‘Mad Men’ Season 6, Episode 8 Review – Outta My Head

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Kiernan Shipka and Mason Vale Cotton in Mad Men The Crash Mad Men Season 6, Episode 8 Review – Outta My Head

Because it’s set in the past, Mad Men spends a lot of time regarding the future. And in the case of season 6, that notion seems firmly rooted in the examination of what’s left for the next generation, as the end of the ’60s is rapidly approaching. Specifically, the season seems interested in the fact that these young people are set to inherit a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams or has otherwise been mismanaged and fallen into disarray.

Both statements seem to be relevant and fixed in the framework of ‘The Crash’ – an interesting, bizarre distortion that may very well wind up being the most divisive episode of the season – if not the entire series.

The peculiar bits of the episode aren’t necessarily anything new to the series; season 5 had two episodes that also played around with the notion of losing time and being out of sorts enough that differentiating reality from (fever or drug-induced) hallucination is virtually impossible in the moment. First there was ‘Mystery Date,’ which toyed with Don’s often-knotty relationship with the concept of fidelity, as well as his incredibly vast and complicated relationship with women in general. Then there was ‘Far Away Places,’ a masterful episode that demonstrated the show’s ability to tell several different stories from three differing perspectives simultaneously, the highlight of which was Roger Sterling’s initial run-in with LSD that briefly illuminated his otherwise boozy, smoke-filled world.

Harry Hamlin in Mad Men The Crash Mad Men Season 6, Episode 8 Review – Outta My Head

The episodes in question were, in many ways, an examination of the past – especially the romantic swath Don had cut through New York before, during and immediately after his marriage to Betty – and how that past defined each character. But ‘The Crash’ is pointed forward, once again hinting at the idea of parents or parental figures and the relationship they have with their children, much like the season 6 premiere and ‘The Flood.’ This time, though, the children in question seem to be everyone in the offices formerly known as SCDP, as most are reduced to acting like unsupervised children after partaking in whatever proprietary blend of vitamins (and other drugs) Dr. Hecht had in his syringes.

While Stan is racing Jim Cutler around the office, letting Ginsberg through sharp object in his general direction or making overt passes at Peggy, Don tries to figure out a way to get Sylvia back by obsessing over an old oatmeal account with the tagline “Because you know what he needs,” featuring a woman who resembles the prostitute who nursed him back to health and then promptly took his virginity. (Unfortunately, we don’t get to see what effect the shot has on Roger – though chances are good that’s because no one would be able to tell the difference.)

Don’s obsession with winning his way back into Sylvia’s good graces is mirrored by the rest of the team’s desire (drug-induced or otherwise) to get the next pitch to Chevy done so that Ken can (hopefully) tap dance his way into the company’s heart. The insanity of the drugs are a way to show how easily the world can spin out of control when the things a person wants or thinks he needs are kept out of reach and overwhelming desire subsequently drives them crazy and forces them to make impulsive, selfish and irrational decisions, which inevitably results in them again being told “no.”

Jon Hamm in Mad Men The Crash Mad Men Season 6, Episode 8 Review – Outta My Head

Naturally, at the heart of it is Don’s sense of loss in regard the mother he never knew – but knew she was a prostitute – and how the woman who raised him wound up working in the same kind of environment. Don (Dick, at the time), was ostensibly left to fend for himself, being told to sleep down in the cellar because he might have consumption. The lack of care and supervision on behalf of his “mother” resulted in his recovering in bed of the kindly prostitute Ms. Swenson and helped forge the man that he is today.

And while the office is free of regulation all weekend, due to Ted’s absence on behalf of Frank Gleason’s death and the distinct lack of Joan Holloway, Sally and Bobby wind up left alone the same night a strange woman breaks into Don and Megan’s apartment. After Sally confronts her, the woman claims to be her grandmother Ida, simultaneously destroying the last shred of faith Sally still has in the authority of her elders and (unbeknownst to Ida) exploiting the complete lack of knowledge Sally has about her father’s history.

It all seems to come down to an impression of loss that, on the surface, has to do with Ted’s mourning Frank Gleason, and Stan’s cousin dying in Vietnam, but there’s also an undercurrent of innocence and childhoods being lost, and, on a larger scale, the future of an entire generation. That’s a lot to take in on an episode many might write off as silly or absurd, but ‘The Crash’ will inevitably wind up being the episode everyone is talking about because it can be easily interpreted in so many different ways.

