Mad Men: “Favors”

*spoilers*

Season six is finally starting to pick its targets.

I suppose the biggest plot reveal this episode was Sally discovering Don with Sylvia. Also, we got some indication to Bob Benson’s motives. Apparently, he wants to fuck Pete, and he runs in a circle of extreme care givers. And, Ted Chaough finally gets the big bully Don Draper to stop stealing his juice.

There were a number of things I liked about “Favors.” Like “A Tale of Two Cities,” last night’s episode was much more dynamic than the majority of season six. We’re getting back to the older episodes ability to juggle not just multiple plot lines, but also moods and tones. There great dramatic moments, like Arnold and Sylvia’s despair over their son and Sally’s sense of betrayal, as well as humorous ones like Ted complaining to Jim Cutler and Peggy failing to seduce Stan into solving her mouse problem. I really hope she doesn’t turn into a cat lady.

There was also a renewed ability to balance business and personal. As Ted’s professional life threatens to devour his personal, Don is vice versa. Ted’s marital struggles is pretty banal stuff, but I think it sets up nicely a motivation for an otherwise nice guy to have an affair. Although, I must through my hat in with the Stan-Peggy camp; that relationship would be hilarious.

2013-05-13-mad-men-07.jpg.CROP.original-original(“I don’t want his juice, I want my juice!”)

“Favors” also a saw a thematic return to this season’s leitmotif of sexuality masked as care. This has been my favorite thing about season six. I think Weiner and co. have done a great job tangling with the messiness of this concept. Does caring for someone bleed into sexual attraction? Is care just a subterfuge for selfish, mostly sexual, desire? This is a chicken and the egg argument, and likewise it is not an either/or.

Don looking out for Sylvia’s son, Mitchell, is an obvious example.

Interestingly, it is Megan who first finds out about Mitchell’s predicament, and when she relays her concern to Don, he is ambivalent. Is there a trace of malice? However, when Arnold reaches out to Don, ol’ Dick Whitman has a change of heart. Perhaps Don is trying to assuage his guilt. Yet, when the situation plays out, Don uses it to rekindle his romance with Sylvia.

Tellingly, when he tries to whitewash the situation with Sally, he claims to have been comforting Sylvia, because she was so upset about Mitchell. Strangely, I kinda believed him. Don’s motives are all kinds of fucked up, but I think somewhere amidst the nihilism, there’s a good heart. As he pathetically told Sally, “It’s complicated.”

I loved the sequence of the Rosens and Megan gushing over Don as Sally watched. Watching Don squirm beneath Sally’s gaze was extraordinary television. As if Sally didn’t have enough on her plate with broken home and a nihilistic mother, she sees her neglectful father destroy some more homes. Poor kid.

sally_main(As if Sally needed more sexual dysfunction)

Speaking of sexual complexes, how about Mrs. Campbell? As vile as she is, you gotta feel happy for the old battle ax. Even though she’s probably the worst mother on Mad Men (which is saying a lot), everyone deserves to have their old loins lit up at least once in their life. Apparently, that’s the level of care we can expect from Bob Benson.

I believe Benson is sincere when he talks about care that transforms into love. What’s funny is that Benson is all the more creepy because he’s coming from an ideal, not a sycophantic guise. Selfishness is much more acceptable a motive than say pure humanitarianism. I guess because the latter doesn’t really exist. It seems Benson has a motive after all, and it’s just as libidinal as Don’s.

But I digress.

I think what creeps me out most about Benson is that he seems to run in a circle of people with similar motives. How does he know that guy he recommended to Pete? Is he part of some weird cult? With only two episodes left I feel more sure Benson is going to part of some crazy climax that ties all these threads together.

MrPorter-Pete-Campbell-1(new look for Pete?)

Cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on June 10, 2013.

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