Mad Men s3e8: Souvenir

“New York in August? It’s like a great big melting wax museum.”

It’s the dog days of summer. Sweaty Don goes to catch lightning bugs with his kids at Betty’s suggestion, while Pete comes home to an empty apartment. Trudy has gone to spend some time with her parents.

While Betty works on some reservoir shit, Hilton rings the house; Don has been bounced around all sorts of American cities/toilets checking out hotels and getting to know the brand, and now Connie wants him to hit up Rome. Betty is intrigued by the idea, as Don scribbles down the Pan-Am flight details on her cold call list. Her eyes light up at the idea of an international trip, but then the reality slaps her in the face; they have a 2-month old baby (not to mention 2 other young kids) here at home. Boo-urns.

Bachelor Pete seems pretty content watching Davey and Goliath and eating cereal, laughing to himself; then he passes out later in the day. Eventually imitating a real person, he heads to Gristedes for some groceries and spots the neighbour’s busty German Au Pair frantically stuffing a stain-dress into the trash chute. Pete tries to help her out, and hey-o, Joan works at the department store now!

Turns out Joan had to take something of a trash job while things are tough at home; Greg is changing his specialty to therapy. Sigh. The good news is that she’s mastering her job at the department store, but she’s still deflated once Pete leaves, thinking of the life and prestige she had at Sterling Cooper.

Betty goes about her day, applies her lipstick in one fell flawfree swoop, while Sally gazes on in awe. It’s time for that reservoir hearing, and Henry makes shit happen. As he walks her to her car, Betty is driving her father’s Lincoln; she thought it would be good luck. Hank goes in for the kiss, and Betty reciprocates though she stays quiet and vaguely mysterious.

“They should just do it up in Newburgh. It’s already disgusting.”

At home, Betty is on a happy high from winning (and snogging Henry), and jumps at the opportunity to hit up Rome with Don. There, she can have the chance to feel smart and interesting, and hey, she speaks fluent Italian. The reservoir hearing was a good step in the right direction, a place where she could feel like she was more than just the housewife or Don’s shiny better half for some work dinner.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

Landing in Rome, Don and Betty look exhausted. Speaking Italian without missing a beat, Betty side-eyes Don for overtipping their bellboy. Post-nap, she makes an appointment to get her hair set, and emerges totally stunning for their dinner with Conrad Hilton. Taking a seat outside, she orders an Asti. In the midst of being hit on by some Italians, Don approaches her as if they don’t know one another and they indulge in some flirtatious role playing.

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image courtesy of Mad Men Wiki

“To whatever they were saying.”

“They said you were ugly.”

“Does that bother you?”

“You think because of the way I’m dressed that I’m shallow?”

“I was just hoping you were easy..”

“They said that too.”

“What brings you to rome? Seen anything interesting?”

“I could take it or leave it.”

Having done a nice favour for the neighbour’s au pair re:dresspocalypse, Pete creeps on her expecting something in return. In a scene that mirrors that of Ladies’ Room in Season 1, when he creeped on Peggy’s doorstep latenight, his sauced frat boy faux charm is a little stale now. Woof, it’s super fucking uncomfortable.

In the following days, his neighbour comes home and he ain’t pleased with Pete’s shenanigans while the cats are away; he’s had some peaceful weeks, and now it’s been disrupted since the au pair is upset about cheating on her boyfriend and ya know, ~Women’s Emotions~. Yikes on bikes all around, but he imparts some valuable advice to Pete; don’t shit where you eat. Philandering 101.

When Trudy comes home, Pete is pretty shellshocked. He doesn’t communicate what actually happened, but he lets Trudy know he doesn’t want her to vacation without him again. Seems like they have an understanding, and they are both happy to get back to some semblance of normalcy.

Vacation seems to be so easy for Betty and Don, so effortless; but once they crossed the threshold of their home, they were confronted with the bullshit of the day to day and resume their New York roles in their real life together. Don immediately leaves as Carla starts yapping about the kids while Betty furrows her brow. Life resumes.

