Friday, January 23, 2015

Mad Men Season 3, Episode 6: Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency

"One minute you're on top of the world, the next minute some secretary is running you over with a lawnmower." - Joan Harris

The British are coming and at Sterling Cooper imaginations run wild about what the visit from the home office means.  As is typical, everyone views the news through their own prism, so Pete worries that he'll lose his job while Bert thinks it means a promotion for golden boy Don Draper.  As Don once said, our greatest fear lies in anticipation, but in this case, the reality is actually worse than anyone - except for a surprisingly benefited Harry Crane - could have imagined.

But first, all is not well at the Draper home.  Despite her father's suggestion that not all surprises are bad, Sally is finding the addition of her new baby brother Gene to be the cause of many sleepless nights.  She's suddenly afraid of the dark and can't go to sleep without a night light.  Don good-naturedly tries to soothe her fears while promising to get her a night light if she cleans her room.  At least Don is showing some signs of taking a more active role in parenting than he did in Ep. 2.04  Three Sundays.

Lane Pryce, and his assistant John Hooker, make the announcement to the staff of Sterling Cooper that the powers that be will be making a friendly and not so friendly visit over the next two days, meaning that the office will remain open on July 3rd rather than closing.  Seems the Brits "were unaware of the holiday."  As the secretaries scramble to reschedule their going away party for Joan (whose last day was supposed to be July 2nd), and Mr. Hooker gets Harry and Pete prepared for their presentations, Roger, Bert and Don discuss their theories about the visit.

Bert believes the British are coming to make some sort of offer to Don, perhaps asking him to relocate to London.  He believes that Putnam, Powell and Lowe is particularly enamored with Don and want him to take an even larger role with the company.  Even the usually placid, inscrutable Don appears flattered and excited about the possibility.  Bert also mentions that he wants Don and Roger to put aside their grievances and kiss and make up before the British arrive, saying "everyone wants to see Martin and Lewis."

As if there weren't enough excitement at the office, Ken Cosgrove manages to drive a tractor down the halls, his way of announcing that he's signed John Deere as a client.  Chekhov's tractor is now in place.

Don and Roger bury the hatchet while at the barbershop, Mr. Hooker proves himself to be more prick than prig in spilling the beans about Joan's surprise going away party after insulting the secretaries and otherwise being a royal pain.  Don comes home to a happy Betty and dangles the possibility of a move to London in front of her.

Greg comes home as well, but he's late and drunk and bearing bad news.  He's not getting the chief residency position.  But that's not the worst of it.  He's not ever going to be a surgeon, he's just not good enough.  Joan tries to talk to him, to discuss his options.  But when none of that works, she switches from her confident voice into her baby voice as she goes to make him feel better.

That night, Don can't get to sleep, he's too excited to hear what news the British are bringing.  Sally can't sleep either, even with her new nightlight.  But not because she's excited.  Something is bothering her and it's related to her new baby brother.

Morning comes and Sterling Draper is festooned with US and UK flags to welcome their guests from across the pond.  There's a new, young guy in the midst who is being introduced around, Guy MacKendrick.  He has read up on all the major players at Sterling Cooper, but when we first meet him, we don't know what his role will be.  It quickly becomes apparent when the introductions are made and Saint John goes out of his way to mention Guy's education and background (including a stint at McCann Erickson, the firm that has tried to hire Don away).  PPL is introducing SC to this young man, not the other way around.  This point is emphasized when Saint John tells Don that the fact that Guy has studied his work is a great compliment.

Before the true nature of Guy's presence is made known, Lane is the first to appreciate that PPL are not bringing good news.  He's done such a great job at Sterling Cooper that they're going to send him to Bombay.  Lane is distraught - he loves NY and his family has settled in and he feels that moving to India is not the upward mobility he was seeking.

But Lane is about to have a lot of company on the depression express.  At the meeting, the future of Putnam Powell and Lowe is shown on an overhead projector that shows Guy MacKendrick (who doesn't look old enough to drink) as the new Chief Operating Officer of the company, to whom Don will report.  As everyone quickly scans the organizational chart two things become clear - Harry Crane is the only one whose position has improved and Roger Sterling isn't even on the chart.  They also learn that Lane will be leaving.  Don handles his disappointment typically, tight-lipped and quietly stewing.  He draws a quick doodle of an American flag.  No relocation to London for him.

Back at the Draper house, Betty is doing a great job trying to help Sally come to accept baby Gene.  She surprises Sally with a Barbie (albeit, a brunette version) that she claims is from the baby who hopes they can become best friends.  While Sally knows the baby didn't buy the present or sign the card, Betty tries to convince her that some magic fairies did it for her.  So, if Sally wasn't worried enough about sleeping in the dark, now she has to worry about fairies going rogue at night.  But kudos for Betty for trying.

Guy makes an announcement to the entire staff (repeating his hollow statement that he's sure they all have a thousand questions), bids Lane a fond adieu, and toasts Joan on her last day.  This brings her to tears, but not because of sentimentality, but because she can't back out now and Greg has made it quite clear she needs to keep working.  So she's about to leave this job, with everyone thinking she's riding off into the happy ever after, but her story has taken a decided turn.

In the midst of the awkward celebration, which Don clearly does not want a part of, he gets a call from Conrad Hilton, the hotel magnate.  He'd like to meet with Don, so Don sets it up for right now, as he'd rather be anywhere than at the office right now.

Don made a wise choice.  Because while the party seems to be going well, it's all fun and games until someone gets their foot cut off by a riding mower.  Right as Peggy and Joan are having a sweet moment, with Joan congratulating Peggy on her success and Peggy harkening back to what Joan told her on her first day, klutzy Lois hops on the John Deere and it's Oh, Dear, what happened to Guy's foot?  There's a bit of the Englishman everywhere, in the cake, on the walls, in the carpeting.  That's Guy all over.  Joan jumps in and takes charge, putting a tourniquet on his leg to staunch the bleeding, getting someone to call an ambulance, clearing away the hysterical and unhelpful.  They're going to miss her when she's gone.

