Saturday, April 20, 2024

“Mad Men”: Inside Joke About Manson, Inside Scare About Death, Plus: Mimi Rogers


What timing! Just when Tom Cruise is in the news regarding Scientology, his first wife, Mimi Rogers, makes a startling appearance on “Mad Men” as a sex hustling avant garde photographer with a streak of Susan Sontag grey in her hair. Wow. And like all “Mad Men” sort of stunt casting, Rogers was excellent. Good to see her. Also good to see Don’s former lover, Sylvia, and husband, Arnold are still together and still living in the same apartment.

The second episode of season 7.2 was a winner, dense with plot and story and intent on tidying up loose ends. Megan returned to get her things and brought her mother and sister. Mom (Julia Ormond) connected with Roger, Megan discovered their affair, and there’s a chance Mama is staying with Roger. Is that an end game?

One end game that looks like it won’t happen is Don ending with waitress Diana or “Di” as she called herself last week. Elizabeth Reaser, sort of channeling Rosemarie DeWitt’s Midge from earlier seasons, was alternately sultry, sad, and scary. Don’s interest in her is peculiar and self indulgent– who does she remind him of? The scent of death is all over her, from her name to the story of her child, and her abandonment of her family. What happens? Don thinks he wants “Di” but ultimately walks away from her. (Too Derrida? I don’t know. Stick around.)

Meanwhile, Betty is back. She’s decided to become a psychologist. This is a hoot. She’s crazy, as we all know. Can you imagine what she will say to patients about her children? But she’s still with Henry, and at least she didn’t yell at the boys about making a mess with the milk shake.

By the end of the episode, Don is stripped down. Not only has he given Megan a whopping settlement of $1 million, she’s taken (via Mama ) all of his furniture. He arrives at a totally empty living room. He’s got to start over. But what if, as Pete asks him on the way to golf, it’s not possible?’

Finally, Matt Weiner has fun with the audience. Don’s secretary — waiting for a meeting to start– says she doesn’t want to go to California because she might encounter “the Manson brothers.” The Manson family? Don asks, “Are they coming?” No, they’re not, but this was a weird rumor that plagued “Mad Men” about Megan maybe being Sharon Tate or something a couple of seasons ago. Very clever.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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