How can Don and Betty bring that Roman romance stateside? It takes a lot of work, but Betty may be out of steam at this point. As the wonder wears off from their brief holiday, it’s back to reality at casa Draper; Betty has to address Sally kissing Ernie (and then Sally’s temper– beating the shit out of Bobby for making fun of her). Glancing at the whacking great fainting couch, she thinks of Henry. In one of her better parenting moments, she has a frank conversation with Sally about kissing boys.

“I don’t want you running around kissing boys. And you don’t kiss boys, boys kiss you. The first kiss is very special.”

“But I already did it.. it’s over!”

“You’re going to have a lot of first kisses. You’re going to want it to be special, so you remember. It’s where you go from being a stranger to knowing someone, and every kiss after that is a shadow of that kiss. Do you understand?”

“I think so.”

Betty might have a different opinion if she was married to someone whom she really connected with, someone who understood her and loved her no matter what. But this is what she’s got for the time being, and imparts her wisdom to Sally.

That night, Betty expresses her total exasperation and frustration with their everyday life in Ossining, brought on by Francine’s small town nudging towards Henry Francis in an effort to further stir the pot. In Rome, it was as if they had no problems, no kids bothering them, it was wholly magical. Vacation rules!

But unfortunately, that’s just not real life no matter how much Betty desires that to be; “Aw, Bets– we’ll go away again.” It’s a shame to see just how much of her personality and flair for life Betty suppresses in the interest of being a housewife, to fit into that specific suburban mould. In Italy, she was alive, she was happy, and able to show off how intelligent and vibrant she really is. How can she translate that to work at home?

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image courtesy of Tumblr

Don surprises Betty with a little Colosseum charm for her bracelet, and she is entirely nonplussed. Fed up with her life, she takes it out on Don. Yikes.

“I saw how happy you were in there.. And I thought, ‘Dear God. Did I have anything to do with that?’ Because that would make me happy.”

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Mad Men s3e7: Seven Twenty Three

“Young people give us energy, don’t forget that.”

One of my favourite episodes right here. I know I’ve said that at least 100 times, but this episode is fucking fantastic. The structure, the concurrent storylines, all of it; aces. There’s some glimpses at how desperate Don is at his core, how much of an isolationist asshole he can be when he feels even the slightest bit threatened.

Conrad Hilton shows up unexpectedly at Sterling Cooper, and Don is fashionably late per usual. The buzzing junior execs are worked up into a froth, then shooed away. Hilton points out the lack of family photos in his office Don’s real connections to the world, while sitting in his chair behind his Important Man(TM) desk. He then gifts Don the New York hotels as a start.

Betty is having some sort of ladies’ meeting about the reservoir, and links up with Henry Francis, the silver fox from My Old Kentucky Home who was borderline creeping on her while sauced on martinis. Henry and Betty decide meet for lunch to discuss the reservoir that Saturday afternoon. As she hangs up the phone, she checks Don’s desk drawer almost as a reflex. Still locked.

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incredible, iconic Betty look.. || image courtesy of Pinterest

They have a nice lunch, where Henry orders the foul midcentury staple of apple pie with cheddar cheese. Walking to the car, they spot a fainting couch in an antique shop window. Henry explains the story behind the couch’s silhouette, revealing that he used to work as a mover before becoming an attorney. Betty buys this whacking great couch as a form of furniture protest on Don, who had one-upped her interior designer with one end-table swoop.

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image courtesy of ApartmentTherapy

While Betty has a flirtatious Saturday afternoon with Hank Frank, Don is at a school-related eclipse viewing party with Sally’s forever parched teacher. Oh yeah, and it turns out Carlton stares into the sun, shocking nobody.

Don and Miss Farrell make friendly conversation, then she faux calls him out for being one of those bored philandering suburban men, when the reality is that.. it was just a pleasant conversation? It seems like she’s trying to take control of their interaction, but it comes off as super fucking tryhard. Eyeroll.

Speaking of thirst, Duck is really trying to court Peggy over to Grey with an Hermès scarf. Shit is mad classy, but she ain’t into it; he calls her bluff by inviting her to The Pierre for a meeting, so she can return the scarf to the Hermès people in person.

Don’s contract, or lack thereof, is a hot topic. Connie needs him to have a contract in order to work together, and Lane agrees with the pragmatism behind it.. along with pressure from Hilton’s herd of lawyers. Bert puts his foot down and emphasises that the contract is important to Sterling Cooper as well as Conrad Hilton to drive the point home.

