AMC


photo-14The statue (above) that The Goat Man brings Daniel to see in last week’s Rectify.

In the info line of S1, E5 of the new Sundance original series Rectify, there is a short description that reads “Daniel loses his grip on reality.”  Fitting that the show opens in a sort of dream like sequence, in which Daniel arises at 3:14 AM, leaves his house, and ends up at the home of the victim’s family–that victim–peeping into their window, as the victim’s mom, who has railed about the injustice of Daniel’s release on the local news, appears to be sleepwalking.  Okay, so we are terrified right here, about 2 minutes in, because obviously if Daniel is caught there, it is going to be almost impossible to convince anyone that he is not some criminally bent perv.

Then Daniel gets into this car with our old friend W. Earl Brown (Swearingen’s right hand man Dan Dority from Deadwood), as Daniel is apparently hitchhiking and, W. Earl Brown is apparently looking for a rider.  The first thing Brown says to Daniel of consequence is, after Daniel says to the driver he’s lost, is “Not all wanderers are lost.”  Okay, weird enough, but then Daniel falls asleep in the front seat and dreams of prison, of some fight in which 2 or 3 death row inmates are restrained or taken away, their blood flowing.  Perhaps we should also mention the image which initially woke Daniel, which initiated this odd excursion.  Daniel is in his cell and looks across to another where this other inmate is beating his head repeatedly against the glass, each time with the thud of a smashed pumpkin.  Daniel had alluded to the way his senses had more or less shut down in jail, how he’d forgotten about rain and such, with no windows, because he was totally shut off to it.  So that other inmate, we get that he is inducing pain so that he might feel something, the way a cutter would.  We also understood it as the first important imagery for that episode.  Now if there are those who are out there thinking the pace of this show has been unreasonably slow, we don’t see how they could have held that same opinion during this episode’s first 5 minutes.

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Now back to Brown, who Daniel referred to as “The Goat Man.”  There is heavy symbolism with goats and the devil obviously.  For us, an interested student of belief systems, we have always been rankled by the connection that Christianity and Judaism have made between Satan’s appearance and that of a goat, the horns and hoofs and all, as the goat was formerly tied up in the imagery connected to polytheism and a supreme god, god of gods, whatever, who was a female who embodied the earth and nature, and was thus represented by an animal.  But of course the Judeo-Christians were eager to bust that up and switch the focus of religion and society from a matriarchal structure to a patriarchal one, and so the feminine, goat-like supreme god was replaced by a vengeful, do not take my name in vain, masculine monotheistic god, and what better way to destroy the positive connotations to the goat imagery then by attaching to it devil imagery?    In fact, legendary novelist Tom Robbins embarks on quite a tangent on this very subject in “Skinny Legs and All.”  (Shout out to “Turn Around Norman”!)   Then there’s that bit in the bible about the devil being accompanied by a herald, who appeared in the form of a goat.

The Goat Man takes Daniel to a desolate barn and begins to herd the goats into his red trailer, and when Daniel asks if he wants him to ride in the back with the goats, The Goat Man tells him no, that he’s the one who needs company.  Hold that thought.  Daniel, again asleep in the car, is awakened by The Goat Man, at what seems like dawn, and asks him if he wants to see something.  At that point, they go out into a field where the statue of the woman, with the goat girl on her left and the little goat on her right is.  As they look upon the statue, Brown tells Daniel, “it’s the beauty that hurts you most son, not the ugly.”  It strikes us that Daniel is disturbed by the statue, and that The Goat Man seemed to us to read his mind, that he was hurt by it, moreso even than the ugly dreams he was having, which we felt The Goat Man knew about. (When Daniel gets in the car, The Goat Man tells him he knows him, which we think there is great subcontext in, and later, as Daniel sleeps, The Goat Man says, “where’d you go off to, boy?”, as we got the feeling that they were both privy to the dream.)

