Mad Men-The Runaways-Jon Hamm

There are only two episodes left of  Mad Men this year and after last night you’re going to regret it. “The Runaways” are three, and though they all run in different directions, without them we’d be lost. Don Draper is on his way, but who knows where he’ll land.

The Players:

  • Director: Christopher Manley
  • Writers: David Isesron and Matthew Weiner
  • Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley, Jessica Parè, Kevin Rahm, Jay R. Ferguson, Mason Vale Cotton, Ben Feldman, Harry Hamlin, Caity Lotz, Allan Havey, Sola Bamis, Jenny Wade, Kit Williamson, Jill Alexander, Stephanie Drake, Jacob Guenther, Keith Sellon-Wright, Heidi Fecht, Daniel Brunnemer Hall

Episode Title: “The Runaways”

Don gets a visitor that Megan has to deal with while Harry finds a new work ally. Stan mortifies a superior while Peggy helps Ginsburg with a hunch.

The Good:

  • The First Runaway: Stephanie Horton appears out of nowhere on the phone, stranded, penniless, extremely pregnant and in need of Don’s assistance. Her proximity to Megan’s Laurel Canyon bungalow causes him to lead his kind-of niece there with plans to come out and see her immediately. She shows up at Megan’s very obviously in need, yet all the young Mrs. Draper can focus on is her beauty—at first. All it took was one remark from Stephanie’s freshly showered joy about already knowing all of Don’s secrets for Megan to turn cold.  The change was infinitesimal, but any woman can detect when another feels that some arbitrary line has been crossed where their husband is concerned. The money Megan offered was a clear get out signal, and Stephanie took it in stride. Megan knew more than Betty did about Don when they first got together, but living with him hasn’t forced her into that solitary place inside him that he leaves for few and rare moments.
  • The Fallout: Megan looked desperate to prove something. Directly after delivering the news Stephanie’s, “abrupt,” departure she flounced off to the market, high on the notion of knowing what Don wants from the store. It’s hard to say what she was after at her party.  Perhaps she thought dancing with her friend would make Don jealous, though it rattled him, she could see Don wasn’t too concerned.  Her counter attack was a surprise to even us—a threesome with friend Amy who’d been giving Don the eye all night is definitely one approach. Whatever she expected from it didn’t happen. Megan got a great good morning kiss out of the deal, but her reaction to Don’s immediate departure for New York proved it. Stephanie still called, Don still smiled at her voice, and he still left Megan for the company he started. While Megan made it clear she’s fed up with Don’s secret keeping, she’s not ready to relinquish her hold on him. It’s a race to see what will win out, her insecurities, or her insistence that she stay with her husband.
  • The Magic: Don raced back to New York for a vital reason thanks to Harry Crane. His surprise appearance at Megan’s party gave Don an out from the actors and their melee. For us, it was nice to see Harry bumble his way through accepting Don’s invitation to go off and drink alone. With everyone taking their turns to put Don in their place it’s delightful to see that some of the original underlings are still properly fearful of Don. Passing over his comments on Ted Chaough’s uselessness, his hint about Jim and Lou’s secret plan to net a Phillip Morris account, thereby facilitating Don’s forcible removal from the company was exactly what we needed. It’s been too long since we’ve seen Don do what he does best—kill in meetings. The look on Jim and Lou’s face when Don entered the back room of The Algonquin unannounced would have been enough to satiate. Cutting Jim and Lou off at the pass and offering the company a chance to force him to apologize and use his knowledge of the opposition on all sides was beautiful.  So amazing in fact, that upon exiting the hotel Lou called Don incredible without a hint of sarcasm. And though Jim snidely doubted this could save Don, we think saving himself is exactly what he’ll do.
  • The Second Runaway: If Don can fight his way back so can Ginsburg right? Last week he was the voice of our emotions, squawking about how the new computer would force them—the creative team—out. This week his unease manifested into real psychosis. The first red flag should have been his shouts at the machine to, “Stop humming, you’re not happy,” but Peggy mistook it as a pass at the machine’s secretary. Stuffing tissue in his ears during a Saturday work session didn’t help, and stumbling across Jim and Lou’s secret Commander Cigarette meeting masked by the noises of the loaner computer didn’t help Ginsburg’s state of mind. Bailing to Peggy’s house to finish work, he tried to procreate to stop the machine’s homosexual agenda, like Jim and Lou were unable to. Ordering him out didn’t stop it; on Monday Ginsburg presented Peggy with freshly declared affections, a calm demeanor, and his right nipple in a jewelry box. As he was wheeled away screaming, Peggy realized the truth of his misguided ramblings—the machine will slowly render some of them useless. It’s a shame to loose such a passionate and engaging character, but it’s hard to regret such a poignantly written unraveling.
