Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mad Men, "For Those Who Think Young": Get off my lawn!

Spoilers for the "Mad Men" season two premiere, "For Those Who Think Young," coming up just as soon as I take off my hat...

"Young people don't know anything -- especially that they're young." -Don Draper

Among the many subjects of "Mad Men" is the great generational divide of the 1960s, as seen through the eyes of a company about to end up on the wrong side of it. But what I've always found fascinating is that the show's hero (of sorts) isn't presented as the lone voice trying to convince his colleagues that a change is gonna come, but one of the guys trying to hold back the tide. Sure, Don's more enlightened about women (to an extent; Peggy or Midge might agree with that notion, but Betty wouldn't if she were self-aware enough to understand it) and minorities. But he wants no part of this new cultural shift. During the presidential election last season, he (and the show) identified himself with Nixon, while the loathsome Pete -- who also happens to have a better handle on these new trends than any other character -- was held up as the Kennedy analogue.

Even if Don hadn't just had a physical where the doctor, in Don's eyes, all but handed him a walker and told him to get ready for the retirement home, I imagine he would have resisted Duck Phillips' request to hire on some younger copywriters. Don has always resisted the flash of the new. His entire career is built on older values. Again and again, he's given chances with his ad campaigns to look forward, and again and again he chooses to look back. That's what "The Wheel" was about: rather than play up the technological aspect that the Kodak people wanted, Don went for an old-school -- and, I should say, brilliant -- tug for the heartstrings.

What I love about "Mad Men" is the double-edged nature of its take on the period. On the one hand, the series takes great delight in highlighting all the behavior of the time that would and should be unacceptable today -- as John Slattery put it at the TCA Awards, "the show's message of drinking and smoking and whoring." On the other, the nostalgia that Don talked about in "The Wheel" is very real. The series has a very classical storytelling style, eschewing quick cuts and busy plots in favor of a leisurely pace that wouldn't seem inappropriate in a film from 1962, and you can tell that Weiner is no fan of today's youth-driven culture, where every movie is targeted at 14-year-old boys, and where every piece of entertainment has to be as loud and obvious as possible.

And even within that subject, there's a grey area. Yes, it's wonderful that Don can come up with a campaign like the Carousel, or even the "What did you bring me, Daddy?" ad he inspires Peggy to write. But the future isn't all bad, and Don's resistance to it -- not just to youth and technology, but to irony ("There has to be advertising for people who don't have a sense of humor") -- is going to bite him sooner or later, if it hasn't already.

Don's mid-life crisis -- and in 1962, 36 was considered middle-aged -- takes up a good amount of the season two premiere, but there's also plenty of time to catch up with the characters -- to a point. I love the use of "Let's Twist Again" for the opening montage, not just because it evokes Peggy dancing for Pete to the original "Let's Do the Twist" in season one's "The Hobo Code," or because the "like we did last summer" is a meta comment about how much we all enjoyed season one, but because it's a reminder that 1962 is still just as much a part of the '50s as it is the '60s. The jump ahead 15 months from "The Wheel" brings some changes, but they're still subtle. The '60s as we know them won't be arriving for several years yet.

We get hints of what happened during that 15-month gap: Peggy disappeared for three months after giving birth, and no one knows why; Roger and Joan have stayed broken up and she's getting serious with a doctor; Harry patched things up with his wife somehow and now they're expecting a baby, to the chagrin of Pete's wife, who still can't conceive after all this time (and who doesn't know that her husband is more than capable of getting a woman pregnant); Salvatore has gotten married (that's his wife; check the credits) in his quest to run away from who he really is; and Don and Betty have reached some kind of understanding where he makes more of an effort, even if the sight of January Jones in that underwear still doesn't do it for him

Don's equipment failure on Valentine's Day frustrates and confuses Betty, and so she decides to imitate her roommate-turned-hooker pal Juanita and see if she can't use her sexuality to get things from other men. Betty being Betty, she does it in the most childlike way possible, not thinking through the implications or dangers, and there's a moment as she stands on that dark and empty road with the mechanic and he realizes he's not actually going to get lucky in exchange for a fan belt where I began to fear for her safety. Just as Don walking with the briefcase toward his brother's room in "5G" briefly made us wonder if he had a gun in there, I worried for a moment or three if the mechanic might forcibly make Betty honor their unspoken agreement.

