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."

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