Follow us:

Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira:

September 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Monday morning “Mad Men”

OK, fellow “Mad Men” fans, am I alone in feeling completely bummed out this morning at the loss of Ida “Hellcat” Blankenship? And the way she would bark at Don, “Are you going to the toilet?” Or buzz his office to announce people who were already in there? Or get everybody’s name wrong? Or say something to Peggy involving masochism and sadism that I didn’t write down, but seemed to blow Peggy’s mind? I know there’s something to be said for leaving the party before everyone gets tired of you, but come on, Matthew Weiner — I kind of loved this lady, and she was a breath of fresh air at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. (Where is Lane Pryce these days, come to think of it?) If you wanted to remind Don of the swiftness of death and the transitory nature of mortality, couldn’t you have bumped off, I don’t know, Stan maybe? Megan? Roger’s secretary whose name I can never remember? Harry, who has nothing to do this season anyway? (Though he did have a great, unseen line this episode: “My mother made that for me!”)
This busy, moving episode focused on the women of “Mad Men,” closing on a lovely sliding-doors shot of Joan, Peggy and Faye in an elevator, looking straight ahead, pondering the boxes they’re trapped in. Joan, SCDP’s usual tower of strength and competence, has been increasingly fragile in the past few episodes; her husband’s gone and may never return, and she doesn’t even have the spirit to flirt with Roger. Miss B’s death seemed to hit her hard (though, as always, she knew exactly what to do, correcting Peggy’s timid suggestion of an ambulance with a tearful but firm “The coroner”) and, in a vulnerable moment, she and Roger re-ignited their flame on a sordid Manhattan street that looked exactly like an unfinished set on a studio lot. (Which is, of course, what it was, but it reminds you how good this show usually is with location shots.) The next day, she was all coolness again — but the wordless look she gave Roger as she leaves his office, just after he told her that he still has feelings for her, told us we haven’t seen the end of this subplot.
Faye, after a cozy lunchtime-in-bed with Don, quickly learned the reality of being a woman in Don Draper’s life: Almost immediately, he expected her to look after his children for him, as he was too busy to attend to poor Sally’s cry for help. Faye, who’s well-meaning but comically bad with children (“Hello, Sally. My name is Faye.” Sally: “I know. My dad already said that.”), feels her usual competence threatened. “I chose to be who I am,” she tells Don, at the end of the episode — she’s not a mother but a career woman, and if she and Don are to have a genuine relationship, he needs to figure out what that means. And Peggy, feeling her way toward a gradual feminist awakening (she’s sorting out that much of the power-play in advertising takes place in venues where she — or any woman — is unwelcome), is finding a box closing in on her as well — but she’s reluctant to become radicalized. “I’m not a political person,” she says, not realizing that, by voicing her frustrations, she’s already become one.
In the shadow of these women is Sally, so desperately wanting to be with her dad that she runs away from home, and haltingly tells him that she’s pictured a different, happier life with him. (How touching was her reply when Don asked “what about your brothers?” They could live with Don too, she said resolutely. “I’ll watch them.”) Though Don’s a loving father when he’s paying attention (didn’t you wish we could have seen a few moments of Don and Sally’s happy day off, when “time got away from them”?), he’s too accustomed to having women deal with his kids for him, and clearly isn’t taking Sally’s dreams seriously. It was devastating when Sally fell in the hallway and clung to Megan, who she barely knows; this child is starving for uncomplicated affection. “Goodbye, Daddy,” says Sally at the end, her raging emotions turned deadpan, as if she’s given up hope. (A sweet detail: Was the necklace Sally wore in every scene, even to bed, the one with her initials that Don bought her — or, rather, instructed his secretary to buy for her — at Macy’s for Christmas?)
And now — who will be Don’s next secretary? (My count: She’ll be number 6, after Peggy, Jane, Lois, Allison, and Miss Blankenship — or did I miss one?) Will Harry get his afghan back? Did you laugh, in spite of yourself, at the black-comedy moment of the staff clearing out Miss Blankenship’s body behind the backs of the unaware clients? Do you think Don will ever write in his journal again? And are you wondering what French toast with rum tastes like? I am.

“Did you brush your hair?” The wonderful Kiernan Shipka, as Sally Draper. (Photo courtesy AMC.)



No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►