“I met him once. He’s a bit of an eccentric, isn’t he?

Ah, the irony of Bert Cooper calling someone an eccentric..

Roger tries to talk Don into signing the contract, tempting him with his name on the front door; no avail. Stonewalled. Sneakily, Roger rings the house and chats to Betty about Don signing the contract in a roundabout way. She’s flippant and frosty on the phone, but the wheels are turning. Jackpot, but also a major dick move on Roger’s part.

And it’s bad timing again for Peggy. After that irritating conversation Don had with Roger, she tests the waters re:Hilton under the false guise of work needing approval, and Don is prickly at best. Apoplectic about the contract hammer coming down, he takes it out on Peggy in an attempt to reassert control. Maybe he sees her as an extension of himself and is thus hard on her, but nonetheless it’s another major dick move.

At the Pierre, Duck dangles the opportunity of a new gig at Grey in front of her, then makes his real intentions known. It’s probably one of the grossest come-ons I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been witness to a lot of vile things..

Peggy: “What are you doing?”

Duck: “I was just thinking about all the times I walked by you and didn’t even notice. How is that possible?”

Peggy: “What do you want from me?”

Duck: “I want to take you in that bedroom, lock the door, take your clothes off with my teeth, throw you on the bed and give you a go-around like you’ve never had.”

..

UGH NO, CAN WE FUCKING NOT WITH THIS SHIT

nope

Ahem. Peggy’s previous experience banging dudes has been with young guys, perhaps guys who didn’t know what they wanted, or the first thing on how to please a woman. So I guess Duck seems appealing? VOM. Apparently he also ‘loves the morning’.

Once Don gets home, Betty grills him about his contract. She pushes back on Don and his “I have all the power, they want me but they can’t have me” garbage; as if she wouldn’t understand how that works. And on top of that, she got more information from Henry in an hour about his job and life than Don has ever given her in years of marriage. She’s getting more confident.

Like a pedantic manbaby, Don bounces. He drives off into the night, shattering his rocks glass in direct contrast to Red in the Face where he makes absolutely certain that Roger returns the glass to Betty. Wanting to indulge his transient fantasy, he picks up some young 20-somethings. They’re looking for a ride to Niagara Falls to get married; the 22 year-old guy is 1A, headed to Vietnam. Is any of it real?

Ah, drugs. Don pops a few pills, and hallucinates that his father Archie is in the motel. The hitchhikers are slow dancing, and are wondering when the fuck Don is gonna drop so they can rob him already.

Archie: “Look at you, up to your old tricks. You’re a bum, you know that?”

Don: “No, I’m not.”

Archie: “Conrad hilton? You wouldn’t expect him to be taken so easily! You can’t be tied down.”

Don: “That’s right.”

Ahh, then the guy pops Don on the back of the head, and he falls to the floor of the Knights Inn. This is a real place in Hackensack NJ, by the by.

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image courtesy of Tom and Lorenzo

Conrad Hilton might not be so spot on about young people giving us energy here. The next morning, an exhausted Don shows up at the office all fucked up. Thanks, hitchhiking assholes. His pipe dream transient fantasy has failed him. As he strolls into his office, Cooper is sitting in the big seat behind his Important Man(TM) Desk, and serves him with some ice cold realness.

Bert: “Would you say I know something about you, Don?”

Don: “I would..”

Bert: “Then sign. After all, when it comes down to it.. who’s really signing this contract anyway?”

HARSH. But, don’t get it twisted; Cooper ain’t wrong. 7/23/1963, the date Don signs.

“What do you do? What do you make? You grow bullshit.”

Mad Men s3e6: Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency

“I bet he felt great when he woke up this morning.”

Reconcile! The British are coming! Potential dual position in London and New York for Don? Kenny rolling into the office atop an actual John Deere riding mower?? All around an intriguing episode where nothing is as it seems.

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image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

The British are coming for an inspection, around July 4th nonetheless. Nobody knows the purpose of this visit, but it’s reverberating as a Big Deal(TM). Could Don be courted for some crazy dual position in London and New York? Don’s casual conversation with Betty later that evening, discussing a potential jet-setting life together in London over chicken salad, is the most relaxed we’ve seen them as a couple on the show thus far. Flirtatious, even; Betty happily opens his beer, they appear to be interested in one another.

