Sunday, September 27, 2009

Review - Mad Men Season 3 Episode 7 (S03E07) Seven Twenty Three

Don Draper is cornered, what does he do? Run of course, and run he did. For the umpteenth time, Don was faced with a difficult decision and didn't know what else to do other than get the hell out. There's a catch: running doesn't work all the time. This time, something bad actually happened to him. A twosome of crazy hitchhikers offer him phenobarbital which he accepts and ingests while driving. I guess this is part of the different era part of the show. I would never pick up hitchhikers especially at night, while Don would not only pick them up, but all take their drugs and go to a motel with them. He ends up bloody and robbed, so maybe this is karma biting him in the ass for running off. Who knows where he was going or what he was doing. Either way, in the back of my brain, I was thinking "haha."

The episode started differently with 3 different glimpses. Peggy is in bed with someone, Betty is on a couch with a weird look on her face, and Don is lying flat on the ground at a hotel. I think starting episodes like this either with a flashforward or in medias res is always cool to see when not overused. It could be tempting for producers (not the ones for this show) to use it a little too much since the inherent effect is added mystery and expectations.

We can't believe how far Peggy has gone, from a secretary to copywriter, but she wants more. Duck continues to court Peggy and Pete to work for Grey, sending them presents. They agree to send them back though I would never send a free present back even if it was for sending a message. After learning Don got the Hilton account, she ask to be on it and Don basically tells her "GTFO!!" (in a somewhat more civil manner) She meets with Duck to discuss the opening and asks to be copychief, but it's clear that's not happening. Right when Peggy went to meet with Duck, it was pretty clear he was the one she would sleep with and it happened. All you can do is shake your head. I think this brings her at least one step closer to Grey, but hopefully Don can reel her back in before that happens.

The creepy pregnant woman belly feeler Henry Francis is back and the signals between he and Betty are pretty overt. Betty is part of the Junior League who wants to do something about saving the environment, but Betty didn't really care and neither did I. She uses this as an excuse to call Henry who agrees to meet with her and take a hike. That doesn't happen, but instead recommends a fainting couch which Betty buys later and spends her time fantasizing about him on.

Don's reluctance to sign a contract most likely stems from the fact that signing his name would set in stone that fact that he is Don Draper and he works for Sterling-Cooper. He is no longer the guy that can do whatever he wants and is now tied down. He spends his time lashing out at people, and rather meanly I would add, running, and in the end, signing at 7-23-1963. I suppose it could mark the death of Dick Whitman as Alan Sepinwall stated though I didn't quite see it that way. If Don really wanted to, he could still ignore the contract, rip it up, or do whatever deceitful thing Don does.

Sally's teacher Ms. Farrell is back and Don is looking at her all the time. There is an eclipse and the children are using cardboard boxes to look at it. I think the implication is that everything is obscured like what the moon does to the sun in an solar eclipse. Don has no clue what to do with the contract, Betty has no clue what to do with Henry, and Peggy has no clue what to do with Duck.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Mad Men Season 3 Episode 6 Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency

Review - Mad Men Season 3 Episode 5 The Fog

Review - Mad Men Season 3 Episode 4 The Arrangements

Review - Mad Men Season 3 Episode 3 My Old Kentucky Home - "I'm Peggy Olson and I want to smoke some marijuana."


Anonymous said...

I think this was the episode where Don Draper gets (at least temporarily) chopped back down to size. His advances are rejected by the teacher. His potential tryst with a young couple isn't like the high-end, free-loving, sexual escapades he had in California but rather ends up with him being mugged (and outsmarted) by two low-end hitchhikers at a sleazy motel. He's outmaneuvered and basically bullied into doing soemthing he doesn't want to do by two men (Hilton and Cooper) more powerful than him. And he takes out these frustrations on Peggy - which helps drive her potentially to another agency - and then his wife, which helps justify her semi-pursuit of another man. As for Peggy's relationship with Duck, that seems like two wounded souls taking solace in one another. I don't think Peggy has any particular feelings for Duck, she just wants to be wanted. As for Duck, while no doubt he needs quenching of his carnal needs, clearly this is a way - at least in his mind - to get back at Don. As for Betty's potential new affair, I don't know, that story line still doesn't have heat for me and I'm not convinced it will be anything more than flirtations. Betty's more or less monogamy (one-night stand at a bar not withstanding) is one of the few things that helps make her sympathetic.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice what old man Cooper had to say to Don to try to convince him to sign the contract? Something about he knew some things about Don - or he knew more than Don thought about his past? I couldn't make it out....It was sort of like Don's reaction to the contract was the turning point and flashpoint for the entire episode - his angry reaction - that of a caged animal - prompted Peggy's visit to Duck, Betsy's visit to Harry,etc. Also - I think a lot of this rests on the weird Conrad Hilton - who is trumping Don at every turn.

TV Obsessed said...

I think Cooper was implying he'd reveal Don's little Dick Whitman secret.

Anonymous said...

Actually Don is familiar with phenobarbitol. His doc prescribed them, along with his platitudes about a stressful life, and some blood pressure pills.

Anonymous said...

Very astute comments from all - and about Don's being "cut down to size" and his false identity being held over him - and the flash forwards at the beginning.... these writers are brilliant, accurate.... I was in my 30's in the 60's, worked in typing pools, etc. in large offices... they really have recreated an era with flawless acuracy.... I liked your reviews & comments.

Anonymous said...

I also loved the lines about the contract spoken by Don to Betty while she was lying on her new chaise. He is referring to his work life and his having all the control, and that it has nothing to do with her. She looks at him incredulously, because everything he has just said applies to their relationship as well.

Anonymous said...

I was a little stunned by Cooper's blackmail threat, and Don's reaction of signing the contract and seethingly telling
Betty that he signed it seems like a comedown now but a neutered Don Draper is boring and I expect his anger to show up in unepected and interesting ways over the course of the season. Even Burt Cooper might have second thoughts about his ham-handed power play.

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