The Good News, or A Man, A Room and a Checkbook

10 Aug

Last week I suggested that ‘The Good News’ of the show’s title would be something of a mixed blessing, which was not that difficult of a prediction since it is impossible for the people on this show to go a single day without ruining their lives in one way or another. Much like last week, the main stories were connected with a motif,  the aforementioned ‘good news’.

Joan. Joan did some great work leading the b-story this week. In interviews she’s mentioned that Joan gets more to do this season, which is a good sign as she hasn’t had much to do in quite a while. This episode reinforced the great tragedy of Joan’s life- she has everything she wants (or more precisely, everything she is supposed to want) but is miserable because of it. Just look at her husband. He’s what she says she wants, a handsome and charming doctor she can have babies with, but in reality he’s a very occasionally charming but fucking terrible Doctor who’s leaving for ‘Nam before she can have kids.  Roger, for all his many flaws, is a better man than the good doctor will ever be. Joan, like everyone else this week, found solace at work- at the end of the episode she resolved her conflict with Lane, had a great time firing a shitty secretary and took her place at the head of the table. However shitty her life ends up, she’ll still be great at her job.

Lane. I considered subtitling this week’s entry as “Don and Lane’s Excellent Adventure”, because that entire sequence was hilarious. Lane’s news that the company is financially successful is a cause for celebration, and as a British Person he has to keep his personal life away from work as much as possible. Don finds something of a kindred spirit in Lane, and their evening together looks like the most fun he’s had in his entire life. What’s telling is that while Lane found an entertaining evening of distraction with a co-worker, Don found somebody to talk to for yet another night of prostitutes and booze. Lane is too self assured to lose himself quite so heavily as Don, but theres 9 episodes left for terrible things to happen.

Don. The Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level is at an all-time low. With difficulties at work, a wife that hates him and a child he isn’t allowed to see, so he takes off to visit the one person in the world he can actually relax with and discovers that she’s dying of cancer. Matthew Weiner going with a very Sopranos route here. In the early seasons there was a sort of humour about Tony, that while he did some morally reprehensible things he was still a fun guy. Once that reached a critical point David Chase spent a very long time proving to everyone what a despicable bastard he really was – kind of like the Seinfeld finale stretched over three years. Don’s attempts to help Anna were charming but ultimately ineffectual, what else can he do but throw money at her in desperation?  Don would pretty much have to be publicly humiliated by Campbell for his life to get any worse. With the DDFT this low, he may find clients not so easy to charm, and I doubt Betty is going to take him back any time soon.

This episode felt a little off for some reason, and I can’t quite articulate way. It felt a little sparse, without a c-story events unfolded less like a moment in time than important plot threads that needed to be dealt with by this point in the season to set things up for later. At any rate, welcome to 1965.

Next week’s episode is The Rejected, which is being directed by John Slattery (Roger Sterling). Apparently Pete has a lot to do next week. Prediction: the return of Cosgrove, and a lot of awkward stares.

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