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Mad Men: "Tomorrowland" OAD 10/17/2010


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#1 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 12:20 AM

Henry to Betty: "There is no fresh start. Lives carry on."

And that's what happened this year.

In this episode titled "Tomorrowland," Weiner and company had Don finally choose between being Don or Dick, and he chose Don but without rejecting all of Dick, perhaps owning more than just a nickname.

Should this episode have been titled "Fanstasyland" because Don's self-image includes being the "handsome prince" and, in his fantasy Megan, is "Cinderella?" Faye would have had trouble avoiding the "wicked stepmother" role with Sally. Megan will have trouble, but it will only be because she's trying too hard to be Maria Von Trapp.

One can't help but feel that Don is enchanted with Megan. She's the perfect French-speaking au pair (to use a word not commonly used for a "nanny" in 1965) for the kids. And she's smart, but at 25 not "too seasoned" and therefore not yet aggressively cynical. And she's attractive even if a bit "toothy." She thinks she knows Don, and in some ways she does know Don - she just doesn't know Dick.

But all in all, Don thinks he has found a way to replace Carla and Betty. And it is a significant improvement over the latter for the kids.

We don't really know anything about Megan who at ...what, 23 or 24?... moved from Montreal bringing her French Canadian heritage to New York City. And if we don't know anything, think how little Don knows about what "Tomorrowland" means to a 25-year-old French Canadian woman in 1965 in the United States.

What are these two going to talk about? When Megan calls home all excited about her engagement, Don wants to talk but Megan points out he doesn't speak French.

Some things are clear from this episode:
  • Don/Dick has severed his formal ties with California by selling Anna's house.
  • Don/Dick wants the life he thinks Don would have had and impulsively uses the ring dead Don gave dead Anna as a charm to get it.
  • Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce may survive the Lucky Strike crisis, but it will require hard work particularly by Peggy and Joan.
  • Peggy and Joan have bonded as the underestimated women of SCDP.
  • Joan, as we suspected, did not have the abortion and is misleading her absent and fully deserving husband.
Some things are not so clear:
  • Don/Dick is a less hung up guy in California and it remains to be seen if live Don can in any way be that guy in New York.
  • I don't know why Anna gave the ring to Don/Dick but as a charm with death all over it, can it symbolize a better life?
  • Will Don and toothy Megan (played by Jessica Paré, who is either very talented or takes direction very well) be a married couple in episode 1 of next season?
  • What year will next season be set in, as 1966 doesn't offer much background, while 1967 offers the Montreal World's Fair, and 1968, with all of its violence and death, just seems to push the kid's ages?
The future of two characters seem to have been nicely wrapped up into "so long, don't let the door hit you" moments.

In a gut wrenching scene, Betty fired Carla exerting what little power she has over the one adult she could. And she won't even write a letter of reference. (Let's hope Don will handle that.) But Carla has been a significant element of stability for the kids. Maybe that is the point for next season - no stability for the kids or maybe Don and Megan will form the perfect family ... naw, that would be too 1950's sitcom.

And poor Faye. You have to know that she's crying at least in part because at the beginning of this season we saw her, as a seasoned veteran of the office romance risks, predict Don would be remarried within a year. Yet she let Don know she was actually not married - just a ruse to avoid the problems - stepping right into the arena to become another victim of his charms. And we know he did use her.

About Peggy. This is a great character to watch. While she seems thrown by the development of the engagement between Don and Megan, her perception of getting the first new account since Lucky Strike, the $250,000 Topaz pantyhose account, as her saving the company made me smile. Yes, it will serve as a psychological boost to the few left in the company. Saving the firm? Well, maybe a little.

The Joan and Peggy moment after they learn about Don and Megan is a classic:

Joan: “Whatever can be on your mind?”
Peggy: “Can you believe it!?”
Joan: “It happens all the time — they’re just all between marriages."
Joan: “Well, I learned a long time ago to not get all my satisfaction from this job.”
Peggy: “That’s bulls—!”

Roger's reaction is also amusing. Wasn't Don giving him grief for marrying his secretary not so long ago?

Unfortunate for Don, Roger, Joan and Peggy, they didn't get Ken's message: “Cynthia’s my life, my actual life." It is important to have a life.

And we all know that Don has no clue about Faye's comment: "I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things."

So, we end the season with Don staring out the window, the perfect immature teen angst love song in the background:

Cher: They say we're young and we don't know
We won't find out until we grow
Sonny: Well I don't know if all that's true
'Cause you got me, and baby I got you

Why do I find that a bit foreboding. After all, it worked out so well for Sonny and Cher, and of course for Chastity Bono.

Until next season....

Edited by phrelin, 19 October 2010 - 12:28 AM.

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#2 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 02:57 AM

***NEXT SEASON SPOILER ALERT***

Yeah, we knew Joan never had the abortion. And what happens when Roger discovers his seed sprung forth from his fave loins? Yikes! How can he resist spilling the beans to Army doc hubby?

We know next season Don & Megan are seemingly a happy couple (maybe even with a kid, Megan is holding a fake baby stand-in for lighting but maybe that's for Don's kid) from the production stills. They look great together.

