Is there some sort of quota for totally extraneous, skin-crawling, blood-curdling moments that “Mad Men’’ needs to fulfill per season? Despite all the moments that made me want to drink myself into a Freddy Rumsen-esque stupor, “The Runaways’’ was a great episode. And there are only two left! Something has to be said for a show that riles you up and leaves you hanging. That’s good TV.
Let’s get started:
WHAT IS WRONG WITH GINSBERG?!
We all know that the concept of a super computer is frightful – a digital journalist like me fears them daily – but this was too much. Driven mad by the hum of technology and paranoid from the sight of Lou and Jim Cutler canoodling in the “air conditioned lair,’’ Ginsberg arrives at Peggy’s apartment to “work’’ and decides to make a move. They need to procreate, because the super computer is turning everyone homosexual! “If there was a way of doing it without having sex, I’d do it!’’ he says. She gives that one a firm pass.
Ginsberg then takes it upon himself to slice off his nipple and hands it to Peggy in a small box. This may have been a deranged romantic gesture of sorts. “It’s my nipple. It’s the valve,’’ he says proudly. He’s removed from the office on a stretcher with restraints. “Get out while you can!’’ he yells back at Peggy. And he was just starting to grow on us, that Ginsberg.
Remember nice little Stephanie from California?
She’s eight months pregnant. And a hippie! And her baby daddy’s in jail and he’s comin’ to getcha! So naturally Don decided to give Stephanie his (Megan’s) home address in the canyons and invited her over for some R&R and cash. The dreams of Sharon Tate are still alive in Laurel Canyon.
“You are truly magnetic. What do you do?’’ “Didn’t Don tell you? I’m an actress.’’
She’s talking about your aura, Megan.
“Do you have any meat? I’ve been dreaming about it.’’
And you look delicious.
“She’s happy it’s in the family.’’
We’re all in the family now.
“I’m afraid he’d murder someone just to stay in jail.’’
DING DING DING!
Meanwhile, Megan gets mean.
And jealous and childish and all the words we used to use on Betty 101 (she’s progressed several levels of evil since then) and she sends poor pregnant Stephanie out on the street with a $1,000 check with “no strings’’ and no steak attached. Really, Stephanie, no strings. No looking back. And don’t look back. Clearly the loose term “niece’’ is not enough to keep Don’s pants on in Megan’s mind.
Megan tells Don that Stephanie took it upon herself to grab the money and run. “She’s an adult, Don,’’ she says. Yes, but are you?
But Megan has a great plan to loosen the tension. She hosts a swinging party – a little too groovy for Don’s taste – and Harry shows up, not knowing that it’s at the home of his disgraced colleague, so he brings a date/not his wife. Don swiftly makes his exit and ushers Harry out to the bar. Harry stupidly shares some vital information – Cutler and Lou are going after Philip Morris Commander cigarettes. (Oh right, those cigarettes.)
When he returns Megan and “Amy from Delaware’’ are the giggly kind of drunk/high and sloppily seduce Don into participating in a threesome. He seems mildly amused, but probably because this is the best action he’s gotten with his wife in months. Don’t you know Amy from Delaware? You certainly do now. And just like that, their marriage is fixed!
But then Stephanie calls and Don is a decent guy. “You have my number,’’ he says, making her promise to call when the baby arrives. This does not thrill Megan. Smudged eyeliner and shambles again. “I’m gonna split. Great party,’’ says Amy from Delaware who knows when to make an exit.
Don crashed the party.
Back in New York, Don shows up at a meeting between Philip Morris, Lou, and Cutler at the Algonquin. “We know who you are and we’re only talking about a presentation right now. But we do have a problem working with the man who cut our throat in the New York Times,’’ says Philip Morris suit #1.
“Well, if you give us a shot. I’m prepared to leave the agency,’’ says Don. Cutler looks like Christmas has come early this year. “Don, thanks for saying that, so we don’t have to.’’
But he’s not finished yet. He deliveres a flawless pitch: “Just know the man that wrote that letter was trying to save his business, not destroy yours. Like, Lou, I have over ten years of tobacco experience — I’m also the only cigarette man that sat down the competition. I know their strategy and I know how to beat it.’’ Philip Morris appears to buy it. “You’re incredible,’’ says Lou in disbelief as they leave the hotel. “You think this is going to save you, don’t you?’’ That’s a rhetorical question, Cutler. We’re officially back on Team Don.
Waylon Jennings, you can play us out.
Also worth noting:
— Scout’s Honor! Everyone makes fun of Lou’s by night career as a budding cartoonist. This was great. Stan finds a relatively amatuer comic drawn by Lou on the copy machine. Naturally they find this hilarious but the joke’s over when Lou overhears the copywriters quoting the characters in the men’s room. “I heard everything, from your first fart to your last dying breath,’’ he barks in their next meeting. “You know who had a ridiculous dream and people laughed at him?’’ sneers Lou. “You?’’ deadpans Stan. “Bob Dylan!’’ You are most definitely on the fast track to being the next Bob Dylan, Lou. Just keep blowin’ in the wind.
— In a completely irrational argument: “You’re so smart, why don’t you run for office?’’ barks Henry. “That’s a good idea!’’ retorts Betty. That’s a ballot box I won’t be checking off any time soon. The b-side story line of this episode was that Betty and Henry most definitely hate each other now. She’s childish! He’s stoic! He’s political! She is, too! This was boring. But it’s always fun to watch someone tell Betty to shut up.
— “Are they gonna get divorced?’’ asks little Bobby who still has a stomachache from too many gumdrops. “What? No. They’re the dynamic duo, that’s never going to happen.’’ Never say never, Sally.
— Also, Sally’s got a black eye and a smart mouth. “It’s a nose job, not an abortion,’’ is a funny comeback.
— Doesn’t everyone want to eat some Rumaki now? It’s the best thing Betty’s brought to the table in a long time. Here’s a recipe. Don’t expect her to make you any.