Mad Men s4e5: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

“Christ on a cracker, where do you get off??”

This is one of those episodes that seems light on the outside, but there’s so much to dig into. Oof. Realistically, just how long can you hold onto a grudge? How long can you continue to define yourself by something that happened literal ages ago? How long can you use those prehistoric events to justify trash actions today? What does that garbage do to a person? Taking a closer look at Roger and Betty in this episode, this sort of shit is all on display.

Let’s take a moment for Miss Blankenship, because I love her in general, but also because she’s an excellent foil to Don. The guy treats people so fucking poorly sometimes; showing him tolerating generally harmless gaffes by this hapless bat he’s been saddled with humanises him a touch. He can’t just fuck off to California every week. Miss Blankenship’s weird hidden talent of transforming the guy from Don to Dick for a hot second is pretty great.

Roger Sterling has always been shown as a guy who doesn’t take life (or himself) too seriously, the life of the party and the guy who knows everyone and loves to schmooze and joke around. Apparently, the notable exception to this rule is World War II. When Pete brings up that he’s landed a meeting with Honda, a Japanese company, it’s meltdown city. Roger wholly rejects the idea of doing business with them, and almost fucks their chances entirely by acting like an asshole in the meeting to boot. Awkward.

don_bert

image courtesy of Tumblr

But hey, it’s nice to see Bert Cooper take an active role in something besides preserving the carpets. His extremely intimate knowledge of Japanese culture and customs contrasted well with his confusion over the march on Selma.. “They got what they wanted. Why aren’t they happy?”

There are tons o’reasons a guy like Cooper would grow fascinated with Japanese culture while generally shrugging off vast portions of his own culture. Remember that Cooper is an Objectivist; a large part of it may be due to that adoration of authority and order at the centre of so many of those guys and gals.

Through that, a theme of the episode emerges as well; utter goddamned frustration when someone is unable to force one’s will onto the people around them. Roger hits the fucking ceiling when Don and Pete decide to follow the Honda exec’s orders and not his own. Betty is absolutely livid when Sally asserts her independence and cries out for attention by cutting her own hair. Don is pissed when dear sweet Teddy Chaough grabs control of the narrative Don is building with SCDP.

That confrontation with Roger and Pete is intense, with Don in the middle. It was fun to see Pete echo Don’s sentiment from the s3 finale in this episode: “The rest of us are trying to build something.” Don knows Pete’s in the right. Lashing out and “wrapping himself in the flag” of Lucky Strike providing most of the company’s cashflow, Roger wants to cut Pete down for bringing in new business and shifting the importance off of him ever so slightly.

He’s gonna have to get over that bullshit real quick if he wants to keep the lights on.

betty_dredna

image courtesy of NYTimes

As Betty finds a shrink for Sally, she connects with Dr. Edna– an older woman who obviously sees through Betty’s façade. Betty smiling at the dollhouse says so much; here’s this perfect little life in this perfect little house, a husband and wife with 3 kids, a life that she still yearns for on some level though she knows it ain’t real.

Sally craves her father’s attention desperately, and has no clue how to get it; and she probably needs attention in general, to be acknowledged. What Sally feels matters, and Betty is perhaps starting to get that; the effect of the divorce on her matters. Sadly, Betty was more of a prize to her mother who paraded her for show; she’s still got a lot of anger and resentment there. Slowly but surely, Betty is trying to evolve.

henrybetty

image courtesy of AVClub

At home, Henry is helping her with her transformation, but the vibe is sort of bizarre. Sometimes his interactions with her sound more father/daughter than husband/wife. When he helped settle the fight between Betty and Sally it sounded as if he could have been talking with two siblings about getting along. It’s almost as if Henry has stepped in as a faux father to the whole bunch, Betty included.

While many dislike Betty as a character, she is such a significant illustration of the consequences of the position women were put in at the time. I’ve written about it before, but with no real options open to Betty other than becoming a mother and housewife, she (obvi not happy with either) turns bitter and spiteful as she struggles under those limitations. Remember how free and herself she felt in Rome? Sadly, not reality.

To this point, Betty has not been able to garner a foothold in any world outside the home that has been slowly suffocating her. It’s way too easy to blame her for not going out and forging her own shit, but we’re in a super different world today; the constraints on her along with so many women of that time are vast. The expectations for ladies like Betty are super fucking problematic and sky-high, and the people around her get hurt as a result when she lashes out against said expectations.

Similarly clueless on how to help Sally, Don reveals a tiny bit about his situation to Dr. Faye Miller.

