“Mad Men”: Episode 5, “The New Girl”

Madmen5bobbie

(STUART LEVINE ADDS HIS THOUGHTS ON THE EPISODE LATER ON IN THE POST)

Now I’m convinced — Don Draper is losing his grip. I will never understand what our handsome anti-hero of Mad Men sees in the sleazy Bobbie Barrett.

After watching their further adventures in episode five, “The New Girl,” I stand by what I said last week — the woman is bad, bad news. But kudos are in order for thesp Melinda McGraw (pictured above) for playing her so, so well, or bad, in this case.

Although it feels like the twisted Don-Bobbie storyline dominates this seg, it’s action-packed and includes the (brief) return of fan-fave Rachel Menken; a very emotional turn of events for Pete and Trudy; the introduction of what looks to be an important new character, Don’s latest secretary; Don revealing himself to be an Antonioni fan; Joan delivering big news to Roger; and most significantly, at the 27-minute mark, we finally get a bit more info on what in the world happened to Peggy in the days immediately after she gave birth, at the end of season one.

It’s a credit to Matthew Weiner and his team that the show’s characters and stories are so strong that they’ve been able to wait this long to give us anything on this key plot point without fans howling. Peggy’s flashback caught me completely off guard, as I was thoroughly engrossed on the Don and Bobbie storyline when it arrived. And the flashback is deftly woven in to shed light on another big turning point in Peggy and Don’s relationship that comes in this seg.

Penned by Robin Veith and helmed by Jennifer Getzinger, the episode is titled “The New Girl,” and it does introduce us to a young and very pretty new secretary for Don, Jane Siegel (sp?), but she doesn’t get much screen time overall.

After giving it some thought, I think the title refers in part to the dynamic of Don’s life, and in part to the changes that Peggy is undergoing. I think Don is a pathological Lothario in one sense, and hopelessly insecure (duh) in another. I don’t think it’s the power of the conquest that he’s after, or even the sex per se, but just the insatiable desire to be liked, to be wanted, to be idolized. That’s probably a lot of what he’s responding to in Bobbie — she’s relentless.

I also think this episode is very focused on spotlighting the sharp contrasts between men and women in this era, which can’t help but prod us to think about how much has, and has not, changed in contempo times.

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  1. BigTex says:

    I like Mad Men but I don’t love it. It’s written very well but quite frankly I find the tone to be exhausting. It stresses me out. Everyone is wound up so tight and doing despicable things with limited to no outlet and where’s the lash back? How long do we have to wait to see any kind of meaningful story result from cheating men, mystery babies, backstabbing, etc? Weiner presents a little tidbit then just sits on it which makes the show seem to drag at times. Yes yes, sign of the times but even the old boy’s club vs poor little women beats of the show are beat to death. It almost seems like too much attention is served to these beats than actual story and plot. The tone is so level, so comatose, even with accidents and fights and marital problems and work issues that it seems to go sooo slooow. Is it because they’re buzzed for eternity or what? Pete is bad news, but so was a character like Christian Troy from Nip/Tuck- Pete’s robot ways need a little human injection. His struggle with self-awareness was a little off kilter.
    Don can relate to business women, that’s what he knows and what he’s dedicated his life to. Should he actually have a relationship with his wife means he would have to break down too many walls he’s constructed to actually let him feel something other the rush of success and dealmaking. He can plug in emotions for pitches and campaigns but not in his personal life.

  2. lmollin says:

    bobbi mentions her beach place in stony brook and keeps talking about the ocean and waves breaking. Huh? stony brook is on the long island sound not the atlantic ocean. what’s up with that? please mr. weiner when writing about long island, consult a map.

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