Mad Men

Season 2 Episode 3

The Benefactor

6
Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Aug 10, 2008 on AMC
8.5
out of 10
User Rating
188 votes
3

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Harry tries to gather support around a controversial sponsorship in order to bolster his career. When Don ditches work for a day, trouble brews on the set of a commercial. Later, Betty joins her husband when he attempts to placate his clients with an amicable dinner.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Don and crew have to deal with an immature spokesman.

    2.3
    TV's most critically-acclaimed drama starts off slow and revolting and ends just as slowly and even more dreary. The weekly humdrum that receives high ratings and universal praise is truly starting to take a toll on this reviewer. In just the second season we have already entered into a seemingly irreversible slump with shoddy storylines and forced acting. What many hailed as one of the best casts on television seems to have lost its passion with the majority appearing as if they are only there doing it for Ken's paycheck, and anticipating the day a production studio calls with a major movie offer so they can get out.



    Jon Hamm continues to appear as if he is reading off cue cards, showing zero emotion and muttering his lines like a buffoon. The supporting cast is even less charming and leads me to believe that Mad Men's casting call was hardly a rigorous process. In just a few weeks networks will be returning with a plethora of hackneyed shows as well as the few good programs that somehow manage to slip through the eyes of imcompetant executives and get greenlit so just be proud that there will be superior shows on Sunday evenings in no time.moreless
  • A bit more tension than the first two episodes...But, where is the low-key, but wicked, humor of last season? It's sorely missed in this episode. Also, missing definitive Don Draper revelations.moreless

    6.5
    I'll go out on a limb here and say I thought, while nowhere near the quality of all last season, this episode was an improvement of sorts over the previous two. Don returned to his philandering ways, yet this one had a sort of pathetic slant to it since prior to this he actually liked the women he bedded. This time he wasn't in charge and it was him being seduced. He lets an unlikeable older female have her way with him instead of the other way around. He then decides to wrestle the dominance back in his court in a surprising visit to the women's powder room where he manhandles his lover.



    Dark, dark, dark...What won't Don do? I think we're back on track here, but he's lost any redeeming quality and the writer's need to return to giving up little bits about his mysterious past so we can see why Don has to both disconnect from those closest to him and be the master of his universe. Before, for me, it was the mystery of what made him the way he is which allowed him to do bad things while not really being as bad as those things. The humor softened it all up to make him anything but evil. Now he seems evil to the point that he'd do about anything, he's got to get back to wrestling with his conscience and being a slyly funny guy. Slowly, but in small ways we're being treated to know Betty Draper better. She craves attention and is finding that the more she gets out it just automatically comes. So far she's not falling for a fling, content just with her rediscovered power. It may be up to Don if she goes down the path he's taken, but at this point the possibility is more like a carrot on a stick dangled in front of the viewer who isn't sure if the point is the contrast between her morals and Don's or if the purpose is to make her possible fall more dramatic. Like I say I feel the episode is developing the characters for something that will happen shortly and as such is better than the other season two ones, but is still rather slow. We're left with Don and Betty driving home with Betty being emotional (says she's so happy) and Don being coy (what is he thinking). I, for one, am back at least wanting to tune in next week to see. In that regard small though it is, this is a slight return to form for the series.moreless
  • The two major storylines do not only fail at moving the show forward, but are overall boring to boot. What has happened to the good ol' days of Mad Men, when everything was witty and making you wonder who Don Draper really is.moreless

    4.1
    The second season hasn't been blowing people out of the water like the first did, but the first two episodes did have a flair and overall kept true to the show. This episode, however, failed in that regard as the characters just seem bland. My biggest issue with the episode was the Harry Crane storyline. I thought it would be interesting to have one of the "lackeys" be seen as a true character, instead of just a group of one liners. However, Crane just came across as whiny and bland. He wanted a raise and watching him try to reason his way of getting it, just wasn't interesting. I came into this episode liking Harry as a character, but this episode just made him seem as paper thin as possible.



    The Donald Draper storyline was also severely lacking. "Mad Men" seemed to want to use this to "slap" fans in the face with Don's obvious fidelity problems. His affair with a comedians manager is not only boring, but does not even give us a new angle on Don, as most episodes do. I just hope that this was one episode fluke, and Don can be the interesting character he once was.



    I do, however, want to give accolades to January Jones, for putting out the one strong scene of the episode. Her scene at the stables was extremely suspenseful and ended in a way that not only showed the differences between her and Don, but also her own inner turmoils. Definitely the highlight of this lackluster episode.moreless
Missy Yager

Missy Yager

Sarah Beth

Guest Star

Gabriel Mann

Gabriel Mann

Arthur

Guest Star

Denise Crosby

Denise Crosby

Gertie

Guest Star

Mark Moses

Mark Moses

Herman “Duck” Phillips

Recurring Role

Joel Murray

Joel Murray

Freddy Rumsen

Recurring Role

Crista Flanagan

Crista Flanagan

Lois Sadler

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Lollipops and Roses (sung by Jack Jones) is playing on the car radio when Betty and Don are returning home after dinner. Jones won a "Best Performance by a Male Singer" Grammy for his 1962 debut single.

    • Lutece, where Don and Betty dine with the Barretts and the Schillings, was a deluxe French restaurant that opened in New York City in 1961. It was famous for its Alsace tart and foie gras; it closed in 2004.

    • Vincent Kartheiser does not appear in this episode.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (2)

    • The title of this episode ("The Benefactor") is also the title of the controversial episode of The Defenders which Harry tries (unsuccessfully) to get the Belle Jolie cosmetics company to sponsor. The episode of The Defenders, which discussed the issue of abortion, aired on CBS on April 28, 1962. It was so controversial at the time that none of the regular sponsors for the series would advertise during its broadcast.

    • Don Draper: Has anyone tried to save this yet, besides Leopold and Loeb over here?

      Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. and Richard A. Loeb were two wealthy University of Chicago students who attempted to commit the perfect crime (a murder), but were caught and sentenced to life in prison. In this context, Don is accusing Ken Cosgrove and Freddy Rumsem of being high-achieving failures and potentially tanking an account.

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