Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mad Men Recap - The Forecast

Oh, hello there, I'm finally here with a recap to Sunday's Mad Men episode! It's literally taken me four days to unbefuddle myself about this week's episode and come to some conclusions. I've also consulted my experts, Kathryn and Matthew Weiner. So we should be good to go now. I hope.

Firstly: ALL OF JOAN'S OUTFITS. I was loving this episode solely because of the variety of killer Joan outfits. From long nightgowns, to polka dots; it was perfection! I'm still thinking about that stunning brocade affair she wore out on her New York date with Richard because it was a feat of costume design!

Ok. I got that out of the way -- let's get to the serious stuff.

At face value this episode almost appears like deja vu all over again instead of a portent of the future like it's title "The Forecast" describes. Here we have Don again flat on his face, he's completely unfulfilled and to put the cherry on top he is living in an empty apartment he can't get rid. We continue feeling the deja vu as creepy Glen returns to surprise Betty with his sideburns and general manliness. Then Joan hitting it off with another rich silver fox.

Don's getting told be everyone in his life that he's a big loser. First, it's the spunky blonde realtor who makes no bones about how depressing and sad his life appears when looking at his apartment. Then, after giving some very misconstrued advice to Mathias, Don is told by Mathias in an angry tell-off that he is nothing but a handsome face, devoid of character. I think it's extremely important that the word "character" was used because that's the source of Don's current listlessness and wandering. Few people in his life have pointed to the lack of character, because they're usually pointing out the terrible things he has done, but now it is the essential lack of substance that Matthias points out and you can tell it hits home with Don.

Don then takes Sally and her friends out for Chinese before they leave on a bus trip and Sally deftly watches on as Don pours his charm on her very young friends and in return the girls eat it up. As Sally gets on the bus she confronts him for not even being able to help his "ooze", or in other words the fact that he only relates to people sexually. She's disgusted that this shallow way of relating seems to be the only way her parents are able to deal with people, (she just witnessed Betty ooze with the appearance of Glen at their door). But it's Don's response to this teenage outburst tell Sally that she is just like them because she is beautiful but that she has to do more with her beauty. I think what this is foretelling is Don's acknowledgement that character is needed to understand how to deal with that beauty, that sexuality, that is present in Don and Betty, but also burgeoning in Sally.

I love that this beautiful, human truth is coming to the light in Don's relationship with Sally. I feel like Sally is really the guide to Don becoming a whole person and it's evidenced again here in this episode. Sally's storyline was really exceptional throughout. Her dealing with Glen and Betty, then her heartbreaking phone call to Glen's mother, begging to talk to him before she leaves and he ships out.

Mirroring Don in this episode is Betty and her encounter with Glen. She's surprised by Glen being grown and joining up, but she approaches him with the compassion and understanding just as she did when Glen was a boy. Their relationship is so different from Betty's relationship with Sally, she treats Glen with a tenderness and respect that is much more close to real motherly love than her dealings with her own children. It comes from Glen seeing her as a type of goddess of beauty, he values her for her beauty in a purely idolizing way which is what she has always craved and which the love of her husbands has never quite live up to, let alone the love of her children which is far more demanding than any other love she experiences. Betty again shows that she doesn't know how to accept or give love unconditionally, but with Glen in this episode she does project a certain introspection that lets on the fact that she has influenced Glen in a way which makes her somewhat responsible for joining the army, and going into harm's way. I am hoping that this is a forecast of Betty realizing that her love means a responsibility to her children, that something is required of her, a sacrifice that she has resisted from the very beginning.

But now back to Joan! She's quickly fallen for rich, divorced, older man who seems charming and gallant while in LA on business. He surprises her by coming to New York, and it is on there next date that Joan tells her about her son. Richard is upfront and says he's got no interest in helping raise a child, or let a child ruin his jet-setting, divorced with money lifestyle. Joan walks out, but we then see her voice her frustration as she leaves her son on her way out to work by saying "You're ruining my life!" But then before she closes the door she hears a little "I love you" from Kevin. It was heartbreaking and to be honest, all to relatable. That is why the next scene with Joan when she is at the office and Richard brings her flowers as a peace offering she tells him she thinks she's going to send Kevin away. The way that Joan delivers these few quick statements seems almost flippant and sarcastic. They did indeed leave me confused for the last couple days on whether or not Joan really meant she'd give up her son for a man, but I've since watched this clip with Matthew Weiner and I'm taking it to mean that in light of Joan's exit from her apartment in the morning, her remarks of sending Kevin away are meant sarcastically - almost as a taunt towards Richard, another man who wants her to give up her dreams and what is really important to her but in a way that promises she'll crush him if that is what he demands. Weiner says that he loves the way Joan stands up for herself in that scene, and that's why I feel that Joan is placing her son first and that the remark was a sarcastic one and not something she'd seriously follow through on. Richard then apologizes and realizes his mistake of potentially giving up a wonderful woman because he's too selfish to welcome her son into his life. Here Richard is doing a very un-Roger thing in both apologizing to Joan, and admitting his own selfishness. I think we're going to see that Richard is the second coming of Roger, and is an older man who values and respects Joan completely while at the same time giving up his own selfish ways.

I think this basically covers what I wanted to cover although there is plenty to talk about especially when we look at Don trying to come up with anything when it comes to looking into the future. He sees no future at work, even Peggy can't rally hope for him in that aspect, nor at home as he's shoved out of his own apartment at then end of the episode. I think this may show that the change Don desires for the future won't come from without, but from within, even if he doesn't know yet how to make it happen.

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  1. Joan's deadpan taunt confused me for a few seconds, too, and then it sunk in. I feel like she was showing him his own awfulness by putting it so cruelly. Like, "This is what you asked of me. See how vicious it sounds?"

  2. Okay, this is apropos of nothing, but I recently found out that John Slattery's real life wife is the actress who plays Mona?!? And FURTHERMORE, the actress who plays Mona is the original Mrs. George Clooney?!? Talk about having a thing for sliver foxes! Except George Clooney wasn't a silver fox at the time... Anyway, you probably know all this already, I just had to share because it was mind-blowing to me.


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