Trendy TV Recap: ‘Mad Men’ Braves ‘The Monolith’

Sunday night’s episode aptly titled “The Monolith” captured the restless waves that most of us are familiar with but few are able to successfully conquer.

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Don Draper is one of the lucky ones, born with an in-built survival system that occasionally malfunctions but eventually returns to productive mode.

Don’s return to SC&P despite the almost preposterous stipulations ushered in a new era for the firm, thanks to the arrival of a new imposing toy – the IBM 360. The general fear of the unknown coupled with an adverse reaction to change prevented the titans from indulging sooner. But as they say, there is no time like the present, and with Lloyd the tech guy overseeing the installation and challenging Don with the task of explaining the fundamentals of advertising during his break, it looks like it’s full speed ahead!

Another eager minded worker bee was predictably Peggy, who unexpectedly receives a raise and an ambitious job assignment that puts her in charge of a low-level copywriter and a seasoned superstar. As you can imagine, Don is appalled at the notion of being ordered by none other than Peggy to submit 25 tag lines for the new account she is spearheading. It sends him into a tailspin and somehow during his descent he manages to raid Roger’s liquor closet and proceeds to develop an uncanny obsession with The Mets and disdain for the computer guy. Thankfully Freddie Rumsen, who has more than enough problems of his own, arrives just in time to rescue Don from what could have been a natural disaster.

After waking up in a fog and reeking of booze and disillusionment, Freddie begins the unenviable task of whipping Don into shape. It works. Don is back; seated in front of the computer with a look on his face that says it all. Despite the major setbacks, and Bret Cooper’s cold retort – questioning why he bothered to come back in the first damn place, Don is not giving up without a fight. They may try to break him and dismiss his noble past efforts but after promising a frustrated Peggy that he would have what she needed before the end of day, it was clear that he is ready for battle.

Meanwhile Roger and Mona provided the more entertaining segment as they drove to a commune to rescue their daughter Margaret (now Marigold) from the clutches of infectious hippies. The confrontation wasn’t pretty, and after accusatory remarks being hurdled at lightening speed, Mona abandons ship to hurry back to her confused grandson, leaving Roger to deal with their tragically confused daughter. It was endearing to see Roger put forth his best efforts, he even peeled potatoes for dinner, suit and all, but after a bonding interlude with his baby girl under the stars, she was summoned for a nightly rendezvous, leaving her dad dazed and confused. The next morning, the exhaustively cranky Roger is determined to rip Margaret/Marigold from her foster home, come what may. But all that ends up happening is an unscheduled father and daughter mud-wrestling match with the defeated (Roger) walking away in disbelief.

The themes seemed to be embedded in the trenches of forward movement, without allowing the past or present to negotiate or provide hampering distractions. You can’t win them all, but you can at least attempt to run the course, even if it’s not the victory lap.