Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mad Mad Mad Men Anticipation

I'm going to go way out on a limb and say that I cannot wait for the new season of Mad Men. I know, controversial. ;)

I'm going to be out of town this weekend at a writers' retreat and I will DIE if my DVR lets me down.

The past few weeks I've been watching the last season of Mad Men in re-runs and saw one of my favorite episodes yesterday. The one where it's Peggy's birthday and Don keeps her really late (eventually overnight) and Don learns that Anna has died.

There are a lot of reasons to love this episode, but I think for me it's all about the slow simmer that turns into a raging boil.

Mad Men is so often about subtle storytelling. About what the characters don't say. And three of the really HUGE things from Season 1: Peggy having Pete's baby, Don's secret identity as Dick Whitman, Don knowing that Peggy had a baby--all these things kind of hit the fan in this episode. Events from Season 1. And this was more than half-way into Season 4.

I admire how long they let some of these things simmer. Sure, in the intervening seasons there were a few episodes where we saw Anna to remind us that the real Don Draper's wife exists, and that our Don is supporting her, and yes, Betty finds out, leading to the Drapers' divorce. And sure there were a few small moments about Peggy's baby and about some lingering attraction between her and Pete. But Don knowing about the baby was pretty much never mentioned again. Which made sense to me. I mean, Don understands having secrets better than anyone so the fact that he never brought it up and that it simply formed part of this strange dynamic between Don and Peggy (among with so many other things, like her knowing about his car crash and affair with a client's wife etc. etc.) made total sense to me. It's like they had this balance of each other's secrets.

But then everything happens at once. Don finds out he's lost the only person in the world who knows who he really is--and loves him anyway. Peggy finds out that Pete's wife is having a baby--a half sibling to her "nephew" who's being raised by her sister--and this brings up a whole slew of feelings. Peggy misses her birthday dinner with her boyfriend then resents him when she finds out he invited her family along as a surprise. They break up. Peggy tells Don that her mom assumes that he was the father of her baby because he was the only visitor she had in the hospital and that her mom hates Don because of it. She also reveals both that everyone in the office assumes she slept with Don to get her promotion, AND that she's a little hurt that it's not true.

And then they spend the night his office, his head in her lap. And in the morning when he finally calls California, he cries in front of her, really cries and she comforts him.

And that's not all that happens. During all that, Peggy unleashes her resentment about Don not giving her credit for her ideas and he puts her in her place. And Don learns that Peggy was sleeping with Duck. And Duck calls Peggy a whore and Don defends her, tries to punch him and they get into a fight.

Such a powerful episode. So many little threads all woven together. Reminded me why I love this show and can't wait for more!

And have you seen those "The Zombies are Back" trailers? LOL. Gotta love AMC. Talk about great cross promo. I hope those spots help Mad Men snag some of the The Walking Dead audience.

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