Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mad Men: Poor Sally (Pt. One Million) and Peggy Got a Cat

Add to the list of Things Sally Will Never Unsee
*sigh* *deep sigh* I mean, will there ever be an episode of MM with Sally where I don't hold my breath the entire episode and then something horrible happens to her and I end up saying "Poor Sally" for days and days?  (Rhetorical. We all know the answer.) And although I am serious when I say this happens every time, it doesn't lessen the shock and disgust we all felt when Sally saw Don with Sylvia. My mind was putting all the pieces together as she was entering the kitchen and just when I was thinking "oh, I hope they're not doing it when Sally..." BOOM! OF COURSE THEY WERE DOING IT WHEN SALLY WALKS IN. I felt a lot like Don looked following that scene. Let's pause and recap Poor Sally's experiences to date: Glen Bishop, gets caught masturbating at sleepover, grandfather lets her drive then dies, mom and dad divorce, new stepdad Henry, new stepmom Megan, often responsible for younger brothers, gets period while playing hooky with Glen Bishop, nasty stepgrandmother Pauline is mean and freaks her out by talking about nurses getting murdered, sees other stepgrandmother Marie and Roger getting it on at a restaurant, has random run-in with thief who plays mindgames about knowing her father (while home alone with brothers). AND THESE ARE ONLY THE ONES I REMEMBER!
Please give this girl an Emmy RIGHT FREAKING NOW!
Can something good happen to this girl?! And even with listing all of these not-awesome, potentially life-altering experiences, I think this episode with Don is the final straw for our Poor Sally. Her relationship with Betty never really was and now her beloved Dad is a liar and a cheat. I don't think Sally recovers from this, really. I've written about Poor Sally at length in previous entries, so I will just leave it at this... beatnik or hippie? Cuz it's one or the other next season.  (Aside: I'm no psychiatrist, but if I was I would say these awesome things. I bet.)

Let's talk Don Draper. This season has certainly been a seemingly long, strange journey with us seeing Don uncharacteristically not in control due to lots of mind altering events, both pharmacological and just life. In previous episodes, Don was in altered states due to B12 shots (ha!) and some damn powerful hashish business. Oh, and that almost drowning thing. Arguably the most powerful mindbending that has happened, however, has been delving into his own memories. It started with a cough and then we were privy to how Don was raised in a brothel and through multiple scenes, we are left to think that Don's attitude toward sex is... what? I think up until this point, Don's attitudes, shaped so young, were tied into power, money and not anything to do with love really. However, it's no coincidence that Don is uncovering memories of the prostitute who cared for him while he was sick then slept with him now that he is so into Sylvia. His first and probably true association of sex is that of caring and motherly love. And who is a more overtly caring mom than Sylvia? Sylvia keeps saying that no one was supposed to fall in love during their affair, but I think Don is in love with Sylvia and probably for the first time in his life. I'm not sure that Don ever loved Betty or Megan (even in trippy, hashish-induced, near-death experiences... you'll recall that he was envisioning Megan as a "second chance" not necessarily his love. Also, he already messed up that second chance.).
I felt like this after that scene, too
The question now is, does Don have the self-awareness at this point to realize that what Sally witnessed directly parallels his own young life experiences? Will he acknowledge that Sally probably needs to talk about this? I want to say that based on Don's reaction post-event, i.e. pacing in lobby, not sure what to do or where to go, he will have a new understanding and sympathy for Sally. But my sad, realistic bet is it all gets swept under the rug, as usual. We all know, though, that things swept under rugs don't always stay there.

Speaking of which, Peggy's discussion with
Pete's mom threw her and all of us back to
Problem solved
Seasons 1&2 ("think of your baby together") and simultaneously reminded us all of Peggy and Pete's painful history (painful for her, I don't know what for him) and just how far Peggy has come since then, mostly due to Don telling Peggy to sweep the baby and subsequent hospitalization under rug ("this never happened"). This sets us up for one of those quintessential Mad Men scenes, where it seems like nothing is happening, but SO MUCH IS HAPPENING: Peggy, Pete and Ted stuck in a bar, flight grounded due to weather. The chemistry between Ted and Peggy was so palpable that even Pete could see it. Then Ted leaves and it gives Pete and Peggy some bonding time where they talk about Pete's mom, among other things, and then Pete acknowledges that Peggy really knows him and Peggy acknowledges the same. Not in any sexual way, just the kind of way where two people share a history. But by the time Ted comes back, wether or not he thinks something is happening between Pete and Peggy I don't know, but he definitely feels like a third wheel at the table. We find out later that this is probably when Ted decides to check out of the Peggy chemistry class and devote time to his homelife. This is a typical Peggy scene this season. This whole season has seemingly been about the mad men in her life letting her down, leaving her on her own, shutting her out... scurrying away, if you will. Don keeps shutting doors on her, Ted rebuffs her when she says her and Abe broke up (or more hilariously "he was stabbed" and they broke up), Abe leaves (obvi), even Stan Rizzo says no to helping her deal with rats in her apartment. But when we see our industrious Peggy Olson has solved the actual rat problem by getting a cat, we are certain that she will deal with her other rat problem with as much ingenuity and confidence in being by herself.
"Frenchy, that wise, wise sage" - Peggy Olson
And now, the Bob Benson discussion. Even though the big news from this episode is that Bob Benson revealed himself to be gay, the real news is there is no news! Bob Benson continues to be as mysterious as ever! So Bob hits on (of all people!) Pete Campbell in a subtle, not-so-subtle way. This does not necessarily explain everything. While I feel other people are sort of saying "Oh, that's it, that explains why he's such a mystery," I just can't get on board with that. I'm still as mystified as ever. I guess that argument is that Bob is gay and doesn't talk about his personal life for fear of retribution? But that was never the enigma of Bob Benson... he is definitely not lacking in confidence (thanks in part to those trusty self-help albums!). It has always been about how he seems to be everywhere all the time just when people need him, often with coffee. Bob seems to know how to read people, and wether that's in order to get ahead, or wether he's a genuinely helpful nice guy or a secret spy, we still don't know and his being gay (or not) doesn't answer any of that. Yet. Could it be that Bob is picking up on something with Pete that he thinks revealing that he his gay could somehow help him advance in the company?
ooooo.... mysterious... or not. I don't know.
I mean, it seems out of character for Bob to make such a bold reveal without having some sort of indication, right? Or not. Like I said, Bob seems to be a confident guy not afraid to take chances, so perhaps this is Bob Benson completely embracing his homosexuality and is confident in showing it.  Pete is clearly not on board with this, though I am not sure Bob is convinced of this based on his facial expression leaving Pete's office. But as with everything else Bob Benson, does that facial expression say "oh crap, but I'm going to hide it" or "he'll be mine?" It's a mystery........

Other Things:
- In writing this entry, I'm reminded of Don's "this never happened mantra" (he has used that more than a few times) and I have a sudden, horrible fear: is Mad Men going to end like Lost??!?!?!?  Oh My God... I can't even...
- Looking back at what I am writing about Sylvia, the motherly love sex thing works, however, I am reminded that the most powerful relationships Don has had with women, namely Anna Draper and Peggy have been decidedly non-sexual. Are these Don's most powerful relationships with women?
- Need to talk about Ted more. He has his own issues going on with Don Draper. I feel a great synergy between how Ted feels now and how Peggy felt for a long time, until she walked away. Sooner or later, Ted will understand that he treats everyone that way. He's not really special. But for now it makes for some great lines: "Imagine if every time Ginger Rogers jumped in the air, Fred Astaire punched her in the face."

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