Mad Men s4e11: Chinese Wall

“Lee Garner Jr. never took you seriously because you never took yourself seriously.”

Welp, the cat’s outta the bag re:Lucky Strike and everyone at SCDP collectively shits themselves. Don, Pete, Peggy, Roger and Joan all get a certain sense of fulfilment from their work that their home lives just cannot seem to provide; having the possibility of SCDP being no more really scares the bejesus out of everyone, but especially the aforementioned guys and gals.

image courtesy of Tumblr

Sunday night. Kenny is out with his fiancée and her parents (including Leland Palmer), and inadvertently gets the Lucky Strike news and blows shit up. The partners (sans Lane, who’s still in London picking up the pieces) all anxiously gather at the office as Roger puts on a show, faking a phone call to Lee Garner Jr in an attempt to save face and pretend he’s in the dark. He’s sat on the news for whatever reason, mostly embarrassment and booze I’d guess. Nada on the new business horizon, apparently.

image courtesy of Monsters of Television

When he fakes a last plea/flight down to the North Carolina HQ and rings Joan from his Manhattan hotel hideout, she understandably ain’t impressed. Somehow, Roger thought that maybe this crisis on top of the alleyway mug-bang would bring her back to him; instead, it’s reminded her of why she keeps her distance. Candor isn’t inherently negative, but when it’s rooted in some vague form of lazy self-immolation tinged with pity party, it’s a bad look.

Oh hey, Pete has a daughter! Then he hits up the most cringe-worthy funeral on the entire planet earth. A big account dude from a rival company died, and the partners deemed it astute to try and poach clients at the funeral; a desperate decision. The guy’s former colleagues are telling old war stories, as his widow and daughter look on; they appear glazed over as if they’ve all heard this work junk a thousand times before. They talk about David Montgomery The Man, but seem way more interested and animated when talking about David Montgomery The Adman. Clearly, the guy devoted a lot of his life to his work.

Granted, there’s truth bombs here — nobody on their deathbed wishes they’d worked more, and this sentiment washes over Don and Pete. I mean, look at Pete; missing the birth of his own daughter to chase a hearse. I know it wasn’t uncommon in the 1960s for fathers to be absent for the birth of their children, but this is pretty bleak. It’s one of the shittiest times they’ve experienced to date, business-wise, but hitting up a funeral for this purpose is grasping at straws. The last days of Rome.

Shocking statement: Don Draper is a self-loathing guy with a whole heap of fucking mommy issues. With his continual banging around, he seeks out the unconditional love he never received from a mother figure, and will go after anything that even vaguely resembles love like a moth to a light.

At the same time, he ends up blowing nearly every relationship he has straight to hell. This is usually either because the woman won’t give him what he wants — i.e. Rachel won’t run off into the sunset with him, Bobbie Barrett won’t put a sock in it — or because they WILL give him what he wants.. and then he won’t respect them for doing so.

image courtesy of Giphy

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Either way it’s some manpain horseshit.

With the loss of Lucky Strike, Don is tense as hell and Faye is dunzo.. she’s pretty much stuck in a lose-lose situation with Don at this point. If she doesn’t break through her own Chinese Wall of business ethics, to Don it looks as if she does not care about him enough and wants him to fail. Pretty damned big leap there, Donnie, and real unfair to put Faye in that position.

image courtesy of Tom & Lorenzo

And in the end when she throws him a bone in the form of non-ketchup related Heinz, Don is very happy for the meeting.. but he also loses any remaining respect for Faye. Ugh. I mean, I never thought they were a great match to begin with, but he doesn’t need to be such a shitheel about it.

These two conflicting feelings are a fucking mess. His unrelenting thirst to be unconditionally loved and the unwillingness to actually accept unconditional love out of self-hatred means Don is probably going to be banging around for the foreseeable future. But this yearning to feel something and glimpsing it in rando beds is grounded in the very core of his character.

