Mad Men s2e9: Six Month Leave

“Some people just hide in plain sight.”

Don is living in a hotel on the morn of Marilyn Monroe’s death. In the office, Peggy is thinking like Don, grateful that Playtex didn’t buy their Jackie and Marilyn campaign.

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image courtesy of Tom + Lorenzo

Betty is taking care of some house shit in an attempt to feel normal. Time to put new contact paper in the drawers, defrost the icebox, attempt to open your bastard husband’s locked desk drawer with a letter opener.. then pass out, face down in the lounge with a glass of red. Just then, Sara Beth swings by to borrow a dress; Betty claims she’s sick. SB is crushing on Arthur, and Betty raises an eyebrow.

At Sterling Cooper, Freddy Rumsen overdoes it. He’s excessively sweaty and red, even for him, a guy who consistently looks dank; he pours Sal a comically enormous glass of whiskey that nearly has a meniscus, rehearses the Samsonite presentation, then pisses himself. Pete is disgusted, Peggy is concerned, and Sal can’t stop laughing. Since Freddy passes out almost immediately in his office chair, Sal tells Peggy to present in the meeting for the first time. On her way, she chides Pete for being a judgemental dick.

Samsonite goes really well for Peggy, and Freddy apologises for being a drunk mess the next day. She’s very encouraging and positive, hoping to sweep it under the rug. However, Pete wants to look good to the execs so he spills the beans and takes the credit for having Peggy present at the last minute.

Don, Roger, Duck and Pete meet about Freddy, he hears the news. “The man is a trainwreck”. Don is very much opposed to firing him, but he’s one against three.

Don: “I don’t want to throw him away..”

Roger: “Your loyalty is starting to become a liability.”

Betty is back at the stables, observing how Sara Beth interacts with Arthur. Time to stir the pot. She plants the seed that SB talks about him a lot, and invites him to the lunch she was supposed to have with only SB. If she can’t control anything in her own life, it’s time to fuck around elsewhere. Childish, sure, but she doesn’t have any legit coping skills.

Speaking of teenage girls, the junior execs are making fun of Freddy. Word has gotten out. Don gets real pissed off when he overhears and puts them in their place. “Sure. It’s just a man’s name, right?”

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image courtesy of Giphy

Don, a man with two names, takes that shit very seriously. He’s trying to build something with the Donald Draper persona, and to hear junior execs malign the reputation of an old player in the game like Freddy Rumsen, he just ain’t having it.

Joan is taking a breather in Roger’s office, surprisingly upset about Marilyn’s suicide. After all, Marilyn was an icon as an independent woman of the time. She used her femininity to get where she needed to go, and was very successful at it. Her death appears to represent the loss of that strong female figure that Joan has been trying to emulate, but despite all the good things, Marilyn still got knocked back down to size; just as Joan did a couple of weeks back with her temp job in Harry’s department. Tragic.

Roger, as an older guy of the time, has no goddamned context for her sadness and doesn’t take her seriously.

“This world destroyed her. One day you’ll lose someone who’s important to you.. you’ll see. It’s very painful.”

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image courtesy of Mad Men Wikia

Speaking of guys of that time, it’s time to send Freddy off for a leave of absence to dry out. Natch, Roger and Don make a booze-soaked night of it.

“To Monday morning– it’ll be here faster than you think.”

“I’m Dick Dollars, this is Mike Moneybags.. and this..” “Tilden Katz!” Don opts to use Rachel Menken’s Boilerplate Husband(TM)’s name to get into an underground casino. It’s 1962 rich people speakeasy time, and thankfully it’s not one of those intolerable hipster speakeasys with $23 cocktails made by equally intolerable “mixologists” with overly curated facial hair.

Roger pieces together that Don and Betty are separated, and asks what’s up. Natch, Don is cagey. Right in the midst of that, Don spots Jimmy Barrett and sees red; he walks right up to him and punches that fucker square in the face.

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what did the five fingers say to the face? // image courtesy of Giphy

Freddy gets a right proper sendoff, and Don really emphasises the clean slate idea. The man with the escape plan wouldn’t see anything particularly awful about this situation. Freddy is concerned with what he’ll tell his wife, something that Don has likely never considered.

As Don and Roger have a nightcap together, he reveals that he’s staying at the Roosevelt. He also reveals that he doesn’t feel badly like he should, he feels relieved and doesn’t know what to do. Don is so disconnected with most people in his life, that this is not shocking news. He imparts some words of wisdom that Roger takes a little too on the nose..

“It’s your life. You don’t know how long it’s gonna be, but you know it’s got a bad ending. You have to move forward.”

Peggy gets word that she is taking over all of Freddy’s business. Don is peeved that Peggy didn’t tell him and was ambushed by Pete.

Mona barrels into Don’s office, clearly pissed. Roger is splitting from their 25-year marriage, due to drunk nightcap talk he had with Don, and she blames him. Turns out it’s Jane!

