The Phantom Mad Menace

Written by  //  June 11, 2012  //  Televised Entertainment in Review, The Theatre  //  15 Comments

That Makes No Sense, but the Nerd in Me Isn’t Passing Up a Shitty Star Wars Reference

This Post is Chalk-Full of Spoilers – You’ve Been Warned!

Marital happiness (or the lack thereof) was the dominating theme of last night’s finale and we began at Don and Megan’s apartment.  Megan’s screen test was rejected and she hides that from Don, which her mom, Marie (in town to celebrate Easter with her daughter, as Megan’s dad, Emile is an Atheist) thinks that’s a bad idea, though she’s hiding things of her own from her husband…

On the train to work that morning Beth joined her hubs for the commute, telling Peter she’s there to stay with her sister for a few days. Later he gets a call from his “sister-in-law” – it’s Beth wanting to be all buddy-buddy now, except she’s not talking to Moonstruck Peter she’s talking to Bitter Peter and he’s not having that shit. She wants to meet him at the hotel he tried to get her to go to last time. He acts like he’s going to stand her up but she pleads that it may be the last time they can ever see each other, so you know he’s going to go.

He hustle’s out of the morning partner’s meeting and goes to meet Beth. He’s reluctant to get passionate with her, but felt he had to come. She tells him that she’s been depressed lately and will be getting shock therapy. She wanted to see him one more time before she does it because it makes her distant and unfeeling. She’s scared she won’t remember him or how they felt together and she wants to be with him one more time. How do you turn that down? Your crazy side piece is going to get her memory erased – can we fuck one last time before I forget you ever existed? Um… yes, please!

Afterward he asks her to come to LA with him and soak in some sunshine instead of getting shock treatments. He says her husband’s a controlling monster, and it’s obvious that he’s romanticized their connection – blowing their tryst out of proportion until they’ve become some sort of star-crossed lovers, which Beth doesn’t seem to reciprocate but doesn’t necessarily tell him to stop thinking that way. She tries to explain what it’s like having depression – she has a darkness inside she can’t escape (it’s called your vagina, sweetie). He says that’s for the weak. Nice way to endear yourself to your crazy girlfriend!

That evening back at Don’s instead of lobbying for her friend as she promised she’d do earlier, Megan gives Don her screen test and asks if he would throw her hat into the ring for a commercial. He’s surprised, because he thought she was an artist and above commercials. She wants the exposure and the bragging rights – he reminds her that her friends do it because they need the money – she doesn’t have to do that. Plus it’s just too much favoritism, it wouldn’t be right. She concedes he’s got a point when the phone rings. Megan thinks it’s the heavy breather that’s been calling all day but it’s actually Sterling pretending to be her dad and asking for Marie to come to the phone. Marie’s smart! She starts out in French, speaking to a confused Roger as if it’s still Emile, and says its okay for them to talk in private because Megan’s left the room. She looks pointedly at Megan, who takes the hint and exits, thinking her parents are going to talk about something she shouldn’t hear.

Megan goes back to their bedroom and gives Don a drink and he expresses remorse at not being able to pass her screen test along for the commercial. She says it’s no big deal, but goes into the bathroom to take a bath and begins to cry (how many times have we done that ladies, amiright?). Roger wants Marie to come see him at his apartment for dinner. It was him calling all day and he just wants her company and conversation… uh huh… she says she’ll meet him on the condition he lowers his expectations – “Below conversation?” … uh huh…

There’s an interesting side to Don’s story this week: as he stepped off the elevator at the beginning, he saw his little brother Adam who committed suicide after Don rejected reestablishing their connection. “Adam” takes a solid look at him, but then turns away as if he doesn’t know him. Of course Don’s upset and confused, but he tries to shake it off and get focused on work. The next morning he sees him again – this time sitting at a desk working.

He makes his way to his office and finds Joan waiting for him. Initially at the partners meeting earlier she nixed the motion to purchase the office above them to expand their space, thinking that Lane would’ve suggested caution. But the death benefit came in the mail and its $175k! Don wants to give his widow the $50k back that Lane put into the company after they lost Lucky Strike. He goes to the Pryce’s and apologizes to her, explaining that each of the partners initially put in $50k of their own money to help launch the company and now that Lane’s gone he wants her to have his share back. He gives her the check, but she’s still pissed. She found the picture of Delores that Lane kept and thinks he was having an affair. She throws Don out – pissed that he came just to ease his own guilt.