  • Family Life: We weren’t wrong to suspect trouble in paradise. Henry and Betty are at odds, and for once we’re on her side of things.  At some impossible neighborhood function involving stops at multiple homes, the first stop is the Francis mansion.  Neighbor’s comments on the war create an awkward moment for the dynamic duo.  Betty voiced her support for the Vietnam War whilst Henry supports the president and, “Leaving while the leaving’s good.”  His dismissal of her opinion caused Betty to fake a headache and leave him to the commoners.  His outburst upon returning home was the reminder we needed that these women are still stuck in 1969.  Henry’s demand that Betty let him do all the thinking seems to have been the final spark to push Betty into action.  Though his apology looked more like an argument, Betty’s decided it’s time to do something with herself.  Anything’s possible we suppose—Betty speaks Italian after all.
  • The Runaway Returns: The Francis’ fight has more weight when the kids are afoot, mainly because we think Henry’s real displeasure is Betty’s abysmal mothering. Betty’s attack is brief but costly; Sally is brought home thanks to a sword fighting incident with golf clubs breaking her nose. As usual, Betty is angry for the wrong reason, which Sally immediately picks up on.  Going on the offense, she heads off her mother’s attack about her ruined face by owning up to the injury marring the one thing her mother values.  At this point we’re glad there’s someone that can put Betty in her place.  Though for once Sally’s scene with Bobby rivaled that with her mother.  That Betty would go as far as stopping the boys from seeing their sister while she’s home is a little startling, but not at all out of character.  Bobby’s fear at Betty and Henry’s separation is no surprise either, he’s a child of divorce, but Sally’s assurance of their union is.  Inviting her brother to bunk with her, and apologizing for being unable to facilitate his understandable desire to runaway was a sweet scene.  At least Bobby has some kind of voice these days.
  • Scouts Honor: We should have known the Ginsburg thing was serious when he didn’t latch on to lambasting Lou.  Stan’s discovery of Lou’s comic Scouts Honor in the opening scene brought the funniest creative meeting of the season, which isn’t saying much with Lou around, but still.  Take note, the creative guys are still toking up in their office, we’d have thought the progressive minded Jim or wet blanket Lou would have put a stop to that by now.  They could have drawn doodles behind Lou’s back for weeks had they not been in the bathroom quoting lines at the urinals in the very public commode that Lou was also sharing.  The fallout at the meeting was entertaining.  Lou didn’t hesitate to verbally accost Stan for his tomfoolery.  Here we’re treated to Stan’s utter disregard for shame.  Without it, the meeting would have been for naught.  The way he gave no care to how Lou might feel pleased us as much as Don’s incredulous had gesture at Stan’s callous remark to his boss.  We do hope Ginsburg gets better, but if anyone gets a shot at Peggy, it should be our favorite funnyman Stan.

The Quotable:

  •  “She can handle the homework, I’ll handle the silver.”—Betty
  • “From now on keep your conversation to how much you hate getting toast crumbs in the butter and leave the thinking to me.”—Henry
  • Betty: “I suppose you’d rather do it in a barn in Farmington.”  Sally: “It’s a nose job, not an abortion.” Betty: “I’m going to break your arm next.”  Sally: “Don’t worry about me finding a man.  I’ve got you to keep me in line.”

Overall:

“The Runaways” proves that whatever the first half of season seven is building to, it’s one tremendous swam song. Don is proving unstoppable—every tiny victory is a major leap for our heart. Ginsburg’s insanity was the perfect depiction of how creative could be pushed out of the office.  He and the other runaway brought real issues to light, especially in the marriages on the show.  No matter if Lou wants to take Don’s advice, last night proved what we already know. Not only does Lou have a lot to learn from the best, but there’s little chance of him shining with Don right down the hall.

Rating: 10/10

Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.

What did you think of the episode?