Tuned In

Mad Men Watch: Who Let the Dogs Out?

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SPOILER ALERT: Before you read this post, tell your mother you have company, turn the TV up really loud and watch Mad Men.

So: Duck gets his dog back; Pete continues to be a dog; Peggy discovers she’s getting dogged by her coworkers. Anything else to add?

It’s not simply because I am still kind-sorta-technically still on vacation until tomorrow that I don’t have so much to say about last night’s Mad Men. This was probably the most serial and least focused of the episodes so far this season, which has featured a number of tight-focused character portraits. It would have been interesting, for instance, to have spent a little more time putting some flesh on Duck, whom we heard at the end of last season had had some kind of meltdown in London and seen his marriage fall apart. Having seen him spend some time with his kids, his (forcibly repatriated) dog, and Don, he still seems to have a wall around him, though when we last we left him he had ditched the pooch and sought out a bottle of something to dissolve said wall with.

Otherwise, I’m undecided what to make of the concluding scene, with Don apparently overcome with guilt by the site of his daughter rapturously staring at him as he shaves. I’m not sure, really, what to make of his entire affair with Bobbie, or what need exactly she fills for him. Her main attraction for him seems to be that he can despise her as much as he despises himself for sleeping with her. (Incidentally, was that blood-rushing-through-the-ears sound as he was overcome at the bathroom mirror a reference to his high blood pressure? It seemed like the sort of situation in which Tony Soprano would have been felled by a panic attack.)

In the meantime, Peggy’s story of reasserting herself at work continued, but it was not nearly as strong, I thought, as last week, in which she got advice from Bobbie on being respected on the job. (Last week, by the way, was the first time I found Bobbie’s character really compelling; she’s more interesting in a different context than when she’s alone in a room with Don.) For Peggy to confront the fact that she’s being left out of business outings made sense and was necessary, but wasn’t it a little on-the-nose for it to have happened in the context of a bra campaign? We would have seen her feeling left out of the boys’ club if she had been snubbed for an outing to the bar for a liquor campaign, say, or if she had been ignored in a Playtex pitch meeting alone. Having both happen at once seemed uncharacteristically boldface-and-underline for Mad Men. (On the other hand, nice interchange with Joan, who responded to her request for help by reminding Peggy of how superior she, in turn, has acted toward Joan. Not unlike one of the boys.)

One more little quibble: I watched this episode on DVD, but did the live on TV version also kick off with a song by the Decembrists? A little jarring, no? Or has Mad Men used more contemporary songs before that I’ve just forgotten?

Anyway, maybe I’m just a little crabby at my vacation being over. See you in the office Tuesday. Be sure to bring a dog.