Monday, June 30, 2014

Mad Men Season 2, Episode 4: Three Sundays (Recap)

Betty's tears of joy after spending the evening as part of Team Draper at the end of last week's episode are all dried and Betty is back to feeling like she's alone in the marriage.  She's the only one who's charged with disciplining the kids and Bobby's (quite age-appropriate, mind you) rambunctiousness and fibbing are driving her up the wall.  It doesn't take a Freudian analyst to realize that Betty may be overreacting slightly to her son lying brazenly to her face.  But when she turns to Don for some of that good early 1960's brand of punishment (before time outs and taking away your iPhone), he's not there for her.  Her frustration builds, as does Don's, until it erupts quickly and violently and Betty learns that poking at things can be dangerous.

But first, it's the Sunday before the Sunday before Easter and Peggy is joining her mother and sister at Mass.  Peggy tries to sneak out and instead meets the new priest with whom she quickly forges a bond (the young people stick together).  Father Gill is invited over to dinner and his arrival is met with the same excitement as if the Holy Father were there himself.  Peggy's mother and sister are old-fashioned Catholics (favorite moment - when the mom says, after he gives a new age-y blessing before the meal "That was beautiful. Are you doing to say grace now?") whereas Peggy has a more tenuous relationship with the religion. 

What we see over the three Sundays is how jealous Peggy's sister Anita is.  To her mind, Peggy should be if not shunned for having a relationship with a married man and bearing a child out of wedlock at least held accountable.  But her mother beams and expresses pride in her younger daughter and Father Gill goes so far as to ask Peggy's help in preparing his sermon.  Why should she get all these good things when she'd done something so bad?  Where is the praise for Anita, the good sister who is a dutiful, married mom?  So she intentionally sabotage's Peggy's relationship with Father Gill, "confessing" to him her anger at her sinful sister.  By Easter, Peggy now knows that the priest knows her secret and that her Draperian efforts to put it away in the past will not be helped by her sister.

Our first view inside the Draper household is consistent with how we last saw Betty and Don.  They wake up late Sunday morning with Don being amorous and Betty playful, only to be interrupted by their two adorable cherubs.  We assume that once they dispatched the children, they were able to continue where they left off.  Then we see budding bartender Sally mixing the world's strongest Bloody Mary (and pointedly saying to her dad, here's number two) as the family lounges around on a lazy day.  The idyllic moment is interrupted by Bobby playing around with the stereo, much to Betty's consternation. The look she gives Don when Bobby blatantly lies about what he did - with Don intently ignoring her and staying out of the matter - conveys volumes.

Over the episode, Betty becomes increasingly irritated with Bobby's behavior and what looks to us like little blips build up to much more in her mind. And she goes from the relaxed, loving spouse to the angry, bitter mother who feels like she's all alone, out-numbered, with no support from her husband.  She wants Don at her side, backing her; instead he's disengaged.  He plays the husband/father role only to the extent of doing the easy part, but he wants no part in disciplining, scolding, correcting and certainly not spanking.

Roger Sterling is having his own problems as a father.  The expression "generation gap" hasn't been coined yet and still you can feel the chasm developing between Roger and his daughter Margaret.  She does not hide her disapproval of her father - of his drinking, of his need to spend money, of him.  She's now Brook's fiancee, Roger has lost whatever connect he had with his little girl.

So rather than repair their relationship, he goes elsewhere to seek validation.  He finds the one person who will respond appropriately to his money - a prostitute that Ken and Pete had hired for one of their clients.  Roger had spotted her and wanted her and he could have her - all they had to do was settle on the price. He exerted power over her, getting her to bend her rules, and help shore up any damage to his self-esteem occasioned by Margaret's strong disapproval.

At Sterling Cooper, the troops are mobilized to put together a winning pitch for American Airlines.  Don, a master at reinvention, comes up with the idea that American should not try and explain the past nor run away from it (the recent plane crash), but instead act as if it never happened. "There is no such thing as American history, only a frontier.  That crash happened to somebody else.  It's not about apologies for what happened." Their focus, he maintains, should be only on the future, only on moving forward.  Not at all an unexpected direction from someone whose very being is premised on acting as if the past never happened.

While we see the time and effort that goes into preparing the pitch, and trying to land such an important client, we also sense the underlying excitement.  Even though everyone is working hard and giving up their weekend, there is electricity in the air at Sterling Cooper.  There's something exciting about everyone pulling together to land that big client.

Sally Draper is particularly excited to spend the day at her Dad's office and watching her interact with the Sterling Cooper crew is priceless.  Being just a child, she lacks a filter and so she has no trouble talking to Joan about her breasts or to Stan about what he does with his girlfriend.

After working through the weekend everyone is ready, freshened up and dressed to impress, the conference room filled with anticipation and hope.  They've put in the work, it's time to see if it pays off.   Only, they discover that their "in" at American was just canned and they are no longer in the running to get the account.  Don sums it up aptly, telling the team that they have to deliver a stillborn baby.

Speaking of babies, as they are about to embark on the doomed meeting we cut to Father Gill in the confessional.  There, Anita decides to tell him about Peggy's out-of-wedlock baby.  There's no question she's not doing this because she wants god's forgiveness or needs to unburden herself.  She's doing this to spite Peggy.  She's the good Catholic girl who's done everything by the book, why is Peggy the one getting all the attention?

After the perfunctory meeting, Don is angry - Duck Phillips lost them an existing client (Mohawk) and failed to land a new client.  But, while Sterling Cooper didn't land the American Airlines account, and while they actually lost an account in the process, Roger has no regrets: 
Don't you love the chase? Sometimes it doesn't work out. Those are the stakes.
But when it does work out it's like having that first cigarette. Head gets all dizzy.
Your heart pounds, knees go weak. Remember that? Old business is just old business.
The place was alive, electric, as everyone bore down with one goal. It was exhilarating.  And the chase was fun, even if they failed to catch their prey this time.  And it echoes what Don said about advertising, which is also what can be said of relationships as well.  New is what's exciting.

It's unclear how much of this pep talk worked with Don and when he comes home from work, he looks spent.  He doesn't want to talk about it, he doesn't want to deal with anything.  Bobby acts up at dinner, ignoring Betty and accidentally spilling Sally's drink, and Betty again asks Don to do something about his son.  What happens when pressure builds and builds?  Eventually it explodes.  And that's what Don does, unleashing the anger that had been building at work.  Is that what Betty wants, he asks.  For him to bring the rage he keeps buried and throw it and everyone and everything around the house.  Betty wants him to co-parent with her, to be present in the house and take his role seriously.  But, Don can't fathom a middle point - where he doesn't disengage and where he doesn't explode.  This is another part of Don's past that he steers clear of.  He's so fearful of turning into his father, that he rather be emotionally unavailable - basically checked out - than risk being abusive.

Don has a heart-to-heart with Bobby about his own father and it's sweet and tender and the most open and vulnerable we've seen Don with anyone in the family.   It's certainly not an excuse for leaving disciplining up to Betty, nor making her feel like he's disconnected from his parental role, but it does help explain why Don wants to be the good dad who comes in, tousles hair, and jokes around.  It also lets both Betty, and the viewers, realize that there's a lot percolating just below the surface with Don - and that it can be dangerous taking the lid off.

The episode ends on the third Sunday, Easter, with Peggy and her family at the church where the children are enjoying an Easter Egg hunt.  Father Gill comes and talks to Peggy and she applauds him for his sermon and he thanks her for her help.  And just as she's feeling good about what she did, how she was able to help him, he hands her an egg and says it's for "the little one."  And Peggy realizes that she can't escape her past.


Betty is reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story Babylon Revisited an interesting choice for a number of reasons.  First, it could be asking you the viewer to revisit the Season 1 episode Babylon where Peggy first's comes to the attention of Freddy Rumsen as a girl with ideas, where Betty tries unsuccessfully to express her sadness over her mother's death, and where Don reconnects with Rachel Menken while drifting farther from Midge.  Second, it could be because of the story itself where after the Stock Market crash, the formerly affluent revisit their wastrel ways. Is this a warning that the good times will not last?

Don channels John Kennedy, who included the famous "ask not" phrase in his 1961 inaugural address, when he says "Ask not about Cuba, ask not about the bomb."  This was the acme of the country's hopefulness and optimism and Don was trying to connect with the country's focus on its future, rather than fear of the past.  It is of course a major theme in his life, to forget the past and always move forward.

There are interesting little touches - how the secretaries have to wait in line for their food, how they eye their former sister Peggy as she enjoys the benefit of her new position, and how formally people dressed even on the weekends.  There's also a nod to salary discrepancy with Joan noting that Sally makes more than the rest of them.  Sally's question to Stan, whether the black lady in the picture is his maid, also highlights the era and how interracial couples in the pre-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) era were highly unusual.

We see Bert as the patriarch of the office and he's a bit of an oddball, so it's easy to think of him as innocuous.  But he shows a nasty side as he's willing to get a secretary fired when he mistakenly believes that she's dropped gum on the floor which has stuck to his argyle socks.  Duck shows how little bite he thinks there is backing Bert's bark as he tells the girl not to worry, that Bert won't remember firing her.

Sally spends a lot of time around alcohol, whether acting as bartender at home or sneaking some of the office staff's drinks at the office. 

Easy time stamp for the episode with Joan turning the calendar page to April 20, 1962.


Margaret: Brooks has other interests besides drinking.
Roger: That'll change.

Peggy: I can only speak for myself, but the sermon is the only part of Mass that's in English, and it's very hard to tell sometimes.

Bobbie Barrett: I was thinking how I could avoid getting bored with you.

Betty:  That's it? I said to him "Wait till your father gets home" and that's what he gets "Go to sleep?"

Betty:  You think you'd be the man you are today if your father didn't hit you?

Sally: You have big ones. My mommy has big ones, too, and I'm going to have big ones when I grow up.

Don:  I like to see us blowing up bridges behind us.

Don:  We got a lot of bricks, but I don't know what the building looks like.

Roger:  But I want everything I want.
Vicky: Isn't that the perfect thing to say.

Sally: Let's have a conversation.

Don:  There is no such thing as American history, only a frontier.

Duck:  Our job is to bend down the branch.  Let him pick the fruit.

Roger:  You wouldn't think dinner would be pushing it on the extras.

Anita:  It's a terrible sin, and she acts like it didn't even happen.

Don (on Duck): We hired him to bring in new business, not lose old business.

Don: You want me to bring home what I got at the office today? I'll put you through that window.

Bobby: We have to get you a new daddy.

Don:  He's a little kid.  My father beat the hell out of me.  All it did was make me fantasize about the day I could murder him.
Betty:  I didn't know that.
Don:  And I wasn't half as good as Bobby.

Spoilery observations.  (Don't read until you're caught up!):

This is not the last time the agency will be delivering a stillborn baby.  When Roger insults the Honda Execs. in Ep. 4.06 The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, they have to go into a pitch knowing that the client will not hire them.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mad Men Season 2, Episode 3: The Benefactor (Recap/Rewatch)

"What are you worth?"

Thanks to many dropped balls - Ken's inability to tell Don about the Schillings' visit, Lois' inability to handle Don's desk, Freddy's sleeping on the job - the corpulent wife of one of the firm's clients is subjected to a hailstorm of insults about her weight.  This leads Don down a path that he had sworn to avoid at the end of last year.  With Betty knowing about his infidelities, there was an agreement of sorts that he would stay on the straight and narrow.  But he meets a feisty, sensual brunette and falls right back into old patterns.  At least for once Don appears if not guilt-ridden at least troubled by his double life.

The episode starts with the introduction of a new character, insult-comic Jimmy Barrett, who was hired to pitch Utz potato chips but ends up biting the hand that feeds him by hurling fat jokes at the client's plump wife.  Don is brought in to extinguish the fire and ends up becoming sexually involved with Jimmy's agent/wife Bobbie.  We see Don's old bad habits come back into play -- attracted to a strong woman with her own job and life.  He weakly tries to rebuff her, before falling into another tryst.  But unlike the previous dalliances we've observed, this one takes a violent turn that is shocking and scary.  We've never seen this side of Don before, in fact, he's been the controlled one, the one who keeps his emotions in check.  Seeing him brought to such a point, and to do such an aggressive, demeaning act, moves Don from lovable rogue to jerk.  

Don is not one to be crossed, and it's not just the Barretts who learn this lesson.  His secretary Lois thinks her job is to cover for Don, but fails to realize that Don does not want to be reminded that he's a cad and needs cover.  Her job is to keep Don's work separate from his private life seamlessly and not to become frazzled and certainly not to let on that she knows what Don is up to.  Things just don't go Lois' way.  First, she attempts to seduce the closeted Sal and now she tries to move up from swtichboard operator to secretary.  

While Don dives head first into another affair, Betty again dips her toe into the waters of cheating then pulls out before getting soaked.  She is as unfulfilled as she was first season, now looking to horseback riding to fill that emptiness inside her.  Yet she again regresses to the pretty girl whose worth is measured in male adoration.  She first gets that from the stable stud Artie who offers himself to soothe her sadness, then later from the enrapt Jimmy who is mesmerized with this living doll.  But at the end what really fulfills her was being next to Don, helping him, being his partner.  "We make a good team," she tells him and this is as happy as we've seen Betty.  But look at Don, he's filled with guilt.  Probably not enough guilt to stop cheating on her, just enough to feel crappy for doing it.

Betty is still the directionless girl looking for something to steer her path and for a brief moment we think it might be young Arthur, but she rebuffs him.  Though his words - "you're so profoundly sad" -sound like a weak come on, they do ring true.  As Betty walks away, her shaking hands show that her anxiety has returned.  There is a glimmer of hope when Don suggests they go out to Lutèce, a hot new restaurant.  The glimmer quickly fades, though, when Betty learns that the dinner is for work with Don doing damage control with Hunt and Edith Schilling.  Still, Betty gets that chance to be Don's bright and shiny better half and it's a role she's comfortable filling.

At the dinner, Betty does her part - she's beautiful and coy without being aloof, and Jimmy Barrett is eating her up with a spoon.  But this does little to address the elephant in the room.  Oops, my bad.  Anyway, the apology from Jimmy to Mrs. Schilling needs to come and quickly, but all Jimmy wants to do is flirt with Betty.  So Don takes Bobbie aside and tells her that the window of opportunity is about to close.  Bobbie thinks she holds all the cards and tries to parlay this situation into even greater advantage for Jimmy.  And that's when things turn ugly.  Don grabs her, violently, and threatens her and Jimmy.  It is quick and aggressive and disgusting and then they part and go back to their five star dinner. 

Jimmy makes his peace with the Schillings, all is forgiven, and on the drive home Betty beams about the evening.  Getting to be Don's partner, his better half, helping him with work.  This is what she's been hungry for. Her tears in the car show just how much this means to her and how everything she's been trying to do to fill her days is just a substitute for what she's missing - feeling that she's part of Don's life. 

The "C" story this week involves Harry Crane.  Harry had some relationship repair to do after last season and it seems that he and the now-pregnant Jennifer have moved forward as a team. But Harry's newest problem is finding out just what he's worth to Sterling Cooper.  Harry learns that Ken Cosgrove makes half again as much as he makes per week and he's furious.  He tells Jennifer - and Sal - and now has to do something about it other than whine, pout, or quit. Both his wife and Sal tell him the same thing - decide what you're worth and go after it.

By the end of the episode, Harry rises to the occasion, coming up with a way to help a client maximize its exposure and to show that how he can help Sterling Cooper be a player in the TV-side of the business.  He created a job and department and a new title - with a little extra money as well.  It showed Harry to be an opportunist, in the best sense of the word, and to possess an ability to stumble into success.  It is a great ability to figure out what one wants and go after it - a trait not everyone possesses.

That was the theme for many of the characters.  Don doesn't know what he wants let alone how to get it.  He slips out of work not for a fling, but to hide out in a darkened theater watching a foreign film about infidelity.  He tells Bobbie Barrett that he wants to be left alone, but she tells him that's not what he really wants.  She wants to be in charge, but Don won't give her that, telling her how things are going to be in no uncertain terms.  Arthur wants someone to need him and he looks to Betty to fill that void and part of Betty wants the attention, wants to be wanted.  But what she really wants is for her husband to need her and for that brief moment in the car after dinner she she is satisfied.


Betty's friend says of Artie, the boy learning to ride at the stables: "He reminds me of Monty Clift in A Place in the Sun, learning how to ride so he can worm his way into the upper crust."  When Artie is alone with Peggy he complains about his fiancee and her rich relatives and it looks like the parallel may not be too far off. She's rich and spoiled, he feels emasculated and on a leash.  She can never be happy, he can never make her happy.  That seems to be what he wants, to make a beautiful woman happy, and he tries to get that from Betty. 

The Schillings are the benefactors of loud-mouthed comedian Jimmy Barrett and Tara Montague is the benefactor of boyish fiance Artie, but wielding money does not ensure that the object of your support will be grateful.  Jimmy insults the porcine Mrs. Schilling and Artie flirts with the MILFs at the stable behind his girlfriend's back. No matter how much money you have, you can't buy respect or  happiness. 

After trying to sell Belle Jolie on how that controversial episode of The Defenders was a must-watch for women, Harry has this exchange with his wife, Jennifer:  "J: What's the show?  H: Just some show.  You wouldn't like it."  He is learning to be a good BS artist from the creative department at Sterling Cooper.

The only glimpse we had of Peggy this episode was manning the projector during The Defenders' screening.  Her one line, "There's no doubt in my mind" was meant to convey confidence that women would flock to watch the controversial episode.  Unfortunately, the client was unconvinced.  Perhaps Peggy might have been more convincing if the topic - a young girl dealing with an unwanted pregnancy - hadn't hit so close to home.

Love Jimmy's fist-biting reaction when the hefty Mrs. Schilling says she "doesn't have the stomach" for his type of humor.  An obvious reaction, but still funny.  I also loved Roger's "I don't smoke" response to why he bums cigarettes from Don rather than getting a pack from the well-stocked store room. 

The movie Don saw in the theater was Michelangelo Antonioni's La Notte a 1961 film "about a day in the life of an unfaithful married couple and their deteriorating relationship."  I thought movies were meant to take you away from everyday reality. 

Don's reference to the bumbling Roger and Ken as "Leopold and Loeb" seems an out-dated reference, even for 1962.  The two young law students were arrested and imprisoned for the murder of a young teen (part of their plan to commit the perfect crime) way back in 1924.  However, their story was the basis for a number of adaptations, including the 1959 movie Compulsion which might be why their names would be the ones to pop up then.  Today, Don would probably settle for "Dumb and Dumber."

Jimmy jokes to Don Draper, "Loved you in Gentlemen's Agreement."  That movie (available on Netflix) starred Gregory Peck and the equally handsome John Garfield (both of whose film shoes Jon Hamm could easily fit) and was about a journalist uncovering anti-semitism.  The movie came out in 1947 and if you haven't seen it, you should.  Not only does it deal with anti-Jewish bigotry, but there is a not-so-subtle nod to gender bias as well when people are shocked that the idea for the undercover article came from a - gasp! - woman.  No matter your age, you're probably familiar with Gregory Peck, who had the lead in To Kill a Mockingbird.  But you should also check out John Garfield.  I happen to be a huge John Garfield fan and if you've never seen any of his movies, you should give them a try including The Postman Always Rings Twice, Force of Evil, Humoresque and Body and Soul.

A lot of not very subtle metaphors when Betty instructs Arthur how to handle his horse.  "Just pull up on the reins. Straighten her out. You can't let her do that. ... She needs to be told what to do."  The parallel between Betty's suggestion of how you handle your horse and how her husband handled Bobbie is a bit too on the nose. 


Jimmy Barrett: Open your mouth, sweetheart.  I want to see if Gepetto's building a fire in there.

Jennifer Crane:  What are you worth? You go in there and ask for it. Demand it. Be polite, but think about what you're worth to them.

Sal:  Then you're worth every penny they're paying you.

Don:  Has anyone tried to save this yet besides Leopold and Loeb over here?

Roger:  He knows what that nut means to Utz and what Utz means to us.

Don:  A guy like that must know how to make a charming apology, or he'd be dead.

Don:  You do not cover for me. You manage people's expectations.

Joan:  I'll just continue looking for another Miss Olsen.
Don:  No. I want someone who'll be happy with that job.

Bobbie:  I've seen the man sober.  He's not funny.

Artie:  I've just always been more comfortable with animals when they were on the other end of my rifle.

Bobbie Barrett:  I like being bad and then going home and being good.

Artie: Her house is a slightly smaller version of my high school. And I realized why she was so happy all the time, and then, why she was so angry when she didn't get what she wanted.

Artie: You're so profoundly sad.
Betty:  No. It's just my people are Nordic.

Don:   I need you to be shiny and bright. I need a better half.

Roger (to Harry):  Cooper thought it showed initiative.  So, you're in here now, and I'm smiling.

Jimmy: Are you two sold separately?... I bet little birds hang up your laundry. ... And make it fast, while this place is still French.''

Betty:  I spend a lot of my time riding horses.  It's really a passion for me.
Jimmy:  And for them, I bet.

Betty:  When I said I wanted to be a part of your life, this is what I meant. We make a great team.


"I don't care that you drink, Freddy, but it's interfering with your job."  We were first introduced to the character Freddy Rumsen via his reputation as a sot, when Don invoked his name as an excuse for why he wasn't reachable the day Betty crashed her car.  There have been other jokes about Freddy's drinking, but this is the first (sadly, not last) episode where his drinking is seen as a liability.

Harry Crane is a go-getter.  He figured out how to make himself indispensable.  He created the need for a media department then offered himself to run (and man) it.  In the nine years since, Harry has stayed loyal to Sterling Cooper despite not getting a partnership, not getting as much money as some of his peers, and being treated a bit like a red-headed step-child around the office.  Here we see a generally nice but mild mannered guy standing up for himself for the first time at work and starting on the path of turning his job into a career.  But with all his success, he always falls just a bit short of where he wants to be.

This is the first time we've seen Don take a violent, aggressive turn with a woman and it was scary and distasteful.  He did about the rudest thing a man can do to a woman and I would have preferred if she had slapped him or done something other than continue an affair with him. This could only lead someone like him to think maybe this is what women want or, at least, think he can continue to get away with it.  As we later learn, Don's mind is messed up enough when it comes to women, it didn't need violence added on top of the mix.  He loses his temper again in the next episode, Three Sundays, pushing Betty during a fight.

Betty flirts with Artie, as she did with the guy from the gas station in Season 1, and as she will do with Harry Francis and others later on.  We know she's of the age, and was certainly raised, to believe that her worth came from her attractiveness.  The more she's flirted with, the better she must be. 

Betty gets the opportunity to be part of a team with her second husband, Henry, for whom she's the perfect political wife.  That is, until she decides to actually express her own opinions, which he frowns upon.  She should be eye candy - beautiful and shiny - but nothing more.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mad Men Season 2, Episode 2: Flight 1

This is one of those episodes that is easy to time stamp as American Airlines Flight 1 did in fact crash, on March 1, 1962.  In the fictional Mad Men world, Pete Campbell's father was on-board and found his final resting place somewhere in Jamaica Bay.  This tragedy was the impetus for some posturing and power moves at Sterling Cooper and for some harsh realities back at the Campbell residence.

The episode begins in Montclair, NJ where pseudo-Bohemian Paul Kinsey is throwing a soirée for friends and co-workers.  The Manhattan and 'burbs crowd is a little off-put by the gritty surroundings, but Paul is thrilled to be out here blazing a trail, in touch with real America.  He's playing rock music, wearing a jaunty scarf, and conveying his coolness as we have seen him do since last season when he was trying to woo Peggy with how hip he was.  Elsewhere, Ken Cosgrove is making the moves on an intoxicated girl, Harry has brought the previously unseen Jennifer, Sal is squiring his main squeeze Kitty, and Peggy gets friendly with an old friend of Paul's from college.

Paul introduces Joan (whom he once dated) to his new girlfriend Sheila.  Their encounter is brief but terribly uncomfortable.  Joan, who bristles at being called a "senior secretary" and corrects Paul that she's an "office manager," is no happier when she's told that Sheila, who is black, is an office manager too.  Joan is condescending and shows a really unpleasant side of herself.  Paul must have known the conversation could take this turn as he pointedly told Sheila NOT to talk to Joan without him present! Besides learning that Joan is catty and insecure, we also learn that Paul stole a typewriter from the office which he believes is his right because he's "a writer."

Don and Roger come into work the next day to find all the desks and offices abandoned and everyone crowded around the radio.  They think the office is listening to reports of John Glenn's homecoming parade, but instead they're listening to the news that American Airlines Flight 1 to Los Angeles has crashed.  The admen, good with words, start quipping about the accident, while Don and Roger make sure to protect their airplane client Mohawk Airlines from any collateral damage.  Two phone calls are highlighted.  One, from Duck Phillips' friend Shel Kennealy at American, mentioning that in light of the crash they might be looking for a new agency.  Two, from Pete Campbell's brother telling Pete that their father was on the doomed jet.

Pete reacts to the news of his father's sudden death not with sadness but with confusion - about what he should do and how he should feel about it.  He goes to Don for answers, despite their contentious relationship.  Last year Don tried to fire Pete and Pete tried to unmask and destroy Don.  Ultimately, their mutually assured destruction resulted in them maintaining a wary détente.  But when he's lost and unsure what to do, it is Don to whom Pete turns for answers.  He so wants to emulate Don Draper that he looks to him for instructions on how one handles news like this.  Even when Don tells him to go home and be with his family, Pete pesters him to make sure that is what Don would do in the same circumstances. 

Don does not take the news well that Sterling Cooper will be using this opportunity to land American Airlines.  Not only is the timing unseemly (he notes only three hours have passed since their plane went down), but to go after American they would have to break up with Mohawk Air - a loyal and reliable client.  Don seems to be arguing in favor of a guaranteed good thing and showing loyalty to a client over pie-in-the-sky for a big score.  But Duck thinks that Don is not jumping at the chance to pitch American because the offer wasn't directed at him (they didn't come to Sterling Cooper for the Don Draper treatment) but that it was Duck who made the inroad.  I happen to believe that Don was feeling a sense of fidelity - which I know sounds farfetched for a man who went AWOL, stole another's identity and cheats on his wife.  But that's life; in business I've never seen Don be disloyal.

Pete finds out that his father spent their inheritance (more likely, his brother's inheritance as Pete was not his father's favorite) and that his family, with their storied pedigree and history, is basically broke.  I don't know if that helps Pete at all to realize that his father couldn't have helped him financially with the new house, even if he had wanted to, since Pete is well aware that in the "Salt and Pepper" duo with his brother, he was the less favored spice.

In a great slice of life scene, the Drapers host Francine and her husband Carlton for a night of drinking, chatting, and cards.  Carlton starts talking lustily about a high school-aged babysitter that his wife hired and Don is uncomfortable with the direction the conversation is taking.  Don is obviously not a prude nor is he the poster boy for faithfulness, so it is interesting that the same man who once cheated on both his wife and mistress is so distasteful of Carlton's leering.  This seems to be another time for Don to take what he perceives to be the moral high ground, like he did with Duck, Roger, and Bert courting American.

The show has been coy about Peggy's storyline from last season, but it offered up some info with this exchange at her mom's house: "Peggy: And I'm capable of making my own decisions. Her mother:
Really? State of New York didn't think so.The doctors didn't think so." Peggy's family is upset at her avoiding church which, being practicing Catholics, is a big part of their life.  When Peggy leaves for the evening, she's stopped by her sister who reminds her to say goodnight to her nephew.  But the baby is a clear reminder to Peggy of the one she no longer has and you can see her discomfort.

Back at the Draper home, we see more inklings into Betty's parenting style, which is right out of the 1950's "show them who's in charge" handbook.  She is frustrated and angry with Bobby for not going to sleep when he's told and for getting away with it.  Carlton tries to help her see it from the kids perspective and says how he fought going to sleep when he was a kid, and Don takes a gentle approach, scooping Bobby up in his arms and carrying him back to bed.  But that's not what Betty wants.  She wants the parents - the father in particular - to be a scary figure to be obeyed or crossed at your own peril.  

Betty is also upset with Bobby beyond his ruining card night.  She calls him a "little liar" and tells how he was praised for a drawing he did in school which turned out to be a tracing of a photo from a book.  Rather than applaud his ingenuity or skills, she was furious that he took undeserved praise. It becomes clear, at least to Don, that this may not be about Bobby at all. Betty's comment "I know what little boys do" is a loaded one and if she doesn't like fibbing, she really picked the wrong guy to marry.  Once the Hansons leave, Don mentions that Carlton seems to have put on a few pounds. Betty chalks that up to his being happy (which she thinks he should be for cheating on - and then being forgiven by - Francine), but Don knows the truth, that Carlton still has a wandering eye. 

The scene between Joan and Paul gives us another way at looking at her boorish behavior at his party.  It was easy to assume she was jealous or racist, but perhaps she was just pointing out Paul's pretentiousness.  Her comment about his girlfriend, "Describe her to me," hits on what may be her most interesting characteristic to Paul. That Sheila is another hipster accoutrement like his scarves and pipes.

Duck tells Pete that Sterling Cooper is like a family and that's true down to its dysfunction.  He preys on Pete's naked ambition and vulnerability to engage him in pursuing the American Airline account.  Pete walks out of the meeting unsure but when his other surrogate father, Don, snaps at him and sends him away (Don is upset having to stab his client in the back and unknowingly takes it out on Pete), Pete knows where his loyalties lie.  So he goes to join Duck in the pitch to American Airlines, using his personal connection to the tragedy to give his company a leg up.

At the end, Don sits alone in the restaurant where he had to give the bad news to Henry Lamont of Mohawk Airlines.  He was clearly rattled by the client's words, about feeling stupid for trusting and believing in Don and the company.  Does that hit home for Don?  Does he realize that others are trusting in him who shouldn't?  Is that why he made the big morality pitch for Mohawk, when he has no trouble lying to Betty about where he is?  And why does he turn down the offer for sex with the beautiful girl at the restaurant?  Is it his conscience getting the better of him - when he sees himself in others (be it Carlton or Duck) does he not like what he sees?

Throughout the episode, Peggy vacillates between Manhattan working girl and Brooklyn Catholic girl who should find a man and settle down.  At Paul's party she is confident and sexy, at home with her mother and sister, or finally at the Mass they guilt trip her into attending, she's the good little girl. Which path is the right one for her, most emotionally and personally fulfilling, and does she have to choose just one?


Bert warned Don in Season One that he might not have the stomach to handle the business side of  the company and Don's reaction to them jumping at a chance to pitch American Airlines proves that.  While it's easy to laud Don's apparent nobility and loyalty, it is important to remember that they are in a business and one does have to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

It's pretty obvious  it was Paul getting his retaliation against Joan by posting her ID showing her age.  Peggy has always seemed intimidated by Joan, but her response after learning Joan's secret shows that she may feel she has more of an upper hand.  Youth is starting to become more important than anything else in the culture. 

It's crazy to think about two big news stories on one day - with the parade honoring the first man to orbit the earth occurring at the same time as the then-worst single airplane disaster in the history of U.S. commercial aviation.  Truth sometimes is stranger than fiction.

It's easy to make fun of Pete - just ask Roger - but he really is a tragic character.  Seeing how lost he was after learning of his father's death, and how much he needs a father figure in his life, is really sad. The quote that brought this home for me was when he said the only thing he really knew about his father was that he didn't like advertising - in other words, he knew only that he had disappointed his father.

Don may cheat on Betty, but he does not engage in the lascivious fantasies of Carlton who wants to bro down talking about the hot young babysitter.  He quickly cuts off the conversation.  Remember back in Season One "Marriage of Figaro" how Don watched as Carlton made the moves on Helen Bishop?  Don seems to have some disdain for Carlton and the way he lusts after women.  Maybe it's not that he's a cheating scumbag, but that he's so vulgar and uncouth about it.  Don may cheat, but he does it with panache!

Betty's irritation with Bobby - and calling him a little liar for tracing the George Washington portrait and passing it off as his own work - is misdirected anger at Don.  It's Don who she knows is lying to her, but she can't prove it.  

Roger was not correct, John Glenn would not be on earth for the rest of his life.  In 1998, he returned to space as part of the Space Shuttle program.

The American Airlines plane crashed because of a rudder control system malfunction.


Eugene:  So you work for these stuffed shirts?
Peggy:  I work with them.

Paul:  I'm here because this isn't Greenwich Village.  This is America.

Joan:  I have to say, when Paul and I were together, the last thing I would have taken him for was open-minded.

Peggy:  I'm in the persuasion business, and frankly I'm disappointed by your presentation.

Roger:  It's incredible what passes for heroism these days. I'd like ticker tape for pulling out of my driveway and going around the block three times. It's not like people were shooting at him.

Don: There's life, and there's work.

Don:  What's it been, four, three hours since the plane went down? You'll have to forgive me for not looking at a bunch of bodies in Jamaica Bay and seeing the opportunity.

Don: We have the one whose planes didn't just fall out of the sky.

Duck:  I know how you had it in your head.  The president of American Airlines sees a Mohawk ad, falls in love, and says "Get me that guy." Well, I'm sorry it didn't play out that way.

Don (to Carlton): I'm enjoying this story so far, but I have a feeling it's not going to end well.

Peggy (about church):  Doesn't mean the same thing to me that it means to you.

Peggy: And I'm capable of making my own decisions.
Anita:  Really? State of New York didn't think so.  The doctors didn't think so.

Betty:  What about all that praise he accepted for something he didn't do?

Betty: I don't need a book to know what little boys do.

Don (to Betty):  I'll say whatever you think I should say, but I'm not going to fight with you.

Pete:  "Fighting about facts," my mother calls it. We do it all the time. Argue over something that's actually one thing or another.

Joan:  You, out there in your poor-little-rich-boy apartment in Newark or wherever. Walking around with your pipe and your beard, falling in love with that girl just to show how interesting you are.

Pete:  Of course, it turns out I really didn't know anything about him except that he did not like advertising.

Don:  What kind of company are we going to be?
Roger: The kind where everyone has a summer house?
Don: I can't believe I look like an idiot for wanting to be loyal to these people.
Roger: Take off your dress. You get a chance at American Airlines, you take it. End of discussion.

Peggy: I never would have guessed you were in your 30s.
Joan:  People should not bring their personal problems into the office.  ...  Is it so hard to just leave everything at the door and just do your job?

Henry Lamont: I'm glad you picked this place.  It reminds me of Pearl Harbor.  For many reasons.

Lack of subtlety award: 
Little Sally making the cocktails for all the grownups.

Cultural name dropping:
George Innes was a 19th Century American Landscape painter


Don's loyalty to Mohawk Airlines is showcased here, but it's not embraced by Roger or the rest of Sterling Cooper who believe landing an even bigger client is more important that allegiance to an existing client.  Later this season, in Episode 9, Roger will tell Don (viz. Freddy Rumsen) "your loyalty is starting to become a liability."

Duck tells Don that he knows what Don's fantasy was.  The president of American Airlines would see Don's work, fall in love, and have to hire him.  But that's not how it is going to play out.  Duck has the connection, he's made the first overture, and he'll be the one to land the airline.  This is echoed in Season 7 when Bert Cooper tells Don that his plan for getting back his old position wasn't going to work.  Don may have thought he'd swoop in and save the day and he'd be welcomed back with open arms, but that's not how it's going to go.

After Bobby and Sally both think they've seen a ghost (maybe Pete's father paid them a visit?), Don goes up to check on them and finds them sleeping together.  This is revisited in Season 7 when Bobby, having stomach aches from his parent's constant fighting, finds solace by crawling into bed next to his big sister. 

Sterling Cooper is thick with cynicism.  Whether it's Roger's barbs at what he claims to be the undeserved attention national hero John Glenn is receiving or the fact that the first thing Duck thinks of when he hears of the plane crash is that it's an opportunity for the agency.  Outside there are idealists like Pete's sister-in-law with her bouquet of thoughts, but in that office it's distrust and disdain of everything.  A plane crash is an opportunity to come up with the best one-liner.  If you are trusting, you're just asking to get your heart broken (just ask Mohawk Airlines).  Much later in the series, after an epiphany or two, Don tells teenaged Sally not to be cynical and tells her that such cynicism is not a good influence on her younger brothers.

This episode mentions one of the first firsts in space - John Glenn's orbit of the earth.  In Season 7, Episode 7 the focus is on another first - man landing on the moon.

One of the best relationships on the screen this episode is one of its most tragic - Sal the closeted gay man and his unsuspecting wife Kitty.  They are so sweet together, it's sad that the relationship is built on lies and it's sad to see how the marriage progresses based on unrequited love and unfulfilled needs.

The answer to the question what kind of an agency will we be continues at least through the end of Season 7a where the partners decide to sell out to McCann Erickson for a big payday - to be, as Roger jokingly said in this episode, the kind of agency where everyone has a summer house.

Henry Lamont, of Mohawk Airlines, tells Don that the restaurant where he's about to get the bad news reminds him of Pearl Harbor.  In Season 4, Episode 5, Roger raises the specter of Pearl Harbor and the battle of the Pacific when bristling at the firm's attempts to land the Honda Corporation.  Then Roger wasn't about lining the firm's pockets regardless the cost.  Then he let his personal feelings, his deep-seated resentment and sense of loss, blind him to the opportunity that Honda presented.  So Roger may not hold loyalty above money, but he does hold resentment higher.

Here, Peggy is shocked to learn that Joan is in her thirties.  In Season 7, Peggy bemoans hitting her 30th birthday (Don doesn't help, but replying "shit").

If you think Don's latest secretary Lois is inept, just wait until Ep. 3.06 A Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency.

The show was trying to be mysterious, dangling clues for us about certain unknown facts such as the slow roll out of info on Pete and Peggy's baby.  Here, they hint that her sister may have adopted the child and throughout this season they hint at the whereabouts of the child.  Later, we learn definitively that the baby was put up for adoption.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mad Men Season 7, Episode 7: Waterloo (Recap)

When we first met Bertram Cooper, in Mad Men Episode 1.02 "Ladies Room," he said, in his own inimitable way, as he left the frat atmosphere in Don's office, "So much yarn, so little time."  Time finally ran out for Bert Cooper on July 20, 1969, just after man first set foot on the moon.  "Bravo," he said of humankind's great accomplishment.  And "Bravo" we all said not just to the founding father of Sterling Cooper but also to the actor who brought him to life - Tony Award-winning Robert Morse.  In Bert Cooper we saw a man spanning two centuries, from the opening of the Eiffel Tower and the painting of Van Gogh's Starry Night in the late 19th Century to men soaring on a rocket beyond that tower, through that night, to place a flag on a distant orb.  He embraced the future while still being a relic of the past, an Ayn Randian iconoclast with a taste for Japanese design, a childless man with strong paternal instincts.  He was the glue that bound the agency through its many incarnations over the near-decade that we've been following it.

So cut him a little slack if he decides to do a song-and-dance number for Don Draper before he shuffles off this mortal coil.

That final image, of the fantasy-reality line being blurred with the former "How to Succeed in Business" Broadway star doing an MGM-themed dance number for his last hurrah, was brilliant and ridiculous, the height of artistry and the nadir of Matt Weiner's hubris.  How you perceived that scene - and I loved it immediately - may depend on whether you took the blue or the red pill when you started your Mad Men ride.  It is a surreal look at a place and time, almost like how our memories ever so slightly skew the story of our lives.  Nothing is quite the way it seems, yet the overall feelings are real.

The feelings brought forth in this episode were very real.  The common experience of all the characters on the show was watching the moon landing on TV.  For that one moment in time, almost everyone in the country was focusing on the same thing, sharing in that pride and wonder.  But how that moment was observed was so different for everyone.  Don, Peggy, Pete, and Harry sharing the experience not with family but in a hotel room, hours before a crucial presentation.  Betty spending it with friends and family including her daughter who alternates between becomingher mother's  doppelgänger to becoming her own person with her own opinions and views.  Roger, not watching with some whacked-out group of hippies higher than the astronauts, but with Mona, their son-in-law, and their grandson.  And Bert, experiencing the moment alone with his housekeeper, beaming with pride and joy.

The news anchor's failure to pick up the second part of the famous quote.  Neil Armstrong's muffing of the first half (leaving out the "a" that makes all the difference).  The scratchy, wiggly black and white picture, so different from the crystal clear images beamed back by the Mars rover decades later.  It gave a sense of being there in that moment.  I was ten at the time and remember it.  It was a moment that the country needed, turning attention away if only briefly from the war in Vietnam, the counter-culture, the disintegration of the family, the growing malaise, and the other turbulent changes the late sixties wrought.

Peggy tapped into the chaos and the need for comfort and togetherness in her Burger Chef presentation. Reminiscent of Don's Carousel pitch that closed out the first season, her story was one borne of nostalgia for the family table of old, full of sentimentality and longing.  She - representing moms everywhere and playing that role by using her neighbor Julio to stand in for the child she could have had but doesn't - takes control of the room and sells the hell out of the pitch while Don looks on, grinning like the proud papa he is.  Yet, it wasn't a passing of the torch so much as a sharing of the light.  Finally, Don is willing to let others shine bright.

The arc of Donald Draper over these past seven episodes has been stunning.  He went from humiliated and debased to triumphant and esteemed.  The pariah who scared away the Hershey clients was the superstar whose presence was the key to closing the McCann Erickson deal.  And how did he accomplish this transformation?  By following Freddy Rumsen's advice and doing the work.  No Superman/Batman moves here, no sleight-of-hand.  Don put his nose down, put his ego aside, and worked.  His growth was earned.

And what growth there was.  Last episode, when Don remarked about how he used to solve problems - abuse the people whose help he needed and then take a nap - was the first real glimpse that Don was admitting what an a-hole he'd been.  The Don of old was so self-absorbed, so keen on developing and maintaining his image and mystique, that he couldn't have let any truth ever slip through like that.  But now he can admit the games he played and how he hurt those around him.  He had a chance to put his own interests first, as he always had in the past.  Make the Burger Chef pitch, win the client, and try to save himself at the firm.  Instead, he gave up all that to Peggy.

Don couldn't be with his kids to watch history being made, but he reached out to them and in that brief exchange with Sally may have helped her steer a path towards happiness.  Rather than embracing the cynical at such a young age, she quickly set herself on a better course.  Rejecting the handsome jock in favor of the nerdy stargazer was another step off of Betty's well-worn path.  

The old Don may have done or said something he regretted almost immediately to Jim Cutler when it became clear his job was in danger, or maybe he would have just run, but instead he stayed and fought for his job.  And he used his experience down at the bottom of the ladder to save Ted from making a similar mistake.

This episode, this season, was about getting what you always wanted and yet finding that it wasn't what was really important.  Ted and Pete got LA and both of them missed what they left back in New York.  Peggy got the big account, but what she really craved is family.  Don got his job and position back, yet he had no one to share it with.  The next half season will hopefully find everyone, with work taken care of, focusing on what will make them truly happy.  Bert has provided the road map for that discovery, "The Best Things in Life Are Free."


I don't know why there's so much hate out there for Harry Crane.  I love how he was the one person to tear up at the astronauts landing on the moon.  It was a nice call back to his emotional exit at the end of Season 1's finale when he left the room after the Carousel pitch in tears.

Bert gave a fine tribute to Ida Blankenship after she passed on that made his death after seeing the great achievement of the Apollo astronauts fitting: She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the thirty-seventh floor of a skyscraper. She's an astronaut.

Roger lamented to Don that his final words to Bert were the lyrics to a song, so perhaps Don's hallucination was triggered by that. That song lyric "let's have another cup of coffee and let's have another piece of pie," is from the 1932 musical Face the Music.  It was sung by a now down-on-their-luck group of folks waiting for things to get better. 

The hunky teen visiting the Francis house was wearing the #32 - looks like the jersey of then-Heisman trophy superstar Trojan OJ Simpson.

Julio asks Peggy for a Popsicle.  That brand was one of Peggy's first major pitches (Ep. 2.12 - The Mountain King) and she came up with a sentimental angle tying into the idea of breaking it and sharing it with someone you love. 

There was a fifteen second pause after Don said to Megan that he could finally move out to LA, broken only by him asking if she were still there.  That was all the proof he needed that their relationship was over. Unlike his violent, emotional breakup with Betty, this marriage didn't explode, it died from lack of interest.

Peggy said to Don that he'd never seen her present before and that was true, but it was also true, as he told her, that he had "overheard things."  Specifically, when she presented the Heinz Ketchup pitch right after Don did, he listened in with his ear pressed against the door. 

We knew Meredith had a crush on Don, but watching her "comforting" him after he received his termination letter was priceless: "M: Tell me what I can do. D: You can get my attorney on the phone. And we can't do this. M: You're right. Not right now." 

So much meta-commentary on the show - Lou referring to "Don Draper Dinner Theater," Pete saying "the Don Draper show is back."  Even Jim Cutler talking about being "backstage" to what Don was doing. 

Roger and Don have done everything in their power to avoid going to work at McCann and now their salvation comes from letting themselves be devoured by that same huge company.  Perhaps the deal won't go through.  Don's off-handed comment about Bert's sister still being alive leaves open the possibility the deal could be halted.  But perhaps their surrender is a sign that there are worse things than giving in. Roger valued Don,  Don valued his coworkers, and the rest of the partners valued cold hard cash more than keeping Sterling Cooper small and unencumbered.  This play was a Hail Mary on Roger's part to keep from losing everything - and very possibly to prove Bert wrong.  Because Roger finally acted like a leader.

Don tells Sally not to be so cynical when she mimics the football player's comments about the space program. That harkens back to Bert Cooper calling Don cynical after the latter penned the  New York Times ad that nearly destroyed the company in episode 4.12 Blowing Smoke.  It was in that scene that Bert announced he was leaving the firm and that they had created (in Don) a monster (an accusation repeated the next year by Peggy).

So where do we go from here?  It's possible the purchase doesn't go through and we spend some episodes on the two sides wrestling for control, but I think that's unlikely as there is so little time left.  Instead, with their financial futures secure, I believe Don, Peggy, Pete, and Roger will focus on achieving non-material happiness.

Don has felt unloved since birth and has never let any evidence that he was loved interfere with this deep-rooted self-I loathing.  There was a small crack in this shell when Sally told him she loved him early in Season 7.  Now it's time for Don to explore whether he is capable of accepting love - and giving it.  He did the first selfless thing we'd seen him do when he let Peggy (whom he loves in a way, even if he doesn't realize it) give the presentation and his feelings of pride watching her pitch must have reminded him of the feelings he discovered he had for Bobby after they went to the movies together. The problem with hoping Don also finds romantic love before the series ends is that there doesn't seem to be enough time for him to find and build a new relationship, so that leaves him with repairing an old one.

Peggy has struggled with being at the forefront of a movement that didn't even have a name at the time.  She was blazing a trail for herself as a woman in a man's world and made certain sacrifices along the way.  Now that she's turned thirty and achieved career satisfaction and success, the lack of someone to share that with leaves a huge hole.  With Ted coming back, she might look to him.  But I'm not sure he's emotionally stable enough to give her what she needs, especially if he has to hurt his wife and children in the process.

Pete is free once more and on his way back to New York.  He and Peggy have never actually had a relationship and when they had their fling they were in a different place emotionally and career-wise.  Now they're nearly equals (true, he's a partner and she's not, but the disparity between them is not that great any more).  Pete showed he could be interested in an ambitious career-minded woman, but he has unresolved feelings for Trudy that will have to be worked out.

Roger's true love is Mona.  That's obvious.  He blew it once but perhaps their new role in helping raise their grandchild will bring them back together.  Roger was in an extended childhood until Bert Cooper died.  Before that he had ridden the cushiony coattails of a rich and successful father and an indulgent mother all the way into his fifties without breaking a sweat.  Finally, when Bert called him on not being a leader, and when that failing was about to result in him losing everything that mattered, Roger took the first steps into adulthood.  Maybe he can put away the LSD, hippie girls, and naked parties and be a grownup.

The number one song this week?  In the Year 2525 by Zager and Evans.  As the space age hit its apex, thoughts and fears about the future ("some machine doing that for you") were rampant.  


Ted: Good spot for smoldering wreckage.

Lou:  Shall I invite them to "Don Draper Dinner Theater?"

Meredith:  I know you're feeling vulnerable, but I am your strength.

Jim:  You know, Ted and I, whenever we would hear that your agency was involved, we'd always be so intimidated.  What's that man up to? Such a cloud of mystery. Now that I've been backstage I'm deeply unimpressed, Don. You're just a bully and a drunk. A football player in a suit. The most eloquent I've ever heard you was when you were blubbering like a little girl about your impoverished childhood.

Pete:  That is a very sensitive piece of horseflesh.  He shouldn't be rattled.

Joan: I'm tired of him costing me money.

Julio:  I don't wanna go to Newark.
Peggy:  Nobody does.

Bert: No man has ever come back from leave. Even Napoleon. He staged a coup, but he ended up back on that island.

Bert (to Roger):  I'm a leader and a leader is loyal to his team.  Don doesn't understand that. But I do. And you have talent and skill and experience. But you're not a leader.

Pete:  The Don Draper show is back from its unscheduled interruption.

Don:  Sometimes actions have consequences

Peggy:  I have to talk to people who just touched the face of God about hamburgers!

Jim:  I hope you all realize this is a pathetic ploy and a delusion.
Roger: It is until everybody votes on it.

Don: You don't have to work for us, but you have to work.  You don't wanna see what happens when it's really gone.

Oh how things have changed:

Does anyone still follow the "don't swim within an hour after eating" rule?
Suicide count:

Ted cutting the engine, discussing why the astronauts might be better off if they didn't make it, saying that signing a 5 year contract would be for the rest of his life.

Pete refers to Lane Pryce.