Mad Men s2e7: The Gold Violin

“Like the song says, Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.”

Don is pondering buying a new car from Breaking Bad’s Elliott at the Caddy dealership. Seeing a guy like Don Draper walk into a Cadillac dealership must spell out ‘instant sale’ to salesman Wayne. From his outward appearance — impeccably tailored suit, polished shoes, not a hair out of place — Don is a guy who wants the whole world to regard him highly, and what better way to do that than with the ultimate status symbol of a Cadillac?

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Flashback to the 1950s when Don was a bright-eyed used car salesman with big hair and a frumpy suit and tie. He hasn’t yet mastered sales, as he can’t quite close the current deal. A mystery blonde comes to see him and asks for him by name, appears puzzled that it’s this guy in front of her. She then reveals that she knows he’s not Don Draper.

G A S P

Back to the Cadillac dealership, Don has second thoughts and splits. Does he deserve a Cadillac? Wayne is peeved and surprised.

Because of how much Don impressed the Martinson coffee guys with Kurt and Smitty’s youthful jingle and his pitch, Cooper has let him know the door has opened for him to sit on the board at the Museum of Early American Folk Art, to be among “the few people that get to decide what will happen in our world.” In so many words, Don has arrived. And now he needs to act the part, fancy Cadillac in tow.

Now, here’s the rub with ‘Making It In America(TM)’; you’ve got to keep it up, with intense fervour. Shiny, top of the line new car every few years, perfect partner, marriage, and immaculate home.. and well-behaved kids who don’t jam Play-Doh in the nice leather seats of the Cadillac. The higher you climb that mountain, more people will be hanging out at every single goddamned precipice to knock you down.

And, we’re back to the Cadillac dealership. Don confidently buys that Caddy! At the same time, Jimmy Barrett is ringing the Draper house to let Betty know they’re invited to a big shindig for Grin and Barrett being picked up. To top it off, Betty is pleased that Don bought the car. He deserves it since he works so hard.

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image courtesy of Butterfly Mind

Word on the street is that Cooper’s got a Rothko painting in his office, which is generally off limits. After hours, Jane sneaks Kenny, Sal and Harry into the office. Sal notices Ken’s depth when he’s talking about the painting; how it evokes a feeling, it’s nothing super concrete or obvious. It just is. Kenny notices Sal isn’t like everyone else in the office, and gives him a new story to read.

Somehow Joan hears about their painting escapade, and sacks Jane on the spot. Joan feels as though she’s being replaced with a younger, sassier version of herself, and she’s pissed off. On her way out, Jane cleverly pops by Roger’s office to say goodbye and gets un-fired, remembering his attraction to her. Magical.

The truth about the Rothko is revealed! Harry meets with Cooper to go over some media numbers, and Cooper’s brief explanation is pretty in line with what we know about him.

“People buy things to realise their aspirations, it’s the foundation of our business. Between you me and the lamp post, that thing should double in value by next Christmas.”

Sal and Kitty have Kenny over for dinner that weekend, and it’s awkward as hell. Sal pretty much ignores his wife to pay attention to Ken, yapping about the story he wrote. He’s like a teenager with a crush, and Kitty tries her best to include herself. It’s actually pretty sad, watching as Kitty feels alone in her own home.

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Kenny’s story is inspired by a piece he saw at The Met. The Gold Violin itself is meant to illustrate that in some cases no matter how lovely and perfect something looks, it simply cannot work. It’s a status symbol, it’s gorgeous and stunning and flawfree, but ultimately worthless. Take a gander at Betty and Don, or Sal and Kitty for that matter.

The Draper family takes the new Cadillac out for a Sunday picnic, and leave behind an hysterical amount of trash in the process. Don launches a beer can to see how far he can throw it! Ha. The Draper picnic is a beautiful scene that glosses over the complete disorder and mess that is that family.

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image courtesy of Salient

And then you see Betty and Don breezily leaving a pile of fucking ruination behind, a heap of literal garbage in their apathetic wake. It’s a jarring dénouement to what looks to be a wholesome, pristine family activity.

It’s party time! These scenes are uncomfortable as all hell. Jimmy spots Betty, they make small talk and then shit gets mad real.

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image courtesy of Popcritics

After they’ve had a few, he cuts to the chase. “What do you think happened between the two of them?” Though simultaneously offended and mortified, Betty hears what Jimmy is saying. He plants the seed and confirms her nagging suspicion that Don is unfaithful to her. After all, they both know how to read the people they’ve married, and see how neither seem to be bothered that their respective spouses are nowhere in sight.

At the coat check, Don is getting ready to split and Jimmy delivers some shrill realness. Whether he’s pissed he doesn’t actually have a shot with Betty or that Don and Bobbie had a few bangs, we’ll never know.