Don figures out that Jane must’ve slipped something Roger’s way about him being separated from Betty. Time for yet another new secretary..

“If I don’t go into that office every day, who am I?”

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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

Mad Men s2e7: The Gold Violin

“Like the song says, Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.”

Don is pondering buying a new car from Breaking Bad’s Elliott at the Caddy dealership. Seeing a guy like Don Draper walk into a Cadillac dealership must spell out ‘instant sale’ to salesman Wayne. From his outward appearance — impeccably tailored suit, polished shoes, not a hair out of place — Don is a guy who wants the whole world to regard him highly, and what better way to do that than with the ultimate status symbol of a Cadillac?

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image courtesy of Pinterest

Flashback to the 1950s when Don was a bright-eyed used car salesman with big hair and a frumpy suit and tie. He hasn’t yet mastered sales, as he can’t quite close the current deal. A mystery blonde comes to see him and asks for him by name, appears puzzled that it’s this guy in front of her. She then reveals that she knows he’s not Don Draper.

G A S P

Back to the Cadillac dealership, Don has second thoughts and splits. Does he deserve a Cadillac? Wayne is peeved and surprised.

Because of how much Don impressed the Martinson coffee guys with Kurt and Smitty’s youthful jingle and his pitch, Cooper has let him know the door has opened for him to sit on the board at the Museum of Early American Folk Art, to be among “the few people that get to decide what will happen in our world.” In so many words, Don has arrived. And now he needs to act the part, fancy Cadillac in tow.

Now, here’s the rub with ‘Making It In America(TM)’; you’ve got to keep it up, with intense fervour. Shiny, top of the line new car every few years, perfect partner, marriage, and immaculate home.. and well-behaved kids who don’t jam Play-Doh in the nice leather seats of the Cadillac. The higher you climb that mountain, more people will be hanging out at every single goddamned precipice to knock you down.

And, we’re back to the Cadillac dealership. Don confidently buys that Caddy! At the same time, Jimmy Barrett is ringing the Draper house to let Betty know they’re invited to a big shindig for Grin and Barrett being picked up. To top it off, Betty is pleased that Don bought the car. He deserves it since he works so hard.

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image courtesy of Butterfly Mind

Word on the street is that Cooper’s got a Rothko painting in his office, which is generally off limits. After hours, Jane sneaks Kenny, Sal and Harry into the office. Sal notices Ken’s depth when he’s talking about the painting; how it evokes a feeling, it’s nothing super concrete or obvious. It just is. Kenny notices Sal isn’t like everyone else in the office, and gives him a new story to read.

Somehow Joan hears about their painting escapade, and sacks Jane on the spot. Joan feels as though she’s being replaced with a younger, sassier version of herself, and she’s pissed off. On her way out, Jane cleverly pops by Roger’s office to say goodbye and gets un-fired, remembering his attraction to her. Magical.

The truth about the Rothko is revealed! Harry meets with Cooper to go over some media numbers, and Cooper’s brief explanation is pretty in line with what we know about him.

“People buy things to realise their aspirations, it’s the foundation of our business. Between you me and the lamp post, that thing should double in value by next Christmas.”

Sal and Kitty have Kenny over for dinner that weekend, and it’s awkward as hell. Sal pretty much ignores his wife to pay attention to Ken, yapping about the story he wrote. He’s like a teenager with a crush, and Kitty tries her best to include herself. It’s actually pretty sad, watching as Kitty feels alone in her own home.

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image courtesy of Popsugar

Kenny’s story is inspired by a piece he saw at The Met. The Gold Violin itself is meant to illustrate that in some cases no matter how lovely and perfect something looks, it simply cannot work. It’s a status symbol, it’s gorgeous and stunning and flawfree, but ultimately worthless. Take a gander at Betty and Don, or Sal and Kitty for that matter.

The Draper family takes the new Cadillac out for a Sunday picnic, and leave behind an hysterical amount of trash in the process. Don launches a beer can to see how far he can throw it! Ha. The Draper picnic is a beautiful scene that glosses over the complete disorder and mess that is that family.

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image courtesy of Salient

And then you see Betty and Don breezily leaving a pile of fucking ruination behind, a heap of literal garbage in their apathetic wake. It’s a jarring dénouement to what looks to be a wholesome, pristine family activity.

It’s party time! These scenes are uncomfortable as all hell. Jimmy spots Betty, they make small talk and then shit gets mad real.

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image courtesy of Popcritics

After they’ve had a few, he cuts to the chase. “What do you think happened between the two of them?” Though simultaneously offended and mortified, Betty hears what Jimmy is saying. He plants the seed and confirms her nagging suspicion that Don is unfaithful to her. After all, they both know how to read the people they’ve married, and see how neither seem to be bothered that their respective spouses are nowhere in sight.

