Mad Men s2e8: A Night To Remember

“She’s so much woman.”

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

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

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

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

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

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image courtesy of Blogspot

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

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

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

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

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

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image courtesy of The Golden Closet

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

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

“You embarrassed me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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image courtesy of Mad Men Wikia

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

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

“I don’t want to lose all this.”

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

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

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

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image courtesy of Tumblr/my own idiocy

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Mad Men s2e4: Three Sundays

“He makes everything sound like Christmas.”

Man, do I love this episode. It’s cleverly structured over the course of three Lenten Sundays in April of 1962; Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday.

Sunday #1: Passion Sunday

Ahh, the appearance of Colin Hanks’ priest guy, or as I like to call him, Priest J. God.

Peggy is hungover during mass in Flatbush, and talks with new priest in town Father Gill as she’s getting some air. Then there’s one of those bizarre Catholic post-church luncheons where her mother and a rando lady from the ‘hood obsess over Father Gill at Anita’s house. He’s taken a liking to Peggy, even asking for her copywriting help with his sermons. Good thing Vatican II is around the corner and mass won’t be 99% Latin soon..

Cut to the ~sacrilegious~ Draper house, with Don and Betty awakening to the phone ringing at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. The kids barge in as they’re about to have a bang.

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image courtesy of Fanpop

Afterwards in the lounge, Betty is reading a copy of the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story Babylon Revisited. Coming back to survey the ruins of a once extravagant life during a crisis is speaking to Betty on some level, or perhaps Arthur asking her if she’d read a different Fitzgerald story stuck in her mind.

Don and Betty are relaxing in the lounge together, listening to dreamy Perry Como croon on the hi-fi. Bobby fucks with the stereo, Don barely looking up from his paper, and we’re back to Betty talking about how Don isn’t harsh enough on Bobby and doesn’t take responsibility. Frustration. They change the conversation by dancing to the song, enormous glasses of vodka with a thimble of tomato juice in hand.

Roger and Mona are out to dinner with their daughter Margaret, and her vaguely cro-magnon fiancé Brooks. They’re talking about the wedding, adamantly disinterested in a big wedding until Mona reminisces about her own wedding to Roger and how wonderful and perfect it all was. Roger is staring into space.

End of the evening at the Draper house, and they’re seemingly having a nice family moment.. until Bobby breaks the bed by jumping on it. Betty stiffens, pissed off, and tells the kids to go to bed, but it’s only 7:30pm.. ay yi yi. Grilled cheese all around then. Don does fuckall. More frustration on Betty’s end of things.

It’s Monday, and Kenny and Pete are entertaining some bald Marty when high class hooker Vicky strolls in. Roger pops over and is exceedingly charmed by Marty’s obvious Not Wife. The wheels are turning.

Bobbie pops in to Don’s office, talking about selling a Candid Camera knockoff called Grin and Barrett. As the deadbolt clicks into place, Joan rolls an eye.

The minute Don gets in the door at home, Betty lets him know that Bobby broke the hi-fi and lied about it to her face. She makes an assumption that his own father hitting him made him the man he is today. Betty is expecting Don to punish him in some meaningful (physical) way, but instead he delivers the much scarier Stern Dad Treatment. He knows Bobby’s aware he did something wrong, there are other ways to go about things.

“Mommy says you broke the hi-fi. I believe her. Don’t do that again.”

“..I won’t.”

Sunday #2: Palm Sunday

Peggy is at mass again, and the Drapers are having tasty pancakes! Duck phones the house, yapping about Shel Keneally and American Airlines, as Bobby tries to put his mouth on the goddamned griddle and shrieks. Betty is pissed at Don, he says he’s got to go into the office. Since Bobby has to hit up the ER, he’s got to take Sally with him. More frustration.

Father Gill followed Peggy’s advice, her mother is glowing and saying that it felt like he was only talking to her. “So nice he’s taken an interest in her!” Anita is pissed off and resentful that Peggy does whatever she feels like, and expresses this to her mother who ignores her complaining. Woof.

