Every season of Mad Men has its Los Angeles episode (though technically every episode is a Los Angeles episode, as that’s where the show is produced). The episode usually revolves exclusively around Don and delves into his past. Last season, Los Angeles only showed up in flashbacks, but “A Tale of Two Cities” brings us back to L.A. properly. It’s an odd episode because of its absent core. There’s no overarching theme

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I’ll spare you my constant ramblings about Matthew Weiner’s work on The Sopranos right after these next few paragraphs. The sixth season of the compulsively-brilliant (and still-weirdly-marginalized-as-Goodfellas-esque) Mob show, in which Matthew Weiner became a lead writer, did something very strange to TV formula. Something we’ve not seen much of outside of Girls and Generation Kill. And that is a subversion of genre expectations related to pacing and plotting. The sixth season decided to settle down

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The sixties were astoundingly similar to the time we’re in now. Violence, unrest, distrust of the government, a youth in revolt, and a wide gap between the classes that served as a wedge between cultures. Religion, race, gender politics, and sexual politics were hot button issues that polarized the country. It was a time of change. A dismantling of everything Roosevelt accomplished during World War II. A deconstruction of the

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Mad Men has always been superb at picking out its themes and weaving them delicately into each episode. The best moments of the entire series are those sequences where everything comes together just right. From the carousel in season one to the night that made Joan partner in season five, Matthew Weiner’s gift of subtly linking ideas and subtext has been one of the show’s main draws. However, as the seasons

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