Thoughts on Mad Men: Season 7, Time Zones (SPOILERS)

(SPOILERS BELOW)

FREDDY! Wait, Freddy? As I was listening to him deliver that  campaign, all I could think was, “Freddy has come a long way since the pissing-the-pants days. I had no idea he was capable of anything of that caliber, and I did have a little nagging piece of a thought kernel in the back of my mind that I should have realized was worthy of inspection. I’m sure I was the only person who thought to myself, “Oh, of course, you fool,” when Freddy showed up at Don’s. But I digress. I wasn’t surprised to see it was Peggy he was pitching it to. I wasn’t even surprised to see she wasn’t the new Don instead of that dolt, Lou, but I was certainly disappointed. A word about the new Don: Dullsville. As someone who has worked in the advertising world before, albeit in the media buying piece of it, I can say that the creative arm of advertising is where the excitement is. If Lou had been sucking the life out of the creative area of the ad firm where I worked, I certainly wouldn’t have been desperately praying nightly to the gods of career advancement for any opportunity to jump to that area.

Don: Ever since Don and Sally shared that look at the end of season six while standing in front of the whorehouse where Don grew up, I have been waiting for this season to start with unbearable anticipation. Would this be, FINALLY, the season where Don would start to show some character growth? I felt that look they shared, as well as the fact that he took them to his childhood home in the first place, was a giant first step. So, I watched this episode with a hyper focus on Don, and Jon Hamm’s facial expressions as he plays Don with a tightly-controlled intensity that leaves me mystified as to the dearth of Emmy wins.

I am a little surprised to see that Megan and Don are still together. I thought the bicoastal preview was telling. They are clearly living separate lives and that is currently working for them. “You’re not here long enough for a fight.” In their first scene, I was struck how Megan just sets the scene by getting out of the car and walking over to Don. She just looks like California to me. And he looks like New York, or more simply, not California. She’s in the driver’s seat literally and figuratively out there. I am interested in seeing if there’s more from her perspective to explain Don’s lines, “She knows I’m a terrible husband.” “She doesn’t know that much, but she knows.” But this line, “I keep wondering, have I broken the vessel,” is the key to why they are still together, I think.

All of those references. Sorry, but I have to get back to work. The second time, surprisingly, is Don’s reason why he declines his attractive sleep partner’s invitation to party. “Why would I expect anything else?” “Well, blame Madison Avenue for that.” Those couple of references earlier in the episode to getting back to work are why it wasn’t a big reveal when Freddy walks into Don’s apartment. It was terrific, don’t get me wrong, but they had done their work in the episode to set up the reveal which I always appreciate. And I thought, “OK, it’s better at least. Don’s lied so many times. But when he said he’s got to get back to work he was actually getting back to work.” And in his mind, he probably thinks he’s close to legit since he’s still getting paid from SC&P for whom he’s doing the work through Freddy. Well, he’s doing work for other agencies, too, but I suspect that might be at Freddy’s urging. Of course, Freddy’s got bigger plans. He’s got the muse at his disposal, and he’s making a name for himself.

I am curious to see where the season leads, but I saw some signs of progress, with a clear signal that you should never bet on him. Watching him try to close those sliding doors had my feet sweating. I focus on the man falling in the opening credits as I’m supposed to, and I cast Don as that man again, though I’ve cast a few others over the seasons. That last scene was very effective. I wonder if Don will remain that man as the season progresses, or if they will try to have us substitute one or two others again. (A quick aside: does the clue to who will be the man falling in the opening credits lie in who remains in a suit during the entirety of the series? I’m sure that’s a stupid question as the opening credits have probably been meant to lead us astray all along. And here I am. Astray.)

Joan: My primary focus was on Don this episode, but after Joan pulled that fantastic Avon maneuver last season, she was my secondary focus. I’m thrilled to see her come into her own here. She’s always been the backbone of the agency, but it’s so good to see her do something for herself. She’s always done what she’s had to do to keep the agency going. Now, she’s obviously got the agency’s best interests in mind, but she’s making moves to further her own agenda. It’s great to see because I have no doubt she’ll succeed. “Actually I can answer that. You’re going to need another pad.” I loved watching her checkmate the shoe guy who wanted to bring the advertising in house. He was in over his head, and it was fun to watch her take him down.

Roger: I didn’t expect Roger to be embracing that lifestyle quite so fully, but it makes some sense with his ally Don gone, the agency leaning more Cutler, Chaough, rather than Cooper, Sterling, and the environment at work more productive and, therefore, even less Roger-friendly. He’s feeling lost, aimless, and alone. Clearly, the lifestyle doesn’t fit him well, though. I expect something tragic’s coming Roger’s way.

Ken: Head of accounts sure doesn’t agree with poor Ken, and I am so sad to see that the eyepatch is a permanent fixture. Makes for good physical comedy, I guess. Poor Ken. I love the guy and to see that he has effectively swapped places with Pete makes me die a little inside.

Peggy: It breaks my heart to see Peggy so sad at the end. All she has is work, and she works for a douche without a soul. But worse than that for her, she works for a douche without a soul who lacks talent. He has no vision or creativity. That creative meeting was polite and lifeless: lacking any creative fire and invention. There was plenty of ass-kissing which I’m interested in seeing explored further as Lou seems to me like all bark and no bite. Clearly that’s not correct since they all seem much more intimidated by him than they ever were by Don. Thank goodness she still has Stan. “None of this seems related to coffee. Buck up, chief.” I thought there was a romantic spark there between those two, and I am still hoping for that. I think they are good for each other. 

