"What the hell went on here this weekend? Half of this work is gibberish. Chevy is spelled wrong!"
- Ted Chaough
"Are we Negroes?"
- Bobby Draper
See the USA, in your Chevrolet! See, nothing to it.
Kenny Cosgrove doesn't think so. After The Crash of the title (okay, yeah, there's some later symbolism involved), caused by drunken Chevy execs blinding him as he careens down the road in the new Impala, the even-keeled exec is back at the still unnamed new SCDPCGC agency with bad news. Chevy is the client from Hell! They don't like any of the ad work and their process is interminable.
But when he gets a shot of, ah, "energy serum" from a smarmy Manhattan Dr. Feelgood, Kenny gets a new lease on life. Despite the cane, he's tap dancing away in Don Draper's outer office!
Beware of spoilers, as always, and here's an archive of my pieces on the show, in The Mad Men File.
Season 2's slinky cool The Jet Set has been definitively dethroned as Mad Men's kookiest episode ever. (Yes, kookier than the Roger Sterling takes acid episode, which I found rather stagey and firmly entrenched in place.) We've gone from time out of mind to out of mind time. While The Jet Set, a controversial California-set episode filled with sexy expat jet-setters, was, in my view, tres cool, this is more in the line of tres mess. But if one avoids becoming irritated by the repetitious EngLit symbology, it's quite entertaining.
After the Michael Kuzak guy -- that's Harry Hamlin's character, whose name I can't recall so I think of him as the old lead in LA Law -- brings in Dr. Feelgood for injections of special vitamins, really speed and some other stuff, all sorts of hijinks ensue. It's daffy, it's moving, it's ... A Mad, Mad, Mad, World, er, Office.
We learn that Stan the furry ad man is pretty good at running the office obstacle course and Michael Ginsu Knife Ginsberg is a really bad knife thrower. And that Ginzo doesn't like to get stoned. He and Peggy are the only creatives who stay sober. This is information that does not grow on trees, my friends.
But of course, while the hijinks are entertaining, what really matters is the existential drama of Don Draper. Because, well, because it almost always does.
Cutting through all the flashbacks, yada yada symbolism, and quirky EngLit touches, we learn that Don's odd seeming obsession with less than fascinating Sylvia -- who has the same beauty mark as the brothel house gal who nursed him back to health and relieved him of his virginity and sparked a beating with a ladle from his hated step-mother and please make this stop -- is really about his not so odd all too real obsession with himself. Interpreted, a bit endlessly in Mad Men, through his troubled relationship with the maternal. (See last week's discussion of The Last Picture Show.)
He kind of stalks his now ex-inamorata, despite the fact that he not all that subconsciously forced her to break things off with him in the last episode. Then the fever breaks, and he doesn't care. Good. I don't, either.
Meanwhile, the very spiffy, bright, and adorable Megan is being as supportive and charming as ever, not that he notices. Boo hiss, Don Draper, you bad man, you.
Have I mentioned that Don Draper is a troubled guy, yet?
Our Don Juan is on the verge of becoming Don Yawn.
But I prefer to attribute it all to drugs accentuating the whatever we want to accentuate in each character rather than the suspicion that this is an extended meditation on No Exit in which Hell is not other people, just our anti-heroic protagonist.
What literally put Don on the floor, just as he was coming down off his 72-hour amphetamine high, was walking into his fab flat to find the cops and a family council.
While he was off mostly amusingly obsessing in lieu of brainstorming about Chevy, and Megan was off networking on Broadway to promote her burgeoning acting career, a mini-skirted young Sally Draper was in charge of her two kid brothers. All went well till she woke up in the middle of the night to find an overweight African American woman in the home. Who promptly introduced herself as "your Grandma Ida."
As she continues rifling the place for goods -- she's a burglar and con artist -- "Grandma Ida" has just enough game, and Sally has just enough ignorance about her dad, for her story not to be utterly preposterous to the savvy but still learning tweener.
Sally finally figures it out, but not quite fast enough to prevent her would-be gran's getaway.
It's a delicious sequence, right on the knife's edge between funny and scary.
And it serves to further re-introduce Betty Draper Francis. She is again babelicious Betty, back to her fighting weight. And she's blonde again, yet another sign that she is back in the game now that Henry Francis, one-time deputy mayor to glamorous New York Mayor John Lindsay and senior advisor to mega-rich New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, is pursuing his own political career. (Why Betty would let herself go while being part of a glamorous New York scene, which we have oddly never seen, is a mystery for another time.)
But she has that certain nasty edge, perhaps as a result of the diet and exercise, saying early in the ep that Sally earned her cool new miniskirt "on a street corner" and later making a "casting couch" crack right to Megan's face.
I'm afraid that the Team Betty faction of fandom will be in defense mode the rest of the season.
Only a little history pierces through the druggy haze of the episode.
Stan's cousin, a Navy sailor I believe we met at a swanky Draper soiree, was killed in Vietnam. He was 20 years old, probably serving inland on a small river patrol boat, though the show doesn't make this clear to viewers who may wonder how someone serving on a ship at sea could be killed in a guerrilla war. That he uses this sad tale to try to convince his pal Peggy that this is the moment for some office sex shows that, well, I don't know what. Time is up for thinking about Mad Men this week.
Next week on Mad Men? The Better Half. In which Roger is tormented by a recurring dream and this week's unseen Joan goes to the beach. Don't forget the sunscreen, Red.
You can check things during the day on my site, New West Notes ... www.newwestnotes.com.
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