Mad Men s3e3: My Old Kentucky Home

Ah yes, the episode where Roger Sterling (very uncomfortably) slaps on blackface for his Derby Day garden party to serenade Jane with a racist song. Awkward and shocking as fuck.

I like that Don and Pete are the two horrified people bearing witness to this mess, while everyone else seems bemused. Don pops off, as he does, to seek out more booze and a moment of silence away from all the tryhard noise surrounding him. He meets an older gentleman in a white tux jacket behind the bar, mistaking him for the barman.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

They have an exchange about feeling out of place at fancy events, an ingrained understanding; way more than we’ve ever seen Don share in the series thus far with just about anyone, perhaps save for Rachel Menken. Fitting that it’s shared with a complete stranger.

Connie: Who are you hiding from?

Don: I am at work .. disguised as a party.

Connie: I’m at work disguised as a wedding. I hate other people’s weddings.

Don: Why’s that?

Connie: Make me nervous, All those expectations. And these poor kids in here– whew! That is a match made in the boardroom. When I was a boy, There was a mansion on the river I used to paddle by in my johnboat. The twinkling lights, violins, girls giggling about something... it’s different inside.

Don: Where are you from?

Connie: San Antonio, New Mexico, before it was a state. Don’t ask me that– old.

Don: You look fit.

Connie: You ever see “A Midsummer Dream” with Mickey Rooney?

Don: “A Midsummer Night’s dream”?

Connie: By golly, you’re prickly! I’m republican, like everyone else in there, but somehow, no matter how expensive my cufflinks, I feel like I’ve got the head of a jackass.

Don: Where I grew up, there was a roadhouse. It boasted live music– that meant a drum, a bass, and a player piano with nobody at it. I parked cars. Fancy people would go there. They’d get loud, they’d get drunk, But they wouldn’t let me use the toilet. So when nature called, I’d open up a trunk and relieve myself.

Connie: You didn’t.

Don: I was 15. There’s probably some kid out there doing it to us right now.

Don and Connie have this experience in common. And like Don, Connie is a climber of the social ladder rather than being born with a silver spoon. But that exclusionary feeling pervades; this feeling of being out of place despite the fact that they wear the proper costume, say all the right things, swing in the swanky circles, but it still just ain’t right. Rachel Menken nailed it in Season 1, and Connie is nailing it here and it resonates. Out of place.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

Meanwhile, Peggy is at the office working on Bacardi. She smokes marijuana (for the first time!) with Paul Kinsey, Smitty, and Kinsey’s cartoonishly handsome Patrick Bateman-esque Princeton drug hookup. Kinsey is unwillingly revealed to be a vaguely uneducated Jersey boy by nature, headed to Princeton on scholarship and putting on airs ever since. He’s insecure about who he really is and is consistently sort of a dick as a reflex.

Enjoying her experience and realising it’s helping her work, Peggy stands up to her judgemental secretary Olive, and gets on with it. She’s being open to new experiences, and doesn’t want to end up like the aforementioned secretary; wringing her hands over her college-aged son, and coming to the office on a Saturday because her husband is taking a trip to the dump.

There are some great scenes with Sally and Grandpa Gene peppered into this episode. Their relationship is sweet, it’s nice that she has an adult figure in her life who treats her (relatively) as an equal; it’s probably the most individual and encouraging attention she’s ever gotten in that house. Sally’s bonding with her grandfather, reading passages aloud from Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire before bed each night. Metaphorically speaking, Gene is pretty prophetic when he tells Sally “just wait.. all hell’s gonna break loose”. The Sixties are about to get pretty real.

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image courtesy of Mad Men Wikia

Sally swipes a $5 bill from his billfold, as kids tend to do when they want to push boundaries. There is panic and a search of the whole house, turning up nada; eventually Sally can’t take it anymore and “Finds It” in the dining room. She’s expecting the worst from Grandpa Gene, but he goes easy on her. I think he’s secretly relieved that it was actually taken and he’s not losing his entire damned mind just yet. As Don and Betty were on their way out to the aforementioned soirée, they were dismissive of his dismay at having his cash pilfered; they, along with Carla, treated his concern as if it wasn’t real. So having some validation must feel good for him at the very least.

Joan and Greg have a dinner party, hosting some of his hospital bros to earn brownie points. Turns out being married to a dignified and worldly woman like Joan is the best thing going for him, as it turns out (shocking nobody) he’s a pretty shit surgeon. This vile idiot wants to keep her in a very specific Wife(TM) box where he’s the alpha, the boss. Greg hates being reminded of the fact that she’s smarter than he is, that she has this whole other life aside from him and great experiences; he admonishes her to entertaining their guests by playing the accordion and singing a French song, which she nails completely.