Don, unaware of the messy goings-on back at the office, walks into the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel to meet Conrad Hilton.  Mr. Hilton seems familiar and he should.  Don had met him before - he's Connie, from Roger's party.  The gentleman he met in the bar.  Connie tracked Don down and wants to pick his creative brain.  Don goes from confused, to flattered, to wary.  As Connie should have recalled from their first meeting, Don is prickly.  So he does not take kindly to the suggestion that he should give up some of his creativity for free.  They have a little battle as they each wave their swords in the air, and Don concedes by finally agreeing to make some small suggestions about what approach Hilton should and should not be making.

Don's visit with Connie is cut short as Joan calls with news from the war zone.  Don meets her at the hospital where he learns that Guy has lost his foot.  Despite the blood and gore, this gives Don and Joan a rare chance to talk one on one and to exchange a nice moment as Don says goodbye.  Joan has the line of the episode which she and Don have a good laugh at right before Saint John, Harold and Lane rush in.  They speak about Guy as if he were dead, not just footless, and it's clear that his great promise and bright future are all gone because of this accident.  Don is surprised (why can't you be an ad man with one foot), but these men have certain standards and expectations of perfection that Guy no longer fulfills.  He'll never golf, again, for goodness sake!

Joan kisses Don farewell and Don and Lane have a brief moment around the soda machine.  Lane references Tom Sawyer and having seen his own funeral and not liking what he saw.  Lane knows that his time at Sterling Cooper is limited and while he's had a reprieve, he now has a vision of the future and it's bleak.  For Don's part, he also realizes he's been given a second chance and while London may not be in his future, he at least won't be pushed aside any time soon.  Certainly not if he can bring in the Hilton account.

Don goes home and finds the Barbie doll thrown out, in the bushes.  He doesn't know anything about the Barbie so he places it back on Sally's nightstand.  She wakes up and starts screaming when she sees the doll, her fear that Grandpa Gene is back as a ghost now has some tangible evidence.  Sally has quite a future in slasher movies as she has the most blood curdling shriek I've ever heard.  Don comes in and calms her down and then Betty comes in with the baby and she starts screaming even more.  She is convinced that Grandpa Gene has returned in the body of the baby and it scares the heck out of her.

Don gets her to see the baby as just a baby and not the embodiment of Gene Hofstadt.  He's brand new and can grow up to be anything and anyone.  And that's a beautiful thing.


Don told Sally last episode that not all surprises are bad but this episode has everyone unwrapping either a real or metaphorical box and no one (save Harry Crane) is happy at what's inside.  Sally, is happy about her new Barbie until she's told it came from baby Gene, Joan is waiting expectantly for news from Greg, Lane opens the box from PPL to see a snake staring back at him, Rogers sees that he's not even included when the new organization chart is unveiled.

Paul calls Ken "Mr. Clampett" a shoutout to Beverly Hillbillies, a then- popular TV show about a old country farmer who moves to the big city.  Bert's mention of "Martin and Lewis" refers to the popular 50s due Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis who did a number of buddy comedies before having a falling out in the early 60s.  Sally telling Don, "I know, you're not Thomas Edison" probably refers to him telling her to shut off her lights because it costs money (and he didn't invent the light bulb so he's not getting rich off her keeping the lights on all night).  Roger tells Don he sounds like Burl Ives when he is talking while the massager is causing his voice to vibrate.  Burl Ives was a folk singer in the fifties, but may be best known as the voice of the snowman in the holiday classic "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer."

The sex scandal to which Joan refers involved the Secretary of State for War under Prime Minister Harold Macmillain, John Profumo.

Conrad Hilton was indeed on the cover of Time magazine, July 19, 1963, hailed "Innkeeper to the world."  Check out the cover here.  The meeting of Don and Connie has historical believability as Hilton was at the May 1963 wedding of Nelson Rockefeller which took place the same time as the fictitious Kentucky Derby-themed garden party.

For the derivation of Lane Pryce's "Ship-shape and Bristol fashion" phrase, click here.

Foreshadowing of Guy's accident? Roger mentions thinking about his toes, also mentions his father lost an arm.

Don indulges in a box of Ritz crackers as he has in seasons past (and will, no spoiler her, in seasons to come).

"Three penny tour" - get it, instead of using American nickel tour?  Those British are so funny!

Also love when Mr. Hooker says the announcement will only be made once and not repeated and Lane says, that's not true.  Those two are not on the same page!  It was funny, though, to see Mr. Hooker tweak Paul about having to shave his beard.

Joan gets their British guests tickets to "Oliver!" - the musical based on Oliver Twist, the Dickens novel of a poor street orphan. The musical had opened three years earlier in London, so it was likely that if they were interested in seeing it they would have already.  But, perhaps, Joan was trying to make them feel at home.

Paul sitting on his desk, strumming his guitar as the British walk past, priceless.  Also a great moment, Peggy's flustered comment that she was "just writing copy" after she's introduced to the dashing Mr. MacKendrick.

Roger, Bert and Don were meeting Harold Ford for the first time, but we the viewers first met him when he wined and dined Duck Philips in The Jet Set.

Don is used to feeling like a fraud, since technically almost everything about his is a creation.  But he must feel even more exposed when contrasted to a young man like Guy who has the pedigree Don lacks (Cambridge, London School of Economics).

"In the conference room at one.  Sounds like Agatha Christies."  Guy is referencing the British mystery writer whose novels were whodunits with the murder being committed often in some interesting locale with some odd instrument (in the stable with a branding iron, for example).  While there is no murder afoot, there is bloodshed in the immediate future.