Then the two men wrestle which was very odd, and what may have represented to some something homoerotic.  The Goat Man has Daniel pinned and then let’s him up and they walk off together, and soon, they are by Daniel’s deceased father’s tire shop, now run by his stepfather and evil stepbrother, Ted Jr.  So The Goat Man’s trailer is red and then there’s the giant red man, “the dancing man”, whatever, which is a Sky Dancer, which Daniel explains, sort of, to Tawny later at the re-baptism, as having led him back to the “father and the son.”  Before Daniel goes to sit with Ted Sr., The Goat Man hands Daniel a wad of money, rubber banded, and more or less insists he takes it. At the store, Daniel tells Ted Sr. he does not intend to work there, clothes shabby and clay stained and with a fresh welt on his head, over coffee, and that prompts Ted Sr. to ask Daniel if “has somebody been talking to you?”  At that point, Daniel could obviously sell out Ted Jr., who so crassly took Daniel to golf and explained to him the economic politics of the tire and rim business and why Daniel would be bad for it and how it would affect the family.  Instead, Daniel moves on, taking with him the figurine (seen below) on the counter, which was his father’s, something that would incense Ted Jr. unnaturally when we he learns of it later, when Ted Jr. comes in to the shop after a particularly unsettling conversation about Daniel that he has with his wife. photo-15At the same time, Ted Jr. gets home from a trip on which he and some other low life were carousing, hears from his wife that a miracle has happened in Paulie, and then throws a conniption when he finds out the miracle of which Tawny speaks is that Daniel is ready to accept the lord.  When Ted Jr. asks her why she cares about him so much, she tells him, “because he’s one of god’s children.  Why do you hate him so much?”  Then Ted claims he doesn’t hate him, that he doesn’t know him, and it is a lie.  Ted then heads over to Daniel’s mom’s and tells her and Amantha that Daniel will be baptized that evening, which they are not aware of, and which is obviously strange news, and bravo to Amantha for calling him out on being the punk he is.  But then Daniel comes home, breezes straight past them and into his room, where he begins the pacing we liked so much in the Sundance montage.  Ted leaves, because he is a total punk and has come to start trouble only, which, if he was truly concerned about Daniel, he might have tried to talk to him there with Amantha and their mom, in a safe setting.  You know, if it’s me, I might have wanted to talk rationally to Daniel about how my wife is a tad naive and maybe he should rethink the whole ceremony thing, as it seems rash, the way the women were about to do.  Thing is though, Ted Jr. is not exactly wrong, in his position, which would be born out after the ceremony, when Daniel asks Tawney if he can kiss her.

Amantha and mom then go to Daniel’s room to speak to him, ask to speak to him, and say, “We’re worried about you.”

Daniel replies, “Why?”

“Well, because we love you.”

Daniel: “Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.”  Here is where Daniel begins to seem to really unravel, mumbling, “could happen at any time.”  When they ask him what could happen at any time, Daniel says “Anything.  Anything could happen at any time.”  He’s not wrong.  When they see the money, they comment that it seemed like a large sum.  Daniel says, “you think it was ill gotten?”  His mom says, “I don’t know.”  Then they have a confrontation about the re-baptism and Daniel, in a striking moment for the show, says angrily to Amantha, “I never asked you to live your life for me.”  That had to be a very difficult moment for Amantha, who has essentially made her life around Daniel’s incarceration and the fight for justice, which is obvious, and moreso in light of the story she tells to the lawyer about the best friend she stopped speaking to after she had told her about a frightening prank all the kids were playing that involved Daniel down by the lake.

Later, at Daniel’s ceremony, Amantha shows up to support him, as her love is indeed patient and kind, but there she is confronted with Daniel’s seeming infatuation with Tawney, as well as the fact that Ted Jr. isn’t wrong about Daniel’s possible reasons for finding Christ.

