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'Mad Men' recap: Season 5, Episode 10, 'Christmas Waltz'

Thank God for Joan and Don. Without their lunchtime escape from the office, replete with witty, sexy banter, this episode, the worst of the season, would have been pointless.

Nothing else quite worked here, in what clearly was a transitional throwaway leading up to the final few episodes this season. I, for one, do not care about Lane's financial issues (though, surely him forging Don's signature on a check to pay debts will come back to bite him). Anything involving Harry is sort of blah, even though his subplot this week brought back and old friend, Paul Kinsey, who has, ahem, gone through some changes.

Even an attempt to focus on an already upset housewife-Megan seemed even more jarring than usual. She throws spaghetti because Don is late for dinner!

These things could have been interesting, but they weren't in this episode. Nothing quite worked, except for Don and Joan together, which I would like to see more of, perhaps in a spin-off (hey, I can dream).

Sigh. Well here's went down.

A good part of this episode revolved around Harry Crane meeting up with Paul who is -- holy 1966! -- a Hare Krishna, shaved head and all, and in love with a woman named Lakshmi who proves to be super un-peaceful. Harry (and the viewer) hasn't seen Paul in awhile, despite them being close friends at the agency.

"Harry Crane, as I live and breathe!" Paul says when Harry meets him at his Hare Krishna place. Ew.

"What the hell happened to you?" Harry (and me) asks.

"Krishna consciousness," Paul responds. Sure. Of course.

Harry, for some reason (perhaps to get his mind of the horrible marriage he keeps whining about) really gets into some chanting. Like, some serious chanting. He later tells Paul he had a vision, but all Paul wants to do is give him a script he wrote for "Star Trek," which seems very non-Hare Krishna of him.

Either way, Harry loves his friend so he agrees to try to share the script with the network folks. He reads it first, deems it awful (It's called "The Negron Complex," after all), but lets Peggy give it a read.

"The twist is that the Negron is white," Harry deadpans.

Poor Paul. Really poor Paul, because later Lakshmi heads to the office, seduces Harry by saying "When you were chanting, I felt this intensity everywhere in my body. Especially one place."

So with the sound of typewriters chirping outside, Harry and Lakshmi get it on in his office. Later, Lakshmi shows her true colors, calls Harry disgusting and says she only did it "for the movement."

"I don't want you shaking his devotion. Plus, he's our best recruiter," Lakshmi says.

Oh, that Lakshmi! She tells Harry not to help him with the script, tell him it's awful and lead him back to her and Hare Krishna.

A good friend (despite sleeping with Paul's girlfriend), Harry ends up giving Paul $500 to move to Los Angeles to pursue his writing dreams.

Weird, but this all actually happened.

Not so much weird, but more boring was a focus on Lane's financial struggles. He owes $8,000 in back taxes, a British dude is pestering him and he's apparently broke, so he forges a check in Don's name. He also pushes the idea of Christmas bonuses, but Mohawk airlines decides to suspend advertising for the time being, so the partners agree to not give themselves bonuses this year (aw, how nice of them).

Raise your hand if you'd like me to continue talking about Lane? No hands I assume. Great.

And now for the best (only good) part of the episode: Leave it to Joanie to save the day.

Joan gets served her divorce papers in the office, which leads to an awesome showdown between her and the incompetent receptionist.

"You let him in!" Joan yells.

"He said he knew you! He said it was a surprise!" the receptionist says.

Joan throws a sculpture of an airplane on her desk and yells, "Surprise! There's an airplane here to see you!"

Love it.

Don whisks the frazzled Joan away for an escape from the office, despite it being about 1 p.m. He give her his coat when she says she doesn't have one (this was pretty melt-worthy), takes her to the Jaguar dealership to check out their cars because Jag is a perspective client (more on this later), and they pretend like they're a couple (really not annoying as it sounds) and then drive off to a bar in a Jag (Don Alpha Male-y gives the salesman a check for $6,000 and says if they don't come back, they bought it).

The bar scene between the two was perfect. Everything about it. We seriously don't see enough of these two.

"You'll find someone better," Don says, congratulating her on her impending divorce.

"You did didn't you? You found someone perfect," Joan responds.

Later:

"Want to dance?" Don asks.

"You and me? In midtown? With that look on your face?" she responds.

The whole episode should have been this.

I forgot the best part. This line from Joan: "My mother raised me to be admired."

Later, Don sends her flowers at the office with a card that reads: "Your mother did a good job."

Jesus, this was awesome. Aka: the only awesome thing that happened in this worst episode of the season.

Finally, to be fair, the writers end on a somewhat high note, pushing the plot forward. After revealing to the staff that the Mohawk Airlines account in on hiatus, Don puts all his eggs in one inspiring basket: to go after Jaguar (SCDP is only in the running to represent them).

"There's six weekends between now and the pitch," Don says of Jaguar. "Those weekends will be spent here. We will represent them and it will be worth it.

"When we land Jaguar, the world will know we have arrived."

This oughta be interesting.

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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