Monday, November 02, 2009

Mad Men "The Grown-Ups": Mourning After

Definitely not my favorite episode... with so much of the plot and visuals centered around watching characters watch television, it's an understandable challenge for the writers. And given that inherent hole they had to start with, the final product turned out pretty compelling. As compelling as it can be... watching people... watch TV. Previously, Matthew Weiner had stated he was reluctant to do an episode centered around Kennedy's assassination, as he felt it was well-trodden ground. Now I see what he meant.

Sure, there was some poignant moments associated with how Kennedy's death affected folks in different ways, including the ruined wedding, but we knew the wedding was screwed after the first episode. Don't get me wrong, it is still a fine episode, but as the penultimate, traditionally the episode in the David Chase-influenced world that Weiner lives and breathes, I'm wholly disappointed.

What did work was the 'event' as a trigger for change. Betty and Don seemed to be back on track from the end of last week's episode up until the news broke of Kennedy's death. Betty and Don mourn in vastly different ways* and the two assassinations (we sometimes forget that Oswald was assassinated as well... only a public figure for a less than 24 hours, but that's all it takes) shifted the ground under Betty's feet enough for her to believe she can leave Don (we'll see).

*Don should really stop trying to play grief counselor... just not working.

Playing us out from Don's realized nightmare, was country pop sweetheart Skeeter Davis singing "The End Of The World", a song which peaked on the charts about eight months prior. "Don't they know it's the end of the world? 'Cause you don't love me any more." Don't think it's the end of the world for Don (again, we'll see).

Previously: "The Gypsy and the Hobo" (Episode 3.11)


Juanita's Journal said...

What did work was the 'event' as a trigger for change. Betty and Don seemed to be back on track from the end of last week's episode up until the news broke of Kennedy's death.

When you say "back on track", are you saying that Don and Betty went back to pretending that all was right with their marriage following Betty's discovery?

drake lelane said...

I probably should've gone further and said that Don opening up to Betty for the first time made him love Betty more (or, just love her period) and similarly, Betty seeing Don cry for the first time made her feel close to him for the first time in many years. It was a silver lining, but the brightest we've seen since early season one.

Notice how they interacted in the kitchen the morning after, and how Sally noticed and felt their intimacy, then later, when they trick-or-treated, their decision to go out together was not pretending at all.

After the Kennedy assassination (and especially after Oswald's), Betty was no longer able to see the silver lining, and that bubble burst.

drake lelane said...

To continue, Weiner contrasted the kitchen intimacy last episode with a similar kitchen scene where Betty was cold, and we again see it through Sally's eyes. Betty's discovery of Don's lies hadn't changed at all... the only thing that changed was Betty's footing in a post-Camelot world.

The sixties have officially begun, and the innocence of the fifties is no longer a crutch for many (especially Betty).