Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mad Men Season 2, Episode 5: The New Girl

Bobbie Barrett seems to have a bead on Don Draper.  Maybe people with alliterative names have a special understanding of each other, or soulless hedonistic cads have an unspoken mutual understanding.  She's talking with Don at a restaurant after having closed the TV show deal for her husband and she's trying to understand the mystery that is sitting across from her.  The exchange is telling.
BB: What the hell do you like? 
DD: What do you mean?
BB: Doesn't have to be in business.  I'll take anything. {{pause}} You can't even answer.
DD: The answer is huge.
BB: I don't think so.
It's like pulling teeth to get Don to admit to liking anything.  He cops to liking the ocean and bridges and movies, but this is all from her prodding.  He is not the least bit forthcoming.  Their discussion goes from vague but meaningful to flat out obvious:
DD: Why is it so hard to just enjoy things?
BB: God, I feel so good.
DD: I don't feel a thing.
Yes, we get it. Don is disconnected from life.  Numb.  Walking through zombie-like, playing a role, and not being himself.  Faking it a work, faking it at home.  Not having any true experiences or feelings. It's a little too on the nose, but Mad Men ofttimes is as subtle as a sledgehammer. 

Pete and Trudy Campbell are trying to get pregnant, but so far his seed hasn't taken, so the young couple go to a physician to see if there is anything medically wrong.  We know, but Pete doesn't, that he's not the problem as he's managed to impregnate at least one other woman.  We do get some insight into Pete - that he's feeling stressed at work, "tiptoeing around the creative crybabies" and drinking with "ungrateful turnips who just fell off the truck."  And, more surprisingly, he realizes that he's replaceable.

When Bobbie calls Don and tells him to jump, he asks how high.  She's got him wrapped around her finger and knows it.  One thing you can say for Donal Draper, he may ignore work and family, but when one of his girlfriends calls, he's always available.  And, speaking of girlfriends, who should walk back into his life while he's having his "business" drinks with Bobbie, but the one who got away - Rachel Menken.  It's probably not a coincidence that she finds him sitting with an attractive, powerful woman - he has a type when it comes to affairs. 

Don loses his cool when he sees Rachel, especially when she introduces the nice nebbishy guy with her as her new husband.  He forgets all about Bobbie, who has to introduce herself, and he sputters awkwardly through the exchange.  So much for Don pretending that he has no feelings, he clearly had them for Rachel and this seemed to open an old wound.  Sensing his vulnerability, Bobbie goes in for the kill and Don is more than willing to let her seduce him.  They go off together in his car, drinking as they head to their rendezvous at her place on the shore.  Right after Bobbie says she feels so good (warning #1) and Don says he doesn't feel anything (warning #2), she starts to make sure he feels something when in a moment of rapture he closes his eyes and crashes the car.  Instant karma.

Even in the early Sixties the police weren't crazy about drunk drivers and Don was going to have to spend the night in jail if he couldn't pony up the bail.  Who does he turn to but his trusty sidekick Peggy.  It's a bit of a tit for tat, he's been keeping her Season 1 secret (as we now learn in a flashback) and so he knows she can keep his. Why Peggy is helping Don is a mystery to Bobbie, but we see the bond they forged when he helped her through the aftermath of her psychotically-impacted pregnancy.  He taught her the Draper motto - "it'll shock you how much this never happened" - and she is now willing to help him put his own bad decision behind him. Still, Bobbie can't quite comprehend the nature of their relationship and the fact that it is not based on sexual attraction or even amorous longings, but on a foundation of help and support.

The title for the episode is "The New Girl" and we meet Don's new secretary, the lovely, college-educated Jane Siegel, who arouses the fancy of many of the male staffers at the office yet earn barely a notice from Don.  Jane is well aware of her assets and she uses what the good Lord gave her to optimize her chances for landing a husband - or at least much leering attention.  While Jane represents new meat, recently off the market is Joan Holloway who comes into work sporting an engagement ring from her beau the doctor.  It's clear that Roger is sad to see her engaged and ready to move on, but not sad enough to ever leave his wife for her.  Joan is not too pleased with Jane and her youth and beauty and so the lady of the plunging necklines and tight dresses lectures the new girl about proper office decorum.

Pete is happy to hear that he's not the stumbling block in their efforts to produce a Campbell heir, but he misses how the news has devastated Trudy.  He is oblivious to how important having a baby is to her - without a child, what does this all mean, she asks.  But Pete feels freed by the option not to be tied down with a child.  Perhaps they should have discussed all this before getting married.

The unexplained time gap between the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2 is finally filled and we solve the mystery of what happened to Peggy between giving birth and returning to the office back to her fighting weight.  Don came to her aid, gave her powerful advice about moving forward, and kept her secret.  The pregnancy, the mental breakdown, he didn't let any of it impact her future at Sterling Cooper and he instead instructed her to focus on the future.  Don is so good about putting the past behind him that he acts as if he doesn't remember anything about Peggy bailing him out or helping with his paramour.

