Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mad Men Season 7, Episode 11: Time & Life

"Take the rest of the day off.  Pop some champagne."

At the end of Season 3, in one of the most memorable episodes in the series' history, Don Draper leads a small team to revolt against the impending absorption by the big bad - the evil mega-agency McCann Erickson - and to go boldly into an uncertain future as a rag tag bunch of upstarts. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was the small, scrappy agency that thumbed its nose at the giant monolith and kept its independence and identity.  Some seven years later, it looked like history was about to repeat itself.  

Once again, Sterling Cooper faced a threat from McCann.  Once again, the core group huddled together and planned how to extricate themselves and keep their name and autonomy.  Grabbing clients, closed-door meetings, secrecy and intrigue and the heightened excitement of the big fight.  They'd done it before, they can do it again. 

Only this time, history did not repeat itself.  Don put together the big plan and had his pitch ready.  And Don knows how to make a pitch.  He had his visual aids, his detailed analysis, and, mostly, his enthusiasm and hopefulness.  This was a great idea and Jim Hobart could not possibly resist Don's charms.  It'll be like the Lucky Strike "toasted" pitch, maybe even another Kodak Carousel moment.  But Jim barely lets him talk, cutting Don off mid-pitch. There was nothing that Don could say, what was done was done.  No miracles here, time to pull the plug.  There would be no next chapter for Sterling Cooper.  It was time to close the book on them. 

While Jim painted this as a win for the Sterling Cooper partners, the news only spreads panic throughout the office.  Merger, takeover, shutting down. None of this sounds good to the average office worker.  We've seen the scene before.  The troops are rallied, speeches are given, everything goes on as before.  The latest was the news of Bert Cooper's passing followed by the purchase by McCann.   The partners again assemble the staff and try to spin the news as good for all.  Don is prepared, he's got his speech ready, it's going to be stirring and all will be well.  And once again Don Draper is not able to make the pitch he's trying to make.  No one is listening, all they heard was "we're moving" and that was enough to get everyone scurrying. As the camera pans back, he's alone, unheeded, speaking to no one.  Our hero can't even command the attention of his coworkers any more. 

Contrast this to the idea of Don Draper riding in on his white horse to save the day, as Midge mentioned way back in the pilot. The vision of Don our (anti-) hero swooping in and fixing everything is still so strong in our minds we forget about the times he failed, the times he didn't have all the answers. This episode was set up as another, Don Saves the Day. But in the end, it was too big a hurdle even for Don Draper to overcome.  And so he, and the rest of the soon-to-be former Sterling Cooper employees and partners, have less than a month before they say goodbye to their name and their home.  And we have less than a month before we say goodbye to them as well.  

Don is also about to be homeless, with the sale of his condo on the horizon.  He will no longer be a partner at Sterling Cooper.  But what of his name?  He still owns "Don Draper" and doesn't look to be unloading it any time soon.  But, he asks, what's in a name?

For Pete Campbell, his name carries the baggage of a centuries-old dispute thousands of miles away which is still be paid for today. Trudy lets him know that their daughter Tammy has been wait-listed at a prestigious private school.  Pete goes there to throw his name and social status around and instead finds out that a 17th Century grudge by the McDonalds against the Campbells (discussed in this Wikipedia entry: is standing in the way of Tammy's educational future.  

The scene with Pete and the headmaster is exquisite, and Pete' s "The King ordered it" is up there with "Not good, Bob" as future meme gold.  Pete defended his name, his wife and his child and was briefly the hero of his own story.  And how fitting that Jared Harris, who played Lane Pryce and was involved in his own fisticuffs with Pete Campbell back in Season 5, directed this episode?  But it was not just Pete's bravado that we celebrate this episode.  He was also kind towards and protective of both Peggy and Joan this episode.  And his gentle support of Trudy, telling the now thirty-something woman not to fear the loss of her youth, was a high point.  "You're ageless," he says, in as loving a way as he's ever spoken to her.

Pete has not always been the most tactful, and he's not necessarily the most empathetic person, but he rose to the occasion that the McCann Erickson takeover initiated.  He made sure to protect Peggy, giving her early warning of the move so she could make plans.  And he commiserated with, and flattered, Joan when she feared for her own future after the Sterling Cooper offices close. 'They don't know who they're dealing with," he tells Joan.  This may well have been Pete's finest hour.  He handled losing Dow Chemicals with grace, accepted news of the inevitable shuttering of the offices with equanimity and is moving forward as hopefully as we've seen Pete Campbell.  Has our frat boy finally grown up?  At the end of the episode, he tells Joan he's going to call Trudy.  Could a reconciliation be in the air?

As Mad Men winds down, it is on everyone's mind how the show will end.  Will anyone get what they want, what is it that the characters want. And so it goes that with this episode at least three characters did in fact get their greatest wishes fulfilled. Lou Avery's "Scout's Honor" is being made into a cartoon. Ken Cosgrove finally got his revenge on Roger (and to a lesser extent, Pete) for leaving him behind when SCDP started up.  And Jim Hobart finally won his battle against Sterling Cooper, pulling Don Draper into his company and shutting down the rival agency. 

But what of our core group of characters? On the romantic front, Joan is moving forward with Richard Burghoff, Roger is moving forward with Marie Calvet and Ted Chaough has rekindled an old high school relationship.  Don, Peggy, Pete and Stan are presently unattached.  On the work front, most seem somewhere between happy (Ted) and resigned (Peggy) to working for McCann, while Joan is concerned the sexist frat boys will not give her the respect she deserves.  It did not go unnoticed that when Jim Hobart listed the names of the big time clients that would now be theirs to work on, Joan was left out.  But she does have Avon, and that is a client for which there is no conflict, so it will continue to be a McCann client, so there is some reason for hope.  

The shake-up at the office, along with the presence of kids in the office, has Peggy feeling vulnerable and open in a way we haven't seen her in a long time.  She's awkward and uncomfortable around the children auditioning for a toy commercial and she gets in a verbal spat with the mom of one of the girls who she was forced to watch (with Stan).  It's vaguely reminiscent of how Don's old girlfriend Dr. Faye Miller was around young Sally - uptight and cold.  Stan just assumes Peggy hates kids and isn't the mothering type.  What he sees is a thirty-two year old business woman who chose career over family, and let her child-bearing years pass by so she could climb the corporate ladder.  We know that's not the entire story.

Peggy finally tells Stan about the child she gave away and the choices she made to be where she is today.  She speaks for the new feminist who asks why her choices should be suspect and why she can't do what a man could do.  It's a beautiful scene, between two characters who've had many great tête-à-têtes at the office.  She's honest and raw and Stan is understanding and caring.  He does what's sometimes the most important - and hardest - thing.  He listens.  And he learns that there was a lot more to Peggy than he ever knew and that she's sacrificed more than he realized to get where she is.

