“Mad Men”: Episode 2, “Flight 1”

Madmenseason2peggyfamily

Buckle up — episode No. 2 of Mad Men gets the plot engines revving.

(Kathy Lyford weighs in with some very smart observations after the jump.)

As slow and deliberate as the pace of last week’s opener was, “Flight 1” takes right off — with a plane crash at the outset that represents tragedy and opportunity for our anti-heroes at Sterling Cooper. This seg is packed with great performances from the core ensemble.

First, I was greatly impressed by Elisabeth Moss’ self-assuredness as Peggy, both in her professional set and in the tense scene at her mother’s home with her mother, sister and the infant son she’d just as soon forget sleeping in the next room.

“I work with them,” Peggy corrects her suitor in the opening party scene when he asks if she works “for” the drunken ad men crawling around Paul Kinsey’s apartment in out-of-the-way Montclair, N.J. (More on that later).

Then Vincent Kartheiser renders Pete Campbell in 3-D as he reacts, numbly, to the news of his father’s death in the American Airlines crash. Campbell, as we know from season 1, is a craven, self-centered, conniving creep, and it is a credit to Kartheiser and the “Man Men” scribes that us viewers have any feeling for him at all. In Pete’s scenes in this seg, we’re shown (not told) why he is incapable of genuine emotion, or of having any selfless feeling for anyone else.

The scene with Campbell’s shellshocked but ever-proper mother and brother and Trudy in the family living room was  wonderfully unnerving — so many stifled emotions I felt the urge to loosen my own collar more than once.

And then wham! Here comes Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, a guy you can never psych-out no matter how much you try.

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  1. A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

  2. Closely attend to, respect and show appreciation of each relationship, recognizing each relationship is a gift of God.

  3. Ryan says:

    Sukiyaki by Kyu Sakamoto was released in 1961 in Japan so it did exsist so they technically can get away with it they could of got an exclusive import copy of it and play it in the restaurant for example

  4. 62Lincoln says:

    “especially after the truly mean-spirited way Paul got back at Joan.”
    I think in that era the phrase was “payback is Hell.” Nonetheless, I agree that the character of Joan is becoming more intriguing with each episode. She seemed sooo one dimensional at the beginning of the series – it’s wonderful to see depth emerge for the character, which means more excellent work from Christina Hendricks.

  5. Paul says:

    You’re right about this being such a buttoned-down era. It’s a little creepy to see people express zero emotion over a family death, and mind themselves only with particulars of time, place, flowers, and the inevitable divvying up of material remains. I shudder to think of the future, when we might have shows that can marry the understated-ness of “Mad Men” with the current political correctness of the day… People will be unable to show very little emotion, or even raise their voices without being told they’re out of line. At least on “Mad Men” we have the outrageousness of literal skirt-chasing, blatant misogyny and subservience of all to the white male overclass. If that happens, it will all be too Zen-like to register with most people, or be a eerie, unfunny version of Peter Sellers’ “Being There”.

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