"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mad Men: The Gold Violin

Mad Men ended on a totally shocking and gross note that rendered me unable to finish a piece of pizza. I was just wondering when any of these men were going to get called out on their cheating ways (especially Don), and finally it kind-of, sort-of happened! I've also been wondering when I'd get back to some of the peripheral characters, like Ken Cosgrove (remember, he's a published writer of fiction?) and art director Salvatore Romano (remember, he's tormented by his sexual orientation?), and was happy to see the show pick up with those folks where it left off.

And then there was the Joan/new girl smackdown (totally awesome) and more flashbacks to Don's strange and mysterious past, including a little about how he got his start. He's come a long way, that Draper, but that only means he has farther to fall.

Don Draper: The episode opens with Don shopping for a lovely new Coupe de Ville when it flashes back in time to his beginnings as a used-car salesman who's loving life until a strange woman (an actress with a seriously creepy face) shows up at his work and tells him she knows he's not Don Draper. His face registers the same look of terror I've seen several times now when his true identity is threatened to be revealed. Back in real time, though, Don is doing quite well at work. He lands a new account, is invited to join a board of a philanthropy, and is informed by Mr. Cooper that "There are few people who get to decide what happens in our world. You have been invited to join them. Pull back the curtain and take your seat." Don's moving up in the world!

Betty Draper: When Jimmy Barrett called Betty at home to flirt with her invite her to his party, I first thought that he was beginning to cross some lines and hit on her and maybe later she'd slap him and/or sleep with him. But it turns out he was just using her to stick the knife in Don, who he knows is sleeping with his wife, Bobbie. When Jimmy's eyes darken and he gets in both Drapers' faces separately at the party, rendering them stunned, I felt very, very frightened of that man. I was glad to see someone finally say something on the matter of infidelity rather than just suppressing emotions. However, I saw what getting stuff like that out in the open does to Betty: It made her barf all over her pretty dress in the brand new car. Shoot.

Salvatore Romano: There have been subtle hints in the past about Sal's sexuality even though he is in fact married to a nice woman named Kitty. He reads young Ken's story and invites him over for dinner, where one of the most awkward dinner table scenes ever ensues. It becomes painfully clear that Sal has a crush on Ken and is far more interested in conversation with him during dinner than Kitty. It's hard to say whether Kitty suspects something is off or if she was truly just upset that she was ignored at the table. I'm enjoying the way this delicate subplot is being unraveled — the actor who plays Sal smolders with longing, and it's pretty powerful.

Some more thoughts:

How gorgeous was that family portrait of the Drapers out on the lawn enjoying a picnic with the new car radio playing tunes in the background? The colors, the outfits — divine! Until, of course, Don smashes his beer can and chucks it out into the park and Betty leaves their trash on the lawn. I guess thinking about the environment was a ways off.

I really get a kick out of the new young and hip Sterling Cooper "kids," aka Smith & Smith, telling Don what people their age want out of life. They informed Don that their generation doesn't "want to be told what to do or how to act. We just want to be." Yeah, man! Yeah!

Joan vs. Jane was so amazing, don't you think? I seriously think you could have a whole series based just on the secretaries. Round one goes to Jane who is much, much more conniving than I (or Joan for that matter) initially gave her credit for. Jane lives on the edge and has dirty old man Roger on her side now, so Joan better watch out.

I really like Kitty and feel sorry for her. I hope we see more of home life with her and Sal. I was shocked by Sal's crush on Ken, though. Did not see that coming.

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