Though Daniel did not tell his mother and sister about the ceremony, he isn’t secretive.  We feel like that particular confrontation was inevitable and was the only reason he didn’t tell them.  But Daniel is a very honest person.  He could’ve hidden the money from his family but he doesn’t.  And in the end, he could’ve pretended to Ted Jr., when he returns to the tire shop, that Christianity had really taken him, but instead, he tells the truth.

Things are too complicated for Daniel to just accept some savior and feel saved.  Ted Jr., showing some of the same naivete as Tawney, spouts at him that ‘it is that simple.  You’re sins are either forgiven or they’re not.’  What was really malicious on his part and lacking better judgment was when he goaded Daniel about being raped.  As the episode fades out, Daniel has pounced on Ted Jr. from behind and has him in air tight sleeper hold.  Here, we see that all of the violence of the first few moments, the bloody flashbacks and dreams, and the wrestling, has foreshadowed a violent end.

As for The Goat Man?  He’s not real for us, but we’re pretty sure he is very real to Daniel and will be back.  But Daniel had been somewhere, he had that welt on his head and the muddy clothes, and he had ended up at the tire shop where he sat with Ted Sr.  Perhaps the most interesting question the show raised for us, when considering that The Goat Man is not real, is where Daniel got the money from.  We immediately thought back on that particular conversation with Ted Jr. about rape, and could not help but wonder whether Daniel was perhaps earning the money at a rest stop as a prostitute (“it’s me who needs company” — The Goat Man), and if the in and out of dreams, was some subconscious way of not being in the moment.

An interesting question to ponder, just one of many, as the show debuts its season finale tomorrow at 10 PM EST on Sundance.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

1363363851-rectifyAden Young (above) as Daniel Holden, a Paulie, Georgia man released from death row after nearly 20 years incarcerated.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/rectify-gets-second-season-order-450176

After 4 episodes of The Sundance Channel’s Rectify, we feel like we know enough about the show to know this much: after the finale of S1, which will air on May 20th, we will be pining for the new original drama’s 10 episode return in the Spring of 2014, and its subsequent renewals, we hope, into 2015 and beyond.  As long as series creator Ray McKinnon (the creepy reverend from Deadwood & the very odd lawman from S4 of Sons of Anarchy, Lincoln Potter), and Breaking Bad EP’s, Melissa Bernstein and Mark Johnson are at it with this show, there will be no rectifying what ails Paulie, Georgia, where this show is set, and its pervasive, institutional ignorance.  Paulie is a dry town, for that matter, where the attitude prevails, even in Daniel Holden’s “family”, that if a jury convicted him, he must be guilty.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/breaking-bad-cooking-with-classical-evil/

And that a judge has set aside his conviction due to new DNA evidence does not quite seem to matter all that much.  Not when prosecutors, politicians, and even kin are loaded with ulterior motives that range from the obvious Machiavellian ones like Senator/former DA Foulkes (Michael O’Neill), whose career has been riding on this case for years, and who now does not particularly care “where the jizz landed.”  What he does care a whole hell of a lot about though is extra biscuits, as does the new prosecutor, who, when meeting with Daniel’s lawyer about a retrial, has her secretary interrupt the meeting to bring her biscuits with her dinner, which she claims, is the only interruption she permits.  Now we know how an AMC style drama works, which Rectify most certainly is, as AMC is the parent network for Sundance, and we must say, we are very pleased at how AMC dramas play out, with the patience that most of their dramas have been allowed to exercise in developing plot.  Only Rubicon has met an early end (which was probably a good decision), and much to our surprise and happiness, even The Killing and Hell on Wheels, which are not exactly run away hits, are coming back for 3rd seasons.  We anxiously await The Killing’s premiere in early in June.