Peggy's situation is more of a mystery. We know she disappeared for three months and came back much skinnier, and we know that none of the junior-level guys know what happened. (Pete's "Fat farm! I thought we had verification!" was priceless.) But whatever happened to the baby, somebody high up at Sterling-Cooper -- most likely Don, with a very outside chance of Joan -- has to know in order to cover for her. No secretary-turned-copywriter gets to vanish for three months the Monday after getting the promotion and still keep her job without help from above.

Regardless of what happened after the birth, Peggy has thrown herself full-bore into her new role. She views herself as equal with the other junior execs, even though they don't. She and Don work well together creatively, and you can tell he clicks more with her than he ever has with Paul or Freddy Rumsen. She tries to separate herself from secretarial duties (when Ken asks Peggy about the glasses in the conference room, she avoids answering him) and makes Don's new secretary cry over what was probably an innocent remark.

The premiere closes with yet another mystery, as Don reads some of the poetry from "Meditations in an Emergency" -- his one attempt to connect with the future, though it may have just started as his attempt to prove the beatnik wrong when he told Don he wouldn't like it -- and then marks a particular passage "Made me think of you," puts it in an envelope and mails it to a person unknown. Is he back in touch with Midge? I can't imagine Rachel Mencken giving him the time of day after she got a look at the face of Dick Whitman, though I suppose this could be Don trying to make a peace offering. Or has yet another bold and clever brunette appeared on his radar during the time that we were away?

Matt Weiner has said that we're going to find out everything in due time; I'm more than willing to wait when the episodes are this strong.

Some other thoughts on "For Those Who Think Young":

-I like that, once again, we're reminded that age is a relative thing. Paul isn't that much older than the two guys Don brings in to interview, but he's always strived to look and act older than he is, as he grew up in a time just before youth became the be-all and end-all of the culture. (I also loved his dismissive "You don't count" when Peggy pointed out that she's only 22.)

-As soon as the doctor mentioned Don's age, I started wondering whether Don was actually 36, or if that was the age of the real Don Draper, who was presented as being a bit older than Dick Whitman. Matt Weiner says that this is how old our Don is; in the less bureaucratic period, I imagine fake Don would have an easier time using some of his own statistics instead of having to stick closely to the real Don's life story.

-Even before the boys start chattering about Peggy's miraculous weight loss, the entire scene with everybody waiting for Don was hilarious, particularly Freddy Rumsen hollaring about the "unspoken agreement" that he be allowed to be at the bar by noon. An awful lot of things are assumed but never said on this show.

-The arrival of the Xerox is yet another harbinger of the future, but here it was mostly used as a punchline for the ongoing war between Joan and Peggy, as Joan sticks the enormous thing in Peggy's office as punishment for making Lois cry. I like that Joan can herself get annoyed with Lois for crying in the break room ("which I have specifically forbidden") and yet use her as an excuse to go after the annoying Peggy. Nobody makes fun of my sister but me, right?

-Getting back to the Kennedys, we spend an interlude in the middle of the episode with the characters watching Jackie give a televised tour of the White House, with the characters all projecting their own anxieties onto her. These are the Kennedys before Dallas, before JFK and Jackie both became universally revered, and it's nice to see how people actually reacted to them in those early days of Camelot.

-Good to have Anne Dudek back as Francine, who obviously had her baby during the break and, like Harry's wife, reluctantly agreed to go on with her marriage even in the face of her husband's infidelity. Amber/CTB may be gone from "House," but Dudek's still around.

-Nice little moment where the Draper nanny declines a ride to the train station from Don after seeing him with a glass in his hand. Not everyone in the period was okay with the level of drinking.

-When the chipmunks were all discussing the Don vs. Duck feud and Pete said, "No one makes Don Draper do anything," there was equal parts frustration and awe in his voice. As bad as it had to hurt to fail in his blackmail attempt, and to suffer Don's obvious contempt for him, there's a part of Pete that still really admires the guy and desperately seeks his approval. Of course, compared to his father, Don's treatment of Pete is almost friendly.

