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DANCING-COSGROVE.gifEach week PAPER will help you sort through your feelings about Mad Men by rounding up the best and brightest of the MM recaps. Read below so you can compare, contrast, and ponder while doing a tap dance routine on speed in your office.

This episode is all about drugs.

Mad Men's own Don...doesn't need a baggie of mushrooms or peyote buttons to have a reality-warping hallucinatory experience, just a vitamin superdose injected directly into his gluteus. -- EW

Jim Cutler brings in Dr. Shelly Hecht to infuse the staff with "24 to 72 hours of uninterrupted creative focus, energy and confidence." Honestly, they did better when they drank whiskey and smoked joints all day long. -- Rolling Stone

Hell, I'm exhausted after that episode, and all I had today was a multivitamin. One thing is for certain: I never need to see Don Draper on drugs ever again...I've had enough death, doorway and whores-are-mommies imagery to last me until Mad Men reaches the 1970s. -- Rolling Stone

Even though Dr. Hecht's is supposed to be a silver bullet to increase productivity, it does just the opposite.

Seriously, though, have you ever tried to collaborate with someone who's overdone it with stimulants?...I loved when an exasperated Ted marvels that even "Chevy" is spelled wrong. -- Slate

Peggy and Ginsberg are not impressed by Stan's stream-of-consciousness Chevy taglines or Don's stirring -- though ultimately empty -- declaration about his ultimate idea. "That was very inspiring. Do you have any idea what the idea is?" Peggy says with the weariness of a woman who's probably thinking, "At least he's not puking all over his shirt and then falling asleep in my lap this time." -- TV Line

Ted [fumes] over the weekend's pathetic lack of productivity: "Half of this work is gibberish. Chevy is spelled wrong." -- Rolling Stone

Was this episode too disjointed?

Mad Men has gotten trippy before...but "The Crash" is a funhouse-mirror nightmare that pretty much lasts an entire episode...Everything's so chopped up and disjointed that it's like he's living through a full weekend composed entirely of non-sequitur "Next Week on Mad Men..." snippets. -- EW

Turns out all [Don's] dull sulking and sniveling and raging this season has been a build-up to your drug-induced peak and subsequent crash. It's glorious. The nonsense spouted off by Don last night is among the funniest writing this season, and maybe in the show's entire run. -- Complex

If last week's "Mad Men" was packed with satisfying scenes...then this week's episode was all agitation and mania with much less pay off. -- Salon

Mad Men itself seemed to be under the influence, stumbling around sweating and yammering, desperately trying to come up with a Big Idea, like Don and the gang slaving for Chevy...More so than any Mad Men episode I can recall, it doesn't quite feel like a Mad Men episode, but a bunch of half-formed ideas for a Mad Men episode...[or a] TV-drama version of one of those papers that every halfway-smart student writes when they're exhausted and can't come up with an idea, and decides to write about their inability to come up with an idea instead, and hope they'll be so clever that they'll get an A anyway. -- Vulture

Don is now obsessed with Sylvia...

When Sylvia cuts off the affair, [Don] becomes a man obsessed, hanging outside the Rosens' apartment and lighting cigarette after cigarette with the torch he holds for her. Where he was once detached, he has now become unstuck. Don's sexual fantasies may have included power games, but everyone knows real power belongs to the one who loves least, and his need for Sylvia sends him into a head-on collision worse than Ken's Impala joyride. -- EW

Don is also flashing back to losing his virginity. Enough with the flashbacks already!

