Interesting question to pose to Donald Draper. Don has already given us his view on love - that it doesn't exist, that it was made up by admen like him to sell pantyhose, etc. He tells Betty he loves her, loves the kids, yet does he really? Can you do the things he does and really love the people who you're hurting by your actions?
The Golden Violin is the name of the story Ken Cosgrove asks Sal Romano to read and it's based on an actual violin he once saw at the Metropolitan Opera that was perfect in every way, except it didn't make music. There are many things in this episode that reflect that concept. Sal as a husband, for one. Sweet, smart, talented, only he's not attracted to his wife. Don as a husband, for another. Great provider, successful, handsome, only he's not at all who he says he is and has no grasp on the concept of loyalty. Roger's marriage, for a third. Twenty some-odd years, one daughter, he and Mona appear to have everything, only Roger is not faithful to his wife. Nor is he in love with getting older.
As Don looks for a car to replace the one he wrecked while driving with Bobbie Barrett, he flashes back to when Don was himself a used car salesman, circa 1952. He's glib and comfortable, a real go-getter, but without the cocky air he now has as he glides through the Sterling Cooper office. Don's about to be rattled, as a woman comes in saying that she knows he's not really who he says he is.
Don leaves the dealership, possibly spooked by the memory, but Roger gives him a good old fashioned "you deserve it" pep talk about treating himself a little. Of course, Don doesn't exactly deprive himself of much and his hesitance on the Cadillac may be more what it reminds him of than the monetary expenditure.
Duck may finally have gotten some good intel for the company, spending the weekend finding that Martinson Coffee is not happy with their agency and are looking for a new (read, younger) approach. So the two Mr. Smiths come in and pitch their generation's view of the world, introducing Don to the burgeoning Students for a Democratic Society (which was formed at the University of Michigan in 1960 and promulgated its manifest in 1962). He tells Don that today's youth doesn't want to be told what to do, what to buy, they just want to be. So their approach to the client is a happy jingle that welcomes people in rather than pushes the product down someone's throat. Don is impressed.
The meeting with the client goes very well and Don commends Duck on a job well done. Yet it's Don that gets the attention and accolades, as he is welcomed into the upper crust by Sterling and Cooper. After congratulating Don, Roger leaves the meeting and then Bert makes a telling comment. "Would you agree that I know a little bit about you?" Bert, of course, knows that Don is not Don but a draft dodger who assumed another man's name and identity. He lets Don know that it's time for Don not to let that keep him from stepping out of the wings, onto the stage, and joining the show.
Harry has been called into a meeting by Bert and the other guys warn him that he'll be questioned about a new, mysterious painting that Bert has hanging in his office. Jane takes the men on an adventure, breaking into Bert Cooper's office to check out the painting. Harry is a confusing mix of bravado - he went out of his way literally to let the other guys know he had a meeting with Bert and brags about "his department" - yet he's scared and insecure as well. When he finally has his meeting with Bert you can practically sense the flopsweat as his moment approaches and Harry struggles - and fails - to say just the right thing.
Joan gets wind of the office shenanigans and uses it as an opportunity to get rid of Don's secretary. But Jane is a pretty savvy girl for a 20-year-old secretary. Rather than walking out of the office after getting fired by Joan, she has the instinct to go to Roger instead. Instead of fessing up to actually having done something worthy of getting fired, she makes it seem Joan was jealous of her and fired her in a snit. Roger comes to the rescue and (reminiscent of Duck telling the gum chewing secretary not to worry) tells her to come back to work on Monday.
Ken is the guest of honor at dinner at the Romanos and Sal is totally smitten with his coworker, and shows off his cooking and entertaining skills while his wife Kitty is forced to fade into the background. Neither Sal nor Kitty get what they want and they're stuck with each other for very different reasons. Kitty isn't oblivious, in fact it seems that she's more aware than Sal is, but what choice does she have? But it's funny that Ken missed the awkward dynamics and left wanting a marriage like that (be careful what you wish for!).
