Our Weekly Mad Men Column: Liz & LJ on "The Monolith"


LJ: Watching this episode of Mad Men was a really intense experience for me. It was called "The Monolith," which was a reference to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey that I didn't catch. I only saw that movie once and retained exactly none of it; I hate shit that isn't set in real life, except Harry Potter. Anyway, I am calling this Mad Men episode "The Monolith" as a reference to the T.Rex song "Monolith," since they are both heavy and haunting and make me feel more than is necessary. On the evening of the day we watched "The Monolith," my boyfriend and I got in the hugest fight of our entire relationship, and I would venture to guess that the fight was approximately 15% "The Monollith"'s fault. I think that next week I am going to save watching Mad Men for the night rather than first thing in the morning, so I don't have to carry those emotions around with me all day. (PS: I just want to let you guys know that everything is now supes-chill between my man & I, our Monolith-fight definitely helped us grow as a couple & also- this is a brag- as part of my chill apology I sent a woodsy & masculine bouquet of flowers to his work today accompanied by a note reading "Thanks for always sending me flowers," and the really great thing about me telling you all of this is how obviously it relates to Mad Men...

The big thing for me about this episode was definitely the Roger-Mona-Margaret-Marigold plotline. Roger was definitely at his personal Rogeriest and therefore BEST. Margaret is so ungrateful! As far as deadbeat dads go, Roger Sterling is pretty much as good as it gets. What do you think his zodiac sign is? I don't even know why I bothered typing that sentence since two letters into it I realized he's the world's most obvious Libra. I bet Harry Crane is a Sagittarius. 

Roger was cool right off the bat  with the scene where he encourages Don to get drunk with him at like 9 in the morning. When Don says "No" (because of the Rules), Roger says "Good thinking," in this really great and true way that reminded me of all the times my sneaky plans to slack at work have been squashed by someone cleverer and more rule-conscious than I. Roger is so chill about his extreme selfishness; I really admire him for that. I like how he's Don's only great champion at the office, for no other reason than that he's stoked he gets to hang out with his pal again. Sterling Cooper must have been such a dull environment for Roger while Don was gone. He probably hung out with Stan a lot. 

Here's my favorite Rodge, all cutely wrapped up in a blankie. His suit makes him look like the captain of a ship. He and Mona killed this entire episode from start to finish- I mean that as a compliment, like, "They killed it!" I'm obsessed with Mona now, by the way. Maybe this is just me projecting my pro-Mona sentiment onto Roger, but I feel like part of the reason why he turned on Margaret-Marigold after she snuck out for some sneaky sex with Cletus (Was that guy actually named Cletus, or did Roger just nickname him that as a sly Rogery dig?) was because in that moment he realized that no fleeting affair with any hot hippie (or secretary!) is as truly satisfying as the sassy-cozy partnership he has with the only woman who's ever really known him, and he doesn't want Margaret to make the same mistake that he did. There's a part where Margaret accuses Mona of locking herself in the bathroom with a- I think she says pint- of gin. A pint of gin?!? That's so cool, Mona. That's such a cool amount of gin for Mona to drink. I even love that she's named Mona; such a subtly genius move from the good old Mad Men writers, the hugest geniuses there ever were. But I think my favorite moment of the entire episode was when Caroline reads Roger Mona's message saying, "Hey Genius! Brooks is in jail" in her gravelly Caroline way. Mona and Caroline were the real breakout stars of this episode for me. Flyest bitches evs. 

PS: Has a real person ever been named Ellery? 

Meanwhile, back at Sterling Coop, I could not give less of a shit about the "there's a computer in the office" plotline. One of my favorite things about Mad Men has always been that there's no computers in it. That's all over for me now. 

