Mad Men s4e7: The Suitcase

“My uncle Mac said he had a suitcase that was always packed. He said, ‘A man has to be ready to go at any moment’..

“..Jesus, maybe it was a metaphor.”

Where do I even begin with The Suitcase? What can I say? It’s probably my favourite episode of the entire series, one of the best for sure. I’ve got a lotta feelings here.

In life, who truly knows us? Sure, you can be close with people, but you’re never inside their head. What happens when the last vestige of who you really are through a human connection fades away? The hell do you do next?

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Peggy and Don both terrified of the phone and what news is on the other end. Stephanie rings and leaves word from California, and Don knows it’s not good news. Picking up the phone, he hesitates.. and picks up a bottle instead. Here we go.

It’s Peggy’s birthday, and drunkass Duck is on the line, begging her to meet up and throw him a bone via manipulation.

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I SEE YOU.

Megan and Peggy have a fun interaction in the ladies’ room; the forward thinking Megan compliments her for being 26, lets her know that she’s doing a-OK in life. Whereas Trudy emphasises that “26 is still very young”, reminding her that she’s unmarried and without some baby. Woof. As Trudy goes off with Pete to enjoy her evening, Peggy goes back to Don’s office to wrap up. Or maybe not.

Bland boyf Mark is surprising Peggy with dinner at a fancy Italian place.. and has invited her mother, sister/brother in law, and roomate along for the ride. Equal parts awkward and infuriating, Peggy finds out as she delays the dinner repeatedly to help out with Samsonite. When he reveals he’s there with all those people she can’t really stand, Peggy is enraged. 

Has this guy learned a good goddamned thing about her during their time together? Not bloody likely, but it’s also unclear what she’s offered; after all, she was doing a virgin impression for him at first. They break up over the phone.

I feel like I understand the aspect of Peggy that is a little tonedeaf to other people’s feelings, because I can certainly be like that in life. Pegs is whip-smart and can be very kind and empathetic, but she can also be oblivious, especially when it comes to other people’s subtle reactions. It’s clear that she wants marriage and a family in the abstract, as these things she Should Want(TM), but the actual realities of being in a long-term relationship are too much for her. She feels more drawn to her career and the office than she does to Mark, and let’s be real, Mark sorta blows anyway.

Peggy knows Don at least as well as Anna, and I think just a shade better. The details of how Dick became Don don’t matter as much as who Don is now due to all those deets. She’s seen him at his best and at his worst. I don’t think Anna ever really did, since California was Don’s New York palate cleanser. On the west coast, he was neither Dick nor Don, but sort of a hybrid; the person he might have been if not for the intense self-loathing and running. And I’d say it’s a lot harder to know and love Don in New York than that vaguely breezy California guy. But Peggy does.

And we’re right back to The Hobo Code, with Uncle Mac’s escapist advice ringing true to Don. But come on.. you can’t run forever, as much as you may try. Your problems will follow you everywhere if you don’t face that shit head on and fucking deal with it. It’ll hit you all at once.

Both Don and Peggy have painful memories that bubble up in mental reruns, things they’d rather forget, just like the rest of us. It’s revealed that Peggy witnessed her father’s violent death, just as Don did. Two people who know each other exceedingly well can articulate entire paragraphs by saying very few words. They sort of dance around what they’re trying to say, but the other person understands it intrinsically.

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Peggy lets him know that her mother thinks he’s the one who knocked her up in Season 1, since he was the only person who visited her in the hospital. People make fun of her at work, assuming she got the damn job by banging Don. Humiliating and sad, but Peggy persists. The evolution of Peggy and her creative career is absolutely fascinating. And it’s worth noting that Don is interesting because of his past, but Peggy is interesting because of her future.

Meanwhile, Drunk Duck pops to SCDP to take a shit in Roger Sterling’s office, mistaking it for Don’s like a truly gross maniac. In one of the best drunk sad sack man fights ever (spurred by Duck referring to Peggy as a whore), Don badly throws a punch and Duck then throws him to the ground, boasting about killing a bunch of people in Okinawa. Jesus Christ dude, simmer down.. why you gotta make it weird?