Poor Lane, so worried about showing any sign of weakness in front of his bosses that he rather squint than wear his glasses.  He is devastated when they tell him that his reward for a job well done is relocation to Bombay (now Mumbai), a move he does not want to make as he finally feels comfortable in his new home.  But he has no choice as Harold Ford points out to him that his greatest quality is that he does what he's told.

First mention of Vietnam (not counting the reference to the self-immolating monk) and concerns about the draft.  But they are quickly washed aside as silly.  The US started having a military presence to Vietnam in 1963, originally in an advisory capacity and for troop training. That escalated after Johnson took over the presidency in December.  But in the Summer of '63, our ultimate involvement in Vietnam was not anticipated by the mainstream.

Great transition for Don from laughing at Joan's line (at the top of this post) to saying to the men from PPL, "It's a great tragedy."  He sold that nicely.

The song played over the end credits was "Song to Woody" by Bob Dylan, written in 1962.  The tune was based on Woody Guthrie's song "1913" (which was based, in part, on a tragedy when people were trampled to death in a panic after someone falsely shouted fire in a crowded venue that had only one means of exit).

"Come on Twist" by Jody Reynolds
"Song to Woody" by  Bob Dylan


Greg: He said I have no brains in my fingers.

Joan: I married you for your heart not your hands.

Saint John: A tragedy with a happy ending.  My favorite kind.

Harold:  Don't pout. One of your greatest qualities is you always do as you're told.

Bert: We took their money.  We have to do what they say.

Pete: One more promotion and we're going to be answering the phones.

Roger: I'm being punished for making my job look easy.

Conrad:  I called around, told people I had a long chat with a handsome fella from Sterling Cooper and your name never came up. Apparently you don't have long chats with people.

Don: I think you wouldn't be in the Presidential Suite  right now if you worked for free.

Conrad: The next time somebody like me asks you a question like that, you need to think bigger. 
Don: There are snakes that go months without eating and then they finally catch something, but they're so hungry that they suffocate while they're eating.

Harry:  We had the world handed to us on a plate and then you swung in on a chandelier, drop your pants, and crap on it.

Paul: He might lose his foot.
Roger: Right when he got it in the door.

Joan: I bet he felt great when he woke up this morning.
Don: I"m sure you're right.
Joan: But that's life.  One minute you're on top of the world, the next minute some secretary is running you over with a lawnmower.

Don: We don't know who he is yet, or who he's going to be.  And that is a wonderful thing.

Spoiler-y Observations (Don't read unless you're caught up):

First mention of Bert's secretary Miss Blankenship.

In Season 5, Don is hit with some prank phone calls after his anti-cigarette letter was published.  But this time, when someone famous is calling for him, it's the real deal.

After Guy's accident, Roger remarks it looks like Iwo Jima out there.  He references Iwo Jima, in a decidedly less comic fashion, in Season 4's "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mad Men Season 3, Episode 5: The Fog

Don Draper is told that he's an honest man, Betty Draper has not one but multiple hallucinations of her recently-deceased father, Peggy Olson entertains an offer from the less-recently departed Duck Phillips and Pete Campbell has an awkward conversation with the office elevator operator.  

At the start of the episode, the very pregnant Betty is at Sally's school along with Don as they are being asked to explain Sally's recent bullying behavior.  Betty mentions that Sally's grandfather recently passed away and the fragile Miss Farrell (previously seen gamboling around the maypole) is shaken to hear that her young student has suffered such a loss (and that her parents weren't thoughtful enough to share the news with her teacher).  She relates keenly to such a loss and gently chastises the parents for not realizing how much it has affected their daughter.  Later, she calls the Draper home to apologize for her emotional reaction and it's Don who takes the call from the young teacher who had caught his eye just a few weeks earlier.  Pointedly, when Betty asks who was on the phone, Don does not mention the teacher.

Betty is ready to deliver her third child and she and Don head to the hospital.  This is another chance to show the changes from the 60s, where men were kept away from the delivery room, smoking cigarettes and waiting for the nurse (or in this case the voice of Lisa Simpson) to deliver the news of how their brave gals fared.  There Don meets Dennis Hobart, a nervous first-timer whose emotional vulnerability belies his normal demeanor and chosen profession.  Outside of these walls, he's a tough prison guard at Sing Sing, here he's a whimpering ball of mush.  

Dennis and Don talk and bond over the fatherhood experience and Dennis gets Don to open up some.  He admits to having the nightmare that Dennis claim everyone has of ending up at Sing Sing (Dennis doesn't realize that Don should fear prison as he's AWOL and has assumed another's identity) and he admits to not being as active of a father as he'd like.  Dennis also does some oversharing, letting Don know how lost he'd be without his wife and his fears that if anything happened to her, he couldn't love the child.  

While Don is having this intimate conversation with a stranger, Betty is in the fog that is in the episode's title.  She imagines she sees her father as she's being wheeled down the hospital corridor then has a number of drug-fueled hallucinations not only of her father, but her mother, Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers, and a caterpillar that represents her desire to change.  Even while confused, she is able to remember that the Hebrides are islands, not mountains, and she questions one of the nurses whether she's "been with" Don.  

After she gives birth, Don goes back home and has trouble sleeping.  In comes Sally to keep him company.  It's a really sweet scene where Sally shares her concerns about the new baby replacing Grandpa Gene and also mentions her teacher who taught her about addling (which is what that teacher may be doing to Don's mind). Sally craves attention from the adults in her life and clings to it whenever it comes her way, moving from her grandfather to her teacher to Don.

At the office, there are two stories going on.  One revolves around Lane Pryce's obsession about the bottom line. He is there, representing the home office, to make the firm more financially sound, and his plan is to count every penny spent.  Because of this, he conducts interminable meetings going through expense accounts and office costs with an attention to detail that would impress his country's fictitious Sherlock Holmes.  He ingratiates himself to no one by having every expense and cost questioned and focusing on where the money is being spent and not on what the company actually does.  

