Episode 8 - The Crash
22 May 2013
I'm really sad I don't have more time to devote to Mad Men. I thought this episode was utterly compelling despite veering from the obscure to the bizarre to the obvious. It's not like this is the first time Matt Weiner has messed with our sense of time passing. In Season 4 Don became incoherently drunk on more than one occasion and last season we had fever dreams, distorted timelines and Roger tripping. So why wouldn't we get an amphetamine and sleep deprived episode where the office turns into a mad house if not quite a whore house.
The Don story seems to be pulled apart each week so that now we have a very clear picture of the caring prostitute and abusive mother combination that festers in his mind and has poisoned his interactions with Betty, Peggy, Joan and Meagan amongst others. And yet I was rather taken with the idea that we watched him obsess over the Chevy pitch only to realise that all his work was an attempt to get Sylvia back. Her emotive plea for him to leave her alone was movingly performed and just watching Don Draper lose his mind makes for excellent television.
Even the borderline laugh line when Frank Gleason's daughter referred to the stethoscope being broken (and Don thought she was talking about his heart) fit somehow. The distorted sense of time and purpose to Don's weekend along with the flashbacks really helped make the Sally plot tense. Grandma Ida was such a convincing confidence trickster that even though we all knew she was robbing the apartment there remained that slither of doubt that maybe someone like her really had raised Dick Whitman at some point. In an episode where the world was going mad it seemed just crazy enough to be true.
All the knife throwing, tap dancing and pants dropping back at the office was very entertaining and definitely surreal. Even little beats like Roger being given a shot after admitting to a heart condition put me on edge. I wish I could go through it all. In the end it seemed to be like a big enough crash to push Don away from Sylvia which, if it sticks, is definitely a good thing. On the downside Betty seems to have lost all her weight instantly which I assumed would be part of her story. And the problems with working for Chevy have developed before we could even get used to the merger or the sense of what a big deal this is. Don's decision to ditch the work had no impact on me because I was thinking "can he do that?" Is there no merger contract about what the various partners need to contribute? If Chevy are paying them so much then why don't they hire more people? Didn't they just lay off a bunch of people?
Despite the plot holes and beat you over the head moments I can't give this less than a 70. The distortion of reality had me glued to the screen wondering what on earth I was watching and makes me curious to see which circle of hell we are headed for next (I'm still assuming Dante's Inferno is some kind of guide to the season's themes).
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