It may be late in the week, but how could I resist a few observations on last Sunday’s viewing of Mad Men?
What struck me?
A gorgeous guy named Guy appears from the UK office, Joan celebrates her last day at the agency with a difficult secret, Don believes he might have a London assignment in his future, and when that falls through, Conrad Hilton pops into his life! It turns out he’s the gentleman with whom Don had a rare, revealing conversation, over a drink at a party.
Accidents, opportunities, and what we make of them
Guy, a rising star from the agency’s new British owners, would have posed more obstacles to the American team at Sterling Cooper. But fate intervenes, as an improbable accident occurs at an office party, and a hapless secretary runs over gorgeous Guy’s foot in a John Deere tractor mower!
In all the gore and commotion, Joan is the only one who keeps her head, quite possibly saving Guy’s life as he’s losing blood (and doesn’t keep his foot).
Mad Men’s women continue to impress; we see behind the scenes into Joan’s marriage which certainly appears to be less than what she expected, though she carries on performing her wifely duties – in all ways typical of the era – propping up her husband’s ego, putting on the brave face, bearing his troubles as her own – though he doesn’t reciprocate (which was clear even before tying the knot).
Joan’s future in her new life is bleaker, not brighter, yet she continues to wear colors that accentuate her strength, femininity, and vitality – appropriate to the character. Bravo, Mad Men creators! Once again – your mood-and-character enhancing details are much appreciated!
This was an episode of subtle revelations – of ambition, of pain, of possibilities, and surprise – like the meeting with Conrad Hilton.
These were scenes about opportunities – those imagined, those lost, and those presenting themselves in ways we can’t fully identify – as in real life.
We are also offered explicit examples of courage in this episode. Don articulates his distaste for the naming of his new son, though he expresses the ability to see beyond it. As for Joan? She’s cool in the face of crisis – whether it’s the gruesome tractor accident or increasing awareness of fissures in her marriage, as she tries to manage them.
The writers have us eating out of their palms! And we’re ready to tune in on Sunday, wondering
- What might the Hilton encounter bring for Don?
- As Joan’s marriage weakens, will the bond with Guy grow?
- What direction for the flirtation kindled by Sally’s teacher, for Dapper Don?
As the episode closes, another poignant scene takes place between Don and his daughter, over the issue of his son’s name. After all, he has spent more than a decade using the name and background of a dead man, covering his own painful roots as Dick Whitfield. Does he really want his child bearing the name of a dead man he disliked?
Yet he tells his daughter that whatever the baby’s name, they don’t know who he is yet, and he can be whatever he chooses.