Monday, 5 May 2014

Mad Men Season 7, Episode 4, "The Monolith"

Peggy's just upset she can't fart on the orange couch anymore.

      "You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what went wrong here."

      My deepest apologies about last weeks missing Mad Men blog. Me and my special lady friend, who I don't pay for (!!!), were on a little vacation (which is ironic because I am not working currently) to one of the islands in the south of Thailand. Ever see that movie the Beach? With Leonardo DiCaprio? That kind of sucks? It's near there. But the internet there was scarce at best, and this author was half hammered at best the entire time. So. I hope you guys aren't mad at me. I hope we can move past this and be in a better stronger place. With stronger, more open and honest Mad Men reviews. It means so much to me that you trust me. Are we past that? Good, now get off your ass and go get me another beer. I SAID GO GET ME ANOTHER BEER. 
Last week's episode answered the question of "Is Don coming back to the agency" much faster than I thought it would, but then this week added a big 'BUT' to that (in the spirit of journalistic integrity, I will not make a joke about big butts. I will, however, have you take a look at the nearest picture of your mom). Last week also showed Betty being a horrible mother (no surprise there), Megan being a crazy actress (no surprise there), Roger being Don's main proponent to come back (no surprise there), but also all the other agency members totally hating on Don, Peggy included (some surprise there, I must say). I know Don went to the looney bin last season, but goddamn, it is still his agency. It was his idea for Lane to fire them and break off before they all became slaves to McCaan (I'm pretty sure that is/was a real agency, and I don't know much about it because I haven't ever cared to look, but do they just rape and torture their employees there? It seems they have every account imaginable, but every single person on this shower would rather mutilate their genitals than work there). 
So let us begin on the Monolith (that's a big rock, in case you didn't know. Ever see that movie 2001: A Space Odyssey? With Leonardo DiCaprio? That kinda sucks? It's like that.) The monolith in question could be a few different things. The first, of course, is their new computer. Hooray for Harry Crane. Harry's become even worse. Perhaps the agency does need this huge slab of technology, but the fact that it came from his request makes me have to hate it. And it is straight up depressing that at this point in Don's career at SC&P even Harry Crane can talk shit to him. 
So what does the computer mean for the agency? I'm not too clear on what exactly the specifics of its help to advertising will be, but it clearly has a great effect on Creative. Using a machine to try and calculate strategy and what people think they want does not sound like Don's prerogative. The computer symbolizes the ever changing landscape of the agency. Of everything in Don's world. Nothing is staying the same, and it seems it's getting more and more difficult for Don to keep up. It's not all his fault, as the other partners and Lou keep getting in Don's way. I thought Don was on the right track when he came to Burt with the idea of advertising the computer company…but since it was Don's idea it was shot right down. They just want him to sit in his office, quietly, not doing any work. That is definitely not Don's prerogative. 
And then there's Lou, who instead of being a man about it and talking to Don (god I hate Lou. I'm thinking about starting a whole new blog called because my hatred for him is so all-consuming, I don't want it to be the only thing I write about in these reviews), he dumps him in Peggy's lap. Low move. I don't know if Lou knew just the effect it would have on him, but he knocked that piece of manipulation right out of the park. Yes, Don reacts much like a child (literally throwing a tantrum after finding out and throwing what appears to be a lovely, functional typewriter against a window), but it's Peggy. He made her. She would not be where she was today if it wasn't for Don. She still steals his words in pitch meetings. If there was anyone to throw Don under to rile him up, it's her. 
But let's be at least a little happy that it led to some of the funniest scenes and reaction shots from John Hamm in the entire series. The absolutely revolted dead-eyed look he lays into Peggy while she's assigning him 25 tags is pure gold. Not showing up to the meeting and playing solitaire at his desk instead of walking the one office over? Classic. Also, how adorable is Mathis, trying to politely bridge the gap between Don's complete negligence and Peggy's total bitch-ness. He's a cute little eagle scout. Mad Men has become quite efficient at honing into hilarious moments that are not really played out for laughs, but are natural products of their wonderfully developed characters. The more you hang out with someone you like, the funnier they become on a daily basis, and this show nails that. And if you happened to hang out with someone like Harry Crane with any regularity, you would hate his fucking guts, even when he doesn't do anything seemingly wrong at all. Hey, they nailed that too! I hate that guy!
But at the end of the day Don's biggest opponent isn't Lou, or Harry Crane, or Burt, or even the computer. It's him. It's always been him. The monolith in question is Don. (Ooooooh, you weren't expecting that were ya? Were ya? That's what, in the blogosphere business, we call a GAME CHANGER.) He is a big, unchanging slab of granite, who has great difficulty moving anywhere. His lack of power in the office is definitely enough to get upset by, but he decides to implode all over himself, with a bottle of vodka, no less. VODKA. Straight. You're better than that Don. He comes dangerously close to blowing his whole deal worked out with the partners, and he gets very creepily up in the computer guy's face about it as well. Don is scared of the computer. He's scared of what he doesn't understand, of the power that it brings over him. He's scared of it all, and instead of moving forward he just sucks down clear alcohol from an empty coke can, screaming and rambling like he did when he got put on leave. 
It's ridiculous we only have three episodes left of this "season." The closer we get to it the more ill-at-ease I find myself about it's duration (and I was already skeptical about i when it started). What kind of climax are we headed towards in three more episodes that can feel satisfactory but not rushed? He's writing copy for Peggy. For Peggy, man. And, yes, at the end of the episode he has pulled his head out of his ass just enough to get that small task done, but where is he going from here? It's like they've neutered him at that office, and I like where the season's been going, but I just don't know what else they can try to show us and accomplish before we are put on hold for a whole year.
The Monolith is a good episode, with some classic Don-meltdown-come-back-and-try-again moments, but with so little screen time left, this season seems to be playing fast and loose with the back and forth and back and forth. Are they trying to move Don forward, or at least in a new direction, or is he just continually a big, stone monument...of some sort.