Bert is tired of Roger and Don’s manpain fight bullshit, and forces them to kiss and make up over a close shave.

“Part of the problem with Mona.. is that one day, she just started judging people. I’ll tell you right now Don, I don’t like being judged.”

Fair enough, Roger. Message received.

The PPL visit happens around Joan’s last day at Sterling Cooper. Looks like Greg has convinced her that he’ll be the alpha in their household, but it turns out he was not selected for the lucrative resident doctor position like the proper fuckup he is. Turns out he’s a shit surgeon and is super dramatic about this outcome, choosing to go dark on his wife ignoring their dinner plans to booze it in a bar alone for ~12 hours. Manpain central, and as she shuts off the lights for the night, Joan looks positively fed up.

PPL has arrived, and here’s Guy MacKendrick! He’s some young, stupidly charismatic asshole with great teeth in the Don Draper grey flannel suit uniform, but without the mysterious depth. Feelings in the office are ghostly and tense. Turns out that PPL wants Guy to come in and run the show, effectively replacing Lane (who will reluctantly be shipped off to Bombay), and thus keeping Don in a holding pattern.

This restructure is presented to Lane as some sort of faux reward for being a cog in the machine. Natch, Lane is not at all pleased to hear this news, as his wife and son have just gotten settled in Manhattan; but his concerns are belittled. “Don’t pout. One of your greatest qualities is that you always do what you’re told.” Really fucking demeaning, but Lane takes it in stride. You get the vibe that he’s heard all this before, he’s accustomed to it.

There’s a bigwig meeting about the reorganisation. According to the overhead projector, Guy is the new COO, Roger is left off of the diagram entirely (an alleged oversight), and Harry is the only one who gets a promotion. Mess. Meanwhile, Don doodles the American flag.

Guy delivers a heartfelt and hollow toast to Joan, who weeps. Her life is a mess, and Sterling Cooper offers her a valuable and vital respite; and soon enough, it seems she won’t even recognise the place. And in the midst of this nightmare, Conrad Hilton’s office rings Don, much to his total surprise. When Don vaguely recognises him upon officially meeting, he feels a little dumbfounded.

“Apparently you don’t have long chats with everyone.”

Peggy, in limbo between the worlds of the steno pool and the copywriters and not wholly fitting into either just yet, yearns to be a meaningful part of Joan’s last day. “I don’t want you to think I never listened to you, but it’s just.. we can’t all be you.” Poignant and true.

These women could not be more different, but they fight the same battles and want some of the same things. Peggy imagines that Joan is off to get what she always wanted in life, but Joan is beginning to have second thoughts; this is a massive change, and she secretly wants stay in the workforce. Joan is a woman who’s admired and revered in that office, she’s great at her job; and Peggy longs for that sort of status someday as well.

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image courtesy of Uproxx

There’s a lot to say, but it’s cut short by a fucking hot mess. Smitty is on that John Deere mower riding it around the goddamn office.. and then, dolt Lois mounts it which is of course a complete DISASTER. Bye bye, Guy’s foot. Joan saves the day with a tourniquet, ruining her dress in the process; but she manages to save his life.

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image courtesy of AMC

Roger finds it all pretty funny. “Right when he got it in the door.” Secretly relieved that this shit is over and he’s relevant again at the agency, Roger nonchalantly moves forward. And hey, Lane will remain in New York! Deus ex machina at work; Don, Roger and Lane are all silently relieved. The status quo is restored.

“Believe me, somewhere in this business, this has happened before.”

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image courtesy of DigitalSpy

Don and Joan share a moment at the hospital waiting room. You can sense there’s a deep history there; they’ve worked together for so long and seem at ease with one another. As the PPL guys show up, they lament that Guy’s career was tragically cut short; he’s lost a foot, he’ll never golf again. Love that dry British wit, but good fucking god. Lane senses the depth of what’s gone down, and knows that PPL will find another way to ship him off somewhere else.

“I feel like I just went to my own funeral.. and I didn’t like the eulogy.”