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image courtesy of AMC

Back at the Derby Day garden party, Pete and Trudy show off their admittedly awesome dance moves. Everyone’s yapping about their kids or soon to be kids, and Trudy definitely feels a little left out; so they make up for it in dance form. It’s nice to see Pete enjoying himself too!

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image courtesy of ONTD and my own idiocy

Towards the end of the party, Roger walks over at precisely the wrong time as Jane drunkenly grabs at Don wondering if he doesn’t like her. She also blabs that she’s so happy he and Betty got back together, and Betty is naturally mortified. This little scene is a nice role swap of when Don walked in on Roger coming onto Betty in their kitchen in Season 1; here, Roger is pissed. He believes it’s due to the fact that he’s conspicuously happy, Don retorts that everyone just thinks he’s a fool. Later, he sees Roger and Jane slow dancing, as if they’re the only two people in the room, totally content. Maybe Roger’s not a fool.

The episode ends with Ben Webster’s “Memories of You” wafting through the air as Don and Betty share a private moment out in the garden, probably one of the more intimate moments we’ve seen on the series between them as of yet. But hey, that guy Henry might be on her mind..

And oh fuck, is ‘Connie’ actually hotel magnifico Conrad Hilton????? Insert faux-perplexed face here.

Mad Men s3e2: Love Among the Ruins

“If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.”

This episode is all about ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. But Christ, does Ann-Margaret have a shrill singing voice.. that Bye Bye Birdie clip makes me cringe every goddamned time.

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STAAAAAHP || image courtesy of Blogspot

Don and Betty have an awkward courtesy dinner with Lane and Rebecca Pryce. It’s plain that Rebecca hates living in the States, and Lane not so much; there’s tension galore, not unlike the Drapers. The mood is heady and tense, both women seem out of sorts and distracted. Rebecca is reserved, curt, and very cultured — and most likely intimidates Betty.

Kinsey has a Beatnik style meltdown in the Penn Station meeting, so Roger and Don are ordered to save it. It’s fucking Madison Square Garden, after all! Pete has a good Blue Blood Yankee moment in that meeting, going into full Peter Dykeman Campbell mode. Like Don, he’s a guy who doesn’t really know how to be an actual human man just yet, but he’s figured out the correct personas to adopt in the correct situations.

Roger is pissed (and a little sad) that his divorce is having such an apocalyptic impact on Margaret’s wedding plans, thanks to Jane’s well intentioned but overcompensating friendliness. He doesn’t really understand that his divorce from Mona and marriage to Jane has created a paradigm shift around him, in the way people see and treat him just a little bit. He wants to feel as if nothing’s different; that Margaret will be immediately accepting of Jane, that Mona will play nice. Sorry Roger, that ain’t how real life on this planet works. Times are changing.

Naturally, Don fires some subtle shots before the potential client shows up.

Roger: “I’ve made my bed, I should lie in it, right?”

Don: “Your words, not mine.”

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image courtesy of Sky

As he and Roger try to convince the MSG guy that all is well, Don drops some iconic Draper realness on the table in front of him. A man who himself is trying to change and be better, he’s got some things to reflect upon.

“Let’s also say that change is neither good or bad. It simply is. It can be greeted with terror or joy: a tantrum that says, ‘I want it the way it was,’ or a dance that says, ‘Look, it’s something new.’

“I was in California. Everything is new, and it’s clean.. the people are filled with hope. New York City is in decay. Madison Square Garden is the beginning of a new city on the hill.”

New York City is about to become an absolute shithole within this decade, and it appears Don sees it sooner than most. Living in California now, I see the hope and I see the newness; the clean not so much, as it never fucking rains in Southern California and everything is consistently covered in a fine layer of desert dust. Anyway.

The ink isn’t even dry on the check and then, just like that, Lane shuts down Madison Square Garden at the behest of the home office in London. Don isn’t having it. They’re not seeing the big picture and how much business it could potentially provide, so he’s understandably pissed off at Lane, wondering why PPL even bothered to buy Sterling Cooper in the first place. Lane doesn’t have an answer, but absolutely appears to be as frustrated as Don.

Peggy brings in some storyboards for Patio to an obviously pissed off Don. Stunned that he hasn’t seen the movie yet, she has him watch a bit of Bye Bye Birdie. Watching Ann-Margaret belt out the namesake song, Don is completely entranced to Peggy’s chagrin. Bad mood evaporated, he’s engrossed in this image, this idea of purity.

