2012-04-18 19:59:43

Mad Men Midweek Fix: Mystery Date and Signal 30

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Mad Men Midweek FixOur apologies for no Midweek Fix last week,  but better late than never — and we’ve got thoughts on both episodes to catch up! After all, the last two weeks have been pretty friggin’ intense. You should also check out The Orange Couch for some great recaps and analysis.

Check out our thoughts after the jump. Spoilers galore to follow.

Episode 4: Mystery Date


This episode was so violent and creepy, I could barely hang. -Samhita

I know right. Do yourself a favor and DON’T wikipedia “nurse killings” to see if stuff you saw in Mad Men this week was real. Yes, it was, and no, you don’t want to know the details. -Lori

Yeah, we’re really starting to get these disturbing historical events creeping into the show more and more: The Chicago nurse killings and then in the next episode the University of Texas massacre. It’s part of illustrating the general background of violence and unrest during this time, and we’re seeing how these particular violent headlines are making the female characters–Sally and Pete’s high school crush–feel scared and vulnerable. As my brilliant friend Martha pointed out to me, the show is really subtly letting the theme of violence against women sink in through this background noise. -Maya

Don’s illness and delusion

I found this really disturbing to watch. Dream or not, watching Don choke a woman to death was not pleasant. I thought it was interesting that in his dream, Don was basically forced to have sex with a woman when he didn’t want to. How many of Don’s past dalliances can be chalked up to him going along with what he thinks women want of him? This is a little-explored side of male sexuality but something to keep in mind, especially in the context of someone like Don, who is portrayed as someone who is masterfully powerful and good at getting exactly what he wants.  -Lori

Yeah, that was so disturbing. This was one of the few times, I’ve been glad to watch the show a day after it aired: After he choked her, my heart stopped, and then I remembered seeing a tweet about how something awful happens on Mad Men but then it turns out it didn’t really happen, and then I breathed again. -Maya

Is this part of Don’s transition from playboy to committed man? Barf. -Samhita

Peggy and Dawn

I appreciated the awkwardness of this scene, but it was painful to watch. Peggy is really invested in connecting with Dawn since she is the enlightened feminist but you realize as the scene plays out that Peggy is unaware of the ways that her experience and Dawn’s experience are different. And the moment with the purse – TOO REAL. -Samhita

Talk about microaggressions. Peggy’s trying so hard to be an ally, but she’s got plenty of racism to deal with herself, clearly. This is the messy reality of busting through barriers. Often it’s less about obvious, overt oppression you can point to and more about small, every day bigotry that can be harder to name and undo. -Jos

Peggy and Roger’s negotiations

Meh, I don’t  know. This scene seemed forced to me. A little hit-me-over-the- head, why don’t ya. Why wouldn’t Roger just do it himself? How washed up must he be? -Lori

“Hit me over the head” seems to be what this season is all about–not only the introduction of the threat of male violence in a very visceral way but the scenes are a lot more obvious and less nuanced. This is probably both an appeal to a broader audience and a reflection of what was happening culturally at the time. That said, I was totally proud of Peggy! Roger is giving all his money away, showing over and over, that literally is all he is worth. -Samhita

Joan kicks Greg out

Joan’s acting has taken a turn for the worst, something about the interaction with her mother is making her seem really overactey (that’s a word right?). But, yes, the moment she references the rape is a good moment for the show. A reminder they didn’t forget, since in so many shows when they make you sit through a rape scene it was just for the violence of it, not usually to prove much of a point. -Samhita

Literally stood up and cheered. I loved how she did it too–just so fucking decisive as usual. -Maya

I love that this scene came in an episode about the relationship between violence, desire, and fantasy. There’s plenty of sexual excitement from the shows female characters about the nurse murders. But Joan dumping Greg makes it clear – there’s a big difference between fantasies of sex and violence, and actual experiences of sexual violence (as Maya discussed recently  in connection to “Fifty Shades of Grey”). -Jos

Episode 5: Signal 30

Pete Campbell is bored with married life and acting out!

Who knew that we were instead watching the demise of Pete Campbell. I have always liked Trudy and I even liked their relaysh, it was the only good thing about Pete, ever. But between lusting after a 16 year old, not being able to fix a sink, sleeping with a prostitute and getting beaten by Lane–there is little hope left for Petey. -Samhita

I want to believe there is hope yet for Pete! While some people think this episode foreshadowed his suicide, I I think he’s going to hit rock bottom and then become a new man. Although, if this episode wasn’t rock bottom, I guess I don’t know what would be… -Maya

Don’s turn to morality

The scene with Don and Pete in the car was so sad. I really, really felt for Pete, which is a testament to what a great actor Vincent Kartheiser is. All Pete has ever wanted is to become like Don–doing anything it takes to get the job and the wife and the baby and the house and all the trappings of manhood that he’s envied in Don for so long. (I mean, my god, how heartbreaking/embarrassing was it to see Pete’s excitement that Don finally came over for dinner?) And now that he’s actually got Don’s life, he’s not only realizing that it doesn’t make him all that happy, but also that Don’s changed. It’s like he was racing SO HARD to catch up with Don, only to get there and the goalposts had shifted. And, of course, Don will never give him the fatherly approval he wants anyway. Plus, I think Pete’s skeptical that Don really has changed–and I am as well, to be honest. -Maya

Kenny Cosgrove’s secret life

Ken is the best dude on the show. -Samhita

Hands-down. No contest. And his relationship is clearly the best. At that dinner party, when his proud wife is bragging about his writing and all other couples are like, “Oh, you still write? How nice,” there again seems to be this split between the people like the Cosgroves–who seem to have this real partnership and who believe that a talent for writing is something to be encouraged–and the rest of the kinda perplexed dinner guests. And then cynical Don’s like, “Well, we all had dreams before we got into advertising.” And it’s like, gee, I wonder who is part of the future here?  -Maya

A lot of the most intriguing 20th century storytelling in the US was in pulp sci-fi magazines. And a lot of really smart writers were working in the field using pseudonyms – sometimes to hide their identities, sometimes because of their Jewish names. I love how Ken’s awkward about the writing, and part of that is about the sci-fi, but smart folks like Peggy obviously understand sci-fi’s ability to get at fundamental questions about our humanity. -Jos

Lane whoops Pete

Did we mention this episode was about masculinity? LOL. Also, this pre-fight GIF is amazing. -Maya

Poor Lane, trying so hard not to be his father, and then he gets in a fight in the office. I enjoyed getting another chance to see Lane and Joan’s relationship, and how well Joan navigates Lane’s creepiness when it gets in the way of a mostly respectful dynamic. -Jos


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