-Interesting that Roger is back to something resembling full duty -- and John Slattery is no longer being billed as a Special Guest Star, but as a member of the regular cast -- and yet Duck remains. I'm glad, though, as I think Mark Moses adds a different color to the show; I quite liked his frustrated delivery of "You know, there's other ways to think of things than the way you think of them" to Don.

What did everybody else think?

63 comments:

pdf said...

Excellent. I was very afraid that this show would somehow lose its magic between seasons one and two, and I'm really glad to have it back. I really liked the interaction between Don and Betty before they went to the hotel; him watching her come down the stairs was fantastic.

I think they need to get Cooper back in there as soon as possible, but his appearances don't need to be any more frequent than they were last season; otherwise, we run the risk of heading into Denny Crane territory.

Anonymous said...

A small note - Francine gave birth last season. Betty sat with an exhausted Francine in her daughter's nursery as Francine complained about her new baby crying all night and her husband cheating.

Anonymous said...

I think he's talking about her having a baby in real life - not on the show.

S. Tarzan said...

My favorite moment is probably Don on the elevator, telling the one guy to take off his hat. He never seemed older than at that moment: not during the physical, nor at the Savoy.

And how brilliantly uncomfortable was that scene at the Savoy? Betty was of course trying to help, but in the worst way possible.

lungfish said...

I particularly enjoyed the line when Pete tells his wife to open up the chocolates already because he wants one. What a romantic!

Anonymous said...

Happy to have Mad Man back. The show is so much about the small moments, and the one for me this episode was Don on the elevator, the times and mores are achangin' and I wonder how long Don will be able to have an effect on it?

Myles said...

I loved a lot of things about this premiere, but my favourite was the role reversal between the Drapers. Don is now the one playing the role he doesn't know how to play, struggling to fit a mould while yearning for his past life, while Betty is defining herself independent of Don (Note her slightly generous retelling of their Valentine's evening to Francine) and hiding things from him. When she walked into the house as Don kept watch, him waiting for her, it showed how much these characters have changed roles despite not changing that much as actual characters.

And I am also presuming that, considering the poetry nature of the text, the book is going to Midge.

Justin said...

Pete makes mention that the original Don Draper was 43 during his meeting with Cooper in "Nixon vs Kennedy." So I'm guessing 36 is Don's actual age.

dylanfan said...

Longtime reader, first time poster.

The interaction with the mechanic hit home for me. He realized he needed to show respect for her when he could have pushed it. That's the way mechanics acted back then -- you could flirt with them and that was enough to make their day. Not sure who that actor was, but he was not bad looking and took care of business. It will be interesting to see if Betty follows up with him with future car trouble -- manure, kids, whatever ...

ceh said...

Alan I noticed the nanny passing on the ride from Don. While I think she probably passed in part because Draper was drinking do you really think a black woman would feel comfortable riding alone with a white man?

Andrew said...

Of course, compared to his father, Don's treatment of Pete is almost friendly.

This reminds me, I thought I remember reading somewhere that the actor who played Pete's dad died between seasons. Any word on how they plan on handling this?

Anthony Foglia said...

Excellent episode. The conflict between Don and Duck will be excellent. It sounds like Duck will be "the lone voice trying to convincec his colleagues that a change is gonna come." A much more interesting conflict that whiny, selfish Pete.

I also hope Duck wins this fight and Don hires a younger voice. The fact that the writer and the artist work together as a team was a very foreign idea to Don, despite any pressure he's gotten from Roger and Duck to do the same thing. I don't know when they'd have time to fit any new creative people in though.

anon said...

Alan,

Do you know if AMC makes Weiner do those little wrap-ups at the end of the episode? I seem to recall he did something similar last season, at least in those early episodes I didn't watch time-shifted. I always felt they were a bit condescending, as if the audience couldn't figure out that, in this week's episode, "times are changing" at Sterling Cooper. For the first season I just chalked it up to AMC being concerned about losing viewers. But I was hoping they'd drop it in the second season.

