Mad Men – Recap & Review – The Crash

photo: amc

photo: amc

Mad Men
The Crash

Original Air Date: May 19, 2013

Ryan O – Staff Writer

This was a drug episode. It was unsettling and unnerving. Additionally, the episode portrays Don as a victim in a few different ways that might serve as a counterweight to last week’s portrayal of Don as a supreme dillhole.

Also, a lot of weird stuff happened, some of it drug-related, some not. Don has some serious flashbacks to his time as a teenager in the whorehouse.

The episode opens with Ken driving a car at night. The car is full of rowdy guys. One guy has a gun and he’s firing it out the window. Somebody covers Ken’s eyes as he drives. Ken’s scared, bordering on terrified. We don’t see how the ride ends.

You continue to feel that on-edge for the rest of the episode.

Ken comes into the conference room using a cane. Don, Ted, Roger, and Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) are trying to develop more ideas for Chevrolet. It’s not going well. Ken doesn’t have great news from Detroit. (The guys in the car? Chevy employees.) They’re going to have to work the weekend.

Don goes to his office. He gets a call from Sylvia. She basically tells him to stop being a creep and lurking in the hallway by her backdoor. Arnie found the cigarette butts Don had left there and thought Sylvia was smoking again. Don wants to talk more to her but she doesn’t want to listen. She hangs up. By the way, that’s one more way Don is dillhole. Stamping out cigarettes on the floor in a hall and leaving them there? Not cool.

Next, we find out that the G in CGC, Frank Gleason, has passed away due to pancreatic cancer.

Cutler tells Don “the doctor” will help Don and he’s in an office upstairs. Don goes upstairs and meets Dr. Hecht. (It sounded an awful lot like “Dr. Hex.” Don’t go to a doctor named Dr. Hex.) He tells Don he’ll be giving Don an injection of a proprietary formula of vitamins and a “mild stimulant.” Mild. Ha. (Other people who had the shot are Stan, Ken, Roger, Jim, and two younger creatives.)

Don goes down the stairs. The audio goes weird. He doesn’t recognize Moira (Ted’s secretary). Don pauses on the stairs and looks into Ted’s office’s open door. He sees Peggy putting a hand on Ted’s arm, comforting him about the news of Gleason’s death but for Don it recalls his time in the whorehouse and looking into a doorway to see a prostitute with a client.

For the sake of conciseness, I’m going to recount all of the flashback scenes at once.

First, Don’s coughing a lot (just as he is in the present). He’s told to go sleep in the basement to avoid infecting everyone else in the house. As he’s going downstairs, one of the women, Aimee, tells him to come into her room. She puts him to bed and nurses him. She feeds him soup. Young Don eventually gets better and recovers. She asks Don if he likes the small mole she’s drawn onto her cheek with an eyebrow pencil. He does. At this point, Aimee goes from nursing him to well, seducing him, I guess. Young Don isn’t really that into it but doesn’t stop her, either. Later, Aimee is thrown out of the house because of money issues. She reveals that she slept with Young Don, which drives his stepmother to beat him pretty viciously with a wooden spoon.

So, we know that Adult Don has a lot of issues with sex, love, and the role of women in his life. Losing his virginity to a prostitute who nursed him back to health while under the same roof as his stepmom goes a long way to explaining those issues. (Explain but not excuse.) Still, Don is a victim of circumstances: he didn’t ask for his mother to die, or his father, or to have to live in a whorehouse with his stepmother. He didn’t want to have sex with Aimee.

Present Day Don has his own problems. The drugs are playing havoc with Don’s perception of Time. He stands in the hall near his office, thinking. Once he captures the thought (and finishes with a flashback), it’s the next day. He goes into his office. He’s flipping through magazines as quickly as he can. He goes out into the hall and Ken is there. He tells Ken he wants to get into the room with the Chevy guys. Ken starts to tap dance. Yes, tap dance. Dawn is there and definitely sees it and has the same “Is this really happening?” expression on her face that I did, so I do feel confident it actually happened.

Meanwhile, there’s Alice in Wonderland talk in the creative lounge, of course. One shot has made Don smaller.

Don comes in to the creatives and gives them a very inspiring Don Draper Inspirational Speech ™. Peggy sees right through the inspirational fluff and wants to know if Don has an actual idea. No, he doesn’t, but he won’t stop working on it. Peggy sees through Don.

Suddenly, it’s the next morning. Wendy, a young 20-something we haven’t seen before, is in the creative lounge playing with I Ching. Jim and Peggy are back from Frank’s funeral. Don wants Peggy to go into the archives and look for a soup ad they did years ago. Apparently, he’d asked Ginsberg to look the previous day but Ginsberg couldn’t find anything. Don insists Peggy look for it.

Don walks down the hall to his office. It’s hours later. Now, Wendy is in his office. She has a stethoscope and asks Don, “Do you want to get it on?” Just as the prostitute was a conflation of caring and sex, so is Wendy. “I want to listen to your heart. I can’t hear anything. Aww, I think it’s broken” “You can hear that?” Don means his heart; Wendy means the stethoscope.