The other story concerns one of the company's clients, Admiral TV.  They are concerned that sales are flat and they are looking for answers.  Pete Campbell looks at the data and thinks that the answer lies in increasing advertising in areas that have a higher Black population.  The big cities with large percentages of Black residents have shown a spike in sales, so why not go after that market?  Well, the answer is, the Admiral TV executives don't want to cater to, lure or otherwise address that market. When Pete suggests running integrated ads, going after both Whites and Blacks, the executives from Admiral look aghast.  "Is that even legal?" they ask.  

Meanwhile, Duck Phillips, not seen nor heard from since his unsuccessful coup attempt at the end of last season, is back.  He is at another advertising agency, Grey, and he is wooing both Pete and Peggy to come join him with promises of sitting on velvet pillows, being showered with riches and awards. But, while Peggy may be flattered, Pete is insulted that he's not being treated as more important than Peggy.  In his mind, he is a special snowflake and not on the same level as Peggy.  Peggy is not interested in Duck's pitch as she feels some loyalty to Sterling Cooper.  But the conversation with Duck does embolden her to ask for what is rightly hers - a fair salary.

Peggy doesn't realize how bad her timing is coming to ask for a raise while Moneypenny is making Don account for every paperclip his department is using.  But Don doesn't realize that his timing stinks as well now that Peggy is being courted by Duck to leave Sterling Cooper and his refusal to consider her request for a raise is only going to make her more likely to leave.  The conversation they have about her raise is really sad as he clearly does not understand what this matters to her. The country just passed the Equal Pay Act and its premise and goals have not yet filtered down from Washington to Wall Street.  So Peggy leaves, shaken, by Don's insensitivity and unhelpfulness.

Of course, Pete sees her leaving Don's office and has no idea how poorly that meeting went.  He think she'll be able to use Duck's offer and leverage it for a raise or promotion (bless Pete and his ignorance of how people who aren't rich white men are treated).  He (rightly) sees her as valuable, not realizing that Don does not share that opinion - or at least doesn't feel the need to reward her.  In some ways, his fear that Peggy will parlay the interest from Duck into a better deal at SC only highlights to Peggy that she's being mistreated at work.

Pete goes to the woodshed to be flogged for having the temerity to suggest Admiral might want to advertise its television sets to Blacks.  After Roger reads him the riot act, and Bert questions his sanity, Lane (a self-described "stranger in a strange land" observing the US as an outsider) points out that Pete was actually forward thinking and that there is definitely something going on in the states that will change the racial landscape.  So as far as Admiral is concerned, Pete is dead.  But he might be able to sell some other client on his approach in the future.

Change is in the air and not just for race relations.  Betty is changed in some way too as her foggy thoughts have her questioning her life.  Peggy is continuing to change as well as her vision of her future at Sterling Cooper has been rocked.  But in the awkward eye contact between Don and Dennis as they passed in the hospital hallway, not everyone may be willing to change despite their deepest desires.


Betty: I just want to put it behind us.  I just really want everything to be okay when the baby comes.
Suzanne: It's going to be a beautiful summer.

Ken:  What time is it?  What time isn't it.

Don: You came here because we do this better than you, and part of that is letting our creatives be unproductive until they are.

Lane: Pennies make pounds, and pounds make profits.

Don: Think of the men's morale, not just your own.
Lane: You've obviously seen "Bridge on the River Kwai."
Don:  I've seen everything.  You have my ticket stubs

SuzanneI guess I can get a little caught up in things and lose perspective.
I don't know why I'm calling. I'm embarrassing myself.

Don: Our worst fears lie in anticipation.

Betty: I'm just a housewife.  Why are you doing this to me?

Peggy:  You have everything. And so much of it.

Ruth:  Do you see what happens to people who speak up? Be happy with what you have.
Gene:  You'll be okay.  You're a house cat. You're very important and you have little to do.

Hollis: We've got bigger problems to worry about than TV.

Pete: Your decisions affect me.

Roger: Let me put it in account terms.  Are you aware of the number of hand jobs I'm gonna have to give?
Pete:  Am I being taken off the account?

Roger: I'm going to have to pretend I had you killed!
Pete: Sales are flat.  I had to do something.
Roger: I don't know if anyone's ever told you that half the time this business comes down to "I don't like that guy?”
Lane: Are we done with the flogging?
Roger:  It's never as good as you think it's gonna be.


Miss Farrell mentions that Sally was asking questions about the death of Medgar Evers. Evers, a civil rights activist, was assassinated on June 12, 1963 by a white supremacist (who avoided prison after two deadlocked trials, but was finally convicted of the murder in 1994).  Evers comes to Betty in one of her drug-induced hallucinations.  He is seen sitting at the dinner table with her mother Ruth standing behind him.  Ruth warns her daughter that those who speak up end up dead.

When Dennis mentions their baseball team having played the 1929 Yankees, he's referring to the time in September of that year that the Yankees, with their appropriately named Murderer's Row, visited the prison in Osining to play what was reported to be one of the best prison baseball squads in the country.  You can read about the Yankee's visit to Sing Sing, where Babe Ruth was reported to have hit a homerun over 600 feet, here.

There is so much packed into that brief exchange between "Mr. Campbell and Hollis."  Class distinctions, racial disparities, underpinnings of the changes to come.  For someone from old money, Pete is a rather modern, forward-thinking and open to change.  Yet, Pete is focused on the American Dream and Hollis knows that Blacks have bigger problems to deal with before they can get to discussing what TV to buy and the like.

Ken shows off his new watch, a gift from a happy client.  Dennis sees Don's gold watch (which has stopped working in the waiting room) and comments that he'd like to have a gold watch but can't have nice things around the prisoners.