Now if you spoke to us early last June, you’d have caught us positively incensed at the slow pace of The Killing, and all of the plot misdirection, which had many in the audience miffed at how the murder of Rosie Larsen was being dragged out.  And sure, in real time, the investigation probably did not take that long, but it is indeed frustrating when every single character, basically, except Linden, was a suspect at one time or another, as it is, in a sense, dishonest production, especially when we all know that the Danish version of the show and the Larsen murder wrapped up in one season.  But given time, we have come to really love Linden and Holder, and we understand that more than the case, it is they who make the show.  So forget the other characters here for a moment, and what you might consider trite or predictable dialogue (like Hal Holbrook’s soliloquy to Daniel’s new/competent lawyer Jon Stern, played by Luke Kirby).  Daniel Holden’s character makes this series go and we see it going far because of him, and the strong ensemble cast around him and quality production team.  Do we feel the show is a bit rough and clipped in its intros and breaks and whatnot?  We do.

We also feel that they have already set up some really interesting plot points, as a story like this one requires constant setup, and that Johnson and Bernstein, if they have learned one thing from Vince Gilligan, and they have obviously learned more than that, it is the use of Deus Ex Machina, which we don’t necessarily consider to be such a contrived and ill fitting device that lazy writers use for the sake of convenience, unless they are indeed lazy writers who are using the device for the mere sake of convenience.  While the Holbrook soliloquy was just so cliche that it had us shuddering, it is no doubt the way of the world in Paulie, Georgia, which, as Daniel’s mother suggests at Daniel’s homecoming barbecue, is caught in a most onerous time warp, sadly, like a lot of places in this country, where the progression of people is markedly less evolved than even those in Maycomb, Alabama in 1930’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  Atticus Finch knew he had to fight for Tom Robinson.  In Rectify, Rutherford Gaines (Hal Holbrook) was hoping to get Daniel Holden life in prison.

Life imitates art, and art imitates life, and in real life, let us not act as though there is no foreshadowing as to what is to come.  Obviously there has been some overt foreshadowing here, like with Amantha (Abigail Spencer, Suits) and Jon seeing the creepy brother of the murder victim in that bar a town or two over, and abruptly hightailing it out of there.  Of course we see where this is probably going, that the creep has a twisted crush on the way hot younger sister of Daniel, and could mean her harm in a revenge sort of way for what he perceives her older brother did to his younger sister.  And then there’s Senator Foulkes and his careless affair with the trollop from the diner, which will probably get him at least emotionally extorted at some point by Daniel’s lawyer, who will most definitely need to pull out every last bit of artillery he has in order to keep Daniel on the outside.

What drew us to the show before we even knew of it was not McKinnon or the “other” producers of BrBa, but a quick preview flashed in a Sundance montage for their network, in which Daniel is pacing in his prison cell, some tiny concrete box, juxtaposed with him pacing a tiny rectangular avenue on the carpet of his bedroom, that he has returned to, and that still has the feel and decor of a kid’s room, one who went off to college and returned to it as an adult.  Daniel has certainly gotten an education, you could say, as he reveals to callous moron step brother Ted Jr (Clayne Crawford), on the golf course, telling him of the regularity with which he was sexually abused when he first got to prison.  While Daniel was somewhat at ease with the revelation, we wouldn’t call him casual.  Daniel’s reacclimation–the subject of the snippet we saw–may never happen, which makes Ted’s petty concerns about Daniel wanting his shit job at the tire shop, or even his wife, so inconsequential that you want to reach into the television and slap the motherfucker and say “grow the fuck up!”  Especially since, when Ted’s wife Tawney (Adelaide Clemens) hugs Daniel, he gets a hard on which scares the fuck out of her, considering that he was on death row for rape/murder going on 20 years and they were, at that moment, alone together in a field by some remote woods.  And Tawney is this ultra naive, chaste, bible banging moron, who basically describes how the lord fills her up, causing us to recall Eric Cartman describing how he couldn’t get enough of Jesus’s juices all over his face.

