Mad Men Thread: Unlucky Strike


The evolution of Mad Men this season has been, well, striking. In the past, it was criticized as all sizzle and no steak but this season has been plot driven to say the least. It’s as if Matthew Weiner and his people put the pedal to the metal this year or, to use another sports analogy, they’ve gone from running a half court offense to running the fast break whenever possible. They’ve really, uh, struck a chord with me.

A few random observations:

Roger’s decline accelerated in episode-10. He’s lost the Lucky Strike account and had to beg the ungrateful malaka Lee Garner Jr. to give him some time before the announcement becomes public. Roger keeps this dreadful news to himself. SCDP needs to pull a rabbit out of its hat or they could be doomed. This development could lead to the return of Sal but what will be left?

Roger and Joan’s alleyway quickie produced undesired but predictable results: our Joan is preggers. Roger goes into full weasel mode; even suggesting that Joan try to convince Dr. Dickhead that he’s the father. Dude, he may be a crappy one, but he’s a physician. There’s been an interesting discussion at theSlate TV Club as to whether or not Joan went through with the abortion. The set-up is ambiguous so it could go either way. But I think she’s too sensible to go through with it UNLESS she wants to breakup with Dr. Dipshit. What do y’all think?

Just when I thought Don had bottomed out, the security check brought his past back with a vengeance. Jon Hamm physically collapsed under the weight of Don’s baggage and he continued to be one of the pukingest characters in teevee history. Don is obliged to confide in Pete and thank Betty for lying for him. What was Betty’s motive? I think it was a reflexive hunker down and circle the wagons moment for her. I also suspect she doesn’t want the ladies in Ossining buzzing about her ex. If I had a higher opinion of Betty, I’d speculate that she was trying to preserve Henry’s future as a handler for the men who will never be President: Rockefeller and Lindsay. I’m reasonably confident that that wasn’t it. Betty is all about Betty.

Pete now has Don by short hairs and I expect that he’ll tug them from time to time. Unfortunately for SCDP, combined with the loss of Lucky Strike, eating the defense account could kill off the firm. I wonder if they would have tried finessing it if they had known i.e. letting someone else in creative take the lead. Think of Peggy as Rosie the riveter, y’all. I did, however, enjoy the irony of Pete complaining to Trudy about having to keep other people’s secrets. He’s got a big one of his own…

My jaw dropped when Don told Faye the Dick Whitman in Korea story. Her reaction was compassionate but impractical: with the Vietnam War ramping up there’s no way the Pentagon lets Don/Dick slide. I’m unsure as to whether this admission will lead Don to back away from Faye or if he’ll actually enter into an adult relationship. His track record argues the former but the show is rarely *that* predictable. Any thoughts?

The most shocking moment of the episode came when Lane’s very British father hit him upside the head with his cane. Robert is a very British bully. I can imagine him grinding some poor Sherpa’s hand under his heel until he says “uncle, sir.” Those of us who wondered if Sally had been abused by Grandpa Gene saw abuse in action. Lane’s new girl friend may think he’s “dashing” but he’s about to dash off to London just when SCDP could most use his skills. I eagerly await the Lucky Strike shit hitting the fan. It should be interesting indeed.

Finally, I can’t sign off without mentioning Sally’s scream when Don tells her he has Beatles tickets for her. It even brought a grin to sourpuss Betty’s icy visage. I was relieved when Harry delivered the tickets. I was worried that he’d jet off to “the coast” to add more teevee star pictures to his office: Buddy Ebsen as Jed Clampett simply is not enough for a starfucker like Harry…

9 thoughts on “Mad Men Thread: Unlucky Strike

  1. Also, per his lawyer’s final question, Don is now having interesting thoughts about his secretary.
    Best line of the night:
    You know I love you, my Chocolate Bunny!

  2. I disagree re plot. I don’t think we have had much plot, as in discernible season-long arc, defined yet. I think we’ve been circling characters and watching them very closely. Which I, for one, really like (per Treme). Character driven narrative is inherently dramatic, in my opinion.

  3. I agree with virgotex, but then again, I like Robert Altman’s long “plotless” character study movies better than his comedies, so take it for what it’s worth.
    Very little to say about this episode except Jon Hamm is a seriously fine actor and seems to be getting better with every episode. If he was handsome and self-deprecating in real life, he’d almost be too much to bear. Oh, wait…
    Is Roger about to have a major heart attack from stress, secrets, liquor and all the creamed oysters in his arteries?
    And I wouldn’t be surprised if Peggy is plotting something sneaky with perhaps Cosgrove or even Sal Romano. I think her growing confidence, along with Draper’s treatment of her, the sexist attitude in the office, and the death of Blankenship all might be setting the stage for her to make a move to put her in charge of her own destiny. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.

  4. “Don is now having interesting thoughts about his secretary.” I’m not so sure about that. I took the look at the end of show to be an indication that Don just figured out how to save his ass and the $4 million account at the same time. I’m just not sure how the secretary plays into it. There’s no way the writers would do something as predictable as let Don get involved with another secretary. Right?

  5. The best written show on TeeVee, and nobody notices the links, the clues, the subtle connections? Starts with Don asking his daughter, “Can you keep a secret?,” just before he tells her about the Beatles tickets.
    Ends with the instrumental version of the Beatles tune, “Do You Want To Know a Secret?”
    And how many characters in the story have secrets, either old or new, they need to tell, but don’t need to tell? Don reveals himself to another blonde, Betty is tight-lipped with Hubby #2, Joan may or may not have had an abortion, Roger needs to replace Lucky Strike before the truth is out.
    On and on and on. “Can you keep a secret?” “Do you want to know a secret?” Pregnant (!) questions, indeed.

  6. I think you’re right, Hoyt. It may well be scapegoat time.
    @Kevin. I expect Roger to at least have another heart attack in the near future. I hope they don’t kill the old boy off because I’d miss John Slattery too much.

  7. Kevin, as mentioned here and elsewhere previously, Peggy’s ascension is almost certainly the central future direction of the show.

  8. @rmj. And that’s exactly why I love the show so much. It’s all about Secrets and Lies, which is what they coulda called this episode but Mike Leigh got there first.

  9. I’ve started to worry that Don’s demise is foretold in the show’s opening graphics and that was before his meeting with the lawyer.

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