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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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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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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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.”

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Mad Men s2e13: Meditations in an Emergency

Season 2 finale. Lots to unpack, lots to talk about. We find ourselves around The Cuban Missile Crisis, putting the end of this season in October 1962.

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Betty awaits her doctor in his homey practice, perched perfectly upon the exam table. She looks fraught with nerves, and he confirms her fear; she’s pregnant. Jail sentence, dread. She expresses that this is a bad time, yet the doctor remains encouraging. Once she starts telling people it will feel right, yadda yadda yadda. She and Don are estranged, so this is literally the last thing she needs right now. Bets splits as soon as he runs out to find the space heater.

It’s a touch of bedlam at Sterling Cooper, everyone has to turn their numbers in early. Harry, Kenny, Sal and Kinsey pull the demoted Lois off the switchboard to get the scoop — Sterling Cooper has been sold to PPL! Lois is very dramatic in delivering the news. Transatlantic. Merger time.

Betty is at the stables, riding out her feelings. Once she dismounts her horse, she sees Don approaching her. Shocked, she maintains her cool. The most he’ll ever admit – “I was not respectful to you”, he sincerely expresses that he wants to be together again; Betty is relieved to have her suspicions confirmed, no matter how cagey that vague admission was. Borrowing a line from Helen Bishop, it hasn’t been all that different without him; Betty keeps her distance. Wise move.

Big difference from the Season 1 finale, which ends with Don longing for a warm family moment and mourning the loss of what he’d ultimately fucked up. Maybe now he feels the bona fide loss and actually wants the reality of a family, a connection.

As a nervous Pete imparts the bad news of Clearasil pulling out, Duck appears unfazed. Instead, Duck shares that he will be their new overlord post-merger. He wants Pete to replace him as Head of Account Services, and they share some fairly large glasses of gin. Pete is advised to keep it under his hat.

Don heads into the office, a sight for sore eyes. He sees Peggy’s new office and haircut, and a big ol’ pile of correspondence. True to form and entirely outraged that Don’s back in town as if nothing happened, Pete is wondering why in the hell he left him high and dry at their hotel in LA. Don spins it like he knew what he was doing instead of being impetuous, and Pete buys his compliments in his handling of meetings; Don expresses confidence that Pete is now ready to move on up. Music to his ears, twice in one day! A thing like that.

Getting the PPL merger news from Roger, apparently his little manpain jaunt to LA netted him $500k. Holy schnikes! That’s almost $4 MILLION today in 2016. What the fuck?

Betty is at the salon, which is currently filled with very nervous ladies. She somberly shares her news with Francine, who can recommend a lady doctor to take care of it if need be.

Heading into the city, Betty drops the kids off at Don’s hotel, declining his invitation to have dinner with them as a family. Lingering in front of a department store window display, she wanders in Manhattan with the mystery of Don.

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Shopping bags in hand, she takes a seat at a bar, orders a gimlet. A young proto-Don pays for her drink; she shoos him away initially, but later she corrals him into having a fuck in a vacant back room. A little role reversal; Don is playing family man with the kids, enjoying a meal and their company while Betty is an anonymous person at a bar, banging a rando. It’s the end of the world, after all.

Back in the world of Catholicism, Peggy is being admonished by Father Gill in the church basement. He’s laying on this guilt bullshit pretty strong, and Peggy stands up for her own personal beliefs– “I can’t believe that’s how God is”. It’s plain that she’s made peace with herself in her own way, Padre. Step aside.

Friday morning at Sterling Cooper, news of the merger is flitting around. There’s canapés in the fridge (fancy ones), the conference room is signed out all day.. everyone is on edge because of the news on TV and inside the office.

Confiding in Don, Pete drops the bomb that Duck is set to be the President of Sterling Cooper under PPL’s gaze. Let that marinate for a bit.

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At home, Betty receives a letter from Don.

Dear Betty,

I’m sitting in The Roosevelt looking at the backs of Bobby and Sally’s heads as they watch TV. I’m not letting them change the channel, because watching the news makes me sick, and they can see it.

I think about you, and how I behaved, and my regret. I know it’s my fault you are not here right now.

I understand why you feel it’s better to go on without me, and I know that you won’t be alone for very long, but, without you, I’ll be alone forever.

I love you.

-Don

In the big meeting with the PPL guys, Duck expresses ~quelle surprise~ when Sinjin states Duck will be prez over at Sterling Cooper once the merger is complete. He makes a bizarre speech, yapping about media buying, pinpointed with incredible accuracy; Cooper correctly points out that Duck failed to mention their clients at all. Time to drop some bombs.