Back on earth, Peggy thinks it’s a crock of shit; it’s fucking phony, and she’s right. Women are the target audience for a diet soda and not men, to whom this ad is appealing to way more; Don sides with the dudes. Peggy wants to change how she approaches her business and how to really get into the minds of women, do things differently, instead of this oldschool stuff.

Standing out in every way, Peggy’s no Ann-Margaret, not a Joan either. She is her own person, navigating a shifting world and being as true to herself as possible. On her way home, she pops into a Brooklyn bar and ends up chatting up some rando; she tries Joan’s “it’s so crowded in here I feel like I’m on the subway” line which charmed the hell out of male clients in the office, to some success with said bar rando.

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image courtesy of Slant Magazine

He incorrectly assumes she’s some broad from the steno pool, and she doesn’t deny it; can’t let it be like that nightmare date with the vending machine truck-driving idiot from Season 1. They have a bang in his dumpy apartment on a pullout couch*, and she immediately bounces; he seems upset.

*(But really, how can a human sleep on one of those fucking things? It’s a dystopian nightmare of unnecessary bars. Nope.)

In the wake of Gloria leaving Gene, Betty has no idea how to help her father. He’s gone from being the formidable patriarch of the family to needing consistent care. Inviting her bother and sister in law/kids to bring her father up for the week of Spring Break, she wants to feel closer to him; she can’t get him on the phone and feels disconnected from his life.

At the same time, she resents William and is a touch jealous that his wife Judy can relate to him better that she can, while also being his nurse. Betty wants to feel more connected to her family, to mean more in spite of how everything is rapidly changing around her.

Her brother William is being absurd per usual, stating that Gene has to be in a home or they move into the house to care for him (and getting the house in the process..), and Don stands up for Betty.

William: “Look Don, we’re all upset. One thing I’ve learned from this– Don’t get old!”

Don: “About your father..”

William: “It’s a real jackpot. He always said he didn’t want to be a burden, and yet here we are.”

Don: “This is what’s going to happen. You’re going to explain to your sister and your wife that we have reached an understanding. You are going to support your father financially, and I am going to take him into my house. His house will remain untouched.”

William: “I appreciate the advice, Don.. I’ll take it under consideration.”

Don: “You’re going to go out there, and you’re going to tell your sister that this is what you want. We’ll pretend that you did the right thing on your own.”

William: “He’s my father!”

Don: “And he’s in my home. I want you to leave tonight, and I want you to leave the Lincoln. I can’t have him here without a car.”

WIlliam: “Are you kidding me? How are we supposed to get home?”

Don: “New York Central; Broadway limited from Penn Station. It leaves in two hours.”

William: “You want him? You got him.”

It’s a nice moment of generosity and true consideration from Don, though some of it is definitely rooted in Alpha Male(TM) dickwagging. As William uncharacteristically offers this info to his wife and his sister, Betty realises that Don played the massive part in this sudden change of heart. She looks at him with intense relief and adoration.

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image courtesy of Optigrab

And then, a confused Gene wakes up in the middle of the night, dumping all their booze down the drain because he hears the sound of sirens and thinks it’s prohibition times. Back to reality.

Ah, and here’s Sally’s hippie teacher happily dancing around a damn Maypole. All Drapers are in attendance watching Sally in this display of springtime innocence, Gene included.

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image courtesy of Optigrab

Don looks at Sally’s teacher, shielded by his aviators, yearning for something as he strokes the cool grass below his chair. Thinking about Patio and Ann-Margaret earlier, there’s a link with the teacher. “It’s pure. It makes your heart hurt… [She’s] young, excited, and desperate for a man.” More to come on her, no pun intended.

Oh yeah, and Margaret is set to be married on November 23rd, 1963. Hahahaha.. oy vey. As practically everyone knows, JFK was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963; this is just a sample of things to come, the massive, seismic changes looming within this decade. The folks we know on Mad Men are in for a wild ride.

“This is the greatest city in the world. If you don’t like it, leave.”

Mad Men s3e1: Out of Town

“Fellow comrades in mediocrity, I want you to listen very carefully: You can all go straight to hell!”

Ahh, the Season 3 Premiere! Here we are in April 1963, roughly 6 months post-finale of Season 2. And oh hey, we have a new Bobby. Back to the grind.

Putnam Powell and Lowe is in full force having obliterated about a third of the Sterling Cooper workforce, and things feel uneasy all over.

We open on Don heating up some gross milk in the middle of the night, the eve of his real birthday. Flashing back to his inferred birth story, Don’s human giant dad Archie heads off to a hooker; she later dies giving birth to their baby, to Dick. The midwife drops off the baby in the middle of the night, and though Abigail has been wanting a baby so badly, the fact that this baby at her feet is the product of her bastard husband’s affair with a hooker is not what she had in mind.