Their later scene, on the phone, when Peggy doesn't want to hang up and feels comforted just knowing he's on the connection, shows more about the depth of their relationship and their importance to one another.  Stan once told Peggy, when she called asking him to come kill a rat in her apartment, that he's not her boyfriend.  But he may well be her closest friend.  And the scene was also a beautiful reminder of how they used to talk late into the night when she was over at CGC.

Don and Roger have no more mountains to scale, no more capers to carry out.  They're done.  While in a boozy haze their resignation to their fate - which, in fairness, consists of wealth, power and prestige - is melancholy.  Don, who has a name not his own to pass down, Roger who will be losing his.  They share some truths.  Roger says he was envious of Don's up-from-nothing story, Don was jealous that Roger had it all handed to him.  "In a previous life, I'd have been your chauffeur," Don tells Roger and that is the mid-20th Century Gatsby-esque story at the heart of Mad Men.  Don, by shedding Dick Whitman, blazed a new trail for himself and rose much higher than his humble birth would have predicted.  Roger had to do nothing to attain what he has and that carries its own burden.  But both are now mere cogs in the giant McCann Erickson machine.

But life goes on.  Don doesn't yet know what that life will look like.  Where will he live?  Who will he share it with?  He know that there are people with whom he's been through a lot and they're going on this next journey together.  But aside from his Sterling Cooper family, what does he have?  He looks towards Diana, the sad waitress, for some answers, but that leads him to a dead end.  Why did he think she held any answers, what was he looking for there?  And finding nothing, where will he go next?  He has money, prestige and power.  He still doesn't have an answer to the question, "is that all there is?"


The show is more self-aware than ever, and more in touch with the fans' feelings as the show draws to a close.  "We have 30 days," Joan says upon learning of the takeover.  "Don't you understand?  We don't exist," Roger tells her. Us.  It's almost over.  You may not like it, you may rail against it, but it's inevitable.  You can talk about spin-offs and movies, but none of that is going to happen.  You're only real option is to get a little buzzed and drink a toast to a great show.  The end is nigh, whether you like it or not.  

"You are okay." Roger's fatherly kiss and these words are what Don needs.  Don said back in the pilot that happiness is the feeling that whatever you're doing is okay. "You are okay."  When Roger was tripping out in Ep. 5.05 Far Away Places, Don came to him as a vision and told him that same thing. "Everything's okay.  You are okay."  

"California.  There's a gold rush going on there."  Don's love of California goes way back.  It's where he set Anna Draper up, where he visited (and shared the holidays pre-Betty), where he could shake off Don Draper and be Dick Whitman.  We haven't heard him talk about California for a while, but we know that his "niece" Stephanie - his last connection to Anna - lives there with her new baby. We also know that his recent fling, Diana,
said San Francisco was the other city she considered running away to.  There's nothing for Don in New York besides his kids and he barely sees them and only as an interruption in their daily lives.  Maybe California is still on his radar. 

It's every terminated employee's fantasy. Those that fired you now come crawling, hands outstretched, begging for scraps.  Or in Ken Cosgrove's case, you get to torment your former coworker Pete Campbell to your heart's desire. And when the need you the most, you can shove it back in their face.  Roger may be excited about pulling together client files to break off like he did back in '63, but Ken remembers how the last time Sterling Cooper struck out on its own it left him behind.  Now it's time for revenge, almost eight years in the making.  

The theme of vengeance (the private school administrator and Ken) continues when Lou Avery revels in what he thinks is his own bit of revenge - having his creative dream come true when he has the chance to move to Japan to pursue his animation fantasy.  But while Roger thinks Jim is also seeking revenge after his repeated-failed attempts at getting Don Draper, the fact is that Jim is not the bad guy here.  After years of painting him as Satan's cousin, Jim is just a smart adman who wants his company to be the best.  What he offers Don and the rest of Sterling Cooper is what so many of them claimed was their own dream for the future.  Bigger clients, more prestige, more money - they'll have it all now.  He's offering them one of the most coveted positions in advertising. Travel, adventure, an international presence. As he does a roll call of the big clients that they'll now be able to work for - every partner's fantasy client including for Don "Coca Cola" - it's clear he's offering an opportunity not a punishment. 

The Coke reference (which also came up last episode when Roger suggested he could have Don killed for drinking a rival soda) reminds us of Jim Hobart's first big attempt to lure Don to McCann Erickson back in Season One.  Then, he offered Betty a chance at a Coke ad (Betty was considering going back to modeling) and she had some stills taken, but when Don refused to make the move, Betty's dream was shot down. You can read more about that episode here:

Ted recognized how important California was to Don, even if he doesn't know the whole story.  Don's eyes did light up at the idea of starting fresh there.  Yet it's hard not to remember that when he had the chance to move out there with Megan, he didn't.  Maybe California only has meaning to Don when he can be himself there.  That is, not be Donald Draper.  It's hard to imagine how that would have worked if they'd been successful in launching Sterling Cooper West.  Instead, California may be important in what it represents in the abstract to him - freedom.

Roger laments that his own surname will die with him, yet we know that Joan's son Kevin is actually Roger's. But with Joan raising Kevin as her own (albeit with ex-Greg's surname) and Roger moving forward with the crazy Madame Calvet, it's unlikely the Sterling name will be passed down.

Jim Hobart told the partners that they died and went to advertising heaven.  This is a callback to Ep. 5.1 "Blue Hawaii" when Don said. "Well, heaven's a little morbid.  How do you get to heaven? Something terrible has to happen."  And something terrible did happen - Sterling Cooper was absorbed, dissolved, eradicated.  That place where Don, Pete,Peggy  and so many others got there start, where Roger's father's legacy resided, where Bert Cooper lives on, where Roger reclaimed his family name, that place is gone.  And no matter how you slice it, that is a terrible thing. 

Don famously said, in the pilot, "advertising is based on one thing.  Happiness.  And you know what happiness is?  Happiness ... is a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that what you are doing is okay. You  are okay."  After conceding defeat, surrendering to Jim Hobart, Don is understandably in the dumps. But Roger takes Don's face in his hands and tries his best to reassure him, telling him "You are okay."

Another callback to the pilot comes from Stan's conversation with Peggy about her decision not to have children.  In the pilot, Don asked Rachel Menken why she wasn't married. "Don't you think that getting married and having a family would make you happier than all the headaches that go along with fighting people like me?" Rachel astutely pointed out at the time "If I weren't a woman, I would be allowed to ask you the same question."  Stan assumes Peggy made a conscious choice not to marry and have children and that she could not have her career otherwise. But Peggy asks why that assumption is made about her a woman and yet it wouldn't be made about a man. 

A callback to the Season 7 premiere comes with Don's quote - spoken then by Freddy Rumsen quoting the words fed to him by Don - that is is the beginning of something.  Don keeps trying to sell that pitch, probably because he's feeling so much loss and so much as if everything is ending. 

