Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 7–Waterloo

“No man has ever come back from leave – even Napoleon.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

Mad Men is usually the most understated drama possible, much of its plots conveyed by subtext, implication, Don Draper staring enigmatically at nothing in particular. Every so often though, an episode startles you by bringing that subtext to the fore, making it… text, I suppose, with events that carry a real dramatic charge. A rape, a pregnancy, a suicide (or two) – all these are like a shock of ice-cold water to the face after a lengthy bathe in the nice warm water of the show’s usual near-ambience.

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In the Flesh: Series 2, Episode 4

“There’s what I believe – and then there’s you.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

In a week when tribal differences were thrown into sharp relief by the triumph of xenophobic political parties all over Europe, it was another script from writer Fintan Ryan for this week’s In the Flesh. And following on from his poignant vignette of Freddie and Haley last week, this week’s ep foregrounded another of the more minor players in the drama – parish councillor and would be suitor to Amy, Philip Wilson. Not quite as separate a narrative as the Ballad of Freddie and Haley, this still stood apart enough to be a good character piece running alongside the ‘main’ plot.

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Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 6–The Strategy

“You really want to help me? Show me how you think.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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I always know I’m in for a treat when Mad Men’s opening credits include the words “written by Semi Chellas”. Chellas, for my money is one of the best writers working on the show. She it was who (along with Weiner) wrote the storming season 5 ep The Other Woman, which showed us Joan’s heartbreaking decision to compromise her integrity for career advancement; I still rate that as one of the best single eps the show has ever done.

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Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 7–Mockingbird

“Given the opportunity, what do we do to those who hurt the ones we love?”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

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With showrunners Benioff and Weiss on scripting duties again, this week’s Game of Thrones may have disappointed those who tune in for the show’s usual heady mix on action, sex, violence and intrigue. It was one of the eps the show occasionally does in which very little actually happens, but we get to spend a lot of time with the characters while they reflect on where they are, how they got there, and where they’re going.

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In the Flesh: Series 2, Episode 3

“You’re being used by them. What I’m doing is giving you a chance to choose the right side.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

As I said last week, the established dramatic style of In the Flesh is driven by the characters’ secrets; and with the relevant secrets revealed and resolved in the first series, the challenge for this second run is to come up with new secrets. In part, this has been achieved by a stronger focus on the Rising itself, which was rarely questioned in the first series. But the other approach has been to introduce new characters, and delve into the secrets driving them.

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Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 5–Runaways

“This is the best place to be right now, Don.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

Another tightly focused episode of Mad Men this week, as David Iserson and Matthew Weiner’s script dealt with three plots. Unusually for the show, they didn’t particularly intersect or inform each other; less unusually, the one which, at first glance, seemed light and comedic took a very dark turn by the end.

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Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 6–The Laws of Gods and Men

“When I see what desire does to people – what it’s done to this country – I am very glad to have no part in it.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

I love a good trial scene! It’s been a few episodes coming, but it can’t have been too much of a surprise that this week, the trial of Tyrion Lannister took centre stage. What may have been a surprise to fans of the book though was the increasing diversion the various plots were taking – even though they ultimately seem to be leading to the same places.

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