At home, Betty tries to relate to Sally about baby Gene. Sally seems scared of the new baby, refusing to be around him. Betty makes up a sweet little story, and gifts her a Barbie doll from her baby brother;  Betty emphasises that he wants to be her friend. Close-up on side-eye Barbie as Betty leaves the room.

Turns out Sally is completely terrified of baby Gene, believing he’s a reincarnated version of her dearly departed Grandpa Gene. Don spots the Barbie doll in the bushes outside the house, and innocently places it back on Sally’s dresser. When she wakes up late in the night and sees the dead-eyed Barbie staring back at her, she starts screaming at the top of her lungs in fear. “He’s not supposed to be here anymore.”

Blaming Betty, Don is pissed that she named the baby after her father, a man whom he did not like and vice versa. She retorts, “It’s what people do, Don. It’s how they keep the memory alive.”

After the midnight hysteria quiets down, Don has a nice parent moment with Sally, showing her that there’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to baby Gene.

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image courtesy of TomandLorenzo

“This is your new brother. And he’s only a baby, and we don’t know who he is yet, or who he’s going to be.

And that is a wonderful thing.”

Touching, really. Who is this baby? Where will he go, what will he choose to do with his life? How their relationship evolve over the years? There’s only room for love at this point. Solely love and hope can exist at this juncture, and those are two of the most important things in life.

“Well, that was strange.”

Mad Men s3e5: The Fog

“What time is it? What time isn’t it??”

Don and a very pregnant Betty are at a parent teacher conference at Sally’s school, turns out Sally’s been acting up in the fortnight since Grandpa Gene has passed. She hasn’t properly grieved, maybe because Don doesn’t believe children belong in graveyards. Not an uncommon line of thinking from that time, but as a result, Sally didn’t get any sort of the closure she would feel from attending the funeral.

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image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

Sally and Don have something crucial in common here — he lost his own father when he was a child, just as Sally has lost her surrogate parental figure. Later that night, Sally’s thirst trap teacher Suzanne drunk dials the house, telling Don that her own father died when she was just 8 years old and apologises for over-relating to Sally. Don is probably popping a boner at the fact that he and this practical stranger have something ~so deep~ in common, but now it’s time to have a baby! He can consider shitting where he eats later on.

At Sterling Cooper, Pete tries to crack the code behind Admiral Television’s flatlining sales; they’re total shite except for one market which is showing expansion. He lands on the growing African-American market and finds the idea worth pursuing.

And hey, Duck is back! He’s at Grey now, trying to coerce Pete (and Pegs) to lunch. Upon seeing Peggy there, Pete ain’t pleased. Maybe he thought he was special, but Duck is pulling some bizarre headhunter shit trying to capitalise on their “secret relationship” to get them both to come work with him. Pete storms out, then feebly tries to strike up a conversation with Hollis in the elevator about his TV. Hollis is resistant. Gotta be more normal and less business, Pete; when he’s himself and jokes about baseball with Hollis, it’s a much more positive interaction. Relax.

In the Admiral meeting, Pete tries to show the clients that targeting the African-American market would be extremely profitable as ad space is exponentially cheaper than the white market; shifting a portion of the media budget to focus on the black community would really blow up their sales.

Sadly, the clients don’t see any of the appeal that Pete does; after all, he’s quite advanced in his thinking being that it’s 1963. Duck’s hypothesis that Sterling Cooper won’t ever reward Pete’s forward thinking and new ideas proves true in that Admiral meeting, and how superbly poorly it was received in the aftermath. There’s a bunch of yelling, and Roger lets him know that 90% of that job boils down to “I don’t like that guy”, a sore point for a guy like Pete Campbell; he’s been dealing with that sort of shit his whole life, no doubt. Lane offers a little bit of sanity, acknowledging that Pete at least had a thoughtful approach.

About to get pumped full of drugs and give birth, Betty feels nervous and alone. She is wheeled down the hallway as Don is shooed off to the waiting room; she fretfully looks back for him as he evaporates into the ether. Betty thinks she sees her father mopping the floor, and shouts out for him. Her nurse, who’s about 110% done with everyone’s shit for that day, lets her know she needs to keep quiet once they roll close to the nursery.

