Long before his affair with a shock therapy patient, his plight with driving school, and his various half-hearted expressions of emotional unrest with his country's civil state of being, Pete Campbell was a man of singular purpose: to out Don Draper. To out him for whatever bloody, mangled secret he was keeping locked up in his desk drawer. Imbued with hubris and that upper class New Yorker entitlement, Pete understood it to be his very right, and destiny, to see to it that Don fell from his plateau, and that he himself would scoop up the remnants of this shattered crown. It was how we met Pete — the story that, among his earlier forays (like getting Peggy pregnant), established him as a unique entity among the sleaze balls at Sterling Cooper. He wasn't just another wrinkled suit jacket strewn upon the office decor, catching as much loose change and bodily fluids as could be hoped for. He was another animal entirely. A snake among weasels.
Pete's story comes full circle with Bob Benson, the antithesis of Don Draper in just about every way other than nomenclatural rhythm. The all-smiles Bob has pervaded the SC&P office with an attitude remarkably ambitious and subservient alike: eager to do anything for anyone, happy to take on whatever tasks are placed before him, terrifically wary of stepping beyond his bounds. The perfect employee. The perfect cover.
And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for that meddling libido.
See, while Pete had plenty of reasons to bring upon Don's comeuppance — with motivations landing in the realms of both personal and professional — he might have happily left Bob to his cagey devices were not for last week's fleeting lapse in self control on the part of the chipper young buck. A knee nudge alone was enough of a trigger to launch Pete back into his early series turn as an ad hoc private eye (this time with Duck Phillips seated sternly at the other end of the phone, gathering files for the vigilant sleuth).
This week, Pete uncovers only a few bits and pieces of Bob's nebulous past, with the truly startling reveal being just how much of it remains a mystery. Having lied straight through his résumé, interview, and every conversation he's had while at the firm, Bob has masked a past steeped in shame (he worked as a servant or some such otherwise seemingly innocuous thing... but again, it's how much we realize we don't know that's all the more jarring) with a can-do, people-pleasing attitude (the exact opposite approach that Don took in masking his shame-steeped past), blowing the whole thing when he finally succumbed to trying to please himself. A tragic unraveling: the one undermining folly of this hard-working, generous, kind-hearted go-getter turns out to be his sexuality. Cruel, Mad Men. Didn't you slam Sal with the same fate way back when?
And although Pete drops his weapons, agreeing that Bob's takedown is a futile toil at best, we can't imagine that the ostensibly sweet natured liar will be let to rest alone with his secret after this grin-waiving affair. Pete can't be trusted, nor this industry (hell, the entire world of Mad Men is sinister). If Bob Benson does indeed return for Season 7, we should expect him in a different form altogether.
But while secrets are kept deep beneath the surface in one corner of the SC&P office, they're brimming at sea level in another: Don and Megan, still operating "smoothly" despite last week's slip-up, catch Peggy and Ted on a movie date. The office festers in discomfort and account relationships suffer as the two of them flirt childishly, Ted backing Peggy's pitches with inflated support. Earning the scorn-turned-condescending sympathy of Don, the relationship risks dissolving into enmity next week: Ted, by nature, falls victim to Don's judgment, turning in on himself and becoming a proverbial amoeba by the end of the episode. Peggy, on the other hand, is invigorated. She's livid with Don for not only tampering but for destroying the "good man" she considers Ted to be, landing Don once again (didn't this exact same scene happen once before this season? Sure feels like things are getting a bit monotonous here...) in the trenches of his war with Ted for Peggy's idolatry. And all this after he's just won the orange juice blitzkrieg. Don, for a veteran, you don't really have the best battle strategies.
And now that we've waded through the meat of the episode, we can sink our teeth into the dessert: Ken Cosgrove getting his f**king eye shot out by two gun-waving clients. Is there any more to say on the matter? It acts primarily as a catalyst for the Pete/Bob story, forcing the two men to take on the account in Ken's leave. Otherwise, it's just pretty gosh darn bonkers. Like that time they drove a zamboni in the office and chopped up somebody's foot bonkers. Remember that? The good old days?
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.