Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mad Men - "The Beautiful Girls"

Joan (Christina Hendricks), Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), and Faye (Cara Buono) enjoy an uncomfortable silence together.
Photo Credit: AMC
Review by Paul Steven Brown

'Mad Men'
Season 4 - Episode 9
"The Beautiful Girls"

As the episode title and the picture above suggests, this episode of 'Mad Men' focuses on the three most powerful women at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Joan is in charge of the secretary pool and is charge of the day to day operations of the office. Peggy is a copy writer that works directly under Don Draper. Dr. Faye is a freelance researcher, but has become an important resource for the firm. Oh, and they got man troubles, bad.

Joan is adjusting to life without her husband around. Dr. Rapist has gone off to basic training and will be heading off straight to Vietnam immediately upon completion. The only person that she seems to have anything resembling a friendship is with her old flame Roger. She's able to keep her emotions in check until the two are robbed at gun point following a friendly diner after work. The terror of the event causes her to reach out to Roger for comfort. Her attitude the next day makes it clear that it was a one time thing and that Roger shouldn't push for more. Knowing Roger, that might not be so easy.

Peggy continues to struggle with her idealism and her growing feminism while within the walls of SCDP. Abe certainly puts her in an uncomfortable position with his written piece that could possibly get her fired. Unfortunately, her position is precarious since she is a woman in a male dominated industry in 1965. If she decides to rock the boat, as with her statement about Harry Belafonte and the Fillmore account, it's going to get noticed more than if she were a man.

Dr. Faye and Don seem to be catching on like a house on fire, until Sally shows up at the office having run away from Betty. Faye is certainly attracted to Don and is aware of his divorce and children, but she isn't really ready for it to be part of equation. Don doesn't help things when he practically throws her at Sally, twice, as a buffer. After Faye explains her feelings about the situation, Don for his part does seem to sincerely understand her concerns. It's good to see him with a strong independent woman closer to his age, so I hope Don doesn't screw this one up.

Poor Sally Draper. This is a child in pain. I do believe she misses her father, but I think her desire to get out from under Betty is greater. Still, it would be interesting to see Don juggle being a single dad, his blossoming relationship with Faye, and work. It also doesn't hurt that Kiernan Shipka is growing into a really decent actor. You can see her try to charm her father with breakfast, which works into a half day at the zoo. Also, she doesn't oversell the tantrum at the end of the episode. The emotions are there, but she doesn't turn into a caricature of a bratty child.

I'm growing concerned over the lack of Pete Campbell lately. He had two lines last week and he appears in this episode without any dialogue. Ken's return also seems to have pushed Pete out of moments and meetings that would normally be his. On the bright side, we are getting more Peggy and Joan than we did last season. Still, Pete Campbell is a character that I want to see more of due to the potential of growth that is still there to be developed.

Let us also pay a moment of respect for Mrs. Blankenship. Though I wasn't her biggest fan, it was sad to see how much her death effected Roger and Bert. Hopefully, Joan will supply Don with another secretary that he will no chance of sleeping with.

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