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Thursday, November 5, 2009

JFK blown away, what else does "Mad Men" have to say?

Hard to believe that Season 3 of “Mad Men” is already ending. Not so hard to believe that the same fate awaits Don and Betty Draper’s fractured marriage.

Bombshells of all shapes and sizes have dropped during a breathtakingly transformative season of AMC’s Emmy Award-winning drama.

Don’s identity secret — hanging over his head like a dark cloud since Season 1 — finally was forced out of his locked desk drawer. The literal and figurative Pandora’s box seemed to free Don, but it appears too little, too late for Betty — the weight of lies leading her into the waiting arms of father figure flirtation, Henry Francis.

Meanwhile, Pete is battling his own demons at work. Roger is exhibiting signs of growing maturity and longing for Joan. Peggy continues to lead an uninspired love life. And perhaps most disquieting of all, Sterling Cooper is on the block.

Yet all the customary character development has been overshadowed by a dose of 1963 reality in the form of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Instead of dealing with the “where were you?” event in cursory fashion, “Mad Men” made it every bit the centerpiece it was (and still is) for Americans reeling from the shocking news.

Betty’s hysterical reaction upon seeing Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down on live TV sums up the emotional stakes. After all, the pall cast by Kennedy’s death set in motion the fear, paranoia and unrest that would shape the remainder of the decade.

Where that palpable darkness takes “Mad Men” in Season 4 is anyone’s guess, but the life-altering uncertainty promises one heck of a season finale.

My big questions heading into Sunday:

* Are Betty and Don done for good? (If so, are you saddened or relieved?)

* Is Betty reacting to a sense of urgency exacerbated by real life events (the Kennedy assassination) or did Don's "Dick Whitman" lie finally push her past the point of no return?

* There has to be more than meets the eye when it comes to Henry Francis. Any theories?

* What's the motivating force behind Betty's attraction to Henry? Is Henry just promising marriage to get what he wants on a more carnal level?

* What does Conrad Hilton have in store for Don?

* Will Pete resign to his fate or jump ship?

* Will any of that matter since Sterling Cooper is for sale? Will Bert, Roger and Don reclaim what was once theirs? Or is Duck Phillips still around because his new company is primed for a takeover?

* Will Peggy be able to shake her sexual relationship with Duck (especially after he deliberately turned off the Kennedy bulletin to stay in the mood for a "go-around"?) Also, how many showers does she have to take to get his sliminess off?

* What lies ahead for Joan? Will she reconnect with Roger on a more meaningful level?

* Will the post-Kennedy malaise completely reshape the show?

* Anybody seen Salvatore? Miss Farrell?

Did I miss anything? Provide answers, ask your own questions or just leave a general comment below.

"Mad Men" airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on AMC.

To see a "Mad Men" photo gallery of memorable characters and the actors/actresses who play them, click here.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski, trozwado@greenbaypressgazette.com

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1 Comments:

Wow, Roz, I'm not sure you have enough questions there... I'll try and go in order.

1. I think Betty and Don aren't done for good... yet. True, they've done the separation part before, so the only option is divorce, but I'm not sure either of them are ready to let go of the idea of their marriage. Eventually, I suspect that they'll part ways, but I'm not sure Betty can deal with the stigma of being divorced (remember how she treated the neighborhood's divorcee in season 1?) with three kids, nor can Don deal with the reality of once again having to recreate his life.

2. Betty has always ben impulsive -- perhaps even childlike -- but I think it's a combination of events both internal and external (Don's lie and the Kennedy Asasination).

3. My theory is that Henry Francis is already married. True, he may have mentioned he's divorced, but I'm not buying it.

4. Betty has daddy issues. With the death of her father and now the revelation about Don, she's clearly seeking a father figure. That's what Freud would say anyway.

5. As for things at Sterling-Cooper, I think a sale is inevitable and Duck's involvement is, too. Why else are they keeping him around other than for awkward, slightly gross scenes with Peggy. Are you as turned off when you see them together?

I think what was very interesting about this past episode was the entire way the Kennedy Assassination was handled. The events really took center stage -- everyone's actions were in some way connected to it: Margaret's wedding, Betty's decision, Pete's indecision about his job.

It also made me wonder how an audience pre-9/11 (and yes I hate to bring it up) would react to the episode because I felt personally a much greater understanding of how the characters experienced Kennedy's assassination having sat before televisions and speculated with strangers in 2001. Any thoughts on the parallels of that?

--Malavika

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At November 6, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

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