Sunday, October 5, 2008

What I'm Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 2, Episode 9 "Six Month Leave" (B+)

It was weird to take a week off from this show because at the pace this show proceeds, it feels like an eternity. I've come to accept that as good thing, however, since this episode really does a great job of sucking you in. Freddy Rumsen to this point had been a very rarely seen character, and like Vito Spatafore or especially Eugene Pontecorvo on "The Sopranos," was never really a major player until just before his demise. This episode and the back-door casino do make it feel like Roger and Don are taking Freddy to his execution, and that idea is epitomized when Freddy says "Goodbye, Don" in response to Don's "Goodnight, Freddy." And the best thing here is that it's not a true loss that will be felt by the show. Not that Freddy's appearances weren't funny and impressive, but by making such a big deal out of a minor character affords the show the opportunity to capitalize on an intriguing plotline without having to say goodbye to one of its main players ("The L Word" would have remained a lot stronger had it not killed off its best character and had instead introduced a minor character to undergo that same storyline). Obviously Freddy is the center of the episode, but it's also fascinating to watch Pete and Peggy work their way to the top, and Betty unfolding at home. And then of course we have that capper - Roger leaving his wife for the secretary and telling his wife it's because Don told him to do what he wanted. A pretty intense and unexpected moment that should have major repercussions next week. Always a terrific closing moment to each episode of this show.

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