I am very late in posting this. It’s been a busy week and I’m only now able to find the time to write about Episode Four of Season Five of Mad Men. I must write fast, because in just a few hours, there will be yet another episode to watch, and think about. I have no idea what to expect from these writers who altered Peggy’s personality turned Roger into a senile bigot, and destroyed Don’s raison d’etre.
And no, I don’t think it’s such a big deal that Joan dumped her rapist-husband. The fact that she married him, after he raped her, says more about her character, than what is being expressed by reviewers, who see her as a heroine. Let’s not forget that Joan lied to her rapist-husband. That baby of his is really Roger’s. Seeing Joan as a feminist heroine is a bit much for me. Or maybe I’m just having a hard time dealing with Joan and her mother, together on the same set, at the same time. The atmosphere is claustrophobic. Her mother is another awkward actress who makes me dread being a woman all over again.
At least Joan is a good actress. Whatever I may feel about her character, at least I can stay somewhat involved in whatever she’s doing. I certainly can’t say that about Don’s second wife, Megan. She is the main character who is ruining the show. There are other bad actors in this show, to be sure. But at least the evil-step-grandmother, Pauline’s, character is so obviously despicable, what with her brandishing a knife and feeding her step-granddaughter Seconals, she is too much of a cartoon figure to care all that much about. Anyway, I would rather listen to the evil-step-grandmother verbalize what all women fear, “He did it because he hates his mother,” than watch Megan at any time, in any way.
It’s been said that body language is 97% of communication. Megan is not only an actress with bad lines and an undeveloped character; she is an actress whose repertoire with body language is limited to posing. Even when she’s feeling Don’s forehead to check for a fever, she’s doing an Angelina Jolie type thing.
I’m finding it very difficult to focus on the scenes she’s in because she doesn’t seem to be part of them. Jon Hamm’s pronouncements of love feel unreal when he’s saying them to her. Poor guy has no one to play off of.
And Roger Sterling has been given bad lines. Even though he directed this episode, John Slattery could not make his character come alive with those lines.
No need to mention SCDP’s token black and token Jew. I guess it’s enough that Peggy showed us how inept a white woman can behave when self-consciously attempting to connect with a black woman, while never allowing the black woman to speak.
I hated Matthew Weiner’s decision to fill Peggy’s purse with cash she blackmailed Roger for. Then he used the purse as a cliche, about blacks and money. Peggy’s the one with money problems. That extortionist, Peggy, should have taken her purse out of the room. She had what would be, in today’s world, $2800. Peggy leaving her purse with the token black, Dawn, just proves that Peggy’s crude manner with Roger was completely out of character.
Also, Peggy could always hold her liquor in every other episode. Watching her act like a lush around Dawn, was torture, especially because the Mad Men writers forgot to give Dawn any real lines.
Okay. Lots of symbolism in this show. Lots of red shoes, female bodies under beds, endless references to and metaphors playing off of the 1966 Speck murders; fairy-tale themes about women and their evil mothers.
Or men and their evil mothers.
Speaking for Freud, which I can do since he’s dead: it seems Donald Draper was symbolically killing his dead-mother-prostitute. But, needless to say, it was “only a dream.” I hate when the “it’s only a dream” thing happens.
But, if such devices had to be used, it should have been Megan who Don choked, and killed, then hid under the bed. Megan looked creepy coming in with a tray the next morning, bathed in light, telling Don she had been with him the whole time (he was killing a symbol, or a reality, of his endless apetite for women, wearing red shoes, in front of his libido.
There were way too many red shoes in this episode: Joan’s red shoes: one shoe pointed up, while kissing rapist-husband hello, 50s-style; one shoe on supposed dead woman; one shoe exposed, after Don pushes her under his bed. Then there was the shoe ad of Cinderella, with her one shoe, running down a dark alley; an ad campaign, in keeping with the night’s theme of terror, a campaign thought up on the spot, spontaneously blurted out, by the token Jew, making Don feel upstaged, in front of clients, who once called “him” a genius, rather than the token Jew.
Don tells the token Jew he hates his accent.
Don’s WASPness has never been more apparent than when the token Jew jokes back. We can see Don Draper in perspective here. We are suddenly made aware of the woodenness which is Donald Draper, in every move he makes, unless it’s sex. (And certainly not sex with Megan.)
He obviously hates the token Jew’s approach. He says he wants to throw the token Jew in front of a cab. Matthew Ginsberg is the “new genius”–we get it–and Pete Campbell is the one taking over for Roger. We get that, too. The “new generation” thing just isn’t working for me yet.
But really, my biggest problem is with Megan. She has drained Don of his life force. He no longer cares about work. He’s ashamed of his libido. Come on. Don Draper is being destroyed, along with Roger, and Peggy. The writing is bad. That’s number one. Number two. And number three. Plus some bad casting, most certainly.
Worse than that, Matthew Weiner is changing genres on us.
That scary, haunted mansion, Betty now calls home, even freaks out her creepy mother-in-law, not to mention her poor daughter, Sally, who is probably the only character left who I really care about.