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Newsflash to Ted: Daniel is inheriting the tire shop one way or another, and will probably bag the Jesus freak as well, probably right before he gets sent back to death row, as fate will likely have it.  In a certain way, this show reminds us very much of Enlightened (unfortunately cancelled by HBO), in that nothing is easy, few things work out, and the only real constant is hardship.  At the end of the day, Daniel has some very caring and upstanding blood relatives, and a whole hell of a lot of problems, and may be safer on the inside, with his one friend, a fellow death row inmate convicted of killing and raping a young girl, than on the outside.  As Daniel explained it, he made peace with death.  We count on him, however, having more trouble making peace with life.

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Walt and Jessie outside their new season 5 lab (above), one of many ingenious highlights so far this season.

Going down the stretch last year with the last few episodes of BrBa, we had predicted that money issues were going to be a problem for Walt this year, following along with that same theme, really begun when Skylar gifted that $600,000 to Ted.  Such was cemented when Walt, hoping to pay Saul’s guy to professionally disappear them, went to get the money out of the crawl space and it was gone.  Then Walt laughs maniacally, does the whole unhinged psycho thing, about to further entrench himself as the bad guy even worse than Scarface’s Tony Montana, along with the overlying show theme, “from Mr. Chips to Scarface.”  Obviously even Tony Montana drew the line at hurting innocents, and yet Walt was to use a child to reclaim himself with Jesse, when he most coldly poisons Brock with the Lilly of the Valley plant, and then blames it on Gus.  Walt chills us with the whole ‘now who do we know who would ever hurt a child’ speech, even more so as we look back to it at the start of season 5 when those in the audience who didn’t already surmise as much at the end of last season got their proof that Walt had indeed one upped Tony Montana.

We also got our confirmation of the Walt/money issues storyline when Walt has Jesse spot him the money for magnet project, citing an “IRS issue” and when Walt shows up at Saul’s, looking for an explanation as to how Saul could okay this idea to give all of his cash to Ted.  They obviously aren’t cooking, with the lab destroyed and Gus’s operation no more, and so that grand irony comes back into play, that Walt got involved with these shenanigans in the first place to make money, has broken just about every law including murder to get that money, and had bought a car wash to launder that illegal cash, but now finds himself with no money to launder.

Thankfully Vince Gilligan moves the story along at a fast clip, straightening out some of the heavy Gus aftermath in s5 e1, especially with Mike, while establishing the impetus behind Mike’s need to get back in the game due to his own financial reasons which become clearer in e2, when Gus’s illegal accounts are frozen.  By the end of e3, and with the help of Saul, “the three amigos” (sorry Saul), that unholy alliance between Jesse, Walt, and Mike, have not only put a new cook operation together, having worked out both logistics and particulars, but they have already cooked up a batch and gotten paid.  Good thing.  We were hoping for a quick resolution to last year’s money issues so that the show could concentrate on portraying what it is like for the duo at the top of the game, as the show’s ads have foreshadowed, with Walt centered around stacks of money, along with the caption “ALL HAIL THE KING”.

Great to see them flush with money, or as Badger (Matt L. Jones) says to Jesse after he and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) rent some musical equipment for the op so they have cases in which their moving lab equipment will be stored, “stacking Benjies til the rubber band pops.”  By the way, how great was it to have a scene featuring Badger and Skinny Pete?  But that’s what Vince Gilligan consistently provides us with, the kind of moments that hardcore fans of the show just relish.  Whether it be Gus being blown up by Tio’s bell, which had been going off to no avail for almost 3 seasons, Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles), in his final diatribe providing Hank with the ‘not who he seems’ speech, or any scene, for that matter, which features Saul Goodman.

This show has obviously struck a chord with the nation, pardon the pun, Skinny Pete, as we have now Lego sets depicting Walt and Jesse’s Crystal Ship and Laundry Lab, and while last week, Kim Kardashian and Aaron Paul are chatting it up on Twitter about Vamanos Pest.

Aaron Paul ‏@aaronpaul_8
“@KimKardashian: Anyone else think the same thing about those extermination tents or was I just crazy?” Meth lab. It’s always a meth lab.

