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Monday, August 30, 2010

Mad Men Monday - Don's Lost Weekend

Posted by Jacob Schraer on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Mad Women
  • Mad Women

I struggled to watch the Emmy's last night and made it through enough to watch Matt Weiner win an award for Outstanding Writing. Then Jimmy Fallon's musical tribute to canceled shows got muted, and later Ricky Gervais saved the entire telecast, but Mad Men also won Outstanding Drama Series for the third year in a row.

Somehow this episode, "Waldorf Stories," managed to be funny, engaging, interesting, and embarrassing—yet on the whole, kind of a ho-hum, wheel-spinning, scenes-from-SCDP montage.

To coincide with the Emmy's there was an actual Emmy reference by Crane and an advertising awards gala. Joan holding hand with Roger and Don was priceless; she's the den mother of SCDP.

Fun to see Don and Peggy interviewing. The hire (Jonathan from Buffy, I don't care that his name is Danny Strong is he will always be "Jonathan from Buffy" and next to Jon Hamm he looks like a grinder monkey) is a nepotistic joke thrown at them by Roger Sterling but thanks to a massive fuck up by Don he actually ends up getting hired. Don and Peggy still have an edge to their dynamic, but she's also his little conscience and can slap some sense into him when he needs it.

Peggy's a little upset that she gets no recognition for the nominated ad, and Don is all swollen pride after he wins, leading to a horrible, toe-curling client meeting (that somehow actually works out) and then a hell of bender that we don't, unfortunately, get to see. Except apparently Don picked up a tore-up waitress named Doris and told her his real name. Not a big deal, but it's like Dick Whitman is Don's Tyler Durden (or maybe Don is Tyler in this equation) and since the divorce he keeps rearing his ugly head. Hey, at least this time his drunken antics didn't damage his reputation at the office (so much as cement it). He managed to consolidate the wreckage to his personal life, and I do feel sorry for his absent kids. Don seems to know he's making a lot of mistakes but can't stop making them. I guess you can tell how people will behave based on how they've behaved in the past, unlike Don claimed two weeks ago.

(Don and Faye are on a crash course to hooking up as well. Minor episode detail.)

Peggy Olson Triumphant
  • Peggy Olson Triumphant

The still embattled Peggy also had a rough week, butting heads with the new art director Rizzo. Matt Weiner describes him as "the first aggressively sexist character on the show." We thought we had seen sexism before but this guy is instantly odious. Peggy, forced to work with him all weekend, calls his bluff on being a "nudist" by stripping naked for their brainstorming. And thus wins. Peggy shows off her smarts, daring, progressive side, and a few other parts to shut up this pig. We are all very proud of her.

Also, Ken Cosgrove is coming back, for the rest of the season it looks like. And the first thing he's treated to is a taste of Pete's new spine. I liked that scene. Ken never felt the competitive pressure like Pete did, but I'd like to see these two work together again and the power struggles that ensue. The new hire seems so obnoxious they may as well bring back Kinsey too.

More evidence that Roger is on his way out: He's writing his memoirs and can't get past his childhood. Lane Pryce describes him as a "child." He's jealous of the award and has to ask Don to appreciate him. Joan asks him what he does and is unimpressed with his moroseness. Roger is done.

Finally, we got to fill in some back story I've always been curious about—Don's life in between selling cars and Sterling Cooper. We get a glimpse of Don as the eager, ambitious kid he was when Roger found him. The neat ending scene begs the question, did Roger actually hire Don at their drunken breakfast together? Or did Don sneak his way in? Roger isn't sure himself.

I take it back; even though it wasn't my favorite, the episode did work, with some nice parallels. Don on the same road to disaster that Roger once was. Peggy on the same road to success that Don once was. And a nice cameo from Duck, who is apparently back on the sauce.

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