Monday, October 6, 2008

Mad Men: The Inheritance.

Nada. Nothing. Or not what you expected. Pete and his brother get nothing instead of the anticipated fortune. Pete is threatened by his ice-cold motherwith being disowned if he and Trudy consider adoption. Pete has the pleasure of telling her that her husband left her nothing, that he spent her money on other people. Ha ha ha.

Betty sees her father after his latest stroke. What does she inherit? In her dad's lapses of memory (and a really uncomfortable lapse of judgment), she inherits her mother's role as hostess and wife. She doesn't get the items that matter to her--her mother's portrait, the ottoman with the birds, the jardiniere--and complains that she needs to put her name on objects. Well, duh, Betty. People aren't mind readers; they can't give you what you want unless you tell them. Just like Don keeps asking you what he should say or do, but in that case, you're smart to withhold information and make him sweat.

Depending on whether she reconciles or not with Don, Betty may also inherit the mantle of head of household chez Draper. She has a talk with Helen Bishop (the divorcee and mother of creepy Glenn, Betty's prepubescent admirer) in which she admits that Don has moved out. They talk about the effect on the children, and Helen sighs, "The hardest part is realizing you're in charge." I think this is what Betty has been dodging. Being in charge means you are fully accountable to yourself and others, such as your children; it means making difficult decisions on your own. It means you can't lie about in your housecoat sipping red wine in the morning, feeling sorry for yourself because that's not helping your children's emotional development.

Speaking of children's emotional development, we have the return of Helen's son Glenn, older, unhappier and still stuck on Betty. As the two sip Cokes and watch cartoons, does he seem to be inheriting Don's role as head of the household? After all, he is wearing one of Don's T-shirts and Betty seems more concerned about Glenn's comfort than Don's. Betty seems more open and at ease with him than she does with her own children. I think she is touched by the idea that he has a crush on her, but I also think she would be definitely disturbed if she allowed herself to see that crush has a sexual component to it. It's cute and flattering when an eleven year-old boy says he wants to rescue you, but if you knew what he was fantasizing about doing with you. . . another Ewwww moment for Betty. I was definitely creeped out by his taking her hand and getting closer to her just before Carla returned with Sally and Bobby. Betty does the right thing, relegating Glenn to a child's role (he is supposed to go upstairs with Sally and Bobby to see the new train set) and calling Helen to come get her boy. Poor Glenn gets his heart broken, when he realizes Betty has betrayed him and returned him to his mother.

Pete's bizarre conversation with Peggy: he still totally digs her. She's the only person he can confide all his socially unacceptable thoughts and weird fantasies to. I think he hopes to reignite that disturbing, yet powerful chemistry between them, so he can fully be himself with another human being. It's like he thinks the more shocking the confession, the more Peggy will bond with him. I could see this going to some strange extremes:

Pete: Peggy, I just pierced my genitalia with 600 pins.
Peggy (a moment of shock and disgust then a polite social mask of stunned
Pete: The funny thing is, it doesn't hurt. Well, it does, but
it's also pleasurable. Kind of like the stinging you get after pulling off
a scab. You know that feeling, right?
Peggy: (with her firm social smile)No, I don't pick scabs.
Pete: You should. It makes you feel alive because you feel
pain, yet pleasure in the tingling. Just like I'm feeling now.
Peggy: (the disapproving, you've-gone-too-far-now, mister face and tone):
This isn't appropriate to talk about at work.
Pete (crushed, sneering): It's so easy for you.

Peggy, on the other hand, is done with him. She handles him just like she handled Father Gill when he got too pushy about personal matters in "A Night to Remember"; polite parries to keep the weirdness at bay. Unfortunately, this means no burn-up-the-office hot sex between Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser, which is a waste of some perfectly smoking chemistry.

So what did you think of this episode of Mad Men? Let me know!

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