Mad Men s3e11: The Gypsy and The Hobo

“You were adrift, you didn’t do anything but spend money. You walked around like you were hoping to be a character in someone else’s novel.”

Fucking iconic episode right here; the shit is about to hit the fan. Betty’s let that mystery box marinate for a bit now, and is planning on taking the kids outta town for Halloween to see her brother and sister in law.

An old flame of Roger’s from years ago is at the office, lamenting her dog food company’s PR crisis; the horse meat secret is out, and the brandname is market poison as a result. Annabelle refuses to let Don change the brand’s namesake, since her late father coined it; her saying this to a man who knows a thing or 20 about the power of rebranding is pretty good.

Recently widowed, she’s convinced herself that Roger was the love of her life and she his, and can effortlessly snag him again. At their French dinner, Roger is sauced and a touch harsh about the facts. Annabelle is hurt and stunned to be both knocked back in the present and repudiated re:the past.

Essentially Annabelle broke his heart, and then she comes back all these years later saying that he’s ~The One~ like a slap to the face.. and it turns out she wasn’t The One in Roger’s realm. Ouch. I’m guessing the Honeymoon Hypnosis will wear off with Jane as time goes by, but for the time being, Roger is interested in being faithful to his wife.

Suzanne laments that Don is unhappy in his life, which is pretty much the biggest boner killer to a guy like that. In classic Don form, he pretty much rolls his eyes at her Emotions(TM) and goes to lie down to let her ride out her temper tantrum. She wanted more than she thought she would want (Taaaaale as old as tiiiiiiiimmeeeeeee). Don transposes a bit of his runaway fantasy onto her, as Betty is headed out of town with the kids for the rest of the week, and suggests a getaway to Mystic.

Joan is encouraging to her trash husband for his Psychiatry interview, being way nicer than he deserves. It’s pretty hilar as Greg would be the earth’s least fucking astute psychiatrist. His new focus means more school, and Joan needs a legit non-department store job. Ringing Roger the next day looking for work, he’s happy to hear from Joan. “You want to be on some people’s minds. Some people’s.. you don’t.”

Natch, Greg doesn’t get the psychiatry gig and bombs the interview. Joan comes home to a husband that’s deeply steeped in manpain. In a fit of defeat and utter frustration, Joan has the most appropriate reaction to his horseshit manbaby feelings I’ve ever seen.

“I don’t want to be a psychiatrist.. it’s not medicine. I might as well work at a bank.”

“I don’t care what you do, as long as you do something. We need money.”

“I did everything I was supposed to do. Everything they told me. College, med school.. I wanted to be a surgeon since I was that big.”

“I’m sorry, Greg.. Maybe it’s time to move on.”

“You don’t know! You don’t know what it’s like to want something your whole life, and to plan for it, and to count on it and not get it! Okay?”

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image courtesy of Photobucket

As if Joan wouldn’t know how that feels, you trashbag of microdicks.

Betty consults with the family attorney about her marriage, seeking advice and getting some bleak shit in return. Looks like it’s harder to divorce than she thought. He can take the children, adultery must be proven in a court of law, yadda yadda yadda. Is he a good provider for the children? You’re not scared of him, right?

Welcome to 1963, I guess.. but, fuck that noise; that’s not what it’s about for her. Time to take matters into your own hands, Bets.

Don goes home to what he thinks is an empty house to grab some stuff for his mistress voyage to Mystic, and surprise! Betty is there waiting for him. Time to get your ass cornered, Don. Here’s hoping Suzanne, waiting in the Caddy, catches the hint and doesn’t entirely blow up his spot.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

Watching Don completely crumble as Betty takes the wheel with the conversation is shocking; this is essentially his worst nightmare, after all. He initially fights her, but once Betty confidently reveals she knows what’s in that drawer, he falls apart. What else can he really do?

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image courtesy of Slant Magazine

He tells her who Anna is, about how his name is really Dick Whitman, his family, the whole nine. Growing up very poor, seeking any escape possible. Being in Don’s shoes, this is probably the most terrifying thing he’s ever had to face. This image of his life and this idea he’s so carefully curated, the uniform and game face he wears in the day to day, it’s been stripped. He’s lied to Betty for the better part of a decade at this point, every single fucking day; that’s really deplorable.

