Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Mad Men, "My Old Kentucky Home"

There were more dramatic episodes this season ("The Gypsy and the Hobo," with the stunning showdown between Betty and Don Draper) and more shocking ones ("Guy Walks ino an Advertising Agency," in which poor Guy's foot became confetti on the Fourth of July). But this elegant episode — centered on a country-club party for Roger Sterling and child bride Jane — was like a chamber-music suite, quietly capturing the confidence, insight and attention to detail that make this series great. It set up encounters (Don with Connie Hilton, Betty with Henry Francis) that would explode later in the series. It found Don, at the height of his career, questioning (with fellow former-poor-boy Hilton) how well he still fit in this swellegant world. It wove in the stories of two Sterling Cooper women finding their own way: Joan, trapped in a marriage she's too good for, and Peggy, expanding her horizons ("I'm Peggy Olson. And I want to smoke some marijuana"). And between Pete and Trudy's Charleston dance and Roger's casually racist blackface serenade, it showed how the past of 1963 is haunted by its own past.