Megan’s still pouting in bed about the stupid commercial. She’s sad about the state of her acting career and Marie – correctly – is like, snap the fuck out of it bitch you’ve got a bomb ass apartment, a hot, rich husband – what the fuck? Of course Megan doesn’t see it that way, and Marie – love her – calls her an ungrateful little bitch and thanks god her life doesn’t center on her children before storming out. Ha!

As expected, Marie’s panties drop quickly for some Sterling action – but he stops and asks if she’d like to do LSD with him. Can this man get any more perfect? She declines, saying she doesn’t want to take care of him (I can relate – babysitting people while you’re fucked up is a drag) – she wants to get back to the sexy-times. Totally get that she wants to get to business – I mean, it’s Sterling – but come on – everything’s better when you’re tripping balls, even when you’re actually tripping on balls (because you know Sterling’s are huge… and made of brass).

Don comes home to a very drunk Meggers. She accuses him of wanting her to fail, that’s why he won’t give her a chance at that commercial. Marie comes back and he asks how she could leave her like that – she laughs it off and says that’s his job, he’s the husband. Megan left her house a happy girl, but the problem is that she’s an artist with no talent, basically, and Marie thinks she just needs to accept defeat and she’ll be a happier person. Man, I love Marie’s cunt-ways! I wish Mumsy were that supportive.

He’s had a toothache all episode and it’s finally getting out of control (might explain the Adam hallucinations). He gets to the dentist who tells him he’s got an abscess and should’ve had it removed days ago. He puts Don under and of course Phantom Adam’s there. He tells Don that he can take out his tooth but it’s not his tooth that’s rotten, paving the way for Don to do something fucked up, since, well, it’s Don. He asks Andy not to leave, and he replies “Don’t worry, I’ll hang around.” Nyuk nyuk.

Peter goes to see Beth at the hospital. She’s happy to see him and talkative but she doesn’t remember him at all. Its okay, we’re all trying to forget him too. (It should’ve been you, Campbell!! It should’ve been yooooooou!!!!) He tries to leave, saying he has a friend to see but she begs for his company. She asks about his friend and he says he got involved with another man’s wife. She asks why and Peter gives his own reasons for cheating. After his new love was gone and he was heartbroken, he realized everything he had before he met her wasn’t right either and that’s why the affair happened in the first place. His life with his family was just some temporary advantage on a permanent board and that’s telling as he knows what we all know – he married Trudy because at the time it was advantageous to his career to have a wife. Then it was to his benefit to be a father – I think of it as someone who buys a pet on impulse, thinking it will make their lives better, but when they realize how much responsibility it takes to keep one they lose interest and want to give it back.

I think its lunchtime, and since Don’s supposed to take it easy he goes to the movies. Who’s there but Peggy! She’s been given the huge task of coming up with an entire branding campaign for a cigarette marketed specifically to women and needs to recharge her creative batteries. He makes a cut about her succeeding and moving on, and she counters that as her mentor he should want her to do that – he does, but he just didn’t want her to do it without him.

After all that, the scene I’ve been waiting for finally arrived: So Campbell’s on the train when Dawes plops into his usual seat across from him – he wants them to get on the other train and go back to the city to get some poontang since he’s alone for the night. Not realizing that Peter knows it’s because Beth’s in the hospital, Peter says he’s the most disgusting person he’s ever seen –

“How could you do that to that woman? You just couldn’t wait to get her in the hospital and erase her brain?”
“It’s you?? She always spreads her legs for the first chump she can find.”

And… FIGHT!

They get into the aisle, going nuts – once again Peter’s on the ground like the bitch-boy he is. One of the train operators comes in and breaks it up. He sends Dawes back to the bar to get his things and tells Peter to cool off and go apologize in a bit. Peter refuses and gets pissed he’d tell him to do so, calling the guy a fat piece of crap. He reminds Peter he’s an officer and Peter says “Well, I’m President of the Howdy Doody Circus Army”… and the guy promptly decks him!! I LOVE seeing Campbell get knocked out! Had to rewind that and watch it a couple times. He comes home and tells Trudy he fell asleep at the wheel and ran into a ditch. It finally convinces her to allow him to get an apartment in the city. Maybe she just wants to raise their troll-baby in peace.

That night Don watches Megan’s reel in a slightly creepy way and the actor in me had to break in and scream at her to take her fucking earrings out. Come on. As particular as MM can get sometimes – and given the fact that all the leads are serious actors – that little detail just bothered me for some reason. You don’t wear jewelry to an audition, and certainly not at a screen test – you’re supposed to be a blank canvas, you idiot. Anyway, she looked very pretty, he decides to throw her name in for the commercial and she gets the part!

