Love Among the Ruins
August 25, 2009
I’ll admit, the second episode of season three left me a little cold. Some of that has to do with how Mad Men seasons are structured: there’s a lot of stuff being dropped on us right now, and it’s hard to tell what the significance is going to be of a lot of it later on. But a lot of it certainly doesn’t feel very significant.
Examples A and B: Peggy’s one night stand, and Roger’s feud with his ex-wife and daughter over whether or not he can bring his new wife to his daughter’s wedding. The one night stand subplot, I can see how that could potentially end up being important later; the guy said he hangs around Madison Avenue a lot, and he’s getting a degree in engineering, so maybe he’s somehow connected to the demolition and reconstruction of Penn Station?
If that’s the case, it will probably play better on DVD. But the whole inter-Sterling family strife subplot … eh. I’m not sure I want to see that crop up in further episodes. We weren’t really made to feel Roger’s pain in those scenes, and it just generally felt like a narrative dead end.
So, sadly, the whole “where are they going to stick Betty’s dad” thing ended up being the most compelling part of the episode. That wasn’t a bad subplot to watch, per se; it just wasn’t enough to sustain an episode on its own. I did like Betty’s slimy brother, and it’ll be interesting to see how having her father around will affect other aspects of Don’s home life. But the best exchanges in the episode both happened back at the increasingly neglected Sterling-Cooper offices: first, when Don and Peggy argue over the campaign for Patio soda, and again when Don’s new English overlord informs him that they’re dropping the Penn Station account.
Don’s California trip aside, the most interesting stuff on the show has always happened within the confines of Sterling-Cooper, with all of its palace intrigue and internal power struggles. This episode strayed pretty far from that, but hopefully we’ll be getting back to it soon.