I was never a big fan of the dream episodes on The Sopranos. It was always, like, oh look, Tony’s talking to a fish because something something the ghost of Big Pussy aren’t dreams weird?! It felt forced. But then last night’s Mad Men dream episode was uh, how should I put this, A BIT ON THE NOSE. Not only was that whole hook up just painfully obvious as some kind of stress anxiety about Don’s sexual desires conflicting with the otherwise normative peacefulness and contentment that he’s found in his new marriage, and I know we all know that, OK, I am not pretending like I am pointing out the obvious but really thinking like I said something special, the stress was on the word “painful” back there, but his Fever Metaphor was even chronologically cohesive! Is that a thing? Who dreams so fluidly and with such memory retention? Don Fucking Draper, that’s who. But, so, when Don dream choked that lady and lazily shoved her under his dream bed, speaking of The Sopranos, how The Sopranos was that?! (You know that Matthew Weiner used to write for The Sopranos, right? Matthew Weiner used to write for The Sopranos.) I enjoyed last night’s episode, but having Don fake murder someone does seem like kind of a Movie School 101 exercise in raising the stakes. “We can’t make him into an actual murderer, but so let’s kiss right up on it.” He just isn’t Tony Soprano, and I resent attempts to make him be more like Tony Soprano. He’s Don Draper. That should seriously be enough. Yes, they both have that lovable monsters thing going on, but that’s where it ends. No more choking, Don. Gabagool. That being said, it was still a very good episode. The stuff with Joan no duh. Sally’s on pills now? Careful Sally! You’re wearing a real pill-popper’s outfit too. Eek! Sally! Oh also that scene with Peggy and Roger: yes. This show is good, it’s weird that no one ever talks about how it’s good.

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    • The fact that the note said, “Sorry for putting you out,” had me worried for a sec that Peggy was going to open her purse and find that Dawn had in fact taken money from it. I’m glad it didn’t go there and that the apology was just for Peggy accommodating Dawn Draypurr.

      Speaking of that scene where Peggy considers her purse– I felt so bad for both of them! On the one hand, Peggy doesn’t want to leave her purse out with a relative stranger and newcomer to the firm, and who knows? Maybe Peggy is fearful of Dawn fitting into some sot of black stereotype mold. On the other hand, Dawn has been combating those stereotypes her whole life (or she does in fact have light fingers), and even though both could rationalize where the other was coming from trust-wise without an added racial component, racially is how Dawn would take Peggy’s actions, and how Peggy would perceive Dawn taking her actions. So she covered by snagging the dead soldiers and going to bed, leaving her purse’s fate up to trust and it panned out. I was very happy it did too.

  1. *This episode struck me as very woman-centered: women grappling with new found power (Peggy with Sterling, Joan with her husband) and women grappling with powerlessness (Sally, Pauline, Dawn, the song in the credits), and men in turn grappling with female power (Cinderella pitch, Sterling, Joan’s husband Dr Rapey, Don).

    *My favorite scenes were with Pauline Francis and Sally. I liked this exchange in particular, after Pauline describes how her father had viciously kicked her for no reason:
    “And he looked at me and said ‘That’s for nothing, so look out!’”
    “That’s not very nice!”
    “No; but it was valuable advice.”
    What’s the “advice”? That men are capable of random violence, so be ever vigilant? That certainly seems to be what Pauline makes of it. She savors the details of the Chicago Massacre when she tells them to Sally, relishing in the verification of the fact that men are ever-dangerous, and women should be ever-anxious. Let’s hope Sally grows up to me more like Joan, less like Pauline.

    *Speaking of Joan…it is a relief that Dr Rapey is out of her life. I was surprised that she threw him out, although I shouldn’t have been. When I heard that he had volunteered to go back to Vietnam, I was fully expecting that a sad Joan would sit forlorn and brave in her apartment for a year, waiting to hear how he (inevitably) has been killed in ‘Nam. (And come to think of it, so was he!) But she doesn’t stand for it—“that’s it.” She can’t override his decision, but she can make a decision of her own.

