Daily notes 2015-04
Mad Men s06e08 – “The Crash”
Haven’t done this before on the blog, but I’m going to pick apart this episode after being inspired by some internet analyses. Hadn’t realized just how much was going on in Mad Men, and the density of each episode increases with each season. Search YouTube for “How Mad Men fought the war” or “fought Vietnam” in reference to this ep, as well as Mike & Amanda’s Orange Couch videos for Slate. I’ll be referencing the Slate Nam comparison video frequently, and will probably cite this when I re-edit.
We’ll start off with this pleasing image of Roger & Jim playing checkers. Immediately I begin looking closer – why checkers? Merely for the bossmen to have opportunities to say “king me?” Turns out there was an Operation Checkers in Vietnam, but its description as a “positioning exercise” regarding the relief of watchmen from the city of Hue’s border does not strike one as being particularly relevant – so this checkers bit is a way to indulge the comparison of Roger and Jim’s similarities. Was hoping for more – maybe next time…
Ted is powerfully impacted by the death of Frank Gleeson (of Cutler, Gleeson & Chaough), so much so that he takes the weekend off. Here Cutler tellingly remarks, “I hope we don’t lose Ted for too long… he doesn’t know how to handle these things.” Like somebody else we know. Like somebody who currently looks anxious and on the spot. Two men who trade in fiction and fantasies.
Dr. Shelly Hecht (nice name) and his vitamin superdose “with a mild stimulant” has been likened to the American military quietly administering amphetamines to soldiers in Nam, SCDPCGC being similarly embattled at the mercy of “the largest defense contractor in the world,” GM, owners of Chevy. Hecht’s explanation and treatment of Don renders him to be entirely trustworthy, so we initially have no reason to suspect Don is being “jacked up.” But I’m dying to know what’s in that syringe.
Cutler would be in a unique position to know personal details about Wendy, Frank Gleeson’s daughter – particularly that she is extroverted, libidinous, and embracing a void in the shape of her father. See that red car to the right of Wendy? “Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse” – of course Don would phrase it that way, as his beleaguered consciousness has been retreating to a whorehouse all weekend.
Chaough: How could you bring Frank’s little girl in here?
Cutler: I kept an eye on her. Didn’t I, Don?
Cutler: Wendy. Oh believe me, it’s better than what could’ve happened if I’d let her loose in The Village like she wanted.
Chaough: That’s not what her mother thinks.
“Sally, how’d you like to earn some boots to go with that skirt?” Is Megan teaching Sally how to sell herself? Maybe she and Don have prostitution in common (“whoring” is a prevalent theme in season six, with the car account and of course the specter of Joan’s involvement in the deal, as well as Don’s final revelation to his children that he grew up in a whorehouse – a revelation he possibly was compelled to make to them because of the forthcoming burglar’s deception). Megan is on her way to a play where her agent will introduce her to some producers, and she’s decided to dress for a good time.
I never gave it much thought before – maybe because this episode gives you so much to process – but it’s a very shocking comment from Bobby, who explains that he fell for the burglar’s deceit because she coerced them into believing she was Don’s mother. There is an abyss between Don and his children.
Betty: (incensed) Because she’s off… “on the casting couch” and you’re – what does he tell everybody, that he’s “at work?”
The insinuation is clear, and Megan sulks guiltily. Betty’s implication that New York is a “disgusting” place also leads one to ponder if it, and similar metropolises, and where people go to whore themselves.
from s06e10 “A Tale of Two Cities”
“You’re a truncheon, Cutler!” Ginsberg, the most sensitive and most moral person in the office, is the only one who recognizes the danger of Cutler’s vacant opportunism.
The many faces of Megan. Occurs to me now that Don’s imagined her as (at least) a Betty-like suburban housewife and this polyamorous flower child (not that Megan isn’t polyamorous already), and exists knowing she’s always out there pretending to be somebody else – he doesn’t see her in those guises too often, seeming to avoid them. Megan is a shapeshifter, surely an appropriate foil to the elusive Dick Whitman – the difference being that Megan is entirely honest and forthcoming about her role-playing, and as we know Dick’s artifice is a fever-dreamed phantasmagoria of anxiety and avoidance.