Article Title
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Living in a Material World

by Mike Anton

Establishing Shot: Harry Krishna

No one would have bet on Harry Crane. The runt of the Chipmunks, Harry was remarkable only because he was unremarkable. He didn't have the acerbic wit or mean glare of Paul Kinsey; the cool demeanor and haircut of Ken Cosgrove; or the determination and fun, bitter resentment of Pete Campbell. All of these young men set upon the world of advertising had clear goals in mind. Harry's was simply to not get fired. 

His big break was also actor Rich Sommers'. The character, doomed to suicide after cheating on his wife with Hildy, Pete's secretary, was given another chance thanks to the subtle humor the UCB Theater grad gave to Harry's character (remember his tighty-whitey late night Bro-down with Don in Season 1's closer "The Wheel"?) He was a snake and a weasel, but unabashedly so. Suddenly, he walks into a room and leaves as the head of media, the top man in a burgeoning industry that he himself could not possibly see coming down the pike. One doubts Harry can see too far beyond his Coke bottle glasses (no matter how stylish the frames have become).

Now he's a big muckety-muck in a shitty office. The family he sought out at the beginning of the series now hangs like an albatross on his neck. He wings over to the coast and tells everyone he possibly can that he's doing it. He drops names like a self-serving Johnny Appleseed, as the only thing that grows is his ego. This leads to smoking pot with teenagers and partying with a band he thinks is THE Rolling Stones. Matthew Weiner has not-too-subtly hinted in interviews that people in Harry's position would make the leap to head-up TV networks. It's quite the involved swipe at the suits who give him notes and holding up contract delays. Such is the amoral shitstain which is Harry Crane.

But that's not to say that Harry doesn't have a heart, especially for his fellow Chipmunks. He was the one who implored Pete to let Ken back into the fold at SCDP, brokering a lunch at the deténte diner in season four. In last night's episode, "Christmas Waltz," he meets up with the only one of the crew left in the wind, Paul Kinsey, who took his temper and insecurities from ad agency to ad agency to grocery store before ending up in his current state, penniless and possessionless with the Hare Krishnas. But happy, seemingly. A feeling that successful Harry, with his constantly furrowed brow, never seems to attain.

Harry's sure that Kinsey is trying to recruit him when it's actually the other way around, Harry gets cold feet. Mostly because Kinsey's "Star Trek" spec script is universally terrible, a notion shared by Kinsey's female replacement, Peggy Olsen. As Harry frets (the thing he is best at, really) he tries to help his friend by ... having sex with the woman that he loves. It's ok because they don't believe in monogamy, she says, before leaning over his desk and imploring him to "take her" that way. She drives a hard bargain, that one. Afterwards he finds that she wants Paul to stay in the fold not because he's found a closer relationship to the lord (or to her); he's the group's best recruiter. "He really can close," she says with all of the earnestness of an admiring used car salesman. 

Harry helps his love-sick friend in the best and worst way possible. Much like how Don Draper tried to throw his problems away by tossing $5000 at his younger brother, Harry throws Paul a discounted $500 and a plane ticket to Los Angeles. This transaction goes considerably better, as Harry avoids the advice given to him by both females he consults, lying to Paul about his scripts greatness. He even throws in the veracity of a lowly script reader to show he means business (one that, coincidentally, cannot be contacted in any way, even though the hypothetical he or she is A READER)

Paul takes the envelope containing "his future" and gives Harry a hug, saying that he's the only one who actually helped him. Little does he realize that Harry also avoided the other advice given to him in the episode, by Paul himself. "Money solves today, not tomorrow." So with one fire put out, Harry can look forward to fretting about the next, just over the horizon and across the country.

 

The Close-Up: Money Talks

Like our buddy Harry Crane, most of the denizens of SCDP are trying to alleviate their worries with greenbacks. And, like our buddy Harry, they don't necessarily fix anything but the immediate future.

- The most pressing issue comes from across the pond, where Lane Price kept his family for a time ... while also keeping his taxes in America. How dire are his straights? Lane borrows $50,000 against the company to pay the fee, flying in the face of his scrupulous, penny-pinching habits that have defined him as clearly as his accent. This leads to lies to his partners, both at home and at work. Lane trades going to jail now for possibly going to jail in the future for corruption, forgery, and embezzlement. After Mohawk pulls its ad money, Lane is forced to push all-in on Jaguar, or else he's out of a family, a company, and the American freedom he admires so. 

