the recap recap

The Best of This Week’s Mad Men Recaps: ‘The Crash’

Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) - Mad Men _ Season 6, Episode 8 _ 'The Crash' - Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/AMC
Photo: Jordin Althaus/AMC

Reviewers tap danced through the drug-induced chaos of “The Crash,” praising the brilliant Sally Draper, lamenting the amalgamation of virulent racial stereotypes that was “Grandma Ida,” and sending a collective clarion call for Matthew Weiner to stop with the whore symbolism already. Let’s get you up to speed. Here’s your recap of the recaps; this might hurt a bit.

* “This is sort of the ultimate Rorschach test episode, where literally anything you detect going on in it is probably there, because that’s what you were thinking about while watching it. It gives the audience any number of possibilities and invites said audience to start dissecting. Yet I keep coming back to Peggy’s wisdom about loss, to her bruised connection with Don, and the more I look at this episode, the more I find an aching core of loss, love, sadness, and regret.” — The A.V. Club

* “Roger’s body is so well preserved with vodka, his brain so expanded by acid, and his heart so rugged and prostitute-tested that he took his shot and left the episode. Not a peep heard.” — Complex

* ”Ken’s breathless tap-dance captures that Lynchian oddness that is both amusing and deeply, inexplicably unnerving. Even Sally’s experience with the quick-thinking home invader is packed with menace, a scene in which everything could be absolutely hunky-dory and easily explainable except for the fact that it isn’t.” — Entertainment Weekly 

* “So-called Grandma Ida — a woman who managed to simultaneously personify the two most egregious African-American stereotypes ever: that of the mammy and the criminal — was obsessed with finding Don Draper’s watch, a callback to the watch that, in this season’s premiere, had suddenly stopped working. The suggestion: time has run out.” — Esquire

* “Ms. Swenson the whore is warm and controlling. Don’s issues with women are spelled out in I Ching hexagrams: Women ruled over him in youth, so in adulthood he reclaims his power by crushing his lovers’ wills like cigarette butts underneath his heel in an apartment hallway.” — Grantland 

* “How can I explain all of this to you properly if the available technology doesn’t allow me to come into each and every one of your homes or offices to do it while I tap dance?” — HitFix

* “One of the things that’s always been so enjoyable about Mad Men is its ability to inhabit several genres at once, to be a moody period piece, a witty caper and a broad farce,  sometimes within the space a single episode. Over  the last season or so,  as Mad Men has advanced into the social and political maelstrom of the late ‘60s, it has added another genre to the list: horror.” — Los Angeles Times

* “Don’s flashbacks are so trippy that any minute now, he could click his heels and say, “There’s no place like the brothel, there’s no place like the brothel” — and wake up from this weird 1960s dream.” — New York Times

* “There have been subtle suggestions throughout the season that Don equated Sylvia with being a whore whenever he saw her in a bathrobe and head kerchief, but it was during this particular episode’s flashback that we learn it went far beyond her penchant for brothel attire. Sylvia wears a beauty mark on her right cheek, just like the mothering Ms. Swenson did, and that image has stayed with Don since his childhood, right up to a late 1950s oatmeal ad that he did in the Sterling Cooper days, featuring a kerchiefed mother, complete with beauty mark (instead of coming up with Chevy tag lines, Don holed himself up in the archives digging out the ad).” — Rolling Stone

* “Seriously, Matthew Weiner, do you think we’re grasping your point about mothers and whores and friends and whores and brothers and whores and mourning daughters and whores, or do we also need Betty calling Sally a whore? … Do we need Michael Ginsberg urging Don to “Promise them everything. You’ve got to change their life, you’ve got to take away their pain!”? Do we need Don announcing his unwillingness to yield his life to Chevy’s high-paying whoring schedule, and then piously telling Ted Chaough, “Every time we get a car, this place turns into a whorehouse”? Are we really meant to throw our sandwiches at the screen, yelling, “But YOU are the whore, Don Draper!”? Sometimes I wish Don weren’t quite so covered in whoring whoremongers and the whoring whores who whore for them.” — Salon

* “Amid his speedy, sweaty declarations, Don claims to have invented something “bigger than ads” that will succeed even if people reject the “bargain” of content interrupted by commercials. Did he just invent non-display, native marketing? (Someone prep Harry Crane to lead the digital strategy team.)” — Slate

* “Young Ms. Draper is doing everything right: reading Ira Levin, dressing in kicky little outfits that piss off her mother (who’s probably just jealous that, even with the weight loss, she still couldn’t fit into them), staring down intruders with her father’s cold eyes and even colder intonation and hardly budging an inch when Don, in his own stunted way, tries to apologize for putting her in danger. Her moments with “Grandma Ida” should be studied for their expert pacing and incredibly tricky moments of power exchange.” — Time

The Best of This Week’s Mad Men Recaps