Whilst we speak of meth labs…

Walt and Jessie in their laundy lab (above) in their hazmat suits, with blue crystal Lego in the left corner.

And of course, the Crystal Ship in Lego (2nd).

The new lab, a roving lab which borrows from the successful mobile aspect to their RV setup, but which is all the more brilliant and realistic, considering that they do not own the homes in which they are cooking, that they are hiding in plain sight, and that there are frequent stories about temporary meth labs in the news, as that is the latest innovation/industry trend limiting legal exposure for chemists.

http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/meth-lab-found-fema-temporary-housing-joplin

Also, a very nice touch it is to encase the temp lab in a Dexter style kill scene bubble tent.  Bravo!  As brilliant  as the new season has been with details, there’s just no getting around how bad Walt actually is, as he continues to further his criminal mastermind.  No regular viewer of the show could do anything but marvel at Walt in s5 e1, when Mike asks him why he should take his word that the magnet worked.

“Because I said so.”

Damn.  Then when Walt, in a scene eerily reminiscent to Michael Corleone in The Godfather II at the end of e1 tells Skylar, “I forgive you.”  (for blowing his money on Ted).  Walt is bad, alright.  If those aforementioned scenes didn’t do enough to illustrate, then what of Walt socializing with Brock (Ian Posada) over at Jesse’s (“I heard you were in the hospital”)?

Sure, that was chillingly cold, but for us, whatever Walt had to do get his relationship back with Jesse was justified, re-establishing the balance between the two that we most enjoy when the duo’s delicate camaraderie is in place.  And we know it’s only temporary, obviously.  In this modern Greek tragedy, there is no way for Jesse not to find out that Walt poisoned Brock and no way for Jesse to avoid learning that and feeling the acute misery and anger that will come from that knowledge.  If we were to venture a guess as to the real end of days for the show, it would have Jesse perhaps killing Walt over it, as we agree with the many fans who feel that Jesse is going to be the one to take Walt down.

But before that, we think there will be a whole hell of a lot more messes for Walt on the home front.  Obviously things have become very sticky with Skyler so forlorn, this week, plunging herself into the pool in a half hearted suicide attempt.  Is it only a matter of time before Walt decides a different approach with the wife is needed?  Recall that Walt has hidden that ricin in the house, and from what we know about BrBa, sooner or later they are going to have that ricin come back into play.

Mr. White (our Mr. White, not Walt) suggested that Skyler might get a ricin cigarette of her own.  Great forethought there.  We are gonna add our own to that theory, as we can’t see how things could break any worse for Walt than if Walt Jr., now a fast car driving little bad ass, were to ingest the ricin by accident.  We see Jesse, Walt, Mike, and Skyler all breaking much much worse by the show’s end, in true step with classic Greek tragedy.

And for show and Greek mythology enthusiasts, how great was Walt’s line at the end of e3, when he tells Jesse that perhaps, like Icarus, Victor had “flown to close to the sun”?  From Gilligan, that’s more likely deft foreshadowing than use of clever reference, though with Breaking Bad, it is no doubt a double entendre.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Betty’s lone motherly moment with Sally (above).

Mad Men’s brilliant writer/creator/EP Matthew Weiner is not fucking about at all in what has been a banner 5th season for Mad Men, as Sunday’s season finale approaches.  Weiner was able to basically wrap up the Lane Price check fraud plot line in a scant few episodes, which we must applaud, as Weiner apparently has no taste for meandering plot riddles never solved, one of the only black marks on his former show, the epic Sopranos.  And we applaud this bit of denouement, juxtaposed with perhaps the plot line we most enjoy, that of Sally (isn’t young Kiernan Shipka excellent in this role?) and Betty, and of course Glen, played by Weiner’s son Marten, who has been a show stealer throughout the years on what has to be the best show on television right now.

