Monday, May 5, 2014

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 4 The Monolith

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 4 The Monolith was a really mysterious episode. To begin with when Don first arrives at work and finds the place deserted, as though the entire staff had been evaporated by aliens, leaving phones off the hook. I actually thought he was dreaming until he heard the voices upstairs.

It turns out the entire staff had been yanked from their desk to hear about Harry Crane's new computer that would be replacing their Creative Lounge. We are also introduced to Lease Tech the company that will be installing the computer room and it's owner Lloyd Hawley.

Immediately the tension between creative and the computer is felt. Mathis bemoans the loss of the lounge as being what "made this place unique". Ginsberg yells into the void that they can't be erased. When Harry tries to sooth Don with "this is not symbolic" Don retorts "No it's quite literal." Don asks Hawley, who is replacing more human his company or IBM. The message is clear Man Vs. Machine.

Then I googled Monolith. At the risk of having trash heaved at me from my classic film circle, I will now admit I have never watched 2001:A Space Odyssey. But it turns out, now that I've read a film synopsis, that this episode is largely pulling from that film. The film is about these big black monoliths that have effected mans development. Teaching them to use tools as cavemen and on from there. Several lines from the film are used throughout this episode.

Which is how I know Lloyd Hawley is a bad guy. In 2001 HAL is a bad computer on a space ship who is killing off all his astronauts and blaming it on "human error" just like Lloyd does with his lighter to Don. There is also Don and Lloyds talk about the fear of tech and Lloyd's comments about it being "Godlike to possess infinite knowledge" through mastering computers. Sounds a bit like the snake and the tree of knowledge to me.

In other stories Pete gets a new account Burger Chef and Peggy gets to be head of creative on it. The good news bad news is she gets $100 a week raise and she has to have Don on her team. Don has been sitting around for 3 weeks twiddling his thumbs and I think the partners want to give him as a hard as a time as possible. He gave them all the worst time and if he wants to return he is going to have to be cleansed by fire (earlier reference to evil and the bible intended)

Of course, Don does not like this one bit. First lashing out by throwing his typewriter at his window, then just leaving for the weekend early, then he tries to change the conversation by bring in a new client and is shut down by Bert, and as his final act of aversion, he gets drunk. Fortunately, he sees Lane's Mets pennant and decides to call Freddy to go to a game. Freddy shows up and gets Don out of the office without anyone realizing he's wasted. With the possible exception of Lloyd Hawley who he more or less calls the devil on his way out the door.

Joan and Peggy have one of their pow wows, that we all love. Discussing Don and the partners. Peggy telling Joan that she can't make Don do his assignment and wondering what the motives were of the partners, putting them together on this account, other than to see which of them would survive the test. Joan assures her that Don is not up to his full powers as a partner and that in all probability the partners had not given it that much thought. The old, don't worry what others are thinking of you because they're not.

Our third story line bring us to the Sterling Clan. Roger's daughter Margaret has abandoned her family and gone to live in a commune (that looks suspiciously like Don Drapers early childhood home). Mona and Roger go up to try to convince her to return to her family, but she refuses. When they try to play the mother card on her she throw it back at them. First confronting Mona with her apparent hiding in the bathroom with a 1/5 of gin. That's all Mona needs to hear and she leaves. Roger stays and tries to finesse the situation. But in the end says she needs to go home and take care of her son. Margaret asks him if he had any problem leaving her and having his secretary buy her birthday gifts. Roger has no answer and also sulks off.

At the end of the episode we find Freddy waking Don with coffee and giving him a tongue lashing for getting drunk and encourages him to quit drinking. Don resists but Freddy is persistent and manages to convince Don that he needs to shake off his pride and do the work to regain respect and his place at the office. And it works, at least for that day. We cut to Don in the office telling Peggy he'll have his work in by lunch and we go to black with The Hollies song On A Carousel.

Loved it!

I'll post our wrap up from tonight's Mad Men Podcast this evening

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