The shot of the five partners sitting at the table after Jim Hobart walks out (looking inward) contrasted nicely with the photo of the five partners after their take over of the Time/Life space (looking outward to the future).

There is a recent HitFix poll asking who is Don's best secretary.  There should be no question - the answer is Meredith.  Not since she promised to be Don's strength - when Jim Cutler tried to organize his dismissal - has she been so important to Don.  She lays it on the line for him.  "Don't 'Sweetheart' me," she tells him.  She wants to know what's going on and if she's going to continue to be his secretary.  Because, honestly, who has done a better job for him?  She even knows when Alka-Seltzer will not fix the problem.  She's priceless.  Efficient, caring, devoted.  What more could you ask for?

Since you were wondering, the afore-mentioned Jim Cutler is alive and well and living off of his share of the sale of 51% of Sterling Cooper and Partners to MC last year.  He took the money and ran.  We also saw Dawn Chambers for the first time this season - getting blamed for, fired for, then un-fired for not paying the lease on the office space at the Time-Life Building.  She and Shirley were later seen representing the rest of the staff at SC wondering what this means for their future.  

Sterling Cooper and Partners has been housed in the Time-Life building since its creation in the wake of the break off from PPL in 1963. Time and Life are also the names of the two iconic weekly magazines that highlight what's newsworthy.  Ahead of the season 6 debut, Time wrote this piece about the building in the 1960s.

The song at the end was "Money Burns a Hole in my Pocket," sung by Dean Martin.  In it, the singer wishes he had all the money in the world to buy his love fancy things.  


Lou: Enjoy the rest of your miserable life. 

Trudy: Peter, you can't punch everyone.

Pete: You're ageless.  

Trudy: You never take no for an answer.

Stage Mother: You do what you want with your children, I'll do what I want with mine.

Hobart: it's done, you passed the test.  You're dying and going to advertising heaven. ... Stop struggling.  You won. 

Ted:  I'm relieved.  I'm ready to let someone else drive for a while.

Joan: We went down swinging. 

Pete: For the first time I feel like whatever happens is supposed to happen. 

Peggy:  I don't know, but it's not because I don't care.  I don't know because you're not supposed to know.  Or you can't go on with your life.

Don: What's in a name?

Don: In another lifetime, I'd have been your chauffeur. 
Roger:  Then you would've been screwing my grandmother.

Don: For the second time today, I surrender.

Roger:  You are okay.

Meredith:  There are rumors flying around like bats around here.  ...Don't "sweetheart" me.
In a month, you're not going to have an office and you're not going to have an apartment.  Do you want to lose me, too? ... It is not a normal day.  Everyone's living in a fright.

Don:  Hold on.  This is the beginning of something.  Not the end. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mad Men Season 4, Episode 1: Public Relations

When last we left Don Draper, it was December 23, 1963.  Don was ending one relationship while starting another.  His wife was on a plane heading to Reno with her new paramour in order to obtain a divorce from the father of her three young children.  Don had just left a hotel room where he and a select few of the best and brightest were embarking on an exciting, risky new business venture.  The last shot of Don was walking, suitcase in hand, alone, into a bleak, uncertain future as a single man.

So it was a shocking revelation that Season 4 opened on a dapper Don being asked the question that we thought had finally been answered.  Who is Don Draper?  That question has been asked and answered many times. In the pilot, we're told "he's the best creative director in New York."  In Ep. 1.3, Harry Crane jokingly speculates, "He could be Batman for all we know."  Don's refusal to answer questions about his past is practically legendary.  He told Roger Sterling, in Ep. 1.2,  I can't tell you about my childhood, it'll ruin the first half of my novel. ... It's not that interesting a story, just think of me as Moses. I was a baby in a basket."  And in some ways, Don was being honest.  According to his own flashback to his birth, in Ep. 3.1, he was a baby in a basket, newly orphaned and delivered to the house of the man who fathered him and his unhappy wife.

But here, in 1964, Don is as tight-lipped as ever about who he is.  False modesty, old-fashioned mid-west values, or habit?  Whatever motivates his reticence to talk about himself, it's a poor public relations decision.  Don was the face of the new Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce and it was incumbent upon him to sell himself as well as the company.  An adman who can't even sell himself, let alone his agency, is not much of an adman.  The interview with the one-legged reporter from Advertising Age does not go well (he reports Don is still married, and has two children, not three, and more importantly does not mention any of the clients).

After the interview, Don, Pete and Roger are meeting with Jantzen swimwear to discuss advertising their two-piece swimwear (not a bikini, they insist) to their modest clients in this increasingly racy market.  It is a sign of the times, which are a-changin', despite what these conservative executives want to accept.  They stress how they are a family company and don't want to lower themselves to the tawdry level of their bikini-selling competitors.  This despite the fact that they recognize that their sales are being hurt by the new, racier cuts.  Don doesn't like what he's hearing as his job would be much easier if he could go with the times and sell what people want to buy.  

Later in the episode, Don comes up with a campaign that he thinks addresses their concerns about being too risque with a subtle nod to what sells (i.e., sex), while not be too overtly provocative.  But his approach does not work.  The infallible Don Draper has failed and this client does not like what he's selling them.  Of course, we know now that it's Jantzen who is behind the times and they will have to adapt to the loosening mores of this new generation if they want to survive. But Don's failure to satisfy them has bigger ramifications, as we'll see later.

It is a full five minutes into the episode before we realize that SCDP is not still working out of the Pierre Hotel but actually set up in an bustling new office, smack dab in the heart of Manhattan in the new Time Life Building.   The brighter office, with its wide halls and white walls, is shiny new and modern.  We eventually learn that they took over two floors, but are so far just operating out of the lower of the two, to project a dynamic and successful image (while shouldering a high rent).  The music playing as the partners walk through the doors is straight out of Goldfinger or The Killers or any other of the popular movies of the times (late '64), and gives the "fab" feeling of the groovy '60s as we move further away from the buttoned-down '50s.

Almost a year after starting the new firm, SCDP is still having growing pains.  Bert Cooper is still complaining that his suggestion that they get a bigger office downtown was passed over for a smaller office in a more prestigious locale.  He complains that Don missed his meeting with their new research head.  Don complains to Pete that meeting with the prudish execs at Jantzen was a waste of his valuable time and complains that Pete isn't getting him enough meetings.  But Pete, ever the account man, merely flatters Don and goes off assuring him that everything will work out.

We meet new copywriter Joey Baird as he and Peggy are having fun brainstorming ideas while acting out a scene from a comedy soap opera spoof by Stan Freberg.  Pete, who was so upbeat with Don, is now back to his own miserable self.  He tosses the can of ham from their client onto the table, along with the news that the client, Sugarberry, is not happy.  When Peggy tells Joey that Don didn't like the work, he fires back that she should give the ham to Don since he'll be spending Thanksgiving alone.  Peggy tells him that's not nice.