I loved the moment where Don snaps angrily at the spilled milkshake and Megan stays super cool. Don does a double take. In that instant, he suddenly realized not only is Megan not Betty who would have freaked out totally, but that he had become so co-dependent with Betty's toxic rage that he had begun to mirror her responses to things even though that's not who he was.

Thus Megan as instant therapy for Don. Because it's all about Don. He can't actually perceive his own ego boundary, but we can. He's trying to break out, but the world is still just a multi-act stage play to Dick. Like a Pinocchio who lies to himself, he hasn't yet become a "real" boy, much as he thinks he's on the right path with Megan.

As a writer, I'm dying to get back to Don having illicit sex. Don having licit sex is just plain boring. That's just a Dirk Diggler flick.

January Jones must hate the writers. She's gone from a voluptuous sex object with a wide range of emotions and dramatic scenes to a dowdy, uptight, shrinking little mean-girl bee-yatch that even her husband can't stand anymore. Not much range there. I feel sorry for him, and the kids.

Faye was too much an equal to Don. He's not comfortable with that powerful a counterpoint as Faye. He needs to be the master of his domain, and with Faye around, he'd have to share his domain. That is just so not Don.

Finally, Don can go back to cheating sex. Always the best kind. At least on TV.

Edited by Maruuk, 19 October 2010 - 02:58 AM.


#3 OFFLINE   1980ws

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 03:02 AM

Good synopsis.

#4 OFFLINE   yosoyellobo

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 10:09 AM

I love the Joan and Peggy moment. Yesterday as I was watching Live with Regis and Kelly
he mention how mad he was with what had happen the day before with Mad Men. I immediately turn the show off and starting watching Mad Men. Took some of the edge off the show as I was expecting somebody to die. Great review.

#5 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 02:15 PM

When Peggy says "BS!", did she mean what Joan just said was BS, or was she referring to the whole situation of eligible men always marrying their cute, young secretaries as BS?

No question there was a huge connection that Don made between Anna and Megan:

Both lovely and gracious, with warm, engaging smiles.

Both infinitely patient and positive. (the ultimate antidote to Betty)

Both totally accepting of his many faults and see his positive side when others can't. (though Megan doesn't know Dick, as it were).

Both great with kids, though none of their own.

Both very willing to serve and be subservient.

Both bring out the best in Don.

And let's not forget, Don is running away from Faye who was telling Don to man up and take his punishment over Dick's ruse. No way Jose.

Faye was an equal, Don can't handle an equal.

So Megan really IS Anna reborn. Thus the ring being so appropriate.

Can Betty ever recover from the beating she's just taken from the writers? And to add insult to injury, she practically had a heart attack when Don interrupted her obvious flirting with news of his engagement. She's getting set up for a suicide or something.

Edited by Maruuk, 20 October 2010 - 02:16 PM.


#6 OFFLINE   sigma1914

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 02:59 PM

... She's getting set up for a suicide or something.


I was thinking the same thing. I bet she snaps next season.
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#7 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 07:17 PM

She's wound tighter than a fiddle string. Ready to snap.

#8 OFFLINE   ibglowin

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 08:24 AM

Great writeup (as usual) and great insights! :P
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#9 OFFLINE   Gloria_Chavez

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 09:48 PM

Great recap, as always, phrelin.

(i) I'm not convinced that Megan even loves Don. She's far too cool and calculating around him. What's her objective: Perhaps to leverage her relationship with Don into a high-level position at the ad firm, or elsewhere. And if and when Don relates his past to her, will she use the information to increase her leverage? (And Don should really be more careful with sharing his past)

(ii) Peggy and Don, always on the make. When that model comes in to her office and casually mentions why she was let go, Peggy's immediately begins to consider the business implications.

(iii) Maruuk, I agree with you regarding Betty, especially as she comes to the realization that, had it not been her firing of Carla, Don would maybe not have proposed.
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#10 OFFLINE   sigma1914

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 09:44 AM

Great recap, as always, phrelin.

(i) I'm not convinced that Megan even loves Don. She's far too cool and calculating around him. What's her objective: Perhaps to leverage her relationship with Don into a high-level position at the ad firm, or elsewhere. And if and when Don relates his past to her, will she use the information to increase her leverage? (And Don should really be more careful with sharing his past)
....


Now that might get interesting. Remember how Don chastised her for the background check? She knows he has something he's hiding. Good ideas, Gloria.
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#11 OFFLINE   Maruuk

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 02:27 PM

In a backhanded kind of way, the firing of Carla was a Betty cry for help. Her superego can never let go, but her subconscious in deep pain used this extreme (read: "crazy") act to force a re-evaluation of her direction straight off the emotional cliff.

I propose the Betty character arc next year will be crisis, trauma, confrontation, therapy, self-realization, transformation. I believe Betty's character is being set up for transformation. Which may land her back with Don after Don's "beginnings" with Megan get old, as they must.