In the waiting room, Don meets an overly anxious prison guard, Dennis Hobart. They proceed to get loaded together. He’s waiting to see his wife and newborn, very on edge, raw. Spanning the course of several scenes, Don and Dennis have a peculiar, heady interaction.

And Don’s watch, the one Betty had fixed and monogrammed for him, suddenly stops ticking while he’s in the waiting room. Ah, shit.

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image courtesy of StillEmAll

Betty experiences some strange dreams in the fog. She’s wandering down a street in her plush neighbourhood, flawfree as a painting, crushing a caterpillar in her hand; then she’s at home, seeing her dead parents. Her mother is standing over a bleeding Medgar Evers, a notable Civil Rights Activist who had been assassinated in the days following Gene’s death. A news story about his funeral can be overheard in the hospital waiting room.

You see what happens to people who speak up? Be happy with what you have.”

Betty may be in her house in Ossining, but it’s a trippy backwards house. Gene mops up blood in the kitchen.

“You’ll be OK. You’re a house-cat.. you’ve very important, and you have little to do.”

That’s the kicker, Betty isn’t happy with what she has. And despite his best efforts to the contrary, Don isn’t either; he’s mostly restless and indifferent to it all. As Dennis yaps about all that he’ll do with his future child, how wonderful all things will be and what a good dad and better man he looks forward to becoming, visibly unsettled Don withdraws further, reminded of his own failures. He doesn’t even know if this is the life he truly desires, in spite of how much he continues to dedicate himself to it. Is that all there is?

“This is a fresh start. I don’t know who’s up there, but I’m going to be better. I’m going to be a better man.”

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image courtesy of Tumblr

If only Dennis knew how many times Don said those words to himself, tried it on for size, and ultimately fucked it up due to his eventual and effervescent apathy. Those are some lofty goals to achieve. As a prison guard, Dennis has seen some shit; he can spot a liar from miles away, yet is keen to insist that Don is an honest, good guy. Once again, Don flinches. What this guy doesn’t know could fill a warehouse.

Armed with the knowledge of what’s out there via Duck, Peggy tests the water with Don regarding a raise.. at the worst possible time as Lane is losing his shit and cutting expenses left and right. As Don holds firm, she’s surrounded by a bounty of baby gifts, gorgeous teal Tiffany & Co. box included.

“I look at you, and I think.. ‘I want what he has..'”

“Really?”

“You have everything. And so much of it.”

“I suppose that’s probably true.”

Miles away, Don can’t hear that this life he finds so eternally vacuous looks so remarkable and so lavish to someone on the outside looking in. As much as he wants to cultivate The Image(TM), his existential loneliness persists and gnaws at the edges of his vision. And Don feels he knows Peggy better than that, and she him; he does not even humour her about that raise. He lets her down.

As Peggy leaves Don’s office, she runs into Pete; he’s convinced she’s told Don about their offers to work at Grey. Cagey and slighted, she doesn’t respond to his particular brand of panicked nonsense. Pete retorts, “your decisions affect me”, and it speaks fucking volumes.

Betty signs the birth certificate for the new baby, Eugene Scott Draper. She looks genuinely pleased with her decision, at peace.

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image courtesy of AMC

Walking down the hall with a perf bouquet in hand, a picture-perfect Husband(TM), Don spots Dennis walking toward him with his wife in a wheelchair. Don looks at him with a touch of warmth, and as their eyes meet, Dennis immediately averts his attention once he realises who Don is. It’s jarring. Perhaps he’s ashamed of oversharing his emotions with Don in the waiting room that night, an actual stranger.. who knows. Maybe he thought better of calling Don an honest guy, his vision unclouded in the AM.

There’s a new Eugene in town, and not a moment too soon after the death of the former Gene. Since this season began, Don and Betty appear to both be making an effort at intimacy and closeness in their marriage. Don’s doing it because he figured out (during his California jaunt) that he wanted to quit being a spectator in his own life.