“Well, I can’t say there’s any evidence to support this, but I’m pretty sure that if you love her and she knows it, she’ll be fine.”

And that kitchen discussion between Don and Faye is damned impressive to watch. Take a look at the timing of when Don chooses to open up to her.. he offers absolutely fuckall about his personal life until he’s poked into hers, and discovered that she’s living her own faux life with the fauxgagement ring to discourage dudes from hitting on her.

donfaye_kitchen

image courtesy of MadMenWikia

And Don is in enough of a personal crisis that even he needs to talk to someone about it, even if he doesn’t directly come out and say what’s happening to a T. He wants to be a good father to his kids, but has no earthly idea where to start. Shit’s complicated. But ironically, this is the most on point we’ve seen Don this season to date, craftily out-maneuvering indecently handsome Ted Chaough of CGC for the Honda account. Capery and all!

“Please tell me I missed everything.”

peggy_motorcycle

image courtesy of Junkee

Mad Men s3e13: Shut the Door. Have a Seat.

“You come and go as you please.”

Here we are at the Season 3 finale, and it’s a fucking good one. Right out of the gate, Conrad Hilton lets the A-bomb drop that PPL and Sterling Cooper are being sold off to McCann Erickson effective January 1st, and Don ain’t pleased. Who the hell wants to be a cog in the massive McCann machine? Looks like Jim Hobart is back to haunt Don.

don_s3finale

image courtesy of Bustle

This episode is peppered with flashbacks to his childhood, where the farm isn’t doing well. Archie is attempting to make a deal, and outright refuses to settle for less than he’s worth; he splits from the co-op he’s involved with, telling everyone to get the fuck out. Looks like Archie and Don have something in common after all.

Urging Archie to sell his crop for fuckall, he angrily complies with Abigail’s wishes. As he’s getting set to give it all away, he’s killed by that horse as Dick watches on in the night; should’ve stuck with your guns, Arch.

As shit falls apart, Don scrambles for an idea to make it all come back together again. He’s not gonna end up like his father. Ironically (or probably not), Don seems to be at his professional best when his personal life is a complete mess. He’s equal parts intensely focused, enthusiastic, and pissed off, abuzz with anxiety; he wants to build something of his own and pleads his case to Bert and Roger.

“You’re not good at relationships because you don’t value them.”

Shots fired from Roger, and he ain’t wrong; Don is shook. He admits defeat with Hilton, he’s certainly no account man; Don needs Roger and his talents along for the ride. It’s revealed that he does, however, value his relationship with Roger. Bert (taking a page out of Lane’s book) seals the deal for Roger to join up with them via a vanity jab.

At home, Betty bluntly lets Don know she’s made an appointment with a divorce lawyer. Trying to minimise her feelings again, he treats her like a child by saying she’s had a rough couple of weeks. Super slimy shit, Denial Don.

Don: “Forget it. I’m not gonna let you break up this family.”

Betty: “I didn’t break up this family..”

Get this motherfucker to the Burn Unit.

Betty and Henry meet with his attorney, who reveals a magical divorce loophole.. looks like they’re headed to Reno to establish residency and get on with it. Henry, in order to not drag things out, insists that he’ll provide all she could ever need in life; he doesn’t want her owing Don anything. An incredibly kind gesture, one that Betty is not accustomed to.

A clean break.. and then drunk Roger lets the fucking bomb slip re:Betty’s new sidepiece and Don ain’t pleased. He’s drunk, pissed off, and truly nasty to her; they both know he crossed the line. Ugly shit. Marriage over.

Lane is let into the conversation, and doesn’t yet know that PPL is being sold along with Sterling Cooper. Incredulous, he rings London to find out what’s up. Saint John confirms that PPL is indeed being sold as well, and realising that he would be left to flap in the wind, Lane is ticked that he hasn’t been considered beyond a cog in a gigantic machine who will statically “prove himself irreplaceable”. Man, fuck PPL.

In a moment of great storytelling, Lane’s indubitable authority to fire anyone at the firm was set up way back in the season premiere. And this is the lightbulb moment, the one Don was trying to crack.. in one fell swoop, Lane can sever Don, Roger and Bert’s contracts by giving them the sack. There’s a partnership on the table for Lane, and the negotiations begin.

