Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

Well, Mad Men certainly saved its grand slam clear out of the park best episode of the season for last. Personal and professional crises resolved, new ones emerging, and all played perfectly against the real Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Here are the highlights -

1. I knew Betty was pregnant - I said so here last week. I had no advance knowledge of the script, no sneak previews. But Betty's being pregnant was absolutely necessary for her reconciliation with Don. Well, that and the life-and-death impact of the Cuban Missile Crisis - or, more precisely, bringing everyone so much closer to the precipice of death, and thereby making them appreciate sweet life a little more.

2. It certainly has that effect on Pete - with Vincent Kartheiser giving one of his all-time best performances on the series. Pete realizes he has no life ahead with Trudy. He tells Peggy he loves her and ... Well, Peggy still remains an enigma. I think she loves Pete. But, she tells Pete about their baby - in part, apparently, to keep them apart. And Pete, being Pete, doesn't know how to react. So their unfinished business will continue into the next season. Good.

3. Sterling Cooper's merger with that British firm which is acquiring them probably will continue, too - or, maybe not. What's clear is that Duck, who was the putative President of the new Sterling Cooper, either won't be around or will continue in a diminished capacity. He was hoping Don would leave, and assumed that Don's contract would prevent him from competing with Sterling Cooper. But, as Roger explains, they made Don a partner on a handshake ... which means that Sterling Cooper may not be able to let Don go. Don's on his way back home to Betty, and Duck is on his way out, as he blows up at the exec meeting and shows his British overlords how unfit he is to be head of any firm.

What an amazing mix of relationships with depths we still don't fully understand - not only Pete and Peggy, Don and Betty, but, in a different way, the competitive friendship of Don and Roger...

As we of course know, the Cuban Missile Crisis will be soon be over. But the delicious, maddening crises of Mad Men will continue next season.

A whirlpool of history and fiction, of then and now ... which makes me wonder, did Matthew Wiener know this episode would be aired so close to our Presidential election of 2008?

Of course he did. And, should something like that somehow happen again, I know I'd much rather have Barack Obama in the White House than that other candidate. (Hey, it's my blog, and one its pleasures for me is mixing in politics if I want to ...:)

And I'll be back next season with new reviews of Mad Men (I'm betting it will be back), and, in the interim, with reviews of Dexter, Brotherhood (starting next week), and lots of other great TV.

See also: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men

And listen to my fabulous 20-minute interview last Fall with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through

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