Last night's episode of Mad Men was totally action-packed! Too bad the characters are still in the doldrums.
My trusty "He Said, She Said" co-conspirator Richard Lawson had other priorities this weekend, so bear with me, dear readers, as I attempt to make sense of last night's episode of Mad Men, "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency." Because hoo boy, this one was a doozy.
Remember when nothing ever happened on Mad Men? (That's what some people were saying, though we never agreed.) Last night's episode gave the naysayers something to talk about. Ahem: Kenny Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) rode into the office on a swanky new tractor after landing the John Deere account, Guy (and other British guys) flew in to check on Pryce (Jared Harris), Sterling Cooper said goodbye to Joan Harris (nee Holloway) (Christina Hendricks), folks got drunk, a secretary ran over Guy's leg with tractor, blood splattered on flannel suits, and Guy lost his foot. With the exception of Guy's underwhelming cries of pain, the scene was simultaneously horrifying and riveting -- and, in true Mad Men fashion, incredibly symbolic. The downfall of yet another beautiful person -- Guy was basically the British doppelganger of Don Draper (Jon Hamm) -- simply shoved people further into the ruts they'd already dug for themselves. Things had been looking up for the New York office, too: Pryce was being shipped to India to work his management magic on the Bombay branch, Crane (Rich Sommer) was being promoted, and Draper was being courted by Conrad Hilton, the guy he drank with a couple episodes back. Just when Sterling Cooper was getting a leg up, they lost a foot.
Speaking of doppelgangers, the Drapers better start saving up for Sally's (Kiernan Shipka) therapy sessions, because she thinks her baby brother is her recently deceased grandpa. All of Sally's spontaneous screaming and whimpering and brooding is just an omen of a difficult adolescence to come. And even though it's clear that the Drapers are trying to be better parents -- what with Betty's (January Jones) "gift from baby Gene" and Don's more frequent displays of affection -- it might be too late for Sally.
It also seems to be too late for Joan, who found out that her dopey husband didn't get his residency only after she'd quit Sterling Cooper. Of course, Joan is too strong a character for Matt Weiner to abandon, so it's hard to feel true sympathy for her knowing that her comeback is imminent, but it's obvious how much she loved the job. She glows in the Sterling Cooper office -- the light flatters her, the people respect her, and the business makes sense to her. But when she's with her husband, Joan is submissive, patient, and quiet. So it was refreshing to see her interact with Don at the end of the episode, because Joan and Don are cut from the same cloth: Their knowledge is formidable, their sex appeal is undeniable, and yet they cannot control what happens when they leave the office. Guy was no match for Don -- and Pryce's smarmy assistant is a worthless replacement for Joan.
Oh! Let's not forget about Roger Sterling (John Slattery) -- even though Guy McKendrick definitely did (ouch). And Cooper (Robert Morse) wasn't exactly sympathetic. Something tells me that Roger and Joan will end up back together. Heartbreaking as it was to see him missing from Joan's goodbye party, the unhappiness in her marriage and the frivolousness of his engagement paves the way for a lovesick reunion. Now, if Sal (Bryan Batt) could just bang another bellhop and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) could just stop love-hating each other, we could all go back to geeking out on ad campaigns. Oh, well. A girl can dream, can't she?