    *How many times was a woman “under the bed” in this episode? The real-life nurse who survived the Speck massacre; Don’s delirium Andrea, whom he strangles and pushes under the bed; and finally Sally, who sleeps drugged under the couch.
    So does that make Don’s delirium murder a frightening thing or encouraging? Ostensibly, he wants sincerely to get rid of his “careless appetite”—the dream shows he’s genuinely terrified of scuttling his new marriage. On the other hand, he strangles a woman—just like the Chicago murderer!
    In that context, it makes Don’s fever dreams very unsettling. Is this a move forward…or old Don reasserting himself?

    *My favorite moment: Peggy realizes she has left her purse with $400 in the living room with Dawn. She is struck with anxiety that Dawn might steal it and then, bless her, she is struck with shame at such a thought. Very quick, very subtle scene that grapples with Peggy’s struggle against her own racism.

    *I found the Cinderella pitch very interesting. Ginsburg admits that he doesn’t understand women right before he paints this picture of a woman being chased by a handsome man, but she sorta wants it, right fellas? This pitch, of course, was designed not to appeal to women shoe buyers, but of the male industrialists! “Women still like to be reminded that men are in control,” the men like to tell themselves. Ginsburg may not understand women—but he understands men.

    *The murders of the student-nurses were a real life event: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Speck The life of the murderer, Richard Speck, is a depressing story of an mistreated boy growing up to be a cruel man. There is a footnote near the end of the wiki article about how when he was an in prison in the ‘80s he was compelled by inmates to take hormones in order to grow feminine breasts. Then he was forced to give sexual favors. This man who raped and killed women was forced to become a caricature of a woman. Not so much karmic justice or whatever as much as just a super sad story all around—seriously there’s nothing about that guy’s life that isn’t sad—but kinda interesting.
    Huffington Post has more details about Speck (and a note about the song that played in the credits): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/mad-men-richard-speck-murder_n_1411587.html

    *Two complaints about this episode: When the accordion player comes up behind Joan in the restaurant, we long-time viewers immediately realize the connection to the episode where Dr Rapey makes Joan play her accordion like a dancing bear at a dinner party. So why do the writers then have Joan’s mother say “Did you know that Joanie plays the accordion?” Uh yes, we do. Don’t be so on-the-nose, Mad Men!
    Secondly, please let’s stop with dream sequences. I agree with Gabe’s assessment. I didn’t like last week’s dream sequence with Fat Betty, and Don’s fever dream was kinda hokey. Dream sequences are so ‘80s sitcom, Mad Men!

    • Please make me feel less stupid and tell me you wrote this out earlier today? This is looong to be so earl (but don’t get me wrong – very good!).

    • I was excited to hear “He Hit Me (And it Felt Like a Kiss)” at the end of the episode because it’s a great song, but I wasn’t really sure it was appropriate for the episode, really. The song is about a woman who stays with her partner despite domestic abuse. But Joan leaves Greg, Don halluci-murders, and Speck for real murders – nothing really applies, at least not so directly. Just the violence aspect, I guess.

      • But Mad Men very much tries to follow real-life history with their beats and overall show arcs. AMC puts out a “historical context guide” with every episode so it’s not a coincidence that everyone is talking about this insane historically significant murder while the new copywriter is outright stating that women are being stalked and they sort of like it and just want the right man to save them (a very prominent theme in 60s and 70s ads as the feminist movement was gaining ground), even as the women he interacts with in his real life are becoming more independent and vocal and honestly TERRIFIED about getting attacked and being in shitty situations.

        Contrast what happened last night (all of it in regards to the ladies) with Betty’s friend with cancer talking about never getting to talk about what was going on with her… The women are starting to roar.

        And holy shit Joan, I know you aren’t a real person but I wanted to hug you and high five you.

        And Sally, oh Sally. I’m so sorry Sally. You’re so fucked. But I’m going to start a whole other thread on you…

    • I liked the accordion comment. It was awkward, bullshit small talk to break the crippling silence of anger and disappointment, and small talk like that is ALWAYS unnecessary and obvious.

