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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

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

September 27, 2010 at 9:06 AM

Monday morning “Mad Men” — with a NW twist!

So, did you notice that yesterday’s eventful episode of “Mad Men” was directed by none other than Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton (“Humpday”)? Lynn was asked not to talk about the gig until after the show aired, so I couldn’t tell you earlier, but I interviewed her this morning about the experience. Read the interview, if you like, here.
So . . . where to begin? In an episode that might have been called “The Return of Dick Whitman,” Don’s double life was threatened and we saw the man we haven’t seen since the episode when he told Betty about his deception: fumbling, stammering, nervous, terrified — in a word, not Don Draper. (As, indeed, he isn’t.) It’s shocking, isn’t it, seeing Jon Hamm’s hands shake? The threat turned out to be a false alarm, but not before Don entered into an unholy alliance with Pete, which we know will not turn out well. I’m starting to see Trudy as Lady Macbeth– Pete hasn’t told her yet, but he will.
Another comfortable life threatened: Roger’s, on two fronts: Joan’s pregnancy, and the potential departure of Lucky Strikes (which, as their primary account, would bring down Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce). On the former: Anyone else wondering if Joan actually went through with the abortion? I’m not sure. She’s all too aware that her time to have a baby is slipping away; note the sadness with which Christina Hendricks delivered the heartbreaking line “Fifteen” (in answer to “How old is your daughter?”) Roger, however, certainly shattered any thoughts she might have of rescue; he seems to like the fantasy of Joan, but is less interested in the reality. And, late in the episode, we saw Roger uncharacteristically begging the evil Lee Garner Jr. for a reprieve on Lucky Strikes, and then busily working the phones with his outdated Rolodex. And, of course, he hasn’t told anybody. I think the ticking clock for the season’s final episode has begun.
And another: Lane, who’s quietly been having a happy affair with a lovely young black woman (a Playboy Club bunny, no less — anyone else think of that famous Gloria Steinem “I Was a Playboy Bunny” article, which originally came out, I think, around this time?), and whose heart-of-stone father was revealed to be an abuser. How strange to see him treating Lane like a child (“I’ve come to bring you back to London”) — and how terribly sad to see Lane on the floor, broken and vulnerable. I think we’ve just learned a lot about SCDP’s most buttoned-up character, and why he was so determined to stay in New York — London, it appears, represents a past that he wants to be far away from. Is he gone for the rest of the season, as he returns to his wife and family? Or will we see him there?
And one last thought on Don in this episode: We watched him, for once, having positive and healthy interactions with the women in his life. He had not one but two civil conversations with Betty (even remembering to thank her, in his panic); he delighted Sally by taking her to the Beatles (lucky Sally! How nice to see Kiernan Shipka shrieking with delight); and he told Faye his secret and let himself lean on her for support. (Poor Faye: The price of being let inside Don’s heart is having Pete find out what’s going on — and you know we haven’t heard the last of that.) But by the end of the episode, as Don’s learned to his immense relief that he can sweep the Dick Whitman problem under the rug once again, he’s eyeing lovely Megan, who’s now his secretary. Oh, Don. This can only end in tears, and you know it.
So: Only three episodes remain in the season. Where do you think things are going? I predict a) going down to the wire with Lucky Strikes, b) Pete creating some elaborate blackmail scheme with Don, c) Peggy finding out about said blackmail scheme and hitting Pete with one of her own, d) Joan announcing that she’s keeping the baby, e) Betty and Henry . . . well, I’m not sure where Betty and Henry are going, if anywhere.
Stay tuned; I’ll post a link to my interview with Lynn Shelton later this morning.

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), hatching a scheme in his PJ’s. (Photo courtesy AMC.)



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