Mad Men Recap: Kris Kringle and Hare Krishna

Mad Men Christmas WaltzChristmas really came early in this week’s Mad Men, which gifted us with an hour that answered at least one huge question, took a seasonal stroll down memory lane, and featured some recently neglected members of the ensemble. The quips! The plot forwarding! The sexy sports cars! Let’s tear open the windows, throw up the sash, and review the big developments of “Christmas Waltz.”

Lane’s been naughty Lane’s personal financial problems from a few episodes back haven’t abated, so we watched the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce money man rob Peter (and the rest of the partners) to pay, well, himself. He secretly secured additional credit for the firm and then proposed handing out early Christmas bonuses to the entire staff, but when Pete and Don wanted to wait, Lane snuck in and forged Draper’s signature on a hefty check, then used that money to pay off his United Kingdom tax debts. In related news: After Lane’s old pal, whose real name was Edwin but who I will forever remember as “CHEWING GUM IN HIS PUBIS!,” was axed from Jaguar, the British car company wanted to see what SCDP — and several other firms — had to offer. Knowing that the pitch would require weekend work over the holidays, and in light of a strike that would slow Mohawk Airlines’ ad needs to a trickle, the partners agreed to delay their own bonuses until January so the rest of the staff could get theirs on time. (Roger’s relaying of that info, after Lane’s attempt failed, was quite funny.) Lane’s face throughout this scene? As green as the cash he’s going to have to account for in the very near future. At least Don left everyone with a fantastic speech, which ended with, “Every agency on Madison Avenue is defined by the moment they got their car. When we land Jaguar, the world will know we’ve arrived.” Damn, he’s good.

Don’s quite nice (to Joan) Roger commemorated Pearl Harbor Day by getting soused, donning a Hawaiian shirt (his hair in that scene, by the way, was the kind of throwaway sight gag at which this show excels), and irking Joan by hitting on Harry’s secretary, Scarlett. But when Rog and the redhead got a moment alone, we became privy to everything: He confirmed that he knows he’s Kevin’s father (!) and he wants (and has been trying) to support his son through college — but Joan won’t have it. “We created a human life. We created a baby,” he pleadingly told her. “Yes, and now it’s some other lucky girl’s turn,” she replied, sending him back out to Scarlett. The day darkened when Joanie was served with papers — looks like Dr. Greg is divorcing her instead of the other way around — and hilariously took out her rage by flinging the Mohawk Airlines statue at the clueless receptionist. (“Surprise! There’s an airplane here to see you!” is exactly the kind of thing you scream in the heat of anger, and it makes perfect sense in the moment.) Enter Don, who soothed his old pal by bringing her to the local Jaguar dealership, where they posed as a couple and test drove a hot red number as part of Don’s research on the company. Because this is Mad Men, the test drive ended at a bar, where the two spent hours making quite the pretty (platonic) pair. So much great stuff was packed into this scene! Reminiscing: Don never put the moves on Joan because she scared the stuffing out of him and Bert told him not to cross her. Pep talking: Don congratulated her on the split and assured her she’d find somebody better. And be still my heart, the flirting: The top two exchanges came when Joan turned down her boss’s offer of a turn on the dance floor (“You and me in midtown, and you with that look on your face?” she purred incredulously) and when she protested that no one was going to hit on her after she’d spent the evening sitting with him (Don: “Poor me, I struck out.” Joan: “Who’s going to believe that?”) You could roast quite a few chestnuts on the smolder power of Christina Hendricks and Jon Hamm — but I love that Don said goodnight and returned home to Megan, even if Megan wasn’t quite as thrilled. The follow-up flowers? The perfect touch.

Ghosts of agencies past Guess where Paul’s been since last we saw him? Wrapped up in sheets, sporting a ponytail, and chanting with his Hare Krishna community like it was his job. Actually, it kinda was; he wanted a meeting with Harry because the penniless penitent, who’d worked his way down the ad ladder until he was out of the game, wanted a way to earn some money and provide for his new lady love, Lakshmi. (In hindsight, of all of the original guys, of course it was Paul who took up with the mystic movement. Can you imagine WASPy Ken strumming a sitar?) Kinsey’s plan for getting cash — writing a spec script for Star Trek and asking Harry to circulate it at NBC — probably only makes sense if you’ve inhaled too much incense. Same for Lakshmi’s rationale for visiting Harry at work to, um, raise his consciousness: She wanted him to tell Paul that his script was terrible and leave them the heck alone in order to protect the convert’s devotion — “And also, he’s our best recruiter. I mean, he really can close.” (Heh.) Instead, Harry gave his old colleague $500 and urged him to flee to California to find the kind of rebirth that eluded him in New York. “All these people said they’d do something for me. You’re the first one who did,” Kinsey tearfully said as he left. Aw, good luck, ponytailed Paul.