Don is meeting with his accountant, going over his finances.  We learn that as of October 1, 2014, Betty and Henry should have vacated Casa de Draper, but that they're still living there and Don is still paying for it.  But Don rather deal with the cost than get into a fight with Betty.

Back at the brainstorm session about Sugarberry ham, we learn just how dimwitted the client is.  They tested their product in Jewish neighborhoods.  Regardless, you take the clients as you get them, (like the prudish bathing suit purveyors) and you have to deal with those limitations.  Be creative, that's why they hire you.  So Peggy keeps thinking, how they can build what we would now call buzz.  Peggy thinks of a PR stunt, which Pete hates on principal, as a way to get some excitement about the product.  She envisions two women fighting tooth and nail over the last ham in the super market.

Roger: Oh good, I got you when you're vulnerable.
Roger invites Don over for Thanksgiving as it is the worst kept secret in Manhattan that Don has nowhere to go this holiday season.  Don is Roger's personal project and he want to get him to meet a nice girl.  Jane has a friend they've been trying to set Don up with and he's not interested (not that he's been a monk, he tells Roger), but Roger is persistent and he makes plans for Don to take Jane's friend Bethany on a date.

Don goes back home to him dingy, small apartment (which we later learn is at Waverly and Sixth Avenue).  He has a housekeeper who leaves him dinner which she claims he doesn't eat.  He gets snippy with her about moving his stuff (he'd rather have his shoeshine kit in the middle of the room, than have it neatly put away).  He sits on the couch, buffing his shoe, when his last big success comes on - the Glo-Coat commercial.   He smiles, wistfully.  Later we see him plopped down in front of the same TV, this time a game is on and he's dressed casually.  He's thumbing through the file for the Jantzen account.

Later, we see Don having made his bed, and he's back to being suited up.  He stops in front of the mirror, and seems to nervously check how he looks.  Seems Don's heading for his first date with the lovely Virginia Mayo-ish Bethany Van Nuys.  Bethany is beautiful and smart and sweet.  She' s nervous, it's her first blind date since college and she knows that Don is recently divorced.  She doesn't usually date divorced men, but Jane has made Don her personal cause.  Despite her youth and beauty, and the fact that this is a first date, the conversation turns very serious, very early, with reference to the June killing of Andrew Goodman and other civil rights activists.

The date goes quite well, and Don takes Bethany back to her apartment at the Barbizon, a hotel for young professional women located in the Upper East Side. He kisses her goodnight, but that's all he gets.  She lets him know she's interested, but she's not that kind of girl.  She asks if he'll be at Roger's for Thanksgiving, but he claims he has plans.  Don tries one more time to continue the date back at her place, but ultimately takes no for an answer and reluctantly goes back home.

Pete and Peggy meet with the two women hired to stage the fight over the last Sugarberry ham in their local supermarket.  They took their instructions a little too literally and continue to fight even after getting paid for what was supposed to be an acting job, not a real life brawl.  Pete expects the story to appear in the paper and along with it some free publicity for the client that will certainly put them in good stead.

At the office, Roger has the Advertising Age article for which Don was interviewed and he's not happy.  This was a golden opportunity and Don blew it.  He should have been selling himself and the agency, not being distant and mysterious.  Instead of a puff piece that they can use to bring in new clients and impress existing ones, it's a dud.  The aloof, mysterious Don, who makes his bread and butter painting pictures with words,  transporting people, gave the reporter nothing to work with.

Pete gets news that Sugarberry is over the moon with the news that two women were fighting over their product and that the small news story has been picked up by other outlets (or, as we'd say today, went viral).  The excitement from having this idea work so well causes Peggy to be inspired to come up with a great slogan and all is great at SCDP...

Until Pete gets a call from his deep pocketed client, Horace Cook, the jai alai enthusiast.  Turns out that Don failed to mention him or his association in the article and he's very upset.  Upset enough to fire them.  All it took was a little needling from Ted over at Cutler, Gleason and Chaough to notify "Ho Ho" of how he was being overlooked by Don Draper and how much more he'd be appreciated over at CGC.  And just a day after Harry Crane locked them up for a special on ABC.  Don really stepped in it and everyone is understandably irate.  Don has a mini hissy fit, kicking a chair.  Yet, he only has himself to blame for this.

Thanksgiving dinner with the Francis clan is our first introduction to Henry's mother, Betty's new monster-in-law.  Being married to an orphan's looking like a better option, now, I bet.  Henry's mother gets a dig in about how her son is divorced and remarried - right in front of his new family.  Lovely.  Sally is no happier about the Thanksgiving arrangement than she is, and Sally refuses to eat anything, insults the food and then makes a show of spitting out the sweet potato and marshmallow bake that Betty tries to feed her.  Meanwhile, Bobby is happily wolfing down his meal.

Don has made plans for Thanksgiving as well.  No, not turkey, cranberry sauce and some football.  Instead, he has hired a prostitute to come over and slap him around a little.  So Don is handling the divorce and separation from his kids just swell.   Rather than take a pity invitation from Roger, he's home alone paying someone to feed his masochistic need.

 His visitor answers the phone while he's dead asleep in bed.  It's Peggy.  She needs bail money.  Turns out one of the women they hired to fake the fight over the ham decided to press charges against the other.  $280 will make it all go away.  Peggy's not happy she has to ask Don for the help, and she regrets it even more after he barks at her and treats her like dirt in front of her boyfriend, Mark.  Mark is so upset at how Peggy is being treated that he stands up for her - and announces that he's her fiance.  What started as a creative idea that was starting to payoff has turned into a mess, with Don yelling at Peggy the way Bert yelled at him earlier about the failed interview.

Back at the Draper Francis house, Betty and Henry are in bed (she has switched sides from when she shared the bed with Don) when she hears a noise in the hall.  It's Sally and she wants to call her Dad and wish him a happy thanksgiving.  Betty thinks Sally's just trying to get in good before she tells him what Sally did at dinner and tells her she'll see him tomorrow and go to bed.  Back in bed with Henry, he suggests they take a day off tomorrow, just the two of them.

The next morning is such an awkward, cringe-worthy scene.  Don, having to ring the doorbell of his own house, where he still pays the mortgage.  Bobby lets him in and they have a nice greeting, Sally, probably worried about what Don will hear about her, is less exuberant, even fretting slightly when he kisses the top of her head.  Don is already miserable, that's been established.  Then he gets there, finds out he can't even see baby Gene (who's already been taken for the day by Carla) and then he has to see Henry walk up. It's just too much.

Of course, Henry  is so excited to have Betty all to himself for the day, that he can't keep his hands off of her.  While they're having fun, Don is tucking in the kids and looking sadly at the little bunkbed set up that substitutes for what they used to have.  This is all he gets now, these little visits, while someone else is living his life.

