Monday, 12 May 2014

Mad Men Season 7, Episode 5 "The Runaways"

Hello, I'm Lou Avery and this is my cartoon, Scout's Honor! 
What's that? Go fist myself? Oh okay, yes sir.       
"It belongs to her and she belongs to it."

     Well. This week was interesting. Actually, it was dark. This week got fucking dark. There were some laughs too. Some girls kissing girls, some great Betty jabs. It wasn't all dark…but damn. This week was dark. We've got Betty spiraling out more than ever, we've got ten-year-old Bobby developing an ulcer because of it. Megan's losing all control of her marriage, finding herself creepily jealous of Don's would-be niece, who is also knocked up, alone, and broke. Don and Lou are finally starting to square off for real, and then throw in a paranoid-schizophrenic-bodily-mutilating Ginsberg, and we've got one hell of a party on Mad Men this week! Everyone raise your glass of cyanide, kill a small, defenseless animal, and let's get into it!
     So Don and Lou got into it more this week than we've seen so far. It all starts with Lou's unbelievably funny "Scout's Honor" comics, which, unfortunately for Lou, makes him an easy target of ridicule. It's not that his comics are even terrible (although they are NO Jim the Duck), but Don has it exactly right when he says he shouldn't be giving them any more ammo. He's the boss, and he's a square boss at that. Showing any sort of misbegotten personal creativity will be dashed immediately, partially out of cynicism, but possibly even jealously. But Lou only makes it ten times worse when he freaks out on them about it. Holy shit, Lou likes Bob Dylan, or at least pretends to in an effort to seem knowledgeable amongst his younger staff. That was so goddamn funny. Lou, all flustered, talking gibberish about patriotism and marketing…ugh, it was delicious. So delicious it must be fattening. You could just see Don eating it up with a spoon, with huge dollops of Cool Whip slathered on top (Just taste it).      
     "I'm gonna tuck you in tonight."
    "No, I'd let you go, Lou."
    "I'm not taking management advice from Don Draper."
    These two start getting into it this week. It feels satisfactory, though. I'd much rather see Don going up against Lou, his new agency replacement, rather than Peggy, who is too close to Don in so many ways. The show has made it abundantly clear that We. Do. Not. Like. Lou. So let's duke it out then, motherfuckers. It's frustrating, of course, because right now Lou holds all the cards over Don. He can make him miss his flight, write extra copy, turn it down, and even try to land a tobacco account in order to squeeze Don out for good. Don has to take orders from Peggy and can't even drink a Canadian Club in the office. The chips are not in Don's favor. One might even say it's impossible for Don to win at this point; to ever become a viable part of this agency again.
     But that ignorant sonofabitch hasn't met Don Draper.
     Don is smart and he can hash out plans instantly. He can even still get valuable information out of someone like Harry Crane, a man he has never once been nice to in the nine years we've seen them work together, who wasn't even allowed in his wife's party, by just be being him. Don is so charismatic, enigmatic, that even after a meltdown of telling Hershey's you were raised by whores proportion, you still want to help him. You are still on his side. Part of what makes this season feel strangely different from others is the exact fact, that everyone else on the show isn't rooting for him. Sure we're used to some upset clients, an angry wife, and maybe even the husband of a wife, but for Don to have so few allies in his time of need (Roger, Pete, and now sort of Harry) but, so many adversaries (Lou, Cutler, Roger, Joan, Peggy), is unseen ground for Mad Men. Whenever's Don gotten into some deep shit with people in the past he's crushed them: Pete, Putnam Powell & Lowe, Duck (haha, God, Duck. Who do I hate more, Duck or Lou? Let's make a new spin-off show called the "I Want To Kill Myself Hour," and have it star Duck and Lou. Betty can be the weekly musical guest).
     But I think Don can still pull off a victory against Lou and Cutler, and Lou proved it this week. He showed weakness. He let some young brats making fun of his silly cartoon get to him. He took it personal, he got upset, and lashed out, because let's face it, he's insecure (which he probably should be. It is definitely NO Jim The Duck). Don saw it happen right before his eyes, and I think he'll be able to take him down. He stays a fly in Lou's ointment with their Commander Cigarette meeting (Don's first successful meeting since probably season five!). He went in there and weaved some magnificent yarns of bullshit for them, and it left those tobacco big wigs thinking. "You think this is going to save you?" Cutler asks, and Don slams the door. Maybe it will, you bespectacled fuck. Maybe it will. 
    Oh, also, fuck Lou.
    Let's keep this Megan discussion short. How are these two still together? She sort of ends it with him every episode she's in, and then is happy to see him a week after that. And now, like almost every episode she's been in this season, she sort of loses her shit. The scenes with Stephanie (Stephanie!!! The titular runaway, how I've missed her. She' wonderful looking. Her looks? They're wonderful. Chick looks wonderful, is what I'm trying to say) were so strange and tense.  What an oddly sapphic greeting the two share, and it only gets stranger. Megan seemed to be trying her best to be welcoming, but she couldn't keep her creeping jealousy at bay. Stephanie definitely picked up on it, to the point where Megan all but kicks her out, smiling and giving her money at the same time.
    Megan politely gets Stephanie out of there before Don gets a chance to see her. And then she has a party with her actress friends. Where she dances all up on another guy. And then throws her friend who he obviously hates on him. Was that the first threesome we've had in Mad Men? I suppose Roger is having sex with thirteen or fourteen people at a time now, but we haven't actually seen it. Joan and Marley Shelton (of massive Bubble Boy fame) both kiss that burger waiter in a cab, but that's all that goes on there. I think it was our first threesome on Mad Men! Hooray!!! It's too bad it was almost too desperate to be sexy. Don sure doesn't like parties, and he sure as fuck doesn't like actors, so by the time he heard about Commander Cigarettes he really didn't feel like dealing with his drunk wife and her stupid friend. 
      Now, don't get me wrong. He still did it. Of course he did it. If your hot wife starts starts making out with her cute friend and shoving your fingers up her snatch, you go with it. But I think Don was telling the truth when he told her he didn't want anything. Remember how pissy Don was last season about her kissing on screen and her polyamorous coworkers? That kind of scene never sits well with Don. While he's certainly a hypocrite (i.e. philanderer), he's still pretty traditional about relationships. Even if it is with another woman, I don't think Don likes to think about his wife kissing anyone but him (let me, of course, reiterate, what a fucking hypocrite he is in this regard). But in the end it doesn't matter. She can't make Don stay. He just...runs away. (See what I did there?!)
    Betty is the worst mother ever. Who would have thought she could get worse? "I'm gonna break your arm next?" Jesus H. Christ, Betty.
    She's also a horrible wife. No shocker there. The line about toast crumbs that Henry screams only gets funnier and funnier the more I think about it. How are her they even still together? He seems…smart. At least too smart to be with that horrid creature. Though, I suppose it's the politics of the situation.
    Poor Bobby, the wannabe runaway.. There's no way that kid is growing up to be normal. He's going to go to BDSM clubs for sure. Infantilism is my bet. 
    Sally Draper OWNS IT in this episode.
    This is all I want to say about Betty Francis. Just typing about her makes my keyboard feel dirty and gives me a strange, pale sickness in my stomach.
    Well I guess that's all there is to talk about this week. Definitely nothing else exciting or strange or interesting happened. Nope. Not at all. Oh yeah, GINSBERG CUT HIS NIPPLE OFF AS A THANK YOU. Damn dude, he makes Van Gogh look like a rational dude. This was the first episode we saw more of Ginsberg than just a funny one liner about jerking off or farts. And it built up to…this. Jesus. When he starts to kiss Peggy I got the sense that something was really wrong with him (HA. BURN PEGGY. Kidding). Not that there's anything wrong with her (i.e. there is), but because that is so absolutely uncharacteristic of him. Not just with Peggy, but any girl. It quickly turned a possibly comedic (the computers are turning everyone into homos!) Ginsbgerg rant into a very, very unfunny and serious story about debilitating mental illness in the face of new technology.
    This season has had a dark undertone from the get go. The office functional, but seems ill-at-ease. Business relationships have been put to the test, Don isn't working, Betty's parenting is getting worse, Peggy is one secretary away from being a total bitch…but it all seemed to culminate, or rather, amputate itself with Ginsberg this week. Let's face it, he's never been all there, his mouth never really shut. He might have been a holocaust survivor, and he's never been laid. For a long time people have said that Pete Campbell would be the one to kill himself, but in hindsight it was definitely always Michael Ginsberg who would chop off his own nipple to say thank you to Peggy for helping him deal with the evil computer that is turning all men into fags. I mean, it was so obvious from the get go.
     That was some truly scary stuff, the scene where he gives Peggy her "present." The acting totally solid. Peggy's mortified reaction was the perfect surrogate for us in the audience. And the pale, confused look of total despair as they carried Ginsberg away sealed it, making this officially one of the most fucked up episodes of Mad Men ever. 
    A very good, if not frustrating because of Don's wives, episode. Two left and there we have it for Season 7-ish Part 1 Kind Of.