After Bert Cooper brings the cancelled check to Don’s attention, which he knows is forged, we felt Don had no choice but to fire Lane.  That was completely justifiable.  Yet Don has not been privy to Lane’s financial woes, which have been a recurring theme.  When Lane returns to his office and surveys the falling snow, we were immediately stirred by the thought of Lane’s impending suicide in that very way foreshadowed each week by the opening credits.  By taking the plunge.

When Lane’s new Jaguar failed to cooperate with his carbon monoxide poisoning method, we were convinced that Lane was to be the mad man from the credits.  How cruelly ironic for Lane that the car he was so proud of, but that the others had been grossly slamming and slandering, was indeed a lemon, as Bert Cooper had suggested at the first mention of the car.

But Lane in the end preferred to swing from the gallows.  When Don got back from his meeting with Dow and they informed him, he looked like he had seen a ghost.  When told he was still hanging, Don insisted they cut him down.  He’s a doer, that Don Draper.  It had to register with him, as it does with faithful viewers, that this is the 2nd suicide to happen on Don’s watch.  Recall that Don had spurned his brother and tried to buy himself out of a future relationship with him by using a bag full of cash.  Mission kind of accomplished.

Don had told his long lost brother that he only lived his life in one direction: forward.  Yet, the drawer full of mementos he kept in his desk in Ossining, when discovered by Betty, finally prompted a long coming divorce. Speaking of Ossining, how about old neighbor Glen’s biggest role on the show since Betty unwisely granted him a lock of her hair?

Sally and Betty, again at each other’s throats early on, and a jealous Betty, obvious in her disdain for Megan, tells Sally that she only likes her because Megan let’s her “do whatever she wants.” To which Sally replies, “she lets me eat whatever I want.”  Then Betty calls Don and insists she pushes Sally off on him and his “child bride.”

Bad form indeed, but isn’t that the ugly Betty we’ve come to hate/love/hate?  Sally’s convo with Megan (Jessica Pare) and her acting buddy leave her “longing” for Glen, whom she calls and invites to visit her at Don’s.  At the front door and then in the museum they have their amusing kid conversations, as Glen tells her he’s seen better penthouses, that Teddy Roosevelt killed all the caribou, and then about how the seniors on the lacrosse team are bullying him.

Sally:  “Henry got bullied when he was younger and now he runs the city.”

Fantastic, really.  And almost as good was when she tells Glen she isn’t big on his mustache.  But this would be a watershed episode for Sally for a more serious reason, as she gets her period for the 1st time, we feel foreshadowed by the waitress bringing her coffee when out with Megan.  Sally runs out of the museum after the event and takes a cab back home to Betty, who, ever the ice queen, hardly knows how to comfort the girl at first, apprehensively patting her head with her cold, waxy hand.

Then Betty, after calling Megan to explain Sally’s disappearance, says that she “became a woman today” and “I think she just needed her mother.” A triumphant Betty returns to comfort Sally, actually a nice moment, and perhaps the nicest between the two that’s aired in the show’s full run (top).

Glen returns to Don’s for his bag and ends up being taken in by Megan.  After the phone rings, Glen asks “was that Betty?”

Priceless considering the history there.  Then Megan asks Glen if he would like something to eat.

Glen:  “If you don’t mind.”

Who wasn’t having flashbacks to the Betty/Glen dynamic of the early Mad Men days?  And the complexity of all the Betty/Glen and now Megan/Glen possible Oedipal issues to be considered.

When Don returns home from learning of Lane’s suicide, he and Glen have a poignant conversation on the elevator.

Glen:  “Why does everything always turn to crap?”

Asked by Don to elaborate, he says that all hopes and dreams never seem to pan out.  Don asks him what he wants to do.

Don:  “If you could do anything at all, what would you do?”

Cut to the final scene in which Don is allowing Glen to drive the car back up to his boarding school.  Apparently Don is now into preventive suicide measures, giving Glen something to smile about.

