The Televangelist "Mad Men" Season 5, Ep 10

Ep 10


It was a languid episode of "Mad Men," but for this show that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not unusual at this point in the season to slow down the narrative trajectory anyway, and start shuffling things into place for the final few episodes. In particular, the focus back on Sterling Cooper and the lives of our original crew (i.e. not Megan) was refreshing. Was it merely fan-service to see the return of Paul Kinsey as a avatar hare krishna who had fallen so far in the advertising world that he ended up at A&P (as in the grocery store) and spends his time writing bad Star Trek scripts? Yes, it probably was. Was it not glorious? It may be one of the best tricks the show has ever pulled.

But "Christmas Waltz" also kept with the sly, negative tone of the whole season. No one is getting what they want, and some characters are openly despairing. The firm is losing touch with pop culture, Don is no longer "cool," Roger is useless, Pete has aged himself with his frown lines and material focus, Lane is drowning in debt, Joan and Peggy's lives are not at all what they had hoped they might be, and on and on. Whether or not someone does off themselves by the end of the season is uncertain, but gloom and doom seems to be permeating everyone's lives regardless. The question is, who will give up, or give in to it? I said a few weeks ago that I worried for Pete, but I also worry for Roger and Lane. And I worry for Chauncey, damnit, probably still roaming the streets of Manhattan looking for Duck. Why, "Mad Men," why?!

Back to the filler and fan service, I begrudge none of it. In the "wacky" subplot of the night, Harry actually got a redemptive moment with Paul. Harry was once a favored character - a little shady, maybe, a little dorky and a little irritating, but nothing like the cretin he morphed into at the end of last season and the duration of this one. Though the dalliance with Lakshmi was a thin plot on which to turn a bigger moment (what was she really threatening him with?), Harry did the right thing for both him and his friend by giving Paul the money and a plane ticket to get the heck out of Dodge.