Mad Men Review: Bring Me My Shoes, I'm Going Home

It’s fairly distressing to think that not only are we one episode away from the end of the season, but quite possibly on the latter half of the series itself. So many unanswered questions! What will Don look like in a leisure suit? Okay, mostly it’s just that question.

Although the ending of last week’s episode made it seem like the writers were setting up Roger for a dramatic credits-mirroring suicide or heart attack, this week sees him back in fine form, visibly relieved to see everyone too distracted by panic to be furious with him. All the SCDP partners wait anxiously in the lobby, hairstyles and shoes and faces gleaming, for a meeting with the people from Phillip Morris, who never materialize. It’s sort of heartbreaking. Don’s meeting with Heinz (who I believe brought us Mad Men‘s first fart joke) doesn’t fare much better, and Don decides to take drastic, unilateral action by taking out a full-page ad in the Times detailing SCDP’s split with Tobacco.

It’s an interesting move – Megan recognizes it as ‘He didn’t dump me, I dumped him’ – but not necessarily a helpful one. The best response by far is the fake call from Bobby Kennedy, which I’ll admit had me completely fooled (and terrified for the show) for a minute. There’s a glimmer of hope with the call from the American Cancer Society, although it’s hard to imagine SCDP taking on nonprofit work, but whatever positive effects Don’s Hail Mary ad has wrought will have to wait for the finale, because this episode was full of layoffs and crying. Cooper is furious at Don both for writing the ad and for leaving the other partners’ names off of it, and quits with the best line of the season – “You there! Bring me my shoes, I’m going home.”

In one of the evening’s more ambiguously touching moments (no, not that kind of ambiguous touching) Don puts in $50,000 (in addition to the $100K he has to front as a partner) for Pete in order to support the company during its current crisis. There’s a brief silent toast and head-nod as Pete acknowledges the gesture that’s simple and sweet, even if it is indicative of Don’s tendency to pay off personal debts with money. Oh hi, Midge!

Seeing Midge in the lobby of Don’s building clutching a portfolio is one of those delightful surprises that Mad Men is so good at destroying. The slight air of calculated desperation Midge gives off – the ‘fancy-meeting-you-here-’ tone that hardens into ‘come home with me’ – is a perfect mirror for Don’s character arc this season, not to mention the current state of affairs in the SCDP offices. She’s half-ashamed, half-bold about her heroin addiction and her needs – “What am I supposed to do with a check?” she asks Don truthfully after he buys one of her paintings. Her husband’s clumsy, bald attempts to pimp her out complete the complete and utter misery of the scene, and Don seems as eager as I felt to leave.

There’s plenty in the way of development in the other Drapers’ storylines – Betty keeps going to see the child psychiatrist because, well, she’s Betty and finally decides to move out of Don’s house after learning that Sally is getting friendly with future sociopath Glen (he of the bathroom voyeurism and the stolen football uniform), but all I can think about is where on earth did they find a tiny version of Alfred Molina to play this kid? Uncanny doesn’t even begin to describe the resemblance.

One episode left, readers! See you next week.

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Season 4, Episode 12: Blowing Smoke (originally aired October 10, 2010)

Sundays at 10PM/9C, AMC

Photographs courtesy of AMC and Michael Yarish.

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