Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TV Geek Out 168: Mad Men, "The Suitcase"

Mad Men's fourth season has, arguably, been its strongest yet, but there's little room for debate that "The Suitcase" is one of the show's finest hours. An exploration of the dread of anticipating the worst that can happen -- and the strange sense of relief and renewal that follows when it finally does, this episode had the intimacy of a play. Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss both delivered Emmy-worthy performances, with Don hitting bottom and losing the last tie to his old identity, and Peggy losing some illusions about her personal and professional lives. The Cassius Clay/Sonny Liston fight was woven deftly around the characters' sparring, underscoring the generation gap that has widened with every installment of season four. And while this was one of the show's heaviest episodes to date, there was still plenty of room for humor, whether it was Pete's panicked look upon discovering Peggy and Trudy talking to each other, or Duck trying to turn Roger's pristine white chair into a toilet. Insightful, touching, uncomfortable, witty -- "The Suitcase" was stuffed with everything that makes Mad Men great, and we unpack it all here.


Hillary said...

Hey folks! Another American history note for ya: Muhammad Ali was an extremely polarizing figure when he emerged in the 1960s. Why? Because he was THE first proud, loud, boastful, black athlete in American history, who emerged at the peak of the civil rights movement. Anyone like him who came earlier would have been killed for being so non-subservient. He was the greatest at his sport, he was pro-civil rights and he was anti-Vietnam War before it was OK to be so. And he subscribed to an African cultural norm of boasting, where WASP culture valued modesty -- this only underscored the fact that WASP culture expected blacks to not only be modest but subservient at this time. Most of mainstream white Americans were HUGELY threatened by Ali. Once again, despite other huge flaws, Pete shows himself to be the progressive on race by betting on Ali. Don shows himself to be regressive by disliking Ali. It's a very clear generational, political divide that the writers are giving us here. The thing about Don is, however, that he goes along with the culture once it shows it's decisively marching on, unlike Sterling, and he's happy to use whatever is hot to make good ad copy. But for sure, Don is getting older. He's no longer cutting edge. The 60s might run him over if he doesn't wake up. And, he's got a fair bit of racially prejudiced assumptions, despite his often rooting for the underdog, given his origins.

TV Geek Out said...

Thanks for the info, Hillary!