This week’s episode of Mad Men (Season 5, Episode 10: “Christmas Waltz”) set the internet on fire with the combination of Paul Kinsey and a shaved head and the teased combination of Joan with Don. (We wish!) In lieu of a traditional recap, we’ve decided to recap the Top 3 things we learned from the episode below.
1. Paul Kinsey is a Hare Krishna (and a aspiring TV writer).
Okay, let’s start with the most-tweeted about moment of the episode. Paul Kinsey is back and, keeping with his character trait of enthusiastically jumping into every cultural trend of the 1960s, he’s become a Hare Krishna. We find this out when Harry unwittingly agrees to meet with him at his lunchtime Hare Krishna mantra session. We also find out that Paul is “dating” a shaggy-haired lady Hare Krishna named Lakshmi who likes to fling herself around Manhattan in a red bathrobe. Is this Mad Men’s first real hippie?
Paul invites Harry to join in on a Hare Krishna meeting, which Harry is reluctant to do but eventually gets super into it. (Much like Roger Sterling’s LSD experimentation earlier this season.) After Harry has a “vision,” he and Paul go out to lunch alone and Paul reveals that he isn’t that into the Hare Krishna movement. (Big surprise, remember when Paul ditched the Civil Rights bus trip to the South after bragging about how tolerant and open he was for having a black girlfriend?) However, Paul does reveal that he is really into Lakshmi and he’s also really into a spec script that he’s written for Star Trek. Paul wants Harry to pass it along to his media friends at NBC in the hopes of getting hired to write for the show. Seeing how desperate and obviously lost Paul is, Harry agree to look at the script but discovers that it is terrible. Like, really, really bad. There is a character named “Negrotron” who is white. In your face mainstream America!
Harry knows that the script is terrible but he’s torn about how he will break the news to Paul. While he’s debating this, Lakshmi visits Harry at the office and seduces him into doing some dirty hippie desk sex. Harry, being a total horn-ball, gleefully accepts, despite the fact that Kinsey already told him that he’s desperately in love with Lakshmi. Luckily, Lakshmi saves Harry from having any kind of moral dilemma by revealing to him that she only banged him for “the movement” and to blackmail him into ditching Paul as a friend. Harry responds by giving Paul $500 and telling him to ditch the manipulative Lakshmi and the Hare Krishna movement and go follow his TV writing dream in Los Angeles. Paul looks more than happy to take off his yellow turtleneck and scarves and head to sunny California.
The presence of the Hare Krishnas keeps with this season’s overall themes of people searching for enlightenment in one form or another. We’ve seen Roger drop acid, Megan follow her dream of acting, Peggy ditching her mother’s moral code and moving in with her boyfriend, and Don attempting to find happiness by staying faithful to his wife. All of these forms of searching and experimentation may not be that obvious, but everyone on the show is trying to change themselves and how they interact with the world around them. Since this is the ‘60s the world is rapidly changing around them since pretty much everyone else is doing the same.
One of the ways that a lot of young Westerns attempted to search for enlightenment was through Eastern theology and practices. We saw the themes of The Tibetan Book of the Dead in “Lady Lazarus” and now we are seeing another, more direct example of that with the Hare Krishnas. To put it plainly, it really wouldn’t be a show about the ‘60s if there wasn’t at least one Hare Krishna chanting through an episode.
2. Lane is seriously broke.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, or its seemingly endless supply of three-piece suits. The outwardly sensible and conservative Lane is actually swimming in debt. From his son’s tuition fees to back taxes, Lane is having some serious money issues. It isn’t exactly clear what got Lane into debt because he always seemed very frugal but maybe that’s the point. While all the kids are singing mantras or going to see experimental plays about anti-consumerism, the adults are squandering their finances while pretending to look in control.
One of the biggest clouds that has hung over Mad Men is this uneasy feeling that someone is going to die this season. While our money has been on Roger and Pete so far, Lane’s debt situation is starting to look really bad. When Lane is forced to produce $8,000 in a short time period, he steals money from the company by faking Don’s signature on a check. It’s later revealed that the company has effectively lost the Mohawk Airline account, so it’s only a matter of time before someone notices the money that Lane stole. The other shoe has to drop eventually.
3. Joan gets dumped.
We knew that Dr. Rape-y was bad, but we didn’t think that he had the balls to divorce Joan! Yep, Dr. Capt. What’s-his-face served Joan with divorce papers while she was at work, effectively destroying her always-composed facade. After Don witnesses Joan throwing a model airplane at a dopey secretary, he whisks her out of the office and takes her to look at cars at a Jaguar showroom. (Oh, we forgot to mention, the agency might land Jaguar again.)
The pair take a sexy red E-Type out for a spin and end up getting drunk at a hotel bar together. And, well, when two explosively attractive people get drunk together, there is bound to be some flirting going on. Are we the only ones who started imagining Joan as the new Mrs. Draper, kicking Megan and her mod wardrobe to the curb?
This season has been all about Joan getting out of her comfort zone. We saw her in near-hysterics in the beginning of the season when she convinced herself that she was going to get fired after she had a baby. We saw her deal with her idiot husband who lied to her about having to return to Vietnam. And now we have to see Joan get dumped. It’s hard to watch such a strong character get torn down a bit. but considering that this is Joan, we know she’ll be back on her high-heeled feet very soon. As we’ve said before, one of Joan’s best traits is her ability to push through and find a way to get back in control.
Harry to Lane: "They're projections, they don't derive from reality, they're hopes and dreams."
Pete to Don after telling him that he’s got Jaguar interested again: "Yes, you may have to stay here past 5:30!"
Paul to Harry, doubting the strict Hare Krishna movement: "I love what the movement has given me, but I don't understand why I have to live like that to love God."
Joan to Don about men flirting with her: “My mother raised me to be admired."
Joan to Don talking about a handsome single man at the bar: "Who do you think is waiting at home? I bet she's not ugly. The only sin she's committed is being familiar."
- Megan takes Don to see America Hurrah, Jean-Claude van Itallie’s famed experimental play. We see a short scene from “TV,” one of the short plays within the play. Of course, Don hate the play’s anti-consumerist message.
- What is Matthew Weiner’s big obsession with making Los Angeles seem like a Holy Land to Mad Men characters? Harry raves about the city to Paul and tells him that all of his old problems will melt away once he goes there. It would seem more consistent with ‘60s for the characters, especially the younger ones, to be obsessed with San Francisco.
- Is it just us or does Pete always look like he was sucking on a juice pop before appearing in a scene?
- Megan is turning more and more into a Betty now that she doesn’t really have a job. She blows up at Don when he comes home drunk and is obviously suspicious that he’s cheating on her. She wouldn’t even let Don turn the argument into one of their sexual power games.
- Joan’s face when Don tells her that he thinks “the office misses Megan” = ALL the Emmys.
Check out all of Wetpaint Entertainment’s Mad Men coverage.
Watch the next episode of Mad Men on Sunday, May 27 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.
Follow Maria Mercedes Lara on Twitter @maria_mercedes.
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