The Mountain King Revisited

 Posted by on September 26, 2011 at 6:50 am  Season 2
Sep 262011

Every Sunday morning, AMC airs three episodes of Mad Men. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we revisit our favorite posts about those three episodes.

Today it’s The Mountain King, episode 2.12.

This is an intense episode. We talk about rape and about how Joan deals with it.

B. Cooper compares Joan’s rape to one that occurred on The Sopranos (spoilers for The Sopranos).

Hey! Pete and Peggy were in this episode too!

This is the first episode in which we meet Anna. Here’s a little parallel between Anna and Betty.

Didja know I’m a tarot reader? Have been for almost thirty years. Here’s my interpretation of the reading Anna gave Don. Illustrated! (No prior tarot knowledge required.)


  12 Responses to “The Mountain King Revisited”

  1. Dear Deborah:

    Please correct the error.

    The Mountain King was not when you and the Basketeers first met me. e first met in “The Gold Violin.”

    Hope we can meet again in Series 5 in a few ( long ) months.

    • Auntie, while that’s true, we didn’t know who you were in Gold Violin and we didn’t know what your relationship with Don was. It’s fair to say we met a mysterious blonde in TGV and Anna Draper in The Mountain King.

  2. Now my goof needs a correction. S/B “We” no “e”.

    Nobody’s pluperfect.

  3. Wow. Just wanted to comment on the whole Joan bit, since it’s brought back up here. It was excruciating to watch, made me sick to my stomach. I skipped over the scene the first few times I rewatched this ep, but can watch it now, since so much time has passed. At the time that it aired in 2008, things were still too raw for me, and the fact that Weiner, et al. brought my problem right into my favorite tv show really pissed me off. I mean really pissed me off-I watch tv to escape from the bad shit………and here it is in the middle of my show.

    Anyway, what I did love after finally being able to keep my eyes on the screen through the whole thing is that we get Joan’s point of view. You get what she actually sees for a moment, and the focus is taken off what Greg the Butthole is doing, and instead we see what she is doing to get through it-staring at the wall, probably thinking about something else. Which, lots of women do sometimes do during consensual sex as well. But what I really like about that aspect of it is that it gives her agency in the scence, it makes her more real. By seeing through her eyes, we get a better sense of her in the scene as a person, not just as the body being used. Greg turns her face away from his because, as is mentioned in on of the other posts regarding this, the act is not about her as a person, but is about her body, and that he thinks it belongs to him.

    I’ve been in Joanie’s position before, and it does suck, and telling people afterward who cannot understand why you didn’t fight harder really blows. I’m glad Weiner left that part out, that he used this scene to make a statement about how crude their relationship is and as a statement on what she will put up with in order to get her “perfect” man. I think this incident perhaps also plays into her decision to keep Roger’s baby-this is a bit of control over her life and her body that Greg doesn’t get to have, and he doesn’t even know. It’s just for her, this little secret, and if he were a totally wonderful innocent guy I don’t think she would be doing this. By having another man’s baby, even if Greg never knows, she gets a say in their relationship, something Greg does his best to make sure she doesn’t have if he can help it.

    Ugh. I love this episode for what we learn, but this part about Joan always icks me out. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

    • rowan, I’m sorry this is so triggering for you, and I’m sorry you had this experience.

      Matt wanted to use this very flawed relationship to address something that happens to women all the time, and that was considered acceptable by many people then, and still is, by many people today. Mad Men doesn’t “address issues” in the typical television way, it allows us to experience them, warts and all, and without glamorizing them. There was no cultural voice in 1963 saying “date rape is wrong, marital rape is wrong,” so Joan is voiceless, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and it doesn’t make it okay. By showing us that, I feel like Matt gave voice to the voiceless.

  4. Loved reading about the parallels between Anna and Betty – never occurred to me before. Don is (was) so close to Anna because he knew he could tell her everything and be honest with her. When Don finally became honest with Betty, she rejected him for lying for so long. I wonder if Betty would have been understanding of Don’s past if he had come clean several years earlier (i.e. while dating or early marriage). First instinct would be to say no, given Betty’s often snobbish attitude. But if Don had been honest in the beginning, rather than lie (she knew he was poor and that didn’t seem to make much difference), they could have had a longer shot together.

