Mad Men, finally sick of Game of Thrones getting all the good gross out reactions on the interwebz, decided to take a page out of George R.R. Martin’s zillion page book on Sunday.
Yes, much like the surprise in a box found last season on GoT, Mad Men‘s Michael Ginsberg decided to surprise Peggy Olson with a gift of his own. Except he chopped off his own nipple for dear Peggy instead of, well, you know.
This certainly isn’t the first time that Matthew Weiner has given us a bloody surprise. Peggy stabbed Abe with a homemade spear in the most bizarre episode of season 6. And who can forget the the infamous John Deere incident back in season 3?
Ginsberg’s entire situation is bizarre, even for a show that’s spilled a good amount of blood despite taking place in a 1960s ad agency. SC&P has a new room sized computer that occupies the creative team’s previous space. Its humming is so loud that employees can hear it in their offices. It annoys Ginsberg to the point of stuffing tissues into his ears to block it all out. The computer does lead him to a secret meeting between Lou Avery and Jim Cutler. The humming is so loud that Ginsberg can’t hear them, so he has to gather what he can by watching them from afar.
Most viewers would take Ginsberg witnessing this secret meeting to mean that he is about to become very important to Mad Men. That might be the case for any other character, but not for Michael Ginsberg. The audience has known that he’s a little bit off since he first appeared back in season five. He’s an eccentric character, prone to outbursts and hyperbole. He doesn’t like the computer. When he shows up at Peggy’s house, we have the expectation that he’s discovered Cutler and Avery’s secret. Instead, he’s convinced that the computer has turned them into homosexuals.
It’s a moment that made me laugh. The idea is absurd and Ginsberg’s impassioned delivery makes it even funnier. Even his attempt to kiss Peggy was funny, mostly because Ginsberg has seemed harmless to this point.
That’s why the moment when Peggy opens up that box and finds Ginsberg’s Van Gogh-ian tribute to her is so effectively shocking. No one thought that he was capable of that. People considered him quirky, not legitimately mentally ill. It’s easy to forget that this character is a child of the Holocaust. Born in a concentration camp, adopted at the age of five; Ginsberg has deep rooted issues that were touched upon, but never quite explored.
Ginsberg is still screaming at the computer as he is wheeled out the door. The device takes on an almost supernatural air. Peggy looks at it like it’s a looming threat. It appears to be a serial killer waiting to take them all down. HAL is taking over SC&P. Or maybe the ghost of Lane Pryce has taken up residence in the machine and is plotting to bring down the company from the inside.
Is the gigantic computer a real threat to everyone within SC&P? Of course not. But, to a number of employees it represents different things. Don Draper sees it as just another item from the scary and confusing future that he’s being dragged into. Harry Crane sees it as his ticket to the big kid’s table. For Michael Ginsberg, it acted as a catalyst for every mental issue he’s been keeping confined to come out in one gruesome display.
Blah blah blah
- I was definitely planning on making this post about Lou Avery’s craptastic comic strip, Scout’s Honor, but then Ginsberg went and grabbed the spotlight. Lou manages to redefine insufferable every week.
- Don Draper has to be talked into a three way in yet another example of how life isn’t fair and you should probably just go home and be depressed.
- I was waiting for Don to go Animal House on the instruments being played at Megan’s party.
- It looks like Henry Francis is finally realizing what he got when he married the succubus known as Betty. “I’m not stupid, I speak Italian.”
- Peggy lets the kid upstairs watch TV in her place. There has to be a spinoff about Peggy’s life as a landlord in the works. I’ll also accept One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Ginsberg.
- UPDATE: Uproxx posted a nifty little piece showing the parallels between this computer saga and 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have brought shame to my name for not seeing this sooner.