Speaking of his ill-fated tryst, Don is shaken to hear that Jimmy Barrett wants to have a meeting and is a bit panicked that maybe he wants to confront Don about the affair.  Instead, Jimmy comes in to thank Don for being a mensch and helping out with his new show.  Hearing what a good guy he is from the husband of the woman he's sleeping with was unsettling.  But it gets worse for Don.

Because when he gets home, he finds that Betty is cutting back on his salt intake as she is worried about his high blood pressure.  Don, surrounded by his loving wife and adorable children, looks abashed when he hears Betty tell Sally that he can't have salt "because we love him."  Don knows he's completely unworthy, both of Jimmy's earlier praise and now the loving looks from his adoring family.  He's a fraud, he's always been one, but today we see that it's taking its toll.  Is this what guilt looks like?


Dr. Stone: Sometimes all a young couple needs is a good old-fashioned hand-holding.

Pete:  I spend half my day tiptoeing around creative crybabies and the other half drinking with ungrateful turnips who just fell off the truck.

Pete: So maybe I'm the end of the line.

Bobbie:  It's the big opportunity he's bound to ruin.

Rachel:  He's all business, isn't he?

Bobbie: Tell me what I want.

Bobbie:  This is America.  Pick a job and then become the person that does it.

Bobbie:  I love bridges. I don't know if it's the drop or just 'cause you get to see something disappearing behind you.

Bobbie:  Why is it so hard to just enjoy things? God, I feel so good.
Don:  I don't feel a thing.

Peggy:  You'll have to believe me that I'll forget this. I don't want you treating me badly because I remind you of it.

Betty:  You promised you wouldn't disappear like that anymore.

Jane:  I feel like I'm walking in tall cotton.

Don:  I'm not paying attention anymore until they're here a month.

Peggy:   He made me a copywriter.
Bobbie:  I bet you made yourself a copywriter.

Bobbie:  You're never gonna get that corner office until you start treating Don as an equal. And no one will tell you this, but you can't be a man. Don't even try. Be a woman. It's powerful business, when done correctly.

Roger:  I think it's nice to hear the story of relatively young love.

Jane:  What's your title here?
Ken:  Title? I'm Ken.

Bobbie:  You have to start living the life of the person you want to be.

Pete:  I sure as hell wouldn't want a kid here watching this donnybrook.

Don:  Get out of here and move forward.  This never happened.  It will shock you how much it never happened.

Don:  I guess when you try to forget something, you have to forget everything.


While hiding out in Peggy's apartment, Bobbie noticed an article about Marilyn Monroe and lamented her sad life, while Peggy couldn't see the truth behind the blond bombshell.

Freddy comes out from his office to regale Jane and Ken with his pants zipper performance of Mozart. He's not met with the reaction he was hoping for.

There was a lot of older women edifying, and envying, younger women - Joan and Bobbie acting as both mentors and rivals of their younger counterparts. Bobbie is another "new girl" in the story, at least she must look that way to Rachel Menken who recalls when she was the client Don was fussing over. For someone who doesn't look back, Don seemed affected by running into his old flame and perhaps that distraction (plus all the others) contributed to the car accident.

Betty mentions that he had promised not to disappear, so this is more confirmation that they've talked about his secretive ways and, while Don never cops to cheating, he has promised to be more present and to include Betty more. 

Lack of subtlety:  The fertility doctor smoking.  Pete thinking the Xerox machine might be responsible for sterility. Don drinking a bottle while driving.

How times have changed:  Don's blood alcohol level was .15 which the police officer tells him was at the then-legal limit.  Today, that would be almost twice New York's current limit of .08.


Joan tells Roger, "I'm not going anywhere" after he learns of her engagement and he correctly predicts that she will, in fact, leave them.  But Joan turns out to be the prescient one as while she leaves temporarily, she does come back.

Jane tells Joan, "I'm a little bit clairvoyant, and I think you two are going to be very happy together." Not only is she wrong about Joan and Dr. Greg, but she also doesn't see her future very clearly when she decides to take up with Roger.  It is interesting that Roger was obviously quite taken by Joan, he never cared about her enough to leave Mona for her. But his love for Jane wasn't real, he was more in love with her youth and what it said about him. 

Rachel introduces Don to her new husband, Tilden Katz.  It's a quick scene and we know that Don is drinking and distracted at the meeting.  Yet in Episode 9's Six Months Leave, when coming up on the fly with an alias, the name Tilden Katz is immediately upon his lips - as, no doubt, Rachel is always on his mind.

She is so on his mind that he's still thinking about her by the second half of Season 7.

Don tells (lies to) Betty that his car accident was because he mixed blood pressure medicine and booze, not that he was getting pleasured in the car.  Hearing that his doctor had prescribed medicine for high blood pressure, along with fearing that the worst could have happened, makes Betty understandably upset.  But Don tells her he doesn't want her getting hysterical.  In Season 7, when Betty starts studying psychology, we see her reading Freud's book on hysteria.

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