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image courtesy of Maxim

At the office, everyone is blinded by Pete’s tiny shorts. Duck is asking about Don’s plan for American Airlines, they’re set to present on Good Friday. Don is uncertain, everyone is rattled.

Not Roger, as he rang up Vicky for a night out. Apparently this is his first hooker since he was in the Navy! I’ll be damned. “Don’t believe what they say. No one dies doing this.”

Sally is wandering around the office, not quite sure what to do. She finds a photo of Kinsey’s girlfriend Sheila, asks Kinsey, “is that your maid?” Y I K E S

Don delivers an iconic Don Draper Speech, where most of Sterling Cooper is left wondering what exactly in the fresh hell he’s on about..

“American Airlines is not about the past any more than America is. Ask not about Cuba, ask not about the bomb.. we’re going to the moon. Throw everything out.”

(“Everything??”)

“There is no such thing as American history, only a frontier. That crash happened to somebody else. It’s not about apologies for what happened, it’s about those seven men in the room on Friday and what airline they are going to be running.”

(“So.. what does that mean?”)

“Let’s pretend we know what 1963 looks like.”

Sunday #3: Easter Sunday

Good Friday, the American Airlines presentation. Everyone is in their Sunday Best (ha ha ha), ready to present and totally fried.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

And then, the gunshot: “Shel Keneally was fired this morning.”

Anita hits up confession, knowing that Father Gill will be on the other side. She slyly throws shade at Peggy, expressing anger at her little sister, yapping about her child out of wedlock. “She acts like it didn’t even happen, and I hate her for it”. Anita feels invisible next to Peggy and all she’s doing and accomplishing, not understanding that Peggy is trying to move past all of this and live her damn life. Father Gill reminds her that she needs to forgive her sister, and that she loves her. Catholicism, man.

Cut back to Sterling Cooper; American Airlines meeting is over, all the shrimp is gone. Everyone looks both defeated and vexed. Don is pissed off that they jettisoned Mohawk Airlines for that wink from American, but Roger in his post-hooker glow rhapsodises that the chase is worth it. Old business is just old business.

Bobby is playing with a toy robot at the dinner table, and after being prodded by Betty Don’s finally had enough and throws the goddamn thing at the wall. Everyone is startled, Betty included. Betty tears into him, saying that he doesn’t take responsibility for raising the kids, that she’s stuck there all day with them, outnumbered. Betty insists that he gets to come home and be the hero, but Don battles all day with bullshit at the office. She shoves him and he shoves her back and immediately regrets it. No good.

Don has a bonding moment with Bobby. He apologises for getting mad and overreacting, and they talk about Don’s terrible father, his affinity for that perfume-y violet candy in the beautiful purple and silver packaging. It’s a nice moment, and they hug. Sometimes Don has flashes of good parenting. He tries explaining a bit of his upbringing to Betty, who is obviously uninformed. Unfortunately he wields this information in a way that’s manipulative, making her feel like she’s in the wrong.

“He’s a little kid. My father beat the hell out of me. All it did was make me fantasise about the day I could murder him.”

“I didn’t know that..”

“..and I wasn’t half as good as Bobby.”

Don and Betty are a couple that lack true intimacy in its purest form. There’s a faint flicker when they have that exchange, but it’s not enough. Part of the idea of marriage to me, is that you swap places emotionally, you let that person into your life and your mind so they can understand you and vice versa. Neither Don nor Betty can do that because neither one has any clue how to let the other in, and deep tensions are created, festering over the years. The banging around, the accusations, constant boozing, fights with shoving and other bizarre behaviours are propelled by this stalemate.

Easter Sunday after mass, Peggy is standing around with the other ladies watching kids gather up Easter eggs from the lawn. Father Gil hands her a Judgement Egg, stating that it’s for “the little one”. DAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN

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image courtesy of Tumblr

.. And now, the word “Sunday” has lost all meaning to me.

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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image courtesy of Imgur

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.