Betty, on the other end of the spectrum, has been keeping it all up for this baby. Natch, she doesn’t want to be a single mother to an infant on top of two young kids, and it’s become crystal clear over the past few episodes that Betty has convinced herself (as many soon-to-be parents in dumpster fire marriages do) that the kid is some sort of magical salve, a cure-all for deep-seated issues.. But when she’s lost in the depth of The Fog, she’s able to vocalise her true fears about Don;

“He’s never where you expect him to be. Have you seen him? Have you been with him? Someone call him.. I don’t wanna be here. I’m just a housewife.. why are you doing this to me?”

Y I K E S on bikes. The episode ends on a shot of her paused in the hallway of the Draper home, shrouded in inky darkness as baby Gene shrieks into the night; the ethereal music seeps in as Betty’s posture changes slightly.

“Our worst fears lie in anticipation.”

Mad Men s3e4: The Arrangements

“When we put that money aside for him, he was a little boy. We didn’t know what kind of person we were making.”

Hey, Sally’s driving! Grandpa Gene thankfully has the pedals covered, but he’s letting her steer the car in the ‘hood. Not too shabby.

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image courtesy of Jezebel

The relationships of characters and their parents are under the microscope in this episode, an important theme that is revisited over the course of the series.

Peggy is making the leap out of Brooklyn and into the city, and her mother does not take the news well; her sister Anita is happy for her (at least she gets Peggy’s reasoning), and maybe even a little envious of the excitement ahead for her sister. Thankfully, she’s managed to let go of her resentment and turn a kinder eye towards her sister.

On the other hand, her mother appears to have taken up some of that resentment shit whereas last season she seemed more understanding and sympathetic towards Peggy, concerned for her mental health. Her mother is hurt, in spite of Peggy giving her a new TV to soften the blow. As I’ve said before, Peggy is certainly cut from a different cloth than her family. She’s striking out on her own, and her mother clearly cannot relate to it or understand her daughter’s motivations, desires, and needs in her modern life, and really doesn’t care to either. Back to being upset about the Holy Father.

Seeking a roomate, Peggy pens an adult/super boring ad, subject to a bunch of ridicule in the office as ya do. Joan gives her some sage lady advice on her unfortunate ad, while trying to tweak Peggy’s perspective a touch. “This is about two young girls in Manhattan, this is an adventure!” Peggy is looking at it all so analytically, whereas Joan sees the opportunity and the fun that could be. Maybe Joan misses her freewheeling former life as an adventurous girl in the city.

Ahh, Pete’s college buddy Horace Cook Jr. (Ho-Ho..) is in the conference room of Sterling Cooper yapping about some preposterous sport, Jai alai. He’s a silver spoon smooth talking 20-something with an ascot and an expensive haircut. Don is not impressed; however, Lane and Pete see nothing but dollar signs as Ho-Ho is super eager to get his trash sport on American TV and in magazines posthaste. Kid’s got a $3mil inheritance in his pocket, ready to burn.

Grandpa Gene is encouraging to Sally, giving her the attention and affection she really needs at home. He lets her know that she’s smart, and sheds some light on why Betty is so picky about her appearance; turns out she was a chubby girl, much to the chagrin of her mother who made her walk home from the center of town post-errands. Yikes. It’s nice to see someone speaking to Sally as the tiny adult she is.

On the other end of the spectrum, when Gene sits his own daughter down to pass along his wishes, the arrangements in the case of his death, Betty is having none of it. He knows he’s staring down the barrel at this point, it’s sadly a matter of when. As Betty instinctively goes to light up a cigarette, Gene snaps back at her, “I don’t like watching you commit suicide, and neither do your kids.” Timidly, she obliges her father for the moment.

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image courtesy of AMC

Betty is resistant and reluctant to be an adult, choosing to have a vague tantrum over how morbid it is that her father is so openly talking about his own passing with his ‘little girl’. It’s the grownup equivalent of covering her ears and hiding. Her father admits that he shielded her from the world, was too overprotective, that she could have had so much more.. “if you’d even known what was possible.” Gene thinks that’s maybe why she married a man like Don instead of finding herself a better match, being more. Here’s Don, another man who shields her from the real world and treats her like a child.. words and implications she won’t soon forget.

Making the connection that Horace Cook Jr.’s father is connected to Bert Cooper in a million ways, Don calls for a meeting. Horace Sr. is more than a little exhausted by the whole Jai alai mess, and has given up on the idea of his kid doing anything sensible with the cash.

