Monthly Archives: May 2012

Episode 11 The Other Woman

All of the LSD aura has left Roger Sterling, as he equals Pete in engaging in the second lowest form of pimping, that of pimping a wife or lover, as we must recall Pete’s disappointment with his wife in not getting him published in a proper magazine when she could have.  Of course, as far as we know, he is still outpacing Roger in the rape and blackmail categories. One wonders how far Pete will go?  Would he have succeeded where Sal Romano failed, and have taken it up the ass for Lucky Strike? Or is he just willing to sell his soul and other people’s asses?  

Don’s fear of acting coming between Megan and him surfaced as she auditioned for a play in Boston. Should she leave NYC if opportunity knocks? I say no, because if she is a good actress she can thrive in NYC, and have the two things she loves most.

After, Don and Joan’s wonderful afternoon of Platonic love last episode, Don is disappointed in her behavior, but I, for one, can not blame her. She gave herself away too cheaply in the past (especially to Sterling), and now used her most marketable assets to get what she needed.  Lane was helpful in this, but, of course, for the wrong reason.

Peggy also disappointed Don, and I think she done him wrong. When Anna died, Don cried to Peggy, that “She [Anna] was the only one who understood him.” And Peggy replied,  “That’s not true.” If Peggy was thinking that she understood him, she was wrong.  If she understood him, she would not have left.  She is too thin-skinned and in need of constant reassurance, and Don, while he can be kind and chivalrous, is still a tough love kind of guy; you can see this in the way he treats his daughter. The closing Kinks tune,You Really Got Me, is Don’s lament.

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Episode 10 – The Christmas Waltz

We needed a reprise of Revolver tonight; “Taxman” for Lane and “Eleanor Rigby” for Kinsey.  The Lane thing seems a stretch. Is he so tapped out that he can’t borrow eight grand?  All he needed to do was run an errand for Roger for his pocket money.  As for Kinsey, we finally learn that he is good at something – recruiting lost souls for cults.

Megan wants so much to be like her father, the anti-capitalist aesthete, and is deathly afraid of  becoming a neglected bourgeois bitch like her mother. She is kind and wise beyond her years; she needs to have more faith in Don, and to understand that, even though she is Daddy’s little girl, Daddy had a lot to do with making Mommy the way she is.

So, what was the Christmas Waltz, and who did the dancing?  We saw that the answer to our needs is not the consumer culture or the anti-materialist cult, both of which depend on brainwashing to survive and thrive. The Christmas message is that our salvation lies in supporting each other, person to person.  Harry went beyond his lecherous self to help the down-and-out KInsey, who gave him a great big bear hug. Don and Joan danced as sweetly as a couple can without touching, which is, to say, as sweetly as humanly possible.

 

 

 

 

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Episode 9 – Dark Shadows

Pete’s dreaming and Betty’s scheming, but it will all be in vain.

Pete’s daytime fantasy is just what it is.  Pete is Beth’s instrument of revenge, and she is going to use Pete on her terms alone.  (This is why she retreated from Pete when her husband brought him home, and why she did not meet him at the hotel.) Beth is a passionate woman, probably too much for her husband, who has retreated to a love nest, undoubtedly with a less demanding woman in order to restore his sense of manhood. He is clearly clueless; she is not a woman to be cloistered.  He will not be the man-about-town, but the community cuckold. The extent of her outrage will determine the length, breadth, and depth of the affair and any further cuckolding.  Lover and husband have a two-tailed tigress by its tails, and she will leave them in knots.

Betty’s descent from glamorous, though psychotic, housewife Betty Draper, wife of successful, debonair Madison Avenue maverick Donald Draper to bulimic Betty Francis, resentful ex-wife of Mr. Draper, and dissatisfied wife of pedigree Henry Francis, has been shocking. She is discovering  that there are situations in life much worse than being married to an unfaithful mutt.

Betty’s trip to the Draper’s chic Park Avenue pad and her discovery of Don’s deep love for Megan has an exponential effect on her resentment. She attempts  to poison Sally’s mind against Don.  Though it initially works, it ultimately fails.  Sally has put her faith in her father, who has always been kinder and more understanding toward her, and given the sordid revelations she’s recently been exposed to, she is beginning to grasp that adult life comes with twists and turns, but believes that her father, whatever his past may be, is a decent man, and her mainstay in a scary world.

With Megan out of the office, Don takes control again.  After his initial exuberance, Michael Ginsberg must now learn that making the team doesn’t automatically put him in the starting lineup. Despite his stray-dog likeability and earnest devotion, he is still an unpolished gem; he must come to understand that there is more to his job than hard work and creativity. Don put him in his place as breathlessly and brutally as he has done to Peggy in the past.  Michael needs to be quiet and observant.

 

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Season Five Recap

“How’s the City?”

“Dirty.”