Meanwhile, here’s Megan saying all the right things at the right times. She even fixes the busted Clio Don hurled across the room post Glo-Coat exit call. She’s interested in the inner workings of his job and how it all works at SCDP, which Don is obvi totally into.. and they have an office bang. Megan is modern and savvy, letting him know point blank she understands this has nada to do with work (unlike Allison) and won’t have a fucking meltdown (also unlike Allison). Go girl, get it.

image courtesy of AMC

Speaking of banging, Peggy is seemingly unflappable in her post-bang lavender haze despite walking into the Lucky Strike apocalypse the next day. I guess Abe learned to put less of his foot in his mouth. She even uses her encounter with him to flavour her Playtex gloves presentation, just like Don has used his personal life in past work. Ooh la la!

“Every time something good happens, something bad happens.”

Mad Men s4e2: Christmas Comes but Once a Year

“In a nutshell, it all comes down to what I want versus what’s expected of me.”

Just about sums up life, eh? Let’s see how much of a piping hot mess Don is in this episode..

Sally runs into creeper Glen at the Christmas tree lot. Hating living in the house on Bullet Park Road without her dad there, she expresses how strange everything is; Glen can relate. He takes it into his own hands when the Francises are all out one night, trashing the house with food and junk.. save for Sally’s room, where he leaves a friendship keychain similar to the one she complimented him on at the lot. He tries to make the house as uncomfortable for everyone as it is for Sally.

personalitytest

image courtesy of Tumblr

At the office, enter Dr. Faye Miller, one of the psychologists SCDP is using for market research. In an intro with a personality test for the senior staff, Don dodges another opportunity to divulge any sort of information about himself.

A man allergic to intimacy, it’s clear that Don’s in a darker place than his usual existential loneliness.. and this is his first real Christmas sans family to boot. He ain’t handling it well; he’s hitting everything too hard. Women whom he would otherwise effortlessly charm are rebuffing his sloppy advances with ease and a touch of pity. Score one for Faye and neighbour Phoebe, I guess.

donallison_work

image courtesy of Tumblr

Allison reads out Sally’s letter to Santa (c/o Don Draper), and it’s a heartbreaking reminder of the damage the divorce has caused. She tears up at Sally’s wish to have Don there on Christmas morning, knowing that it’s not a possibility.

xmasconga

image courtesy of Huffpo

The vile Lee Garner Jr is in town, and is miffed he wasn’t invited to the SCDP Christmas party.. which now has to become an actual party much to Lane’s dismay. Faye and Don spar about how someone’s past can influence them today, a point with which Don disagrees. She aptly brings up that his celebrated Glo-Coat commercial is heavily steeped in nostalgia, a certain longing for someone’s childhood.. but not Don’s. He tries to change the conversation by asking her to dinner, and gets shot down.

Natch, he forgets his keys at the office, and Allison does him a favour by running down to the Village to let him in. It’s noteworthy that younger employees have always gossiped about Don, but it was always in the admiring from afar sense, with some sense of wonder; mimbo Joey calling him ‘pathetic’ sheds light on how trash Don is at this point in time. And I guess in an effort to feel something (or anything at all), Don comes on to Allison; she reciprocates and they have a bang on his couch. Awkward.

The next morning is nothing short of a disaster with how Don handles (and not handles) things. He goes to his rhetoric of “this never happened”, so much so that he doesn’t acknowledge anything in the least, and gives Allison her Christmas bonus of a hundy in cash. You can tell he doesn’t feel great about it as she walks out of his office, but not guilty enough to not be a prick. And plus.. you shouldn’t shit where you eat.

So Freddy Rumsen is back, and he’s dry as a bone– but Peggy is thrilled to see him and to work on Pond’s. Freddy has some comically oldschool ideas for the cold cream, whereas formerly oldschool Pegs has moved forward quite a bit. He’s focusing on the marriage aspect of Pond’s, but Peggy wants something more, something deeper that speaks to women.. women like her whose be-all end-all isn’t getting fucking married. She wants to make an ad that speaks to everyone!

peggy_desk

image courtesy of AV Club

BUT, even though her life in the office is super forward thinking and progressive she’s being weirdly old fashioned with her boyfriend Mark. Apparently they aren’t banging because she’s playing virgin.. yikes. Last I checked, she ain’t been no virgin since 1960.. maybe she’s just not so sure about the guy?

Why is Peggy dating this dolt anyway? Freddy peppers her with some absurdly old fashioned advice, firmly saying that she shouldn’t bang the guy if she wants to marry him, since he’ll never respect her.. Y I K E S.