I'll leave the critical discussion to those who like the show more, but I will thank Weiner (or whoever wrote the episode) for throwing some love Frank O'Hara's way.

Anon

anon said...

Oh, and the Pepsi nod in the title was a cute touch. I'll give him that.

Anon

G-Fafif said...

The meta of "Let's Twist Again" to open the second season reminded me of the same kind of use "It Was a Very Good Year" for Season Two of "The Sopranos". Weiner takes good notes.

R.A. Porter said...

Ah, the greatest show about nothing out there (this is a compliment.)

Major plot points:
- The office gets a Xerox machine
- Pete buys his wife a box of chocolates
- Some young people interview for jobs
- Joan sticks the Xerox in Peggy's office
- Betty's fanbelt breaks
- Salvatore and his wife watch TV and eat dessert

I'm struck and amazed by how much happens when so little occurs.

Brian said...

Was I the only one who got tricked by the first few minutes of the episode into thinking Don and Betty had split up? I think the show was playing with us there, showing Betty's independent streak at the stable, Don getting bad news at the doctor etc, and then Don sitting by himself at the table--until down comes fancily dressed Betty, his blushing valentine. Well played.

I'm not sure how to interpret the elevator scene. Originally, I figured that "take your hat off" was Don's veiled way of saying "don't talk like that in front of a woman," which would actually indicate that Don *is* changing with the times, in that his attitudes towards women are more progressive than many of his boneheaded male peers. But on the other hand, if we take the hat literally, that is a very old-fashioned thing, that a gentleman should remove his hat. I guess it proves the duality that Alan mentioned about Don; he anticipates the future in some ways, dreads it in others. This is the level of complexity we've come to expect from Mad Men! What a great show, I can't wait for the rest of the season to unfold.

Oh, I was also hoping Roger would be dead. I somehow find him even more loathsome than Pete; at least we know Pete won't realize his ambitions and his marriage will probably fail, but Roger already reached the top of the mountain. Slattery is a damn fine actor though.

kat said...

One of my favorite lines was the dialogue between Lois and Joan in the hallway, contemplating the placement of the new Xerox machine.

Joan: "What do we think of this?"
Lois: "I think it's pretty for now but will get messy later"
Joan: "I agree."

That's got to be an understatement for all the tensions running underneath.

Catherine said...

In the episode where Pete blackmails Don, he mentions that his contact at the State Department said the real Don Draper was in his 40s (I can't remember if it was 42 or 46).

Anonymous said...

So we have already jumped ahead 15 months? I thought they were jumping ahead to 1964? However, if it is February 14, and Jackie Kennedy is still in the White House, then it is early 1963.

Anonymous said...

Don signed the book with just a D, which could also stand for Dick. Any chance he's sending it to someone from his past?

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling that Betty knows about Don's background now. She seems to consider him lower class, correcting his room service order, and embracing her own more privileged upbringing through the riding lessons.

Karen said...

I didn't think Betty's retelling of the Juanita story was a sign of her independence at all--I thought it was a sign of her insecurity and wanting to appear more worldly than she actually is. She had come off as naive when Don explained what Juanita was, and she now got the chance to make Francine feel naive instead. Alan, I wasn't so much worried about what the mechanic would do as amazed that he didn't--I watched the scene twice and couldn't discern how he figured out she wasn't actually offering sex in return for a $9 fan belt ("Are we bargaining here?"). Betty certainly seemed to be offering sex in my view--but maybe that's because I'm not as naive as she is.

I thought Don's behavior in the elevator was perfectly in character; it's one thing to talk trash about women when it's all guys, but you don't talk vulgarly around the women themselves (unless they're Juanita). I find it hard to believe, personally, that two men would have continued to talk like that around a strange and clearly dignified woman in 1962 in the first place.

Another example, to me, of how this show continually gets small things wrong about the times (two of the most egregious: at last year's birthday party, when Parent A was fine with Parent B slapping Parent A's kid--trust me, this would NOT have happened back then--and when one tipsy husband saluted Don's disappearance in the presence of Betty--also would never happen, or at least his wife would have hustled him the hell out of there).

mook said...

Whoa...I totally thought the actor playing Duck was Charles Grodin.