The next day, he's working while the kids are watching TV.  At the end of the day, he brings them home.  Betty and Henry aren't back yet and puts the kids to bed, then waits.  He's pretty pissed by the time they get home and he decides it's time they talk about them moving out.  Betty is upset at Don, somehow he's the bad guy here.  Henry stands up for Betty, but once Don leaves he admits that Don is right.  It's time to move out. 

It's really cliche, and a bit cheap, to mention this, but just this one time can I say what a complete "Dick" Don is being.  Peggy comes in, bearing a gift ham and some contrition, and he just wants to throw in her face that he doesn't like the stunt, he would never have approved it, it was a horrible idea, and she's making the firm look bad.  He could not be any more demeaning unless he was slapping her in the face.  Probably not even then.  Don is supposedly the hero, and we put up with his cheating and drinking, but his attack on his most loyal and hardworking employee is really hard to watch.  He only saving grace is that Peggy gives as good as she gets and she will not be cowed by Don any more.  This is a new, confident Peggy and she is not his doormat.

Don goes into the follow up meeting with Jantzen with a suggestive photo of a pretty young girl and a mildly sexual tag line. The prudish clients hate it and feel as if Don hadn't heard a word they'd said and came up with a pitch possibly even more salacious than they had feared. But Don doesn't care. He has a vision - he's the Glo-Coat genius for heaven's sake - and they can take it or leave it. 

When you think Don can't be any more of a jerk, after his pitch to the Amish folk at Jantzen swimwear is a bust (no pun intended), not only does he walk out of the meeting, but he decides to go back in and insult them further, ordering them out of the office.  Don is so convinced of his brilliance, of his unique specialness, that he cannot abide anyone who doesn't see it.  If they don't want what Don is selling, to hell with them.  There are plenty more forward-thinking clients out there and Don's convinced he can get them.

Too bad SCDP doesn't have a second floor. Don's ego could fill it on its own.

Don leaves the meeting and sets up a call with Bert Cooper's contact at the Wall Street Journal.  Don is ready to sell himself.  He spins the tale, with him as the hero.  "Last year, our agency was being swallowed whole.  I realized I had two choices.  I could die of boredom or holster up my guns. So I walked into Lane Pryce's office and I said, 'Fire us.' Two days later, we were operating out of the Pierre Hotel.  Within a year, we had taken over two floors of the Time-Life Building."  He's embraced this new narrative and another new identity - Don Draper isn't Batman (as Harry once famously quipped).  He's Superman. 


The question "Who is Don Draper" that opens this episode is, of course, the question that has a literal answer that we the viewers, and very few other people know.  Donald Francis Draper was a married army engineer who died during an accidental explosion in Korea.  But since that fateful day, a new Don Draper was created and by 1964 that Don he is that dashing, charming ad man who paints beautiful pictures with his words.  As Bert Cooper said in Ep. 1.12 to Pete Campbell, a man is whatever room he is in, and right now Donald Draper is in this room.  But we also know, from Don's trip to California to visit Anna, that there Donald Draper fades away and is replaced by Dick Whitman.

Don has been prickly in the past and dismissive at times.  But he's never been so completely awful to Peggy.  Or maybe he had but this time it felt like he had gone too far.  What is happening to Don? In an episode called "Public Relations" we are seeing someone with no idea how to deal with any of his relationships - public or private.  He is reticent and mysterious when asked to share, and bombastic and insulting when self-control would have been a better choice. 

Don has been built up as the savior of Sterling Cooper. He is the Creative Director that other firms want to poach (see McCann Erickson's attempts, for example) and one whose work is getting much attention.  While his marriage fell apart and the truth about his past was discovered by his wife, while he's kicked out of his own house and kept mostly apart from his children, all he has is work. The only place where he is respected, feared even, is at the office. That becomes the only environment where he feels he has any control. Unfortunately, it seems to have resulted in him becoming even more unhinged, lashing out at Peggy as well as any client that doesn't embrace his ideas. 

With the new office comes a new office staff.  Don brought his secretary, Allison, from the old firm and she's now sitting outside his corner office. Peggy is joined by a new copywriter, Joey Baird.

In the meeting with the accountant, when Don points out that it looks like he's already a wealthy man, the accountant points out that Uncle Sam may have something so say about that.  The top income tax rate that year went from 91% to 70%, still a sizable chunk.  The accountant wants to engage in "guy chat" about Don sowing his wild oats, but Don does not kiss and tell.

We've seen Don as sadist, but never masochist before.  Psychologists think they are two sides to the same coin.  While there is no definitive cause for such behavior, often it is linked childhood sexual trauma, or being witness to inappropriate sexual behaviors as a child, which behaviors are being imitated and reinforced.  

Henry's mother may be a witch, but she's sure right about Betty.  She sees that Sally is scared of her own mother and what a childish shrew Betty is.  "She's a silly woman."  But Henry doesn't see it, he just sees the beautiful woman he first saw waiting outside the bathroom at the Derby Day party.  

The song at the end was "Tobacco Road" by The Nashville Teens, who were, in fact, from England.  The song was written, and first released in 1960, by John Loudermilk, but it did not become a hit until it was covered in 1964. The song could be Don's (or Dick's) autobiography.  Mama died and Daddy got drunk, it starts.  It tells of growing up in poverty and moving out and getting rich.  The narrator of the song, unlike Don, wants to get rich enough to come back, blow up his old town, and start fresh.  He wants to go back, start all over, and create a better place than he left.  Don has run away from his past and doesn't admit to it, certainly shows no signs of ever wanting to go back.

Don: I'm from the Midwest.  We were taught that it's not polite to talk about yourself.

Roger:  A wooden leg. They're so cheap they can't even afford a whole reporter.

Don: Do you want women who want bikinis to buy your two-piece, or do you just want to make sure women who want a two-piece don't suddenly buy a bikini?
Jantzen Exec:  My Lord.   That question just tied a knot in my brain.

Roger:  I love how they sit there like a couple of choirboys.  You know one of them is leaving New York with VD.

Peggy:  A slogan's nothing when you have a good idea.

Roger: You know, no one who's ever been associated with an actual event has thought it's been portrayed honestly in the newspaper.

Roger: You turned all the sizzle from Glo-Coat into a wet fart.  Plus, you sound like a prick.

Don: And what do I do differently? I told him the truth. Who gives a crap what I say anyway? My work speaks for me.
Bert:  Turning creative success into business is your work. And you've failed.

Pauline:  That's because that's what's become of this country.  Everyone has two Thanksgivings to go to.

Henry: Maybe we have twice as much to be thankful for.

Peggy: Do you think you're my first call?

Don:  You run something like that by me first.  I would have kept you from looking like an idiot, or worse yet, making me look like one.

Henry: Don, it's temporary.
Don:  Believe me, Henry, everybody thinks this is temporary.