      I wasn’t very jazzed about Don’s dream this week, but I did like Betty’s dream last week. I like dreams. I mentioned this on the thread of episode 1 in reply to you werttrew, but Medgar Evers appeared in one of Betty’s dreams, and it worked out well for Betty’s current concerns mixed with troubling events of the times that ran parallel to her Stepford troubles. I like that they’re not crazy over the top, Sopranos-style (visually, at least). No talking fish, as Gabe mentioned, no weird car trips with caterpillars or whatever, just familiar situations the characters find themselves in in normal life, and then just one element or two that tips the hat towards dreamscape.

      • Oh, and I actually had forgotten that Joan played the accordion, so when it was mentioned I immediately remembered her playing it with her birth control glasses on. I got a good chuckle out of the recollection.

    • Yeh, I’ve seen some documentary stuff about Speck it is extra effed up. There’s footage of him with his boobs out bragging about how they get stoned all the time and all the sex stuff he gets up to. shudder,

  2. RIP Shelly Johnson.

  3. I really thought Greg might think it was weird when he saw that baby Kevin had gray hair, and that would be what set up the divorce.

  4. I agree – the dream sequence threw me. Especially since there haven’t been that many (if there ever was in fact one at all). But yes, very Sopranos Also it is too hit-you-over-the-head-with a-(jon ham)mer psych 101 obvsyville – yes he’s making a clean break with Megan! We get it!!!!!

    The dynamic between Sally and Grandma-in-law was fantastic.

    • Also, Ginsberg is overdoing the stereotypical Jew thing. There had to be more Jews in advertising at this point…when were NYCers prejudiced against Jews? Am I missing a bit of history? Hadn’t Woody Allen already made is first movie by this point in time? What is going on with this story line?

      • Actually, from some of the old timers I’ve known in advertising and related industries (i actually know a surprising number of old timers!), the New York advertising/film/etc. businesses were still very much divided along ethnic lines. The ad world was very WASPy, whereas there were tons of Italians and Jews who worked as film editors.

  5. you’ve seriously never hallucinated realistically when you’ve had a bad fever? nice life.

    • Not in three contiguous and consistent segments that are dependent on each other for narrative cohesion, no.

      • Gabe, this is why your fever dreams are always stuck in turnaround.

        • Narratively it was completely justified to do Don’s fever dream that way. We were in Don’s shoes. Don had some sort of semblance of a dream narrative where what’s-her-face (in a yellow dress no less, re: Megan in season 4′s ‘The Beautiful Girls’) wouldn’t leave him alone, kept getting into his apartment, he was unfaithful, then murdered her in order to save his sorry-too-little-too-late fidelity. I don’t think anytime we were shown him waking up was Don actually waking up. That woman never even visited him the first time. So when Don finally wakes up, fever broken, to see an angelic Megan bringing him oj, that’s when we the audience, like Don, realize what it was we had just gone through.

          • That makes a lot of sense. So much more sense than her actually following him back and getting super rape-y. Especially with the weird compliments on the decorating. I guess that’s what I get for only watching it once.

            Awww, poor Don. Deep down inside he just wants to decorate his own place.

      • Was it three? I assumed the meeting in the elevator was legit, unless I’m missing a different scene. And if it was legit, Megan, relax about running into women that your husband has experienced. Its not like you didn’t know he was a man-whore when you married him.

        • Her coming to the front door of his apt and then leaving out the service elevator. Her climbing into bed with him and finally the scene where Don applies the Heimlich in a new and interesting way.

        • Wait, I thought her following him back to the apartment actually happened as well. I think there was only one dream sequence…

          Also, I think it had more to do with how real life events everyone is talking about affect your dreams more than Don’s need to kill his past so he can have a normal life with Megan. I had a super messed up dream this weekend that a teenager learning how to drive smashed through the center of my house and woke up assuming it had happened. No fevers, just stress and watching the news right before bed. Plus I hate teenagers and I want a Prius.

      • To be fair, I have never (or rarely, but probably never) watched a dream sequence in a movie or TV show and went, “Yep, that is exactly like a regular human dream.”

        Plus, I don’t think we ever see Don waking up in between the sequences? Maybe it was one continuous dream that happened over a short period of sleep? Or, who cares?