Hmm, what else happened? Something called "Burger Chef" is on the show now, which sounds like the name of a restaurant from today that would serve $28 burgers with truffle oil incorporated into like all of them, except there would be one healthier option made out of sushi-grade tuna that wouldn't have truffle oil on it. Ted Chaough was in the episode for about three seconds, so that was really nice of the Mad Men writers to dangle that carrot in front of my face and then DEPRIVE me of the carrot. One thing you may not have noticed about Ted's brief appearance is that he's sitting at a desk and there's a bagel on a plate in front of him! A bagel! A baaaaagel. I love when dudes I have crushes on eat foods that I eat myself

Speaking of dudes I have crushes on, Don Draper did so many cool things this week! No bagels, but still. He dickishly played solitaire and said he couldn't make Peggy's meeting, he drank vodka out of a Coke can, he had a chill little revelation spurred on by the now sage-like Freddie Rumsen's words of wisdom, he said "Ball game" to Peggy Olson in a cute, shruggy way, and -most importantly- when everyone in the Universe's least-favorite Sagittarius Harry Crane said, "Sorry you lost your lunchroom; it's not symbolic," he replied, "No, it's quite literal," and then, believe it or not, I walked right into the scene and high-fived him! "That's our Don!" I said- sighing theatrically, then looking straight at the camera, giving the audience a little wink. And that's how the episode ended. 

LIZ: I really liked how Don was always drinking Coke in this episode. I loved when he was drinking a Coke and eating a candy bar at the same time. Our Don, drinking Coke and eating candy bars, playing solitaire and reading Philip Roth, bored out of his skull on purpose. A thing I read on Vulture or Grantland or wherever talked about how when Don's lying on his office couch and staring up at Lane's Mets penant, the shot's framed so it's like he's lying in his coffin. Don Draper's not going to die at the end of Mad Men, because he's already dead right now. Don knows what it's like to be dead.
        I also really enjoyed how Don and the computer guy were always lighting each other's cigarettes. I liked when Meredith asked how his weekend was and he said "Lonely!", all faux-chipper/I-don't-give-a-fuck. I screamed when he threw the typewriter at the window, and thought it was grossly cute when he sang to Freddy Rumsen about meeting the Mets.

I'm way on board with LJ's Mona thoughts. One of my all-time fave Mona moments is that scene from before Margaret and Brooks were married, when they're in the restaurant and Brooks tells Margaret "I'll get the mussels with garlic if you do," and Mona stares at them for a few dreamy seconds and then says, "That's sweet." I think about that part a lot.

And I loved being in the car with Mona and Roger. It felt like being in a car with my grandparents on the ride home from Sunday dinner at a steakhouse when I was five, only with way spicier conversation. It was cool when Roger described Margaret as "so cruel, so serene." Cruel/serene is an interesting word pairing. Roger Sterling is a poet.

Margaret's Neil Young-y suede poncho thing was pretty sick. And the thing in this episode that meant the most to me was when Mona and Roger first get to the commune and Margaret's telling them how she's over society or whatever, and she keeps her creepy/blissed-out smile on and says "I don't pray to that anymore." It's good to have a nice, punchy one-liner to throw out there when you want to be really chill about rejecting the lifestyle choices of others. I like to say "I don't really happen on that level," which I stole from Rodney Bingenheimer, but "I don't pray to that anymore" brings it into a whole other dimension of sanctimoniousness. Cool job, Marigold.

I screen-capped Roger smoking on the porch too! I had to include my pic as well, I love it so. And I'm so crazy about how he's wrapped up in what's maybe an old sleeping bag. Broken men wearing sleeping bags and smoking on porches in the morning light are my new muses.

And these guys. Love these guys. I know it's a lot to ask, but I'd really love for them to go out drinking sometime. I want them to drink margaritas, share cigarettes, talk shit, be really funny, get new dudes to go out with. Ideally some dudes who are 100% not terrible, like every dude either of these two has ever paired off with in all of Mad Men history.

Speaking of babes, what do we think of Bonnie? I dig that she's so cutthroat, and that Pete's so into her cutthroat-ness. And it was adorbs when Pete introduced her as "my girlfriend": Pete Campbell with a girlfriend! A thing like that.

And yeah oh my god TED CHAOUGH WITH HIS AMAZING BAGEL. I like how Pete's not eating a bagel, he's got a danish, he'll never shake off his bagel snobbery. I so love a man with convictions. 

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