Your turn. What did you think of Megan’s plate-throwing outburst, and Don’s kinda inappropriate reaction to it? Are you dying to know what Kirk’s first line is in “The Negron Complex”? Were you as bored as Don was during the American Hurrah performance? And how likely is it that Joan will let Roger be the daddy-from-a-distance he wants to be? Give us our figgy pudding and sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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24 Comments
  1. Daniela says:

    I loved that we got to see so much Joan and – thank you Matt Weiner – less Megan. The scenes between Don and Joan were wonderful. Loved the writing and the acting!
    Seeing Paul was a little bit of a shock. I found these scenes funny and it had a sweet ending. I liked it! :)
    Lane’s financial problems took my main interest. I wonder if it eventually will come to light that he forged Don’s signature.
    As for Don’s “inappropriate reaction”, I saw it as him desperately wanting to be not be put in the same situation he was in with Betty. For him it must feel the same way all over again. Megan sits at home waiting for him and when he comes home late Don gets in an argument with his wife. He’s been there, he’s done that and he wants Megan to be different. But I guess in the end she isn’t. Wonder if this will put Don in bed with other women again…

    • fci says:

      Great part is that unlike when he was with Betty; Don hadn’t done anything wrong.
      It is funny to see a “behaving” Don Draper get in trouble.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      I think eventually Don will return to his philandering ways, but probably not until the end of the season, because it seems like this whole season so far is about Don trying to be reformed. So the end of the season ought to be the pay off of him failing miserably on that account, I believe.

  2. niks says:

    I was stunned by the horrible acting Jessica Pare did in this episode. Two scenes with her and both were a disaster. The episode worked just in packages but the final scene was some great acting by everyone involved. Hope just like Don’s interest in advertising, the show gets its mojo back.

    • fci says:

      I don’t get why so many don’t like Jessica Pare.
      I think she does fine, looks amazing; and the character is great.
      Such a flip from Betty and seeing Don so smitten and being a “good guy” is a wonderful twist.
      I think her acting is just fine.

      • Britta Unfiltered says:

        I can agree that the actress does a good job and she is quite beautiful, but I find the character to be annoying as all get out. Plus seeing Don try to be a good loving husband is very boring to me. I don’t really believe people can do the kind of 180 he’s done, so I’m just not buying it. I think because of their Megan fascination this year, the show is probably going to have their Best Drama Emmy streak broken. They’ll get nominated for sure, but I would be very surprised if they still won. I guess though it will depend on how the season ends to see how it all ties together. Maybe some event will occur that will make all the stuff I’ve disliked seeing make sense, and it will all come together in the most perfect way. No excuse for neglecting their great smaller characters though.

  3. susela says:

    Kim, I’m not sure what the correct name is for the Hare Krishna ponytail Paul was sporting, but it’s not a “tonsure.” A tonsure is the shaved crown with a fringe all around that’s worn by Christian monks.

  4. Naturally Curlie says:

    If Don was as intuitively sensitive to his wife’s needs as he was to Joan’s perhaps there’d be less where were you’s and plate throwing. IMO tending to Joan and neglecting to even phone his wife is self sabatoge and it’s not the wives who are at fault but Don’s behavior. To keep on doing the same thing and expecting different results is as Einstein pointed out insanity. Not attractive to me.

  5. TV Gord says:

    Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Harry ramming… ;-)

  6. TheBeach says:

    Wow, Christina Hendricks ROCKS! The Joan and Don scenes were my favorites of the season, so far.

  7. GiRRL_Earth says:

    Finally, some Joan screen time [sigh]. The dynamics between her and Don. Wow! There’s the old Don I know and love. Don should have brough Joan to the Cool Whip test kitchen to act out the scene “just taste it.” Joan would have had those Cool Whip dudes salivating. Joan is my hero!

    • Jen says:

      I agree! She would have been amazing in the Cool Whip pitch. Joan is now and always has been my favorite character. I adore her. Love the dynamic of her relationship with Don. You can really tell that he has the utmost respect for her. Bravo Jon Hamm & Christina Hendricks.

