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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

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

June 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Mad Men Monday: “Favors”

OK, are we all ready to breathlessly discuss last night’s Big Reveal? That shocking moment that’ll have us all talking around the water cooler, if we had a water cooler? The kind of revelation that we watch “Mad Men” always hoping for?

Yes, Roger can juggle. Effortlessly, of course. As he put it, “Not all surprises are bad.” Ha!

Oh, you were thinking about a few of the other bombshells dropped last night? Sally, for example? Yes, the lifelong therapy bill for the Draper daughter zoomed upward in this episode, as poor Sally managed to catch her father with his pants down, quite literally, on top of Sylvia (who was grateful — and how —  for Don’s intervention to save her son from Vietnam duty). Sally raced out of the building and hopped into a cab; Don followed, but hesitated in the lobby, looking lost and frightened and vulnerable — in short, looking like he hasn’t looked since Betty confronted him with the locked drawer, way back in (I think?) season 2. It’s so rare that we see Don unsure (if he’d had a cigarette, he would have dropped it), and here it’s for very good reason: this master compartmentalizer has just seen a wall collapse. Despite his clumsy conversation with her a little later (“I was. . .  comforting Mrs. Rosen”), it’s clear that Sally knows exactly what happened. Will she tell Megan? Betty? Dr. Rosen? Will this be the moment that finally jolts Don into confronting what he’s doing, and how it affects those he loves? (It’s questionable how much he loves Megan — but it’s clear, despite his many failings as a father, that he loves Sally deeply.) We’ll have to wait until next week to see the real fallout.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure it’s exactly a bombshell revelation that Bob Benson is gay (though it was odd to see the office fix-it guy make a rare misstep with a mild pass at Pete — really? Pete?), and I think there’s still much we don’t know about this character.  There isn’t much that we don’t know about Pete, though it’s fascinating to hear his addled mother observing that this “sour little man” has always been unlovable. Interesting little scene with Pete’s mother and Peggy, who clearly thought for one awful moment that this woman knew of her secret pregnancy; and, likewise, interesting to see Pete and Peggy getting drunk and flirty together, as if that secret had never happened. (In an episode full of people doing  — or trying to do — favors for each other, it was telling that Peggy, despite trying to enlist help from Stan, ended up solving her rat problem herself. I’m guessing that Peggy and that friendly-looking cat just might become the most stable relationship on “Mad Men.”)

 

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) - Mad Men _ Season 6, Episode 11 _ 'Favors' - Photo Credit: Jaimie Trueblood/AMC

(Photo by Jaimie Trueblood; courtesy of AMC).

Vietnam was the shadow that hung over this episode, just as the political events of 1968 have hung over this season and darkened it. Don, initially, wasn’t inclined to help Sylvia’s son Mitchell avoid the draft (“He can’t spend the rest of his life on the run,” said Dick Whitman, who should know), but he was drawn into the idea of doing something for Sylvia, for whom he’s clearly still carrying a torch. It was a major misstep on Don’s part (again, we saw him uncertain; the ’60s are getting to him) to bring up draft evasion at a business dinner; but it drew an initially furious Ted to help him — surprised to see Don wanting to help a friend. (“I’m guessing you don’t have many friends,” presumed Ted, correctly.) How long will this new Don/Ted alliance last?

In the end, it was all closed doors and silence in the Draper apartment. Only two more episodes to go; where are we going?

Have we ever seen Peggy in a suit quite like this before? It’s an assertive green ( a color that Joan might wear), and the kind of cut that means business; an indication of Peggy’s growing confidence.

 

 

 

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