Mad Men s3e1: Out of Town

“Fellow comrades in mediocrity, I want you to listen very carefully: You can all go straight to hell!”

Ahh, the Season 3 Premiere! Here we are in April 1963, roughly 6 months post-finale of Season 2. And oh hey, we have a new Bobby. Back to the grind.

Putnam Powell and Lowe is in full force having obliterated about a third of the Sterling Cooper workforce, and things feel uneasy all over.

We open on Don heating up some gross milk in the middle of the night, the eve of his real birthday. Flashing back to his inferred birth story, Don’s human giant dad Archie heads off to a hooker; she later dies giving birth to their baby, to Dick. The midwife drops off the baby in the middle of the night, and though Abigail has been wanting a baby so badly, the fact that this baby at her feet is the product of her bastard husband’s affair with a hooker is not what she had in mind.

Obviously it’s tainted the way she saw Dick growing up, and intensely coloured how she treated him. The effervescent feeling of always being unwanted is something that Don carries with him every single day.

Betty is very pregnant at this point in time, and Don flexes his copywriting skill by crafting a relaxing seaside story to lull her to sleep. Probably better than inventing a work travel lie to protect the kids from their marital troubles á la Season 2.. it looks as if they are actively trying to be closer to one another here in the Season 3 premiere, but it’s still not quite right.

And now, introducing PPL’s CFO Lane Pryce.. seen here admiring an octopus pleasuring a lady in Hokusai’s famed ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’.

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image courtesy of Auction Exclusive

Lane: “Remarkable.”

Bert: “I picked it for its sensuality, but it also, in some way, .. it reminds me of our business. Who is the man who imagined her ecstasy?”

Lane: “Who indeed!”

Burt Peterson, a wholly unpleasant man, gets sacked and raises hell in the process of exiting the building. Joan explains to the repellant Mr. Hooker (Lane’s personal assistant/glorified secretary) that if had she known Burt was getting fired that day, she would have made the proper arrangements for a peaceful exit. Instead, we get to hear this bald asshole shouting, “Drop dead, you limey vulture!” and scaring the shit out of the ladies in the steno pool.

Apparently Burt Peterson fucked some things up with London Fog, as Don and Sal depart to Maryland to smooth things over soon after that mess.

Turns out their TWA stewardess is an intense thirst trap. Apparently Don let his brother in law borrow a suitcase, as the stewardess calls him Mr. Hofstadt (‘Bill’). Explaining to Sal, “he never tires of putting his name on other people’s things”; touché, Don Draper.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

They go for dinner with said parched stewardesses and the pilot; everyone is an idiot. Don and Sal have a little fun playing the parts of more interesting men, top secret type stuff. Couple of G-men working as accountants, hunting for Jimmy Hoffa. During dinner you can see Don resigning himself to banging that chick, it’s all too easy.

After dinner, they all head to their rooms. Don and the stewardess make out, then she lets him know she’s engaged, as if he’s her last chance.

“I’ve been married a long time. You get plenty of chances.”

It’s Don’s birthday, his real birthday. The poor man’s Betty undresses for him, stating that everyone’s always asking her if she’s a model (but she’s not); and hey, Don is married to an actual model.

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image courtesy of AMC

In other news, Sal lets go and has a gay encounter with the very well manicured bellboy in his sweltering room. He’s shocked and intrigued, but SUPER into it. This guy had the cojones to make a bold move unlike that Belle Jolie dude, and it paid off. And then, the fucking fire alarm goes off in the hotel. On his way down the fire escape, barely clothed Don spots Sal in his room with the bellboy, and is completely jolted.

On the plane ride back to New York, Sal is waiting on pins and needles for Don to say something about seeing him with a man, obviously in the midst of getting around to a bang. Instead, and true to form, Don comes up with some London Fog copy that reads like a cryptic warning; ‘Limit your exposure.’

At the office, Lane lets Pete know he’s now Head of Accounts, without telling him that Kenny .. is also Head of Accounts. Pete, true to form, is comically infuriated to learn that Kenny is the other Head of Accounts. Trudy grounds him and reminds him to be a fucking normal person and get on with it. Pete walks into Don’s office later on to complain, but thinks better of it and ends up thanking Don and Roger for the promotion. Bert Cooper pops in and rewards him, a true Yankee, with Penn Station.

That night in Ossining, Sally admits to breaking Don’s suitcase. “I don’t have an allowance.” “Then don’t break things.” Sally desperately didn’t want her father to leave on another trip, and he reassures her that he will always come home, she’ll always be his girl. One thing is for sure, Don has seen to it that those kids have a marginally better upbringing with some form of love rather than the mess he and Adam experienced as kids.

Sally finds the parched stewardess’ TWA wings in Don’s suitcase, assuming they’re for her. In a nice family moment, Don begins telling the story of the night Sally was born; cue the Lord of the Rings music. Don stares off for a beat, imagining his own birth again, feeling dejected. Sally came into a home that wanted her, unlike his own birthday, marred with distress.

Betty picks it up and then, right there in the midst of it, ‘in the middle of the night’ claiming to have just come home from work to drive her to the hospital, it’s obvious that Don was stepping out even then. His face says it all. What is he doing? Where is he going with all of this?

Damn.

below image courtesy of Imgur

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“I don’t know. I keep going to a lot of places, and ending up somewhere I’ve already been.”

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