Some kind of astronaut

Oh, hey, Internet. I was too busy Sunday night drinking gin and tonics and trying to figure out what the hell was going on to write a blog post. I was too busy Monday recovering from gin and tonics (and doing work I actually get paid for) to analyze my reactions to that dreary little double episode.

“Dreary” doesn’t usually come to mind when Hawaii is the setting. As someone who spent a beach vacation last year reading about the Battle of the Somme and the advent of modern warfare*, I appreciated Don’s heavy beach reading. My reading, though, was “for fun,” or at least, for personal enrichment, motivated by my own curiosity. Does Don read without outside motivation? We’ve seen him read for pleasure, I guess — John Le Carré, Frank O’Hara. But the last time we saw him read something this deep, it was Exodus, for Rachel. (Remember Rachel?) It shouldn’t have surprised me to discover, in the end, that the pretty doctor’s wife was behind Dante. I was surprised anyway.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I started this blog last year when all my water-cooler talkers had moved away, and I had quit my job, so I didn’t have a water cooler to hang around anyway. There were several instances in the last season when I felt a sense of urgency about writing a reflection. I didn’t feel that after the Season 6 premiere, probably because we’ve been down most of these roads before.

“The Doorway” was like a sad-off. Think it can’t get sadder? Here’s middle-aged Don Draper, tossing his cookies into an umbrella stand. Think it can’t get sadder? Here’s Roger Sterling, trying to recover from his temper tantrum (“It’s my funeral!”) to make an authentic gesture — handing his daughter a jar of water from the River Jordan — but she just wants to talk about Roger’s money, and leaves the jar on the couch when she rushes away. (Roger turns down Jane’s offer to return his mother’s ring so that he can give it to Margaret, and instead, gives her something that actually has sentimental value. After hearing her investment-opportunity pitch, I think Margaret would’ve just pawned it anyway. But is that any wonder, for a daughter whose father has been so emotionally detached all her life?) But wait! Here’s Roger, finally sobbing into a shoe-shine box. He does feel!

It gets sadder! Here’s Betty, picking her way through a fallen-in hovel to look for… oh, wait. I don’t care about this subplot. Seriously, who is this girl with the dead mother? I hate it when TV shows drop in characters whose only purpose is to be a catalyst for another character’s actions, so this diversion irritated me. On the bright side: No Glenn!

Where can Betty’s character go, realistically? I’ve read some commentary that the creepy teen-rape comments she made to Henry seemed to indicate she’s clinically unhinged. I think she’s just desperate for attention and gets her rocks off being shocking — and how many ways can a suburban housewife be shocking? Has early mid-life crisis, dyes her hair? Oh, my stars! Maybe Betty will zzzzzzzzzz.

Oh, sorry, I nodded off there.

What else? Peggy is Don 2.0; improvements include bug fixes (fewer crashes!) and less chemical dependence. I loved her phone conversation with Stan.

The men are hairier than usual. Abe’s mustache made me legitimately laugh out loud.

I didn’t talk much about Don, did I? We know what’s in his future. Or do we? He, for his part, is obsessed with his future — at least, his future beyond this world. He’s awfully young to have given up on this life already, but then, so were Lane Pryce and Adam Whitman. So many times, I’ve thought Don was reckoning with his past: When Betty found his box, when he came clean to Faye. Megan knows, too. But their knowing isn’t enough, obviously; the stink of his past follows him around like that damn Zippo lighter. Remember this Don Draper? He’s so far removed from that image as to be nearly a different person.

In any case, 1968 was one of the most fascinating years in American history. Gruesome, exhilarating, hopeful, heartbreaking. I can’t wait to see where the show takes it. Tell me what you think!

Leftover thoughts:

  • The first episode of last season saw this. Compare it to the New Year’s party at Don and Megan’s in this episode, a season later; glamorous Megan, sitting around on New Year’s with a bunch of people years older than her who are complaining about how much college costs. And her husband is sleeping with one of them! She’s not long for this lifestyle.
  • We didn’t get any Increasingly Bad Decisions of Pete Campbell in this episode. Looking forward to more of those.
  • And more Joan, please.
  • Have I mentioned I love Peggy?
  • In case I missed anything.
  • ETA: Thought that occurred to me after I wrote this post: What if all the death foreshadowing is not about Don, but about Betty? “My mother’s dead”… the cop telling her he didn’t want to have to scrape her off the highway in a shovel. I’m not sure suicide is her bag, but she certainly makes enough reckless decisions that an accident wouldn’t be unlikely, as we saw again in this episode. (You read it here first.)

*To End All Wars. It’s a great book! I like to party.

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