Don: “What? I think it sounds like a great agency, and I think Duck is the man to run it. I just don’t think I’ll be a part of it.”

Sinjin: “You don’t want to be a part of it?”

Don: “If this is the agency you want, Duck is the man for the job.”

Duck: “This is what I’m talking about, artistic temperament..”

Roger: “Don, is this really necessary?”

Duck: “It is. Because he loves this room, and hearing his own voice, and saving the day.. except this time he’s got to get with a team. You can either honour your contract, or walk out that door with nothing and start selling insurance.”

Don: [pauses] “I don’t have a contract.”

Roger: “We’re close! We didn’t think we needed one.”

Don: “Gentlemen, I sell products, not advertising. I can’t see as far into the future as Duck, but if the world is still here on Monday, we can talk.”

Once Don leaves the room, Duck makes a fucking mess of things and completely embarrasses himself in front of the PPL guys. Don gets under his skin. As Sinjin asks Duck to please excuse them, he knows it’s all over for him as prez. Adios, Duck! “He never could hold his liquor.”

Peggy is finally lulled into confession of sorts, sitting with drunkenly pleasant Pete in his office surrounded by panic. He confesses his love for her, expressing that she’s perfect, that he wants to be with her. Trudy doesn’t really know him. File under Things Men Say. She drops the bomb and tells him that she had his baby, and she gave it away.

This is the first time this is candidly said aloud on the show, by the way. It’s been alluded to, referenced, but never actually acknowledged by Peggy’s character or any of the other characters in such stark terms.

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Pete is stunned and has no idea how to react. He’s a captivating character for a million different reasons, but I love that he knows who he is, yet tries to valiantly escape it every single day. He’s had a privileged upbringing, not unlike Betty, and is trying to escape that inalienable truth along with his picture perfect marriage and absurdly domineering mother. He craves no expectations, no baggage due to his name, and sees that clean slate of sorts in Peggy. Turns out there’s mad baggage there too. Sorry not sorry, Pete.

Betty rings the office, wanting Don to come home. Just as the threat is neutralised, she lets him know she’s pregnant. They share a somber moment together, he reaches out his hand and she grabs it. Fade out.

“To not thinking about things.”

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image courtesy of MadMenWikia

Welp, that’s another season in the books. Thank you for reading and following along! You can see my reviews for all of these first 2 seasons over here. Next post will come after a brief hiatus. Gotta let Season 2 marinate. Happy Halloween, and seeya soon!

Mad Men s2e10: The Inheritance

“It’s not easy for anyone, Pete.”

An LA trip is looming! Looks like Pete and Kinsey are going to Los Angeles, due to a hookup from Crab Colson. Time to hit up the JPL Rocket Fair. The Space Race is on!

Trudy is strongly suggesting her and Pete adopt a baby, and he ain’t having it in the least. His WASPy mother certainly won’t have it, after Bud let that tidbit ‘slip’; Pete retaliates by cooly letting her know her assets are in the toilet on his way out. So bitter, but his parents never seemed to treat him all that well anyway.

Betty’s dad had a stroke, turns out it isn’t the first time either. Thanks, Gloria. Betty phones Don and they drive to NJ together the next day, keeping the appearance of normalcy as best they can. Gloria answers the door in an outrageously absurd cocktail dress with a mammoth foofy hoop skirt, 1955 incarnate.

Every scene with the Hofstadts is strange, with an easily detectable tense undercurrent between everyone. It’s a family on paper, but there’s no discernible warmth to speak of; Betty is excluded from things here, just as she’s excluded from her own life by Don. Maybe her father Gene — apparently a strict, traditional guy.. fining his kids for small talk — is what she wishes Don would be like around their kids. (Y i k e s….)

Her family resents her for moving out of NJ, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve given her any reason to stay. Her brother William is a fairly unpleasant guy, making jabs about New York and Don having mad cash. Rude. He also sheds a little light on how Gene’s been acting as of late, apparently he’s been ‘off’ for a while now. They are both concerned about Gene, and show it differently. Betty slips into the childlike loving daughter persona, excited about milkshakes and the like, whereas William tries to be in charge.

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But Gene’s got Don’s number, and berates him in an outburst during puzzle time.

“Who knows what he does, why he does it. I know more about the kid who fixes my damn car. Nobody has what you have. You act like it’s nothing. He has no people! You can’t trust a person like that.”