I talk to my dog all the time. She’s less than interested.

If I measure my ability to weave a fascinating tale by my dog’s attention span, I’d be forced to conclude that I’m no more interesting than a fallen pine needle……or that crud that lives at the bottom of the toaster. Actually, the detritus at the bottom of the toaster could be somewhat interesting if you were REALLY bored and wanted to sort the types of breads that you toast. Obviously, you’d have to be incredibly bored to resort to that kind of madness. But the pine needle is not getting any attention. Anyway, I refuse to let her disinterest deter me from regaling her with stories and anecdotes. I spend a great deal of time teaching her things, too. As she leaves the room in the middle of my ramblings, I just continue the story or lesson when she returns to the room. Sometimes she seems to be paying extra attention, so I talk fast to get as much content in as possible. It’s good to take advantage of her moments of clarity. And then she’ll leave again before I’m done. If I have an extended story or lesson, she does begin to get a little annoyed as it continues on over multiple visits. She’s busy after all and does get bored easily. But I’m not here to be her friend. I’m here to be her parent.

Lubrication is my middle name.

Made you look, huh? When I say lubrication, I’m speaking specifically of saliva because I’m an overenthusiastic producer of said substance. For example, I recently went to the dentist to get a crown done. Small segue. Do you think the teeth who sport crowns are lording it over the other teeth? (Hee. “Lording it” scores me at least half a point, right?) Are they all, “I have a crown. I’m tooth royalty. You are merely a tooth. But I? I am so freaking special that I wear a crown atop my enamel.” Or do you think that’s what the tooth says while the other teeth roll their eyes and respond, “Dude, the reason you have a crown is because you have a crack or something and are therefore damaged goods. You needed a crown to do your work for you and also to protect you from the rot. Because you are a sucky, shitty excuse for a tooth. So, shut it.” Anyway, I digress. As usual.

So, my tongue did its seductive tongue dance thing that it always does at my dental visits, and this time got burned. Literally. Stupid tongue. Drills get hot, you fool. Just stay put in the back of the mouth and keep out of the way of the dental tools as they go about their business. As my dentist and the hygienist neared the end of the process, it was time to put that gel stuff in that makes the impression for the permanent crown. It takes 5+ minutes to set, so they tell you to hang around and do your thing. Well, I was quite dismayed to discover that my thing appeared to be the alarming overproduction of saliva. I had to get up and retire to the restroom, and I was elated to discover that the timing of my restroom break was fortuitous as my mouth began leaking saliva at the rate of a fully-engaged faucet. Obviously the novocaine made my lips a little less proficient in the art of keeping things inside my mouth, but even that fact can’t account for the sheer volume of what I was producing. It was an amazing sight to behold. I stood there in front of the mirror and just watched the never-ending stream of saliva gush rapidly into the sink while wondering how in the hell I was going to actually complete my bathroom business. I didn’t have a drip cup to use or a spittoon to place beside the toilet allowing me to pee (sorry for the overshare, but it got real really fast, people!), so I just advised my bladder to put on her big girl panties and wait for the gel to be removed from my mouth. I grabbed a huge wad of paper towels, positioned them under my mouth to stem the tide of saliva, and high-tailed it back to the examination room terrified that someone would see the river flowing from my mouth. (I know you think I’m exaggerating here. It’s understandable based on the name of my website, but let me assure you that I’m telling it to you straight. I’m obviously a freak of nature, and also would clearly win in any strange sort of saliva skirmish. I, therefore, challenge each and every one of you to a saliva duel. Location and time TBD.)

When I returned to the room, I wetly mentioned that I was producing a lot of saliva. The hygienist said, “That’s why I handed you the tissue.” People, the tissue that she handed me was drenched before I even got it up to my mouth. I think it took one look at the saliva waterfall and knew it was no match for that type of saturation and resigned on sight. I had dispatched with that piece of nastiness in the restroom while frantically grabbing one paper towel after another. So, I just smiled sheepishly at her while nodding, and continued to look away lest the horror that was my saliva situation make itself known. I mean, seriously, a tissue? What I needed was a bath towel. Or, even better, a pail.

It reminded me that I’m not exactly a stranger to saliva situations. When I was pregnant with my first child, I went through two weeks where the taste and texture of my saliva was unbearable to me, and I carried around a spit cup, or tiny spittoon, where I would “delicately” spit my saliva every time there was enough in my mouth to dispose of. So classy. I contemplated stashing a giant wad of Bubble Yum (don’t make me sad and tell me BY is no longer available in the gum aisle) in my cheek so I could tell people that I had taken up the chaw, but people aren’t so much with that practice when you are carting around a fetus as it’s not good for the baby. So I just tried to hide what I was doing and take extra trips to the room of rest so I could do my thing probably causing folks to suspect a drug addiction. I think the truth would have been harder to swallow. Again with a pun. I apologize. Anyway, I was incredibly annoyed, of course, but oddly amused to suffer one of the stranger pregnancy woes because that is how I roll. I’m nothing if not off, or odd, or strange. Pick your favorite synonym for weird. Since I’m already eccentric, I’ve got a terrific headstart on my old woman persona.

Welcome to my veritable smorgasbord.

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