Mad Men Season 5 Episode 10 recap

Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates his favorite quotation from the episode, and I write up a recap.

-We are flying! It’s Christmas already (“I love Christmas in Manhattan”). Or almost (Roger is drinking to celebrate Pearl Harbor Day, so it’s 12/7). And the episode title is ‘Christmas Waltz’, a reference to the song The Christmas Waltz which played at the end of the episode. I don’t know what this had to do with what we saw this week, though. I noticed a lot of different relationship interactions, which might reference a lyric in the song, “It’s that time of year / When the world falls in love.” I think naming the episode America Hurrah, the name of the play Don and Megan saw, would have been too obvious.

-This episode featured more of Lane, Harry, and Joan than we’ve gotten in a while. Lane is in deep shit for paying taxes to the US instead of the UK. I’d guess he didn’t pay taxes to the US either, but no way of knowing. I hadn’t realized until the ‘scenes from next week’ last week, that Lane hasn’t been on for a while. There was some conversation while watching this week that Lane would be the one to throw himself out a window (not Pete, as the advisers anticipate). In any case, Lane is broke, has been broke, and still hasn’t told anyone. He has a tax bill of $8K, and concocts a plan to have SCDP borrow $50K on a short term loan so that the firm could pay out bonuses. His plan is somewhat derailed when one of the clients halts all work, delaying the partners’ bonuses. Someone will find out. I liked the deliberateness of the check forging scene. It’s emblematic of the series, and it was notable it was Don Draper’s signature being forged, as he’s living a forgery.

-The return of Paul Kinsey as a Hare Krishna was just one of those scenes. I think we saw him earlier this year at Don and Megan’s party, but he wasn’t Krishna, and he wasn’t as heavy. Am I misremembering that? He’s lost and ended up at a Hare Krishna temple. It’s interesting. Mother Lakshmi definitely represents the culty aspects of HK, while Paul represents the naive devotee (though they like him because he’s a great recruiter). Lakshmi saw Harry, well, Paul’s relationship with Harry, as a threat. “I’m trading the only thing I have.” In one of the surprises of the season, Harry looks out for his old friend and gives him $500 to get him out of town (some of the money was likely leftover from Roger paying him to switch offices), and away from the Hare Krishna temple. Harry saw Paul as a reflection of himself, realized they weren’t so different, realized it could be him adrift, and decided to help (“It will all seem like it happened to someone else.”). At the same time, the frantic chanting did impact Harry, too. Also, Kinsey is STILL in a turtle neck. Remember the pipe? I liked Peggy giving Harry cold ass advice about what to do.

-I thought the Hare Krishnas were a good contrast to Don, who is also clearly adrift. He doesn’t care about work, or the work. Every time he’s alone in the office, he’s lying on the couch. Last week, the only thing that got him motivated was beating Ginsberg. Also, at times, he seems ambivalent about Megan. He’s happy with her, but maybe not as happy as he’s told he is, every episode by someone different. This week it was Joan. (“The car does nothing for me.” “That’s because you’re happy. You don’t need it.”) The play Don and Megan see is America Hurrah which debuted in November of 1966 and in some circles is regarded as the play of the 60s. Don didn’t care for the message. He appears to be souring on advertising, and doesn’t need a play reinforcing that. Maybe he’s not souring on advertising, he’s sensing the world changing, he’s sensing his work won’t be as revered as it’s been. And then, a rousing speech at the end of the episode, pepping up the troops, and himself. I wasn’t moved by the speech, and the nodding approval of the partners first, and then the employees, seemed a heavy handed way of showing the impact of the speech. Instead of us feeling the impact, we’re given cues by the ensemble. We don’t feel moved, but we know we should be. This happened last week with the forced laughter at the lame Pepsi Snowball pitches. Maybe Don is pushing himself back into the work.

-Joan got served! And then she freaks out at the moron receptionist. I liked Don and Joan roleplaying in the Jaguar dealership (“Look at your watch.”), and I think they liked it, too. They have such a close relationship, and they flirt. Boy do they flirt. I think Don truly cares for her, as a friend, and that’s nice to see. I’m not sure what the implications of Dr. Harris divorcing Joan are, but it’s interesting she hadn’t taken any steps towards that. Also, we found out Roger was sending her checks to help. I wonder if she’ll start taking them now. Don’s flowers are certainly going to spur Roger to increase his pursuit. “My mother raised me to be admired.” I liked Don trying to get Joan to get with the guy at the bar. “Poor me, I struck out.”

-Maybe it’s just on Comcast in Boston, but in several of the episodes this season, I’ve noticed the audio not being quite synced with the action on the screen. There’s not a whole lot more annoying than the dialogue being about a millisecond off from the mouths moving.

-Roger, who spent most of the episode drunk, had some great lines: “Oh, you’re done with your bombing.” “What’s the hurry, Harry?” I thought What’s the hurry, Harry would have been a reference to Harry Truman, but couldn’t find anything. Only thing I could find was a 1968 book with that as a title. Pete has some good ones, too: “I don’t know how to drive a stick shift.” “You would have kissed me on the mouth.”

-“Does your wife burn for you?” I thought romantic relationships were touched on in a variety of ways in this episode. Joan getting a divorce, Lane keeping their financial situation from Rebecca, Paul and Lakshmi, Harry and Lakshmi, Joan and Don roleplaying at the Jaguar dealership, and again at the bar, and of course Megan and Don. I don’t quite know why Megan was so mad. I think I caught something about how Megan thought Don wanted her to think he’d left work before noon and wanted her to worry (about him cheating). This is probably what I was supposed to think, but that point, Don purposely testing Megan, could have been made clearer. Megan is impulsive (hitchhiking home from Howard Johnson’s, throwing a plate of spaghetti), and maybe Don just likes a little crazy. The scene started to go in the direction of the first or second episode where Megan was yelling and Don told her how things were going to go. That was creepy and I was glad it didn’t go that way this time. I don’t expect Don to take it, but he seems bemused enough to go along with this for now. It feels off, doesn’t it?

-“Prepare to take a great leap forward.”

Mad Men Season 5 Episode 10 recap

2 thoughts on “Mad Men Season 5 Episode 10 recap

  1. tex says:

    Hey, you left out much of the visual dialogue in the reception scene where Joan flips out. Is there always a blue couch and a red couch positioned perpendicular to each other? Of course the man serving Joan is sitting on the red couch. Also as Joan is ripping into the idiot there appears the numbers 666 outside the office window with the appearance as though they are the numbers on a building within in the view from the window. They appear at a time when it is only Joan and the numbers 666 in the camera shot. There were enormous complexities in that scene and you just glanced over it. So much more than the receptionist being yelled at is going on there.


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