Don’s in the archives, searching. He finds what he’s looking for: an old oatmeal ad (not soup, which was what Aimee was feeding him). The copy reads “Because you know what he needs.” A mother stands over her little boy. The woman has a beauty mark in the same place as Aimee. Sylvia, you might remember, has a similar beauty mark, too.

The creatives decide to play William Tell with Stan as he stands underneath a drawing of an apple. Stan ends up with an X-acto knife in his arm. (Hey kids! Don’t do drugs!) Peggy takes him to bandage it up in her office.

Don is at Sylvia’s back door, leaning on it. He can hear the radio playing in the kitchen. He knocks but there’s no answer. He seems to fall asleep right against the door.

In Peggy’s office, Stan is more than a little flirty with her and they kiss. Peggy definitely seems to enjoy it but puts a halt to it, saying she has a boyfriend. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this is the guy for Peggy. Stan talks about being hurt. He lost his cousin very recently — killed in action in Vietnam. Peggy is sorry to hear about his cousin. She tells Stan to experience the loss, not to dampen it with sex and drugs.

Don goes back to his office. He shows Peggy the oatmeal ad. She’s never seen it. Don starts talking about the message he wants to convey. He says if the strategy works, it’s bigger than buying a car. He’s sweaty and worked up and not making a ton of sense. “Let’s say I get her face-to-face. How do I capture her imagination? I have a sentence or two.” Peggy doesn’t understand that Don is talking about Sylvia but how could she? Peggy and Ginsberg don’t understand what he’s been doing. Don leaves and Peggy goes to follow him. She sees Jim standing in the hall, looking into a partially open doorway. Peggy looks in. Wendy and Stan are enjoying a moment together. She walks away, disgusted (more with Jim or Stan? I don’t know).

Monday. Ted tells Don that everything that was done over the weekend is gibberish. Someone even spelled, “Chevy” wrong. Don tells Ted he can’t do anything more than supervise other people’s work for Chevy. Ted’s annoyed with this but Don says, “Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse.” Don would know.

Sally and her brothers have their own story. While waiting to go, Betty talks to Sally about her (micro mini) skirt and where it came from. Sally earned the money from Megan for babysitting her brothers on occasion while at the Drapers’. Betty is clearly not pleased with that (or the skirt). Also, Sally, um, how do I say this without sounding creepy? Well, Sally looks a bit older than the last time we saw her, I guess.

The three kids are watching TV on the Drapers’ bed. Megan is getting ready to go out. Don calls. He’s not coming home since he’s going to continue working. Megan is annoyed since he was supposed to take care of the kids while she went out. She’s going to a play and to meet some producers about possibly working in a play. She decides Sally can watch the boys.

Later, Sally hears something while reading in bed. She walks down the hall. There’s middle-aged African-American woman in the dining room going through a closet. She claims to have cared for Don when he was little. She says her visit is a surprise and that she has a key. Sally is very skeptical. The woman offers to fix Sally some eggs. The woman puts her large purse on the table and you can hear things clanking together in it. Sally says she’s never heard of this woman. But, the woman knows it’s Donald Draper’s apartment. Bobby wakes up and wants to know what’s going on. The woman goes into the master bedroom and Sally calls the police but she doesn’t finish before the women comes out and takes the phone from Sally and says the girl was playing a prank.

Eventually, Don comes home to the police, Megan, and Henry and Betty all in the apartment with the kids. The woman had robbed a number of apartments in the building. Betty is angry with Don and Megan that they left Sally alone and this happened.

In other developments during the course of the episode, there’s still no name for the new agency, Dawn is okay (there’s no mention of her absence last week), and Betty looks a bit slimmer and is back to blonde. Also, Wendy? Is the dead Frank Gleason’s daughter.

In the end we’re left with the idea that Don’s heart is damaged or even broken and we’re starting to see why. Who loves Don? Who cares for Don? Who does Don love or care for?

Best Lines:

“I’ve had loss in my life. You can’t dampen it with drugs and sex.” — Peggy to Stan

“You have a great ass.” “Thank you.” Stan and Peggy

“I asked her everything I know and she had an answer for everything. Then I realized I don’t know anything about you.” Sally to Don about her experience with the woman who broke in

“Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse.” — Don to Ted

“I can’t hear your heart. I think it’s broken.” Wendy to Don

Best Shot:

The opening scene with Ken in the car is legitimately scary. You hardly know what is happening let alone what will happen.

We get a shot of Don working manicly, flipping through magazines and tearing out pages. It’s shot up from the floor with the desk cutting through the shot. It’s an unusual angle and it only lasts a moment as we see Don toss things on the floor but it emphasizes Don’s frenzied state of mind.

Song over the end credits:

“Words of Love” by The Mammas and the Pappas, which was released in 1966.

What do you expect to happen in the coming weeks? Let’s hear your Two Cents!

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