I guess that cemented her opinion of Mark, cause she throws him a bone that night.

Maybe Allison is that gal looking to get hitched, and thought there was something deeper to her tryst with her boss.. as she stares off into space while typing, it’s hard not to feel her pain and humiliation. So uncomfortable. Don may have fucked it up with his best and most competent secretary yet.

“I don’t hate Christmas.. I hate this Christmas.”

Mad Men s2e1: For Those Who Think Young

“Young people don’t know anything.. especially that they’re young.”

Well hello! We find ourselves in February 1962, 15 months after the end of Season 1. Valentine’s Day! Let’s twist again!

Turns out Don’s day to day blowing butts of 2 packs’ worth of Lucky Strikes and a gallon of Canadian Club aren’t doing his health any favours. Shocker. “You live too hard, and not just at the office. It’ll hit you all at once”. No shit, Doctor! Don is getting older.

scmeeting

image courtesy of Fanpop

Peggy is in a meeting with the guys of Sterling Cooper, holding her own. She’s become more confident, and even gives dim Lois some tips as to how she should talk about Mr. Draper. We saw glimpses of this confident, cocky young woman last season, but now she’s really getting more comfortable with herself.

Once Don’s done at the doctor, he hits the bar for a lovely fried egg breakfast with a side of whiskey, as you do. He’s sitting next to some vaguely young guy, who’s reading a copy of Meditations in an Emergency. According to that guy, Don wouldn’t like it. Maybe because he reads as “old”? Who knows.

“I get on a plane I don’t care where I’m going, I just want to see the city disappearing behind me. It’s about adventure. It’s about a fantastical people taking you someplace you’ve never been. Blah Blah Blah. You want to get on a plane to feel alive, to see just the hint of a woman’s thigh because her skirt is just this much too short.”

Escape artist at work here.

Don believes that advertising is about standing out, not fitting in. This is coming from a man who so desperately wants to fit in, so desperately wants to read as ideal and normal, that it’s almost comical. We also see that he and Duck don’t get on in the least, their relationship is pretty strained. Don resents the younger person idea, and Duck doesn’t understand the creative process in the least. They don’t listen to one another, because they both think they know best.

bettydescending

image courtesy of Tumblr

Valentine’s Day, eveningtime. Picture perfect Betty descends a gorgeous marble staircase, and Don is momentarily entranced. This is the first time I feel there’s some semblance of love between them, which is fitting considering this scene is all about those cinematic moments in life. Far from cinematic, Betty spots her old roomate Juanita from her Manhattan days. Turns out she’s a high class hooker.. awkward.

In their hotel room, Betty takes out the valentine Sally made for Don, then flashes her diaphragm.. and then Don loses his hardon a little bit later on. Also awkward. Betty tries to make him feel better, saying she’s drunker than she is, insisting she doesn’t know where she is. Her tone conveys that she’s just a touch over his fragile man feelings.

Meanwhile– Jackie Kennedy is on TV giving the iconic White House tour, so Betty flips that on. While the tour goes on, Joan is making out with that hot doctor we heard about, and Sal is more interested in seeing JFK himself. This TV special was a big deal- this was the first time the American public got to see the $2mil restoration done to the White House.

Some days later, Betty’s gigantic yellow car shits the bed. Like her old roomate, she realises she can maybe wield her sexuality as currency on a gamble with the mechanic who comes to help her when she comes up short cash-wise. It works, but it’s definitely weird.

Another thought from this episode, is this the beginning of the end of the Man(TM) era? It’s the cusp of feminism, after all. Pete can’t seem to knock up his wife, Don can’t perform in bed with Betty. At this time, these are not things that MEN(TM) do. There’s some brash younger dudes in the elevator yapping about banging broads, and Don seems bemused by their banter until a Lady pops on from another floor. Suddenly he changes, telling the guy to take his hat off as a sign of respect. Oldschool.

doninanemergency

image courtesy of Tumblr

We close on Don reading Meditations in an Emergency, and he sends it to an ~unknown recipient~. Time will tell!

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

Mad Men s1e11: Indian Summer

Fun fact: I loathe unseasonable warmth. Hate it. The irony that I live in Los Angeles, a dusty city in the midst of a 5 year nightmare drought, is not lost upon me.