    Makes me wonder if Don will be as honest about himself with Megan in S5.

  5. True, but Staphanie’s aunt is me, Anna.

  6. Another bad typo by me. I am not Staphanie’s aunt; I am Stephanie’s aunt. Sorry.

    Got to run and find my suitcase ( Samsonite- don’t you know ).

  7. Deb, thanks for giving me a spot to talk about this particular episode and what is important about it for Joan. I don’t have close friends who watch the show, and so talking about this issue in this episode hasn’t really happened for me before. I appreciate the open forum, and the discussion of this very important scene.

    Since that episode, other things in MM have recalled experiences for me as well, which just goes to show how deft Weiner and co. are at combining the contemporary with the past. “Date” rape is still a problem, not much has changed since when this show was set, and I think that is perhaps what got me the most-that this show, set over 40 years ago, could bring up a topic that is still very much a part of women’s lives now, unfortunately.

    As hard as it can be for some to watch, this kinda stuff is what makes the show so wonderful. It’s not just entertainment, as much as some of us may want it to be. The show makes you think, and feel, without manipulating you into those actions.

    So pleased it won Best Drama again!!!!!

  8. I really liked the Anna/Betty parallel. But what also surprised me about the ep was a potential Anna/Abigail from “Hobo Code” parallel.

    Don shows up at Anna’s basically homeless with his belongings in a paper bag like a hobo. The hobo shows up at Abigail’s like, well a hobo. There is a little boy at Anna’s (at the piano) when Don arrives. There’s a little boy at Abigail’s (BCD) when the Hobo arrives. Don asks Anna if he can take a shower and Anna buys him some fresh clothes. The hobo is glad that Abigail will boil his clothes. Don has left his wife and kids in NYC. The hobo has left his wife and kids in NYC. Don fixes Anna’s chair. The hobo does some work around the farm. Anna took up with a man named Hank. Abigail took up with a man named Mack. Anna shows Don compassion. Abigail shows the hobo compassion.

    One difference is that Anna doesn’t feed Don. But on the porch, the camera lingers on a wind chime made of spoons and forks. Perhaps to mean Anna gave Don emotional nutrition while Abigail gave the hobo physical nutrition.

    But what really struck me were Hank’s clothes that Anna gave to Don after he first arrived. They seemed odd since they were so not Don, yet so familiar. And then I realized, it’s basically the exact same outfit Adam wore when Don last saw him. The only difference is that Don’s sleeves are longer.

    Don speaks seriously ill of Abigail in S1. And the fact that Adam didn’t cut Don down when he said “good” to the news of his mother’s death said a lot. Abigail must have had some serious problems at some point for Adam to have let that comment slide and basically side with Don with his silence.

    But was she really always as bad as Don made her out? In all of Don’s memories (Hobo Code, Babylon with Adam, Out of Town taking Don in) she seems like a decent person. Some of Don’s best moments (taking Peggy under his wing after her baby, getting Sally to accept Gene) seem to parallel Abigail’s actions (taking baby Dick in, trying to get BCD to accept Adam). Don says Abigail always reminded him she wasn’t his son. But was that a real always, or a child’s “You aaaaalways say that.”? Don bad mouths Uncle Mack in the same speech he calls Abigail “a sorry person” as well. And then he does a 180 on Uncle Mack to Betty, saying “he was nice to me.” So were things always bad with Abigail, or did they go bad when Don was around 18 and he’s bitter about that?

  9. […] a pregnancy seemed even stranger. Not only were the stakes higher in her situation, as she’s married to a violent rapist who is likely to react poorly if he finds out she’s pregnant with another man’s baby, but the […]

  10. […] a pregnancy seemed even stranger. Not only were the stakes higher in her situation, as she’s married to a violent rapist who is likely to react poorly if he finds out she’s pregnant with another man’s baby, but the […]

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