Sunday, April 26, 2015

Going Mad: "The Forecast"

Don is selling his apartment, Joan is trying to have it all, Sally is forced to think about life beyond boarding school, and Peggy wants to rule the advertising world - "The Forecast" was an episode that had many characters working towards what is coming next in their life. Perhaps even "forecasting" their future. Even Lou is trying to get that blasted comic of his turned into a cartoon. Allegedly Hanna-Barbera is very interested and he might be spending more time in LA fishing for his own fame instead of working for SC&P. Either way, he's lame, so let's move on to more important people.

Episode 10 kicked off with Don being woken up by his very cheery/pushy real estate agent, who - let's all be honest - we all thought was just another one of his birds who has a key to his apartment. But for right now, it appears their relationship is strictly business. This Jennie Garth lookalike preceded to whirl herself into a panic, having a very Carolyn Burnham, "I will sell this house today!", mantra moment, hurrying Don along so he won't disturb the folks who should be arriving to look at the apartment.

At the office, Roger assigned Don the task of writing a manifesto about SC&P. It is for a business meeting that Roger will be attending in some tropical location. Apparently, having the grandest mustache in the office means having a few perks, including passing off work and going on vacation.

Don is back at it! Even though he doesn't do much of the creative work himself anymore, the people in the company still think he is the best man to do many tasks. Plus, they all want his opinion, because he's still got "it". Which is exactly why Peggy would first (and importantly) finally ask Meredith, Don's nosy secretary, to mind her own bee's wax, and then tell Don that the team needs his approval for a Peter Pan "Tinkerbell" cookie account pitch.

He's finally able to let his students in the creative department fly, but they all returned to the nest rather quickly. One of the guys, John (had to look up his name, sorry), blew the pitch with Peter Pan. They are giving SC&P another chance, but John begged Don to take over. Being the headstrong guy that he is, Don said that he wouldn't, because people need to fix their own mistakes. He did, however, give this scared kid advice, providing some anecdotes for how to win back clients, something he has had to do a few times in the past.

Don might be seemingly killing it at work, being a smart mentor and all, but he is knocked down a few pegs upon returning to his apartment. There he finds the frustrated real estate agent. Since Don refused to stage the area with furniture (remember he has none) or replace the carpet, you know, the place in the bedroom that has wine all over it [Side Note: I'm so excited that such a random incident has come to play during every episode!], nobody wants the apartment. But this place is freaking amazing! Have you seen that view? Carpet is easily replaceable, people!  This episode of House Hunters: Mad Men drove me nuts.

The real estate agent had other points. She said the apartment reeks of failure and that "it looks like a sad person" lives there. Using deck furniture indoors can do that to a person.

Away from the "sad" life of Don Draper in New York, Joan is off in sunny LA , meeting up with the West coast office. But first things first, she was in her hotel room relishing time in the adult world away from her roommates - mom and baby. She ordered herself a little room service consisting of grapefruit and decided, after a, "why the hell not"  kind of shrug, on some french toast as well. Treat. Yo. Self.

After her breakfast, Joan bustled into the LA office. This is where we find out from Lou's secretary that he is running late, due to the whole thing with his monkey comic. Joan is a high ranking person in the company and here we still see Lou's secretary spill a bunch of gossip, which she wouldn't have done to Don or Roger. I always find it interesting that even though she is a partner, Joan is still treated like she's just one of the gals. A woman in a prominent role is not a common enough occurrence for people to get a cue to change the way they talk to people based upon rank, instead of gender.

Joan and Lou are supposed to meet up with one of their clients, so when a man walked in, Joan automatically assumed he's there for the meeting. Turns out she's wrong and this was some guy who was lost. Everyone who looks at Joan is instantly bewitched, so of course this dude, Richard, asked her out. Joan, enjoying the power of her single life, said yes, and since this guy fits her "older man" type, they end up back at her hotel room.

Richard at first is somewhat mysterious, but eventually told Joan the story of his life - once married with several kids, he ended up getting divorced after his children had grown and moved on with their own lives. He's a freewheelin' guy who, inspired by his children traveling the globe, wanted to do the same with nothing to tie him down. Joan said that she doesn't have a husband, but casually forgot to mention that she does have a young child waiting back home.

At first it seemed like this was going to be a "what happens in LA, stays in LA" situation, but Richard surprised Joan by showing up in NYC. During this rendezvous though, Joan revealed her truth, to which he admitted that he doesn't want to deal with anymore kids. After she stormed out, we could all be thrilled that Joan stood up for her own life and wiped her hands of Richard.

Peggy gets a lot of credit for being a great example of a powerful woman who pushes boundaries, but Joan shouldn't be forgotten either. She is trying to be a good mom, be a strong contender on the job, and, maybe a little in her spare time, find a guy that loves her. It is then slightly disappointing when Richard shows back up, saying he actually did want to be a part of both her and her sons life. Joan, this guy still seems iffy - we all think you can do better. Hopefully she doesn't forget to stand up for her own rights when deciding to settle down again.

On the subject of mother/children relationships, Betty and Sally were getting things together for Sally to go off on a summer trip that will venture across 12 states in 12 days. Apparently, this was a trip that Betty also took, but back then they only visited six states. Sally, unable to not be somewhat of a smart ass, replied with one of those classic burns straight out of the old days: "Weren't they still colonies?"

Mother and daughter seem to be civil, but will probably not ever (or at least for many years) have a tight relationship. There is always something that pulls them apart. Case in point, the arrival of a blast from the past at their front door - Glen. We've seen Sally and Glen in numerous other episodes (the one where they have a day on the town in NYC is one of my favorites), but this was the first time Betty has seen this kid, who once lived on their block and creepily asked for a lock of her hair, all grown up.

