Monday, August 30, 2010

TV Geek Out 165: Mad Men, "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword"

It's another super-sized Mad Men discussion, but then "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" was jam-packed with plot and subtext. This episode took on so many of the show's main themes -- the generation gap, the battle of the sexes, what people want versus what is expected of them -- some with a direct approach, others so subtly that they were revealed only after multiple viewings. But perhaps the most surprising, and satisfying, thing about "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" was that people really opened up to each other. Both of the Drapers, so practiced at keeping their secrets safe, finally got a lot off their chests. Don confided in Faye, learning firsthand that people do feel better after they've talked, while Betty revealed more than she realized to an honest-to-goodness psychiatrist (that Dr. Edna was a child psychiatrist was all too appropriate for this poor little rich girl). Compared to the episodes surrounding it, this was one of season four's more lighthearted installments, allowing Don one of the moments of eleventh-hour genius that used to come so easily and Peggy to drive around in circles on a groovy little Honda. Yet it also had downright cringe-inducing moments, both physical (Betty slapping Sally) and verbal (Roger insulting the Honda executives). So much conflicting information! We talk about it all here.

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