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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

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

May 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Mad Men Monday: ‘Man with a Plan’

I need to pause for a moment here, to observe a momentous “Mad Men” event: Unveiled this week was — be still my heart! — a “Mad Men” character named Moira. This is perhaps not that big a deal for those of you who are not named Moira, but for those who are (surely there’s a few of us out there?), who are accustomed to NEVER hearing our name in movies or television, or hearing it mispronounced on the very rare occasions that we do (no, Robin Williams in “Hook,” I have not forgotten) — this is pretty exciting. “Mad Men” Moira has therefore instantly become my new favorite character, though she didn’t have much to do last night other than be thoroughly put in her place by Joan, and if she ends up having an affair with Don . . . well, I might pass out and hit my head on something and that would be the end of Mad Men Mondays, wouldn’t it? Stay tuned.  (By the way, it did not go unnoticed by me that there was a minor character on “Smash” named Moira, though her name was never spoken and I only knew it from looking at the credits. I believe this is known as a trend. Perhaps Moira is about to become the new Isabella. But I digress.)

Anyway. This week’s episode wasn’t as exciting as last week’s, as often happens when dealing with an aftermath, but there was plenty to ponder. The merger’s a done deal and SCDP is bursting at the seams with CGC people wandering around clutching file boxes. (What do you make of Harry having to give up his office for Peggy?) But almost no one seemed to be at work in this episode: Pete was dealing, none too gracefully, with his dementia-addled mother; Joan was in the emergency room (nothing serious, thank goodness); Don was off re-enacting “Fifty Shades of Gray” in a Sherry-Netherland hotel room with Sylvia (more on that later); Bert Peterson was getting fired AGAIN (ha!); Dawn was invisible (seriously, where was she?); and the ubiquitous Bob Benson was running around introducing himself to people and ingratiating himself with Joan. Hmm. Let’s keep an eye on that.

The most interesting part of this episode, for me, was seeing Don through another pair of eyes. We all met Ted Chaough a few seasons back, seeing him as a weasel-y enemy of SCDP; now he’s a teammate, with a working style that’s very different from Don’s: meetings starting on time, opinions solicited from all, a youthful pop-culture sensibility (though I’d guess Ted’s not much younger than Don, if at all). Loved Ted’s conversation with Gleason, about Don: “He’s mysterious, but I can’t tell if he’s putting it on.” Neither can we half the time, Ted. In flight, Ted was messing with Don, telling him that the plane might be upside-down and they wouldn’t know it, enjoying Don’s sweaty-faced anxiety. He doesn’t give a damn about Don’s golden-boy history; he’s ready to start a new chapter.

And Peggy, whose feelings on returning to SCDP are decidedly mixed (and that “coffee chief” sign, demoting her back down to secretary, didn’t help), is seeing her old boss in a new way. Disgusted that Don’s dragging Ted down into a sea of Scotch (the new guy, it turns out, is a lightweight; he hasn’t yet attended the Don & Roger Drinking School), Peggy doesn’t mince words. “Move forward,” she tells Don, leaving his office in a huff. As usual with Peggy, Don doesn’t seem to have noticed.

And what do we make of the Don/Sylvia thing, other than that it was creepy? Is it progress that, unlike Bobbie Barrett, he didn’t leave her tied up? Interesting that while Sylvia didn’t submit to all of his demands, she nonetheless seemed to be enjoying the game for a while — until she decided that it was over, and Don’s face melted from frozen idol to broken, vulnerable man. With his authority challenged both in his personal life and at work (how can he compete with the guy who flew them there in his own plane?), the ground is shifting underneath him — which is, of course, the ongoing theme of “Mad Men.” Later, as he gazes at Megan while she babbles happily about a vacation, is he seeing her? Or dreaming of someone else? And we went out on the news of Bobby Kennedy’s death — with Megan in tears, and Don not reacting. Or maybe he was just putting that on.

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) - Mad Men - Season 6, Episode 7 - Man With A Plan - Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

Nice to see these two back together, wasn’t it? But it would be nicer if Joan had taken down the sign. (Photo by Michael Yarish;  courtesy of AMC.)



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