Betty looked overcome with a weird sort of instant attraction to Glen, as in, she couldn't believe this kid who had a crush on her is now a man. No matter, because both Sally and I felt VERY awkward about her luring eye. Quickly she bounced back to reality and offered them drinks - beers and smokes even, because she's a cool mom. 

Glen brought a girl with him and wondered if Sally wanted to go with them to a theme park. Turns out though that the fact he stopped by wasn't just for a fun summer lark. Glen has signed up for the Army and is being sent to Vietnam. Man Men has always done a fantastic job of integrating important points in history into the stories. It's as much a show about advertising and personal relationships as it is about American culture during the 60s and 70s. So, of course, one of the characters would have to go fight in this war. 

Sally freaked out. Apparently Glen has always shared anti-war ideals with her, specifically anger about Kent State. Always contradicting each other, Betty basically told Sally to quit her nonsense, referred to her as Jane Fonda, and then told Glen he's doing the right thing for his country and she couldn't be more proud. But Sally still couldn't stand it all - Betty or Glen - and ran up to her room without saying goodbye to one of her closest friends.

Later on Sally does call his house, but Glen wasn't home. She ends up giving her tearful goodbye to his mother. Even though I always thought Glen and Sally could end up as more than friends, the last we see of Glen this episode is in a scene between Glen and Betty in her kitchen, where he revealed that he had actually been pining away all this time for Betty, not Sally. He wanted most of all for Betty to know that he was going to Vietnam and grabbed her into his arms. At first it seemed like she would Mrs. Robinson this situation, but Betty pushed him away. By doing so, she was both honoring her marriage vows (what Don never did) and also avoiding being creepy herself.

What started as a somewhat weird scene, merged into something quite meaningful. Glen only signed up for the Army to gain approval from his step father, which did just the trick. Now he is terrified about what he is about to face and needed someone to reassure him. Betty tried her best to at least put him a little at ease by just listening to what he had to say. He may be of age to be considered a man, but Glen's just a kid. How true this fear must have been, or still is, for many that are going off to fight in a war.

Back at SC&P, Vietnam doesn't seem to be on the minds of anyone else. Don pulled out a look from the old days - laying back on his couch and talking into his recorder while working out the perfect dreamy words for the speech Roger had assigned to him. Breaking up his thoughts, Peggy burst into his office and asked Don to do her performance review. Originally Ted was supposed to conduct these, but Ted told Peggy to do her own. The thing here is that Peggy (deservedly) wanted someone else to review and recognize her many achievements from the last year.

Don agreed and started right off with the typical interview-esque question - "What do you see for your future?" To no ones surprise Peggy said that she wants to be the first female creative director at SC&P. Don was impressed that she knew exactly what she wants, but at the same time, wasn't taking Peggy that seriously and started to push back with more questions about life in general. This annoyed Peggy and she showed that by saying something that continues to make her character a wonderful addition to the world of television:

This failed interaction with Peggy isn't the only time that showed his grip on being that smart mentor might be out of control. John took the "Don Draper No Fail" advice too literally, and completely bombed once again at his presentation for Peter Pan. Losing control of his anger, he told Don off, telling him he's really not that great and is just a handsome face that people can't turn down.

Does this mean Don is in "the bubble?" Sure he's a handsome dude, but of course not, we all know Don also has the advertising smarts. Letting his annoyance with failure get the best of him meant that John was sent packing.

Although it may seem like criticism doesn't ever get to Don, John questioning his talent did actually get in his head and lead to passing down some advice to his daughter.

On the night before Sally's trip, Don took her and some of her friends out to dinner. They are at the age where everyone is asking, "what do you want to do with your life?" Her friends seem to have a good idea, but Sally is sick of this question already. She is also especially sick of watching her father get hit on by women, or even girls, since one of her friends took a definite liking to Mr. Draper.

For obvious reason, Sally is noticeably angry when Don dropped her and her friends off at the Greyhound bus, which apparently will be their ride for their cross state adventure. [Side Note: Is this something their school has rented? Or are parents just sending their kids out on a Greyhound? So many questions that maybe no one else cares about.]

Sally told Don that as far as she's concerned, her dream is to grow up and not be like her mother or father. Woo - sassy teens really know how to burn their folks. Unlike Betty, at least Don had a powerful retort that really made his daughter think. He told Sally that she is already like both her parents and she's a  pretty girl that will have to prove that there's more to her than a face. This may seem conceited, but based on our society, we all know this to be true. Before she boarded the bus, Sally definitely looked like that blast of reality really gave her something to think about while traveling around the country.

In this way Don asserted what one thing in his life he knows to be true - yes, he's good looking, but after working his way to the top, he had proven to many in his industry that his creativity and smarts for advertising is unmatched as well.

After giving Sally that dose of realness, Don returned to his apartment to find out that (wine stain and all!) it has been sold! Even though this is what he wanted, the episode once again ended with Don looking forlorn and all alone standing out in his hallway.

Several other characters seemed to know where they wanted their life to be heading, but what is "the forecast" for Don? Is this all leading up to Don just ending up alone? We've only got four more episodes to find out.

Fun Facts from "The Forecast":

  • Glen is played by Matthew Weiner's son.  

  • I really wanted those Peter Pan Tinkerbell cookies to be real, but alas, I haven't been able to find them anywhere! Either way, at least it sparked my memory of this Peter Pan aficionado who used to show up on Late Night With Conan O'Brien. 

Until next time.

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