Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 6, Episode Eleven

Well, that episode was kind of a big deal.

And the walls come crashing down!! I wish it hadn’t fallen to Sally to bring Don’s recently-constructed glass house to the ground. She’s been let down so many times by the adults in her life, and I had hoped that her glimpse into Roger and her step-grandmother’s sexual side might be her last inappropriate brush with the secret lives of grown-ups. I can’t imagine her healing from this enormous betrayal by her father who was already way behind on the scorecard. The one thing he had to offer was that he “supports her dreams” but that won’t be enough to soothe the pain of this horrifying discovery. And Don’s pathetic explanation that he was “comforting Sylvia” is never going to fly with Sally. Sally sees the distinction between husband “comforting” his wife and neighbor from upstairs “comforting” other man’s wife.

Watching Don and Sylvia’s conversation, it’s again clear that this relationship was one of Don’s most meaningful. He’s always been more invested in his flings and his friendships than his socially-recognized romantic relationships. Of course Don’s ability to care for anyone only goes so deep. While he has deep feelings for Sylvia, he doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of her gratitude and talks her into bed again.

That Don had to endure the gratitude from Arnold and Mitchell followed by Megan’s adoration and kiss in front of Sally was perfect and I hope he’s developing a really nice ulcer. He’s got enough of a moral compass left that he felt a healthy kick to the gut when he had to suffer through that charade with the added punch of “Sylvia sends her gratitude. She’s overwhelmed.” He deserves far, far worse than that of course for what he’s put all the women in his life through.

Poor Peggy had to endure a few bombs from Pete’s mom, although that first one was a surprising direct hit. I’m always surprised when there’s a mention of Peggy and Pete’s child, but now the child has been alluded to twice in the past few episodes which makes me wonder what’s coming in the final episodes of the season. I enjoyed the easy banter between Peggy, Pete and Ted, and it’s clear that Ted is still trying to battle his feelings for Peggy. I hope I can still root for Ted when all is resolved one way or the other. Peggy and Pete have a nice familiarity with each other that I hope desperately doesn’t end up with Peggy settling for Pete. It would be terrific for Pete to be hitched with Peggy. She’s such a shining star in so many ways, but he’d be terrible for her. That Pete was so repulsed by Bob’s advance was disappointing since I thought Pete was more open-minded and progressive. Hey Pete, a no thanks would have been all that was needed here. With his racist response to the prostitute that his father-in-law was with and his response to Bob’s advance, it’s clear that Pete’s progressive stance has been more about appearances than about seeking to change the status quo. Which is good in one way. It means that my intense dislike of Pete has been justified all along. I would find myself on the Pete Campbell love train from time to time when it seemed that he had more progressive leanings. Now I know it was all about trying to be correctly positioned to take advantage of changes in the business climate and didn’t reflect his own personal views.

I wish Peggy didn’t have to be on rat patrol because Abe talked her into buying a fixer-upper, but I thought her late night phone call to Stan was a nice payoff. I still think those two have such great chemistry: the actors and the characters. I’m rooting for that relationship to gain more focus over the next episodes because I really enjoy watching them.

Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 6, Episode Five

NOTE: Spoilers Below

Abe is a nice foil to the rest of the male characters that we spend time with in ‘Mad Men’ world, and I really love the glimpses into his character. It’s too bad there’s no real passion in his and Peggy’s relationship because there’s a nice easiness there. There seems to be something more than the professional between Peggy and Ted. In that scene between Peggy, Ted, and Ted’s wife, I got the distinct impression that Ted might be mentioning Peggy a little too much at home. I still believe Stan and Peggy have a connection as well. Of course the ‘Mad Men’ fanfic folks have that angle covered.

I’m sure the fact that the announcement that Martin Luther King was killed was met with immediate acceptance instead of that initial moment of disbelief was deliberate and very representative of the uncertainty of the times. It was fascinating to see how everyone reacted. That Harry reacted the way he did wasn’t surprising at all, but the fact that Pete was the counterpoint reaction was. But this reaction of Pete’s (and Don’s scene with Megan at the end of the episode) underscores again what I love about ‘Mad Men.’ Every time I’m tempted to paint a character with broad strokes and dismiss him/her outright based on some vile behavior, we get further insight that makes us rethink things. There are always nuances to explore in each of the characters and none of them, thankfully, fit into an easy stereotype.

Megan’s award sitting on the sofa forgotten is an interesting reminder to Don of how everything comes so easy to Megan in Don’s eyes. She effortlessly cares for the kids that he has no idea how to raise. She wins an award for an ad campaign that she dabbled in for about a minute. Her acting career is going well — she’s certainly on an upward trend. She is at the beginning of what looks to be a successful career and he is struggling to maintain credibility and relevance. I doubt Megan would agree with the assessment that everything comes easy to her, but, certainly from Don’s perspective, she leads a charmed life.

This episode was significant, and it’s time to bring in the pros. Take it away Orange Couch.