Don (to Peggy):  I try and stay away from these kinds of shenanigans. But I guess you knew that or you would have told me.

Don: You need to think a little bit more about the image of this agency.
Peggy: Well, nobody knows about the ham stunt, so our image remains pretty much where you left it.

Peggy (to Don):  You know something. We are all here because of you. All we want to do is please you.

Don:  You need to decide what kind of company you want to be.  Comfortable and dead, or risky and possibly rich.
Jantzen Exec: All I know is we don't want that.
Don:  Well, gentlemen, you were wondering what a creative agency looks like, there you have it.

Hope you enjoyed looking in the window.

Episode takes place just before and after Thanksgiving, 1964, post Beatles' invasion, post Johnson election.

Suicide watch: 
Roger: I'll paint you the picture that's in my mind, but if it's true, I might kill myself.

Roger:  Just so you don't kill yourself, there was some good news.  Jane's friend found you to be charming.

Harry:  I really wish we had a second floor so I could jump off it.

Whore watch:
Don lays out money for the woman who comes and gives him rough sex.

Spoilery observations (don't read if you're not caught up):

Bethany was an actress, though thus far she mostly played background characters on stage at the opera.  Don later this season gets involved with his secretary, Megan, who will become his wife and coworker and later ex-wife.  She also is an actress and had some success, getting a regular gig on a soap opera, before quitting that job and moving to Hollywood.  

This may have been the first time we see that Don has cost his company a client, but it only foreshadows his major meltdown to come in Season 6.  This was not entirely Don's fault, the reporter maybe didn't try hard enough to pull information out of him.  But for someone who was a salesman before he was an adman, Don should have known better.  Unlike his later mistakes, this one did not seem to come from any alcohol abuse or a mental breakdown, just short sighted thinking and a cocky attitude.   Notice how this time, Joan sympathized with Don. Later, when his mistakes cost her money, she's not so charitable.  

Don hasn't been proved right if his intention was to claim that Betty and Henry would get divorced.  They did not, despite some hiccups along the way.  But, technically, their marriage "did not last."

Don's secretary mentions that Geoff Atherton was there to see him.  We'll later learn that he is one of their researchers.  His cohort is Faye Miller who had a too-brief affair with Don. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mad Men Season 7, Episode 10: The Forecast

It's ironic that the person who's made their considerable living telling people that they want the next big thing, that new shiny bauble or that better version of what they've been using, is asking "then what?"  It's taken Don a long time but he's finally asking the right question.  What do you want after you've had it all.  What's next?  Is there another hill to climb, a bigger house, a faster car?  Is "more" a goal?  Don had it all and it wasn't enough.  He had the perfect house with the gorgeous wife and a job with security and admiration.  That wasn't enough. He built his own firm. Married another gorgeous woman.  Made even more money.  That wasn't enough. He can bed any woman he wants and can write million dollar checks like its nothing.  That still isn't enough. 

Since we the viewing public are too dense to understand symbolism, the helpful realtor tells us in the first scene that Don's barren apartment was sad looking and would not convey the right spirit for potential buyers.  They would see a divorced man's gutted apartment, with the stained carpet, and associate misery and depression with the penthouse.  Not exactly the right mood to get buyer's interest.  She kicks Don out of the apartment before the showing lest his own disheveled, miserable facade reflect even more poorly on the place.

But Don convinces her to sell not the present or the past of the apartment (where he claims good things had happened) but to sell the bright future.  And Don really believed that would work  "I feel good about this," he tells her.  And with all his moping and searching, Don does seem somewhat optimistic.  He thinks there's an answer, he thinks there's a something, something good, coming next. 

Don is having a midlife crisis about the time our country was having its own. He doesn't know what the answer is but he knows there's an empty feeling inside him that nothing has filled. He wonders if everyone else feels the same. Are people satisfied, is it possible to be satisfied?  Happy even?  What does the future hold?  His coworkers talk about wanting to land that big client or get that big promotion but they aren't asking themselves the question, then what?  And that's the question that's hounding him. Will those things make you happy? Cue Peggy Lee. Is that all there is? 

The question was on his mind even before Roger asked him to write up some stirring words that will be the basis of a speech Roger will later be giving as he forecasts what 1971 will look like for McCann Erickson.   But now that he's charged with writing the Gettysburg Address of management keynote addresses, he's obsessed with the answer.  What does the future hold?  Roger says he's looking for "reasonable hopes and dreams.  Doesn't have to be science fiction." Yet any look into the future has that element of the unknown to it, and a concomitant fear of what that future may bring.

Don is so desperate for an answer to the question that he - famous for not caring what anyone else thought - is even asking others for their opinions.  He finds an excuse to ask Ted about his goals for the future. He even asks Meredith for heaven's sake!  He uses Peggy's performance review as an excuse to plumb the depths of her dreams and desires.  She thinks he's mocking her - them - but he's seriously asking what comes after you get everything you want. But she doesn't want to engage in his existential Q&A, she just wants to be respected and appreciated.  

While Don is trying to get to the bottom of his midlife crisis, he's hit with some harsh truths.  He may have struggled as a poor whore child, unloved and mistreated. He may have lived in fear of his secret identity being discovered. But he's also been able to get away with murder because he was blessed with stunning good looks.  Like his trophy wife Betty, he is treated differently than regular people because,  in the words of Derek Zoolander, he's really really really ridiculously good looking.  

Women (and girls) throw themselves at Don and he has to beat them away with a stick.  And he's not the only one.  Betty is a guy magnet and despite three children and being in her thirties she can get any guy she wants - and at least one young man she doesn't want.  As Sally noted, both of her parents crave attention and cannot help themselves but respond in kind.  And it's a fair point.  Don grew up surrounded by prostitutes who showed their "love" through sexual advances (not to mention the one prostitute who raped him after nursing him back to health). Betty grew up with a mother who only valued Betty's looks and taught her daughter that being pretty was all she needed to accomplish. Hopefully, Sally will take Don's advice to heart and be more than just another pretty face. 

Joan has what she always wanted, she's a partner at a major ad agency, traveling coast to coast, and rich beyond her imagination (although not rich enough to have a reliable babysitter).  She meets a man while at the LA office and is immediately attracted.  But this well-heeled older gentleman is way past his own child-raising years and what he wants is someone as free to come and go as he is.  But Joan has a four-year-old weight tied around her ankle by the name of Kevin.  It's the age-old working woman lament - can you have it all, the kids and the career.  But it's also an age-specific lament - I'm free, do I want to get tied down again.  

What Richard tells her is that he's had a great life so far.  He's built something, is how he puts it.  He's achieved great things - he's well off financially, his children are grown.  But he also put off a lot and now he wants to enjoy his freedom and do all the things he put off.  That is his "now what."

