Monday, October 26, 2009

Mad Men: The Gypsy and the Hobo

"You know I know what's in there" uttered Betty to Don. The truth about the past finally came to a head in last night's mesmerizing and jaw dropping episode of Mad Men entitled "The Gypsy and the Hobo". After Betty made her bare bones knowledge of Don's sketchy past known, Draper's soul left his body. Within one minute he went from being the handsome, self assured executive with a mistress waiting in the car, to a man who has aged twenty years, bent, crushed, gaunt and clumsy. If Draper wasn't such a disagreeable man of late, there would be more sympathy; yet, it was hard not to muster some pity toward the man who tried to be someone else.

Past lives also revealed themselves in old flames, such as the case of Roger Sterling, whose encounter with a former girlfriend tested his own will. He and Anabelle frolicked as young lovers on the streets of Paris before the war, eating in cemeteries and being crazy kids before Hitler started gunning down innocent people. But, she left him for another man all those years ago. Now she's back, with her dog food company, known for killing horses for their meat, trying to change an old image, yet not letting go of the old company/family name. Roger knew how to let go because he knew that she wasn't the one. Whether his young wife Jane is "the one" he's referring to, well - that is up for discussion. I think the red headed beauty Joan was his one true love.

And Joan. The jack of all trades, pillar of strength in a pair of nylons, a stifled force known as Joan Holloway-Harris, is living in the embers of some girlish dream that went all wrong. After all, you work as a secretary, kick some executive butt (and occasionally, sleep with one whose name is on the company wall) hoping to one day marry a doctor who will take you away from all this. She dreamed of the big house, the successful surgeon husband and children. Now, she has an apartment, a job in a department store, and a husband who is a lousy doctor and whines. Cut to vase hitting her rapist husband's head and voila...he decides to become an Army surgeon. Not only will Joan be taken care of, but he'll be off at basic training for six weeks. I can already see it: He'll be shipped off to 'Nam, leaving her to find her independence. Me thinks if Dr. McRapist does come back from the war in one piece, he's going to find a very different Joan. But that's years away.

This episode dug deep into the past and shattered facades. This is what good television is all about.

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