“Well, should you be lucky enough to strike gold, remember that your children weren’t there when you were swinging the pick. I’ve seen his plan… it’s gibberish. But if you refuse him, he’ll only find someone else. My son lives in a cloud of success, but it’s my success. Perhaps when that evaporates and his face is pressed against the reality of the sidewalk, he’ll be of value to someone.”

Horace Sr., not unlike Gene, figures he sheltered his son too much; “we didn’t know what kind of person we were making”. He’s a touch cynical and weary of it at this point, and until Ho-Ho figures out how the world really works (and stops valiantly trying to get the whole damn world to bend at his whim), Horace Sr. is okay with him failing repeatedly until he gets a reality check. Harsh, but understandable.

With Don receiving the green light, it’s time for fancypants dinner with Pete and Ho-Ho to sign him on as a client. Talking about their fathers, Don is reticent. Pete and Horace Jr. are guys living under the shadow of their fathers’ success, whereas Don is someone who left his apocalypse of a childhood far behind, in an attempt to get ahead of it. Seems like Ho-Ho wants to please his dad at the end of the day, to make him proud, however misguided and idiotic his ideas are and how he chooses to go about it. Don tries one last time to talk him down from the dumb investment, and fails.

Latenight, Don is looking at his secret shoebox of photos in his locked desk drawer at home. He studies a photo of his stern father, bathed in the pale moonlight. Was that man ever proud of him? Not bloody likely.

When Gene takes out his box of tricks and war memorabilia to show Bobby, Don is visibly bothered. Gene speaks to Bobby about war as a positive, character-building experience; how it made a man out of him. Don doesn’t see things that way; as we saw in Season 1, he bounced from Korea as soon as he could, did whatever he had to do to head home and get the fuck out of there, scared out of his gourd.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

So when Gene nonchalantly tells Bobby about how he killed a Prussian and took his pointy hat home (complete with bullet hole) as a souvenir, and now wants to pass it down to Bobby. Don isn’t pleased; after all, there was a person in that hat. Life is not so black and white, to deduce someone’s life as that of An Enemy to Don. “It’s a dead man’s hat, take it off.”

Over at Sterling Cooper, Don appoints Sal to direct the Patio ad, a shot for shot remake of Bye Bye Birdie. As he’s working on it later that night at home, Kitty tries to coerce him into having a bang and he ain’t into it, yapping about work.. he shows her the idea for the ad, the dancing and the whole nine. It slowly dawns on her that something has always been very off. Let’s be real; she probably knows on some level that her husband is so far away, and she looks happy that he’s doing some great work, yet devastated that she’s been living something of a lie. Poor Kitty.

Unfortunately for Sal, that Patio ad flops hard, turns out Peggy may have been right.. though this is apparently due to the fact that the shrill lookalike lady in the ad just isn’t Ann-Margaret, with none of her girlish charm and bright-eyed hope. It just ain’t right. Don is encouraging of Sal’s obvious talent for commercial direction, so it’s not a total loss.

Turns out Gene collapsed in the A&P, and a cop comes by the house to let Betty know that he has passed away. Betty nearly collapses on the porch, and when the cop asks what she would like to do with his body, she is momentarily relieved, realising that her father gave her all the instructions she would need.. literally shutting the door on poor Sally.

She grabs the door handle, but can’t quite bring herself to go inside. Grandpa Gene was a man who really connected with her, and now she’s back in a house with parents who vacillate between being indifferent and wrapped up in their own lives, or yelling at her about some complete nonsense.

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image courtesy of Fanpop

William and Judy have arrived at the house; the adults sit at the kitchen table reminiscing about things with Don and Betty. Overhearing the adults laughing about something and misunderstanding that they are grieving and sorting through feelings, Sally has an outburst about her grandfather’s death. Instead of being listened to and comforted, she’s shut out again and told to go watch TV.

Later, Don checks on her after bedtime; she’s asleep clutching the copy of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that they were reading together each night. Just because she’s a kid doesn’t mean she’s not grieving too.

As he folds up Gene’s former bed, Don stands in the room for a beat between the bed of a man who just died, and the crib of his yet to be born child.

“.. You can really do something. Don’t let your mother tell you otherwise.”