Pete bitterly tells Peggy "your decisions affect me" referring not just to her decision to consider Duck Philips' offer, but more importantly her decision to give up their baby for adoption and not tell him about it for years. Speaking of which, look at Pete's face when Duck tells him that he knows that Pete and Peggy have a secret relationship - only to then presume that Pete worked some magic to get Peggy her (formerly Freddy Rumsen's) job.

No comment about the elevator operator saying every job has its ups and downs.  Just wondering where the rimshot was.

No hospital will let you go home with a baby without an industrial strength car seat - no holding babies on your lap anymore.

Spoiler-y Observations (Do not read until you're caught up):

Suzanne Farrell is seen calling the Draper home after school with her shirt unbuttoned, her bra strap hanging, and holding a drink.  This will not be the last time she does something inappropriate, inexplicable, concerning Don Draper.

Lois Sadler is not seen this episode, but we're told that she caught her scarf in the XEROX machine.  We are foreshadowing her clumsiness, which will come back in a big way in the next episode.

Duck will come back many more times to either poach employees from Sterling Cooper or to organize an attack on the company (or at least Don).  And his collection of ducks will get larger.

Pete is focused on the Black consumer and his interest leads him to be seen in Ep. 3.08 reading Ebony magazine as he continues to think about advertising to this market.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mad Men Season 3, Episode 4: The Arrangements

The plans, the plans, the plans you make.  Eugene Hofstadt said this near the end of Episode 2 (Love Among the Ruins) and in this episode his plans all come to an end.  He makes his arrangements, despite the fact that his daughter does not want to consider his mortality, and then makes plans with his beloved granddaughter.  But those plans will never be fulfilled and by the episode's end, Don closes up the rollaway bed and the Draper house loses one family member as they come closer to gaining another.

Pope John XXIII is dead so we know it's just after June 3, 1963.  Eight-year-old Sally Draper is driving her grandfather and brother around their neighborhood because that makes about as much sense as someone her age reading the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Grandpa Gene is a representative of the times, when age distinctions were blurred and we didn't shield children from age-inappropriate behaviors.  But he also pays more attention to her than her parents and it must be refreshing for her to be someone's favorite.

Peggy is further distancing herself from the old Peggy, now by planning on moving to Manhattan.  With this her transformation from the repressed, constricted suburbanite to modern woman will be nearly complete.  Her first attempt at her transformation is less that successful as she is too rigid and joyless in her approach to finding a roommate.  The guys decide to have a little fun at her expense by having Don's secretary prank call her.  Eventually, with Joan's help, Peggy manages just the right tone to get the kind of situation more appropriate to someone her age.

At Sterling Cooper, a golden goose has fallen into their lap - a rich client, Horace Cook, Jr., with a crazy obsession, crazier ideas and money burning a hole in his pocket.  A college friend of Pete's, this spoiled rich kid has never heard the word no and expects that with enough money he can buy whatever he wants.  What he wants is to make jai alai the new national sport and its best player a worldwide sensation.  In the meeting with Lane, Paul, Sal and Harry, Horace throws out one implausible idea after another and no one tells him how nutty or impossible they are (other than Paul having to break it to him that CBS does not air its programs in color).  Don walks in and immediately picks up on the loony vibe and makes a little quip, but Lane locks down the money and the meeting ends.

Gene sits Betty down and, after admonishing her against smoking, gets down to the arrangements.  He has everything worked out, who gets who, what will happen to him, after he dies.  Betty does not want to hear any of this.  Gene is tired of her Scarlett O'Hara, fiddle-dee-dee attitude and says that her sheltered nature is why she ended up married to "that joker" and blind to the dangers in the world (again, he means Don).  They get into a tiff, she thinks he's being morbid and selfish and he wants to know that things will be taken care of after he's gone.

Later that night, Gene opens up an old box of memorabilia that he wants to share with Bobby.  Historical pieces and souvenirs of war.  Gene is old school, WWI old school, and he relishes his memories of wartime camaraderie.  Don, AWOL from the Korean conflict, does not share his nostalgia or sentimentality.  And he does not want his son wearing a dead man's hat.  So rather than being a moment for Gene and Don to bond over their shared war experiences, this is another example of the rift between them.

Sal is working late, nervous about his first foray into commercial directing.  Kitty comes on to him in her newest, sexiest piece of lingerie, but Sal is not interested.  "I'm not myself," he tells her, and she has no idea how true that statement is.  Sal is still firmly ensconced in the closet and his work life is not giving him any satisfaction as he worries he's about to become obsolete.  While he doesn't feel that he can do anything about his personal struggles (he can't face them, certainly can't talk to Kitty about them), this is his big chance to make something good happen at work.  And it's scaring the heck out of him.  He enacts the commercial for Kitty, playing the seductive Ann Margret type, and at the end Kitty looks very confused and worried and we're supposed to think that for once she's noticed something is a bit different about her husband.

Don was not at all comfortable with Pete's "fatted calf" client, especially considering that his father is a close friend of Bert Coopers, so a meeting was scheduled between Don, Lane, Bert and Horace senior to discuss the son's plans to spend his millions bringing jai alai to the masses.  Lane tries to pretend that the younger Horace has a great idea, but his father knows that his son is stupid or crazy or both and has no illusions that the money he spends will pay off.  But he gave his son the money and it's his to do with as he pleases.  You can make all the arrangements you want, but ultimately people will decide what they decide.

Gene and Sally bond some more over morning ice cream.  We learn more about Betty's unfortunate relationship with her own mother when Grandpa Gene tells Sally that Grandma Ruth was so worried about Betty getting fat that she would drive her to the store and then make her walk back.  He tells Sally that she's smart, like her grandma, not like her mother.  "You can really do something," he tells her, "Don't let your mother tell you otherwise."  Grandpa Gene the feminist.  We get some foreshadowing of his death when Gene says the ice cream tastes like chocolate, but smells like oranges.