Jimmy: “You know what I like about you? Nothing! But it’s okay. You got me everything I wanted. What did you get? Bobbie? Lots of people have had that.”

Don: “Excuse me?”

Jimmy: “Please. I laugh at you. I go home at night and I laugh at you.”

Don: “I don’t know what you think happened.”

Jimmy: “You. You wanna step out, fine. Go to a whore. You don’t screw another man’s wife. You’re garbage. And you know it.”

Don looks completely disgusted and offended, but also like he’s about to cry. He knows deep down that Jimmy ain’t wrong about him being garbage. As much as Don is a human dumpster fire who can be so incredibly antagonistic at times, I feel for him in this scene. Even though he excels at compartmentalising his life — keeping being the best bang in the city separate from being adored by his kids, has a great job but also fucks around — he can’t quite grasp that American Dream he’s scratching at. He’s flawed, like all of us, and he knows it.

Don and Betty drive home in stunned silence.

And natch, Betty voms in the new Cadillac.

Mad Men s2e6: Maidenform

“I went to sleep in my bra, and thought I was so-and-so.”

“Thank you for that.”

The Decemberists’ ‘The Infanta’ blares as this episode opens with our ladies getting ready for the day. 1962 means a fuckton of undergarments.

Duck’s ex-wife and kids pop into the office, with their gorgeous family dog Chauncey in tow. Their interaction is incredibly tense, and his ex-wife looks very on edge; she remarks that Duck isn’t good in the afternoons, referring to his alcoholism.. shots fired. The kids clearly aren’t thrilled to be there, and it all appears to be a formality. Duck is a weird guy, but maybe this will shed some light as to why.

His kids let it slip that their mother is remarrying, to some dude that Duck actually knows. He takes the news serenely and has positive and uplifting things to say to his kids, but you can see the panic and sadness in his eyes. On top of apologising and admitting to Don that he really fucked it up with American Airlines, his personal life is a complete mess.

Post-weekend after his kids leave, Duck runs off to sneak some booze in a back office; Chauncey’s adoring brown eyes are on him, and he puts the bottle down. Angry about everything that’s gone wrong, he walks Chauncey outside and closes the door behind him. He doesn’t look back as he barks at the glass doors. U G H poor Chauncey. Duck is obvi a powder keg, and things just are not going right.

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GOODNIGHT SWEET PRINCE

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Rewind back to Memorial Day weekend. Don and Betty are at the country club, and Don is chatting with a guy named Crab. Arthur spots Betty, and they have a short exchange; he feels uncomfortable and responsible since she changed her times at the stables to avoid him. She doesn’t confirm or deny but tries to be sunny about it, emphasising they should be friends. His hardon evaporates once Sally and Bobby run up to Betty and hug her, shrieking “mommy”. Betty looks strangely disappointed.

Similarly, Don is later disappointed to find out Bobbie has (adult) children. I’ll yap about their sweatbang in a bit.

At one point during the Memorial Day country club lunch, the host takes a moment to honour the veterans in the room, and Don stands up for his service in Korea. Sally looks up at him with nothing but sincere love and admiration in her eyes, and Don feels like a fraud, like trash, for just a moment. It stays with him and he splits during the bikini fashion show, making up an excuse about going to the office.

Feeling low and wanting to indulge that emotion, he rings Bobbie and she’s got plans with her son. Ah, shit. She remarks on the car accident, he doesn’t think about it at all. Time to head back to the house and drink milk alone. Anything seems better than being in that country club.

The Playtex campaign revolves around the idea that women fall into two categories; you’re either a Marilyn Monroe or a Jackie Kennedy. Men want them, women want to be them, et cetera, yadda yadda yadda. Apparently this all came to be in a booze-soaked after work sesh at a bar, and Peggy wonders why she wasn’t invited out with the guys. She gets left out of a casting session for Playtex as well, the last straw.

Peggy goes to Joan for advice on how to get the guys to invite her to shit, not knowing if she was maybe left off of a memo. “You’re in their country, learn to speak the language.” Joan has never had her job, nor has she wanted it, but she parts with some very Joan-esque advice: “You want to be taken seriously? Stop dressing like a little girl.” Go out and get that respect for yourself, like Bobbie Barrett told ya.

Pete trying to interact with Peggy in a playful manner is kind of hilarious. He’s working with her on Clearasil, and she’s very different from the girl she was just a couple of years ago. He tries to talk to her as if she’s some bookish loner, but that is definitely not the case. He thinks he’s got a great idea for a Clearasil tag, Peggy doesn’t agree. Pete tries to remind her that he’s in control of the account and the father in law connection — she’s not attempting to defy him, but she is on the creative team.

