Mar 18, 2015

Mad Cap: "The Phantom"

Welcome to Mad Cap: a daily rundown of every episode of the acclaimed AMC series Mad Men. During this time, I will be compiling my thoughts and highlights as we travel through every moment and season of the Emmy-award winning drama that has come to define modern TV. The goal is to be a refresher on every moment for Don Draper and his band of advertisement executives leading up to the final season. Stay for all of the shocking moments and the brilliant acting performances, and make sure to chime in with your thoughts and criticisms on why the show means something to you.

Season 5, Episode 13
"The Phantom"


"Are you alone?"
- Blonde (Madeleine Hamer)

Plot:

Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) wants to expand the space of the office. Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) is desperately trying to get work while her mother Marie Calvet (Julia Ormond) doesn't think she's got the willpower. Marie is also seeing Roger Sterling (John Slattery). Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) is having trouble landing clients. Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) begins to see Beth Dawes (Alexis Bledel) again while Trudy Campbell (Alison Brie) gets mad at him for being morose. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is having teeth problem while also seeing his dead brother Adam Whitman (Jay Paulson). It begins to bother him. Megan gets a tip that Sterling Cooper Draper is doing a commercial and she hops on the opportunity. Beth ends up in the hospital and is unable to remember Pete, which gets him angry. Joan gets the additional floor, which everyone agrees to work on. Don runs into Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss) somewhere and he discovers that she's doing well. He is proud of her.


Rating: 4 out of 5

Vincent Kartheiser
MVP:
Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser)

After the blows of last week, there was no way that Mad Men could even come close to matching it in the finale. So instead, they decide to give catharsis to two unlikely characters. Besides Megan, Pete gets to have some success momentarily. He is happy and is able to see Beth, who is starting to fall for him. The tragedy comes when it is discovered that she can't remember him. All of the hope that he has been building dissipates at the moment and leaves him a strange mess. For a weaselly fellow, it is sad to see him fail as hard as he does here. He actually tries to be happy, but it sadly doesn't work out here.

Jon Hamm
Best Scene

In a brilliant twist, the Draper who ends up the happiest is the one who hasn't had too much success this season. As Megan is getting ready to film a commercial, Don walks away in loneliness. She got the deal not as his wife, but as her own woman. He hasn't achieved much by the end of the episode besides having bad flashbacks of his dead brother and the missing feeling of a tooth. What is his life all about? As he walks away, "You Only Live Twice" begins to play. Sitting at the bar, the final words uttered during the season is "Are you lonely?" It perfectly summarizes the mentality of these characters after a season that has seen transition and a desire to stay relevant despite the tragedy. It also seems poignant as Don has felt oddly ignored for most of the season despite being a central character. What does he really want in life?


Overall Season Thoughts

There's something that began kicking into gear during season four where this series went from really good to something great. It could be that it dropped the novelty of real world events as changing the advertising agency. Now, it's about the people behind it. The uniforms are a lot brighter and their ethics are a little looser. However, their conflicts are a lot different. With Peggy gone and Pryce dead, there was a lot of strange events this season that made it a powerful look into being a professional in ways that the first three seasons didn't. Even Sally Draper has evolved more and more as a fascinating character. I can only hope that the series is on an upward trajectory. Even if I cannot recall too much of a through line for this season beyond a few clients, I think that its reflection of sacrificing family for work has become more clarified in this season.


Overall Rating: 4 out of 5



UP NEXT: "The Doorway"

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