Michael Uppendahl

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We all get burned out from time to time, but it seems that when ad men get burned out, things really go awry. Especially when there may or may not be steroids or some weird “stimulant” involved. This week’s Mad Men, “The Crash,” is a surreal, fever dream of an episode. Nightmarish events occur, but you won’t find any dream sequences here. Written by Jason Grote and Matthew Weiner and directed by Michael Uppendahl, this episode throws its viewers down the same drugged up rabbit hole as the characters. And while it features some of those questionable Dick Whitman whorehouse flashbacks, it’s a very strong one in terms of the overall immersive effect of Uppendahl’s direction and the dark aura that it leaves behind. Chevy has put a lot of deadlines upon the yet-to-be-named super agency, and they need to work all weekend to come up with a slew of new ideas for the campaign. Don isn’t feeling well, Ken got into a car accident test driving with the powers-that-be at Chevy, and many are saddened by Frank Gleeson’s passing, so Jim Cutler reasons that it’s a good idea to get a doctor to come to the office to inject any ailing parties with a stimulant which is supposed to keep them creative for over twenty-four hours.

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This week’s Mad Men is all about not practicing what you preach. Don gets angry with Megan for feigning sex on her soap, when he does a lot more than feign with others in real life. Joan fires Harry’s secretary, Scarlett, when Joan is clearly no angel. And a lot of people are mad about some secret meetings with Heinz Ketchup. This episode, entitled “To Have and to Hold,” probably won’t have much weight in terms of furthering the plot as a whole other than to further complicate the Don/Megan relationship. Though, like last week’s entry, this episode from writer Erin Levy and director Michael Uppendahl has a tight theme, is well-constructed, and is definitely engaging. Joan’s act of hypocrisy here stems from her desperately trying to establish a sense of authority in the male-driven workplace. And you really feel for her, especially since that whole terrible Jaguar situation is still getting thrown in her face. When she discovers that Scarlett made Dawn falsely punch her timecard to duck out with Harry (and also to do some shopping) she is livid and immediately fires Scarlett… only to get undermined by Harry and the rest of the partners when the firing doesn’t stick. Harry is especially awful here, begging for a partnership (which he doesn’t get), saying, “I’m sorry my accomplishments happened in broad daylight and I can’t be given the same rewards.”

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Gene continues to bond with the Draper kids; Sal gets put in charge of directing the “Bye Bye Birdie”-themed commercial; Peggy decides to move to Manhattan and begins looking for a roommate.

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