Apologising for Duck’s behaviour and about how long ago all that gross sex was, Don doesn’t judge. He gets it.

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Waiting to ring Stephanie and get confirmation of what he knows must’ve gone down is killing him. Anna is such a special person to him, and Peggy can see he’s clearly in pain. The thing is, Anna needed Don/Dick at that point in her life. Her husband was dead, and she was alone.. and then she tracks down Don and he’s just as alone and in need of a connection. It would take a far more cynical person than Anna to turn him in once she heard him out all those years ago.

I think what’s so great about Don and Anna’s friendship is that it’s a mutual relationship where each is able to get something from the other and give something in return. A sense of comfort, no judgement, ease. Being faced with the reality of these things disappearing in her death is haunting Don.

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With Peggy asleep beside him on the couch, a vision of Anna appears to Don. She’s holding a suitcase and smiling, radiant, as she walks off. Don finally rings Stephanie around 5.30a, confirming the worst; Anna passed away in the night. Putting the phone down and making level eye contact with Peggy, he wholly falls apart, sobbing.

“What happened?”

“Somebody very important to me died.”

“Who?”

“The only person in the world who really knew me.”

“That’s not true.”

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As the morning stretches on, SCDP is back to the usual bustle. As he shows her an idea for Samsonite, Don holds Peggy’s hand for a beat, subtly acknowledging their night. The gesture alone speaks volumes as they both take a moment.

“I know what I’m supposed to want, but it just never feels right.. or as important as anything in that office.”

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Mad Men s3e12: The Grown-Ups

“Just because she went to India doesn’t mean she’s not an idiot.”

Ah Pete, let down again, in a frigid office nonetheless. Kenny and his haircut beat him out as the Head of Accounts position, but Lane remains optimistic. Time to start branching out, I guess. Trudy’s gentle coaching is great, you can tell she’s genuinely on his side. She really supports Pete, and in spite of his stepping out and other entirely absurd qualities, I think they make a great team. She really loves that totally ridiculous man.

Margaret is about to get married, and is having a meltdown over Jane’s overextending faux niceness in the form of some super fucking expensive earrings. Mona agrees with her (along with Roger), but doesn’t think that the wedding should be canned; Roger and Mona work really well in sync to get Margaret to fall in line and stop acting like a brat.

Speaking of which.. once Roger tells Jane to back off, she responds by locking herself in the bathroom, mid-tantrum. Real mah-toor.

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ah, shit. || image courtesy of Tumblr

Awaiting Pegs for a lunchtime fuck, the news begins to break re:JFK. Class act through and through, Duck unplugs the TV. I didn’t think he could top leaving Chauncey out to roost in Maidenform, but I guess I was wrong..

In the afterglow, he plugs the TV back in to peep the news; Peggy is horrified not only at the fact that the president is dead, but also that he clearly knew what was up but went on with the bang anyway. Gross.

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ah, shit part deux. || image courtesy of JimCofer

Not surprisingly, Margaret’s wedding the next day is a sparsely attended disaster, though Roger keeps spirits up with a good speech and staying as positive as possible, turning the day to the two young people in love right in front of him. Seeing Henry from across the room, Betty is transfixed; on the dancefloor, Don pines for his wife’s attention, but it’s painfully obvious that Betty has checked out. It’s super sad that this is the most we’ve ever seen Don covet his own wife, something she’s yearned for since the pilot, and right now she couldn’t be more indifferent to his existence.

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Post-wedding, Roger rings Joan, with a drunk Jane snoring in the background. At the end of the day, he still wants to chat with Joan which is sort of sweet. Sometimes you just want to talk to someone who gets it.

Roger: “Nobody else is saying the right thing about this.”

Joan: “My god, you’re really upset..”

Roger: “What’s that about?”

Joan: “Because there’s nothing funny about this.”

