Monday, May 11, 2015

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This episode was called The Milk and Honey Route.

Finally! An episode worthy of Mad Men!

Of course, there is only one thing to talk about and that's Betty.

Betty dying of cancer in this episode is truly brilliant. Betty, especially in the beginning of the series, really stood out to me as an example of my grandmother and mother. Betty so represents women of that age. Bored, lonely, chain smokers, not a part of the new movement to get jobs -- just stuck in this time warp. I fell in love with the show because of Betty. Watching Betty, staring off into space while smoking at the kitchen table was the epitome of my mom when I was younger. Place my mom in my grandma's kitchen and you have Betty.

Betty dying of lung cancer also represents that generation to me. Everybody smoked back then ... and a lot. It was the first real generation that was aware of lung cancer, but didn't do much to stop it. Betty, and people like her who die so young of lung cancer from smoking, changed our generation. Watching my parents smoke themselves to death definitely caused me to never want to smoke. In Betty's death, she represents that part of the generation as well.

Then there is the relationship between Sally and Betty.

I commented on it a few weeks ago, Sally and Betty sitting at the table together, having found a bit of common ground. I said, those are the moments you remember, after your mom is gone. The little ones. The small instances where Betty was actually nice to her daughter. You hold onto it, and you miss it.

Now, Betty is dying and Sally knows. Sally realizes, despite her mother's gross amount of flaws, Sally still loves her. For all of her hatred toward her mom, even having once commented about Betty being in the ground, Sally doesn't want her to die.

Plus, for all of us who have lost parents when we were younger, you ache for Sally and Betty for the loss of their future relationship. As you get older, you forgive your parents for some of their past transgressions. You move past it and forge new relationships with them. Sally and Betty will never get that chance and that's a tragedy we all learn too late.

That's also why we love this show, as Don puts in, the nostalgia. We ache for these characters because we see ourselves in them and what we have lost. We know the tragedy of Birdie, we've seen it in our own lives. It's so much harder because for those of us that lived through the 60's and 70's ... it's almost like we see ourselves sitting in those very same shag carpeted rooms. We too wish we could go back and be Sally, and hug our moms one last time.

The part that really got me was the great shot of Birdie as she is walking the stairs at school. You want to take a mental picture of her as she smiles at the young man that walks by her. In an instant you see the grace and beauty of Betty. The smile, the light ... the briefest of moments of what made this woman so beautiful, so hopeful in her youth. The smile so quick to light up her face ...  highlights the tragedy of her youthful demise. So much to live for, now so senselessly gone from the world. That was great storyboarding and great cinematography. Whomever wrote that scene deserves an Emmy. It was brilliantly done.

As for Pete and Trudy ... I love the way that ended. I know people on the forums keep saying the characters are doomed to repeat all of their same mistakes, but I just didn't see it that way. Maybe Pete is one of the lucky ones. Maybe, unlike Don, he "gets it" at a time he can still do something about it. He gets that he keeps looking for better things out there when he had something great all along in Trudy. His statement about how cheating on his wife felt good at the time, then didn't, is true. Is it worth it? Was it worth it to Don? To cheat on Betty? Did it make Don happier in the end? No. I for one, root for Pete. Perhaps Pete is not making the same old mistakes -- destined to repeat. Maybe he's actually getting off of that train of constantly feeling like there is something better out there only to be continually disappointed. Maybe he gets the old adage the grass is always greener on the other side.

As for Don, I don't know. He finally lets loose and tells people about really happened, trying to free himself from his past. He's been doing that for awhile. I'm not entirely sure his storyline can end in a fashion that I care about.

For next week's episode we need to complete Peggy. She has been such a central part of this show. I also want to see Harry get hit by a car -- wait, no. He needs that smirk wiped off his slimy-ass face. He needs to be fired and be seen trying to find a job but no one will hire him because he is a turd ball.

For as much as I have hated this whole season, I loved this episode. Plus, it only highlights the writers really can put out good television in the Mad Men world. It kind of, in a way, now that I'm putting my thoughts down, makes it kind of worse that the last few episodes have been so severely wasted.

I want to know about Peggy, Roger, Sally (although I guess we kind of already know), and Don. That's a lot to put into one episode. Especially with all the nuance that I am used to from a good Mad Men episode.

Until next week!

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