Stray Observations

  • "I'm not stupid. I speak Italian." Oh my god, Betty, you are the most fun person to hate on TV ever. 
  • "I guess I got what I came for." There was a definite twinge of sadness when Stephanie said that. I don't think she was only there to hit up 'ol Dick Whitman for cash. I think Megan totally strong-armed her out of there and I thought she was a total bitch about it. Sorry you think she's so beautiful that you have to run her out of your house that your husband pays for. 
  • "Where would mom be without her perfect nose? She wouldn't find a man like you. She'd be nothing." Sally Draper is probably the least full of shit person on this whole show and I love it when that precocious little firecracker drops truth all over the place. WATCH WHERE YOU STAND, BETTY, YOUR DAUGHTER DROPPED TRUTH ALL OVER THE FLOOR.
  • This week was definitely the least I hated Peggy all season. It's actually pretty cute how she lets little Julio from upstairs watch TV with her in her place. 
  • Sword fighting with golf clubs? Shit, did I mention how BALLER Sally Draper is?!
  • It was sweet when Stan went with Ginsberg. Stan's a good guy. And, fuuuuuuuck, dude. That motherfucker knows how to wear a crevat.

  • I've watched the episode twice now, and oh my god when Lou starts yelling about patriotism and calling them flag burners? It is so goddamn funny.
  • I have a stomachache all the time. :-( This was the first scene Sally and Bobby have really had since she kissed a boy and then beat Bobby up for teasing her. It was a really nice scene. But then again, I love all scenes with Sally Draper.
  • Betty and Lou! They should get hitched, and then drive off a cliff together. End season 7!
  • Don finally had a good meeting with a client. It was abrupt, and totally insubordinate, but hopefully this is the start to get him back on track at SC&P. "You're incredible," Lou says disdainfully. "Thank you," Don shoots right back in his face.

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