In Indian Summer, a heatwave appears to be shaking everyone’s baseline.

Adam hangs himself. He’s wearing a nice suit, and leaves behind a pile of Don’s cash. This is awful not just from a death standpoint, but from the idea that we don’t know a hell of a lot about Adam yet to understand the ramifications of his desperate act. He came to the city to reconnect with his long lost half brother, and it turned out that that man wanted nothing to do with him. Devastating.

Cutting to the office, there’s some wonderful bits of Don and Peggy’s fledgling relationship in this episode. Ahh, The Relaxicizer! As it’s a product aimed at ladies for slimming purposes, Freddy suggests bring in Peggy as the guys seem more than a little clueless. Enter Peggy in her fat suit, and Don sees a glimmer of potential when she asks if she can change the name of the product. She brings this thing home, and learns of it’s masturbatory benefits.

peggy_relaxicizer

Dafuq?

image courtesy of Contemplatingmedia

Peggy goes on some trash date with an idiot. It’s becoming clear that she’s not like other girls her age, and she’s on this date seemingly as a formality to please her mother.  She chats about her job and work a lot, which turns him off. It’s funny to think that perhaps she started working at Sterling Cooper to meet a husband, but has ended up on a totally different path discovering something she really enjoys.

Their entire exchange is bizarre, it’s like they’re just shouting facts at one another. He makes some dickhead jab that she’s not as hot as ‘those Manhattan girls’, and Peggy leaves this schmuck with a sick burn.

“Those people in Manhattan? They are better than us, because they want things they’ve never seen.”

Enjoy your free Wise potato chips in hell, guy!

Back at the office, Don digs her pitch, and Peggy is proud of herself. That scene shows how the men of this era infantalize women; when the ‘real’ benefits of the product come up in code, it’s implied that women simply cannot achieve sexual satisfaction without the touch of a man; a point which Freddy Rumsen almost decks Kenny over, when it’s slipped in that his wife has one.

Speaking of infantalized women, enter Betty. It’s hot as hell outside for October, and she encounters an absurdly attractive door to door aircon salesman. He’s like Don 2.0 — a bright-eyed handsome salesman, completely saturated with Brylcreem. She lets him into the house to hear his pitch, but thinks better of it and shoos him away. Later on, Betty relaxicizes on the dryer, and fantasizes about having a bang with said Don 2.0.

Against better judgement, Roger comes into the office for a Lucky Strike meeting, way earlier than he should have been doing much of anything post-coronary. Bert thought he would restore faith in the agency by saying Roger could make it, but Lee Garner Sr. called his bluff.

Due to her discretion, Don and Bert call in Joan to put some slap on his face, and she thinks he might be sentimental with her for a beat but he just says she’s the finest piece of ass he ever had. Disappointing, and G R O S S.

(See also, #thingsmensay)

Aaaand, in the midst of holding a delicious pastrami sandwich, Roger has another heart attack. Mona rightfully says, “Go to hell, Bert”, as he’s taken away on a stretcher. Yikes.

After Roger is wheeled out, Don goes into Roger’s office to have a chat with Bert. He makes him a partner, and Pete Campbell is watching with an eagle eye. Thinking that Don will be moving up, Pete wants to snag a promotion. Pete vacillates between admiring, idealising, and loathing Don.

Pete: Tell me when they come out of there, will you?

Hildy: Sure. I’ll just sit here and watch the door. That’s all I’ll do.

Pete:WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE TALKING TO??!

God bless Pete’s extravagant outrage at absolutely fuckall.

Don Draper seems to give a lot of advice that only realistically applies to Don Draper. Telling Peggy to be more like a man about what she wants re:raise, telling Adam to start a new life with the pile of gifted cash, and more examples to come. This shit makes sense in the context of someone who’s essentially concocted and moulded their life as Don has, but does it really apply to anyone else?

Don grants Peggy her raise, and they both split for the day. Trying to imagine having the corner office and the big man desk, Pete creeps in Don’s office when a mysterious package gets delivered. Like a complete fucking weirdo, he takes the box home with him. We know that it’s from Adam. Shit is about to get real.

don_package

image courtesy of Contemplatingmedia

We close with Peggy’s new BFF, The Relaxicizer.