Obviously it’s tainted the way she saw Dick growing up, and intensely coloured how she treated him. The effervescent feeling of always being unwanted is something that Don carries with him every single day.

Betty is very pregnant at this point in time, and Don flexes his copywriting skill by crafting a relaxing seaside story to lull her to sleep. Probably better than inventing a work travel lie to protect the kids from their marital troubles á la Season 2.. it looks as if they are actively trying to be closer to one another here in the Season 3 premiere, but it’s still not quite right.

And now, introducing PPL’s CFO Lane Pryce.. seen here admiring an octopus pleasuring a lady in Hokusai’s famed ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’.

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image courtesy of Auction Exclusive

Lane: “Remarkable.”

Bert: “I picked it for its sensuality, but it also, in some way, .. it reminds me of our business. Who is the man who imagined her ecstasy?”

Lane: “Who indeed!”

Burt Peterson, a wholly unpleasant man, gets sacked and raises hell in the process of exiting the building. Joan explains to the repellant Mr. Hooker (Lane’s personal assistant/glorified secretary) that if had she known Burt was getting fired that day, she would have made the proper arrangements for a peaceful exit. Instead, we get to hear this bald asshole shouting, “Drop dead, you limey vulture!” and scaring the shit out of the ladies in the steno pool.

Apparently Burt Peterson fucked some things up with London Fog, as Don and Sal depart to Maryland to smooth things over soon after that mess.

Turns out their TWA stewardess is an intense thirst trap. Apparently Don let his brother in law borrow a suitcase, as the stewardess calls him Mr. Hofstadt (‘Bill’). Explaining to Sal, “he never tires of putting his name on other people’s things”; touché, Don Draper.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

They go for dinner with said parched stewardesses and the pilot; everyone is an idiot. Don and Sal have a little fun playing the parts of more interesting men, top secret type stuff. Couple of G-men working as accountants, hunting for Jimmy Hoffa. During dinner you can see Don resigning himself to banging that chick, it’s all too easy.

After dinner, they all head to their rooms. Don and the stewardess make out, then she lets him know she’s engaged, as if he’s her last chance.

“I’ve been married a long time. You get plenty of chances.”

It’s Don’s birthday, his real birthday. The poor man’s Betty undresses for him, stating that everyone’s always asking her if she’s a model (but she’s not); and hey, Don is married to an actual model.

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image courtesy of AMC

In other news, Sal lets go and has a gay encounter with the very well manicured bellboy in his sweltering room. He’s shocked and intrigued, but SUPER into it. This guy had the cojones to make a bold move unlike that Belle Jolie dude, and it paid off. And then, the fucking fire alarm goes off in the hotel. On his way down the fire escape, barely clothed Don spots Sal in his room with the bellboy, and is completely jolted.

On the plane ride back to New York, Sal is waiting on pins and needles for Don to say something about seeing him with a man, obviously in the midst of getting around to a bang. Instead, and true to form, Don comes up with some London Fog copy that reads like a cryptic warning; ‘Limit your exposure.’

At the office, Lane lets Pete know he’s now Head of Accounts, without telling him that Kenny .. is also Head of Accounts. Pete, true to form, is comically infuriated to learn that Kenny is the other Head of Accounts. Trudy grounds him and reminds him to be a fucking normal person and get on with it. Pete walks into Don’s office later on to complain, but thinks better of it and ends up thanking Don and Roger for the promotion. Bert Cooper pops in and rewards him, a true Yankee, with Penn Station.

That night in Ossining, Sally admits to breaking Don’s suitcase. “I don’t have an allowance.” “Then don’t break things.” Sally desperately didn’t want her father to leave on another trip, and he reassures her that he will always come home, she’ll always be his girl. One thing is for sure, Don has seen to it that those kids have a marginally better upbringing with some form of love rather than the mess he and Adam experienced as kids.

Sally finds the parched stewardess’ TWA wings in Don’s suitcase, assuming they’re for her. In a nice family moment, Don begins telling the story of the night Sally was born; cue the Lord of the Rings music. Don stares off for a beat, imagining his own birth again, feeling dejected. Sally came into a home that wanted her, unlike his own birthday, marred with distress.

Betty picks it up and then, right there in the midst of it, ‘in the middle of the night’ claiming to have just come home from work to drive her to the hospital, it’s obvious that Don was stepping out even then. His face says it all. What is he doing? Where is he going with all of this?

Damn.

below image courtesy of Imgur

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“I don’t know. I keep going to a lot of places, and ending up somewhere I’ve already been.”