“Like the song says, Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.”
Don is pondering buying a new car from Breaking Bad’s Elliott at the Caddy dealership. Seeing a guy like Don Draper walk into a Cadillac dealership must spell out ‘instant sale’ to salesman Wayne. From his outward appearance — impeccably tailored suit, polished shoes, not a hair out of place — Don is a guy who wants the whole world to regard him highly, and what better way to do that than with the ultimate status symbol of a Cadillac?
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Flashback to the 1950s when Don was a bright-eyed used car salesman with big hair and a frumpy suit and tie. He hasn’t yet mastered sales, as he can’t quite close the current deal. A mystery blonde comes to see him and asks for him by name, appears puzzled that it’s this guy in front of her. She then reveals that she knows he’s not Don Draper.
G A S P
Back to the Cadillac dealership, Don has second thoughts and splits. Does he deserve a Cadillac? Wayne is peeved and surprised.
Because of how much Don impressed the Martinson coffee guys with Kurt and Smitty’s youthful jingle and his pitch, Cooper has let him know the door has opened for him to sit on the board at the Museum of Early American Folk Art, to be among “the few people that get to decide what will happen in our world.” In so many words, Don has arrived. And now he needs to act the part, fancy Cadillac in tow.
Now, here’s the rub with ‘Making It In America(TM)’; you’ve got to keep it up, with intense fervour. Shiny, top of the line new car every few years, perfect partner, marriage, and immaculate home.. and well-behaved kids who don’t jam Play-Doh in the nice leather seats of the Cadillac. The higher you climb that mountain, more people will be hanging out at every single goddamned precipice to knock you down.
And, we’re back to the Cadillac dealership. Don confidently buys that Caddy! At the same time, Jimmy Barrett is ringing the Draper house to let Betty know they’re invited to a big shindig for Grin and Barrett being picked up. To top it off, Betty is pleased that Don bought the car. He deserves it since he works so hard.
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Word on the street is that Cooper’s got a Rothko painting in his office, which is generally off limits. After hours, Jane sneaks Kenny, Sal and Harry into the office. Sal notices Ken’s depth when he’s talking about the painting; how it evokes a feeling, it’s nothing super concrete or obvious. It just is. Kenny notices Sal isn’t like everyone else in the office, and gives him a new story to read.
Somehow Joan hears about their painting escapade, and sacks Jane on the spot. Joan feels as though she’s being replaced with a younger, sassier version of herself, and she’s pissed off. On her way out, Jane cleverly pops by Roger’s office to say goodbye and gets un-fired, remembering his attraction to her. Magical.
The truth about the Rothko is revealed! Harry meets with Cooper to go over some media numbers, and Cooper’s brief explanation is pretty in line with what we know about him.
“People buy things to realise their aspirations, it’s the foundation of our business. Between you me and the lamp post, that thing should double in value by next Christmas.”
Sal and Kitty have Kenny over for dinner that weekend, and it’s awkward as hell. Sal pretty much ignores his wife to pay attention to Ken, yapping about the story he wrote. He’s like a teenager with a crush, and Kitty tries her best to include herself. It’s actually pretty sad, watching as Kitty feels alone in her own home.
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Kenny’s story is inspired by a piece he saw at The Met. The Gold Violin itself is meant to illustrate that in some cases no matter how lovely and perfect something looks, it simply cannot work. It’s a status symbol, it’s gorgeous and stunning and flawfree, but ultimately worthless. Take a gander at Betty and Don, or Sal and Kitty for that matter.
The Draper family takes the new Cadillac out for a Sunday picnic, and leave behind an hysterical amount of trash in the process. Don launches a beer can to see how far he can throw it! Ha. The Draper picnic is a beautiful scene that glosses over the complete disorder and mess that is that family.
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And then you see Betty and Don breezily leaving a pile of fucking ruination behind, a heap of literal garbage in their apathetic wake. It’s a jarring dénouement to what looks to be a wholesome, pristine family activity.
It’s party time! These scenes are uncomfortable as all hell. Jimmy spots Betty, they make small talk and then shit gets mad real.
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After they’ve had a few, he cuts to the chase. “What do you think happened between the two of them?” Though simultaneously offended and mortified, Betty hears what Jimmy is saying. He plants the seed and confirms her nagging suspicion that Don is unfaithful to her. After all, they both know how to read the people they’ve married, and see how neither seem to be bothered that their respective spouses are nowhere in sight.
At the coat check, Don is getting ready to split and Jimmy delivers some shrill realness. Whether he’s pissed he doesn’t actually have a shot with Betty or that Don and Bobbie had a few bangs, we’ll never know.
Jimmy: “You know what I like about you? Nothing! But it’s okay. You got me everything I wanted. What did you get? Bobbie? Lots of people have had that.”
Don: “Excuse me?”
Jimmy: “Please. I laugh at you. I go home at night and I laugh at you.”
Don: “I don’t know what you think happened.”
Jimmy: “You. You wanna step out, fine. Go to a whore. You don’t screw another man’s wife. You’re garbage. And you know it.”
Don looks completely disgusted and offended, but also like he’s about to cry. He knows deep down that Jimmy ain’t wrong about him being garbage. As much as Don is a human dumpster fire who can be so incredibly antagonistic at times, I feel for him in this scene. Even though he excels at compartmentalising his life — keeping being the best bang in the city separate from being adored by his kids, has a great job but also fucks around — he can’t quite grasp that American Dream he’s scratching at. He’s flawed, like all of us, and he knows it.
Don and Betty drive home in stunned silence.
And natch, Betty voms in the new Cadillac.