TV Recap: Mad Men, ‘The Runaways’

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The Low Down: An unexpected call from Don’s “niece” Stephanie, who is seven months pregnant and homeless, prompts a sudden visit to California to see Megan a week ahead of schedule. Elsewhere Henry and Betty don’t see eye to eye on each other’s political stance and Michael Ginsberg starts to suspect the worst of the company’s new computer which leads to an unexpected and awkward visit to Peggy’s apartment.

The Bed and Booze Count: An undetermined amount of drinks at Megan’s party although Don I think had a definitive count of four. The lack of a continuous bed count was made up for this week with an unexpected threesome (are they ever expected?) I’m surprised it took the show this long to even get to something like that but then again the idea of a swinger’s life style was only introduced in the past two seasons.

Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC
Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

Favorite Performance: Draper in many ways gets this honor solely for being on autopilot. No conflict, no lying and no poor choices for Don this week other than concern and trying to bring balance to some tough situations.

The Supporting Scene Stealer: The black clarinet player’s headband and fro. It’s tough to call this one because the scene stealers tend to have the upper hand in a situation and everyone this week was either on the same level or beaten into submission by an opposing party in whatever moments arose.

Ginsberg’s sudden descent into madness might be the one that gets the honor this week but at one hell of a cost that I will explain in a few short paragraphs.

The Best Part of The Episode: Uh. Duh? The threesome? I’m only human! Joking aside the one thing that always feels like a home run to me in Mad Men is Don giving the best pitch of his life to a client. Spouting his track record with other clients and offering a public apology to the cigarette executives didn’t at any time come off as desperate or pandering; it was Don Draper being the Don Draper that lead Sterling Cooper to success through the early to mid- sixties. Watching Don grin at Lou and Cutler after they left the meeting dumbfounded was such a thrill.

The Part We Could’ve Done Without: Michael Ginsberg has been an underdog of a character since his introduction and back then when we first got glimpses of his weird behavior and mindset we all kind of shrugged it off as being different. I’m not sure why the show went the route it did with him tonight and for a character who, for the most part has remained pretty stable as a supporting player, these radical developments made me really scratch my head. I’m not particularly fond of it but there is also a place in the narrative to throw Don back into the swing of things now that Michael has been taken away. I just hope it’s not the last we see of him and if it isn’t let’s hope he isn’t waving a gun in the office or seen with a shopping cart ranting and raving about socialism on Sixth Avenue.

Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC
Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

The Little Thing We Loved: The threesome. No, no I have to stop that. Watching Don for most of the episode stay clear of bad choices and lying was quite fascinating. This “new” Don might be too straight laced for some but considering the incredibly rocky nature of Season Six where you were practically yelling at every mistake he made it has been nice to see him try and stay on the right path back to redemption and getting his life in gear.

Final Thoughts: “The Runaways” is one of those episodes that appeals to the secret European in me in that it showed a lot and told very little at times. Many of the biggest moments here don’t link up the way they should despite being interesting developments. Of all the stories told tonight Don’s was probably the only one that had a Point A to Point B scenario. Being told by Harry the partners intents with Commander Cigarettes forced Don to once again take immediate charge of a situation without stepping on too many toes. He has been using un-Don like behavior to keep his life in check and rebuild his own personal empire where as you saw Megan use her most familiar traits to change the situation with her husband. The threesome was Megan using her looks, her openness, and spontaneous approach to life to try and win over Don in his visit to L.A. despite being there for a completely different reason.

I’m still confused by why Megan was so threatened by Stephanie’s presence. There are no secrets here for Don to hide but perhaps Don’s obvious displays of care and concern towards Stephanie bothered Megan because he comes off a bit cold to her when he visits. Megan currently lives a lifestyle that feels like a front; her openness comes with the crowd that she associates herself with and the lifestyle is all an attempt to fit in with these young bohemians she calls friends. “The Runaways” had a lot to talk about and some interesting things to ponder over but skid around an oval track with very little control at times.

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