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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

August 30, 2010 at 9:28 AM

Monday morning “Mad Men”

(BTW, I love following your comments and hearing your thoughts — this is sort of like an online/TV equivalent of a book club, isn’t it? Keep chatting!)
“Mad Men” always makes us wait, sometimes deliciously; creator Matthew Weiner is in no hurry to reveal crucial pieces of his story’s intricate puzzle. But we got a whopper of a puzzle piece last night: the tale of how Don, then a young, smiling fur salesman, met Roger and found his way to Sterling Cooper. Should we have been surprised that a) Roger was buying a fur not for his wife, but for Joan, b) that Don cleverly (if a bit transparently) maneuvered to get his work in front of Roger, or that c) essentially, it all came down to Don getting Roger drunk — at 10 a.m., no less? (Was it Roger or Don who said something along the lines of, “We should get out of here before they open for lunch”?) Don owes his job to Roger — and to alcohol, for that matter — and knowing that background made their comaraderie in this episode rather sweet. “You couldn’t have done it without me,” Roger says to Don, regarding the Clio award — he’s quite right, and Don knows it.
And it was touching to see young Don in his flashy double-breasted suit (how many years ago? Was he wearing a wedding ring, anybody notice?), so eager and shiny and badly wanting something — thinking of advertising as some glorious brass ring he just might grasp. We saw a little glimpse of the former Don at the awards ceremony, where Don seemed touchingly delighted to have won; something about his smile seemed young and carefree, in a way that we never see unless he’s with Anna. (And how sweet was it that Joan — who sees and knows everything, and understood that Don very much wanted this — held his hand, as well as Roger’s?) And then — ouch. The emperor, foolishly going into a pitch meeting drunk, soon had no clothes, tossing out lame slogans for Life breakfast cereal as Pete vainly tried to limit the damage. That eager young man grew up and became a great ad man — and a drunk, waking up next to a diner waitress who called him “Dick.” He lost a day in his haze, and he lost his mask; how much further can he fall? I’m afraid we’re about to find out.
Meanwhile, Peggy brainstormed naked with the very annoying new art director who I think I’m going to call Not Sal, proving once again that she’s learning how to play the boys’-club games; Duck turned up briefly, back to his old tricks; Ken and Pete glared at each other; Miss Blankenship continued her sterling (ha!) work (“Your little friend is here . . .”), and Roger worked on his memoirs, which I’d definitely read; wouldn’t you? As always, John Slattery got the best line of the episode, though for once it wasn’t a joke line: “They don’t seem to give awards for what I do. Finding guys like him.”
This episode puts us halfway through the season — where do you think we’re going? Will Don be in AA by the end? Will he still be employed? Will Jane’s hapless cousin be able to keep up with the drinking? And what’s Betty got up her sleeve?

Take a bow, gentlemen — “Mad Men” won the Emmy for best drama series last night. They do give awards for that, Roger. (Photo courtesy AMC.)

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