Mad Men 3.5: “The Fog”

"Maybe she realized he's a sonofabitch."

Shortish post this week.  I wasn’t blown away by this episode; some nice moments but also some really clunky ones.

The writing felt very “on the nose” in several spots, and directing-wise, there were two techniques that reminded me more of The Sopranos than Mad Men: the quick-cut shot of Sally Draper wiping the blood on her cheek and Betty’s dream sequences.

Let’s hope Matt Weiner doesn’t throw in another “convenient” car crash and continue to Sopranos it up.

Staff Writer Kater Gordon got her first solo Written By credit on this episode (from the looks of imdb, she was a writer’s assistant until last season’s finale, “Meditations in an Emergency,” which she co-wrote with Weiner, the big dog) but I can’t say I’m currently a fan of hers, with dialogue like this…

Dennis the prison guard’s line about not bringing his work home with him felt too contemporary and obvious.  Then later, he says: “I’m gonna be a better man…Tell me you heard me.” Nice moment and a fine performance by character actor Matt Bushell — I just wish the dialogue got a polish.

Don: “Our worst fears are in anticipation.”  Recycled line! Why doesn’t Don just wear a t-shirt with these words printed on it?

Betty: “My water never breaks.”  Uhh…what now?

The elevator scene with Pete and Hollis, ugh!  Pete’s line about everyone having the American Dream.  Hollis’ response of “There’s more important things to worry about right now than TV” and “Every job has its ups and downs.” (They’re in an elevator, get it?!)

Ken: “What time is it?  What time isn’t it?”

Roger: “I should drop-kick you off the roof!”  (Even Roger can’t think of a better line than that?)

Betty’s mom: “You see what happens to people who speak up?”

Peggy: “You have everything.  And so much of it.”

With that said, we got a couple gems…

Pete: “Two months at Grey, you’re already having a nosh?”

And from one of Betty’s dream sequences…

Gene: “You’re a housecat: you’re very important and you have little to do.”

Oh, Gene, you chiding old palooka!

On that note, some visuals for ya’s, brought to you by the toolbar button on Photoshop that creates thought bubbles that I discovered at 1 A.M. last night…

And Pete arriving in three, two...

Awkwaaarrddd...

Awkwaaarrddd...

You got served! (on the topic of eggs)

"Integrate it!" (sad trombone)

"Integrate it!" (sad trombone)

"I should drop-kick you off the roof!"

The Three Horsemen of the Atherosclerosis.

There’s a lot of stuff I liked this week, but unfortunately I need to get back to the (cough) day job,  and snark always wins out over praise when you’re dealing with the Internets.  So I hope you enjoyed this diversion, and maybe I’ll get back here soon to add some kudos.

Meantime, fire away with comments!

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5 Comments

Filed under Mad Men

5 responses to “Mad Men 3.5: “The Fog”

  1. Love the pics and screencaps 🙂

    In complete agreement about the on the nose dialog, and the quick shot of Sally.

    I thought Peggy’s line before the one you cited was the true gem. As she looked at the perfect little baby bootie on the present she said “third time, must be old hat by now” and that’s when she got Don to actually listen to her, a reminder of the fact that they share a secret. And Don has a way of bonding with people who are living their own double lives (Salvatore is another big example).

    Also, while the episode as a whole left me wanting something more, it is an interesting note that the fog seems to have lifted on all the characters, who now know where they stand (or more importantly where they don’t).

    Betty and Don now are realizing that a new baby isn’t going to make everything perfect.

    Peggy now knows that there are limits to her aspirations at Sterling Cooper (and we as an audience know just how bad it is now between her and Pete…another great line from the episode: “You decisions affect me.”)

    I think this episode is the real jumping off point for the season, everything before was like a pregnancy of sorts…and now it seems like the actual change promised by Weiner, this season is supposed to be about how people react to change.

    So, I’m very hopeful.

  2. Thanks Jenny for the kudos. I agree, the Peggy Don scene was particularly interesting because it recalled her pregnancy, which Don knows about. Of course, this was SUBTEXT, unlike most of the scenes in the episode! 😉

    As for Betty’s fog lifting, is it two-fold?
    1) She is truly alone, and must fight for herself, even though she will usually lose, due to society and her upbringing. (her birthing scenes)

    2) Her family’s perception of her, like society, is that she is a pretty but useless princess and housewife.

    Now, what’s interesting, dramatically, is that Betty is also a SPOILED COMPLAINER, thus not equipped to take charge of her life, like a Peggy or a Joan.

    See ya on TWB, the home for serious screenwriters!

    • What I find really interesting about the Betty situation is that Gene acknowledged that she was capable of more, but that he did her a disservice by sheltering her and always treating her like his little girl.

      (It’s come to the point where she can’t see herself outside that role. Last season she took major steps outside her child-like ways, and was taking a stand for herself…until the unwanted pregnancy sent her barreling backwards)

      Gene even called Betty on marrying Don, someone she knows she little about, and someone who has done a stellar job of keeping her in her place. It’s a very codependent relationship. Don needs Betty to be the ideal/normal housewife. He loved Betty for her ‘perfection’ and she needs him to look at her like that, even though she knows deep down she is capable of more. They are strangers in a marriage. And it seemed that before the first season they were doing a splendid job of keeping up appearances. But after her mother died she unraveled and it took a toll on her relationship, showing all the cracks and dysfunction.

      I read in Vanity Fair that Betty’s big hotel room ‘confessional’ to Don on Valentines Day last season was a real insight to why she married him. She was in definite lust with this beautiful man, and loved having sex with him, to the point that she married him without knowing anything about his past or family.

      It’s also interesting to note that Gene followed up with a heart to heart with Sally saying that she is more like his wife than Betty ever was. He wants to make sure she doesn’t repeat Betty’s mistakes.

  3. Ms Chris

    Looking now at the restaurant scene shots, I’m struck by how Peggy’s and Duck’s outfits seem color-coordinated with each other – Pete’s too, though to a lesser degree. Wonder whether we’re meant to see Duck as trying to fit in with the younger crowd, or if it’s a hint that Peggy and maybe Pete will be working with him soon… Or if I’m reading too much into it, and the set and costume designer just wanted the scene to look pretty.

  4. I think Duck’s outfit was definitely a sign that he’s in a new chapter of his life — single, stylish, in control (drinking coffee), and taking charge by hoping to poach two hot young professionals.

    But it’s Duck, so he’ll still probably crash and burn in a horribly glorious manner. Like he’ll try to kiss Peggy and she’ll knee him in the nuts. Or we’ll find out his “coffee” is actually half Johnny Walker.

    Someone on another board commented that Pete and Don had similar ties, which shows the link between the two men. I think that’s a stretch. They both had gray ties, which may be a subtle way to reinforce that Pete has always wanted to be Don, right from the pilot, but I don’t think it’s too big of a deal.

    And as for Pete and Peggy in that shot…I think it’s more that picture, as I didn’t get that feeling during the show. E.g., Pete’s tie looks more yellow in this shot, but in the show it was grey and black. I dunno for sure; it could be deliberate. Always fun to conjecture!

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