Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Re-watching ‘Mad Men’: S1/Ep6, “Babylon”

Lots happening in this episode, all of it important but none of it quite hanging together, which is what keeps it from being an all-time great. Still, over the course of 45 minutes we discover Roger and Joan are having an affair, Don and Rachel Menken’s attraction deepens, and we get a harsh look at the prejudices of these 1960 mad men. On top of that, the shifts in culture begin to appear as Don visits a Beatnik poetry reading (where there’s “no place to put your coats”), looking like a man from a different time—which he basically is. This is the first look at how Don struggles to keep pace with current trends, which is a running theme of the entire series. However, the episode’s most important storyline is the birth of Peggy Olson’s career, a moment that changed the series forever. Add to that Don’s first flashback to his childhood, and “Babylon” takes major leaps forward in the “Mad Men” story.

Best Scene: The men sit behind one-way glass as the women in the office test out lipstick. The offensive quips lobbed at the glass arrive like they’re shot out of a machine gun. And meanwhile Peggy sits to the side, noticeably different from all the other women. In Part B of the scene a few minutes later, Peggy gives an offhanded remark to Freddy that will change her life: “Here’s your basket of kisses.” Later, Freddy remarks: “It was like watching a dog play the piano.”

Best Line: Freddy: “Let’s throw it to the chickens.”

Grade: A-

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