TV in Review: Mad Men, “Dark Shadows”
May 15, 2012 11 Comments
I’m back in California with a stack of papers that ain’t grading themselves, but I can’t think straight any more. True, Mad Men isn’t a show where one can turn off the ole noggin’, but I’m gonna try. What could be a better pick-me-up than an episode titled “Dark Shadows”? That will lift my spirits, right?
Guess who’s back, back again? Betty’s back, tell a friend.
I was glad to reconnect with Betty. She’s been gone too long. There continue to be moments where I really identify with this woman…
…although honestly, the Weight Watchers meeting creeps me out, and its not just he pablum uttered by the woman in charge. It’s simply too obvious by now how much damage our collective weight obsession wreaks, particularly on women of the female persuasion.
Of course, when Betty manipulates her daughter in order to hit out at Don, she loses me again. There’s no excuse for that. Okay, so Betty is frustrated. So is everyone.
PEGGY: Am I the only one who can work and drink at the same time?
There are some moments spent in the light. Don and Megan and kids really look like they’re out of a catalog. You know, like from an ad or something…
…whereas work doesn’t seem as much fun…
…while Betty and Henry’s life appears to involve honking horns and circling the block. Betty enters Don’s apartment and reacts as if she’s seeing the lost domestic comfort she could have opted for, rather than the more sterile upscale world of Henry Francis.
Don’s apartment, on the other hand, is not looking so sterile.
Don is having a hard time getting the creative juices flowing, but he does still have some of his old touch, even while Michael continues to be a promising new star at the office. Who knows where he gets his creativity?
STAN: Why a pig?
MICHAEL: I don’t know, but everybody laughed.
My favorite moments in the episode probably surrounded Michael, both with his creative ideas, and with his brewing resentment.
MICHAEL: I feel bad for you.
DON: I don’t think about you at all.
This wasn’t an episode where one or two plots dominate. Instead, lots of smaller baby plots seem to circle each other. For example, Roger and Jane have one last (?) fling, indicating that their relationship hasn’t fully run its course yet.
ROGER: Jane and I are getting divorced.
Pete is in the background, keeping a boil on his anger. You know how occasionally Mad Men will slip into a dream, and fool the viewers with a few seconds of fantasy? Well, sometimes the fantasy is so obvious that we immediately recognize it as a dream.
PETE: I thought you were done with me.
BETH: I forgot you, and then I saw you in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.
“Dark Shadows” is a Mad Men about secrets and not keeping secrets. My secret is that it felt subpar to me, like a placeholder episode. (I guess I’m not good at keeping secrets.) Although whenever I express disappointment, someone comes along to point out why they still liked the episode. I’m fine with that. Sweep those clouds away!
AMC first broadcast Season 5, Episode 9 of Mad Men on May 13, 2012.
Polentical: TV in Review, “Lady Lazarus” (Season 5, Episode 8)
Suspended, by Suspenders: Mad Men Season 5, Episode 9: Suicide Sweepstakes
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