Mad Men Season 5, Episode 6: Frank and Beans
One day, three relationships and a nifty temporal loop. This week’s episode didn’t really focus on the business; Bert Cooper is not pleased.
But there was business to be done. The Heinz bean man, the fool who shot down the bean ballet, is coming back and he wants college kids. Since it’s the ‘60s, you can’t run a campaign that places beans as the perfect supplement to marijuana:
Get Stoned. Get Hungry. Get Beans. Get Gassy. Get Entertained by the Gassiness. Heinz.
Okay, maybe I need more seasoning as a copywriter. Peggy gives it an earnest shot about kids at a campfire, brought together by beans. The bean man rejects it because that’s what he does, though Peggy takes it personally probably because she was already in a foul mood after an argument with Abe the journalist. Part of the reason I like Peggy is because we have so much in common. She understands that when you are frustrated with life all you need to do is smoke a joint and perform a random act of kindness for a stranger; she gives handjibbers to movie theater patrons, I do other things, but it’s all the same in how it makes you feel.
That night she is troubled when her future lover Ginsberg, up to this point highly secretive, reveals his dark origin. If there’s anything we know it’s that heroes and geniuses have dark origins, and Ginsberg fits the bill so far. (He’s a high riser as Dick Vitale would say; look for him to be stud with Peggy and in the workplace by the end of the season.) Peggy is unsure if people were born in concentration camps, so she turns to Abe for the kind of comfort you can’t get from a penis in the seat next to you. Relationship 1: on solid ground at the end of the day.
Roger solicits Don for a weekend of upstate debauchery, but Don goes on the trip with his wife instead, forcing Roger to endure a dinner party filled with snobs who love to talk in the abstract. Roger is a man of the flesh, specifically the pleasures and temptations of it, and the only thing he can say to his wife is that she’s beautiful. Jane is no intellectual slouch and yearns to be closer to the Truth, so acid must be dropped.
The trip roger goes on if rife with symbolism and will be analyzed by people much smarter than I, I’m sure. Somehow Roger and Jane get home and have a candid talk about their marriage, serenely accepting that they are done. Roger greets the day with vigor instead of malaise for the first time in a while. Relationship 2: over, for the best.
Finally, Don and Megan star in the most dramatic of the three acts. Don pulls Megan out of work for a kinky getaway, but it’s clear that he doesn’t understand that the dominant shtick is only for the bedroom. Megan, surprise!, doesn’t like to be bossed around, or go from coworker to wife at Don’s beck and call. She chafes at his self-centeredness, and the argument escalates so that she takes a dig at his mom. Not. Cool. (Aside: Megan knows about Dick Whitman, but does she know about his whore mother? Help the author out.)
Don, ensconced in mommy issues, drives away without Megan, travelling for some time before realizing that, yes, that was a terrible thing to do. He goes back but she is gone, maybe she left with those fellas for a revenge gangbang. Damn waitresses and their suggestive clues. Don eventually goes home to find her there, bosses her around some more (“Open the door!”), kicks the door down, chases her around some, then hugs her while kneeling. Megan seems to forgive him, but come on. Seriously?
Relationship 3: gotta be on the rocks.
At the end, Bert confronts Don for not giving his all at work, and Don realizes that his all at love is a pretty shitty all. His all at work is much more effective.