Don and Pete take their new client out to dinner and Horace pays lip service to recognizing that his idea may seem crazy to Don, but it has a 50-50 chance of being successful in his eyes.  Pete says that his own father would have liked those odds and thought this a great investment, which considering his father died broke is probably very accurate.  Don sees another side of young Horace.  Here is a spoiled rich kid who understands how lucky he is and how no one thinks much of him.  But he has a dream of creating something, bigger and better than anything his father created.  He wants to impress his father.  Don tries to caution him against wasting his millions on a pipe dream, no matter how well-intentioned, but Horace will not be dissuaded.

That night, Don can't sleep.  He goes into his office, opens his secret drawer, and pulls out an old black and white photo of a stern-faced Archie and Abigail circa 1928.  Don stares at his father's harsh face.  There was some talk at dinner about fathers and sons, and the dynamic of Horace Jr. trying to come out from under his father's shadow was a major theme.  And, obviously, Betty's father is now a daily presence in his life.  Somehow, all of this has him looking back at this ghost.

The next day, Pete has the contract all ready to be signed which will bring a nice payday to the firm.  He jokes about having spent two years at Dartmouth protecting Horace Jr. from Shylocks, so we see that he has had a gambling problem in the past. It's now just changed from betting on horses to betting on a sport no one has heard of and no one can pronounce.  Also, one you can't play if you're left-handed.

Grandpa Gene is not at school to pick up the kids, eventually Betty comes and brings them home.  At the office, Joan is cleaning up the destroyed ant farm in Lane's office (that Don broke earlier) but she's still having a better day than Sal who presents his commercial to the client, who deems it an utter failure.  Peggy, who never liked the Ann-Margret impersonator idea, walks out of the meeting smugly while Roger points out that you couldn't recreate the magic of the original.

Sally is sitting on the front porch, probably waiting for Grandpa Gene.  Instead it's the police and they bring the news that he passed away while at the A&P (where he was picking up peaches for his favorite grandchild).  Betty goes into the house and leaves the shocked and grieving Sally outside by herself.  She calls Don (who was in a meeting with Sal) and gives him the news.  Don has just enough time to show Sal the silver lining - he may have failed, but he is now a commercial director.

That night, Betty and Don and her brother and sister-in-law are talking about Gene and Sally comes in crying.  She doesn't understand how the grownups can be joking and laughing and ating like nothing has happened.  She has experienced her first loss and she's devastated.  The adults pretty much ignore her, Betty tells her to stop being hysterical and go watch TV and Don doesn't get up and comfort her.  So off she goes to the family room, and settles down in front of the evening news, where she witnesses a monk's self-immolation.  Well, that should make her feel better.

Welcome to the 60s.


Anita: Are you going to be one of those girls?
Peggy: I am one of those girls.

Pete: As they used to say at the freshman mixer.  When you get a "yes," you go home.

Don:  During the Depression I saw someone throw a loaf of bread off the back of a truck.  It was more dignified.

Sal: I'm not myself.

Horace, Sr.:  Should you be lucky enough to strike gold, remember that your children weren't there when you were swinging the pick. ... My son lives in a cloud of success.  But it's my success.
Perhaps when that evaporates and his face is pressed against the reality of the sidewalk he'll be of value to someone.

Gene:  You're smart.  You remind me of your grandma more than your mother. … You can really do something. Don't let your mother tell you otherwise.

Don: Don't stop until you see the whites of his pockets.

Suicide Count:
Gene tells Betty he doesn't like seeing her commit suicide, and neither do her kids.

Whore Count:
Peggy's mother tells her not to become one of those girls.


There was so much parent-child conflict - disapproval and disappointment on both sides. Horace Sr. embarrassed by the windmills-chasing son he has bankrolled, Pete remembering his own irresponsible father, Gene treating Sally as the daughter he (and his late wife) wish Betty had been, Peggy's mother's dismay masking her fear for her daughter's reputation and safety ("you'll get raped"), even Don weighs in by digging that old photo of his father out of hiding.

Thích Quảng Đức was the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who burned himself to death in Saigon on June 11, 1963 in protest to the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government led by Ngô Đình Diệm. This is perhaps the first time that Vietnam may have been on the radar of Americans and was an omen of what was to come. Speaking of Vietnam, Gene talks to Bobby about war, but that was one of the great wars that united all Americans and not a divisive "conflict" that tore the country apart.

The discussion of the furs is very 1960s, back before objections to the fur trade started (a movement which reached its peak in the 80s). Now virtually no one would be caught wearing real fur.

Gene is the first to warn against cigarette smoking, discouraging Betty from lighting up.

Oranges are a sign of death at least as far back as Don Corleone joking around with the orange rind just before he keeled over in The Godfather and Grandpa Gene smells oranges just before his own demise.

Another sign of the times - fresh, raw eggs added table side to your salad, no seat belts in the cars, cigarettes advertised on TV.

Jai Alai did gain some popularity in the sixties as a form of betting, especially in the Miami area. The player that Horace Junior refers to as the Babe Ruth of jai alai was Francisco Maria Churruca Iriondo Azpiazu Alcorta a Basque jai alai player.

Great moment in the first meeting with Horace Junior where Paul is about to say that no one has put a special on all three networks at the same time because it's a ridiculously stupid idea, but he's stopped before finishing his sentence, But Horace's idea of a sports star turned actor is not so far-fetched and it becomes de riguer to see athletes acting on TV and in movies.

It was a cute bit how Peggy tried to warm her mom to the idea of her new roommate by saying she was Norwegian instead of Swedish.  Also, Peggy's very slight smile when the Bye Bye Birdie pitch failed, as she told her male coworkers it would.

Gene settling his affairs so soon before dying is either a coincidence or a sign that he knew his time was running out. But he packed a lot into his last days, sneaking stacks of phone books for Sally to sit on as he taught her to drive, showing Bobby about how to safely open a box while telling him about wartime and its life lessons, and reinforcing his very negative opinion about Don to Betty.