At the coat check, Don is getting ready to split and Jimmy delivers some shrill realness. Whether he’s pissed he doesn’t actually have a shot with Betty or that Don and Bobbie had a few bangs, we’ll never know.

Jimmy: “You know what I like about you? Nothing! But it’s okay. You got me everything I wanted. What did you get? Bobbie? Lots of people have had that.”

Don: “Excuse me?”

Jimmy: “Please. I laugh at you. I go home at night and I laugh at you.”

Don: “I don’t know what you think happened.”

Jimmy: “You. You wanna step out, fine. Go to a whore. You don’t screw another man’s wife. You’re garbage. And you know it.”

Don looks completely disgusted and offended, but also like he’s about to cry. He knows deep down that Jimmy ain’t wrong about him being garbage. As much as Don is a human dumpster fire who can be so incredibly antagonistic at times, I feel for him in this scene. Even though he excels at compartmentalising his life — keeping being the best bang in the city separate from being adored by his kids, has a great job but also fucks around — he can’t quite grasp that American Dream he’s scratching at. He’s flawed, like all of us, and he knows it.

Don and Betty drive home in stunned silence.

And natch, Betty voms in the new Cadillac.

Mad Men s2e3: The Benefactor

“I’ve seen the man sober. He’s not funny.”

Ahh, the first appearance of Jimmy Barrett! This acerbic comedian from hell is a pretty fun character. Right out of the gate, he roasts the planetary Mrs. Utz in the midst of filming an Utz commercial. He compares her to the Hindenburg, while Kenny and Freddy try to put out the fire. So mortifying.

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image courtesy of ONTD

Cut to Betty and Sara Beth at the stables, they’re talking with that weiner guy Arthur and his blandly attractive fiancée, Tara. Sara Beth is verklempt whereas Betty is more subtle about the attention she receives from him.

“You are so beautiful. So different than Tara.” #thingsmensay

Later on, Betty has a funny interaction with him. He unloads a lot of fragile man feelings about his rich fiancée, looks like a doofus in the process and makes her sound like a hellish brat.

Arthur: “You’re so profoundly sad.”

Betty: “No. It’s just, my people are Nordic.”

As an aside, how bizarre is horseback riding as a hobby? I mean, really. Sitting atop a massive animal while it runs round a dirt field and jumps over shit.. what?

Harry opens Kenny’s paycheck, turns out that mannequin is making bank! His wife talks him and his talents in the office way up, and he decides to take a risk with a pretty out there episode of The Defenders. Essentially this episode is Abortion: The Show. He decides to try a power move to show off his worth, playing an excerpt to the Belle Jolie people; he coins it as scandal that all women will tune into and a unique opportunity for their lipstick business.

Don: “Controversy means viewers. Women will find a way to watch this. Maybe just because they don’t want to get left out.

Elliott: “Is that true?”

Peggy: “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Belle Jolie doesn’t buy it, but the execs notice and are pleased. Harry gets his raise, and is made Head of the TV Department. Boss!

Since Don was at the movies seeing some French crap, he missed the Jimmy Barrett apocalypse. He gets the job of damage control, and begrudgingly agrees to take care of it. Partially due to that, and Lois’ radiating idiocy, and he gives her the axe.

“You do not cover for me.. you manage people’s expectations.”

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image courtesy of Fanpop

Enter Jimmy’s wife and manager, Bobbie Barrett. She’s an attractive, older, fast-talking gal; a woman who manages her husband and doesn’t take shit. “I like being bad and then going home and being good.”

After fooling around in his car during a hail storm with Bobbie like a flushed teenager, Don frantically washes his hands like a weirdo as soon as he gets in the door. He sits down at the table, and Betty gives him a lovely gift; she had his watch thoughtfully monogrammed. He looks at it from a million miles away, and ponders, “what is life?”.

Betty’s hands are shaking again. She’s visibly deflated that the fancy French dinner in the city is a work gig for Don, and she automatically asks which version he’d like her to be and without missing a beat, he replies shiny and bright; he needs a better half. This is humiliating, I really feel for Betty here.

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image courtesy of Mad Men Google Play

Dinner at Lutèce. Even though Jimmy’s down a quart, he immediately hits on Betty upon being seated. Don is a little horrified and tries moving things along via Bobbie, but she tries to swindle some extra cash (to the tune of $25 grand) for an apology.

Don forcefully fingerblasts Bobbie, wielding sex like a weapon just as she did with his vaguely unintentional car boner. His threats work, as it gets Jimmy to apologise at least. Yikes on bikes. “A guy like that must know how to make a charming apology, or he’d be dead.” Roger ain’t wrong.

Betty cries in the car on the way home, and spins it to Don as happiness that she’s a part of his life. She really is so profoundly sad.

“What is better than tears to make a girl ready to hear she can be beautiful?”