In a battle over Roger's
Don and Betty are their usual beautiful selves at the party Jimmy Barrett is throwing. Bobbie Barrett comes by with a network exec and Don is all business. Betty leaves to let them talk shop and Jimmy comes over and, after buttering her up with flattery, he drops the news that their spouses have been having an affair. Once again, Betty has it all and has nothing. It's like the brand new car that they can't fool around in or let the kids sit in with messy hands. Her marriage looks perfect on the outside, but it doesn't play.
And that car that Don was so careful to keep clean? It's now as messy as his life.
Roger mentions the song "Enjoy Yourself" (It's Later Than You Think) to Don. Here are some of the pertinent lyrics:
You never go to night clubs and you just don't care to dance
You don't have time for silly things like moonlight and romance
You only think of dollar bills tied neatly in a stack
But when you kiss a dollar bill, it doesn't kiss you backEnjoy yourself, it's later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think
For all his talk of being a progressive hipster, it's Paul who won't break into Bert's office, while Jane manages to convince Sal, Ken and Harry to join her. Sal, the art director, of course recognizes the painting in Bert's office as a Rothko. How the four view the painting provides some insight into their character as it acts as a sort of $10,000 Rorschach Test. Jane dismisses it as "smudgy squares," Harry panics that there is one correct opinion about the piece that will seal his fate with Cooper, Sal searches for the meaning buried inside, while Ken just experiences the painting.
Fun fact we learned - the expression "cup of Joe" may have come from Joe Martinson, a man who imported and roasted coffee beans in the late 1800s in New York.
Wayne Kirkby: You don't need to see yourself in a Cadillac. You're walking about in one every day.
... Those are wonderful if you want to get somewhere. This is for when you've already arrived.
Anna: You're not Don Draper.
Roger: Where'd you get that sweater? I want to make sure my daughter never buys it.
Harry: Two possibilities either Cooper loves it and you have to love it, like in an "Emperor's New Clothes" situation, or he thinks it's a joke and you'll look like a fool if you pretend to dig it.
Ken: It's like looking into something very deep.You could fall in.
Bert: Crane, focus, please. We didn't make you head of television just to shorten your attention span.
Bert: People buy things to realize their aspirations. It's the foundation of our business.
Bert: Philanthropy is the gateway to power.
Jimmy: All I know is I know her, and you know him, and there they are, and they don't care where we are.
Jimmy: You know what I like about you? Nothing. But it's okay. You got me everything I wanted.
Lack of subtlety:
The car salesman telling Don: "I bet you'd be as comfortable in one of these as you would in your own skin."
Oh how times have changed:
The Drapers leaving all the trash after their afternoon picnic.
Discussing sneaking into Bert's office, Ken says to Jane "are you suicidal?"
Jimmy says to Don, "You, you want to step out, fine. Go to a whore. You don't screw another man's wife."
SPOILER-Y OBSERVATIONS (DON'T READ UNLESS YOU'RE CAUGHT UP)
First mention of Ida Blankenship, who was Bert's secretary at the time.
First introduction of Anna Draper, who becomes one of the most important characters on the show. Her relationship with Don unfolds slowly, with the details coming out in subsequent episodes. We will soon learn that she was the recipient of the book "Meditations in an Emergency" that Don mailed in Episode One and her presence will be an important one for Don for many seasons to come.
There are numerous references to horses in Mad Men, usually involving Don. Here, for example, Bert tells Don (about moving up in society): "It's time for the horse to catch the carrot." In Season 7, Episode 7, Pete refers to Don as "a very sensitive piece of horse flesh." The award Don takes home in Season 1, Episode 5 is a horseshoe. Don's father is killed when a horse kicks him in the head. Betty deals with her depression by jumping horses. There's even a shot of Betty with a drink at the Stork Club next to a statute of a horse with a ballerina on its back.
Jane coming back to work after being fired parallels Don's return in Season 7. Once again Roger flexes his muscle to defy the will of another, rehiring someone he doesn't want to lose, but conveniently doesn't tell either his partners or the formerly fired employee about his plan.