“Well, it’s official: Friday, December 13th, 1963.. four guys shot their own legs off.”

partnersvote

image courtesy of IGN

And thus Don pulls off another hobo move, a truly great escape.. by managing to trash the contract that’s vexed him.

donrogerpete_s3finale

image courtesy of Tumblr

Time to snag some accounts, which means it’s time to see faux sick Pete Campbell at home. Admitting that Pete has been ahead of the curve on loads of things, and that he’s a valuable person to have on board for the new firm moving forward, Don and Roger implore him to come along for the ride; Pete agrees, finally receiving the recognition he’s wanted since the pilot. Like everyone else on earth, Pete wants to feel valued.

bettydon_divorce

image courtesy of Vulture

Before getting everything firmly in motion for the new agency that weekend, Don and Betty have to tell Sally and Bobby about their divorce. It does not go well, with Don attempting one last time to shape the narrative to his own reality, saying it’s only temporary. “Nobody wants to do this.” No shit, Don.

Completely failing at getting Peggy to jump ship and go with him on Friday, Don follows up at her apartment. The first time around he essentially ordered her to come with; he’s been such an aloof haughty dick to her this whole goddamned season, it’s not shocking that she turned him down. Having that horrendous conversation with his kids humbles him just a touch, and it dawns on him that he doesn’t want to see important people in his life slowly slip away because of his own shit actions.

“Do you know why I don’t want to go to McCann?”

“Because you can’t work for anyone else.”

“No.. because there are people out there who buy things, people like you and me, and then something happened. Something terrible.. and the way that they saw themselves is gone. And no one understands that.. but you do. And that’s very valuable.”

“Is it?”

“With you, or without you, I am moving on. And I don’t know if I can do it alone.. will you help me?”

“What if I say no? You’ll never speak to me again..”

“No. I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you.”

That’s how you get Peggy on board, Don. Gotta be genuine. He knows they are alike; they’ve both had experiences that set them apart from the crowd, that make them see the world a little differently as a result. He understands and appreciates Peggy, and he manages to salvage their relationship in that moment.

Watching all of this come together is nothing short of magic. Getting the old team back together (with Joan!), albeit pared down, is done in a series of jazzy sequences like those of a good heist flick. This entire season has shown some very strained relationships at Sterling Cooper, making this reunion and these character reconciliations have real weight.

As everyone sits down to sandwiches via Trudy, Don rings Betty; the tone is entirely different from the last time they talked. He’s apologetic and an actual human person, emphasising that he won’t fight her in the divorce. He hopes she gets what she’s always wanted, the fulfillment and emotional support he completely failed to provide. Looks like that jab about valuing relationships really sank in.

“Good morning! Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, how may I help you?”

Will the future be better than the past like Roy Orbison croons in the closing scenes? Here’s hoping. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will assuredly be a different agency with a forward-thinking point of view; after all, it’s a pivotal moment of the 1960s.. it’s time to get on with it.

scdp_day1

image courtesy of Tumblr

That’s all for 2016 here! I’ll resume with Season 4 posts in the New Year.. and here’s hoping 2017 is less of a fucking dumpster fire. Check out what I’ve written here Mad Men-wise thus far.. and thank you all so much for reading! Happy Christmas, Festivus, Hanukkah, and all that junk.

“Very good! Happy Christmas!”

Mad Men s2e12: The Mountain King

“The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.”

One of my favourite episodes right here, my god. Roger and Bert wrestle for a bit over the PPL merger, but come to an agreement. Meanwhile, Don disembarks from a San Pedro bus, the Pacific Ocean greeting him. Where in the fresh hell is he going?

Betty catches Sally smoking a cigarette in the bathroom! The horror.

sallysmokes

image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

Natch, Betty is more concerned with Sally burning the house to the ground rather than the fact that she was, you know, smoking an actual cigarette, but whatevs. Locking her in the closet as a temporary punishment, Sally shrieks that Don left because of Betty, because she’s “stupid and mean”. She doesn’t understand why Betty won’t let him come home. Looks like the idea of separation without telling the kids isn’t so hot, Bets. Kids are smart little people, they catch on to things..

Aaaaand, flashback! Picking right up from The Gold Violin, Don is at his shit apartment with the blonde woman; he’s been found out. She’s his wife — the real Don Draper’s wife, that is. He quietly tells her that he died, and that he’s sorry. That they got mixed up at the hospital, “I just had to get out of there”. He introduces himself as Dick Whitman, and she is Anna Draper.

“Well Dick, what do I do with you?”