Betty is seen at the end, eating the peach that her father had bought for Sally just before he died.

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

When Don packs up Grandpa Gene's bed we see the crib for the new baby.  Although Betty refers to the baby as a girl her instincts are wrong and it will be a boy - whom she will name after her father

The failure of his first commercial outing is just the latest of the bad things that happen to Sal this season.  He's about to have an overlap between his personal and professional life that leaves him on the outside looking in.

Horace Sr. and Bert Cooper have the following exchange (concerning Horace's son): 
H: When we put that money aside for him, he was a little boy.  We didn't know what kind of person we were making.  B: Don't be so hard on yourself.H:  Easy for you to say.  He doesn't have your name.
Bert Cooper never had any children, though he was something of a father figure to Roger.  But he was the father of Sterling Cooper and that agency did have his name through it's many changes.  At times, Bert was not happy with the company that bore his name, so he could relate to that feeling of disappointment.  He became exceptionally irritated with Don, in particular, by Season 7.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mad Men Season 3, Episode 3: My Old Kentucky Home

There is a lot of pretending going on and for a change it's not by Donald Francis Draper.  Joan is playing the dutiful wife, Roger is playing the deliriously happy newlywed, Paul is playing cultured hipster, and Peggy is playing the bad girl.  The difference between the public face and the private reality of most of the characters is the main theme of his particularly excellent episode. 

There are four separate locales - Roger's annual throwback soirée at the country club, Greg and Joan's apartment, the Draper home and the Sterling Cooper offices.  The Kentucky Derby themed party Jane and Roger Sterling are throwing is particularly illustrative as it reveals much about class distinctions, who rates and how much.  Not everyone at the office is invited and Sal, Paul, Smitty and Peggy are stuck working while their coworkers enjoy mint juleps and a particularly uncomfortable mini-minstrel show.  Pete views the party as a great networking opportunity, Harry sees it as a way to ingratiate himself with the powers that be and Don is wondering how long he has to stay.  Betty is enjoying the chance to dress up and be festive, but a strange encounter with a libidinous pol and some harsh truths from a drunken Jane cause her some consternation.  Don has his own meaningful encounter with a likeminded stranger to whom he immediately opens up. 

At the office, the creative staff is trying to come up with ways to sell Bacardi rum. Paul suggests when one is stumped creatively, a visit from Mary Jane may help.  He reaches out to a former college classmate who now peddles drugs and he and Smitty smoke in the office while Peggy is outside.  Peggy's overprotective secretary Olive is there and warns Peggy about what the boys are doing and tries to steer her away. But we've seen the new Peggy. the one who wants to break free of her old self.  So off she goes, introducing herself with the now classic line - I'm Peggy Olson and I want to smoke some marijuana. 

Olive hangs around, fretting about Peggy.  It's an interesting dynamic, the older woman worrying about the future for this young girl.  But Peggy is blazing a new trail for women and she assures her secretary "don't worry about me.  I am going to get to do everything you want for me."  Peggy has her name on the door and a secretary.  She doesn't have to act how Olive thinks she should, she can write her own script. She's going to be just fine.  

Less fine is the professional future of Joan's doctor husband, Greg Harris. He is scared to death about having the head of the department over for dinner.  Joan takes his concern as typical nerves and doesn't realize there's more at stake tonight.  Joan discovers during the evening that Greg had a problem with a surgical procedure and his career path may not be what he had hoped.  Greg had been keeping that important piece of news from her and is embarrassed to have it brought out in the open, even more so because a contemporary is lavished praise for his success with the same procedure.  So he deflects attention by having Joan perform for everyone, entertaining them with her prowess with the accordion.  (He also was probably motivated by jealousy and feelings of inferiority after seeing how everyone was so impressed with Joan.)  It's embarrassing and demeaning to her - he might as well have said Dance, Monkey - but Joan handles it as she does all the other insults Greg has sent her way.  Because that's what she believes a woman has to do. 

At the Derby Day party, two encounters are particularly meaningful.  Don leaves the show Roger is putting on to go make himself a drink.  There he meets an older gentleman, Connie, who is also escaping the suffocating confines of a business meeting disguised as a celebration (in his case, a wedding).  The two feel like outsiders even though they both were invited here and appear to fit the mold.  But unlike Pete Campbell neither was "to the manor born" and so, dressed up or not, on the invite list or not, they share a common bond of not quite fitting in.  Don is more himself in this encounter than we are used to seeing him and he and Connie immediately click.  Connie's comments - about seeing the glittering mansions from the vantage point of his little boat as a kid and seeing them from the inside and how different they are really - resonate with Don.   Both of them came from modest backgrounds and now both are hobnobbing with the highbrows, but neither feels comfortable.

We also see another side of Betty at the party.  A strange gentleman comes up to her and instantly starts flirting (despite her wedding ring and extremely pregnant condition). She is not put off by his inappropriate behavior, but intrigued.  Is this because she's thrilled someone finds her attractive in spite of looking like she swallowed a beachball?  Or is the Betty who flirted with cheating in the past, and who also considered single life without Don, still there, percolating?  This handsome, older gentleman lets her know he's unencumbered and wishes she were as well.  Their exchange is interrupted, but the looks Betty gives him as she walks away lets us know that she was not finished.

The fourth locale is the Draper home. There Sally did a very rash, unthinking and understandably age appropriate thing.  She stole $5 from Grandpa Gene. It's not a big deal, kids do that.  But it has big consequences.  Because, even though Gene has shown signs of dementia, he remembers very clearly having $35 dollars and knows that someone took a fiver from him.  And at his age, with people questioning his intelligence and memory, he is not going to let this pass.  Betty and Don think he's imagining things, that this is another example of his mental decline.  They try and placate him with money but he wants his money returned. Carla feels under attack that stated or not the implication from Gene is that she must have stolen it.  Things between them do not improve when he calls her Viola (after his former housekeeper) and then asks her if she knows Viola (to which Carla bristles telling Gene that they don't all know each other). 