As [Don] coughs into a handkerchief, he flashes back to when he had a chest cold in the whorehouse and one of the prostitutes showed more compassion for him than his stepmother ever did. (Spoiler alert: That hooker was also Don's first woman, and when his stepmom found out, she beat him with a wooden spoon.) -- TV Line

And all that vitamin injection did for Don was cause his head space to be occupied by his teenage memory of Ms. Swenson, the blonde hooker who had been making eyes at him from the day he moved into Uncle Mack's brothel, tending to him while he battled a nasty chest cold. So it's no wonder Don's perception of women is so skewed: The only female who had shown him any sort of maternal comfort up to that point was a prostitute. But Ms. Swenson resumed her duties as soon as young Dick's lungs cleared up, relieving him of his virginity and any hope that he could ever separate the idea of a mother figure from that of a whore, especially after Abigail beat his ass for sleeping with the merchandise -- Rolling Stone

I've always found that Don's childhood flashbacks never really gel for me. The straight-backed man with the corner office is a long way from the boy who grew up on a farm during the Depression, or the gangly teen who ended up in a whorehouse once his alcoholic father died. It's hard to connect the dots between these individuals on an emotional level, even when the psychological through-line is highlighted in neon... -- EW

Come on, isn't all this Don-mother-whore stuff too much?

Seriously, Matthew Weiner, do you think we're grasping your point about mothers and whores and friends and whores and brothers and whores and mourning daughters and whores, or do we also need Betty calling Sally a whore? ("Where'd you get that skirt?" "I earned it." "On what street corner?") Do we need Michael Ginsberg urging Don to "Promise them everything. You've got to change their life, you've got to take away their pain!"? Do we need Don announcing his unwillingness to yield his life to Chevy's high-paying whoring schedule, and then piously telling Ted Chaough, "Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse"? Are we really meant to throw our sandwiches at the screen, yelling, "But YOU are the whore, Don Draper!"? Sometimes I wish Don weren't quite so covered in whoring whoremongers and the whoring whores who whore for them. I mean, this dead horse was beaten to a pulp months ago, wasn't it? Every time they flash back to that whorehouse, I can't tell if I'm watching "Mad Men" or "Boardwalk Empire" or "The Sopranos" or "Game of Thrones" (where at least the whores have biting words and little vials filled with poison). "Mad Men" is too smart and modern to send us somewhere we've been a million times before (and will be a million more times in the future). What if Don Draper just had a stoical dad who drank too much and beat him, like so many kids of his generation? Wouldn't the specifics of that have to be a little more artful? Have we learned or seen one intriguing or interesting or artful detail about 1) young Don, 2) his stepmother, 3) Mac or 4) the nurturing whores in his midst? Given the rich, unpredictable nature of so many "Mad Men" scenes, these flashbacks are, in contrast, utterly flat and colorless. There were whores around, and it was confusing. Next! -- Salon

Letting us into Don's past, connecting his encounters with prostitutes to his recklessness today lets us know Don in ways that don't work. They feel too obvious, plain as a connect-the-dots puzzle. -- Complex

Don is still in crisis because of course he is. And as such, we were treated to a number of whorehouse flashbacks, Weiner's favorite Dick Whitman resting ground. Don has unresolved issues from his childhood, we get it. -- Collider

The less said about Don's flashbacks, the better...Don's childhood-issues-as-explanations-for-his-adult-dysfunction would seem played-out by this point, even if the flashbacks weren't consistently poorly acted and written ("I defy your accusations!") and integrated with present-tense material in a film-schoolish way. -- Vulture

Has Don officially lost his edge?

[Don's] speeches, usually inspiring and grandiloquent, [have] become rambling and alarming. -- EW

Reduced to his essence, [Don] was revealed to be nothing more than a glitchy, half-absent patriarch, a fugue of uplifting nonsense, a fraud who lied his way into someone else's life and took them for all they were worth....Sanctimonious as ever, he'll take the high road to his own doom. -- Salon

Don hasn't had his brilliant breakthroughs like in the past. There was no Kodak Carousel moment at the end the episode, even though it was teased a few times (as it has been in other episodes, where Don sounds like Old Don, but is now bordering on Crazy Don, like his ad that everyone read as suicide). His three day drug trip resulted in nothing except the idea that he's not sure if anyone loves him, and that the key to life is not a Chevy. -- Collider

Stan hits on Peggy and sleeps with that mysterious hippie chick, who we thought was a hallucination of Don's for most of the episode.