  8. Rootie says:

    Didn’t you notice that the note on the roses was signed “Ali Khan”? Famous playboy of the era I believe. I think that’s who was ogling Joan in the bar–and we don’t know what happened to her after Don went home, do we?

    • Jen says:

      Ali Khan was a prince who married Rita Hayworth in 1949.

    • Lyn says:

      Rootie, in the bar, Joan sighed that delivery guys USED to bring her flowers, not divorce papers. And Don said something like, “Those flowers! God, for the first week I was here I thought you were dating Ali Khan.”

      • Sarah says:

        Both of you are right. I just went back and rewatched those scenes. He does say that’s what he thought, but the card is signed by the same guy. And the rest of the note? “You’re mother did a good job”? It’s a reference to what they were talking about at the bar, when Joan said that her mother raised her to be admired.

        I’m pretty sure that Don sent her those flowers. Which makes it that much better

  9. EmmittBF says:

    It’s too bad Matt Weiner didn’t have another $250,000 to spend on another Beatles song – George Harrison’s “Taxman” would have been a great song to go out of this episode on.

  10. jim says:

    Best overall show of the season..

  11. Amy says:

    My favorite ep of the season so far. I loved Joan and Don, and how wonderful he was to her.

    I like the Lane story line and think it can go down some very interesting roads, I just wish it was happening with ANY other character. I just can’t get attached to Lane and care about his personal drama. Maybe this storyline will change that, but not so far.

  12. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Hmm, I never really had a question about whether Roger knew he was the father or not. I am surprised others did question it. It just seems like it would have been obvious to Roger the second she started showing that she didn’t go through with the abortion, and since her husband had been Vietnam so long, he kinda had to know it would be his. He had to suspect something was up when the baby was born approximately 7 months after she was supposed to have had the abortion. Plus I don’t see Joan really trying to keep that a secret from Roger. It’s just not her style. Lie to her husband, yes, but she wouldn’t do that to Roger. They’ve always had a very honest relationship with each other. If they didn’t, she never would have told him about the baby in the first place. Also, the question seemed like it was definitively answered in the season premiere when Roger said to Joan when she came into the office with their son, “Hey, there’s my baby! And she’s got a kid with her, too.” That was very wink-wink on Roger’s part. Plus the way he held the baby and smiled proudly at him, you figure he just had to know.
    .
    Now I was surprised that Roger was trying so hard to help out financially and Joan wasn’t letting him. It made me wonder if she’s mad he’s not offering more than financial support, if she’s expecting an all-or-nothing kind of thing from him. But I’m not sure that’s it. I think she had such a bad experience with her marriage that she’s bound and determined to be completely independent and self-sufficient for awhile.
    .
    Not enough Lane in me for this episode. For such a big storyline, his scenes were sure short. I loved seeing Paul again, and I loved the awesome moment of humanity from Harry. I kind of suspected Harry was going to screw over Paul in more ways than just doing his girlfriend, so that was a nice surprise. And Joan and Don together are my favorite scenes from this season so far. Those two have great chemistry.

  13. Draper's A Lucky Man says:

    The actress who plays Scarlett is so cute! But every google search I do never turns up her name. Anybody?

    • Nero theTVFiddler says:

      Her name is Sadie Alexandru – I agree, she’s lovely. She may become a potential interest for Roger, which would be great and fun to see, particularly if Joan gets distracted with Ali Khan.

  14. Nero theTVFiddler says:

    Nice episode; best line – Don to Megan: ” You need a rolling pin?”

    After seeing Harry and Lakshmi in his office, and Pete and Beth in Pete’s office last week, maybe Harry got the better end of that office-swap deal after all; no windows and even better, a pole to hide behind in case someone walks in.

    It’s good to see Don getting his office-mojo back. Question – what prompted Don’s giving that terrific pep-talk regarding the Jaguar account back at the office? Was it his competitive spirit against younger co-workers like Michael finally kicking in?

    Was it perhaps what Megan had told him [when Don returned home late] regarding how she (and everyone else) has noticed his losing his passion/drive at work? Or could it have something to do with his afternoon spent with Joan and that Jaguar? Don’s trip driving in the Jag back to the dealership reminded me of ‘the old Don’ – he was driving that car like he had a lot of adrenaline pumping through him – a man on a mission. Don had mentioned something about a possible Jaguar ad pitch earlier in the season – something to the effect: ” Jaguar – sex on wheels.” Indeed. Long live Dick Whitman. Long live Don Draper. Long live Ali Khan.