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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll explain the title later in the review.
Now before I saw this episode, I knew it was one of the best episodes. Buzzfeed has it as #4 ever (out of 90), IMDb has nothing but praise for it as well, so I was expecting something huge to go down.
I didn't expect to be so right.
Mad Men has very little humor. There's humor in the show maybe three times in a season. But this episode seems to be an exception to that. It's riddled with humor. Sterling has an absolute genius one liner "Right when he got it in the door" that made me laugh, Don's perfectly executed "The next minute, a secretary's running you over with a lawnmower," and of course, the darkly funny Tarantino-esque John Deere sequence. It was a greatly humorous hour of television.
In terms of the rest of the episode, there is a lot of praise to give out. Firstly, Joan's departure is handled... well, not with grace, but it's handled well, in a tragic sense. Sally's fear of the baby... well it might be a little far-fetched, but the execution was well-done. Don's closing monologue is touching, as is his fantastic acting, his advice about the lack of mice in a hotel ad is all too true, and it says something about Sterling Cooper that they're normally incredibly professional, but as soon as they're being evaluated, better bring out the tractor, because someone's going to lose a foot before they leave.
Finally, the underlying tone of this episode is unease. It is supported by Joan's being stuck between a rock and a hard place (although frankly, she was a little hasty about announcing her leave from Sterling Cooper). It's supported by Sally's fear of Gene II. It's supported by Don's non-promotion. It's supported by us not knowing if that poor secretary will be fired (although I can guess), and most of all, the uneasiness peaks when we realize that Roger Sterling makes no appearance on the employment tree, and someone draws his name on with a marker, noticeably below the partner level, and also noticeably not giving him anyone below him, nor a job to do.
This episode defies everything about what "Mad Men" is as a show and truly, really feels like "Breaking Bad." I have never said that about Mad Men before, but I felt like I was watching Breaking Bad. The throw-away jokes, the dark humor, the unease, the absurdity, the blood, it all feels like Breaking Bad. That's not to insult either show, they might be the two best shows ever. That's just to say they work in very different ways, and this episode felt more "Breaking Bad"-esque. Usually, "Mad Men" is a subtle show. Not a tractor and blood filled one.
The best episode since "Nixon vs. Kennedy."
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