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Mad Men: "The Crash" OAD 5/19/13 ***SPOILERS***

Discussion in 'TV Show Talk' started by phrelin, May 22, 2013.

  1. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    "Dr. Feelgood" was a German physician named Max Jacobson who fled Berlin in 1936. He had a practice in the Upper East Side where he "treated" famous writers, musicians, entertainers, and politicians with "vitamin injections" that included multivitamins, steroids, enzymes, hormones, and solubilized placenta, bone marrow, animal organ cells, and 30 to 50 milligrams of amphetamines, the latter sometimes increased. According to Truman Capote, Jacobson's treatments created "instant euphoria. You feel like Superman. You're flying. Ideas come at the speed of light. You go 72 hours straight without so much as a coffee break."

    Amphetamines, known as "uppers" have significant side effects. They can mask a person’s sleepiness and cause dizziness, restlessness and irregular heartbeat and are addictive. And Capote described the crash after the treatments as "like falling down a well."

    By the 1960's amphetamine use was winked at in the world of creativity. Novelists Ayn Rand used them to make it through the process of creating “The Fountainhead” in high speed, causing her to become addicted. Jacobson treated Jack Kennedy. If you want to know more about Jacobson, a 2005 New York Sun article is a good place to start.


    One thing for certain, whatever else SCPD's new and apparently well-connected partner Jim Cutler brings to the firm, the "treatments" from his Jacobson-like doctor did not produce a very solid creative effort for Chevy though Ken Cosgrove turned out to be a pretty good hoofer when properly "stimulated." Nonetheless, it did seem to offer a life-altering opportunity for Don/Dick.

    The amphetamine cocktail seems to cause Don/Dick significant flashbacks to his traumatic childhood. For Don, this appeared to be the potential beginning of metamorphosis from the irresponsible man-child everyone loves to hate to a responsible grownup. Indeed, in this episode all the other characters served as support for the potential evolution of the protagonist in Matt Weiner's "Mad Men", the Don Draper/Dick Whitman character.

    In a person's lifetime there comes that series of moments, events, after which you become your own person. You work through the dominance of the personalities and experiences of your childhood. It's when you get over blaming your parents or teachers. It's when you get over schoolyard traumas. It's when you grow up and assume responsibility for your beliefs, words, actions, and omissions - particularly your choices.

    Sally Draper was the focus of the first scenes where we see Don begin to take control of his life. In the bedroom after the incidents with the thief and Don passing out, Megan tells Don that Sally tried to be a grown up, but she's just a little kid. In the next scene, a very powerful scene, Don has called Sally to do what an adult must do for his child in the situation - take responsibility. It doesn't come without painful insight:

    "I've just been working too much," Don tells Sally.
    "I'm so embarrassed, acted like a stupid little kid," she responds.
    "No you didn't and I'm sure she's fooled plenty of adults too," Don assures her.
    "She said she knew you," Sally explained. "I asked her everything I know and she had an answer for everything."
    The with remarkable insight, she said, "And then I realized I don't know anything about you."


    "Sigh. You did everything right. Try to forget about it," Don lamely offers at first, to which Sally said in a less than confident tone "Ok... Bye."
    And then, before ending the phone call, Don's possible metamorphosis becomes evident.
    Here we see a new, exposed, Don, "Sally.... I left the door open. It was my fault"
    We see Sally nodding her head slightly with understanding. More confidently she says again, "Ok... Bye."

    Immediately we move to the scene where Don's metamorphosis begins as the responsible head of creative.

    Don enters Ted's office with great purpose stating "I need to talk to you."
    Unfortunately for him, Jim Cutler comes in right behind Don blythely saying "Morning fellas."
    "I'm fine. Thank your for asking," a very irritated Ted states to both of them.
    Then he turns on Jim "How could you bring Frank's little girl here."
    "I let her tag along. I kept an eye on her, didn't I, Don," Jim says defensively.
    "Who?" Don asks trying to remember what little girl.
    "Wendy" Jim states and then offers this defense, "Well, believe me it was better than what could have happened if I'd let her loose in the Village like she wanted."
    We see Don suddenly looking away from Jim in disgust as he realizes who the "little girl" was.
    "Well, that's not what her mother thinks," Ted says chastizing Jim. Then he turns on Don.
    "What the hell went on here this weekend. Half this work is gibberish. Chevy is spelled wrong," Ted states.

    What happens next is the second indicator that Don is assuming the role of a responsible adult, by becoming a responsible executive partner. He appears to have realized what happened over that weekend, which was a direct result of his employees and partners trying to cope with Chevy execs trying to control the timing and process of SCDP's efforts, which is just like what happened with Jaguar.

    He states: "Look, I am going to continue on Chevy in my function as Creative Director, that is evaluating other people's work. That's all I can do right now. Call me around 1970 when they are ready to make an ad."
    As Don turns away to leave the office, a frustrated Ted says, "What are you talking about. I can't do this by myself."
    "I'm sorry, Ted, but every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse," Don states as he walks out the door.
    Ted and Jim stare out the door as Don walks away.

