'Mad Men' Season 7 Episode 5: Retrofit Paranoia
Mad Men 7.5 had one saving grace, one good moment: Don finally standing up for himself and against Lou and Jim, and talking sense to the tobacco people at the end of the episode after Harry warns him, which was also nice to see. Jim's firm merging with Don's was a bad move from the outset, and it's satisfying that Don is finally fighting back for his rightful place. As only Roger and Harry seem to realize, Don is a genius and the best thing the current company has going.
Otherwise, though, the episode was littered with stories that were either ridiculous or trite. Ginsberg flipping out about the computer in the office was top on the list of ridiculous. I grew up in the 60s, and I never met or heard of anyone who had that kind of paranoia about computers in the office. It's a convenient retrofit that has no accordance with real history.
Also on the ridiculous list, and trite as well, is Don's reaction in California to a pot party. How many times have we seen this already in prior seasons of Mad Men? It made a little sense in the earlier 60s, but none in 1969. This part of episode at least had the refreshing ingredient of Don in bed not with just Megan but her female friend.
But the Betty part of the episode was the worst. How many times do we have to be shown what a terrible mother and wife Betty is? Not to mention that the male chauvinism displayed by Henry is not fully believable for a man of his culture and status. The only conversation that lifted this part of the episode was the little talk Sally had with her brother.
It's always a pleasure to see Mad Men, even when it creaks. Let's hope for more Don resurgence in the episodes ahead.