I don’t know about y’all, but I found this Christmas episode to be oddly uneven. Perhaps I’m just missing the subtext that’s supposed to bind it all together. That said, my initial stray observations:
More Grey’s Anatomy/Mad Men cast crossover
Phoebe (the neighbor nurse) looked familiar right away, but I couldn’t place her until her second appearance. The actress, Nora Zehetner, played Dr. Reed Adamson in the sixth season of Grey’s Anatomy, and gets the ignominious label as the first to die in the gunman-on-the-loose season finale. The doctor comes back to life as a nurse.
On Grey’s, Zehetner’s BFF was played by Sarah Drew, who astute viewers will know as the woman who played Kitty Romano, wife and best friend of closeted art director Sal, who was fired from Sterling Cooper last season, after an unfortunate run-in with Lee Garner Jr.
Speaking of Lee Garner Jr…
Cornering Sal in the editing bay was already difficult to take, but the way he bullied and humiliated Roger Sterling in tonight’s episode was like watching a kitten getting peed on in an alley. I suspect we’ll see more of this throughout the season, since even with the addition of the Pond’s account, Lane Pryce kindly reminds us that Lucky Strike is 69% of the firm’s business.
Old versus New
As we all wrote about last week, this season - and that year in American history - is all about moving forward, and we suddenly see the return of some season one and two favorites - Glenn the creepy neighbor kid, and lovable drunk Freddy Rumson. When the guys took Freddy out to fire him after he wet himself at work, we didn’t know whether we’d see him again. So it was a welcome surprise to a.) find out he did okay for himself post-rehab and b.) see him get hired on at SCDP. But roles are reversed and times are a-changin’; Peggy’s old mentor doesn’t seem to offer her much to look up to anymore.
Glenn, as it turns out, has been living down the street this whole time, but unseen to the viewer since he ran away to Betty after his mother had a new baby and Betty ratted him out. He’s chosen Sally Draper as his new interest, and I’m curious to see where this is going to go. They share the child-of-divorce bond, and Sally has tended toward the weirdness before, so paired up those two could be a psychodramatic force.
The labels we wear
I haven’t watched the web video recap that Matt Weiner does yet (since I’m trying to write these unencumbered by reading what real critics wrote or said or explained), but I’m guessing the big theme he wanted us to observe is the idea of our real selves versus our wrapping paper. As the woman from the research firm said, it’s about what we want versus what’s expected of us. Don has long been trapped in the middle of that tug-of-war… and the hookup with his secretary, I’ve yet to process it long enough to figure out whether that’s fulfilling a want … or whether it leads to fulfilling an expectation. Note that the research woman predicted “You’ll be married again in a year.” Is that, as Walton discussed, the next narrative Don will write for himself?
Peggy, as it turns out, is wearing the label of “virgin,” which is a far cry from her reality, though if I had slept with Duck Phillips and Pete Campbell and bore the latter’s child, I probably wouldn’t admit it either. But her discussion with the old-fashioned Freddy was interesting; in that day and age (and arguably in this one, too), a woman who wanted a relationship for keeps had to hold back, for fear of losing the man’s respect. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? But methinks Peggy would be falling into the same trap as Don; getting married and living a lie with someone who doesn’t really know her. The parallels between Don and his protege continue. Both are storytellers who want to forget the darkness in their pasts, and they’ll cover up that darkness with the stories they write for themselves. But at what costs?
Conga lines forever,