That night, though they share Betty’s childhood room, Don gets to sleep on the floor. They disrobe in silence, and a few hours later, Betty comes down to the floor with affection. She realises she holds the cards right now, and uses it to her advantage. They have a midnight bang on the floor, and Don wakes up alone in the AM.

Gene is all mixed up at breakfast, and mistakes Betty for her (dead) mother and gropes her right there in front of everyone, the harsh morning light filtering in. Everyone is in shock, Don is completely horrified; good lord that’s a lot to handle. Gloria insists they have another doctor’s appointment lined up. Good GOD.

Thankfully Viola shows up to talk some damn sense. Turns out Betty’s childhood nanny still pops in to take care of the house, and Gene. Instead of just acting like things are normal when they’re anything but, Viola sees through it.

Viola: “He’s very very sick.”

Betty: “You don’t know how nice it is to hear someone say that.”

Viola: “The minute you leave, you’ll remember him exactly the way he used to be. It’s all good outside that door.”

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Viola reminds Betty that it’s her responsibility to take care of her husband and her children, for they are hers. It’s OK to move forward and to love what you have, to remember the better times, but all it does is remind Betty that everything is in shambles. She breaks down and cries, truly at a loss.

Back in Ossining, Don gets the boot from his house; Betty curtly tells him that they were only pretending. Things are still as they were, so he heads to the office a day earlier than expected. Everyone is throwing a baby shower for Harry, another guy who’s uncertain about the reality of kids as much as Pete.

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Bert Cooper pops into the shower for one of the more bizarre moments of the day.. and everyone raided the store room with ‘gifts’ for Harry and Jennifer’s impeding arrival. Kenny gifts him with a massive stack of Playboys, as you do.

(Offices in the 1960s aren’t that dissimilar from offices today; any excuse to have a party where you eat some form of trash cake from the grocery store.)

Don changes up the plans and decides he’s heading to LA with Pete, axing Kinsey from the trip. Roger gives him his blessing with a vaguely icy exchange; things aren’t exactly healed there just yet.

Joan gets to publicly ask for Kinsey’s credentials back during the baby shower, and relishes it. Kinsey frames it well to Sheila, trying to mend their spat earlier in the week when Pete let it rip that he was headed to Los Angeles. He made it sound like it was his idea to ditch the LA trip (LOL) and ends up heading to Mississippi to fight for civil rights alongside her, likely irritating the shit out of everyone around him.

Everyone’s loaded on punch post-shower, heading home for the day, yet Pete lingers. He’s a little tweeked about flying to LA since his father died on American Airlines Flight 1, but that’s not really the root of his issue(s). He may never truly grasp why he doesn’t get what he feels entitled to, and on top of that, he may never understand how grim it is for everyone who doesn’t have what he has in the first place. Pete’s got some privilege, everyone. Peggy handles his “woe is me, first world problems of the now” drunken schpiele fairly perfectly. She is friendly and cordial, actively listening, but keeps him at arms’ length. Probably a good idea, Pegs.

Hey-o, Glen Bishop shows up at casa Draper, having run away from home a couple of days ago. Glen has been crashing in Sally and Bobby’s playhouse in the back yard. He hasn’t seen Betty for ages, and is in need of some kindness and attention. He insists that he’s there for her– “I came to rescue you. We can go anywhere, I have money!” His name is Don, etc.

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Once Sally and Bobby get home, she does the right thing and rings Helen Bishop knowing she’d be worried about him. Betty endures his child wrath as he spots his mother in the foyer, feeling betrayed and shrieking that he hates her. Betty responds calmly with, “I know”. Maybe it’s some catharsis for her, some link to the way she thinks Don feels about her. She accepts it.

After things quiet down, Betty and Helen Bishop have a moment in the kitchen. Helen admits her shortcomings as a mother in the wake of her divorce and new boyfriend carousel, which compels Betty to share the news with her. After all, Helen is a divorcée; Betty confides in her that Don isn’t living with her anymore. She’s unsure if it’s forever at this point.

Helen: “Is it over?”

Betty: “I don’t even know.”

Helen: “That’s the worst. For me, it wasn’t that different without him there.”

Betty: “Sometimes I feel like I’ll float away if Don isn’t holding me down.”

Helen: “The hardest part is realising you’re in charge.”

On the plane, and true to form, Don just wants to watch the city disappear behind him. Time to get the hell out of Dodge for a bit to recalibrate.

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(Fun fact, the guitarist from The Tornadoes is George Bellamy– the father of Matt Bellamy of Muse fame. Not bad!)