Is it just me or does Mark Moses resemble Grodin?

I feel so dumb.

ant said...

I'm kind of amused how they made the young ad guys--the art and writing team--seem like they're in some sort of deviant sexual relationship. Compared to these guys, Sal seems like he would still be a prude even if he were to come out of the closet. Professional sexual deviants.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, the two young sweater ad guys were, how would you say, uber GAY. Whew, Weiner, you hound dog you!

Indeed said...

I loved the scene in the elevator.
Actually, I loved the whole episode. So glad to have this show back!

Anonymous said...

No one has mentioned poor Sally Draper- I am hoping that her weight does not become a plot point this season, but it seems inevitable, given Betty's fixation on her own girlish figure, former status as a model, and now the horses- can't ride without a "pretty seat," now, can you?

Rachel said...

Watched it again this morning -- even better the second time around. (There's always details and nuances I miss the first time.)

Anyway, Alan -- any word on the ratings from last night?

Kate said...

Anne Dudek is pregnant with her first baby now. I am sure Alan just forgot that Francine had her baby during last season.

There was a rather specific camera focus on Don's drink when the nanny turned down the ride--to me, at least, her reasoning was meant to be pretty clear.

LA said...

Last season after all the episodes had aired, I re-watched the pilot and the second episode. What I learned is that there was much foreshadowing written into the dialogue, and I suspect many subtle seeds were planted last night for season two.

Did anyone else notice how much Sal enjoyed watching Jackie Kennedy's White House tour? Even in the quick glimpse of it, one could see his apartment was especially stylish. I love scenes with Sal.

Nicole said...

I found the guys in the elevator were crude even for this time, especially since I presume that they were in an office building elevator. Of course, had I been in the elevator I would have said something and not just stood there. I think even women back then would have at least given them a look.

I also think Don is sending the book to Midge. If it's a new character, we'd better run into them soon, or else this subplot won't make much sense.

Based on Betty's behaviour, I wouldn't be surprised if she cheats on Don, if not this season, then the next. She can only be that naive for so long when she will get called on it. Especially in the 1960s.

Rick said...

Was it me, or was Weiner's love for Hitchcock all over this episode?

"Vertigo" when Betty descended the stairs...

"Marnie" when she's riding the horse...

And just a general "Hitchcock Blonde" feel to her throughout the episode.

And to name-check another Golden Age director, isn't Michael Gladis's bearded Paul Kinsey a dead ringer for Orson Welles?

Quincee said...

Excellent episode.

Here's my question: With all the speculation in the office regarding Peggy's absence; is Pete so dense that he hasn't even considered that maybe HE knocked her up or is he so uncaring that he doesn't care. It didn't even seem to cross his mind in this episode at all. Granted, she has been back for a year, but still.

Pandyora said...

I am not sure that the vulgarities being tossed back and forth in the elevator were any worse than those the chipmunks traded in front of the secretaries in Season One, which is why I found Don's intervention surprising.

One possibility is that Don was reacting to the youthfulness of the two vulgar men. This got me thinking about how generations, especially as they age, tend to hold themselves up as having more dignity or purity than the younger upstarts, even when this is not always the case.

Another possibility is that Don reacted strongly because of his earlier lack of virility. Here is a man who is feeling old and worn out after a visit to the doctor, who can't manage to make love to his wife on valentine's day, and who is forced to listen to two young upstarts brag about their sexual exploits, no wonder he reacted snappishly. I think its also telling that he did not defend women's collective honor so much as just shut down the conversation.

Come to think of it, in addition to age, virility appeared quite a bit as a theme in last night's episode.

Anonymous said...

Rick -

Paul Kinsey is indeed a dead ringer for Welles, and I believe one of the characters even commented on it during the first season.

Personally, I'm hoping he starts to look more and more like Welles each season, and in the last season he can be working on an ad campaign for Paul Masson champagne.

cgeye said...

Re Joan and Peggy:

Peggy knows she's in-between in status on the job, and she should know her authority is as provisional as Don having a good day. Having said that, she overstepped in directly chastising a secretary in a workplace where there is absolutely no privacy, even if her advice were helpful, which it couldn't be in that exposed an environment.