Post-Playtex presentation, Peggy overhears the guys are all planning on taking the clients out to the Tom Tom for some titties and cocktails. She puts on a new dress, gets her hair set and shows up on the sly – they’re all thrilled to see her, save for Pete Campbell, making a weird sourpuss face. Whatevs Pete, Pegs is in your world now.

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image courtesy of TheFW

Don is pissed that Betty chooses to wear a bikini to the pool, calling her desperate and wanting to be ogled. Yikes on bikes. In other news, he’s telling Bobbie to stop talking in a sexy context. Then she lets it slip that other ladies are talking about Don and his dick that’s been dragged across Times Square. Apparently he has a reputation, which is something of a nightmare. He’s not pleased, and leaves her tied to the headboard.

The next morning. Don wakes up to have a shave. Sally sits in the bathroom and watches him, admiring. “I’m not gonna talk, I don’t want you to cut yourself”.

He smiles at her, then catches his reflection and who he is. Don stares into the void for a Kubrick moment, entirely lost in self-loathing. He asks Sally to leave him alone; we focus on his image. What kind of man is he? He’s certainly not the real Don Draper. Contrasting with our ladies at the beginning of the episode, he can’t look at himself in the mirror anymore.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

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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image courtesy of Blogspot

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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image courtesy of Mashable

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 s2e3: The Benefactor

“I’ve seen the man sober. He’s not funny.”

Ahh, the first appearance of Jimmy Barrett! This acerbic comedian from hell is a pretty fun character. Right out of the gate, he roasts the planetary Mrs. Utz in the midst of filming an Utz commercial. He compares her to the Hindenburg, while Kenny and Freddy try to put out the fire. So mortifying.

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image courtesy of ONTD

Cut to Betty and Sara Beth at the stables, they’re talking with that weiner guy Arthur and his blandly attractive fiancée, Tara. Sara Beth is verklempt whereas Betty is more subtle about the attention she receives from him.

“You are so beautiful. So different than Tara.” #thingsmensay

Later on, Betty has a funny interaction with him. He unloads a lot of fragile man feelings about his rich fiancée, looks like a doofus in the process and makes her sound like a hellish brat.

Arthur: “You’re so profoundly sad.”

Betty: “No. It’s just, my people are Nordic.”

As an aside, how bizarre is horseback riding as a hobby? I mean, really. Sitting atop a massive animal while it runs round a dirt field and jumps over shit.. what?

Harry opens Kenny’s paycheck, turns out that mannequin is making bank! His wife talks him and his talents in the office way up, and he decides to take a risk with a pretty out there episode of The Defenders. Essentially this episode is Abortion: The Show. He decides to try a power move to show off his worth, playing an excerpt to the Belle Jolie people; he coins it as scandal that all women will tune into and a unique opportunity for their lipstick business.

Don: “Controversy means viewers. Women will find a way to watch this. Maybe just because they don’t want to get left out.

Elliott: “Is that true?”

Peggy: “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Belle Jolie doesn’t buy it, but the execs notice and are pleased. Harry gets his raise, and is made Head of the TV Department. Boss!

Since Don was at the movies seeing some French crap, he missed the Jimmy Barrett apocalypse. He gets the job of damage control, and begrudgingly agrees to take care of it. Partially due to that, and Lois’ radiating idiocy, and he gives her the axe.

“You do not cover for me.. you manage people’s expectations.”

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image courtesy of Fanpop

Enter Jimmy’s wife and manager, Bobbie Barrett. She’s an attractive, older, fast-talking gal; a woman who manages her husband and doesn’t take shit. “I like being bad and then going home and being good.”

After fooling around in his car during a hail storm with Bobbie like a flushed teenager, Don frantically washes his hands like a weirdo as soon as he gets in the door. He sits down at the table, and Betty gives him a lovely gift; she had his watch thoughtfully monogrammed. He looks at it from a million miles away, and ponders, “what is life?”.

Betty’s hands are shaking again. She’s visibly deflated that the fancy French dinner in the city is a work gig for Don, and she automatically asks which version he’d like her to be and without missing a beat, he replies shiny and bright; he needs a better half. This is humiliating, I really feel for Betty here.

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image courtesy of Mad Men Google Play

Dinner at Lutèce. Even though Jimmy’s down a quart, he immediately hits on Betty upon being seated. Don is a little horrified and tries moving things along via Bobbie, but she tries to swindle some extra cash (to the tune of $25 grand) for an apology.

Don forcefully fingerblasts Bobbie, wielding sex like a weapon just as she did with his vaguely unintentional car boner. His threats work, as it gets Jimmy to apologise at least. Yikes on bikes. “A guy like that must know how to make a charming apology, or he’d be dead.” Roger ain’t wrong.

Betty cries in the car on the way home, and spins it to Don as happiness that she’s a part of his life. She really is so profoundly sad.

“What is better than tears to make a girl ready to hear she can be beautiful?”