“He makes everything sound like Christmas.”
Man, do I love this episode. It’s cleverly structured over the course of three Lenten Sundays in April of 1962; Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday.
Sunday #1: Passion Sunday
Ahh, the appearance of Colin Hanks’ priest guy, or as I like to call him, Priest J. God.
Peggy is hungover during mass in Flatbush, and talks with new priest in town Father Gill as she’s getting some air. Then there’s one of those bizarre Catholic post-church luncheons where her mother and a rando lady from the ‘hood obsess over Father Gill at Anita’s house. He’s taken a liking to Peggy, even asking for her copywriting help with his sermons. Good thing Vatican II is around the corner and mass won’t be 99% Latin soon..
Cut to the ~sacrilegious~ Draper house, with Don and Betty awakening to the phone ringing at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. The kids barge in as they’re about to have a bang.
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Afterwards in the lounge, Betty is reading a copy of the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story Babylon Revisited. Coming back to survey the ruins of a once extravagant life during a crisis is speaking to Betty on some level, or perhaps Arthur asking her if she’d read a different Fitzgerald story stuck in her mind.
Don and Betty are relaxing in the lounge together, listening to dreamy Perry Como croon on the hi-fi. Bobby fucks with the stereo, Don barely looking up from his paper, and we’re back to Betty talking about how Don isn’t harsh enough on Bobby and doesn’t take responsibility. Frustration. They change the conversation by dancing to the song, enormous glasses of vodka with a thimble of tomato juice in hand.
Roger and Mona are out to dinner with their daughter Margaret, and her vaguely cro-magnon fiancé Brooks. They’re talking about the wedding, adamantly disinterested in a big wedding until Mona reminisces about her own wedding to Roger and how wonderful and perfect it all was. Roger is staring into space.
End of the evening at the Draper house, and they’re seemingly having a nice family moment.. until Bobby breaks the bed by jumping on it. Betty stiffens, pissed off, and tells the kids to go to bed, but it’s only 7:30pm.. ay yi yi. Grilled cheese all around then. Don does fuckall. More frustration on Betty’s end of things.
It’s Monday, and Kenny and Pete are entertaining some bald Marty when high class hooker Vicky strolls in. Roger pops over and is exceedingly charmed by Marty’s obvious Not Wife. The wheels are turning.
Bobbie pops in to Don’s office, talking about selling a Candid Camera knockoff called Grin and Barrett. As the deadbolt clicks into place, Joan rolls an eye.
The minute Don gets in the door at home, Betty lets him know that Bobby broke the hi-fi and lied about it to her face. She makes an assumption that his own father hitting him made him the man he is today. Betty is expecting Don to punish him in some meaningful (physical) way, but instead he delivers the much scarier Stern Dad Treatment. He knows Bobby’s aware he did something wrong, there are other ways to go about things.
“Mommy says you broke the hi-fi. I believe her. Don’t do that again.”
Sunday #2: Palm Sunday
Peggy is at mass again, and the Drapers are having tasty pancakes! Duck phones the house, yapping about Shel Keneally and American Airlines, as Bobby tries to put his mouth on the goddamned griddle and shrieks. Betty is pissed at Don, he says he’s got to go into the office. Since Bobby has to hit up the ER, he’s got to take Sally with him. More frustration.
Father Gill followed Peggy’s advice, her mother is glowing and saying that it felt like he was only talking to her. “So nice he’s taken an interest in her!” Anita is pissed off and resentful that Peggy does whatever she feels like, and expresses this to her mother who ignores her complaining. Woof.
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At the office, everyone is blinded by Pete’s tiny shorts. Duck is asking about Don’s plan for American Airlines, they’re set to present on Good Friday. Don is uncertain, everyone is rattled.
Not Roger, as he rang up Vicky for a night out. Apparently this is his first hooker since he was in the Navy! I’ll be damned. “Don’t believe what they say. No one dies doing this.”
Sally is wandering around the office, not quite sure what to do. She finds a photo of Kinsey’s girlfriend Sheila, asks Kinsey, “is that your maid?” Y I K E S
Don delivers an iconic Don Draper Speech, where most of Sterling Cooper is left wondering what exactly in the fresh hell he’s on about..
“American Airlines is not about the past any more than America is. Ask not about Cuba, ask not about the bomb.. we’re going to the moon. Throw everything out.”
“There is no such thing as American history, only a frontier. That crash happened to somebody else. It’s not about apologies for what happened, it’s about those seven men in the room on Friday and what airline they are going to be running.”
(“So.. what does that mean?”)
“Let’s pretend we know what 1963 looks like.”
Sunday #3: Easter Sunday
Good Friday, the American Airlines presentation. Everyone is in their Sunday Best (ha ha ha), ready to present and totally fried.
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And then, the gunshot: “Shel Keneally was fired this morning.”
Anita hits up confession, knowing that Father Gill will be on the other side. She slyly throws shade at Peggy, expressing anger at her little sister, yapping about her child out of wedlock. “She acts like it didn’t even happen, and I hate her for it”. Anita feels invisible next to Peggy and all she’s doing and accomplishing, not understanding that Peggy is trying to move past all of this and live her damn life. Father Gill reminds her that she needs to forgive her sister, and that she loves her. Catholicism, man.
Cut back to Sterling Cooper; American Airlines meeting is over, all the shrimp is gone. Everyone looks both defeated and vexed. Don is pissed off that they jettisoned Mohawk Airlines for that wink from American, but Roger in his post-hooker glow rhapsodises that the chase is worth it. Old business is just old business.
Bobby is playing with a toy robot at the dinner table, and after being prodded by Betty Don’s finally had enough and throws the goddamn thing at the wall. Everyone is startled, Betty included. Betty tears into him, saying that he doesn’t take responsibility for raising the kids, that she’s stuck there all day with them, outnumbered. Betty insists that he gets to come home and be the hero, but Don battles all day with bullshit at the office. She shoves him and he shoves her back and immediately regrets it. No good.
Don has a bonding moment with Bobby. He apologises for getting mad and overreacting, and they talk about Don’s terrible father, his affinity for that perfume-y violet candy in the beautiful purple and silver packaging. It’s a nice moment, and they hug. Sometimes Don has flashes of good parenting. He tries explaining a bit of his upbringing to Betty, who is obviously uninformed. Unfortunately he wields this information in a way that’s manipulative, making her feel like she’s in the wrong.
“He’s a little kid. My father beat the hell out of me. All it did was make me fantasise about the day I could murder him.”
“I didn’t know that..”
“..and I wasn’t half as good as Bobby.”
Don and Betty are a couple that lack true intimacy in its purest form. There’s a faint flicker when they have that exchange, but it’s not enough. Part of the idea of marriage to me, is that you swap places emotionally, you let that person into your life and your mind so they can understand you and vice versa. Neither Don nor Betty can do that because neither one has any clue how to let the other in, and deep tensions are created, festering over the years. The banging around, the accusations, constant boozing, fights with shoving and other bizarre behaviours are propelled by this stalemate.
Easter Sunday after mass, Peggy is standing around with the other ladies watching kids gather up Easter eggs from the lawn. Father Gil hands her a Judgement Egg, stating that it’s for “the little one”. DAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN
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.. And now, the word “Sunday” has lost all meaning to me.