Mad Men: The Runaways, Review

Mad Men lets a nip slip in The Runaways episode.

Freddy Rumsen, of all people, the pants-wetting former monument to SC&P shame, aided Don Draper on his path to redemption last week. Against any of my predictions, this secondary character, almost randomly, arrived to reignite the fight within Don. Freddy isn’t the only ghost from the show’s formative years reappearing on the road to either heaven or hell, because tonight Don received a collect call from California that brought a smile to his face, if only fleetingly, and it wasn’t from his wife.

The voice on the other line belonged to Stephanie, Anna Draper’s niece, the niece of the real Donald Draper. A pregnant Stephanie calls asking for money after not speaking with Don since the last time they met. Even with less than great news, Don seems absolutely thrilled to get her call, so thrilled that he books a flight a week early to fly out to California to meet her. In the meantime, he directs her to Megan’s.

It’s very interesting that when Don calls to alert Megan of her visitor, the two seem to have mended fences after their marriage seemed to be virtually over last time we saw the two together. Whatever occurred off-screen seems to have healed things on the surface, but its clear the problems haven’t been solved. Don is cold and emotionless on the phone and bored and exhausted when he’s finally with her. It takes a threesome to get any signs of life out Don, but even that doesn’t do much.

The steamy sex-scene occurs after Megan gets rid of Stephanie, who arrives before Don and meets an accommodating Megan, accommodating that is until Stephanie starts talking about Don in positive, intimate ways. She manifests that jealousy into urging Stephanie to take some money and leave before the paternal Don arrives and keeps her from making her own decisions. When Don arrives, Megan lies and says that Stephanie left on her own accord, despite her own protests. It’s obvious that Megan wants the attention that Don showered Stephanie with, becoming even more obvious when she’s dancing, yet again, in front of one of her own parties.

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Don finds an out in the appearance of Harry Crane, who coincidentally was invited by another female who also happens to be not his wife. All it takes is a judgmental look from Don to convince Harry to leave the party so they can, “catch up” at a bar, but it’s just as excuse for Don to leave. That excuse turns useful when Harry, trying to convince Don not to tattle on him to his wife, pledges an oath to helping Don regain power, and gives him the useful information that Cutler and the despicable Lou Avery are pursuing Commander Cigarettes. After Don’s infamous letter lashing out at the tobacco companies that was published in the New York Times, the business with Commander would force SC&P to fire Don, something Cutler and Avery are well aware with.

Knowing that he’s up against the ropes for real, Don springs into action. He returns to New York and crashes Cutler and Avery’s meeting with Commander. The two schemers are shocked into silence when Don starts pitching himself to the company, who are well aware of Don’s past relationship with the industry. In an appropriately aggressive back in forth, Don states his reasons why Commander should sign with SC&P AND keep Don on staff, stating that since he worked with the American Cancer Association, he knows their ad strategy and how to beat it, and he fills their head with the idea of using his reversal on tobacco as a way to brag to their competition.

His gusty move apparently pays off, when a seemingly satisfied Don stands outside of the restaurant trying to call a cab as Cutler and Avery appear, the latter sarcastically calling him “incredible,” which Don takes as a compliment. However his victory seems fleeting when a departing Cutler mockingly asks, “you actually think this going to save you, don’t you?” The remark stings, but Don must savor the small win, he’s going to need all of the W’s he can get if he’s going to survive. With the addition of Lou Avery and the firm shift from frenemy to straight foe in Jim Cutler, we have clear antagonists, that is if you can call Don the hero of this story. With Cooper also in their pocket, Don has the numbers against him, and he’ll probably need Peggy, not a Draper fan as of late, in his corner. The fight is back, and even his smile, but when will Don get the two things he really wants, security and love?

The Best of the Rest

  • Ok, let’s just get to the thing we need to discuss; THE NIPPLE! Ginsberg is officially loses his, his brain overloaded by the hum of the computer and his perceived forthcoming obsolescence. He thinks the computer is turning people gay, including himself, then in act of defiance, tries to sleep with Peggy. When he finally seems cool and collected, he proclaims his romantic interest in Peggy before presenting her with a gift, HIS OWN SEVERED NIPPLE! In some insane logic, Ginsberg severs his nipple, “his valve,” to relieve all the pressure in his head. A teary eyed Peggy watches as he’s wheeled away by the loony bin, still cursing the computer. It was completely wild, even by Ginsberg’s standards, and an epic, if disheartening, way for the character to go out.
  • Stan unleashes even more detestable behavior from Lou Avery after he finds and mocks, “Scout’s Honor,” Lou’s silly comic strip he made.
  • After revealing her backwards views on Vietnam at a party, Henry acts the part of the conservative sixties patriarch and asserts that Betty should know her place. Then, Sally returns from school with a broken nose and plenty of digs at her Mom’s white privileged trophy wife status. In a final argument with Henry, she makes it clear that she’s going to seek some sort of life outside the house.
  • Don and Lou spar. “I’m not taking management advice from Don Draper.” – Lou Avery   
  • Sally and Bobby are shown to have a deep bond, and Bobby says that he gets physically ill dealing with the stresses of the Francis home. I almost would feel bad for him if he wasn’t the worst!
  • Even Megan knows that playing your instruments at a party is lame.
  • Henry suggests Don should come to L.A., because in his estimation, Ted Chaough is “broken,” and “useless.”
  • Don can even look at Megan when she dances at the party. It’s a vicious cycle; Megan seeks more attention and Don cringes any time she puts herself out there to get some.
  • Henry is a Nixon supporter, of course.
  • Megan’s hip party music courtesy of Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
  • Peggy uses an elevator ride with Don to talk business in her new authoritative way. She definitely gets off on having Don work under her.

Den of Geek Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars


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4 out of 5