The whole day is spent looking for the lost money and Sally deals with her guilt knowing that she has caused her grandfather such distress. Eventually, she pretends to find it and returns it to her grandpa. She worries he knows she took it and he'll be mad at her, but he sweetly invites her to come read to him.  He knows he was right and he knows Sally realizes she did a bad thing, but he doesn't need to make her feel any worse. 

Not everyone is in their right mind.  While high, Paul insults his former Princeton classmate who then reveals the truth about Paul - his accent is fake, he's just a scholarship kid from Jersey trying to blend in with the upper crust.  Like Don and Connie, Paul turns out to be just another member of the hoi polloi trying to fit in among the upper crust.  And Jane is plastered, so she lets slip that she knew about Don and Betty's marital troubles.  Betty looks hurt and walks away.  Roger and Don exchange some harsh words and he hits Don with the truth that he is there by Roger's largesse and nothing more.  Don walks out of the party and sees Betty and they embrace.  But after his staring at Sally's teacher and her staring at Henry, what should we make of this embrace? 


There are many parallels between the country club party and dinner at the Harrises.  Who is invited, where they sit, how the wives behave being a reflection on the men.  Betty has only to look like a Nordic goddess to play her role, Pete's wife Trudy goes farther, being funny and engaging, dancing an impeccable Charleston duet with he husband.  The young surgeon with the capable hands can have a ditzy wife. But Greg needs to have the perfect wife and hostess, with special talents beyond her fabulous body, to make up for his own shortcomings. 

Gene asks Don "How's Babylon?"  Babylon was the title of episode 1.06, which dealt with the aftermath of the reappearance of Don's brother, Adam.  Here, Gene is using it to reference the bustling capitalistic Manhattan, in the other episode it referred to a place from which one may be exiled. 

Gene has Sally read to him from Edward Gibbon's "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."  Strange choice of reading material for an 8 year old.  Hard not to think that we're being set up for something to fall apart whether it's the new British-owned Sterling Cooper or the newly reconciled Drapers. 

Connie finds out more about Don than his wife does in their brief chat behind the bar: "Where you come from?" "Pennsylvania by way of Illinois.  We lost our farm, ended up in coal country."

We learn that Kinsey's accent is contrived, that he's actually from Jersey. And that he was not, like Pete, to the manor born.  

Three years after a divorcee moved into her neighborhood, to the shock of everyone, Betty is now talking about governor Rockefeller marrying a newly divorced Happy.  Henry, who was very clearly coming on to a pregnant lady, said they married for love. Is this the first she's contemplated that perhaps divorce isn't the worst thing ever?

"This is the way the world ends, with a bang not a whimper. I keep thinking about rum and Cuba and how we almost died." These are Paul's marijuana-assisted thoughts. 

We're hit with racism, both overt (Roger singing the episode's title song while in black face) and slightly more obtuse (Gene asking Carla if she knows Viola).  The party-goers mostly laugh at Roger's performance and while Don seems put off you can't tell if it's because of Roger making a general fool of himself or the racist nature of the performance. 

The song that Roger sang, which also gave the episode its title, was written by Stephen Foster in 1852. According to a number of sources, Frederick Douglass claimed that Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home" awakened "the sympathies for the slave, in which anti-slavery principles take root and flourish."  

The dance that Trudy and Pete do is the Charleston, which was popularized in 1923 in the Broadway show Runnin' Wild.

Joan plays and sings C'est Magnifique, written by Cole Porter for the 1953 musical Can-Can.

Betty had wanted to dance earlier at the party, before her encounter when the handsome older stranger.  But after that, she sat out the rest of the party, claiming she no longer felt like kicking up her heels.  Maybe having some feelings for a strangers stir up caused her to lose interest in dancing with her husband.  


Jane: I get a nosebleed anywhere above 86th street

Gene:  Just wait.  All hell's gonna break loose. 

Sally: I just walked backwards all the way from the living room.

Greg: Joanie, I don't want to have a fight right now.
Joan: Then stop talking

Gene:  I don't want your money.  You people, you think money is the answer to every problem.
Don: No, just this particular problem

Peggy: I'm Peggy Olson and I want to smoke some marijuana. 

Connie:  I hate other people's weddings.
Don: Why's that? 
Connie: Make me nervous.  All those expectations

Connie: It's different inside.

Connie:  By golly, you're prickly. 

Connie: I'm republican, like everyone else in there.  But somehow, no matter how expensive my cufflinks, I feel like I've got the head of a jackass.

Peggy:  I am so high.

Henry:  I wish you were waiting for me. 

Irene: The fact that Greg can get a woman like you, makes me feel good about his future, no matter what happens. 

Bert: Divorce is political "hari kari." 

Peggy: I'm in a very good place right now. ...
 I am not scared of any of this.  But you're scared.  Oh my god.  You're scared.  Don't worry about me.  I am going to get to do everything you want for me.   I'm going to be fine, Olive.

Jane: Don't you just love looking at her? Aren't they a beautiful couple? I knew you two would get back together, no matter what the problem was. 

Roger: You know, my mother was right: It's a mistake to be conspicuously happy.
Some people don't like it.
Don: No one thinks you're happy.  They think you're foolish.  

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

Connie turns out to be millionaire Conrad Hilton who becomes a prickly client of Sterling Cooper and a bit of a father figure to Don. 

Henry turns out to be the one who helps finally break up the Draper marriage and becomes Betty's long-suffering second husband.  

The head of the department's wife tells Joan not to get pregnant, that money will be too much of an issue for a while.  Joan does eventually get pregnant, just not with Greg's child.