- Ol' Don Draper seems to have found his swagger again, but not for the right reasons. Yes, we get to see a reinvigorated Don save the day with a Knute Rockne-esque speech to rouse the troops after his fellow partners lull the subordinates to sleep, but why? Because he thinks that's the thing that will make Megan happy. Of course, that completely flies in the face of what she actually wants: for Don to care about her, settling instead for Don to care about <i>something</i>. Throwing in extra long hours at the office doesn't seem like the perfect remedy for what ails this marriage, which seems to be "Don is Don and Megan is Megan." But Don will be able to think that he's doing them both a favor, which is enough to get him through the day.

- Poor Joan is stuck in no man's land. She can't accept the financial security from Roger (who, at this point, must be considered OBSCENELY rich to be throwing around as much cash as he is) and has divorce papers thrust upon her. The car she wants to make her feel better is a $5500 beauty – that costs $6000 to rent, apparently – and the music she plays for others to dance to costs pocket change. Same goes for the drink she buries her face into, lamenting how men no longer buy and send her flowers to work. Ironically, she's waiting to be bought, but is too scared to let a man come by and kick her tires. Figuratively speaking, of course.

 

B-Roll: Inventory

- This year's "Mad Men" price guide:

$1100 for an office relocation bribe

$400 for a late-night Peggy Olsen pitch

$6000 for a Jaguar XKE

$500 to bribe someone away from a religious sect (cult?)

$7500 (minus fee) to not go to jail in England to tax evasion

$3.95 for a record of The Beatles' album Revolver that Don doesn't even understand

$250,000 to play "Tomorrow Never Knows" on the show itself

- Remember when I giddily said that the form of "Mad Men" was changing right along with the time it was depicting? Welp, this is another fairly basic-looking episode, directed by Michael Uppendahl, who directed the solid "At the Codfish Ball" this season. Oh well. Guess I'll have to live with gorgeous and lush compositions brought together by harder cuts. 

- The Jaguar XKE can really only take off in America because the streets are too narrow in Britain. It has "too much power for England." Lane Price nods grimly.

- We get our first Dynamic Duo Superteam Power-Up meeting between Don and Joan since season 3's "Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency." This time all the blood on Joan's dress is theoretical, but the chemistry is still readily apparent. It also seemed to be a throw-back to a similar conversation with Peggy in season 4's masterpiece, "The Suitcase," even in a similar looking bar (my cousin Sue says the same bar, but I'm not so sure about that). 

- Who is Scarlett? Why is this secretary suddenly getting air time? And why does this feel like it's the first time I've seen Dawn in ages? Thank god she's there, standing at the periphery, holding on to one of the more compelling stories among the cast of characters and not getting much leverage out of it. I would much rather see her struggles than Lane's, that's for sure.

- Sterling's Gold: "It's Pearl Harbor day." [Turns to Don, just exiting the bathroom] "How was your bombing?"

- Enjoyed Pete's plain-faced honesty looking for some kind of happiness after getting the firm an opportunity with Jaguar. Loved Bert Cooper slamming him and the car at the same time. Whoever decided to start using Cooper again, you're the best.

- America Hurrah was an actual play. Or, rather, a trilogy of short plays put together. It ran for 640 performances in New York, premiering off-Broadway on November 7, 1966. It's cited as one of the more influential works of the period, and included an on-the-nose representation of a character that would be created some 50 years later. Foresight.

Paul was right: "Star Trek" ran for another season, finally getting the ax in 1969, never to be heard from again.

- Digging further into the past during Don and Joan's conversation at the bar. The rumor going around SterlingCoo was that Joan was a lesbian, which wasn't true. She just had a tortured lesbian roommate that Joan coolly brushed aside. Also, the quote, "I like being bad, and going home and being good" can be attributed to walking bowling ball Bobbie Barrett. Good lord was she a lunatic.

- There's a lot more of Megan's mom in Megan than assumed. Also, who wants to bet Jessica Paré threw discus in high school? She really put some mustard on that plate toss.

- Just before Mohawk's account went down, a model plane went flying across the receptionist's desk. Oh, and the building across the way? Marked 666. Talk about your ominous shots.

- Nothing sexier than a woman Kleenexing your semen away while sitting in your office chair.

- Loved how Joan's roses serendipitously matched, well...her.

Tune In Next Week For...

The Brits seizing Lane Price; the Feds seizing control SCDP; the FBI seizing Dick Whitman, AKA Don Draper; Roger seizing more LSD, then having a seizure; bunt cakes.

Images courtesy of AMC / Lion's Gate Television 

 

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Mike Anton is the Editor-In-Chief at The Inclusive. Mike writes movie reviews and interview pieces for The Film Stage as well as screenplays, sketches, and the like. He lives in New York City and though he's an avid beard and flannel enthusiast, he does not consider himself a hipster. Contact him at mike.anton[at]theinclusive.net or @mpants