Mad Men s2e5: The New Girl

An iconic episode, one of my favourites. The mystery of Peggy and Pete’s lovebaby is revealed, Peggy gets some great lady schooling from Bobbie, and Don miraculously manages to look debonair while wearing a sling.

Pete and Trudy are at the doctor, yapping about pregnancy, lack thereof, and all that crap. They are having issues conceiving a baby, though we know Pete is plenty virile. Pete brings up the then taboo idea of being one of “those childless couples”, and Trudy simply isn’t having it; she wants to have a family with him, and as she tearfully explains that idea, he gets it. The good news is that the doctor can blow up her ovaries, or do whatever..

Joan is engaged! The office is buzzing. Roger makes a crack about “relatively young love”, but she looks happy. He seems reticent, and Joan picks up that maybe he’s over the entire idea and concept of marriage, not just his wife.

“This is America. Pick a job, and then become the person that does it.”

Actual Don Draper realness in that quote right there.

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Bobbie is set to celebrate selling Grin and Barrett to CBS. Don goes to meet her at Sardi’s, and he runs into Rachel Menken (Katz) and her very boilerplate Husband(TM) Tilden. They have a strange interaction, it’s awkward and short; Rachel sees what he’s doing with Bobbie and appears disappointed, almost. Don is in a cloud of disenchantment and sadness after they run off to the theatre, so he and Bobbie drunk drive to Long Island to hit up her beach house. Always a great idea.

“God, I feel so good.”

“I don’t feel a thing.”

If there was one sentence that sums up Don Draper, it’s that. He’s constantly seeking out stimulation, something to shake him up and make him feel something, but at the end of the day it’s a flatline. It both motivates and paralyses him.

Natch, they get into a car accident. Don fails the sobriety test (the legal limit in 1962 was .15%! Jesus Christmas..), and comes up short on the $150 fine. Don rings a mystery woman, who is revealed as Peggy! She offers to let Bobbie stay with her to allow time for the black eye to heal, and these two women could not be more different.

Bobbie is generally insecure around Peggy, wondering what the real reason is that she’s helping her out. Bobbie offers a bunch of sage Lady Advice to her in the meantime, though Peggy fires back at her with shade at every turn.

Bobbie: “You have to start living the life of the person you want to be.”

Peggy: “Is that what you did?”

Bobbie: “You’re never going to get that corner office until you start treating Don as an equal. And no one will tell you this, but you can’t be a man, don’t even try. Be a woman. Powerful business when done correctly.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

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We flash to Peggy in a hospital in 1960, all fucked up on tranquillisers. She can’t remember what happened clearly, and the doctor informs her that she’s had a baby. Peggy stares off into space in disbelief, or wishing to forget it entirely. Her mother and pregnant sister are there, appearing supportive.

At some point, Don comes to visit Peggy in the hospital and offers some sage Don Draper advice to her. After all, she essentially bounced from a job she was beginning to flourish at.. what’s the deal?

“Is that you? Are you really there?”

“Yes I am.”

“What are you doing here?”

“You got a promotion and disappeared.. your Christmas present is sitting on your desk. I called your house, and your roommate gave me your mother’s number.”

“Oh, God.”

“Your mother told me you were quarantined.. TB. I guess that was supposed to lessen my concern.”

“I’m sorry.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do they want you to do?”

“I don’t know.”

“Yes, you do.. Do it. Do whatever they say. Peggy, listen to me. Get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.”

In this instance, I think this is really stellar advice. I know that Don is ultimately just trying to get her back into the office and doing his thing, but I feel that he knows a bit about her as well. He knows that she wants to succeed at advertising, not be a housewife; he knows she’s different from the rest. He sought her out to remind her of the importance of getting on with it, to let go and to move on with life. What the doctors are saying and the judgement doesn’t matter. He sees a bit of himself in her and wants to bring that out.

At home post-accident, it sounds like Don recommitted to his marriage at some point. Betty is understandably upset that he didn’t phone the house after his accident, but he plays it as that he didn’t want to worry her and call so late. He has high blood pressure, and thinks the booze and the meds didn’t make good bedfellows. Betty offers a sensible response.. “You should call me. I’m your wife. You promised you wouldn’t disappear like that anymore.”

Peggy takes Bobbie’s advice to heart, and point blank asks Don for her bail cash she loaned him. The flaw in moving forward is that sometimes you forget it almost entirely. She thanks him, and calls Don by his first name; he’s clearly taken aback. Good for you, Pegs!

