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Mad Men “The Runaways” Review (7×05)

12 May

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“Get out while you still can!”

Michael Ginsberg warns Peggy and the rest of SC&P as he’s being wheeled out of the office, one nipple missing and downward spiral complete. Although the breakdown doesn’t have the effect it could’ve had, it’s still an incredibly sad situation to witness: here’s a man who’s unable to run away from the circumstances, who feels like he’s on the outside looking in, so much so that paranoia sets in and sends him hurtling over the edge.

This episode is all about people who feel as if the times are rushing past them in a bullet train while they themselves are riding a bike. They’re running, trying to keep up, trying in any way to grasp what they’re losing and to pull it back, and this eventually leads to them going to extreme measures. Megan, for example, essentially pays off Stephanie in order to get her to leave; it’s not so much that she feels like her relationship (or what’s left of it, anyway) is threatened, but rather that she sees in Stephanie the idealized version of her relationship. Here’s a beautiful woman who’ll make Don light up, who’ll make him drop everything and fly over, who’ll make him comfortable and willing to divulge his secrets. Megan wants that.

So, the threesome is a last ditch effort to reclaim any bit of their crumbling relationship, an attempt to replace Anna Draper/Stephanie with Amy. Yet, although Don goes along with it (who wouldn’t?), we can see that he’s not truly enjoying it, and neither is Megan. Simply put, Don compartmentalizes, and this doesn’t allow him to connect with his wife at this moment; as always, his intentions are good, but he’s incredibly insensitive about it due to his own obliviousness. Instead of Megan singing “Zou Bisou Bisou” to please him, she’s dancing, and he’s on the outside looking in. For him, it’s work, work, work, and submitting at work does not mean submitting at home.

Of course, as we can see at the end of the episode, he isn’t submitting anymore. After Harry informs him about Avery and Cutler’s plans, he springs into action. He has to adapt to the circumstances, and this is what Don does best in his place of work: manipulating the situation to his advantage, placing himself at the forefront of the proceedings. He’s essential now, and although he may not be for very long–Cutler makes this clear with his “You think this is going to save you, don’t you?” at the end of the episode–it’s his only move.

Don Draper is on dangerous waters, but right now, he’ll call himself a taxi, thank you very much.

GRADE: B

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Betty’s storyline is nothing we haven’t seen before, but it does make for some nice moments and parallels. For example, her feelings of being an outsider during the scene with Henry at the dinner–“Leave the thinking to me!” is especially harsh–is akin to Megan and Don’s relationship, and in terms of the thematic resonance of the episode as a whole, she’s yet another character who feels as if everything’s running away from her. So, she’s unwilling to change.

-Nip in a box. SNL, your move.

-There’s a nice scene between Sally and Bobby, too.

-Elisabeth Moss doesn’t have too much to do in this episode, but Peggy’s reactions to Ginsburg are brilliantly played.

– “STOP HUMMING. YOU’RE NOT HAPPY!”

– “Peggy, we gotta reproduce.”

– “I’m not stupid. I speak Italian.”

-Only two episodes left this year, and that has me feeling sad.

Photo credit: AMC, Mad Men

 

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