Also, in bypassing Joan, Peggy broke the chain of command -- and if she felt awkward about discussing that rule with Joan (and wasn't Joan who schooled her in covering up for the boss?), she shouldn't have said a damn thing. It was a no-win situation.

She should have known that the girls would tattle; that the secretary, justifiably afraid that the exec she thought would be sisterly was actually a rat for The Man, would cry and tell Joan; and that Joan, herself in a flux position because she's no longer schtupping her boss, has to assert her power in a way that calms everyone -- which, incidentally, would be expressed as the further justified humiliation of Peggy. Hell, the three-month unexplained absence alone would put Peggy in a doghouse by everyone on that floor that earns a wage and has to ask permission for bathroom breaks.

Girl should've known she couldn't treat a member of her former secretary network like an auditioning actress with weak self-esteem -- those girls live there, and they'll tear her apart if they feel she's threatening their survival or rules of conduct, no matter how arbitrary or cruel those rules are.

Christopher Robin said...

I was afraid of the show losing it's "touch" too but from the looks of it, this show is still going to go strong! The promo pics look awesome too!

Spoof Video?

Kate said...

Re: the elevator scene. *Don* generally reserves his more risque talk for male-only situations. Think back to when Pete was openly ogling Peggy in her first day; Don didn't *stop* him, but he did apologize for it later. The more vulgar comments pretty much always come from the other men, rather than from Don, and usually when he is not there.

Mad Woman said...

Isn't Don's new secretary, Lois, the same switchboard operator who had the mad crush on Salvatore? I remember Lois from last season, just trying to correctly place her...

Any help is appreciated.

Colleen said...

I think Betty's newfound assertiveness is directly related to her telling her shrink about Don's infidelities at the end of last season. She knew it would get back to Don and now it's given her "hand," to quote George Costanza. So she feels able to tell Don to what tv channel to watch, takes over the room service order, even plays a dangerous flirting game with the mechanic.

The problem is that she's still the same dim bulb that she's always been so sooner or later, something's going to go wrong in a way that she never anticipated. The flirting could have easily gone that way.

S. Tarzan said...

Mad Woman:

You're right, it's the same character.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you noticed that the drugs that were prescribed to Don can cause depression and erectile disfunction. I think that Valentine's Day effects may have been caused by the drugs.

James said...

Loved Joan delivering the line "after all this is an enviroment for clients, we don't want to appear to be bursting at the seams".

cgeye said...

The other thing about performance: It has a lot to do with trust, and once Don stopped his affairs, he still had a lot he was keeping from Betty.

That's perfectly fine for escorting his lady to dinner; not so fine when his libido never matches hers (which is what Betty implied, last season.

mDesiree13 said...

I really don't see why people think Betty is dim. She was a model, but she also went to Bryn Mawr -- and Madeline Albright graduated from Wellesley around the time Betty supposedly graduated from Bryn Mawr, so it's not like the Seven Sisters were purely finishing schools, either.

SJ said...

When Pete said "wait, the daughter was pregnant?" to his wife, I thought it was such a Sopranos-type humorous moment.

cgeye said...

Betty might not be dim, but women even during my time went to the Seven Sisters to get their MRS degree -- and heaven help you if you got in their way of cramming knowledge about men to supplement their husband-hunting emotional intelligence.

Betty's dim now because she stopped training. Minds need to be trained, and as soon as she married a man who really didn't want her to think about the lies he's upholstered his life with, she knew this was the bargain she made. We never see her comment on his campaigns, his business plans in general, or even their future together -- during his courtship with a larger firm, did he mention word one of that to her? No. In fact, he cruelly used her desire to model as a pawn, to see what sort of deal he could get. Don's a magnificent bastard, but a bastard (whore child) nevertheless.

As for Peggy's missing months, it had to be Don who arranged everything. He won't know about the pregnancy, only that she got a bad case of food poisoning that of course prompted her to reassess her health. She stressed that she'll be better, but for the sake of client relations she'd better lose weight now, and the holidays would be best since no one's doing work anyway and fiscal budgets would be slim until January.

