Film and TV

Mad Men: Hare Harry

There were several odd turns of events over at old Sterling Cooper Draper Price during last night's episode, titled "Christmas Waltz." Some of the plot points that emerged from the episode were telling and foreshadowing, and then there was the "what the hell was that all about?"

The episode opens with Lane receiving a phone call that an apparent debt he has had to the UK has been settled, keeping him out of jail. I don't recall this news ever coming into play before and if so, it had been greatly glossed over, so this was a bit of a plot-stretched surprise. The shock to Lane, however, was that he was going to need to come up with eight thousand smackers in two days.

So what does he do? First he extends the company's line of credit, and then he lies to the partners and tells them of a surplus in monies and persuades them to give out holiday bonuses. The partners are pleased, but want to wait until the actual holiday for disbursement. So a desperate Lane grabs a check from the company's checkbook, forges Don's signature and steals eight grand. This will not turn out well. We've been seeing Lane's financial troubles from the start of this season as well as the company's. This one is going to hurt.

Joan is served with divorce papers from her Army brat husband and flips the eff out. Don walks in on the hysteria, and to calm Joan down, convinces her to come take a test drive with him in a Jaguar. Jag is a very coveted potential client and has recently invited the company (and every other ad agency in town) to pitch ideas. Joan bites and the two wind up getting wasted at a bar, truly enjoying themselves.

Joan doesn't get enough screen time. She is a brilliant character, strong and confident but with a very tragic side. For a moment there, you might think the two are just drunk enough to do something they will regret. Joan reminds Don of how happy he is with his wife and that maybe the second marriage's a charm. Don agrees, sort of. Things have been weird since Megan left the company and took up acting full time. Her actor friends berate Don's work and he is dragged to see boring theater.

When Don arrives home, late and drunk, Megan yells at him furiously. She senses his unhappiness and remarks that Don used to love work long before he loved her. It's a true statement, but was out of context in the conversation. It was a forced piece of exposition, and the second one of the episode.

Sometimes Mad Men brings in plot points such that even if you don't know where they are going, you know they are coming back. And then there are times when... well, you have no idea what they were thinking. Remember Paul Kinsey? He was a copywriter. He had a beard and smoked a pipe and was the cool cat of the office, until they dumped him at the end of season three. Well, he made an odd cameo in last night's episode. Kinsey has become a Hare Krishna, shaved head, robes and all. He badgers Harry enough to come meet him, wherein Harry is given hugs and love and chanting in an attempt to get him to join the Krishnas. Sort of. Paul really wants Harry to take his spec Star Trek script over to NBC because he needs a job to take care of his Krishna girlfriend.

Naturally the script is crap, but what is odder is that Paul's Krishna honey pays Harry a visit and "seduces" him on his office desk. When they are done with the deed, she tells Harry that she slept with him so that he would leave Paul alone and, also, she knows his script is crap. She is the "worst girlfriend ever."

Her plan backfires completely. Instead of leaving Paul alone, Harry tells him the script is incredible and gives him $500 to go to Los Angeles to make a go of it in Hollywood. End scene.

While I enjoyed seeing Paul -- he was always a favorite character of mine -- I wasn't sure where the show was going with this one. Harry's a good guy (despite cheating on his wife); we already know this. How will any of this come back into play?

The episode ends with the announcement that Mohawk airlines, SCDP's big client, would be temporarily suspending its advertising, putting more financial strain on the company. Not good. But there will still be Christmas bonuses. Good? Bonuses to the staff means subtracting money the company doesn't have from money they don't have. Then Don gives a stirring Draper-style speech about Jaguar and how they will all be working day and night to land them as a client. The room explodes into applause. Don is back. Again. This is not the first time an episode has ended with a "Don is back"-type moment and then he wasn't.

There were major highlights to the episode. Roger and Joan have an honest conversation about the fact that her baby is his, but she refuses to ever tell the kid.

Don has been getting, wonderfully, more Don-like, with lots of brooding going on in this episode.

The scene between Joan and Don was incredibly good and filled with sexually charged banter by two sad individuals. And Megan threw macaroni across the room.

We are getting down to the wire here, with only three episodes left of the season, and this is usually just about the time when things get going. As I see it, Lane's financial fabrication is going to be the plot point hanging in the balance of whether the company breaks or not. They need Jaguar to drink the Draper Kool-Aid. In Don's rousing speech. he told his team that when an ad agency gets their first car client, they have finally made it. SCDP better get Jaguar or the "you know what" will hit the fan.

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig