Monday, March 31, 2014

Mad Men Season 1, Episode 10: Long Weekend

Mortality.  Betty has already had to face her mother's death and she's not willing to lose her father yet, so she watches his diet when he comes over to what promises to be a long weekend indeed. Roger will be faced with his own mortality after a late night heart attack which gets him to appreciate what he has and promise to be a better man.  He questions how he's been living his life and also questions larger issues of the soul, the hereafter. Being reminded of death has it's effect on Don as well who, when hit with an crisis, runs into the arms of another woman - this one someone with whom he shares a particularly unique connection to death.  In all a fairly realistic look at the way that the specter of death hangs over us all and, when not kept at bay, can challenge us on every level.

We start at the Draper home with Betty's father Eugene bringing an unexpected, and to Betty's mind unwelcome, guest, his lady friend Gloria.  Betty sees her as a vulture, flying above her mother's dead body and swooping down to claim her father.  She resents the woman rather than understanding her father's need for companionship.  The daggers she shoots Gloria when she offers to give Gene some sugar, against Betty's wishes.  Sheesh.  Don tries to help her see things from Gene's perspective, but Betty's not budging. 

Next we see the Sterling Cooper brain trust screening competing television ads for the Nixon-Kennedy presidential campaign.  Kennedy's is all fluff - a catchy jingle and quick-cut images - and no substance.  It's about 20 years ahead of its time, before MTV ushered in the short attention span approach to TV.  Nixon's commercial is dry, boring, uninspiring - pretty much like the candidate himself.  Bogged down talking about issues, it's instantly forgettable.  

Don gives a rare glimpse into his background saying that when you contrast the two men, it should be easier to sell Nixon than Kennedy, stating "Why do we need to attack when there's a story to tell? Kennedy, nouveau riche. Recent immigrant who bought his way into Harvard, and now he's well bred? Great. Nixon is from nothing. A self-made man. The Abe Lincoln of California who was Vice President of the United States six years after getting out of the Navy. Kennedy, I see a silver spoon. Nixon, I see myself."

Don may see himself in Dick Nixon - a man from humble beginnings who pulls himself up by his bootstraps.  But the Don we see in that room is all Kennedy - good looking, slick, womanizing.
Roger's double entendres as he walks Joan to his office are pretty lame and if he thinks he's being charming, he's sorely mistaken. When he tries to use the excuse of a long Labor Day weekend with all the wives at the beach giving them free rein of the city, Joan shuts him down.  She brings up the movie The Apartment.  Her not-so-subtle message is that she doesn't want to be that secretary, strung along by a married man. 

During a meeting with Menken's department store, the story of the man who started with nothing and became a success is brought up again, this time by Rachel in regards to her father.  When she asks who at the table can make the same claim, this time Don says nothing (not identifying with the up from nowhere struggle as he did when talking about Nixon just an hour or so earlier).  Perhaps he desn't want Rachel to see that side of him.

Despite his success, Don tells Mr. Menken that he must change and adapt to continue to have that success.  His customers can no longer be relied on to shop there.  They have changed; he will have to change with the times or go under.  The new customer that Menken wants to attract will need to see a new store that better represents what they want.  When Don describes the Menken customer he uses Rachel as the paradigm: "They are educated sophisticated.  They know full well what they deserve."

Continuing with The Apartment theme, Joan's roommate comes to the office after having been fired by her boss and this is emblematic to Joan of how poorly women are treated by the men in their lives, at work and away from work.  Her solution is to go find some poor schmos and get them to buy them dinner.  You've come a long way baby!

Whenever you see Pete bursting at the seams, you know he's in the throes of a major case of Schadenfreude.  He gets so much more enjoyment out of someone else's misery than his own joy.  He vaults into Don's office (after first taking a verbal swipe at the absent Peggy, asking where "Howdy Dowdy" is) to tell him that he - Don - head of creative - is responsible for Sterling Cooper losing the Scholl's account.   Yes, ignoring what side his bread is buttered on, Pete is actually enjoying discussing losing a client.  And he wonders why he garners no respect.  

Pete tells Don how the client was "disappointed with the creative" -- that they called it dull and humorless.  Don is furious - he knows that Pete didn't fight for the account (probably knows how much Pete is enjoying this) and he knows that the responsibility for this loss ultimately is his as the head of creative - but he maintains a smile on his face.  Pete twists the knife ever so slightly, asking Don if he wants him to tell Roger or will Don.  Don offers that he'll walk his own head over the the guillotine, so Pete is at least denied that little triumph.  No sooner is Pete out of the office than Don's true feelings come to the surface as he knocks everything on his desk onto the floor.  He goes over to tell Roger and makes a quip about letting him know before the ink is dry on Don's recent raise.  But Roger is not that bothered by the loss.

Roger is more interested in discussing the possibilities of the weekend -- women-who-aren't-their-wives-wise.  He looks upon the Labor Day weekend as three days to have the run of Manhattan while his family is away.  He convinces Don to be his wingman, at least for tonight.  They go over to the casting call for the double-sided aluminum client, figuring that if Freddy Rumson is as slow and obvious as Roger thinks he is, casting should be perfect (did someone say twins?!).

The secretary-exec vs. dalliance-husband dynamic becomes an issue when Pete goes to talk to Peggy.  He wants some dirt from her -- he wants to find out if Don told Roger yet about getting fired by Scholl's -- and she ignores him.  He pushes and the trouble bubbles up to the surface.  She's not happy with the hot-and-cold nature of their relationship.  One minute, she's on his couch, legs in the air, the next minute, he doesn't recognize her.  His explanation -- he's a married man -- is not much of an explanation as he seems to only be married when it's convenient for him.  That's not what Peggy wants.  And when she points out to him how his marital status seems to be not always a firm thing, he commits a major sin -- he pretends he has no idea what she's talking about.  Their sexual flings are all in her imagination according to him.  As she said, he can be cruel.

More historical moments of sleazy misogyny with Paul, Ken, Harry and Sal hitting on the twins that are gathered in the hallway for the double-sided aluminum commercial casting call (God bless Freddy and his shallow thinking).  They are not impressing the girls with their lame come-on's, and the uncomfortable sight of them trying is mercifully cut short when Roger and Don enter.  Roger takes inventory then settles on one pair, dismissing the rest of the girls.

The next scene is mostly set up for the big payoff scene later and there's not much to say about Roger and his antics as he tries to deny middle age and whatever other demons he has by frolicking with a girl not much older than his daughter.  Don appears amused, if not interested in partaking, and seems content to aid in Roger's conquest by chatting with the other twin and not losing his lunch as Roger moves from one sexual innuendo to another. 

Back at Joan's apartment, things are just as uncomfortable when Joan's roommate Carol discloses her true feelings for Joan.  As crass and vulgar as Roger is with the Doublemint twins, Carol is as fragile and tentative as she professes her love.  Joan has no doubt had plenty of experience letting men down gently and she is very careful in how she lets Carol know that the feelings are not reciprocated as she suggests the two go out on the town.

Roger is riding Mirabelle, one of the twins, like a pony and the music plays forebodingly "your love gives me wings."  Yeah like an angel, which you only get to be if you're dead, Roger.  Heed the warning!  Don has seen enough and he excuses himself. Mirabelle's sister Eleanor joins him in the hallway to give the cowboy and his pony some privacy.  Don offers to get a cab for Eleanor but she convinces Don to stay and keep her company while she waits for her sister, who is apparently not as experienced in this realm as she is.  Roger and Mirabelle are talking and he brings up his daughter -- how angry she seems, how difficult their relationship is (and at no point does Mirabelle suggest that maybe he should stop bedding 20 year olds).

We flip back to Joan and Carol who are now back at their apartment with a couple businessmen they picked up.  Joan puts one of them to work replacing a bulb and it's cheaper than hiring a handyman, I suppose. Except, then she closes the door and gosh don't you know it, I bet it's not the light fixture he's taking care of!  Carol is all "whatever" on the couch - she can't get what she really wants (Joan), so she'll do her duty.

Don has not been a total Boy Scout as Eleanor mentions that he kisses like a married man.  She'd like to see what else he does like a married man, but Don is not in the mood.  It's interesting, Don obviously is not shy about cheating on his wife, or his mistress, but he also has no trouble saying no.  Maybe it's about control, but he seems to want what he wants and not just what he can get.

While Eleanor is, to use Don's phrase, selling too hard, we hear her sister calling for help.  They run in and Roger is on the floor, complaining about chest pain.  Don is pretty calm in an emergency.  He tells the girls to call an ambulance and then skedaddle.  When Roger is being carried away, still calling after young Mirabelle, Don grabs him by his wispy white hair and slaps the poor guy across the face, telling him, "Mona.  Your wife's name is Mona."  This way, in case Roger survives the heart attack, he won't have to worry about being murdered by his wife.

Roger is up and talking in the hospital, but he looks like hell.  Don is the only one there and Roger, who is clearly spooked by his close encounter with the white light, is spouting "Jesus" and "God" in between asking if Don believes in human energy (a "soul") and questioning how he's been living his life.  What is the old saying, there are no atheists in foxholes?  There are no unrepentant degenerates in the ER either.  He sobs when he sees his wife and he will never love her as much as he does this very minute.  His daughter Margaret comes in now and they're all hugging Roger. Don cannot but be affected by what he's seeing.

Joan received a message to go to the office and she sees only Bert there.  He tells her what happened to Roger and though she is shocked and concerned, the calm, cool and collected office manager comes out as she works on getting telegrams out to all the clients. 

Don calls Betty to explain what happened to Roger and why he'll be staying in the city and not heading up to the beach.  Not ten seconds after she hears that Roger has had a heart attack, Betty is back to complaining about Gloria and her father's relationship.  She hasn't gotten over her mother's death, how can he?  Don's answer to her continued grief over her mother's death, "stop thinking about that."

And where does Don go next?  To see Rachel.  He's distraught, unhinged, by the evening's events.  He looks like crap, not the dapper Donald Draper we're so used to.  He's come to her for something...not to listen to him, but to help him not think about what Roger's heart attack is making him think about -- his own mortality.  Rachel is too charitable thinking Don is grieving for his friend, and when she asks, "He's your friend, isn't he?" Don gives a chillingly accurate answer, "What's the difference?"  The way Don dismissively says, "he's rich" about Roger shows that this isn't about him.  It's about what feelings the heart attack has stirred up in Don.

No, Don isn't grieving for a friend.  Don is scared to death of death and being reminded of it, of the fragility and impermanence of life, has completely derailed him.  And he "does not like feeling like this."  He starts talking, sharing more than he ever has.  He tells Rachel that she knows everything about him, which to her seems impossible.  But Don feels that Rachel sees him -- sees right through him -- to who he really is.  He's in full blown panic mode.  He keeps repeating the same phrase: "This is it. This is all there is, and I feel like it's slipping through my fingers like a handful of sand.  This is it.
This is all there is."  It's end of the world time for Don and to make this all go away he just needs to have sex with Rachel.  That will fix everything.

We quickly go back to the office where Bert is walking Joan out of the office after having finished sending all the telegrams. He offers some unsolicited advice about her affair with Roger, "Don't waste your youth on age."

Finally, back at Rachel's, Don is looking better, calmer, more like his old self.  Sex has made the bad thoughts go away.  Lying there, he reveals more to Rachel about himself, sharing that, like her, his mother died in childbirth.  Only his mother was a prostitute and he was raised by his father and his father's wife until his father died and he went to live with her the new guy she took up with and he "was raised by those two sorry people."  Why the revelation?  Why does he need Rachel to know who he is when his own wife hasn't a clue?


Gloria: I live to serve.

Harry:  It's catchy like it gets in your head and makes you want to blow yours brains out.

Pete: The president is a product.  Don't forget that.

Don: Should've never been this close.

Roger:  Should have never been this close.

Don: Kennedy, I see a silver spoon.  Nixon, I see myself.

Mr. Menken: This place reminds of a czarist ministry. No matter what the decision, you don't feel it was yours.

Mr. Menken: I hope you two know what you're doing.

Don: : The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.

Roger: The day you sign a client is the day you start losing 'em.

Roger:  Being with a client is like being in a marriage.  Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons and eventually they hit you in the face.

Roger: Are we supposed to cry about this? So we lost an account.  That means we'll just have to cut back.  Let's go fire somebody.

Roger: What do we work so hard for? To have enough money to buy fabulous vacations for our family so we can live it up here.

Roger: Remember, Don, when God closes a door, he opens a dress. 

Peggy (to Pete):  I don't know if you like me or if you don't like me.  I'm just trying to get along here, and every time I walk by I wonder are you going to be nice to me - or cruel.

Roger: I've been living the last 20 years like I'm on shore leave. What the hell is that about? 
Don: It's living, just like you said.
Roger:  God, I wish I was going somewhere.

Betty: I know people say life goes on and it does.  But no one tells you that's not a good thing.


Don says that when he sees Nixon, he sees himself, the self made man.  Yet, we should also note that when identifying Kenedy's main weakness - that he's a reported womanizer - Don mentions that would guarantee him the win as women love that.  So who does he really see himself as?

The movie The Apartment came out in 1960 and is rather frank in its depiction of Manhattan executives who serially cheat, the women who suffer, and the consequences of these actions.  In the story, one of the secretaries being strung along by a philandering exec attempts suicide.  And this was reputedly a comedy!  One of the secretaries in the movie was named Olsen, so maybe Peggy was an homage to her.  

Further highlighting how little Roger knows about Don is his comment after denigrating the city of Chicago, he says, "sorry, maybe you're from there."  Even in casual business settings, it's ununusal for a boss not to know some basics like where someone is from. 

When Pete comes to the hospital he asks Don how Roger is doing and Don replies, "Not great."  It'll be five seasons until Pete uses that line, with one addition, in one of the show's most memorable moments.  

The Kennedy commercial where President Eisenhower undermines Nixon was brilliant and is the kind of gotcha attack that still plays well fifty plus years later.   

Betty asks Don (about her father): "How can he pretend that she never existed?" Don pretends Betty doesn't exist every time he's with another woman.

Don tells Rachel that his mother was a prostitute.

Harry's blow your brains out line quoted above.

Not too subtle award:  Roger's comment: "Did everything they told me. Drank the cream. Ate the butter. I get hit with a coronary."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mad Men Season 1, Episode 9: Shoot

We open on a pastoral scene of life in the country. Just another quiet, bucolic day in paradise.  Betty, the kids and Polly out in the back yard, their neighbor setting free his pigeons to fill the bright blue sky.  So serene.

On a night out on the town seeing a Broadway show, Don is being wooed by McCann Erickson, one of the bigger advertising agencies in Manhattan.  Jim Hobart puts the hard sell on Don who for the most part seems flattered but uninterested.  When Jim's wife Adele asks Don to join her to get cocktails, Jim chats with Betty.  He asks if she were an actress and she blushes, saying she's "just a housewife" before adding that she used to do some modeling.  Jim keys in on her false modesty and mild self-deprecation and recognizes that this is something she is proud of and misses.  He suggests she (with her Grace Kelly looks) might be perfect for a campaign his agency is doing for Coca Cola and he gives her his card.

Betty had been a model, in Manhattan, when she met Don.  She tells Francine about this (and I'm more than a little surprised she hadn't dropped this nugget earlier to her best friend) also mentioning that she spent a summer in Italy after college.  She used to model for an Italian designer and she still has some of the outfits he made for her.  So Betty still keeps a piece of her past around (and after two kids, the dress still fits!).

When Don gets into work, there's a package waiting for him.  It's a towel from the New York Athletic Club along with a membership pass and a note from Jim Hobart welcoming Don to the club.  That's not all he wants to welcome Don to...Jim is so subtle. Don calls Jim and they dance and parry a bit, Jim the determined suitor, Don the reluctant catch.  Don makes it clear that he's not all that interested,  referring to accepting Jim proposal as "waving the flag." But Jim makes a great offer - $35K a year with a three-year contract.  Money and stability, what more could Don want?

Betty talks to her therapist about the offer and we get a little more of her, and Don's, back-story.  She was a model, he was a copywriter for a fur company and he had asked her out.  She turned him down, but three weeks later he sent her the fur she had been modeling and this time she agreed to go out with him.  Within no time, she was engaged, pregnant, and her modeling days were behind her.  She moved to the 'burbs and suddenly felt very old.  With mild encouragement from her therapist, Betty delves more deeply into some of the baggage she still carries about her looks and weight.  Her mother had worried about Betty being too heavy and was constantly monitoring her weight.  But once she became a svelte, beautiful model, that didn't satisfy her mother either.  She called her a prostitute.

Instead of saying, "go on," or "tell me more," as he normally does Dr. Wayne goes out on a limb and directly suggests to Betty that she is angry with her mother.  This gets quite a rise out of Betty.  She is not at all prepared to admit that!  Instead, she gets angry with her therapist.  She accuses him of not listening to her and provoking her.  She's not angry with her mother, she says.  She was just doing what she thought was best.  She wanted her daughter to be beautiful so she could find a man.  But the problem, as Betty sees it, is that finding a man is not the end all and be all of a woman's existence.  After you find him, marry him, buy a house in Upstate NY and have two children...then what?  Betty is about as unfulfilled as a person can be and she sees no way to fix this.

Not at all subtly, the next image we see is of Jacqueline Kennedy, speaking Spanish, helping to get votes for her husband's campaign.  Like Betty, she was the pretty girl who went to college, she studied abroad, and married a handsome man.  But rather than sitting at home and smoking and waiting to die, which is what Betty feels she is doing, Jackie is out hitting the campaign trail and working on a common goal with her husband.  Perhaps this spurs Betty's later decision?

There is more talk at Sterling Cooper about the upcoming election - Nixon currently holds a commanding lead and probably won't ask for their help unless something changes.  No one, with the possible exception of Pete, sees Kennedy as much of a threat and they all think that women will HATE Jackie.  O, how wrong they were!

Don comes home (after getting in a dig at Peggy - his "girl" who's spending her time on her other work and is now not pulling her weight at his desk) and Betty wants to talk to him about taking up Jim Hobart on the offer to model for Coke.  Don reminds Betty that she used to say she hated modeling, but she really wants to go back.  She can get someone to watch the kids.  Don can tell Betty has made up her mind and that it really doesn't matter what he says.  He acknowledges that he can't stop her from doing what she wants to do.

Peggy has been looking like she put on a few pounds and today it's confirmed as she splits the seam on her skirt at work.  Joan helps her out with a spare outfit and Peggy now needs to bring not just an extra shirt, but an extra skirt (preferably with an elastic wasteband) to work.  And maybe cut down on the danish.  AKA...filler scene that better pay off later!

Roger comes into Don's office carrying a golf bag and it's not because it's almost tee time.  Jim Hobart has launched his second offensive (third if you count the offer to Betty). Roger doesn't want to lose Don, so he makes sure Don knows he's appreciated, telling him he's one in a million. Roger tries to discourage Don from considering Jim's offer and Don suggests that there might be some things that a firm like McCann Erickson could offer that he can't get where he is now.  In a nice, if obvious, piece of staging, the camera pans back as Jim's golf bag filled with enticement looms between the two.

The Greek chorus comment on Don potentially leaving Sterling Cooper - Pete would be happy to see him go, Paul hopes Don takes him with him and Harry wonders how much money they're offering him.  They also weigh in (see what I did there?) on Peggy's recent physical transformation, some attributing it to work and stress, others positing that she had slimmed down to get her job and this is the real Peggy.  Pete has the cojones to say, "who thinks about her?"  Well, you for one, Pete. 

Betty is in the waiting room with the other models and she looks terribly out of place, dressed for a 50's debutante ball while the others are looking slightly more modern.  She meets the art director and goes in for a tryout.

Pete and Harry are reminiscing about old college days and Pete tells him a story about how his frat blocked another frat's party by monopolizing the area and suddenly Pete gets a great idea for how to help one client, Secor Laxatives, while indirectly benefiting another, the Nixon campaign.  They buy all the ad time in the key states and there's nothing left for Kennedy to buy.  Again, Pete is showing some clever, out-of-the-box thinking.

Betty looks ecstatic sitting for the Coca Cola shoot and she is beaming when Don comes home, telling him how great the day worked out for everyone.  See, a mother can have it all!  That is, if the mom conveniently doesn't notice that her daughter is upset and not eating her dinner.  Or until the daughter jumps into bed saying she's afraid the neighbor is going to shoot the dog.  That's when Don and Betty find out about the scene we saw earlier (while Sally and Bobby were being babysat by the inattentive Ethel), when Polly went after one of the neighbor's birds and he threatened to shoot the dog if he saw her in the backyard again.  So, of course Betty is faced with it being her fault (and not the psycho neighbor or the lackadaisical babysitter) that Sally is afraid and worried.  If she only stayed home like a good wife, none of this would have happened.  She assures Don that the kids will be in good hands tomorrow, with Francine, and that she'll handle the neighbor.

The next day at the office starts with a creepy scene of Paul, Harry, and Pete each taking turns lavishing praise on Don, only to be interrupted by Roger and Bert.  They think Bert has come in to lambaste someone for the Secor Laxative commercial buying spree, and Harry is ready to take the fall with Pete reluctantly chiming in...only it turns out that Bert and Roger loved the idea, think it was inspired. Don congratulates them on the idea and everyone celebrates.  Pete celebrates too much, or lets it go to his head too fast, and in no time he is being sexually inappropriate with his long-suffering secretary and this manages to creep out even Paul. 

Don gets another package marked personal, and it's also from Jim Hobart.  It contains stills of Betty's shoot for the Coke ad with a note to call Jim.  But rather than inspire Don to consider the move, it pushes him into the waiting arms of Sterling Cooper.  Don goes over to Roger's office, manages to negotiate a very nice raise for himself, and commits to staying put without a contract.  He knows that this means Betty will not get the commercial for Coke - is that the reason he's doing this or is it something else?  Was he really turned off by Jim's using Betty to get to Don, was that what he meant when he told Roger that he liked they way they do business?

The scene between Peggy and Joan (dealing with Peggy's recent weight gain) is brilliant as is the revelation at the end - that Joan is trying to be helpful to Peggy.  She sees Peggy gaining weight and she thinks that Peggy is ruining her chances of getting a guy.  Joan cannot fathom that Peggy has any other agenda for being there, working hard, and expanding into copy-writing.

Betty gets the news that she won't be getting the commercial work for Coca Cola and while the art director does a great job of letting her down gently, she's still devastated.  This meant so much to Betty and having it, then losing it, is another blow for her to take.

Just a few minutes earlier, Pete was being a complete ass hat to his secretary, leering at her, making veiled sexual overtures, otherwise behaving like the consummate creep.  Then Ken makes a couple tacky comments about Peggy and Pete cold cocks him.  Was Pete only defending his own honor, or was he also putting Ken in his place for being so vulgar and insulting?  The fight continues for just a few seconds (while Don and Roger walk out, ignoring the melee) before Paul brings to two together to shake and make up. 

When Don gets home, Betty has dried her tears and is back in Susie Homemaker mold.  She looks perfect, with a home-cooked meal waiting for him, the children already tucked into bed.  Betty lies to Don and tells him that the day's shoot went very well but that she's decided that she doesn't really want to go back to work.  Don does not let on that he has any inkling that this may not have been her decision.  She tells Don that she rather be there for him, making his dinner and taking care of him.  Don tells her none of that is important (he probably thinks he's helping, but I'm not sure he is).  But he does add that her job is to take care of Sally and Bobby and that she's great at that and how he would have loved to have a mother like her.  Well, Don hasn't had much to compare her against, so I'll cut him some slack.  I can't imagine this will satisfy Betty and she is the same person who told Dr. Wayne how unfulfilled she was as just a mother, so it looks like repression and denial are in her future.

The next morning, Don heads off to work after hearing about the fun day (I just typed that as gun day, Dr. Freud!!) Betty and the kids are going to have.  Betty makes their breakfast, takes them out, does some laundry, picks up a shotgun and shoots the neighbor's pigeons

If ever there wan an iconic shot from Mad Men, it's pretty blonde Betty, in her nightgown, with a cigarette, taking aim at the pigeons.  She may not be what she wanted, she may have had her dream taken away from her and she may be stuck just being a housewife, but do not think you can push Betty Draper around. 


Jim Hobart:  Your name came up.
Don: Three millionaires in towels in a steam room?  I don't know how to take that.
Jim:  Take it as a compliment, a sign that you're destined for greater things.

Jim:  All I'm saying is you've done your time in the farm leagues. Yankee stadium is on the line.

Jim: Besides getting the handsome prince, are you an actress or something?
Betty: No, I'm a housewife.  I did do some modeling a lifetime ago.
Jim: I'm not surprised.  That is some face you've got there.  Anybody ever tell you you're a dead ringer for Grace Kelly?
Betty:  They used to.

Betty: Am I that wrong for Coca-Cola?
Don: You're not wrong for anything.

Betty: He basically said the man was trying to sleep with one of us, and he didn't like the idea of either.

Jim: Eventually you come up here or you die wondering.

Betty: I think it would be fun to go in and be that girl again.***
Don: Well, I can't stop you from doing what you want to do.

Don (to Betty): Don't worry, I'm not going to ruin this.  I'm very happy for you.

Don: If I leave this place one day it will not be for more advertising.
Roger: What else is there?
Don: I don't know.  Life being lived?  I'd like to stop talking about it and get back to it.
Roger: I've worked with a lot of men like you, and if you had to choose a place to die it would be in the middle of a pitch.
Don: I've done that.  I want to do something else.

Peggy:  I know what men think of you. That you're looking for a husband, and you're fun, and not in that order.
Joan: Peggy, this isn't China.  There's no money in virginity.

Don (to Betty):  I would've given anything to have had a mother like you.  Beautiful, and kind, and filled with love like an angel.


Fiorello! the play that the Drapers and the Hobarts were seeing was running at the Broadhurst Theatre before its Broadway run.  It won the Tony as well as the Pulitzer Prize and the lead was none other than Richie Cunningham's Dad, Tom Bosley.  It was based on the former mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia, a Republican, as he took on the Democrat political machine of Tammany Hall that controlled the city at the time.

We know that Sterling Cooper is one of the smaller firms and that they have trouble competing with the larger ones like BBDO, so it was a sign that Don Draper is making a name for himself that representatives of three of the biggest firms were all talking about him.  Jim Hobart says that Don is destined for greater things. 

The parallels between Betty's mom who was worried about her weight and Joan worrying about Peggy's are pretty obvious.  Both women come from the old school that a woman's job is to find a husband and anything not in furtherance of that plan - like getting fat - is a mistake.  Neither woman imagined that Betty or Peggy could want anything else out of life and both probably thought they were being helpful in their criticisms.  Betty feels powerless and resigned to living a meaningless life, but Peggy seems to have some spunk and to want more. 

Possibly because of the message sent at this time in American culture, Pete thinks he should be this Lothario, flirting with and conquering the women around him.  He wants to be that guy, but he's not.  He's not debonair and sexy, he's just an awkward little weasel.  Trudy loves him, but also emasculates him.  Only Peggy gives him what he wants - to be looked up to and respected and desired.  But he is only interested in her if she's meek and subordinate.

Great small moments involving Pete.  First, when he thinks he's in trouble for his idea on buying TV time for Secor only to find out that Bert thinks it was a brilliant idea.  Basking in the compliment, Pete rises from the meeting in Don's office, looking smug, and says, "are we done here?" only to have Don dismissively respond, "No" forcing him to sit back down. Then Pete is in his office celebrating his big moment and he tries to woo his secretary only to be shot down in front of the guys.  Finally, when Don goes to talk to Roger and Roger reassures him that despite this small triumph, "I can give you my assurance that nothing good will happen to that boy, though I can't seem to keep my word on that, hard as I try."

The episode is about power, ultimately.  Don has it when he is being courted by other firms and parlays that power into a better deal for himself at work.  Betty used to have it with her looks and now she feels like she has nothing.  Pete wants it and will never get it, finally trying to exert his masculinity with a punch in the face.  He has great ideas at work, but that doesn't seem to satisfy him as he'll never be Don.  Betty acts out on her powerlessness as "just a housewife" by taking aim, literally, on her neighbor's pigeons.

Betty's mother called her a prostitute for being a model

Time warp: Betty using "gay" for happy and upbeat, in saying "very gay songs."  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mad Men Season 1, Episode 8: The Hobo Code

"The Hobo Code" is one of the first memorable, epic Mad Men episodes, one that will be referred to repeatedly by fans and reviewers as it informs the character of Don Draper better than almost any other episode in the series.  It shows us both the outwardly confident business man and the insecure, ready-to-run boy hiding inside.

But before we get to Don, we get more insight into the baffling relationship between Pete and Peggy.  Pete and Peggy both come into the office early and end up having sex on Pete's couch, as far as we know the second time they slept together since his visit to her room on the eve of his marriage.  Well, at least Pete returned that chip 'n' dip wedding gift before cheating on his bride!  Afterwards Peggy, always speaking softly almost timidly, asks Pete if he thinks about her and he admits that he does.  Pete shares that he does not feel what he's supposed to feel for Trudy, he feels like she's a stranger.  But Peggy tries to comfort him that he is not alone in this.  The juxtaposition of Peggy's modest Peter Pan collar, pony tail and whispered tones with the girl willing to have sex in the office with a married man is another sign that there is much more to Peggy Olson than meets the eye.

Don starts the episode with an unexpected invitation to Bert Cooper's office where he is surprised with a nice token of Bert's appreciation in the form of a $2,500 bonus check.  Don is the star of Sterling Cooper and Bert wants him to know he is valued.  Bert asks Don if he's ever read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the epic novel of, according to your philosophical and political perspective, either soulless greed and selfishness or talent and individuality.  Bert thinks Don would appreciate the book and its reverence of hard work, ingenuity and single-mindedness.  He recognizes in Don a self-made man, in contrast to Pete and Roger who were born with the proverbial silver spoons in their upper crust mouths. 

We see Don at his best, at work with the Belle Jolie execs and he practically hypnotizes them into buying the copy that Peggy helped create.  His "I'm not here to tell you about Jesus" pitch was inspired.  He shocked them, grabbed them by the nape of the neck and dragged them over to his thinking.  He was powerful and arrogant and in complete control and he came out on top.  This is in stark contrast to the scared Don of the pilot who was sure his well of ideas had run dry and he'd be revealed as a fake.

When Don and the team head back to his office to celebrate, you think that they had all conveniently forgotten about Peggy and her contribution.  She comes up with the idea and they take all the credit.  But, no, they invite her in to join in the celebration (but quickly, better have that drink before Joan sees) and congratulate her for her copy.  She's still being "ballerina'ed" by Freddy, but she has - like the women in the copy - made her mark.  But make no mistake, Peggy is no demure little girl, she's a fighter.  Even while basking in their congratulations, she comments that they had slightly changed her original copy.  Still, she is intoxicated with her first taste of success.  But her success is Don's success (he's the head of creative after all) and he is riding high.

So where does Don go after receiving an unexpected bonus from Bert Cooper and after nailing down the Belle Jolie account?  Out with his co-workers?  Home to wife?  Nope, he makes a beeline for Midge.  He walks into her apartment, past her beatnik friends, and shows her the bonus check and invites her to leave for Paris.  Right now.  We don't know how or if Don plans to explain any of this to Betty or his two children, we don't know what he's thought beyond heading to Idyllwild airport and catching the next jet to Paris.  Midge may be the beatnik, but she's not about to drop everything and fly across the Atlantic.  She has big plans for the night.  She and her friends are going to get high and listen to jazz.  She talks Don into staying with them and joining in.

Don seems to enjoy his drug-induced experience, saying he feels like Dorothy and everything turned to color.  He takes another hit then goes into the bathroom and looks into the mirror.  Whether it's the drugs, the scratching of the album needle on the turntable or something else, he is propelled back in time, to when he was a young boy on a farm.  He's there with his father and stepmother and a hobo who is asking for work.  His father tries to send the hobo away saying, "we're not Christians here no more," but his stepmother won't hear of it and allows the bum to stay.  He joins the family for dinner and is promised money in exchange for work the next day.

Later that night, young Dick Whitman brings the hobo some blankets and the two chat for a bit.  The hobo makes Dick an honorary and tells him the ways of the hobo.  He explains how he has no home and just moves from place to place.  But where Dick thinks that sounds sad (which in itself is a surprising revelation), the man explains how freeing his new life is.  How before he was saddled with a wife and a job and responsibilities, but ever since he walked away he's lived an unfettered, stress-free life.  He explains how hobos communicate with one another, by the markings they leave on the houses they visit.

Back at the office, plans were made for a party to celebrate Peggy's accomplishment and with Sterling, Cooper and Draper all out of the office, the only stumbling block was getting Pete to agree.  He was reluctant, wanting to take the role as the one in command, but eventually he agreed - with Peggy shooting him some sensuous looks and him pretending not to notice.  They go out dancing, pretty much the whole department is there.  Most are having fun, but not Pete.  He watches Peggy dance with Freddy and seethes.  She Twists on over to him and asks him to dance, but he refuses.  He's angry and snarls that he doesn't like to see her like that.  But what is the "like that?"  Happy, free, flirtatious, sexual?  What does he want from her?  He runs out and leaves her behind, sad and confused on what should be her best day yet.

After work, Salvatore Romano, head of the Art Department, goes to the Roosevelt Hotel where he meets up with one of the Belle Jolie execs.  Elliott, the exec, is happy to see Sal there as he was hoping Sal picked up on his mention of the hotel when they were back at the office after the meeting.  They move from drinks to dinner and Sal and Elliott have a nice time, until Elliott tries to move to the next level.  Elliott recognizes that Sal is gay but doesn't see that Sal is reluctant to admit it or act upon it.  Elliott is not forceful or demanding, but he thinks they want the same thing.  Only, Sal is not ready.  The exchange is so brutally honest for the time period, as Elliott asks "What are you afraid of?" and Sal responds, stupefied, "Are you joking?" before beating a hasty exit.

Back at Casa de Greenwich, the youngsters are doing the bunny hop (could they make the generational gap between them and Don any greater?) when they hear sirens.  The police storm the building and they are stuck.  Don had staggered out of the bathroom from his foggy flashback and is out of sorts.  Suddenly, as he looks over at them, he has an epiphany - Midge and Roy are in love.  But despite this, he still wants Midge to run off with him to Paris.  Now.  It's sad, and telling, that she's the more rational one.  She says no and Don is on his way.

Back we go to flashback farm.  It's the next day.  The hobo has done his work and it's time for him to depart.  Dick is watching and sees his father pocket the money that the man had been promised the night before and the hobo leaves without his pay.  Dick has learned something new about his father, that he can add on top of philandering, mean and a drunk.  When the hobo leaves, Dick sees the mark that the man had missed on the front gate that would have warned him not to waste his time there.  This was the home of a dishonest man.

That night, after his failed attempt to run away with Midge, Don heads home.  There is no marking in front of his house to tells strangers what kind of a man lives there.  But the man he is walks upstairs to his son's room and wakes him.  The boy he was about to abandon for a fling in Paris is now groggily awakening, oblivious to the significance of his father's late night visit.  Ask me anything, Don tells him.  The shield is down, the barrier removed, this is the chance to get real answers, the truth.  But Bobby doesn't know what a significant moment this is for his father, he's just a tired little boy.  So he comes up with a question about lightning bugs and that's one Don can't answer.  The window of opportunity shuts, but not before Don promises that he will never lie to his son.  But isn't keeping him in the dark, not telling him the truth, the same as lying?


After Peggy tears her blouse following sex at the office with Pete, she suggests she should bring a spare.  This mirrors Don having a drawer-full of shirts at the office so that his dalliances won't get in the way of dressing well.

So many crossed wires, so many people not reading the situation, not being what the other person wants them to be.  Pete wants Peggy to be demure and needy, Elliott wants Sal to be open and accepting of who he is, regardless of what others may think.  Lois, the switchboard operator who has fallen in love with Sal just from hearing him on the phone, wants Sal to be her Italian lover.  Don wants Midge to be his escape hatch, to run away with him on a whim, to pull up stakes and start fresh somewhere else.  But the free spirit is more rooted than Don is.  Even Bobby isn't who Don wants him to be in that final scene.  Don wants him to be Dick Whitman's surrogate, the little boy who had no one to look up to and no one to trust.  But Bobby is just himself, not his father's stand in. And, really, can Bobby really idolize and trust his father?  He doesn't even know who he really is.

At the end of the episode, Peggy comes in to the office early again, but this time there is no Pete.  He finally comes in later, once the place is busy and he heads straight to his office.  Peggy is dejected.  She is at his mercy.  When will he look at her, when will he ask her into his office.  She has no power there.

I love how Don comes to his realization that Midge and Roy are in love.  Not from their interactions, but on his interpretation of a photograph he took of the two of them.  Don is telling us he doesn't feel love, but he knows what it looks like.  That is so in tune with his "fake it" approach to life. That is why Don is able to pass for an upstanding member of society, able to walk out of Midge's and right past the police.  He is passing for a respected upper middle class businessman - he looks the part and acts the part (even if he occasionally drops the "g's" from words like the country bumpkin he once was according to Roger). 

Speaking of faking it and passing, the story involving Sal and Elliott was sad but not surprising given the times.  Especially being an Italian and Catholic, it is understandable that Sal would have being so reluctant to give in to his sexual orientation that openly and would instead choose to keep the duality going.

**SPOILERY**In "The Suitcase" episode, when Don yells at Peggy "That's what the money is for," we see how this harkens back to money, in the form of the bonus check from Bert in this episode, being to Don the currency of appreciation.**END SPOILER**  

This won't be the last time Don gets it into his mind to up and leave on a moment's notice.  But here there didn't seem to be any triggering event or emergency that set him on a path to escape.  Work is going well, the shock of Adam's reappearance has worn off, he and Betty are getting along just fine.  So why does the bonus check make him want to just take off?


Bert: When you hit 40, you realize you've met or seen every kind of person there is, and I know what kind you are.  Because I believe we are alike.
Don: I assume that's flattering.
Bert: By that I mean you are a productive and reasonable man and in the end completely self-interested.

Bert (to Don): We are different - unsentimental about all the people who depend on our hard work.

Don (to the Belle Jolie execs): Listen, I'm not here to tell you about Jesus.

Don:  Ken, you will realize in your private life that at a certain point seduction is over and force is actually being requested.

Joan (to Peggy):  I'm glad your other work was suffering for a reason.

Elliott: What are you afraid of?
Sal: Are you joking?

Hobo: What's at home? I had a family once: a wife, a job, a mortgage.  I couldn't sleep at night tied to all those things. ... Now I sleep like a stone: sometimes under the stars, the rain, the roof of a barn.
But I sleep like a stone.

Hobo:  If death was coming anyplace, it's here, kid, creeping around every corner.

Don:  Every day I make pictures where people appear to be in love.  I know what it looks like.

Don:  Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent.

Roy:  The cops. You can't go out there.
Don:  You can't.

Don (to Bobby):  I will never lie to you.

Don gives his bonus check over to his mistress, which could be seen as paying for sex.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mad Men Season 1, Episode 7: Red in the Face

"It's a chip 'n' dip."

"Basically, we're dealing with the emotions of a child here."

The second line is said by Betty's therapist in one of his secret phone calls with Don, breaking rules of privacy and professional responsibility that had to be the law even back then.  And while the therapist views Betty as a child, she's not the only one behaving childishly in this episode.  From Pete (who utters the first line more in this one episode than anyone has said that phrase since they were invented) pouting that Trudy won't let him have what he wants, to Don pranking Roger to pay him back for coming on to his wife,  there are few grownups in this episode. 

What was most interesting about Dr. Wayne's comment to Don about Betty was Don's response: "She wasn't always like this."  I said in the last recap that it was clear that Don had married above him and this quote shows that there was a time when Betty was the sharp Bryn Mawr alumna that caught his eye and not the "girl" who would cut off her locks at the request of a nine-year-old boy.  Why did she change?  Was it the era and the pressure to become a housewife (a role that does not seem to give her pleasure) rather than pursue a career?  Was it her mother's death, which obviously affected her deeply.  Was it growing older and her fear of aging and losing her looks?  Was it having a husband so emotionally, and often physically, distant?

The doctor suggests that this malaise is common of housewives of the era, feeling unfulfilled and unmoored.  If this is true, then wouldn't fulfillment be the answer and not talking therapy?  But I digress.

Roger's on the phone with his wife who tells him that she and their daughter are heading up to his mother's place in Montclair.  Bert Cooper comes in as Roger is assuring Mona that he's drinking his milk (she didn't say he couldn't add anything to it) and later Bert chastises Roger for smoking.  Poor Roger, he has two people who are worried about his health!  As a side note, I enjoyed both the story Bert told of how smoking may have had a role in the Munich Agreement and Roger's takeaway from that story - "Hitler didn't smoke.  And I do."

With Mona gone for the weekend, Roger approaches Joan for an after-work rendezvous, but she is not his bird in a cage; she has made other plans.  Roger does not want to be alone, so he goes to Don and invites him out for a drink.  A glorious, if short, interchange with Pete solidifies the Roger Sterling character as the fount of great one-liners from here on out.

After being emasculated by Roger, Pete tries to relocate his alpha male with some quick flirting with Peggy (which makes Hildy very displeased) and an offer to help her by reading her Belle Jolie copy.

Roger is still hoping to score in Mona's absence and he eyes some lovely young ladies at the bar.  He tries to enlist Don to join him in pursuit, but Don acts like a loyal husband who can't even fathom what Roger is thinking.  Does Roger know what a libertine Don really is when it comes to faithfulness?  He doesn't call him on his hypocrisy, so maybe he doesn't know. Without a wingman to help him score - and seeing how the ladies are all drooling after the disinterested Don - Roger instead ends up wrangling an invitation back to Don's house for some home cooking.  

The dinner conversation is fascinating.  Betty fishes for compliments, mentioning how she used to be chubby as a girl.  Roger is charming as he talks about his wartime experiences and the two have an easy back and forth.  She and Roger both reminisce about childhoods full of summertime night swimming.  There's some mild flirtation as Roger mentions swimming nude.  When Roger tries to pull Don into their memories of summer pools, he reveals a little - he used to swim in a quarry (shades of Breaking Away) - before shutting down any further discussion when Roger pushes about his past ("by the way you drop your g's every once in a while, I always thought you were raised on a farm.  Someplace with a swimmin' hole.").

This is the second time that Don has had his own childhood - whatever that was - contrasted with the life of privilege that Roger, Betty and others around him had (recall the dinner with the Sterlings where they all - aside from Don - discussed their nannies).  Is what we see in Don's eyes as he excuses himself from the table class envy or something else?  Or is this just his knee-jerk reaction to any prying about his past?

While Don is gone, Roger makes a drunken pass at Betty.  This is no doubt motivated by Joan not taking him up on his offer and the young girls at the bar who were more taken with Don.  Roger, who believes he is in competition with Don, is not willing to lose and wants someone to react to him, to be charmed by him.  To make him feel still viable, still virile.  But Betty does not react the way he hoped.  While she deflects this unwanted attention, neither she nor Roger are able to quickly cover the awkwardness upon Don's return and the whole scene is so terribly uncomfortable.  It only gets worse when Roger leaves and Don accuses Betty of throwing herself at Roger.  He gets angry and physical as he rages about being "treated like that" in his own house.  Betty calls his brutish bluff, asking if he wants to bounce her off the walls, and Don instead echoes what Betty's therapist said about her, "sometimes I feel like I'm living with a little girl."

Was Betty flirting with Roger?  Not intentionally.  She was being the good wife, the good hostess.  But does she like the attention from men, does she like getting noticed for her looks?  Clearly, the answer to that question is yes.   Don was wrong to blame her for Roger's actions, but I doubt we've seen the last of the young, flirtatious Betty who likes the attention her beauty gets her.

Roger's purported apology the next day is telling.  He invokes his own prestige and power and takes no ownership or personal responsibility for his drunken rudeness.  Instead, he speaks obtusely and relies on the third person by explaining his behavior thusly: "When a man gets to a point when his name's on the building, he can get an unnatural sense of entitlement."  Not, I got drunk and went too far and I'm sorry.  Roger won't be that direct, nor cowed.  And what is Don, his employee, to do?  Not accept the apology and find a new job?  Get into a fistfight and find a new job?  

But what Don doesn't do is accept Roger's lame apology, the first one nor the second one about "parking in the wrong garage."  We can guess whether Don would have been more receptive had Roger not spoken in circles, and had manned up and taken responsibility for his actions. But he didn't do that.  Still, Don gave Roger ultimately what he wanted by seemingly moving on.  Again, it was an interesting power play.  Roger was in the wrong, but he's the boss.  He doesn't necessarily have to apologize, he could just use his position and power. But getting Don to accept his apology seemed very important to Roger.

Ah, the chip 'n' dip.  The guys at work mock Pete for running errands for Trudy and it gets only worse for Pete at the store where he finds himself mocked by the housewife behind him in line (when he says he doesn't know her husband, who's also in advertising, she snarkily replies that's because Pete is there at the returns counter).  He is frustrated in his attempt to complete a simple return, and it's a wonderfully drawn out scene that really encapsulates the way that something so mundane - a store return - can reflect so perfectly on everything in life that is not going Pete's way.  Watching Pete as he tries to be suave or funny, and failing miserably.  The way the saleswomen knock him down peg by peg - you should have registered, you should have brought your receipt, maybe it's under your wife's name - just chips away at his manhood piece by piece.

Pete is further embarrassed by a college buddy who happens upon the scene.  He friend is tall and has an easy confidence, flirting successfully with the saleswoman.  Pete tries to flirt his way into getting cash instead of store credit and fails at that as well.  If only he had a receipt!  Pete doesn't even see how creepy he comes off flirting while returning A WEDDING PRESENT.  Pete may well be the least self-aware person on the show.

But Pete finds a way to reclaim his masculinity, using the store credit to buy himself a rifle.  He is so proud of himself and it seems to work with the guys who claim they had come in to needle him further but now that he's sporting a weapon, he's one of them once more.

The next scene, though, is the one that really shows where Pete is at and how under-appreciated and misunderstood he is. Pete is the true visionary at Sterling Cooper, not Don, not the old guard.  It's Pete who recognizes that JFK will be a strong threat to Nixon, that his youth and coolness factor will connect with the voters.  His observation - that Kennedy and Elvis share a common element - was struck down by Bert Cooper as youthful folly, but it was dead on.  Pete is underestimated and disregarded by everyone, but he might be the most forward-thinking man on the show.

It is in these next brief moments that Mad Men really shines, these slices of domestic reality.  Betty is at home, in the kitchen, preparing a roast for Don.  We know, from what she told him in bed last episode, how she plans her whole day around his arrival home and, following last night's surprise dinner guest, she's gone out of her way to make a special meal tonight.  And what does Don do?  He looks at the roast, confused rather than impressed, and says, dismissively, "you know it's just me."  You can see the hurt on Betty's face as her efforts go unappreciated.  This scene is contrasted by Pete at home with his wife where the tables are turned.  He's the one feeling not understood.  He's the one on the wrong end of the marital power dynamic.  As he sits there, forlorn, the rifle laid across his lap, we hear Trudy yell, "You're always telling me to grow up."  Pete looks completely deflated.

Pete comes in to work the next day still carrying the rifle, no doubt on instructions by Trudy to return it immediately.  We now know Pete pretty well.  He wants to be the big shot, but he's just a mid-level exec whose father thinks he's wasted his pedigree, whose colleagues don't respect him and whose wife controls him.  So when Peggy walks into his office, calling him Mr. Campbell, and looking up to him for help, we know what he sees.  This is the one person who might view him the way he wants to be seen.

He starts to tell Peggy about hunting and then he has her sit down as he regales her with his fantasy where he is the alpha hunter who kills and prepares the animal and brings it to some idealized woman who is there waiting for her man.  The woman cooks what he has killed, serves it to him, and watches as he eats.  Peggy sees what Pete sees in this fantasy and says, breathlessly, "That would be wonderful."  So overwhelmed is Peggy with this macho reverie, she can't go back to work but instead grabs some food to sate her ravenous reaction to his story.  

"What is wrong with you?"  That's what we were all wondering when Betty agreed to give creepy Glen a lock of her hair and we're not surprised to see Helen Bishop finally confront Betty with that very question.  Betty slaps Helen and storms out of the store rather than deal with the fact that she did something so awkward and unsettling as agreeing to Glen's request.  Her husband and her therapist think she's a child and maybe she is.  Why would she give a nine-year-old boy a lock of her hair?  Why would she be surprised that others would find it wrong?  Betty has been told by her husband that he embarrassed her with his boss and now she is being told she's embarrassed herself with Helen's son.

Francine hears about the grocery store incident and comes to check on her friend.  Betty is nonplussed by her actions, but Francine tells her not to worry.  All the ladies will be Team Betty, they don't like Helen Bishop and her weird ways (walking! divorced! working!).  Again, the topic turns as it always seems to with Betty to her looks.  As long as she's still able to attract attention, she's earning her keep.  

We think that Don and Roger have patched things up as we watch their alcohol-soaked lunch binge.  Both are in fine form, hilarious as usual the more tipsy they become.  Roger is impressed with Don's ability to keep up and Don is matching Roger oyster-for-oyster and martini-for-martini as they pre-game before the GOP pitch meeting. 


When they get back to the building, Hollis the elevator man has bad news (not at all related to the exchange of money between him and Don earlier that morning - wink wink) - the elevator is out.  Don plays it great, suggesting that they miss the meeting.  But Roger plows ahead and suggests they walk the two dozen or so flights of stairs to the meeting.  And then we see that Don may sometimes put things in the past never to think of them again, he can also think about things very deeply and plans them out in great detail.  And he apparently has a vengeful streak.  A way to right wrongs that only he can appreciate.  He doesn't need Roger to know he has the upper hand, or to know that he was still mad at him for coming on to Betty.  He doesn't need Roger to know that he planned out a way to get even.  He just needs for it to all work out, if only just for his own satisfaction.

By the 8th floor, Roger is winded and ready to pass out while Don is calmly lighting a cigarette. The old machismo game is afoot and Roger can't let the younger Don win.  He may be ready to keel over, but that doesn't mean he's willing to admit it.  Don goads him, reflecting on his tenacity with a "navy man" knowing that's just the right button to push with Roger.  For the second time in their interactions Roger mentions that it's his name on the building.  He may be weakened, but he will still assert whatever power he has.

Eventually, Don goes off ahead and greets the clients, looking none the worse for the 23 floor hike.  But when Roger finally hobbles in he quickly becomes sick right in front of the clients.  Everyone laughs about it and Pete escorts the clients to a nearby office as Roger collects himself and we see Don, beaming, as he enjoys his revenge.  A childish prank, certainly.  But also a fairly ingenious way to deal with feelings of powerlessness.


Bert: Stop smoking so much.  It's a sign of weakness. 

Roger:  all I got from this story is that Hitler didn't smoke and I do. 

Pete: Did I miss something?
Roger: No.  Don and I talk all the time when you're not around.  In fact, we're gonna do it right now.  Don, shall we?
Pete: Well, good night, boys.
Roger: Goodnight, Paul. (pause) I love doing that.

Roger: By the way you drop your "G's" every once in a while, I always thought you were raised on a farm, someplace with a swimin' hole.

Don:  Bored?  What about scared? That never comes up in these stories. 

Don: You made a fool of yourself. You were throwing yourself at him.  Giggling at his stories. 
Betty: I was being friendly. He's your boss. 
Don:  I don't like to be treated that way in my own home.  I know what I saw.
Betty: You want to bounce me off the walls? Would that make you feel better? Don: Sometimes I feels like I'm living with a little girl.

Pete:  You have your fingers in your ears? It's a chip and dip.  You have your friends over.  You put chips on the sides and dip in the middle.

Ken:  When you finish shopping, come to join us.  I hear they make a great grasshopper, Mikdred.

Roger:  When a man gets to the point when his name's on a building, he can get an unnatural sense of entitlement.
Don: What does that mean, Roger? Roger: You're not gonna make this easy? Don:  I don't even know what this is.

Roger: So, I guess what I'm saying is, at some point, we've all parked in the wrong garage.

Pete:  I'm here to return this.  There's nothing wrong with it. We got two.
Employee: That's why we suggest that people register, to avoid duplications.
Pete: We did register.  We got two.
Do you have your receipt? 
Pete: It was a gift.

Pete:  It's a chip and dip.  We got two.
That's practically four of something.

Pete: It's a chip and dip.  You put chips on the side and dip in the middle.  For entertaining.
Matherton: It's a beaut!

Employee: Do you have a receipt? 
Pete: No, I I might've already said that. It was a gift. 

Pete (holding rifle in the air): Same price as a chip and dip. 

Pete:   You know who else doesn't wear a hat? Elvis.  That's what we're dealing with.
Bert: Remind me to stop hiring young people.

Roger: "He was a bold man, that first ate an oyster." I believe that was Jonathan Swift.
Don: What, are we naming them now?

Roger: I had no idea you were such a fan of the mollusk.
Don: Never really gave them a chance before.  But, I'm acquiring a taste.  It's like eating a mermaid.

Roger:  I like redheads. They're mouths are like a drop of strawberry jam in a glass of milk.

Don: Drinking milk.  I never liked it.  I hate cows.

Betty: My mother always said, "You're painting a masterpiece. Make sure to hide the brushstrokes."

Roger: I love redheads with big breasts.
Don: We'll find you one if we still have jobs.

Roger: My name is on the building, they can wait for me. 

Client: Those boys over at United Fruit talk about you like invented the damn banana.

Roger: Oysters.
Bert: I can see that. 


The episode's title, "Red in the Face," can refer to embarrassment, which was certainly a theme here.  Roger embarrassed caught making a pass at Betty, Pete embarrassed to be doing a "womanly" chore of a department store return, Betty embarrassed at the grocery store by Helen, Pete embarrassed when his wife calls him out on getting the rifle, Don implying Betty should be embarrassed for flirting with Roger and, of course, Roger embarrassing himself all over the carpet at Sterling Draper.  But the title can also refer to the literal flush of one's face whether because of passion - like when Peggy gets worked up by Pete's hunter fantasy - or exhaustion - as when Roger comes near to passing out on the stairs. 

But the episode is really all about power struggles and the old guard versus the new.  Pete is marginalized at the office as being too young -- a child, with silly ideas (Kennedy over Nixon!).  Roger is in the middle of a three generation struggle for supremacy.  While he feels he has it over Don - he fought in the Pacific during the Second World War, Don was just in Korea - he knows his father wins this battle as WWI trumps them both.  Roger's virility is challenged by the dark-haired Don and his wife fussing over what he eats and drinks only intensifies his fear of aging.  And those girls at the bar!  How deflated he was by their lack of attention.

For her part, Betty is threatened by the new woman that Helen Bishop represents and only feels happy when she feels she has the power that her looks have given her.  But she knows that her youth and looks will only last so long and the fear of losing both looms large.  Don wins his power play with Roger, displaying energy and youth while Roger gasps for air and loses his lunch.  It is just 1960, but we see the blueprint for the entire generation-gap focused decade spread out in front of us.

Lack of subtlety: Francine drinking while pregnant.  Francine smoking while pregnant.
Lack of subtlety runner up: Bobby saying his eyes are burning while Betty blows cigarette smoke in his face then says he's being ridiculous.  

Spoilery Observations. (Don't read unless you're caught up). 

Roger notices that Don sometimes would drop the "g" at the end of some words which made him think Don might've been raised on a farm.  We later learn that his suspicions were correct.

Roger talks about his experience in the Pacific during World War II.  This is never far from his memory and it comes up again in Ep. 4.05 when he refuses to do business with a Japanses company. 

When Pete waves his new rifle around the office. Ken covers his face.  Foreshadowing?? In Ep. 6.12 he gets shot in the face while hunting with clientsfrom Chevy.