Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Re-watching ‘Mad Men’: S2/Ep9, “Six Month Leave”

There is so much to unpack here in an episode that deals with marriage, workplace politics, self-esteem, death, and the meaning of life. Framed by the news of Marilyn Monroe’s suicide, the action focuses on Freddy Rumsen’s alcoholism and what his lack of self-control means for him and Sterling Cooper as a whole. By the end of the episode Freddy is fired, Peggy is promoted to take over his work, Don punches Jimmy Barrett in the face, and Roger leaves his wife for Don’s secretary. Meanwhile, January Jones delivers one of her best performances as she continues to try and cope with Don’s betrayal. “Six Month Leave” is filled with tons of big moments, but at the same time makes plenty of room for subtle character development—like how Pete destroys a man’s life and all he cares about is getting a raise, or how Roger used pillow talk with Don’s secretary to learn more about Don (“You’re so secretive,” Roger tells Don at one point). It’s a brilliant installment.

Best Scene: There’s an argument to be made that the scene where Freddy loses control of his bladder in the middle of a meeting is a perfect summation of “Mad Men”—it’s hysterical, tragic, and depressing all at the same time. This show offers many such dichotomies. Regardless, it’s gotta be one of the most memorable moments of the entire series, featuring what’s turned out to be one of its best characters in Freddy. Also, Sal’s outburst of laughter is infectious. In truth, though, every single scene involving Freddy in this episode is pure gold, especially his farewell to Roger and Don.

Best Line: Freddy: “If I don’t go into that office every day, who am I?”

Grade: A