Don finally sells his apartment, Joan meets a new man, Mathis gets fired, and Glen Bishop returns to have a moment with Betty! Last night’s Mad Men “The Forecast” was just the kind of episode fans were hoping for after last week’s furniture moving “New Business.” There were several great and surprising moments for fans that allowed “The Forecast” to be an episode to remember and almost certainly be listed among the series best written and acted.
After ex-wife Megan’s vengeful mother (Julia Ormond) sold nearly everything in Don Draper’s apartment, he is now literally a man with nothing. It was a great way to reflect the level of success he has attained in life, but show that despite all of his accomplishments, everything he has is nothing more than a shell covering the emptiness of his life. In the opening of the episode, Don knocked out in bed is awoken by his real estate agent. He’s in bed naked, sweaty, and has all the signs of an alcoholic. His physical shape and demeanor reminds us that the giant in a suit is really nothing more than just a suit. She tells him that the place is an “$85,000 fixer upper”, “it looks like a sad person lives here”, and that it “reeks of failure.” Melanie’s words are stinging and true as the empty penthouse complete with a red wine stain on the carpet that Don never bothered to clean is just another materialistic manifested example of his own failures. Two failed marriages, losing his own focus and purpose, and no longer necessarily at the top of his game, creator Matthew Weiner seems like he’s almost deconstructing the mythology of Don Draper in the series final episodes.
What fascinatingly throws Don off even more last night is a seemingly easy task given to him by Roger Sterling (John Slattery). Roger is asked to deliver a speech on the future of their business for the agency, and in typical Roger fashion, hands it off. Don, once a man who could seemingly knock out writing a speech during his liquid lunch, contemplates the task for the remainder of the episode as he starts thinking about his own future. It’s the first time we ever see Don battle writer’s block and only suggests even further that he’s become distracted. Nolan Feeney of Time wrote:
“Don uses the occasion to take stock of his life—and struggles to come to any conclusions. “It’s supposed to get better…” he trails off into a dictaphone during one brainstorming session. What, exactly, is supposed to get better? What should he be striving for at this point in life? He’s been pondering these questions since crashing Rachel Menken’s shiva. There, her sister told Don that his former flame had “everything” she wanted in life before her death. All Don knows is that whatever “everything” means, he doesn’t have it—or, at least, it wasn’t what he thought it was.” – Mad Men Recap: ‘The Forecast’ Nolan Feeney Time.com
I very much enjoyed watching Don interact with Ted and Peggy and watch as he coyly picked their brains in hopes of finding an answer for his own dilemmas as opposed to actually completing his assignment. While Ted’s vision of the future is nothing more than landing a pharmaceutical client, Peggy’s vision is grander. Not only does she want to become the agency’s first female creative director, she tells Don during her performance review that she wants to”create something of lasting value.” This doesn’t satisfy his own questions of what the future holds for him and she believes him to be dismissive of her dreams. I didn’t take it this way as Don, as seen throughout “The Forecast”, is too preoccupied with forecasting his own horizons as opposed to focusing on where the ad agency should be headed. Don has expressed his attitude and annoyances before, especially when responses don’t turn out the way he had hoped, even if he’s vague about what he’s looking for. Don is a man-made up of used parts manufactured elsewhere. Nothing about him is truly original as much as he tries to dress this up. He’s taken what he’s learned from past experiences through other people and has rolled that into who he is now.
Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men Exhibit – Museum of Moving Image (Astoria, NY)
During my visit this past week to the Museum of Moving Image, Matthew Weiner’s notes from 2006 to 2013 were on display at the “Mad Men” exhibit. His scribblings contained thoughts on: “Alienation/ Who Am I?” to “Paranoia – Projected power centers outside the self.” The exhibit was akin to a walk through living, breathing commentary on the development and seasons of “Mad Men.” Weiner’s script notes “feelings of restless dissatisfaction despite trappings of industry success” couldn’t be more timely than with “The Forecast.” I had a great time at the exhibit and if you’re in New York, I strongly suggest visiting while it’s open until June 14. The Museum of Moving Image is located at 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11106.
By the end of the episode, Don walks in on a young couple buying his apartment. Melanie happily tells him that she found a buyer and quickly escorts him out of his own penthouse. The episode ends with Don lost in the hallway, already busy contemplating another personal dilemma of his. He’s now without a wife, without his children, without a home, and without “everything” that Rachel Menken had.
Character actor and screen legend (to me) Bruce Greenwood makes his debut on “Mad Men.” He plays a wealthy, retired and divorced man named Richard Berghoff. He first meets Joan in L.A. and then follows her back to New York. He’s open about wanting freedom and while they flirt, she tells him that she’s also divorced, but keeps the secret of having a four year old son. He later finds out and it appears as if their fling is over, but he returns at the end to apologize. Richard tells her that he’ll be moving to New York City and would like to be a part of her family. Greenwood is a cool addition to the cast of “Mad Men” and while some have already voiced an annoyance that new characters are being introduced, his seems to have merit. Will he be the man to finally be worthy of Joan, the object of so many of the characters desires throughout the series? I think he might be the one and it was a classy move for him to apologize for being a cad and wishing to be a part of her life. We haven’t seen to many people like this on “Mad Men” and throughout “The Forecast” we seemed to get several characters saying what’s truly on their minds, all except for Don Draper. Roger was honest about not wanting to write the speech, Ted was honest about wanting a bigger client, Peggy was honest about her career goals, Mathis was honest when he told Don off after getting fired! And Glen? Well let’s talk a little about Glen…
The Daily Beast headline says it all: “Mad Men’s Weirdest Relationship Returns.” Glen Bishop was creepy and weird from when he first appeared in the episode “Ladies Room.” He’s played to perfection by Matthew Weiner’s son, Marten Holden Weiner, and has been the kind of person that always sticks around. We don’t necessarily dislike him, but then we don’t necessarily like him all too much either. Here is a quick rundown of Glen’s relationship with Betty since his first appearance:
1) He stands in the doorway and watches Betty in the bathroom as a child. She scolds him, only to accept his apology later when he cries. Before he leaves, he asks Betty for a small lock of her hair and she cuts it off to give to him. “New Amsterdam.”
2) They see each other in a parking lot. He’s a little older, but still a young boy. He tells Betty that he’s not allowed to talk to her (Betty slapped his mother in a supermarket after she confronted her over the small lock of hair). She tells him that “She can’t talk to anyone” and that “I’m so sad” to which he responds that he wishes he were older. “The Wheel.”
Glen has appeared in other episodes since then, but has always mainly been involved in Sally’s storylines. Upon his return and announcement that he’s enlisted in the army, it’s ultimately revealed that and according to him, he did it for Betty. “This is all I’ve thought about. I know you know me. I know you know the man I can be.” To make it even funnier, he tells her “I know you’re mine” and makes an advance on her. She doesn’t fully stop him, but then draws the line. Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post explores this in even greater detail. You could check out her review here “Was That The Weirdest ‘Mad Men’ Scene Yet?”
Last night’s episode provided plenty of material to explore and think about. I hope you enjoyed this week’s “Talking Mad” and be sure to stop by next week as we are now three episodes away until the series finale.
“The Forecast” gets five out of five stars. “Mad Men” airs at 10 pm, Sunday nights on AMC. Check your local listings.