On the most recent episode of AMC’s hit drama Mad Men, the women took the front seat. And surprisingly, the episode didn’t even feature two of its most prominent female characters, Betty Francis and her daughter Sally Draper.
However, we saw enough of Betty doing nothing and Sally being rebellious in the season premiere, so this was a nice break.
Over at Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price, the gang was revisited by a physical and symbolic demon from their past – Herb Rennet, the scummy account executive from Jaguar cars who considered SCDP’s advertising bid in exchange for a night with Joan. Joan, in turn, saw this sexual escapade as a way to secure her position as a partner within the firm.
Joan, who remained idle in the previous episode, showed her claws when Rennet entered her office, and Don finished him off by standing up for the firm’s values over his wishes.
In the Campbell household, Peter and Trudy entertained their new neighbors, one of whom was a young blonde that flirted with Peter. With his new Manhattan apartment he purchased in between seasons, he was able to bring his new beau, Brenda, into the city and start an affair with her.
We assume that her husband had found out about her affair as she came knocking on the Campbell’s door in the middle of the night, covered in blood. After cleaning her up, Trudy, played by Alison Brie, puts the pieces together and makes a powerful statement to Peter that she will not have a divorce, but instead he will have to remain out of the house for good. This dramatic declaration comes just days after she whimsically played with puppets in her other role as Annie on NBC’s Community. Her versatility as an actress is impeccable and I commend her for her talent.
On the other side of Madison Avenue, Peggy tried to be nice and it hurt to watch. After scolding her employees, she tried to make up for it by reminding them how she valued their work – interjecting that her standards are high for them, as she was once in their position. But her attempt was rather fruitless. As a viewer, I tried to remember moments when Peggy was genuinely nice, but then I remembered that face she made after giving birth to a child she refused to look at. Its moments like that when I remember why Peggy Olson is one of the greatest characters on television.
At the Draper residence, Don is going on with yet another affair – this time with Sylvia, the wife of the heart surgeon who lives on the floor below his flat. However, the most intimate scene of the episode came when she comforts a sorrowful Megan, who reveals that she had a miscarriage three days before. The heartless Sylvia consoles her, but then goes on to sleep with her husband. This makes me wonder who the viewer should see fault in – Don or Sylvia?
I think this question is answered in Don’s flashback, in which we see the brothel that an adolescent Don grows up in. This experience clearly corrupted him into becoming the womanizing man he is. So he has a reason for his affair (although unjust), but does Sylvia? Most of Don’s mistresses aren’t fully explored and developed by the writers, but I’m confident that Sylvia, who lent Don the copy of Dante’s Inferno last episode, will become a central figure in this season.