    Cue the end music, the Mama's and Papa's Words of Love:

    This song ties together something we all know. The reason Don left the door open was his childish infatuation with Sylvia. This childishness was reflected in what appeared to be weird, off-subject, ad copy he was writing that he expressed to Peggy and some of which apparently went to Ted. It was his childish attempt to find a way to get Sylvia back.


    That ad copy ties back to the scene early in Don's amphetamine induced stupor where the oatmeal ad gives us a hint that Don is working his way through what he longed for as a result of his truly traumatizing childhood. And cue the music of a song that became a Mama's and Papa's hit but really was old, from Don's childhood, Dream a Little Dream of Me performed by Ozzie Nelson in 1931 (vocal starts at 1:23):


    Leave it to Weiner's crew to come up with this twist even in the music.

    A lot happened in this episode that was weird and interesting. It was also disturbing to many viewers. There was too much to cover all the details here.

    Also I am late with this review because I had to work through it all, to make sure I feel confident about what I think Weiner was doing. It may turn out I'm wrong, but it is what I felt at the end credits.
  2. Maruuk

    Maruuk Hall Of Fame

    Dec 4, 2007
    Good job, you nailed it!
  3. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

    Jun 18, 2006
    I am one of the few who liked this episode, I'd say. Like "Jet Set" which I did not like, "The Crash" tries to give you the experience of being there and does so much more effectively than the episode where Roger takes acid. The feeling of being Wile E.Coyote in a cartoon... that's what everyone at SCDP(CH)CGC is going through. And it takes them to strange places.

    I go back to something that Bill Cosby said 30 years ago, which I cannot quote completely here due to Mr. Cosby's rare use of profanity:

    These shots intensified the personalities of those who took them. Ken? Of course he's a tap dancer, what salesman isn't? Stan? Incredibly creative but unfocused. And Don? It just makes Don into a mess. In general I don't like the flashbacks to pre-WWII Don because if you think about it, life back then wasn't just sepia-tones and hep-cat slang. It was probably a lot like life today and I think that Mr. Weiner plays too much on our perception of the Depression and doesn't really explore the reality.

    One hidden gem that took a little noodling was that when you look at Dick's "first time girl" (whose name was given, but it escapes me) she and Sylvia have the same beauty mark. It explains a lot about why Don pines so for Sylvia. Experiences from our past shape what and who we find interesting.

    The symbolism was a little too heavy, I'd say -- Don looking for a soup ad when it was really an oatmeal ad, because it reminded him of a long ago bowl of soup -- but for the most part well played.

    On the other hand, the "Grandma Ida" subplot seemed odd and not perfectly played. It's hard to get one's head into 1968, and even more so because there was such a variation in people's mindsets. Sally certainly wouldn't have been afraid of a black woman but I'm not convinced she would have been sheepish as to why she couldn't be related to one. I think she would have been a bit more defensive right away. It was even stranger that we see Betty trim and blonde, just a few weeks after the last episode, with no explanation.

    "I left the door open." That one line, though... so many meanings. He allowed the robbery to happen. He kept hoping for possibilitiies. He encouraged the actions of others. So unlike 1960 Don to do that, but as Don finishes his decade long plunge down the elevator shaft and hits the ground, we'll see many more of these incidents, I'll bet.
  4. spartanstew

    spartanstew Dry as a bone

    Nov 16, 2005
    Wylie, Texas
    As did the girl in the Oatmeal ad.
  5. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

    Jun 18, 2006
    Very true. A bit of an issue with that ad -- if it was a final pull sheet from a magazine it would have shown more significant signs of aging as well as a more trimmed appearance. If it was a proof or comp it would have been marked up and pasted up. Instead, it shows crop marks, register targets and color bars characteristic of computer generation. One of the show's rare "oopsies."
  6. Maruuk

    Maruuk Hall Of Fame

    Dec 4, 2007
    Yeah, Grandma Ida was lame. It went on and on and lacked credibility and sense: She would want to get out of there as fast as possible, yet she's hanging out and yakking away. Silly and not worthy of the show.

    Today though, cops would respond immediately to that phone call from Sally and pay no attention to the "adult" voice. After all these kidnappings and missed opportunities, anything about a strange person in your home is gonna get checked on. But back then adults ruled the world. Kids were non-enfranchised property.
  7. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    The Grandma Ida thing - initially I had the thought that maybe she was the real Don Draper's nanny until she asked questions about property. In my mind the only result of that character is Sally saying to Don she didn't know anything about him and Don apologizing to Sally for leaving the back door open. It was a plot device that seemed too clumsy.
  8. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    Grandma Ida was a bad idea. At first I thought it might be another one of
    Don's flashback dream sequences, but whatever it was supposed to do,
    it fell way short. Personally, it just about ruined the entire episode for me.

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