At dinnertime, Betty withholds the salt with their meatloaf dinner. When Sally asks why, Betty replies that it’s because they love him. Upon hearing this, Don stares off to some far away place.

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image courtesy of Fanpop

“I’m sure glad I don’t have problems.”

Mad Men s2e2: Flight 1

Turns out that Boho Paul Kinsey lives in Montclair, NJ! Fun fact, Montclair is a completely fucking charming place. Shoutout to The Wellmont!

Kinsey introduces his girlfriend Sheila to Joan, and they have a loaded exchange. Joan feels that Kinsey is a phoney, smoking his pipe and living out in Jersey, dating an African-American grocery store clerk to make himself appear more interesting. Is that really true, though? Joan seems to think so, yet there’s sincerity from Kinsey and how wounded he is by her savage words. Kinsey gets Man(TM) revenge by tacking up a copy of her driver’s license with her birth year circled. Oh, the humanity!

Peggy is snogging some square, isn’t impressed, and heads home alone.

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The question of Peggy’s lovechild hasn’t yet been answered at this point, but this episode offers some insight into her family and home life. Her mother and sister appear to be loving people, but consistently make subtle (and not so subtle) jabs at her. Pegs is clearly cut from a different cloth, and they don’t really know what to do or how to relate to her other than imploring/badgering her to be a certain way.

Her mother is a devout Catholic, making up excuses as to why she hasn’t been attending mass with them for however long. People are asking after her, and Peggy quietly shuts it down with a simple “it doesn’t mean the same thing to me that it means to you”.  It’s implied that her father is dead, her mother telling her that he would’ve wanted her to “light a candle for him”, perhaps in regards to her mystery baby.

The absent baby appears to be more a metaphor for the more “accepted” domestic lady Peggy is trying her hardest not to be, despite the fact that she’s been schlepping a vacuum all over the city.

On her way out, Anita tells her to say goodnight, and she freezes momentarily. There’s a few kids in a room, along with a baby. Peggy is visibly uncomfortable.

When I first watched this episode in 2008, I thought perhaps that baby was hers and it was being raised by her sister.. at the end of the episode, Peggy is at mass with her family. When they all go to receive communion, Anita hands off said baby to Pegs and he immediately starts wailing. As I experienced an anxiety attack, Peggy stares off into the distance, willing herself to be anywhere else but that particular location.

Rewind a bit.

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image courtesy of Imgur

So, Pete’s Waspy dad dies in the American Airlines Flight 1 crash into Jamaica Bay. He’s conflicted, as they did not have the best relationship (mad props to Vincent Kartheiser for his nuanced performance in these scenes). The fact that his father is insolvent sheds some light on his haughty rejection of Pete’s plea for financial help. It’s all oysters, travel, and club memberships.

He seeks some fatherly compassion from Don, and instead gets some general life advice. Pete is a guy who’s overall very competent and on top of things, yet he still has these flashes of naïveté.

“Go home and be with your family.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s what people do.”

“Is that what you would do?”

“.. Yes.”

Woof. Don has no genuine emotional reaction to this whole thing, and it’s not just because he never really had parents. He defaults to what people expect of him, and passes this along to Pete.

Turns out Duck knows a guy at American Airlines, Shel Keneally. Sounds like they got blasted together during their days in London. Looking for a fresh start, they’ve given Sterling Cooper a wink in the wake of this crash and the ensuing PR nightmare; Don is tasked with the shit job of firing Mohawk Airlines, a small company to which he yearns to be loyal. Mess.

In fact, the only fatherly compassion Pete gets in this time of need is from Duck, and Pete then uses his father’s untimely death for business purposes. May as well try to make something positive out of it? Campbell senior did not appear to give Pete much of anything while he was alive, maybe he figured this would be a way he could finally do something for him posthumously.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

That night, Don goes home to his family, and it’s tense as hell. Betty’s booked in Francine and suddenly fat Carlton for cards, and he ain’t pleased about it. His interactions with Betty are curt at best, save for when their friends are in the room and he’s suddenly fascinated by her. She publicly complains that Don isn’t firmer with the kids, after Bobby sneaks down to grab some more candy post-bedtime.

They have a bizarre conversation about Carlton, as Don observes that he’s “put on a few” and Betty launches into a whole schpiel about how he should be showering Francine with love after what he put her through. Don shuts down and tells her “Look, Bets, I’m not going to fight. I’ll say whatever you think I should say, but I’m not going to fight with you.”

Good lord.