Monday, May 11, 2015

Mad Men: A few bullets of The Milk and Honey Route

  • Am I the only person who thinks that Chris Ellis, who plays Bud, the motel owner, bears a striking resemblance to Ryan Cutrona, who played Gene, Betty's father? (I've seen these actors in other things and always get them confused.) They even sang the same song, George M. Cohan's "Over There." Back in season 2 or 3, Don told Gene not to talk about the war (WWI) and the German soldier he had killed. Now, Gene # 2 is telling him to talk about the war.
  • A sad storyline for Betty, which now, in retrospect, seems inevitable.  The fortuneteller in the episode"Tea Leaves," when she had her previous health scare, told her that she was much loved and respected, and at that point Betty knew it wasn't true. Now it is. 
  • Pete hasn't fared too well in the heartland. Remember Detroit? "Not great, Bob!" But he's right about the corporate clientele for jets, even though he can't see how corporate wealth will rule everything by the twenty-first century.  Now that he's figured out he is better with Trudy than without her, and she's agreed, maybe he has really changed, even if he can't convince his loathsome babe-magnet brother ("Women have always found me attractive") to give up his wandering ways.
  • How is Don getting money for these travels? Is Meredith paying his Diner's Club/AmEx bills while he is away? I can't imagine that he still has a job at McCann. 
  • Don is confessing and confessing and confessing, although never the whole story to the same person. How many people now know that he's really Dick Whitman? And he's told a version of the explosion where the real Don was killed before, although never with such emphasis on his own responsibility.  But as we learned from Peggy's sister's jealous confession to Father Gill way back in season 2, confession doesn't lead to absolution, just more punishment (for Peggy, once Father Gill hears what happened to her baby). 
  • Don looks happy at the bus stop because he has maybe finally saved someone. He tried to save worthless Sad Diana, using his con man persona, and he failed. But he can take the fall for Worthless Grifter Kid and give him his Cadillac and a fresh start.  He has saved one person, even though he doesn't seem to be able to save himself.  Does this mean he can stop the downward slide at last?
  • Sadly, probably not. I used to have hopes for some happy ending for Don, but this entire season has been about his accepting a continuing punishment and humiliation in expiation for his behavior the previous six seasons.  He's the scapegoat and takes all the sins on himself, even the ones he doesn't commit. It won't be a quick end because Matthew Weiner wouldn't think that would be punishment enough. Best case: a fix-it shop in a run-down section of a nondescript Midwestern town.  Worst case: Sally trips over him on Skid Row as he asks for spare change.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I cannot believe how this show is ending. I have no idea what next Sunday holds. But I do know that I'll have a drink in hand and will be happy that I don't have to go into the office the next day. :) Thanks for your ever-helpful analysis. :)

Flavia said...

I think Don seems totally happy--he's seemed oddly upbeat all this half-season, actually (not particularly depressed by the divorce, just ready for it to be over; not happy at work, but actively searching for something else), and with the exception of being smacked in the face with a phone book, pretty content all this episode. Whatever he's doing, he seems to want to be doing it.

(And he's left McCann, right? Duck asks Pete about whether Don really left a million dollars on the table, and though Pete doesn't confirm it, my sense is that Don's departure is well-known.)

Flavia said...

(Also, I too really enjoy your updates--just haven't been commenting because until this episode I've been watching 5-6 days late, in order to watch with my spouse!)

undine said...

Thanks, Fie! That sounds like a perfect way to see the finale. I'm going to be traveling and will miss it when it airs but hope that the ever-unreliable iTunes version will download.

Flavia, thanks! I try not to repeat Sepinwall or anyone, but I really like to put those thoughts down and hope that others enjoy them, too. You're right: he does seem happy and upbeat. He wants to be doing this, as you say, but it's not what we (okay, I) want him to do, which is what makes Diana and the rest so frustrating.

Speaking of frustrating: I could make a study/do a post about the recap world of MM. They all start to blend in, and some make some funny mistakes. Daily Beast seemed to think that Don had confessed to MURDER until it took down the post, and Vanity Fair's Katey Rich thinks that Don, in Alva, Oklahoma and Pete, in Wichita, Kansas are "in the same state."

undine said...

Shorter Katey Rich: "Flyover country, amirite? Who cares?"