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Mad Men continues next Sunday with ‘The Better Half’ @10pm on AMC. Check out a preview below:

 

Photo: Michael Yarish/AMC

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  1. Innocence and childhoods being lost. You nailed it.

    Having lived through the late sixties as a child, the weirdness of the period really came through in this episode – including the fact that the adults seemed disoriented, or at least, many of them did to the kids.

    It’s interesting to see how Betty almost comes off as a “proper” mother in this episode (in every sense of the word), in contrast with Don’s whores, mistresses, and even his increasingly distant wife.

    I must say, despite being a serious fan of this show, the dive into Don’s past this week felt forced. We could have done with a lighter hand.

    Again – some great comedic moments (Cosgrove’s soft shoe? Great stuff.)

    And Little Miss i-Ching? A poignant scene as she puts the moves on Don, places a stethoscope to his heart, says “I think it’s broken” and he wants to know how she can tell… but the girl meant the stethoscope.

    http://dailyplateofcrazy.com/mad-men-reviews/

  2. For the record, the recorded cover version by Brazil ’66
    of Going Out Of My Head was used for this episode.
    No doubt because of a female vocal lead singer
    which appropriately suited the character.

    The definitive original version is by Little Anthony And The Imperials,
    one of the greatest songs of the sixties and by far the best version:

  3. “Does someone love me?”
    That’s the question folks. After 5 1/2 seasons that’s all it comes down to for Mr. Don Draper.
    Sadly, if Don was as smart as he thinks he is he’d realize that his daughter Sally would and wants to love him but unfortunately for him he doesn’t realize that a daughters love for her father is greater and more rewarding than the love earned from anyone else.
    Maybe I’m looking into Don & Sally’s phonecall to deeply because I’m the father of a daughter but even after she said she really didn’t know him if Don would have said I love you to her before she hung up he’d have an answer to his question.

    • I was waiting and hoping for Don to just say I love you.
      Don seemed frozen by her comment she did not know
      him as if thinking to himself he feels the same way.

      • Yeah, when he called back to her and there was a pause I really thought he’d say I love you.
        I forget his exact words but saying it was his fault and she did nothing wrong was the best Don could do. Of course it’s not good enough, it will never be but (pardon the cliché) until Don himself learns how to love even by just saying it, he’ll never be loved in return.

    • I don’t think you’re looking too deeply into their phone conversation as it was, I believe, an integral part of the show for the very reason you stated – he’d have an answer to his question. I think he wouldn’t like the answer.

      When Sally voiced that she doesn’t know him at all, my husband said “Hell, no one knows him because there’s nothing to know; he’s a shell.” Sadly true.

      • Actually “shell” is really a kind description of Don Draper. ;)

      • And even Don’s shell was shed from someone else.

    • I m not sure Sally looks for his affection: as the op pointed out she has lost every shred of belief in adults. Her father is just an ubreliable distant figure like others adults.

  4. The soup ad Don so feverishly searched for ended up not being soup at all, but oatmeal. I assume the erred “soup” reference came from his visual memory of Ameé feeding him broth when he was ill … “Because you know what he needs”. Freud would’ve had a field day with this episode and its psychological aspects.

    I’ve just about decided we – the viewers – have begun the slow decent into disliking more and more the character of Don Draper. We’re going to ultimately spurn him. Much like Tony Soprano from ‘The Sopranos’, I want so badly to like this brilliant-but-morally-corrupt-because-of-a-rotten-upbringing man, but increasingly find myself seeing Don Draper for what he truly is: A brilliant, but morally corrupt individual who uses his past as an excuse for the damage he doles out not only to himself, but to those around him. And I continue to dislike and find him pathetic.

    Although I hated last night’s episode, I appreciated it nonetheless.

    • It’s a deconstruction exercise I think : weiner sold us this don draper figure in first season : charismatic, dapper, perfect household, genious adman, with his admirers both male and female and above all mysterious. He had a magical quality. And then he slowly started unravelling him. Show how there is nothing behind it.

    • Right.

  5. I just want to point out one thing (although the rest of this is spot on) the prostitute who nurtures Dick back to help is not “kindly.” The sex scene is one of rape and coercion; Dick explicitly says that he does not want to do anything with her. She is a rapist. Which adds a whole additional level of awful to that storyline; the only woman to treat Dick like a child abuses him.