There’s a fantastic shot of the five leads the next morning: Campbell, Don, Joan,  Cooper, and Roger look out the windows in the floor above SCDP, planning bigger offices – they all stand and look out the window, and the five silhouettes create a striking image. On the commercial set Megan’s amped and happy – she kisses Don and as she’s getting her makeup and hair touched up he walks away from the set, a noir-like, sweeping theme playing as he leaves.

I thought this would’ve made a fantastic parting shot for season five, but they’re not done with us – there’s always another curveball to throw. He goes to the bar and asks for an “Old Fashioned” which is totally fitting. As he smokes and broods we see Peggy looking out her hotel window and seeing two dogs humping on each other; Peter’s being emo and listening to his headphones; and Roger stands at his apartment window naked, probably tripping and super hotified.

Back at the bar two girls try to pick up Don. The braver one asks if he’s alone and he looks at her – but the scene cuts and fades to black before he answers! Will he cheat on Megan? No? Yes? Gah! Mad Men is killing meeeeee!

About the Author

Alistair Blake Arabella

“Alistair Blake Arabella” is the brainchild of entertainment writer and managing editor Vanessa “2 Fingers” Berben . If you’re missing the latest refill of your Dexedrine prescription, there’s a good a chance Alistair’s in your bathroom and has already crushed it up and snorted it. Now be a good little kitten and fetch her drink. If you’d like to receive the hallowed word of Alistair drop a line to AskAlistair@gmail.com – you just may be in the next episode of “Ask Alistar” if you’re very, very lucky.

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15 Comments on "The Phantom Mad Menace"

  1. Mark in Omaha June 12, 2012 at 6:26 pm · Reply

    I’m not sure what to think of the episode. Didn’t really feel like a season ending for some reason. I did love the shot of the five of them looking out the windows of their new offices.

    I just found out something, but probably not a big surprise to anyone else, the actor who plays Bert Cooper is Robert Morse. THE Robert Morse, How to Succeed in Business whithout Really Trying, and How to Cheat on Your Wife. Never made the connection somehow.

    Marie gave Don good advice, he should have listened. You didn’t mention the line she gave Megan about how all little girls can’t live out their dreams because the world can’t support that many ballerinas. Ha! So she got the part, totally cutting her BFF off at the knees, and Don walks into a bar. BTW, is he SO good looking that TWO younger women would be hitting on him? The music that was playing is “You Only Live Twice” from a James Bond movie that won’t come out for another 6 months in Mad Men time.

    What was the rotten tooth supposed to symbolize? What were the two dogs humping supposed to symbolize? How many people get to beat up Pete next season? Was that really Roger Sterling’s ass or did they use a body double. I vote body double, or digital enhancement.

    As you didn’t “buy” the Lane committing suicide arc, I just don’t get the Pete Campbell and Rory Gilmore story arc. He fell so in love with her why? He preaches to her dick husband about cheating on his wife, while Pete is cheating on Trudy with that guys wife. Or why she needed shock therapy in the first place, or married that cretin. Where the hell are her invisible children?

    Which comes back first, Breaking Bad or the boring zombie show?

    Ciao.

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella June 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm · Reply

      Hey hey now! It’s not a boring zombie show – it’s the best fucking thing on TV! And it doesn’t come on until October, and FX is airing American Horror Story at the same time – it’s going to be an awesome Fall! And BB comes first – in about a month – so I’ve got some time to focus my attention on other crap on TV that interests me.

      You know – I kept saying the same thing about how ho-hum this episode was – after the shockers of the last two, this felt like a rush to tie up loose ends. I loved the walking away shot – and yes, Jon Hamm IS attractive enough to bag two younger women. Don Draper not so much, but I’ll let him have it.

      I think the Lane suicide thing was just too rushed – it seemed so out of character to me, I needed more than 4 episodes to see him unravel. The decision to embezzle money, the suicide – it was so un-Lane! If anyone should’ve gone it should’ve been Peter.
      Speaking of – I really think the point of that was to show that he’s made their whole love affair up in his head because he craved passion. Beth was “realer” than his own wife, who’s a weird overly chipper person. Trudy seems so fake and hollow, Beth is a living, breathing woman with flaws. He became completely infatuated with her, and while I don’t believe she reciprocates at all, I think she likes the attention so she doesn’t dissuade him from feeling that way.

      Now that she’s forgotten him – what do you think he’s going to do next season? Will he be the “new Don”? Or is Don the “new Don”? Do you think Don cheated on Meggers?

