Saturday, September 6, 2008

mad men: season 1, disc 3

More Alan Sepinwall Mad Men commentaries! God, I love this show. What a phenomenal ending.

(1.10) Long Weekend
Boy, John Slattery has no problem playing appalling creeps, does he? I thought his golden shower-loving comptroller from "Sex and the City" couldn't be topped, but the entire sequence with the twins made me feel very dirty. Comparing Mirabelle to his daughter and sugggesting he wanted to suck her blood like Dracula was bad, but the squirmiest moment for me was when he asked them to kiss, and Mirabelle sadly noted that everyone asks them to do that. You want the perfect way to destroy a girl's self-esteem so she'll sleep with your ancient WWII veteran behind? Convince her that she's worthless except as part of a matched set.

(1.11) Indian Summer
Betty's acknowledgement of her sexual needs -- to a point, anyway, as she seemed to get off the dryer before, um, getting off -- was interesting, and served as a fine illustration of all the things that Don isn't thinking about when he's with Rachel. My wife was of the opinion that she told Don about the A/C salesman because she wanted to gauge his reaction, to see if he still cared about her, but if that was her intention, I don't think she understands her husband well enough at all. Don didn't get mad because of the notion of his wife being around another man; he got mad because another man was around his "property," both his house and the wife he considers as housekeeper and nanny and not much more.

(1.12) Nixon vs. Kennedy
When Pete tries to play bully -- the only trick he knows -- with the info contained in The Box, Don resorts to the most important trick he knows, the one the hobo taught him. He wants out, wants to grab Rachel Menken and go anywhere but where he's about to be revealed for the fraud he's always been. But lucky for him (and those of us who get to witness the glorious smackdown), Rachel wants no part of that. She finally sees Don for who he is and the image she's sold herself on, calls him a coward and tells him to leave. In a series in which characters are too often willing to be prisoners in their own lives, Rachel takes control of hers and kicks Don to the curb. That, coupled with Peggy's speech about how following the rules gets you nowhere in a world where bad people have all the advantages -- culminating in the same "It's not fair" line that Don used when discussing the election results with Cooper -- leads Don to finally, however briefly, make a stand for something other than himself. He knows that he's probably going to lose in a scenario where Pete rats him out to Cooper, but he also knows that Pete's going to lose, too -- Cooper's not the type to value rats -- and if he has to sacrifice himself to prevent Pete's advancement, so be it.

(1.13) The Wheel
Interesting how, once again, Don has a chance to do a forward-thinking campaign -- the Kodak people specifically want the ad to include references to R&D and the science of the projector -- and once again chooses to go the nostalgic route. It works brilliantly for him here, but it's been a recurring theme of the series that Sterling Cooper is on the wrong side of a cultural shift, and I wonder if later seasons will deal with Don struggling to seem current.

I have officially seen every Mad Men episode thus far. Sepinwall Season 2 commentaries coming soon!

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