With this one word, Sally, though only privy to one “dirty” act, summarizes one aspect of this season’s episodes.  Harry dreams of lechery, yearning for young girls at rock concerts, Lane is titillated by a provocative photo in a lost wallet, pilfering it for his private fantasies, a brothel visit where Pete’s macho fantasy is satisfied, if only briefly, as the Richard Speck murder of eight nurses eerily sinks into the American subconscious.

When they reintroduced of Sally’s childhood friend, they gave us a way of showing us what’s on her mind.  This was similar to Peggy’s opening up to Dawn earlier in the season. In both instances, we get to see what is going on in their minds as they open up to minor characters.

Prior to this, to show us what was on Don’s mind, they used a journal (when he was bottoming out), a dream (murdering a lover) and waking images. These methods of portraying interior monologue are being used increasingly, initially to show the inner workings of the once mysterious Mr. Draper.  The dream of murdering the lover shows Don’s desire to destroy adulterous thoughts; then, there is the open elevator shaft, which could represent his fear of losing Megan, as he could not follow her after leaving SCDP.

Don is now showing himself as a real man, the kind of man Pete aspires to be, but cannot be because he is clueless.  Pete is not a man for many reasons. First, he is not kind.  Second, he treats prostitutes like objects; Don treats them like ladies.  His ineptness as a man is symbolized by that pathetic toolbox of his, and how he fumbles about with it.  But there may be hope. Lane has initiated him into manhood by, as Peggy so eloquently put it, “kicking the crap” out of him. Pete must get past his self-loathing, and his exquisite explanation to Emile (Megan’s dad) is a step in the right direction. Pete’s latest sexual encounter will test him severely, because married women of that time (and perhaps all time) are quite ambivalent about extra-marital affairs. Pete is treading on dangerous ground, and he lacks the circumspection and restraint for it.

Now, turning to pre-marital affairs, I didn’t think Abe is using or misleading Peggy, as her mother believes.  On the other hand, I don’t think he is thinking about the long-term, either in one way or another. He is just living in the moment. It is unclear what Peggy is thinking. Is her preference living together or marriage? Possibly it is marriage, but her insecurities made her agree to Abe’s proposal.  I felt her reaction to his proposal was a muted surprise, but not disappointment.  I don’t know, though.  In any event, if her preference is marriage, she should be clear about it, and hold out for it, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I think often people just don’t want to be decisive because they truly do not know what they want, and they don’t want to admit it either.

Then, of course, there is marital dysfunction.  With the help of LSD, one dysfunctional relationship has come to an amicable (so far) conclusion.  Roger had a transcendent, a sacred experience, sees himself clearly, possibly for the first time in his life.   Life is a struggle between the sacred and the profane, the sacred meaning the spiritual and devotion to what is true, and the profane meaning the sensual and materiality.   Excluding those who are cloistered, most people spend most of their time on the profane side. It is exceedingly difficult to live “in the world” and adhere to the sacred.  Roger’s behavior is typical of those who experience transcendent moments of lucidity (the sacred); it fades into the backs of their minds, and they resume their former behavior, when prompted, as he was by Marie. Now, Roger has returned to the profane, a little wiser, perhaps, but still caught up in its grasp.

(Perhaps Roger should have done it a second time, only this time with Joan. Then both of them could run off to SF with their child, who they will rename Star Sterling.  They can get a place it the Haight, live off the remains of Roger’s fortune and Joan’s military benefits, and hang out with Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead.  (For more on this please refer to The Electric Kool- Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe.))

Of course, the prize for the most dysfunctional household goes to the Francis’. I am glad we haven’t heard from them in a while.  I am tired of Henry and the hostility between Betty and Sally, and was fearful that we might begin to explore the etiology of eating disorders.  Plus, this was the second time that Betty thinking of Don has upset Henry. How long is this going to go on?  I am also tired of hearing Sally complain, “I hate her! I hate her!” It hasn’t helped that this complaint has expanded to both women in the Francis household.

Emile and Marie, the newest characters, have the longest running dysfunctional marriage, a psychological S & M contest, though they seem to have adapted.    I do think Megan seems too well-adjusted given her parents’ relationship, but it may explain her kinkiness.

Last Sunday’s episode began on the train, with Pete reading   The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, which came out in 1966. Having read this book twice, I can tell you that Pete would never have read this book, or even gotten half way through it as seemed that he had; it is too out of character. (Perhaps only Cosgrove would have.)  Now, the episode ended with Don listening to The Beatles’ Revolver album.  What did this mean?  Was there a connection?  Clearly, neither Pete nor Don was ready to receive their messages. Or were they just two cultural artifacts of 1966, so we would know where we were?

The Crying of Lot 49 has been called “the last Beat novel,” and Revolver can represent the coming of the psychedelic age, presaging the Summer of Love.  So, was this a way of indicating a transformation of the cultural milieu, from Kerouac’s physical odyssey to the Beatles spiritual quest?

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