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image courtesy of IGN

Once Don starts talking about the people in the photos, his family and how they’re all dead, he really loses it. Betty asks about Adam, and he looks at her as if he’s seen a ghost; how does she know? “The little boy in all the photos”. Explaining that Adam came to the city find him, wanting a relationship and he callously turned him away, taking his own life as a result, Don breaks down. This is the only sort of softness and empathy Betty shows him, sincerely.

Brass tacks, Don’s life story is pretty fucking sad. Betty is sympathetic, but who knows how long that will last. It’s a pretty gargantuan lie.

Latenight at the office, Roger rings around trying to help Joan land a job. At home, she’s made soup for dinner; Greg comes home in better spirits, flowers in hand, to let her know that he’s up and joined the fucking army (without consulting her); apparently his tiny dick led him there, since he’ll go in as a Captain.

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I SEE YOU. || image courtesy of ONTD

So.. it looks like Greg is headed to Vietnam. Bon voyage!

This is the closest we’ve ever seen Don and Betty to having a real emotional connection, but it may be too little too late and under probably the most dire of shit circumstances imaginable. With the curtain down, do they have a shot at a real, honest relationship? Or will it create a whole new slew of issues?

“And who are you supposed to be?”

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image courtesy of Tumblr

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Mad Men s3e10: The Color Blue

“The truth is, people may see things differently.. but they don’t really want to.”

It’s a touch before Halloween. Don pops over to Suzanne’s for a bang, and later we see him looking slightly guilty as Betty expresses worry and that she thinks he’s working too hard. He’s really milking that Hilton excuse to sneak out every night to get it in.

The Aqua Net ad idea is pretty similar imagery-wise to the upcoming JFK assassination, though the characters of course don’t know that yet. Peggy is doing well at work, freewheeling creatively and pissing off Kinsey in the process. She’s really talented, and that raw talent is something he just can’t crack. Go Pegs!

Missing the mark as usual, Kinsey assumes her perceived brilliance is due to the fact that she’s Don’s favourite; but Peggy knows that’s not the truth. This is proven later on in the episode during the Western Union idea exchange with her, Kinsey (and his lost idea), and Don. Kinsey is one of those guys who carefully curates this image of himself as the smartest guy in the room, and he works to be the most cultured and intelligent guy he can be; and when it’s consistently chipped away, he becomes deflated. Kinsey ain’t a bad guy– he just needs a reality check, and to find his real vocation, a place where he fits.

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image courtesy of BurnThisMedia

In the midst of a bang, Suzanne’s epileptic brother Danny shows up unexpectedly, and Don has a weird fucking meltdown about it. While he’s determined to sneak out, she insists on introducing him. Reminded of his own brother Adam, Don visibly stiffens, then shows him a little kindness with a handshake and well wishes. Danny is similarly down on his luck, and looks to Suzanne for help and guidance and she happily obliges. As soon as Don splits, Danny calls a spade a spade, talking shit about Don being arrogant and upset that his plans with his sister were interrupted. Suzanne chooses to see it as Don being secretive.

As Lane rehearses his speech for the upcoming Sterling Cooper 40th Anniversary Party, London rings to let him know that Sterling Cooper is once again for sale. Turns out the party is more of display. As a result, Lane has to charm Bert into attending by playing into his inherent vanity. And hey, it works!

But now, Lane sees his superiors for the smarmy dicks they really are; they had no interest in his future, nor any sort of personal investment in the company as Lane has. That’s a pretty big matzah ball for Lane to grasp. Maybe once Guy MacKendrick got his ass run over by a John Deere PPL re-examined hanging onto Sterling Cooper.

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image courtesy of Tumblr

The dryer is rattling, and Betty fishes out a pair of keys.. oh shit, will these open that desk drawer that’s been thwarting her for a season?? AND OH FUCK, THE KEY WORKS!

Equal parts relieved and fretful, Betty unlocks the drawer. There’s an astounding amount of cash, along with a beat up shoebox. Cautiously opening it, the box reveals a plethora of old photos with Don labeled as Dick, a pair of dogtags, old timey photos of his family, a Deed to a house in California, a Divorce Decree to an Anna Draper.. it’s all too much.

Of course, we all know how the pieces fit together– but to Betty, there’s no context for this secret information overload. She had a sneaking suspicion that Don was hiding something (or things) from her, but surely nothing as big as all this.

As everything washes over her, Betty goes wan as Carla brings the kids home. It’s all so overwhelming, as if an H-bomb has been dropped on 42 Bullet Park Road.

