Mad Men s2e8: A Night To Remember

“She’s so much woman.”

Loud opening scene, with Betty taking out her aggression at the stables, running both that horse and herself ragged. This episode is the boiling point, the Hindenburg, the Titanic, the dinner party heard ’round the world.

Father Gill wants Peggy to design a flyer for the upcoming Catholic high school coed dance. She gets to be in charge of the pitch to the stuffy church ladies on the committee, and she handles it (and Father Gill) well. Peggy reminds them that the boy and girl dancing on the poster is a wholesome message that represents the “kind of handholding that leads to marriage”. Hilar. She also manages to respectfully fend off Father Gill’s guilt parade. He’s really trying to get her to yap about giving away that baby.. give it a rest, Padre!

Apparently, Maytag is sensitive to Communism and Harry gets in some shit with Duck over an ad of theirs that ran alongside a show featuring some Commie stuff. He really needs help with the TV Department, since the department literally consists of .. him. Joan to the rescue!

Joan really excels at the job and she’s pleased with herself – a glimmer of what Peggy felt in her early copywriting days. Her doctor fiancé Greg is a fucking dolt and wants to put her in the housewife box, not understanding why she would rather read scripts than be watching soaps and chowing down on bonbons. Sounds dull as hell, personally.

Through this gig, Joan receives a new form of respect and fulfillment in the office, something she never knew she wanted before. Much more recognition than at home, it seems.

harryandjoan

image courtesy of Blogspot

A couple of days after a great meeting with some clients, Joan is replaced by some bespectacled ginger; Roger makes the call that she’s got to get back to her actual job.

Harry Crane, A World Class Boob, fails to see that she’s fucking brilliant at that job. Joan had never previously understood Peggy’s ambitions (and even made fun of her for it), but now that she’s had a taste of something more and having it taken away, she’s let down and disappointed. Maybe Greg is right, it is her job to walk around the steno pool and get stared at all day.

(Side note, Joan may only be a senior secretary at this point because it’s 1962; today, she’d be running that place. Obvi.)

Enter Heineken! Aimed at bored suburbanites and therefore women entertaining in the home, fancy housewives in upscale suburban towns are the target. Once again, Don uses his own life in his work. Time to hit the Hudson cash belt. Not coincidentally, the Drapers are having a dinner party that weekend to bring in Crab Colson from Rogers and Cowan, with Duck, Roger, and wives.

Betty is cleaning the dining room in anticipation of said dinner party and slowmo Hulk smashes a squeaky chair in a fit of rage. Everything is falling apart. She’s so angry and has no earthly idea how to deal, how to cope. I bet fixing that damn chair was on Don’s to-do list, like the electrical outlet he probably didn’t get around to fixing either.

bettywonderbread

image courtesy of The Golden Closet

The night of the party, there’s Betty’s Wonderbread dress. She is every bit as gorgeous and immaculate as you’d expect her to be, on point, true Grace Kelly. She buys Heineken, unbeknownst to her that Don pegged her as the target demographic. Everyone shares a laugh at the private joke, Duck explains, and Betty is understandably PISSED. Here’s her idyllic suburban life, beginning to come unraveled; this cushy life that she was always told she should want, on display, ends up being the butt of a joke and a bet to win.

Once everyone’s gone for the night, shit gets real. Something innocuous or silly can set a person off, and the deeper meaning behind the argument emerges and the white hot resentment comes pouring out. She fires the first shot as she switches off the TV.

“You embarrassed me.”

Of course, Betty is really irate about Don’s indiscretions, this is just the trash cherry on top of a Staten Island landfill; a slap in the face showing that he has no regard for her as a person deserving of respect. Spending the better part of a week making sure everything was set for the party, for what? Turns out she’s the punchline, their suburban life the setup.

She tells Don she knows about Bobbie, about the affair, and Don counters with a chilling “Fine, Bets. What do you know?” Real aggressive gross man shit right here.

“You think you know me? Well I know what kind of a man you are.”

The next morning, Betty begins rifling through all of Don’s shit, glass of red in hand. His suits, every pocket imaginable, his desk drawers; and there’s nothing but taglines written on cocktail napkins. He hides his tracks well. Betty struggles to understand why he would want to stray from the life they created — even though she, too, knows it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.

Over at Sterling Cooper, Don is with the Heineken guys; Duck brings up that Betty got the beer for their dinner party unprovoked, that Don’s little experiment worked. That she’d created this whole evening with dishes from around the world, with Heineken placed next to the fine China and polished silver. Embarrassing. Of course, the Heineken guys eat it up.

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image courtesy of Mad Men Wikia

Don comes home to the apocalypse, to find Betty still wearing her dress from the previous night. Just the night before, Betty was a flawfree woman, the perfect wife and hostess. Now she’s in bed, surrounded by his crumpled suits, defeated, the wreckage of the day strewn about. She’s not yet waving the white flag, but came up with nothing concrete in the house. Natch, Don is still lying; “I didn’t do.. anything.” But she knows he’s full of shit, and his face says it all.

Sleeping in the lounge, a freshly showered Betty wakes him up. “Now you look me in the eye, you never do that. You never say you love me.” Don denies this and says he does these things all the time. He’s such a talented storyteller and liar that maybe he believes his own bullshit, the image he’s created, at this point. He looks genuine, and hurt.

“I don’t want to lose all this.”

The next afternoon, Betty sees that Utz ad with Jimmy Barrett, frozen for a moment. She phones the office and tells Don not to come home. “I don’t care what you do, I don’t want you here. I don’t want to see you.” Don is taken aback, but understands. He looks crestfallen. Long time coming, Betty. Don doesn’t have a current booty call in his rotation either, so he’s relegated to sleeping at the office.

At the end of the day, everyone is removing their armour solo. Joan rubs her sore shoulders, Peggy has a bath, Don loosens his tie and sits in the Sterling Cooper breakroom with a Heineken, staring into the abyss. Quite the contrast from the banging opening of Maidenform.

And then, Father Gill strips down and belts out some Peter Paul and Mary.

priestjgod_feelings

image courtesy of Tumblr/my own idiocy

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