SONIA BRAND-FISHER: Ok… so that last episode of “Mad Men” was kind of a lot. With the many moving parts of discovering (kinda?) the mystery behind Bob Benson (who I’m still in love with), to Sally’s terrible track record with walking in on people during sex, to the whole enormous mess of Vietnam, this episode stands apart from the blur of this season as potentially cataclysmic.
So Bob Benson, we learn through a subtle but sweet little monologue to Pete, is gay… which I assume would make him kind of like Joan’s “gay-best-friend” in the language of television archetypes à la “Will and Grace”? I kind of couldn’t help but think of Salvatore Romano at this point in the season. Will Pete use the knowledge of Bob’s sexuality against him, since Bob seems to be ascending the SC&P ladder with more rapidity lately? Pete totally would too. Despite Bob’s terrible taste in men, he’s an incredible character and I am curious how they will develop him beyond what they were able to do with Kurt from Season 2, and even Sal to a degree. Bob has been such a confusing character, could he be just messing with Pete for the sake of confusing him, and hence push past Pete on his way up? But Bob’s so sincere, he would never do that! Right? Also, does this feel a little anti-climactic? Unless it leads to some kind of relationship with Pete, which is completely unbelievable but would certainly be a twist, I hope this isn’t the end of character development for Bob Benson.
And now Sally holds a very dangerous hand of cards that she could use against Don at any point in time. She has walked in on him in the act of cheating on Megan. I have been saying throughout this season that I kind of want Don to get caught with Sylvia, to expose his hypocrisy and see how he would react in trying to cover his ass. But not like this. Not right now, after he has done something so incredible for Mitchell, Sylvia and Arnold’s son. Not at this very vulnerable time in the lives of this love triangle. Sally consistently stumbling in on these jarring sex acts of men she has known all of her life sets her apart from the rest of the characters on this show as actively looking for answers to some very complicated questions, which happen to lie behind closed doors. Does she believe Don was just “comforting” Sylvia? Sally has always been wise to her parents’ antics and insincerities ever since she was very small, so I think her “Okay” from the other side of the door was more of an olive branch than an “I believe you.” How will this affect her relationship with Megan, whom she has looked up to so much? Suddenly, Sally has a new kind of power that could make or break Don’s life. Will this force Don to be more attentive to his kids? Fat chance.
We have two episodes left of this season, what can we expect to see? Everyone on this show is in an extreme transition, with or without Vietnam disorienting them in countless irrevocable ways. This concoction of futility, anxiety, pointlessness, exhaustion, fear, and frenzy is a difficult one to swallow, try as they might to chase it with an already stale routine.
NAVA BRAHE: Is it possible that Don fought so hard to keep Mitchell Rosen from being drafted because he feels incredibly guilty about screwing around with his mother? There is something about Don’s relationship with Arnold that is endearing, because Arnold is the only person Don seems capable of offering any empathy to. But, what will happen when Arnold and Mitchell find out that Don is screwing around with Sylvia? In many ways, that storyline has bypassed Megan, and rendered her superfluous in Don’s life. Megan was able to develop her career all on her own, and does not need Don’s support. She is being groomed as the feminist archetype who eschews marriage and a family for a career. Joan is trying to balance motherhood and work, and Peggy is struggling to be a successful female in an all-male world. But, Megan is altogether different; I think she is realizing that she does not need a man in order to be happy.
I am hesitant to predict what is in store for the last two episodes of the season, but once again, I must reference Matthew Weiner’s connection to The Sopranos and predict that something major will go down on Sunday, during the penultimate episode. David Chase was famous for that, and many shows (hello, Game of Thrones) have followed suit. My guess is that the shocking storyline will have something to do with Bob Benson, rather than Don, Megan and the Rosens. The spiders in that tangled web have much more spinning to do before the series reaches its conclusion.