Monday, October 19, 2009

Mad Men “The Color Blue” Has Betty Seeing Red

Photo from AMC

There are only three more episodes left of “Mad Men” this season, and the episode “The Color Blue” seems to be setting up viewers for a rocky finish. The events in the episode follow many of the previous episodes: Don sleeps with another woman, people drink and smoke a lot, Roger is jealous of Don, Betty seems conflicted, and business continues to go on at Sterling Cooper. But the events of this episode hint at big trouble for the Drapers and more changes down the road at Sterling Cooper.

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) continues his affair with teacher Suzanne Farrell (Abigail Spencer). While in bed, Suzanne tells Don about a student who asked how she knows the color blue looks the same as it does to him. She told the student she didn't know, but was glad he made her think about it again. Don said if he had to respond to that question, his job was to boil communication down to absolutes. There was an idea of blue that at least 45 percent of the population agreed was blue. He said that people don't see things differently because they want to. A very clinical response, to say the least. Don also meets her brother Danny (Marshall Allman) when he drops in unannounced. He has epilepsy and as a result, has a hard time keeping a job. Suzanne finds him another job, and Don helps out by driving Danny there. When Danny wants to get out of the car and take off before getting to his destination, Don gives him some advice, some money, and a business card before Danny exits. While Don gave Danny his business card for him to call him if he needs any help in the future, I suspect that his business card will trace back to Don in a way that maybe Don will not want.

Suzanne Farrell is also giving off the “crazy clingy mistress” vibe, when she surprises Don by getting on his train going in to work. Something about her strikes me as being a little too needy, and while she denies calling Don’s home and hanging up, she strikes me as the type that would do exactly that. Don seems to care about her, but if she were to endanger his “real” life, I suspect he would cut her lose in a New York minute.

Betty Draper (January Jones) is going through her normal daily routine. By the way, we find out the Drapers are not frequent churchgoers. Betty also wonders about the phone call that was a hang up and calls Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) to ask if it was him. He thinks she made this up as an excuse to call him, and while she didn’t make up the hang up call, I am sure in the back of her mind she felt it was a good excuse to call him. But Don’s secrets may be in real danger when he puts the money from his signing bonus into his locked desk drawer, and he accidentally leaves the key in his bathrobe. Betty finds it while doing the laundry when she hears it clanging around in the clothes dryer. Temptation taking over, she opens Don’s Pandora’s box, which includes the shoebox of photos and papers he has in that desk drawer, along with a bunch of money. The photos are one thing, but the deed and divorce papers to an Ann Draper are quite another issue. When Carla (Deborah Lacey) and the kids arrive home, she drops the box of photos on the floor, and tells Carla to take the kids out somewhere and not bring them back until dinner. Later, Betty stews while she waits for Don to come home, the box with her. When he doesn’t come home, she puts the box back in the drawer, puts the key back into his bathrobe, and goes to bed, alone.

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Paul Kinsey (Michael Gladis) are working on ad campaigns for Aqua Net and Western Union. When Paul thinks Peggy stole his thunder with the idea for Aqua Net, he vows to show her up. But while Peggy works on her ideas for Western Union with a clear head, Paul works in his office, using lots of alcohol, music, and maybe even a little bit of “pleasuring himself” in order to come up with the idea. When he runs into the janitor who is named Achilles, he gets what he thinks is the best idea of his life. Rather than write it down, however, he has more to drink and then passes out on the couch. Lois wakes him at 9:00 AM – why is Lois still working there after she ran over Guy’s foot with the lawnmower in the office in the episode ”Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency” ? When Paul can’t find his great idea from the night before, he realizes his big one got away. When Peggy hears this she seems sympathetic, and when confronted with Don’s displeasure that they have no good ideas, she gets Paul to admit he had a great idea but forgot to write it down. Even Don seems sympathetic, indicating it happens. But Peggy builds on a comment that Paul made earlier, and comes up with a great idea. Paul seems dejected but at the same time, may be now understands Peggy’s methods and how she can come up with ideas on the spot.

Also at Sterling Cooper, they are readying for a 40th anniversary party for the firm. Don is to receive a special honor, much to Roger Sterling’s (John Slattery) annoyance. Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) doesn’t want to attend at all. Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) finds out that Sterling Cooper is doing so well it is up for sale, something that clearly makes him unhappy but which brings joy to his homesick wife Rebecca (Embeth Davidtz). Lane manages to use Bert’s vanity to get him to attend. When Don calls Betty to tell her when he will be coming home to get her for the party, she doesn’t want to go, saying she feels sick. But Don blows it off, telling her to get into bed for a while and adds that he wants to show her off. Of course, she looks stunning, but at the same time, cold and stiff. After Roger gives a very flattering introduction for Don at the dinner – I am sure he was choking on every word – Don rises to the thunderous applause, and Betty looks as if she could care less.

As there are only 3 more episodes left, one has to think that Don’s past, and his cheating ways, will catch up with him. How much damage will be done to Betty in the process we can only guess, as she seems on the edge herself. As Betty assumes that Don himself was divorced – not Dick Whitman, to whom she is really married – will she just use that as her excuse to take the initiative with Henry Francis? Does she have any inkling that the problem isn’t the just divorce papers in that shoebox but the people in the photos? Will Suzanne Farrell get a little too clingy for Don and start showing up in other places like his work? Somehow I see a “fatal attraction” thing coming, it’s just that Suzanne seems way to needy for someone like Don. Regardless, with 3 episodes left, the stage is set for some big trouble.

AMC’s Video Recap “The Color Blue”

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