Monday, September 20, 2010

Mad about Sally and all the Beautiful Girls

Oh, what can do we do to help Sally?  Not much as the show is fictional and set in the past, but she is so desperate.

On the other hand, the show is not.  It is running on all cylinders, with heaps of stuff for all to like. The theme of the show was a 1980's hair-band song: Bringing on the Heartbreak.  So many broken hearts during the course of the episode, including all of ours while watching Sally fight to be released from her hellish life with her mother.

I was confused about the running away part--she was walking to or from her psych appointment--which I thought was in the city, but she was found on a train with a conductor, which sounds like the commuter train and not the subway.  Anyhow, Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally, put on another great performance, as she very clearly displayed the pain she was living through, her love for her father (as distant as he could be, he is a big improvement over Betty), and her effort to keep it going.  French toast with Rum?  Sure, let's have some.  She played nicely the movements from sweet and strategic (french toast as a ploy to stick around) to stubborn and sassy (too much alliteration?).  Sally was incredibly compelling this week, building on all of the scenes in early episodes where Betty treated her poorly. I also love how smart she was--deflecting all of Don's denials about Faye with all of her observations of Faye's long term presence in this apartment.  Sharp kid.

Peggy has her heart broken as well, just a bit anyone by the writer guy who sees the world so clearly--the corporations are fragile but nasty.  We can tip them over if we try.  He does a good job of showing Peggy the dark side of her business, but is pretty clueless about what this means for her identity, not to mention her job.  Also heartbreaking--her line about how she cannot go to many of the places negros cannot go.  And the guy trying to win her heart jokes about civil rights for women.  Peggy is seeing ahead, while the insensitive dolt is not.   She does resist her lesbian friend's idea that all men are so flawed, that there might still be someone out there for her, but the quest will not be easy.

Of course, the truly broken heart was that of Ida Blankenship.  Her last words were among her tartest--everyone was either a sadist or a masochist, and she was indicating to Peggy that she was the latter.  And then, dead.  Nice comedy piece about trying to move the body while the racist brothers were meeting to figure out how best to sell car parts.  Again, Joan shows her value as a crisis manager.  Not quote the John Deere experience, but it was more meaningful as we can see how much Ida meant to Bert and Roger.  I think Bert was reacting truly to Ida's passing while Roger was all about his own mortality, about his heart breaking for a third time in that office.

Speaking of Roger, this episode made up for the lack of Joan and Roger time with at least five different scenes.  My DVR got all glitchy during the mugging/kissing scene, but most of the payoffs were elsewhere, with the two actors playing many different notes along the way.  Roger cannot help himself with Joan, and knows this.  They had some really nice scenes together, with such great chemistry.  The best was in the restaurant, as Roger realized that Joan had no say about her husband's decision to go to war, and Joan's response that Mrs. Sterling had input on this decisions?  Just a great moment.  I love that she concluded the episode by telling Roger that she didn't regret the kiss, but noted that they are both married.  Again, heart-breaking.  

Faye's heart also broke a bit upon the pressures of love, life and job.  The episode starts with her in bed with Don, a big reveal since Don had been so slow in the first date, but a month passed since the last episode it seems.  Faye is asked to help out with Sally and wins round one but loses round two, shaking her greatly.  She falls apart with Don, but surprisingly, Don displays the most sensitivity in this scene of any man in recent memory on this show (much more so than Dr. Dick in the previous episode jumping on a distraught Joan).  Faye insists that she likes kids but is lousy with them, and is sincerely worried that this is a problem for their relationship.  Hey, he's got three kids already, I am pretty sure he is not looking to you to produce any more.

After the big episode last week, Don's role here is as lifeguard or paramedic, helping others even as his heart is bruised a bit by Sally's plight.  He could have been more sensitive with her and her situation.  But can he really have taken Sally in?  Would living with a bachelor in NYC be the right play here?  Well, given her mother's attitude and behavior, perhaps yes.  But Don was quite sweet to Faye, showing significant trust with letter her stay while he took off.  Joking that "everything that is interesting is leaving with me" which was not true if there was anything interesting in his journal.  And at the end, he gave Faye perhaps the best hug he had for any woman in the series.  Don was more Don-esque with Peggy and the boys, but not brutally so.

It does seem as he is still on the upswing, but he could go backwards at any moment--that is the tension that will not be released anytime soon.

I do like Kenny's joke about a pool on Don's secretaries: do they quit, get fired, or die?  And Megan (I really do not remember Jessica Pare being that tall) is his new temp, the unlikely survivor of the cast from Jack and Bobby with Joey leaving first.

The episode ends with the three women who have sacrificed much to be working in the 1960's.  Each one has followed a different difficult path. And it breaks our hearts to watch.

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