Mad Men s2e10: The Inheritance

“It’s not easy for anyone, Pete.”

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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image courtesy of Fanpop

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

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Mad Men s1e3: Marriage of Figaro

This episode opens on the train, Don staring at that ironic Volkswagen ad in his Playboy. He gets called Dick Whitman by some schlub rando, and he’s visibly rattled. More on that to come!

Oh hey, it’s Sally’s birthday! Time for Don to get absolutely shitfaced and assemble a playhouse. #men

From the women of the club, we hear about the arresting suburban scandal of Helen Bishop .. AND HER WALKING.

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I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE

image courtesy of Imgur

A lot of this episode centres around marriage and where these characters fit in. It’s pretty plain where Don fits vs. where he doesn’t fit; at work, and at home. He’s in charge of it all at the office, but at home he’s relegated to filming the party, building the playhouse (yet he’s not permitted to wash his hands with the weird porcelain-handheld soap), being told repeatedly to pick up the cake.

Don doesn’t wear a wedding band (and is continually losing his cufflink in this episode), but Pete Campbell actually digs it.

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image courtesy of 9gag

Ladies and gentlemen, Pete Campbell. He’s back from his honeymoon and trying to clumsily navigate being a married guy in a post-banging Peggy world.

Speaking of Peggy, she is trying to figure out where she fits in at Sterling Cooper. It’s clear that she’s very different from the other ladies in the steno pool; Pegs is cut from a different cloth.

The way Don’s written is fascinating. Here we have our main character, the guy we’re ostensibly rooting for; he’s simultaneously good and infuriating, yet we can relate to all of it. Who hasn’t just wanted to ghost on some garbage party filled with a simulation of friends? These people can be absolutely exasperating in reality, yet he’s relatable in this instance. Sneaking a peek at his world allows us to see the motivations behind bouncing, his desire to get way the hell away from those faux friends.

Pausing on that secret kiss he captures with the camera – Don feels a pang, and he feels even more isolated. Maybe he’s realising that love he haughtily claimed he created for products may be legit. But then again, Don is a guy that so clearly does not understand intimacy in real life. You can’t be ~mysterious~ and play everything so close to the chest but also have true intimacy; shit just doesn’t work that way. Gotta give some to get some. At first, Don is cloying with Rachel, listening and probing with questions like a fun flirty first date but revealing nada of himself, and she already seems to be over it. Especially when he pulls the “I’m married” card. Mess.

As he’s watching the train to Manhattan blast by in Ossining, I bet he’s thinking of trying to reach Rachel somehow. How to Human, 101.

Hours later, daddy saves the day by bringing home a dog for Sally. Betty is seething with palpable rage. He’s thinking back to when he snogged Rachel Menken on the rooftop, and her saying that, “For a little girl, a dog can be all you need. They protect you and they listen”. She told all her secrets to those dogs, apparently; and Don knows that he’s probably total shite at being a father to Sally, so uh.. here’s a dog.

But where in the fresh hell did he get that dog? Did he just jack someone else’s Golden Retriever from their yard? Fucking bizarre.

Mad Men s1e2: Ladies’ Room

“What do women want?

Any excuse to get closer.”

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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?”

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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.