I found myself struggling to pay attention to this week’s episode of Mad Men. This comes as a surprise because last week’s season premier was excellent; this week “Collaborators” was very blah, and I found myself wandering to the kitchen to wash my dishes as I kept an eye on the show.
Last week we found out that Don’s skipping out on Megan with his friend’s wife. This revelation shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise, only because Don’s a serial, pathological adulterer. It’ll be interesting to see if he turns to liquor too and recreate his Billie Holiday lost weekend type of life. Megan, on the other hands, has a shocking secret – she was pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage. She shares her bad news first with Don’s doxie, and then with him. I found myself rolling my eyes so much I was worried I’d strain something – I get it, we’re in the pre-women’s rights world of 1968, but can we ease up on the tortured, suffering women a bit.
Pete’s catting around with a neighbor’s wife, who may be slightly unhinged (apparently he’s got a “type”). All goes well, except she shows up at his door one evening bloody after an abusive confrontation with her husband. Trudy steps in and takes the injured woman to a hotel. She returns home, infuriated because apparently the two were comparing notes. The only cool part of the episode is Alison Brie’s bravura performance as the pissed off Trudy. Pete being Pete was trying to be weasley, but she quickly shot him down, warning him that she’d “destroy” him if he crossed her. You know what? I believe her.
With all this romantic drama, you’d almost forget that this show is about an ad agency. In this episode, Don’s dealing with a recalcitrant Heinz exec who is unhappy with working with a younger colleague. Former SCDP scribe Peggy Olson is having a hard time at her new job with her underlings – she’s treating them like crap and it’s starting to show and she’s quickly becoming the office shrew. To blow off some steam she calls her pal Stan Rizzo, and he lets it be known that the Heinz folks are unhappy with SCDP. She lets that bit of news slipt to her new boss Ted Chaough, who predictably wants to poach Heinz despite Peggy’s protests. So not only is Peggy friendless at her new digs, but it also looks as if she’s going to lose some of her friends from SCDP.
Betty and Sally were absent – a shame since the two are such interesting characters. Also, Joan glided through the episode in what could generously be described as a cameo. From the adverts for next week’s episode, it looks like maybe she’ll play a bigger part, but as of now, it’s mysterious just how low key Joan’s role on the show is. For such an integral character, she’s getting sorely little screen time. I’d love to see Joan’s life now as partner of SCPD – is she living it up in a swanky new place? Does she have a nanny? What’s her baby like? Did she finally kick out her shrew of a mother?
“Collaborators” was star Jon Hamm’s second try at directing. He doesn’t really have a vision or voice as a director – instead he does an ultra-competent, polished effort that lacks any distinct qualities. I guess because last season and last week’s episode was so brilliant I was expecting a whole lot from this episode and was disappointed.
What do you think? Did other viewers find themselves looking at their watches?