When he wasn't challenging Jim to race him around the office, Stan was hooking up with late CGC partner Frank Gleason's hippie daughter Wendy -- but that was only after Peggy spurned his advances. -- Rolling Stone

Stan was a really interesting case this week, because when he reveals to Peggy about the pain he feels having lost his cousin months back in combat, Peggy tells him to let himself feel that pain, and not to dampen it with drugs and sex. And yet, near the end of the episode that's exactly what Stan does. It's also exactly what Don has always does. -- Collider

Please, Mad Men, don't let this be the only payoff for all of the Stan-Peggy build-up. Please revisit them in the future. But first, please let her forget about watching him get it on with hippie Wendy -- who we later learn is Frank's daughter -- on an office couch later in the hour while Jim Cutler pervs out beside her. (Beside Peggy, not Wendy. Even in this oddball episode, that would've been a little too weird.) -- TV Line

Peggy's intimate moment with Stan was exquisitely observed. Despite his drug-addled inappropriateness and her sisterly feelings toward him, there's real chemistry there; you can feel it. "You've got a great ass," he tells her as she's leaving. "Thank you," she says simply. Also: "You're lucky I don't like beards." Expect a clean-shaven Stan next week. -- Vulture

Peggy rolled her eyes at Don, comforted Ted, and turned down Stan's advance. And good lord, have we ever seen Peggy turn down an advance before? Pete, Duck, Abe, Ted... Peggy has always been the girl who says yes to half-hearted passes. Maybe this means she's finally an adult. -- Salon

What did that "Grandma Ida" incident mean?

While Don was off figuring out the perfect ad campaign to present to his mistress, his children were being terrorized by a deranged woman who managed to slip into the apartment and rob the Drapers of their valuables - all the while claiming to be the kids' grandmother (not an easy sell, considering she was African-American). But in true Don Draper fashion, come Monday morning, there's no remorse for his actions, only his usual "this never happened" attitude. -- Rolling Stone

Why not throw in a woman pretending to be Don's long-lost nanny and "grandmother," who's really just a thief in disguise? Because then we've got matriarchs who steal stuff -- gold watches! Time itself, stolen! We've got motherly frauds who will turn on you the second you don't give them hugs and trust them and tell them everything. This is the embodiment of what Don thinks will happen if he's honest and gives his heart to a woman: she'll steal everything that isn't nailed down. -- Salon

Burglar Mammy was horrendous, a confirmation of every harsh judgment levied against Mad Men for being too much of a white upper-middle-class historical fantasy, a show that's not willing or able to really go where it labors to convince us it's going. If Burglar Mammy were a dream figure attached to a particular character, and if Mad Men had shown any inclination to go anywhere substantive with its allusions to civil rights and racial anxiety, and if it hadn't given us a black Playboy bunny, a black prostitute, a black mugger, and other disreputable minor characters over the years, but no people of color with personal or even narrative substance, I might feel differently about her. -- Vulture

Overworked metaphor alert: Don frets that Sylvia will "close the door" on him; he swears there's "an answer that will open the door"; and when his vulnerable home is robbed, he apologizes, "I left the door open. It was my fault." As the episode closed, it felt like Don had slammed and deadbolted all the doors to his heart. -- Slate

Ken tap dances, a thousand GIFs are created.
 
With a scratched-up face, a show-business cane, and a limp, Kenny just screamed out, "Pass the drugs, please." Once tweaking, he dances a jig -- is Matthew Weiner writing scenes knowing that they'll be turned into GIFs? -- Complex

Ken Cosgrove's desperate, angry tap dance for Don sums up the Chevy people's thuggishness, but it also feels like yet another metaphor for what's it's probably like to work on Mad Men (the poor bastard's dancing as fast as he can, so that sonfoabitching recappers can write about what a rotten dancer he is). -- Vulture


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Oh, and Betty's skinny again. More Bugles for the rest of us.


The sudden weight loss just goes to show how self-centered Betty still is: She "struggled" with her diet for a year and a half, but once the term "political wife" became within her reach, she managed to put down the Bugles and drop the pounds in a matter of two months. I have a sickening feeling Sally is about to get a crash course in eating disorders. -- Rolling Stone

Betty's blonde and svelte again, by the way. -- TV Line



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