Don is incapable of living in the real world. He thinks he does, but his psychosis is far too subtle to be accessed by him or anybody else so far (except for Faye). At heart, he's sad and needy little Dick. That's why he needed Anna's unconditional love mommy role. And now Megan's mommy role. Faye asked him to grow up, face his desertion, be a man. Little Dick has no idea how to be a man. Faye became far too scary for him. She's an equal to Don Draper. But would have to play mommy to Little Dick. And Don's little game would be exposed. Not gonna happen--if he can help it.

The crisis we see everytime Dick/Don is about to be exposed is real and overwhelming to Little Dick. Complete and utter panic completely out of character for Don Draper. We're seeing at those times a little boy in a man suit in a huge emotional crisis. The Little Boy can't handle adult issues, so he simply goes into nervous breakdown mode. He shuts down like the HAL 9000. In fact, the outro music next time Little Dick has one of those exposure crises should be "Bicycle Built for Two".

ps: All those scenes of Don with the lovely Anna yet nothing ever happening make sense now. It wasn't her leg. It wasn't that she wasn't pretty enough. And they loved each other. It was that she was Little Dick's MOM. You can't sleep with your Mom! And remember how Don was at Anna's, he became like a happy little boy. He told Anna everything, like a good son. Including all his failures and weaknesses and doubts and fears. It was the perfect relationship. For Little Dick. He couldn't even consider being Don Draper around Anna. Anna knew Don Draper and Dick Whitman, you're no Don Draper.

Megan, meet Little Dick. He just wears Big Don like a Halloween costume.

BTW, love your sig sigma. Exactly the two channels I can't stand not having in HD. I'd only add CW-HD for Gossip Girl.

Edited by Maruuk, 26 October 2010 - 03:12 PM.


#12 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:37 PM

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Yes, this is an old thread. It was the discussion of the last episode of "Mad Men." It's been that long. Heck, I'm not even sure what I was writing about in the OP. So maybe it does not need further discussion. But bringing it up as a reminder seems apropos.

After 17 months the show is returning this Sunday in a two hour episode that is scheduled to run 2 hours and 8 minutes. Even that - the length of air time of the episodes - was part of the drawn out contract battle between creator Matthew Weiner and AMC that led to this delay.

As one reviewer put it:

Even if creator Matthew Weiner hadn't threatened to unleash the hounds of AMC hell on anyone who divulges virtually anything about the long-awaited fifth season of "Mad Men," I wouldn't want to spoil a minute of Sunday's two-hour premiere. It is, of course, just that good.

In fact, based on the premiere, the season may wind up being the show's best so far, but even if it doesn't, "Mad Men" beats almost everything else on TV.

It's ironic that the last episode was titled "Tomorrowland."

For fans of this show "tomorrow" was a long time coming.

For the characters of the show, this thought of Benjamin Franklin's seems appropriate: "Tomorrow, every Fault is to be amended; but that Tomorrow never comes."

"In a hundred years there'll be a whole new set of people."
"Always poke the bears. They sleep too much for their own good."

"If you're good enough, they'll talk about you." - Tom Harmon
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#13 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 06:55 AM

I can't believe it's been a year and a half. I feel like Don a little myself sometimes... I know that's the point. The last 15 months have meant a lot of changes for me. Let's see what's up with Don. If set pictures are to be believed, the crew at SCDP isn't dressing a whole lot different, but that doesn't mean time hasn't passed.

Conventional wisdom tends to make people believe that on January 1, 1968 everyone between the ages of 8 and 80 started dressing like they were on "Laugh-In." It isn't true, if you look at pictures taken of those days. In fact, if photos are to be believed, most men didn't grow their hair until 1971.

So, I still hold out hope that it's at least 1967 in the world of SCDP, and that we can see the culture war between Don's generation and that of his kids.
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#14 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 02:31 PM

A long two-part piece appeared on the Slate website this month regarding race and "Mad Men."

It's interesting as the writer notes that critics have taken the show to task because it hasn't somehow dealt with the race issue. He notes:

The way we see race handled in the offices of Sterling Cooper is an accurate depiction of the perverse relationship that existed between blacks and Madison Avenue at the time, and indeed since the beginning of the modern advertising age.

...Mad Men isn’t cowardly for avoiding race. Quite the opposite. It’s brave for being honest about Madison Avenue’s cowardice. While Don Draper and Sterling Cooper may seem woefully behind the times, that just means Matthew Wiener is right on schedule, historically speaking. And if Mad Men’s schedule stays on the course it’s been following, it’s a safe bet that the season now beginning will finally bring us to the point when black consumers stand up and refuse to sit at the back of the advertising bus.

Personally, I agree with everything in the article. For someone my age, it is still disconcerting when "Mad Men" portrays Madison Avenue ad agency people behaving as they did, offering not even slightly rosie glasses.

Race isn't the only issue the show deals with as it was. The gender portrayal is so accurate my wife gets angry about the show from the perspective of having lived it.

The gender portrayal has, of course, been more upfront in the show because Sterling Cooper hired a number of women in office clerical jobs, working along side the ad men. We'll see about the effect of the '60's on racially integrating the office workforce.

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"Always poke the bears. They sleep too much for their own good."

"If you're good enough, they'll talk about you." - Tom Harmon
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