Back to the present day, a door opens and that same blonde woman is behind it. Looks like he’s visiting Anna in California! Some weird kid is in the midst of a piano lesson at her house, rapping away at ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. Don introduces himself as Dick, and right away, seems different than the guy we know from New York. Calmer, happier, a little more genuine.

don_anna_piano

image courtesy of Fanpop

Almost immediately you can tell that he and Anna share a deep bond. She’s loving and sincere to him; Don is shaken and sad, not his usual bulletproof exterior. Unlike his home in Ossining, here he is welcome to have a shower and a lie down. No judgement from Anna’s end of things.

Infuriated that Trudy booked a meeting with an adoption agency behind his back (while receiving praise from Hildy), Pete loses his whole entire goddamned mind when he gets home. They have a yelling argument about it, he screams out “HELL’S BELLS, TRUDY!” .. And then he launches a fucking whole roast chicken dinner out the window!

hellsbells

image courtesy of Giphy

Who on God’s Green Earth does that?? What a complete fucking lunatic. Iconic Pete Campbell outrage.

Collateral damage from the dinnerpocalypse, Pete’s father in law buzzes him at the office to let him know Clearasil is now under review. Pete ain’t happy about it and can see right through him, totally flies off the handle at Tom, tells him to pull Clearasil anyway. Probably for the best.

Adding to the “Greg is an Asshole Manbaby” report, he gets all butthurt that Joan tries to take control and give him a good bang. Ugh. It’s also implied that her sexual history is a problem for him, double ugh. More on that to come.

Post-shower and nap, Don and Anna chat on the porch. Anna is pretty much the only link to his past at this point, to who he really is. Don can be himself around her, let his guard down. He can say things he would never say to Betty. He can admit fault, he can talk about how he really feels without fear of tarnishing the image he’s so carefully curated.

don-porch

image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

Anna has always felt that they met so that both their lives could be better, which is a lovely way to look at things when it could have so easily gone south. At one point, Don is fixing a chair for her, unlike the one he failed to fix at Casa Draper.. which Betty ended up destroying. And it’s revealed that Don mailed that copy of Meditations in an Emergency to her as well.

“I have been watching my life, it’s right there.. and I keep scratching at it, trying to get into it. I can’t.”

Don doesn’t know who he’s supposed to be or what he’s supposed to do, or how to mend things; so he wanders.

Flashback to the Christmas Eve right after Don and Betty met, Don is in California with Anna. Don speaks of Betty in the lavender haze, talking about how she’s so beautiful and happy. “I just like the way she laughs, and the way she looks at me.” He expresses gratitude to Anna, how if it weren’t for Don, his entire life in New York wouldn’t be possible.

Anna reminds him that meeting Betty and having a family is a chance at a whole new life, a really positive thing for him. She is over the moon that he’s found love, but she’s got to grant him a divorce first.. just a minor snag! Ha.

Peggy’s Catholicism-infused Popsicle pitch goes perfectly. Virgin Mary-esque artwork depicts a holy mother granting a snapped popsicle to her kids, two equal pieces, love, all that jazz. She knocks the pitch out of the park. Don who?

Betty rings Sara Beth to yammer about Sally, but really she’s ringing about her pot stirring. She brings up the stables, and their conversation turns to Arthur. Acting as a confidante, Betty prods her for more information, then turns it on SB playing the morality card when she pieces together that they had a bang. SB is devastated that Arthur is set to be married that weekend and is absolutely sick over it; Betty relishes in it a tiny bit.

“No one made you sleep with him!”

DAAAAAAAMN. Way harsh, Bets. Guess that friendship’s over!

The gargantuan Xerox machine has finally outstayed its welcome as Peggy’s officemate. Time for something better. At the end of the day, Peggy asks for Roger’s blessing to move into Freddy’s now vacant office, feeling deserving of it due to the Popsicle success. “You young women are very aggressive. There are 30 men out there who didn’t have the balls to ask me!” Amazing. Her wish is granted! Moving on up.

Joan’s fiancé Greg meets her in the office to head off for a dinner date. Vexed by Roger knowing that she doesn’t like French food, he strangely feels the need to assert himself as the alpha male in her life, and the one in control of their relationship. And in one of the most upsetting and shocking scenes on this show, he pins Joan down to the floor of Don’s office and has his way with her right there on the carpet very much against her wishes.

She tells him very clearly to stop, but he rests on the idea of “this is what you wanted, right?”, referring to the other night, showing her who’s really in charge. Gross. As she submits and stares off into the distance, it’s utterly chilling. Where is that perfect life she had envisioned for herself, marrying a doctor and living happily ever after? Greg is seriously so fucking vile, a truly subhuman trash heap. After she spruces up, they head off to dinner, roses forgotten on her desk.