In this episode, I feel a little more for Suzanne as a character, Don’s intense hard-on for Good and Wholesome mommy issues galore aside. Previously I wrote her off as your run of the mill Thirst Trap(TM), but maybe she’s simply on a different level than the other emotionally repressed characters; she’s inherently more open, and contrasting with everyone else we encounter on this show, it seems like she’s totally fucking bonkers.

Suzanne manages to swing a job for Danny, to help him out; a foreign concept to Don who pushed his own brother away (and unknowingly nudged him towards a noose) back in Season 1. And perhaps reflecting upon sins past, Don offers to drive Danny up to his new job in Massachusetts.

Danny ain’t as grateful as Don had expected, though. Then again, Danny is living Don’s hobo dream; drifting from place to place, figuring shit out as he goes.

“I know what’s waiting for me at that place. I’m 25 years old, Don.. I don’t want to be cleaning toilets until I die. Just pull over.”

“Hold on– I’m older than you, and I’m telling you it seems bad now.. but you can still change things.”

“Pull myself up by the bootstraps?”

“Does that just sound stupid to you?”

“How do I explain this? I can’t do anything that you can do. Everyone knows, sooner or later, that there’s something wrong with me. They’re kind and they try, but then when I come to with piss in my pants, they stare at me like I’m from another planet. I am afflicted, okay? It’s not a question of will. I can’t change that.”

Another curveball thrown at the Don Draper “just move forward” mantra. Natch, Don throws some cash at the guy as he lets him out of the car, but not before imparting his card with a little support and insight.

“I swore to myself I would try to do this right once. I want you to call me, if you ever need to. And I want you to remember, if something happens to you.. your sister will never forgive herself.”

Baby steps, I guess.

Sitting up until 2am with that shoebox, Betty slowly realises Don isn’t coming home yet again. Accepting defeat, she places it back in his desk drawer, locks it, and puts the key back in his robe. Startled by his phone call the following morning, she’s apparently supposed to be dressed to the nines and ready to be shown off at the Sterling Cooper 40th later that evening.

En route to said SC 40th, Lane is totally nerve-wracked and stuck in traffic. Thinking it’s the traffic that’s getting him down, Rebecca tries to soothe; Lane lets her know they’re selling the company, and she takes the news with glee, wanting him to take comfort in returning to England. Nope. Lane is a man who has done nothing but obediently follow orders all his life, and he’s sick of it. There would be no place for him at the company in the event of a sale and he knows it.

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image courtesy of PopSugar

As Roger makes a speech lauding Don’s work achievements and character, Betty looks equal parts heartbroken, betrayed, and pissed off. And we know that Roger ain’t too chuffed to make that speech either. Cue thunderous applause.

“Well, he knows how to leave a room.”

Mad Men s3e7: Seven Twenty Three

“Young people give us energy, don’t forget that.”

One of my favourite episodes right here. I know I’ve said that at least 100 times, but this episode is fucking fantastic. The structure, the concurrent storylines, all of it; aces. There’s some glimpses at how desperate Don is at his core, how much of an isolationist asshole he can be when he feels even the slightest bit threatened.

Conrad Hilton shows up unexpectedly at Sterling Cooper, and Don is fashionably late per usual. The buzzing junior execs are worked up into a froth, then shooed away. Hilton points out the lack of family photos in his office Don’s real connections to the world, while sitting in his chair behind his Important Man(TM) desk. He then gifts Don the New York hotels as a start.

Betty is having some sort of ladies’ meeting about the reservoir, and links up with Henry Francis, the silver fox from My Old Kentucky Home who was borderline creeping on her while sauced on martinis. Henry and Betty decide meet for lunch to discuss the reservoir that Saturday afternoon. As she hangs up the phone, she checks Don’s desk drawer almost as a reflex. Still locked.

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incredible, iconic Betty look.. || image courtesy of Pinterest

They have a nice lunch, where Henry orders the foul midcentury staple of apple pie with cheddar cheese. Walking to the car, they spot a fainting couch in an antique shop window. Henry explains the story behind the couch’s silhouette, revealing that he used to work as a mover before becoming an attorney. Betty buys this whacking great couch as a form of furniture protest on Don, who had one-upped her interior designer with one end-table swoop.

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image courtesy of ApartmentTherapy

While Betty has a flirtatious Saturday afternoon with Hank Frank, Don is at a school-related eclipse viewing party with Sally’s forever parched teacher. Oh yeah, and it turns out Carlton stares into the sun, shocking nobody.

