In Which It Kills One Half of Every Woman

It Was The Weekend

by Mike Comstock

Mad Men Episode 9, brought to you by the letters MM and zzzzzz. MM is Marilyn Monroe, whose newspaper-reported OD opened this episode. It will likely go down as the deadliest suicide in history, because it also killed one half of every woman. And zzzzz is the noise you make when you are sleeping, because show of hands, Sterling Cooper employees: how many of you fell asleep during this episode? Fainting counts, and so does existential staring.

Don rented a room at the Roosevelt and took unsolicited shirt deliveries from his secretary. Betty slept and mumbled and set Sarah Beth up on an adulterous lunch date with the horse riding guy. An elevator operator hid in plain sight. Joan was sad. Freddy “Is He Dead?” Rumsen pissed his pants, and Pete Campbell got him fired. Don beat up Jimmy Barrett. Roger Sterling tried to move forward to where the secretaries are and his wife isn’t. The office had a competitive blood drive, and no one had any sex.

And so whatever, “stuff happened.” A narcotic haze seemed to hang over this particular August 6, 1962: acute barbiturate poisoning, perfunctory alcohol, rich foods, charity bloodletting. The real action was inner, the best scenes the telegraphs from Sad Island, population Betty Draper. January Jones gave her best performance yet; the writers fed her the same lines (“Keep stirring,” “Thanks Carla”), but she pitched them down and drew them out and lit like seven different cigarettes. Her delivery was less housewife, more ECT patient, all awesome.

This episode was bleak, and it moved slowly, but the character’s inertia in all things personal looks like it’s going to be offset by an increasing professional competitiveness. BBDO hired a black guy; Peggy took Fred Rumsen’s accounts; the white guys are barely functioning drunks. I’d use the phrase rat race, but Paul Cosgrove put it best in one of the episode’s zingers: “How do you win in a blood drive?”

Mike Comstock is a contributor to This Recording. This is his first appearance in these pages. You can find his tumblr here.


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4 thoughts on “In Which It Kills One Half of Every Woman

  1. You fell asleep during this episode? WTF? The one with the fistfight, the urination, the cheating revelation?

    Please bring back Alex and/or Molly writing about the show and actual quality observations, as opposed to a lame messageboard summary.

  2. oh hai. actually, i like this summary — i agree mostly that this episode was slow, and that betty draper was fierce (GO BIRDIE!). i also found it exciting when mona gave DD the business. that roger is such a weak cad but he’s also such a pleasure.

    and i’ll tell you another thing. i could read, like, 8 reviews of each mad men eps every week, so there’s no reason not to hear what mike has to say, and then hear alex’s brilliant take, and then to follow it up with molly’s ginger-tinged angle on the whole thing. someone new write about it every day, it never gets boring.

    ok! that’s it.

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