      • I think that’s what’s interesting about the dream–we don’t know for sure exactly what part was a dream and what wasn’t. What actually happened is ambiguous. She might have visited the apartment, hell, she might have even come BACK to sleep with him . . . all we know for sure is that he didn’t kill her and stuff her under the bed. It makes it a little bit of a Chekhov’s gun situation, because if she did come to the apartment at all (even the first time), then we know she’s a little bit cray-cray, and might continue pursuing Don even after being rebuffed. Will she show up again or won’t she? It all depends on how much of that sequence was actually a dream.

  6. Ginsberg is going to be our generation’s Don, right?

  7. this made me snort laugh.

  8. I predict that Ginsberg’s mom died in the Holocaust.

    • did she have mutant power to control metal?

    • I’ve seen a few other viewers toss out this suggestion, but wouldn’t Ginsberg have been very young-probably just a toddler- at the time, and his father, who seemed to be close to 70 when he showed up in the last episode, still fairly old? Doubtful either of those dudes would have come out as survivors.

  9. The one Soprano’s dream sequence that I loved was when Tony was shot and lost in this mysterious hotel and undergoing all sorts of complications (losing his identity, being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s). It was fantastic.

    • It was very good, but it was absolute torture to watch the first time around. The tension on that show was ratcheted up so high the last couple of seasons and I just wanted him to wake up so bad so I could relax already.

    • I forgot about this – you’re right. It also fit the show better and was tied in with the episodes from the series onset.

  10. I love that Peggy got into writing for the same reason I did, the cash:

  11. Ayyyyyy, I just booked yuh mutha Airlines, cocksucker.

  12. I actually had to much pizza along with some wine while watching Mad Men last night. I then had the brilliant idea to read up on the Richard Speck murders, and guess what? While he did the murders he lived with his sister 4 blocks from where I grew up. Anyways, I had disturbing dreams all night that ended up with some dude firing a nail gun into the back of my head and me waking up like in inception. I actually thought while I slept, “I’m going to get killed in a dream, I wonder if I’ll wake up.” Then I did. Anyways, unlike Mad Men my dream had no real impact in my life other than scaring the crap out of me so I’d like something to actually happen in real life instead of in a dream but I think with a character like Don Draper you kind of needed to delve into his subconscious because he’s always trying to hide his feelings.

    • “I actually had too much pizza along with some wine while watching Mad Men.” Don’t act like you’re not jealous.

    • Maybe Mad Men is really just like LOST. In the early seasons we had flashbacks of Dick Whitman mixed with experiencing Don bouncing around from girl to girl to girl. Then that gave way to Don’s CA visits where he could be Dick, and voice over narratives of Don’s journal entries and clips of him swimming and swimming informed us of where his head was at. Now it’s DREAMS. lol

      I like that they are continuing to convey information about Don in new ways, depending on where he is at in life and switching it up depending on what someone in Don’s scenario might do or experience in his own mind and actions to make sense of his life. I’m not necessarily up for episode long dream sequences, but I don’t mind one or two.

  13. Poor Sally. Maybe the ashram will be good for her…

    • My notes on Sally:

      I remember being a kid when people were reading messed up stories out of the newspaper and making comments under their breath next to me and then saying “oh this isn’t a story for kids.” And it was so frustrating. Last night I was making the same EXACT faces as Young Ms. Draper because I remember that — especially at that age — and it’s so frustrating.

      If Betty does, in fact, have cancer and the only women in Sally’s life are Megan and that super fucked up Grandma, oh boy… Maybe Don can dump Megan for that nice hippie lady that he was boning that was Sally’s teacher from a season or two ago? Please? Or just let her adopt Sally, that’s probably for the best.

      And HOLY SHIT with that step-grandma. I know they didn’t know that much about the insane drugs they were giving out like candy, but WOW. And also? She was so turned on by that awful awful story. There’s something to that, much more so than Peggy’s journalist dishing awful details and Megan loving them. (And good on the new kid for calling everyone out for being a creep about that as it is the only thing that he’s done that didn’t make me want to punch him in the face, which is funny because that actor is great in everything so seeing him be very unlikeable makes me like him more as an actor.) But wow oh wow that grandma was relishing in every awful awful detail in a way that goes way further than getting transfixed by a lurid story. And the way she talked to Sally? Oh boy. That is not how you describe a serial murder to a girl that age. Or to anyone.