Don yaps with some car guys, expressing an interest in building custom cars, working with them. There’s something about that all-American blue collar life that magnetically draws him, and he’s flirting with staying out in California. Maybe he can reboot his life out there. He introduced himself as Dick, trying it on for size. Again, his demeanour is different than the Don we’ve seen, he’s more at ease; a happier guy on the outside.

Kinsey is back, turns out Sheila dropped him a few days into their trip down south, shocking nobody. He and the junior execs are all pissed about Peggy’s new office, especially Harry. Tough titties, Harry.

As Peggy is moving into her new office, Joan lets her know the nameplate will be changed out ASAP, and chats about her wedding a bit. She seems envious as Peggy is moving up the ladder, and Peggy seems wistful that Joan is getting married.

In Ossining, Betty tries to have a more adult conversation with Sally about what’s going on at home. She speaks to her simply, that she and Don are “having.. a disagreement. And he went away.” Betty admits to Sally that she doesn’t know where Don went, which is pretty unsettling. Just then, Betty notices she’s lady bleeding.. not good.

Congratulating Peggy on her new digs, Pete confides in her that Don disappeared in Los Angeles. She expresses worry while Pete wants to talk shit, which is pretty typical. I feel like she reminds him to be less of a dick sometimes. Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

don_ocean

image courtesy of EW

And there goes Don, ruining a pair of khakis and a perfectly good leather belt in the Pacific Ocean.

“Let Roger Sterling have what he always wanted– to die in the arms of a 20-year old.”

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.

awkwardpuzzle

image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

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.”

bettyviola

image courtesy of Coco hits NY

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.

berthappybirthday

image courtesy of Imgur/my own nonsense

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.

bettyandglen

image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

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.

dononplane

image courtesy of Fanpop

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

Mad Men s1e2: Ladies’ Room

“What do women want?

Any excuse to get closer.”

ladiesroom-boobs

image courtesy of my Insta

Ah, the ladies’ room.. the place where ladies go for some Real Talk(TM), or to cry uncontrollably because of Feelings(TM). Literally nothing else happens in a ladies’ rooms, guys. This is the first episode where we get to know Betty, and while she looks the part of pristine Stepford perfection on the outside, there’s a glimpse to her depth and sadness within.

At the forefront of Betty’s anxiety is her hands, something that’s apparently been going on for awhile. Her mother died recently, and it’s implied that they had a complicated relationship. Though a little on the nose, her shaky hands are the physical manifestation of her internal conflict. Seeing the actual imperfect reality versus what she was led to believe her adult life would be like if she ticked those boxes – handsome husband, house in the suburbs, 2 kids. This is what she was told would make her happy, yet here we are. Hello, 1960!

More than anything, she comes off as deeply disappointed with how mundane it all is. Betty’s essentially been stranded on an island at arm’s length by Don, no wonder she’s disillusioned. He’s a man infatuated with aesthetics, so this Perfect Wife(TM), home and kids are enough and he doesn’t seem to give it another thought.

Betty truly wants to know Don, to really understand who he is but she has no idea where to start. “Who’s in there?”

donbetty_inbed

image courtesy of Imgur

So, Betty knows approximately fuckall about her husband’s childhood and past, and Don dismisses it as being in the same realm as “politics religion or sex: why talk about it?” This sounds just as completely outlandish as you think it would, my god.

She’s living in this suburban small town world accompanied by Francine throwing shade at Helen Bishop, the new divorcée on the block. Like Helen, Betty doesn’t truly fit here, but she’s been told that she is supposed to want these things, this life. Don expresses to her that she’s got all these things, how could she possibly be unhappy? He’s trying to practice what he preaches, but he must know it’s hollow as hell.

Weirdly, Betty and Don have more in common in that arena than they’ll ever know. Betty will battle with what’s expected of her versus what she really wants and who she is, an omnipresent theme in the rest of the series.

At the office, Don is trying to connect with Roger and gain some insight. Who could not be happy with all this? Relying on material things, “it’s just more happiness”, and Roger ends the conversation right there.

“What do women want?”

“Who cares?”

The closest Don gets is when he’s in a meeting about spray deodorant. After all, Don speaks most candidly via copy more than he ever would directly to Betty.

“What if they want something else, inside that mysterious wish we’re ignoring?”

 Hey-o, thanks for reading! More next week.