    • People got to stop with the rape stuff! Reminds me of all those posts of dumb girl with title like “I wonder if he raped me – what s your opinion” well honey let me tell you that if he RAPED you you wouldn’t be left “wondering”. You fight, you scream, you scratch, you cry,
      And for Dick clearly you could see that he wanted to : c’mon! He kept glancing at her at every occasion. He had a boner just looking at her ! He was just your average shy boy who s dying to know but wants to look tough and uninterested.

      • Are you kidding me? Are you one of these “legitimate rape” idiots? No, rape often does involve more coercion and manipulation and is not some stranger jumping out of the bushes attacking a screaming, innocent white woman.

        Never comment on matters you clearly know nothing about ever again.

        • I don’t know what legitimate rape is. I googled it but it’s still far from clear for me. As for the coercition scenario you describe sorry but this isn’t rape in my mind. Rape is one of the strongest word and one of the worst thing you can do. If someone beat your ass and sends you to the hospital it’s not murder. Taking advantage of your position is coercition, not rape in itself. Seduction often involves a certain degree of manipulation/ coercition sometimes so subtle you aren’t even aware of it ask PUA so it can’t be a criterion.
          The single criterion for rape is : does she/he wanted to ? Period. If she/he didn’t it’s rape. In every other case it’s not. If she/he can’t make up her mind about it then it proved they had mixed feelings about it and that at some level he/she wanted to but had some serious reserve about it. Yes The partner might have used tricks and manipulated them and yes it’s not pretty but it’s not rape. If mankind had been so g****** touchy about these matters for the past centuries I m not sure there still would be people to talk about it. Now every single time sometimes feel a bit ashamed about sex, feel they were tricked they talk about rape. I find it irresponsible and un respectful for the true victims. And to come back at mad men, For Mm Joan with gregg it’s rape, don with the prostitute it’s not – he wanted to.There is the fact that he’s still minor but that’s a different matter and here too, reality is miles away from morality. Oh and last thing: pretty weird for him to make an ad with slogan “you know what he needs” inspired by the whole event (sick boy, same visage of the prostitute)if it was a rape, don’t you think?

          • And to give one last exemple : Joan with herb it’s not rape but it’s strong coercition. She hated his guts and although she gained something she was pretty much forced into it by the partners ( ” I was told everyone agreed” – clearly there was pressure on her ) . in the specific circumstances she agreed even tough she might suffer from it until her death. It’s completely different from Gregg situation where it’s straightforward rape even if he’s his fiancé. She didn’t want to and he still had his way with her. Rape.

  6. I hated the Mad Man show on Sunday, May 19th. I felt it was just a bunch of quick , crazy scenes thrown together. Don Draper doing another women when he has a beautiful young women at home. I don’t care for him at all anymore. Get over your past – show some respect to women. And the black Grandma, that just seemed like a throw in. Oh and of course the shots by the doctor!!! I think Mad Men received many awards and now they are having trouble putting together
    a decent show!! I may have to stop watching.

    • I’m really only still watching Mad Men because it’s almost over (one more season). I’ve never even gone back and rewatched any of the other seassons, like I have with so many other shows. Just too slow.

      • It’s not your average show. It doesn’t try to dazzle its audience at all expenses. Weiner is looking at the global journey and its final destination. He has a very clear goal in mind while most shows are about having something to say and having people talk about it even if it’s coming out of nowhere and going nowhere. He’s giving us a full study on a character in a way that only a tv show can provide, the long, natural way. Remember when don said grew up in a whorehouse and some people said he was lying ? And it’s only now that he tackles tge subject. Remember how sal was ousted of the show and how he never got back in spite of the fan? Weiner wanted to show the closeted gay condition in the 60′s and even with the lucky strike fallout he was done with that and he won’t bring him back. How many time weiner has showed us something and then discarded the character never to be mentioned again? Remember how everyone was suddenly striked by the burt peterson bit where don looked so young ? or how peggy has changed? He has a gameplan to develop his characters in the slowest, most natural way and he’s sticking to it. It’s never been done this way before and I, for one, is admirative how he paces the show. I can’t count how many times people have complained that a movie isn’t taking the time to develop its characters the way a book does. Well there you have it. It’s some great innovative storytelling so don’t b**** now about the fact it’s a slow burner.