      Also, the girl that plays Sally is an incredible actress.

      Also, Gabe is right! Sally *was* dressed like a little pill-popper!! Now I wish the creepy step-grandma had called them dolls to really drive home how fucked up this situation was.

    • So my friends still don’t but believe me, but Sally TOTALLY has an eating disorder, right?

      • Woah, where are you getting that? By her not finishing ice cream last week and not wanting a gross sandwich this week? I thought she was just kind of picky bc she was unhappy. Though it is the only thing she has control over and that’s often how it begins…

        • I thought the whole not-finishing-her-ice-cream-thing was more of like a role reversal from the beginning of the series where Betty was always watching Sally’s weight and ridiculing her for what she eats, just like Betty’s mother did to her when she was younger, but now she’s the one who’s over need to watch what she eats. And the whole not eating the tuna sandwich deal was more about tuna being gross and Sally being a child whose like “Yeah, I want that sandwich sounds awesome! Psych, fake grandma.”

          • I concur, though Betty’s well-meaning, poorly-executed narcissistic parenting is exactly the kind of crap that plants seeds for eating disorders and/or body dysmorphia later in life.

        • Then again, if you have a poorly-made sandwich created by someone who ignores stuff you like and dislike (I was imagining sweet relish on a savory sandwich) it can go from awesome to awful in less than 3 seconds and/or half a bite or even one smell. I had orchestrated a really REALLY great sandwich a few months ago that was read wrong and my sandwich guy put honey mustard on instead of dijon and ruined the whole thing. It was honestly inedible. And I was just dealing with easy stuff like hummus and veggies and roasted tofu. But the wrong condiment can totally ruin what is otherwise a delightful meal. I even tried to save the bits of the sandwich but there was no hope. None at all. RIP sandwich.

      • I feel like every episode since sometime last season there has been at least one scene of her conspicuously not eating. I think eventually there’s gonna be some Sally anorexia drama

  14. I have fevered dreams in which I fear that Mad Men might be turning into an average television drama that sort of drags on and rarely manages to impress anymore. Then I wake and realize that’s a socially unacceptable view and so I bury it deep in my subconscious.

  15. last night i dreamed i had sex with ezra miller and he told me i had saggy boobs. i kept asking him if he ever killed anyone. it all felt heavily influenced by the don strangle.

  16. Hey did you guys know Megan speaks French?

  17. Every week I realize more and more how much I like Kenny. Nothing gets past that guy.

  18. How is no one talking about the fact that the Drapers have a service elevator? Did people really not want to have their maids seen entering and exiting their apartments that badly?

  19. Thoughts:

    *Don’s dream sequence really worked for me. The fact that we, the viewer, are unsure of exactly how much of it actually happened sells it. It wasn’t subtle, but it was very satisfying

    *This was a GREAT episode, mainly because all the pieces really came together thematically. I love how most of the episode is about fear and what the different characters are afraid of: Don of lapsing back into infidelity, Megan of Don cheating, Peggy of losing her identity, Sterling of his fading status in the firm, Sally of death and the scary things out there in the real world, etc etc.

    *Speaking of, this episode was CREEPY. The overall “predatory men” vibe. The murders. Peggy in the office late at night. Don’s dream murder. Sally’s step-grandma with the butcher knife. Even Sally hiding under the couch. Kind of a big departure from Mad Men’s usual thing but in a very good way. Experimental.

    *Sterling continues to literally throw money at his problems. I don’t see the season ending well for this guy.
    I like how, after 4 seasons of not really interacting, Sterling and Peggy are getting these strange little scenes together.

    *Joan kicking Dr. Rape out on her own terms is a more genuine and honest resolution to that plotline than killing him off at war would be, glad they went with this.

    *New copywriter is shaping up to be a fascinating addition to the cast. The way he reacts to stuff, like Don threatening to fire him, is fascinating. Excited to see what they do with him.

    *Peggy’s gay(?) photographer friend is an asshole. And also David Mamet’s daughter, apparently.

  20. GUyyyyys! The crotch shot so conveniently veiled by the lighting… whoa.

  21. Does Weiner, by bringing out a Sopranos style fever dream, now mean we are watching a show about The Don (Draper)?

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