A Guy on Mad Men: Messing With The Recappers (S6/E8, “The Crash”)



Sure, Mad Men was bonkers, but did anybody catch Twitter last night? Because while “The Crash” made about as much sense as the useless previews we’re given at the end of every episode, one eye on the television and another on Tweetdeck revealed that the episode had people confused, angry, excited, calling the race card, saying the show had jumped the shark, and I noted more than a few people saying versions of, “I can’t wait to see what the Monday morning recap folks make out of this one.” The Crash” was one of those episodes that will either be long despised as one of the biggest messes that Matthew Weiner & Co. have ever made, or we will look back, when all is said and done, and realize it was a masterpiece. 

There is no one great way to analyze what happened last night past the obvious: Kenneth starts things off in a speeding car (I think they call that “foreshadowing” in the businesses) with a bunch of drunk Chevy executives screaming and brandishing firearms, leads to creepy Don just hanging outside of Sylvia’s backdoor. The creative team is up against the wall trying to come up with ideas for their star client when Ted is given the news that his old partner, Frank, has succumbed to cancer. Things look grimmer than grim, but thankfully old Jim Cutler has a trick up his sleeve, summoning his doctor friend to inject a cocktail of (what seemed like) speed and vitamins into the behinds of the SCDP/CGC teams. I think from that point on, it’s honestly up to each viewer to really decide what he or she felt about “The Crash.” While it’s the job of somebody recapping a show to do just that, I think the episode full of “energy syrum” induced craziness, Don flashing back to losing his virginity to a prostitute, Kenneth Cosgrove tap dancing (!), and Sally and the kids meeting burglar Grandma Ida, had far too much going on for one recap.

The two things that struck me the most about “The Crash,” however, would be:

1. The amount of people I saw on Twitter saying Grandma Ida scared them.

This was a weird subplot within the episode, where Sally stumbles upon a burglar, that happened to be a kindly older African-American woman, going through Don and Megan’s apartment, while Sally is left to babysitting duties. What got me about this were the amount of people on Twitter talking about “Grandma Ida” the person, and not the burglar, while the latter is the thing I’d be most frightened about. What got me about the sweet older lady obviously there to steal things from the Drapers residence, and do no hard to anybody in the process, was just that: she was an old lady that seemed really nice, and for some reason there’s something even more disconcerting about that than just finding somebody else rummaging through your things. But since Mad Men is a writers show, you probably do have to look deeper to wonder what it all meant. One blog commenter I saw mentioned that “The name “I da robber” is also kind of racist for a show seemingly trying to treat civil rights issues in the 60′s in a progressive manner,” while more than a few people on Twitter took aim at people who found “Grandma Ida” scary by saying it was just racism creeping to the surface. I don’t know if it was the intention of the writers to get people so riled up over a character I don’t think we will ever hear from again, but who knows? I think Grandma Ida’s presence was meant less to upset viewers because of who she was or what she was doing, and more to clue us in on how bad Don and Megan are as parents. We’re at this point in the season where we feel like something incredibly bad is going to happen, and Don and Megan gave us reason to think that maybe it will happen to the kids because of their negligence; and there isn’t much worse than kids getting hurt because their parents screwed something up.

2. Matthew Weiner loves these kinds of episodes.

He produced The Sopranos episode “The Test Dream.” If you ever needed proof that Matthew Weiner’s dream gig would be to create a film that is something like a Fellini movie written by William Burroughs, re-watch that Sopranos episode, and then watch “The Crash” all over again. But whatever you do, don’t go thinking you’re going to get many answers from last night’s episode; it was just a set up for the last five episodes of the season.

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1 comment

  1. The main reason I thought Grandma Ida was so scary was that she seemed mentally unstable and thus unpredictable. She came out of nowhere and I had no idea what she was capable of. Her skin color didn’t really enter into it for me.