Stray Observations

  • I didn't get to the Roger's daughter in a hippy commune thing in the main bulk of the review (Although I TOTALLY called that her daughter was into some weird shit in the first episode review, didn't I? DIDN'T I?!), but that's because it didn't seem all that important. I love me some Mona scenes, and Roger is definitely one of my favorite characters in the whole show, but this storyline didn't really do much for me. Yes, her new life here parallels Roger's. And yes, her abandonment of her son does also parallel Roger's, but we already knew the Sterlings were a selfish, selfish lot. Roger seems to almost like the idea of his daughter's new life until he sees her getting down with the free love, and he blows up because he doesn't want that for his little girl, pretty much because he's a hypocrite. Yep. Also, let's face it. Hippies are dumb. 
  • "You want me to be a janitor? Whistle while I work?" I would pay to watch John Hamm sweep and jovially whistle an old whorehouse tune. I bet it's janky.
  • "A computer is a magic machine that makes Harry Crane seem important." Classic.
  • Burt has a hell of a zinger in this one. "Yes, started with a dead man whose office you now inhabit." He just compared Don to a dude who killed himself. Burt's showing all new shades of dick this season.
  • I never thought Peggy would become "the enemy" to me, but she is. I have to keep reminding myself that he did totally fuck up her and Ted last season, but I just can't abide by in a world where Peggy is telling Don what to do. Maybe I'm a dick.
  • I love that they even give Don the bad secretary. They're laying it in thick. She's pretty hilariously retarded, though.
  • Did I mention I hate Lou? I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE HIM!
  • But as much as I hate Lou, I love Freddy Rumsen. Who'da thought he'd be the one to snap Don straight (until he blows up next week again, anyway)? If Don should listen to anyone it is definitely Freddy. He's been there. He had way more pee in his pants, but Don can still learn a lot from him. 
  • "This couch is full of farts!" Ginsberg job this season has pretty much to show up, say one funny line, and then disappear for the rest of the episode. At least he does it well. 

Cheers fellows! Till net week!

No comments:

Post a Comment