  2. Adm. Rusty Shackleford June 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm · Reply

    The James Bond nerd in me had a little squee moment…not only did the episode close with the theme from “You Only Live Twice” the movie Peggy and Don were at was “Casino Royale”. SCDH or SCDC?

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella June 14, 2012 at 6:38 am · Reply

      Nice catch! What’d you think of the scene where Peggy looks out the window and sees two dogs fucking? My best gay Dirk thinks it represented Peggy’s hidden desire for Don but I just thought it was really funny.
      SCDH!!! All the way! Peter never took one for the team like Joan did, and I’m sure it’s what Pryce would’ve wanted. She should’ve demanded that in her contract.

      • Adm. Rusty Shackleford June 14, 2012 at 9:33 am · Reply

        Not quite sure about the dogs getting down…Maybe it was to show that Peggy still has a long way to go. “Its not Paris” she says to Don, damn right its not Paris, at least there she could of seen two winos doing that in the alley. All I know is after the shot of the partners against the window the counterpoint of the dogs and Sterling tripping balls made me lose my shit.

  3. Mark in Omaha June 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm · Reply

    SCDH & SCDC? What is that? I even Googled it and came up with nothing.

    Do I think Don cheated on Megan? Not yet, he’s still in the bar deciding what to do. Since he didn’t cheat at all this season my guess is he “falls off the wagon”. I’m still hoping for a bad demise for Mr. Draper/Whitman. Would like to see him come into the office and see some MP’s waiting for him.

    If Trudy lets him get an apartment in the city, then their marriage is pretty much over.

    Forgot to mention is my original post, the money Don took to Lane’s widow. She was kind of a bitch about it, but willing to cut her a huge amount of slack, she did just lose her husband in a horrific way, and now she has to wonder is he was cheating on her. Don could have done a hell of a lot more to tell her that her husband was an honorable person and didn’t engage in some of the activities the rest of them do. The $50,000 he gave her was her money. Does she still have a stake in the partnership? I’m guessing no. They owe her Lane’s equity in the agency, whatever his stake was. They could also have kicked in extra, the equivalent of his draw for the rest of the year. She needs a good lawyer, maybe we haven’t seen the last of her yet.

    If Roger doesn’t cool it with dropping acid, he’s going to fry some much needed brain cells. You never told me if you thought that was his ass or not.

    Since TV sucks this time of year, now would be a good time for you to read Super Sad True Love Story I was telling you about. You will love it. Still no resolution on my international super sad true love affair yet.

    • Alistair Blake Arabella
      Alistair Blake Arabella June 14, 2012 at 6:44 am · Reply

      I’ll never understand your intense hatred of Don Draper. I’m kidding. Yeah, I love Jon Hamm, but Don’s a tool. I think he did end up cheating on Megan – she’s been super annoying and needy this season.
      I could understand her anger, I didn’t like her “You had no right to fill a man like him with ambition” comment – wtf? Of course Don could’ve said something to quell the situation but he’s incapable of dealing with human emotions so he freaked and left, typical Don.
      That was most definitely Roger Sterling’s ass. Even if it was a body double, it was still totally awesome. If you haven’t guessed by now I’m so on Team Sterling. Dropping a bunch of LSD may fry some brain cells, but I’ve personally never missed them, so I doubt Roger will either. We’ve both got plenty of brain cells to spare in our brilliant noggins.
      I want to read that book! I need to get a copy – I’m sorry your international love affair is still unresolved, but I bet it makes for wonderful drama. Next thing up for me is reviewing “Lollipop Chainsaw” for my new gig at Stiff Magazine! Yours truly will be in print! Fame – awaits.

    • Adm. Rusty Shackleford June 14, 2012 at 9:41 am · Reply

      Sterling Cooper Draper Harris or Sterling Cooper Draper Campbell.

      • Alistair Blake Arabella
        Alistair Blake Arabella June 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm · Reply

        Team Harris. Totally.

  4. Mark in Omaha June 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm · Reply

    Thanks. I did “get it” 24 hours later.

    How about Peggy, Joan, Beth, and Mr. Whitebread with the rich father-in-law (not Pete, the guy who gave Pete his office). PBJ on White.

    Does anyone watch “The Pitch” right after Mad Men. Two weeks ago one of the firms was Bozell, they were doing a pitch for Junior Diabetes (Type I) they wanted a campaign with a new focus. I was thinking to myself, that’s funny there’s a Bozell Jacobs in Omaha. Turns out, it was the Omaha firm, now just Bozell. They must have filmed our segment in February, looked cold and snow on the ground. They acutally made Omaha look cool, not that it isn’t but we don’t want outsiders coming in and messing things up. Bozell won.

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