………

The other best show on TV and another AMC production, Breaking Bad, returns on Sunday, July 15th at 10 PM.  We have learned that the final 16 episodes of the epic have been broken into two 8 episode mini-seasons.  So far, the final 8 episodes, or the last 8 episodes of season 5 are slated to air in July, 2013.  Between now and then, AMC will run Sunday late night BrBa marathons, starting with the pilot and episode 2 back to back, beginning at 3:12 AM Monday morning.  A good time for gib heads, it would seem.

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Mad Men star Jon Hamm is very fond of discussing what a bad guy his character Don Draper is.  Don has pulled some numbers over the years, for sure.  Some of our personal favorites?  Well, let’s see.  We really loved when Don was banging that old hag Bobbi Barrett, crashed the car while driving drunk, and had to call Peggy to come bail him out of jail.  We guess that may be a mark of a bad guy–no one close to call when things go wrong–but we still don’t agree with Jon Hamm that Don is all that bad.  Mad Men would have us believe that DWI was a birthright back then.  If you’ve watched lately you may have noticed Campbell’s driving skills.  If so, you’d probably rather take your chances with Don, bombed.

Now Pete Campbell is a bad guy as far as we’re concerned, but that’s another story.  Certainly was gratifying watching Lane best him in a bout of the gentleman’s sport though.  In fact, the entire season has been gratifying.  Most notably, Roger’s LSD trip, the aforementioned fisticuffs, Roger’s blowjob from Megan’s moms (Julia Ormond), and the whole Don’s new life/Megan (Jessica Pare) dynamic.  And who could neglect the return of Glen, an absolute favorite of ours?

When Sally called him (who is now being fed pills by Henry’s mother), after she witnessed Roger’s blowjob, he said “how’s the city?” Sally’s response framed the episode perfectly.

“Dirty.”

But Henry’s mother is far from the worst bitch on the block.  That honor still belongs to Betty Francis, who, in limited scenes has taken on an expanded capacity.  To state it plainly, she is enormous.  But to us, she’s even meaner than she is fat.

While Betty’s actions are apparently somewhat predictable in Matthew Weiner’s version of the American tale, every man a cad, every woman a rag, at least every divorcee that is, they are no less startling or reprehensible.  Sure, Don took Sally to see the eclipse that time and then started having sex with her teacher, but at least he takes an interest in his kids not named Gene, and refrains from partaking in another ancient birthright: child abuse.

Then there’s Betty.  January Jones makes such a mean bitch in this role that now Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) from Game of Thrones looks like a human being to us, and there is still some question as to whether she is human at all.  This week Betty overdosed on jealousy when in picking up the children, she pressed her way into Don’s penthouse and spied upon the life of the new Don Draper.

Then, when “helping” Sally with her family tree project, she casually mentioned to her that daddy had another previous wife, and suggested that Megan had lied to her about it.  Whomever coined “time heals all wounds” apparently never met Betty Francis.

Thankfully, Sally, with a little help, figured out her Mother’s game.  And when she had revealed to Betty her revenge plot was foiled, Betty became enraged.  Dragging the kids into the fray?  We jest about Weiner’s tale of Americana, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily doubt it.

With Mad Men being a show that tends to follow up on most major storylines, we are expecting, well, big things from Betty’s character the rest of the way, whether she has limited scenes or not. Matthew Weiner fought to keep Betty’s character alive when AMC tried to pinch their margins because he felt the jilted ex was a compelling plot line.  We are sure AMC is happy now that he did.  They probably didn’t even gripe too much about springing for her fat suit.

Try Googling “Fat Betty Francis”.  And then run the image search.  The fans are in love, if not with Betty, then with the fact that she is a beefed up version of the old bitch we knew and hated.  Here’s one of our favorite pics:

For us though, it’s the ugly factor that we are bent on.  Can you imagine what her reaction will be at the inevitability to come, when she finds out her daughter is fucking Glen?

Hell’s bells, Trudy!

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