade for Mad Men Episode 13 (Season 5):  
  • B-.  Somehow, this episode came across as a denouncement after Lane's suicide last week. While good dialogue and interesting situations characterized episode 13, nothing really blew my hair back. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I have to go to bed so this will be short. I just wanted to make a couple points. Don's toothache: classic Freud, he is not in love. How far they are extending the metaphor, I don't know.

    Nancy Sinatra sang "You Only Live Twice". (Sorry, it is a favorite of mine. She has a plaintive, hopeful sound in the song.)

    I am glad they did not go crazy with the cliffhangers. Much like when Don was in the Pierre starting a new agency, this episode represents a new beginning.

    I, too, loved the shot of the five looking out the window. I almost wish they ended on that. But I am glad they went ambiguous, though with the song, it seemed a bit on the nose.

    Thanks for the post. Good stuff.