By Jules Suzdaltsev
Mad Men Ep. 5: The Runaways
Following Don Draper’s brush with the devil last week, this episode continues the theme of turning everyone upside down by their ankles and shaking them until something breaks. Between all the yelling and the hyper-tense silences, everybody is going totally crazy. As usual, massive spoilers ahead.
Happy Mother’s Day Stephanie!
Mad Men loves ghosts of all shapes and sizes; figurative, literal, emotional, and metaphorical. So the reappearance of a now pregnant Stephanie (the niece of the dead man whose identity Don stole) is an interesting change of narrative and shifts Don’s focus to LA (thanks for the Capitol Records imagery, in case you didn't know where Steph was calling from). In addition to Stephanie's presence hinting at ANOTHER Sharon Tate reference, she serves to underscore the point that Don is willing to go to LA to see her over seeing Megan, and that clearly rubs Megan the wrong way. So after sending Stephanie's pregnant ass packing with a grand in her pocket, Megan looks to rub Don the right way – and maybe convince him to stay in LA.
Megan’s Ménage À Trois
Megan both bums me out and turns me on, which I think is how Don felt during his really hot and somewhat forced threesome with Megan and her sexy friend. Sadly, in the morning it’s clear that Don’s thoughts remain in New York with his work – and more importantly, with his life. The threesome is just a blip, and Megan throws her cigarette at the counter in frustration. Is there nothing she can do to make him love her again?
Vote Betty Francis 2016
I’m usually bored to tears by Betty nowadays, but hearing Henry Francis yell at her is always a rush because we all want to yell at Betty all the time. Despite Betty's failures at being the perfect politician’s wife, she’s adamant that she’s got her best years ahead of her (She defends herself by saying, “I'm not stupid, I speak Italian!”) On the other hand, Henry’s outdated views on Betty's role as a housewife are hard to hear: “Keep your conversation to how much you hate getting toast crumbs in the butter, and leave the thinking to me!” I feel bad for poor Betty, who still seems to think she’s approaching her prime, when her prime was clearly during her Draper years. I can’t wait to see her storyline resolved – don’t leave us hanging, Wiener.
Lou the Honorless Scout
Every time Lou is on screen I want to throw popcorn and boo. That untalented, sneaky, underhanded, power hungry douchebag epitomizes everything that's wrong with Sterling Co., and it doesn’t help that Cutler is his partner on a silent warpath to boot Don out of the company. Lou’s tirade after being made fun of for drawing a laughable cartoon character called Scout’s Honor included comparing himself to Bob Dylan and the 1964 TV show Underdog. Boo Lou.
Ginsberg and the Big Gay Machine
This is Ginsberg’s big finale, and although I suppose he had to have one, it depressed me to see him go like this. For three seasons he’s been the comic folly, and we've been following his misadventures in dating and living with his father, punctuated by his slightly over the top ideas and fantasies. Unfortunately it turns out that he’s actually crazy. After breathlessly telling Peggy that the new IBM machine is turning everybody gay – complete with a 2001: A Space Odyssey lip-reading reference that would’ve been better in the last episode – Ginsberg cuts off his right nipple in a Van Gogh moment/fit of body integrity identity disorder. He delivers that severed nipple in a cardboard jewelry box to Peggy, calmly saying, “I realized it was the waves of data filling me up. I had to find the release. Now it has an outlet.” Yep, a release through his nipple hole. When Peggy asks him to wait while she gets help, it's striking how calm Ginsberg seems, like a man who has committed a crime and turned himself in. In his last moments, he cryptically yells, “Get out while you can!” to a tearful Peggy. What a mess.
Harry and the Deal
If you’ve been waiting for another quintessential “Don Draper business moment,” you’re in luck. At first, Harry and Don’s bar-side escape from Megan's canyon party is annoying because Harry has the gall to refer to the two of them as peers and equals. The hang would've cemented Don’s long fall from top if it weren’t for Harry’s crucial bit of “Final Solution” information, which allows Don to strategically crash Lou and Cutler's Philip Morris meeting. In another series of brilliant strokes, Don essentially proposes at that meeting that he be kept on the business by selling out his reputation and publicly apologizing to the tobacco company. Honestly, it’s not the best idea he’s had – more like a cheap ploy to stay employed, but I say that because I don’t like seeing Don go back on his word. I think it’ll take more than that meeting for Don to save himself – but at least he has his swagger back. His “thank you” to Lou’s sarcastic “you’re incredible” might as well have been a “fuck you.”