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Aaaaand, Lee Harvey Oswald has been shot and killed. Can you imagine how terrifying that must have been to see unfold on live television? This is a time before the ubiquitous 24-hour news cycle we’re familiar with today. Betty’s shrieking fear is tangible, and she pushes Don away on her way out of the den. Sneaking off for a drive to see Henry,  she appears significantly calmer as she explains she couldn’t stand to stay in that house. And hey, it turns out Henry wants to marry her. That escalated quickly.. “If you search your heart.. you’ll know that I can make you happy.”

It’s notable that Henry can easily make her smile in this uncertain time. It’s a simple gesture, that he’d love to take her to a cinema somewhere that’s playing her favourite movie; Singin’ in the Rain.. and Betty’s smile lights up the Lincoln at the mere thought of it. He reinforces that everything will be OK, and to think of her fave flick in the meantime. Henry Francis is the opposite of Don, of what she’s known; he never belittled her feelings, but aligned with her and thoughtfully tried to cheer her up. You go, Hank Frank.

Angry and upset with Don, Betty comes home and speaks her mind. She doesn’t love him anymore, and he looks entirely crestfallen and shocked to hear those words from her. I feel for Don in this scene; in spite of him being a bastard to her on and off and a generally horrendous husband, that’s still an agonising thing to hear. Natch, he tries to deflect and minimise her emotions by changing the conversation. Oy.

Betty: “You can’t even hear me right now.”

Don: “You’re right.”

Hurt, Don retreats to the bedroom. Believing Betty doesn’t love him anymore due to who he really is, that he’s just some dirt poor farm kid and she is above him, Don misses the point; what he fails to see is that he’s been lying to his own wife for an actual decade. That’s real betrayal, real sadness. Ya fucked it up, Don.

Time to yap about the main event serving as a backdrop for a hot second. So many historians have rapped about how the JFK assassination functioned as an incredibly significant watershed cultural moment, blowing cracks in American societal norms and trends to create the remainder of the 1960s.. where the resulting shit gets crazy. Juxtaposing Betty’s dawning realisation that nothing makes sense in regards to the Old Rules (i.e. what kept things in their right place throughout the 1950s and how she chose to live her life according to said rules in order to attain happiness), her frightened and helpless reaction to Lee Harvey Oswald being shot on live television says it all.

“What is going on???”

The JFK assassination was not The Cuban Missile Crisis, in that it was not just another important historical event. It was exactly what this episode displays; JFK being murdered violently jolted the characters out of the inherent complacency of the old. The JFK assassination and subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald created a cynical brand of nihilism that fed into the 1960s as a reaction to the idealism of the prior decade. Time to jumpstart the counterculture.

(Sidenote- as someone who was born 21 years after the JFK assassination.. I thought this episode gave some meaningful real life context to an event which I’ve only ever indirectly experienced via history books, documentaries, and my parents’ retelling of the day.)

As the wheels turn in Betty’s head about divorcing Don and moving on with Henry, having something like this come in and harshly turn everything upside down helps her move that decision along. Nothing is as it seems anymore, the old rules legit don’t apply. The world is a-changin’.

Hell! Even the Campbells, our favourite WASP-y couple, are totally disgusted at the hollowness of their friends and colleagues’ reactions to the event. They end up boycotting Margaret’s wedding as a form of protest, criticising Harry losing his shit about TV ratings due to shows (and their ads) being pre-empted for news coverage. Why should they be celebrating his boss’ spoiled daughter’s wedding when the president has just been murdered?

Come Monday morning, Don sneaks around the corner to assess the damage. Betty doesn’t even meet his gaze as he slinks out.

In the office, Don sees that Peggy is the only other one there working; thank fuck she’s not hanging out with Duck, at least. Realising that the Aqua Net campaign is all but useless post-JFK assassination with the similarities to the Dallas motorcade, she’s working on rewrites. Turns out her apartment has been invaded by her roomate’s friends and their neighbours, and not even Anita’s house offered a safe haven. There’s no space for her to process.

“And then I went over to my sister’s, and my mother was crying and praying so hard there wasn’t room for anyone else to feel anything..”

Ugh, this episode is sad all around. But let’s be real.. Don had that shit coming.

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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image courtesy of Imgur

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 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

image courtesy of Imgur

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 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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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.