Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review - Mad Men Season 3 Episode 8 Souvenir

After this episode, there's just 5 episodes left. I've seen some disgruntled comments about this season and while I agree that this season hasn't been on par with the others, it still beats most of what's out there and is still highly enjoyable. Yes, I this statement is thrown around all the time, but in the case of Mad Men, it really applies.

With the focus of the episode entirely on the home lives with only one scene at Sterling-Cooper, there is lots to go over. Betty is such a weird and complex person. If only we could just take a scalpel and dig around in her brain, we'd probably like her a lot  more. Hilton from Rome calls for Don and of course he has to go. Betty wants to come along, and who wouldn't It's Rome!! They pretend to be strangers and have sex.

It was evident Betty and Don won't be fine for a while with the tension between them and the coldness of Betty towards Don. Their getaway to Rome was only a getaway, a temporary break from their unhappy marriage. While Don wants to continue with the role-playing, Betty is a realist (in this instance) and reverts back to her normal routine. Don buys Betty a bracelet from a gift shop from Rome. Her glee is contained by a sullen look on her face, undoubtedly caused by the immense excitement it brought.

Henry Francis saved the day stalling the reservoir issue for good, and got a little something out of it: a kiss. He'll most likely be back, but as Betty stated "I'm done with that." Betty is so disaffected by Francis and the kiss, that she's getting creepy. Give her a knife and she could be an effective serial killer.

Sally's ongoing problems lead to yet another hilarious mothering moment from Betty as she discusses why Sally shouldn't be kissing Ernie. She discusses first kisses, but of course Sally has no clue what she's talking about. I found one of her lines particularly interesting when she said (paraphrasing) that boys kiss girls and girls don't kiss boys. Henry kisses Betty and later, Pete kisses his neighbor. The Italian guys hit on Betty while she for the most part did nothing other that sit down.

Trudy is gone, so Pete pretty much goes out of control. He helps his neighbor clean a dress and for his reward, he decides to sleep with her. Pete is a cool character at times, but Vincent Kartheiser gives me so many memories of him being a general douche bag on Angel which combined with all the horrible things Pete's done makes me squirm whenever I see him.

When Trudy comes back, he immediately is sorry and Trudy accepts it. She'll always be the loving wife who forgives all transgressions her scoundrel of a husband does. For Pete to be good, she'd need a leash to keep him on, but I guess her mere presence would serve, though nobody really wants to be around Pete 24/7.

Notes: Peter is reading Ebony at the beginning of the episode which was a nice reference to his endeavor a few episodes earlier. Joan has a markedly different appearance when Pete sees her to clean the dress. Her hair is toned down though she still has her dignity. No Peggy!! Grr...

The episode was fine, but didn't deliver the kick that makes an episode spectacular. Without any narrative in the office, the writers did a good job, since the office stuff usually brings out the best in the show. 

Score: 9.1/10


Anonymous said...

But Betty isn't disaffected by Henry's kiss! She is a little shocked at first but when she's at home, she can't contain her smile that comes from fantasizing about this man pursuing her and her secret both makes her radiant and then a little worried as well. That's why she wants to go to Rome with Don, to avoid the uneasiness that comes with knowing that she's been tempted enough to allow the kiss and then also to explore a renewed sense of attractiveness, sexiness and self-confidence (given to her by Henry's attentions) with her husband in Rome. When she comes back from Rome, she wears that bright long flowy 60s dress that is definitely a step towards the times to come compared to her usual retro attire. She isn't covering up immense happiness when she receives the golden coliseum charm, but rather total disappointment that her previous high can't continue. Don leaves her wanting more as is seen by her being frustrated in the hotel bed when he says he has to get up and then by her dropping her towel to join him in the shower. It was a total soap opera of an episode but one that somewhat realistically portrayed a woman experiencing a new wave in her sexuality and a need for a new level of experience.

Aredee said...

"...her glee is contained by a sullen look on her face, undoubtedly caused by the immense excitement it brought."

I didn't get that from that scene. For me her reaction was closer to the young Charles Foster Kane's reaction when the banker, Thatcher, gives him a new sled for Christmas (which, of course has great symbolism in the film).

Kane's "Merry Christmas" is recited as if he were saying, "Big f**cking deal." It doesn't replace the real thing that he's looking for, and neither does Don's charm or the sentiments behind it, as far as Betty's concerned.

TV Obsessed said...

I was trying to be sarcastic with that line, and I probably won't try that again. Basically my point was that she didn't really care.

Aredee said...

from Madison Ave. to Sesame Street!

Mad Men visits Sesame Street!

TV Obsessed said...

Yeah, I saw that. Sesame Street is hilarious sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I misssssed last weeekkk Mad Mad help me find it!!!

Anonymous said...

The author clearly missed Betty's MO, getting excited by the kiss and temptation of Henry and using Don and Rome as her fantasy being lived out. Until that time, Rome and Don didn't even get her attention.

Anonymous said...

Is there a character who isn't a bit smarmy?

Will this season end with some big blow ups - Betty discovers Dick Whitman, Pete goes over the line in and/or outside the office, Roger and Don have a knock down, Joan comes back to settle some scores, Sal gets outed, what do the Brits have in store...?

The kettle has been boiling very slowly, but when it gets there things will get very interesting.

Then we'll probably see a big reaction to Kennedy's murder. I remember the day, the weekend and the time immediately following. That was our generation's 9/11, and horrific as 9/11 was, JFK's death was more personal, particularly to those who saw him as the one to lead us out of the somnolent Eisenhower Era.

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