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

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mad Men: The Jet Set

“My father will take care of you. He likes you. You’re beautiful and you don’t talk too much.” - Joy, to Don

Don is the James Bond of Mad Men. Seriously, the guy can seemingly get any women that he wants. He doesn’t even have to make a play or flirt or anything, they just zero in on him from across a bar or fall at his feet. First we had Midge and Rachel and then Bobbie (oh yeah, and his wife Betty) and in this episode a young nomad Joy, who seems to want to take him away with her so he can be her plaything. The interesting thing is that Don goes for it.

That’s just one of the many incredible developments in this episode, the best so far this season.
Seriously, isn’t this episode just spectacular? It easily, easily could be the season-ender; it had so many revelations and potential show-changers. Let’s take a look at what is jam-packed into this episode:

During the first part of the episode I make a note about how I can’t understand a lot of what Kurt is saying, but you understand clearly when he says “I’m a homosexual.” I didn’t expect that at all. Not that I didn’t call it on his first appearance on the show, but I didn’t expect him to just blurt it out in front of the entire Sterling Cooper staff (Europeans are a bit more honest about stuff like that I guess). The reactions of everyone is just perfect: Ken, shocked after he made a joke about Kurt dating Peggy, Harry and his wiseass jokes (”Which bathroom does he use?”), and of course Sal, with a look of shock and awe on his face that someone could be so honest. (Speaking of Sal, isn’t it funny how he’s pretending to enjoy Playboy one moment and the next he’s talking about the curtains used on The New Loretta Young Show?)

The romance between Roger and Jane is in hyperdrive. He not only proposes but wants to speed up his divorce to Mona (using the same divorce lawyer that Duck’s ex had.)

Speaking of Duck, just when I thought this was the episode where they can him for not bringing in enough business (and asking to be partner!), it turns out to be the episode that could change Sterling Cooper forever. At first I thought Cooper was going to make one of his surprising decisions and say to Duck “No, we don’t want millions of dollars in business,” but it looks like this could turn into an exciting cliffhanger as it approaches the end of the season.

Kurt gives Peggy a new hairdo. More independent, That Girl-ish than the conservative do she’s been sporting so far.

Of course, the big plot of the episode is Don being a DICK, leaving Pete at the business meeting and going to Palm Springs to be with yet another conquest, Joy the 21 year-old. These L.A. scenes are like a whole different show; the sense of sun and pools is so strong. There’s a great shot of Don standing by the pool in his suit and hat, smoking a cigarette, that I wish I could have used as the pic for this review. At the end Don sends his luggage back home. He’s actually decided to stay out West with Joy and her weird group (love the women’s look when Don asks if they’re all rich)!

Maybe there can be a spinoff show after Mad Men ends: Don Draper: Private Eye. I can picture him out West after a marriage that breaks up, solving crimes. After all, the whole meeting of Joy and her gang seemed like one of those things from a Ross Macdonald or Raymond Chandler novel, where the P.I. meets a weird family that has secrets. Not sure why Don fainted (high blood pressure?), why he was looking at his drink so closely later (something in it?), and I have no idea who he called on the phone and said “this is Dick Whitman” to. Any guesses? (Oh, and what a spectacular shot of Don on the couch, the opposite of the Mad Men logo!)

Besides the one above, this ep had some great lines:
- “Handing out towels?” - Don, to Pete, after Pete said he saw Tony Curtis in the men’s room.
- “Where are the valets? So much for cheap labor.” - Pete
- “Kurt’s a homo.” - Ken, after Pete asked what went on while he was in L.A.

This episode has so many goodies I could have put it in the OMG/WTF? category. No Betty, but her figure loomed large everytime they showed Don’s face. What an awesome show this is.

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