Don and Miss Farrell make friendly conversation, then she faux calls him out for being one of those bored philandering suburban men, when the reality is that.. it was just a pleasant conversation? It seems like she’s trying to take control of their interaction, but it comes off as super fucking tryhard. Eyeroll.

Speaking of thirst, Duck is really trying to court Peggy over to Grey with an Hermès scarf. Shit is mad classy, but she ain’t into it; he calls her bluff by inviting her to The Pierre for a meeting, so she can return the scarf to the Hermès people in person.

Don’s contract, or lack thereof, is a hot topic. Connie needs him to have a contract in order to work together, and Lane agrees with the pragmatism behind it.. along with pressure from Hilton’s herd of lawyers. Bert puts his foot down and emphasises that the contract is important to Sterling Cooper as well as Conrad Hilton to drive the point home.

“I met him once. He’s a bit of an eccentric, isn’t he?

Ah, the irony of Bert Cooper calling someone an eccentric..

Roger tries to talk Don into signing the contract, tempting him with his name on the front door; no avail. Stonewalled. Sneakily, Roger rings the house and chats to Betty about Don signing the contract in a roundabout way. She’s flippant and frosty on the phone, but the wheels are turning. Jackpot, but also a major dick move on Roger’s part.

And it’s bad timing again for Peggy. After that irritating conversation Don had with Roger, she tests the waters re:Hilton under the false guise of work needing approval, and Don is prickly at best. Apoplectic about the contract hammer coming down, he takes it out on Peggy in an attempt to reassert control. Maybe he sees her as an extension of himself and is thus hard on her, but nonetheless it’s another major dick move.

At the Pierre, Duck dangles the opportunity of a new gig at Grey in front of her, then makes his real intentions known. It’s probably one of the grossest come-ons I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been witness to a lot of vile things..

Peggy: “What are you doing?”

Duck: “I was just thinking about all the times I walked by you and didn’t even notice. How is that possible?”

Peggy: “What do you want from me?”

Duck: “I want to take you in that bedroom, lock the door, take your clothes off with my teeth, throw you on the bed and give you a go-around like you’ve never had.”

..

UGH NO, CAN WE FUCKING NOT WITH THIS SHIT

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Ahem. Peggy’s previous experience banging dudes has been with young guys, perhaps guys who didn’t know what they wanted, or the first thing on how to please a woman. So I guess Duck seems appealing? VOM. Apparently he also ‘loves the morning’.

Once Don gets home, Betty grills him about his contract. She pushes back on Don and his “I have all the power, they want me but they can’t have me” garbage; as if she wouldn’t understand how that works. And on top of that, she got more information from Henry in an hour about his job and life than Don has ever given her in years of marriage. She’s getting more confident.

Like a pedantic manbaby, Don bounces. He drives off into the night, shattering his rocks glass in direct contrast to Red in the Face where he makes absolutely certain that Roger returns the glass to Betty. Wanting to indulge his transient fantasy, he picks up some young 20-somethings. They’re looking for a ride to Niagara Falls to get married; the 22 year-old guy is 1A, headed to Vietnam. Is any of it real?

Ah, drugs. Don pops a few pills, and hallucinates that his father Archie is in the motel. The hitchhikers are slow dancing, and are wondering when the fuck Don is gonna drop so they can rob him already.

Archie: “Look at you, up to your old tricks. You’re a bum, you know that?”

Don: “No, I’m not.”

Archie: “Conrad hilton? You wouldn’t expect him to be taken so easily! You can’t be tied down.”

Don: “That’s right.”

Ahh, then the guy pops Don on the back of the head, and he falls to the floor of the Knights Inn. This is a real place in Hackensack NJ, by the by.

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image courtesy of Tom and Lorenzo

Conrad Hilton might not be so spot on about young people giving us energy here. The next morning, an exhausted Don shows up at the office all fucked up. Thanks, hitchhiking assholes. His pipe dream transient fantasy has failed him. As he strolls into his office, Cooper is sitting in the big seat behind his Important Man(TM) Desk, and serves him with some ice cold realness.

Bert: “Would you say I know something about you, Don?”

Don: “I would..”

Bert: “Then sign. After all, when it comes down to it.. who’s really signing this contract anyway?”

HARSH. But, don’t get it twisted; Cooper ain’t wrong. 7/23/1963, the date Don signs.

“What do you do? What do you make? You grow bullshit.”

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.”