We see Joan frustrated that her home life is preventing her from having a fulfilling romantic life and running off to see the pyramids with Richard, but her priorities are good.  She throws it back in her suitor's face when she sarcastically suggests that she should choose him over her little boy.  But the truth is, some women might do that.  But not Joan.  She has waited a long time to get what she has and she is not going to sacrifice any part of it.  She's determined to have it all.  Deciding that he rather spend time with Joan, with the restrictions of her career and son, than lose her, her orange-hued lover plans to stick around.  

Who won't be sticking around is Johnny Mathis.  Not the singer, but the adman.  Chances are, this is the last we've seen of Peggy's little friend.  He and Ed present their ideas for a new cookie by the Peter Pan peanut butter company.  Don nixes their first pitch and okays the second, though neither seemed particularly exciting.  Pete, as usual, wants Don to come to the client presentation and work his magic, but he leaves the work to the copywriters (with Pete and Peggy looking on).  The first pitch is a disaster and Mathis, in a moment of frustration, curses at the clients.  Pete managed to get the clients to agree to come back and Mathis goes to Don for advice on what he should do.

Don seems to relish his position as the old sage and imparts his experience and wisdom upon Mathis.  Make a joke out of it, use humor to defuse the situation and disarm the clients.  He recalls doing just the same thing years ago when he was the young copywriter and had inadvertently angered then client Lee Garner, Jr.   Mathis takes the advice and goes into the next meeting.  But something was lost in translation and the approach he used failed miserably, nuclear bomb time, crash and burn, see your future, Mathis?  Poof, it's gone.   Mathis is furious, how could Don have given him such horrible advice?  More to the point, who is this older generation to think they have the answers and why are we looking to them?  Aren't they just us some years into the future?  Why do we believe that living longer than us gives them anything worth sharing?

Mathis spills some truths on Don before he's fired, like the fact that his memory of that failed client experience was clouded by his own ego.  Don may have created and now believes the story of a young copywriter who uses humor to defuse a tense client situation, but the real facts are that Don was so damned good-looking that Lee Garner, Jr. didn't care about his behavior or his apology.  He just wanted Don to sit in the room and look handsome.  Regular Joes, guys like Mathis, don't have that luxury.  The world is much harder for the normal people.

It was not by happenstance that the client Mathis failed with was Peter Pan.  Of course, that character is the boy who never grows up, who goes on various adventures as the leader of the Lost Boys, without a care in the world.  And if he ever gets in trouble, Tinkerbell to the rescue.  Peter Pan is self-centered, boastful and immature, spending his life playing in an endless, directionless Neverland of adventure.  The Peter Pan Syndrome became popularized in psychology in the mid-1960s.  This is one good description of sufferers:  
Victims of PPS appear to be emotionally stunted at an adolescent level. Their impulses take priority over any internalized sense of right and wrong. They cope with their problems by engaging in a great deal of primitive denial, e.g. “If I don’t think about it, the problem will disappear.” This attitude frequently leads to alcohol and drug abuse, since getting high makes their problems disappear, at least as long as they are high. They excel at blaming others for their shortcomings, and are often extremely sensitive to rejection from others. The PPS sufferer desperately needs to belong, as he feels very, very lonely. There seems to be an immense vacuum in his life unless he is around people, preferably the center of attention.
Is that not Don Draper?  Has he not moved through life like an exaggerated man-boy, who acts impulsively, selfishly, who thinks he is superior to those around him but often needs to be bailed out (literally as well as figuratively) but the one mature female character in his life?

Speaking of grownups who act like children, we go to Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis.  A blast from the past comes back into her life.  Glen Bishop has come to say goodbye.  He's enlisted in the army and will be shipped off to start basic training next week.  He's ostensibly there to see Sally, yet we know its Betty - the Madonna figure that has loomed large in his life - that he wants to see.  She doesn't recognize the tall, thin young man as the small, round boy she used to know.  She didn't even realize he and Sally had maintained a friendship all these years.  But she and Glen have their own unique history and its fraught with significance.  He was her first love and for Betty, Glen was the person with whom she could confide.  His very youth and lack of sophistication was what made her feel comfortable around him.  Just as Don is painted as Peter Pan, Betty has been a girl trapped in a woman's body - scared, insecure, self-doubting, timid.  For some reason, she had a bond with the boy who wanted to be a grown up, who wanted to be the one to take care of her.  

Sally's reaction to hearing that Glen is going to Vietnam is understandable.  In the nightly news, we hear about the casualties and the war.  Anti-war protests are in the streets and college campuses from coast to coast.  As Sally mentions, Kent State was just a month or so ago, in May.  I found Betty calling her Jane Fonda a little untimely.  While "Hanoi Jane" was a fierce opponent of the war, her biggest move on that front came in 1972 when she took a trip to North Vietnam. Not sure she was as much a lighting rod in 1970.  Regardless, the idea of her friend going off to get shot at (and shooting at people his own age) is understandably too much for Sally to take and she runs off to her room.  

Also upsetting for Sally was watching the dynamics between each of her parents and some young friend of hers of the opposite sex.  There was the awkward sexual tension between Betty and Glen, followed by her 17-year-old friend flirting with Don at the Chinese restaurant.  While for once Don did not seem to be flirting back, there was something about how smooth he is, and how he clearly enjoyed the attention, that unhinged Sally.  And considering what she's seen, it's perfectly understandable.  But what's also in play is a teenage girl, growing up when teens were at their most revered, who looks at her role models and is revolted.  She may not know what she wants, what she sees in her future, but she knows what she doesn't want and that's to turn out like them.

But Don has a harsh truth to lay on her.  She is their daughter and she very likely will make similar mistakes her parents have made.  She certainly shares the "curse" of good looks.  But, he tells her, what she does with what she has is wholly up to her. "You're a very beautiful girl.  It's up to you to be more than that." It's one of the best lines of the show, one of the best things a parent can tell a child. I've given you what I've given you, it's your job to build on that.  


Poor Peggy.  She's the one person who really knows what she wants and has been working hard to get there and Don just pisses all over her dreams and hopes for the future.  Peggy wants validation and Ted and Don both think she should know she's great, what more does she need.  But Peggy wants to hear it.  She's landed big clients, handled a schizophrenic co-worker, taken care of a neighbor's son, all while keeping her hair in perfect flip.  All she wants is a little acknowledgement.  But instead, Don uses her review as a chance to drag her into his existential hole, wallowing in the fact that having goals and thinking about the future is a complete waste of time. 

Love Don using the ruse of Meredith getting him two donuts to find an excuse to head into Ted's office.  It's right out of the Bob Benson playbook.  And he talks about some pretty deep issues - what will the future bring.  If the present is okay, is there a scenario where something is better?  Don wants to know what Ted's thoughts of the future are and is disappointed that his answer is another client, a bigger and better account.  It frustrates Don because that can't be the answer, there has to be something more to life than just another account.

Roger tells Don, "You know, I could have you killed for drinking anything but a Coke around here." I couldn't tell if Don was drinking a rival soda (in which case the joke was about not being loyal to their client) or if it was alcohol and Don's past drunkenness is still an issue.  

The song played at the end, as Don stood outside of the apartment as it was being sold, was "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."  Some are saying it is out of place, because it was a hit for Roberta Flack in 1972.  But the song was originally on her 1969 album and was later re-arranged and re-released three years later (after it was included in the soundtrack to Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty For Me" about a crazy stalker named Evelyn Draper).  It's a pure, passionate love song about that moment when you fall in love and knew it would last forever.  So, of course, it's what we hear as Don leaves the home he shared with his soon to be ex-wife.

The other true anachronistic songs used on Mad Men are "Great Divide" by the Cardigans (Ep. 1.2 "The Ladies Room") and "The Infanta" by The Decembrists (Ep. 2.6 "Maidenform").  

When we first met Glen, in Ep. 1.03, Betty tells the then nine-year-old that there is a BB gun out in the backyard for him to play with.  Now, ten years later, with Glen on his way to Vietnam, Betty takes the toy gun that Bobby is playing with and chucks it into the trash.  

Joan was married before Greg??  Yep.  She had the following exchange about a previous marriage in Ep. 6.4 "To Have and to Hold":
Kate: Reminds me of Scotty.
Joan: Well, don't marry him. That was the worst six months of my life.
Kate: You always did everything first.
So Roger knew about Lee Garner's sexual orientation after all.  Too bad he didn't realize that Lee had fired Sal for rejecting his advances, maybe he would have taken Sal's side.  What am I saying, they would have done anything to keep Lucky Strike.

When Mathis tells Don he can get away with screwing up because he's so good looking it reminded me of the famous 30 Rock episode "The Bubble" where Jon Hamm's character is treated like a god because he's handsome.  

More on the Peter Pan syndrome: Carl Jung described the "puer aeternis" (eternal boy) archetype.  Here are some signs of a puer aeternis
"For the time being one is doing this or that, but whether it is a woman or a job, it is not yet what is really wanted, and there is always the fantasy that sometime in the future the real thing will come about.... The one thing dreaded throughout by such a type of man is to be bound to anything whatever."
"Common symptoms of puer psychology are dreams of imprisonment and similar imagery: chains, bars, cages, entrapment, bondage. Life experienced as a prison."

That's our boy.  Fear of being trapped? Check.  Searching for some ideal future? Check. Always looking for the next new thing?  Check.

There is so much in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan that applies to Don and this stage of his life.  Some relevant quotes from the book:
"All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.” “It is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness.” “Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
This is about the right time for Don to have his mid-life crisis.  The very concept first came to light in 1965, when Canadian psychoanalyst Elliott Jaques published a paper, coining the term.  He wrote that during this period, we come face-to-face with our limitations, our restricted possibilities, and our mortality.

But this is not Don's first go-around with a bad case of the existential blues.  In Ep.  2.12 The Mountqin King he confides in Anna Draper about feeling adrift.  "I have been watching my life. It's right there. I've been scratching at it trying to get into it, but I can't." We've seen him reading Meditations in an Emergency and Dante's Inferno.  He's been searching for answers for a long time. 

Don, who makes his living selling things, thinks his realtor has no imagination.  She sees his apartment as it is - a lonely place of a lonely man.  He wants her to use the "blank slate" of the empty room as a canvas that every prospective buyer can paint their own perfect picture on.  "Imagine their own things in this room."  Eventually it must work, because the young couple with the bright future does see themselves filling up the empty space with their own things.

The shot of the realtor, standing facing out, between the sliding glass doors of Don's apartment, is reminiscent of the photo of the SCDP partners from the Season 5 finale.

Such a sad, brutal moment when Joan snaps at her babysitter, telling her "you're ruining my life" while the sitter is holding little Kevin.  It made it look as if she was sending that barb to her son.  Joan she storms out of the apartment without saying goodbye, then stops herself, softens her voice, and says goodbye.

Lou Avery's back and as useless as ever.  But at least he's chasing his dream, though I suppose Don would ask him, if Hanna-Barbera picks up "Scout's Honor" then what?  

When Don said, of the empty apartment, "That's the best opportunity in the world," it reminded me of what he said during the Lucky Strike meeting in the pilot: "This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal."  His other comment to Melanie, "Don't blame our failure on me," sounds like what he's said to his employees many times, but she gets him right back.

Before discovering that Glen was heading for Vietnam, Sally was planning on joining Glen and his friend Paula at Playland.  The Playland Amusement Park in Rye, New York, featured prominently at the end of the movie "Big," when Josh Baskin finds the Zoltar fortune teller and gets his wish to be big reversed.  

The college Glen flunked out of was Purchase College, part of the State University of New York system.  It was founded in 1967 by Governor Rockefeller (for whom the fictional Henry Francis worked). 

The senator that Sally's friend Carol was going to visit was the first Senator Dodd from Connecticut (father of the current senator).  1970 was not a great year for him, he had been censured and was not his party's nominee for his seat.  He lost to Independent Lowell Weicker and died the next year.  

Hard to miss the gigantic Hershey bar placed right in the middle of the vending machine.  I'm sure Don loves to be reminded of that career highlight.


Don: That's the best opportunity in the world.

Melanie: It looks like a sad person lives here.

Don: Do you have my thesaurus?
Peggy: Probably.

Don:  Jesus.  Love again?

Betty:  Well, when I did the trip, it was six states.
Sally:  Weren't they still colonies? 

Sally:  I'm sorry, Mother, but this conversation is a little late.  And so am I.
Betty:  Everything is a joke to you.

Don: Don't blame your failure on me.
Melanie: This place reeks of failure.

Don: A lot of wonderful things happened here.
Melanie: Well, you wouldn't know it.
Don:  I have a good feeling about things.

Joan: You think I would be doing this if I were married?

Richard:  This is not how I saw things.  I have a plan which is no plans.  You can't go to the pyramids.  You can't go anywhere.

Don:  You ever feel like there's less to actually do, but more to think about? 
Ted.  Not really.

Don:  What's the future going to bring? I mean, it's good as it is, but is there a scenario in which it's better? 

Ted: You're so much better at painting a picture.

Don: Before McCann all I ever thought of was will we be in business next year?  
Ted: Or will I be here at all? 

Betty:  You look so different.
Glen:  You look exactly the same.

Don: We know where we've been, we know where we're going.  Let's assume it's good. But it's got to get better.  It's supposed to get better.

Don: Do you ever think there’s less to actually do, but more to think about?

Peggy:  Why don’t you just write down all of your dreams so that I can shit on them?

Richard:  I don't want to be rigid.  It makes you old.

Glenn:  This was gonna be the good thing that came out of all this.  This is all I thought about.

Don:  You're a very beautiful girl.  It's up to you to be more than that.

Melanie:  Now we have to find a place for you.