She'd be noble and say she'd use her savings, but Don knows how much she's paid. Don would go to that bank that offered men's nookie accounts and get her a co-signed loan, with a discrete bill to her new PO box. Off she goes to the fat farm; the adoption papers were signed as soon as she could leave the hospital; she also gets a few hundred dollars to move away from her roommate and settle her bills, so that girl won't be a source of gossip in future years.

And even though Don's not too dense not to know something big is going on, he'll admire Peggy for being the type of liar he is: strong through adversity, smooth through heartache.

What did daddy bring her? The real one, the daddy that counts?

The life he'll lead, to his grave.

Anonymous said...

ratings look good

1.9 mili twice last years avg.

Maya said...

re: Peggy and Lois. Peggy had just come from the conference room where the guys were still treating her like the secretary she once was, so it makes sense she would try to assert position to somebody like Lois. But I think the main reason why she dressed Lois down was loyalty to Don. She walks away at first and then comes back to grill Lois. If Don was indeed her benefactor with regards to the three months off, then she would be defensive for Don against Lois' faux pas.

barefootjim said...

Didn't get a chance to watch this until last night, but one of the things that really struck me is how Peggy didn't wither under Don's criticism of her ideas in the same way that the jr execs who rag on her for being a women would have.

The other thing that struck me after seeing January Jones in that underwear: I may very have been conceived on Valentine's Day 1962. Or is that overshare??

zodin2008 said...

Nicole,

I disagree with your statement, at least somewhat, that you think Betty will eventually cheat on Don.

Maybe because it's Matt Weiner, but I view the Don-Betty relationship as a 60's parallel to Tony and Carmella.

There were many times during the "Sopranos" run when we thought Carmella might cheat, mainly to get back at Tony for his endless infidelities. She had close flirtations with Father Phil and Furio, but neither cyrstalized.

The only time Carmela had sex with someone other than Tony during the entire run of "The Sopranos" was after she actually left him and had a short relationship with David Straithairn's super intelliectual professor character (ironically, very similar to the chess grandmaster character he just played on "Monk" last week).

I think Don's infidelities will come back, even if it's not Midge now, they will introduce some new female characters this year, I assume, and I suspect this to be an ongoing issue for Don and Betty and that she will experience her own close calls, but I wonder if Weiner will treat her as he and David Chase treated Carmella where they feel they are given a good life from their husbands, too good to stray too far beyond the bounds.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The difference between Betty and Carmela is that Betty isn't risking either her own safety or that of a lover if she has an affair. Carmela almost certainly would have slept with Vic the painter in season two if he hadn't realized the danger of having sex with a mob boss' wife. Father Phil didn't happen because of Carmela's Catholic guilt (and Phil's own sense of restraint), and the Furio thing was all over the map.

LA said...

Did anyone else notice that Peggy is on the Clearasil account after all? At the end of last season when Pete brought the account in (from his father-in-law), he was furious when Don suggested Peggy might be the perfect copywriter for the account. Now, Peggy's and Pete are working on the account in apparent harmony. I wonder if we'll see any backstory?

Tom said...

Love this show!

Best moment of the episode: Don points out to Betty that her old roomie is a 'party girl' and she asks how he knows for sure. Don hesitates, gives her a sly look, and asks, "How stupid do you think I am?"

Runner up for best moment: The look on the old john's face seconds earlier when Betty asked if anyone present had a business card.

Sorry to those who argue that a Seven Sisters grad is by definition bright, but its clear that Don did not marry Betty for her brains.

And I must agree with Quincee -- Pete is either an idiot, or such an insensitive clod that Peggy is going to be motivated to wreak some terrible revenge on him.

Hartzler said...

An interesting plot-line was introduced in this episode. I'm not sure if anyone caught it.

The Roger and Duck exchange, that "creatives" don't understand the business aspect of advertising. Underneath a creatives brillance lies a crying child, or something to that effect. I think Roger isn't really such a buddy to Don as as he seems, but only sees Don as an ends to his means of running the business.

Don has an exchange with Peggy saying something like We creatives do the real work around here and that the accounts people are incapable of producing the advertising product and "They hate us for it"!

I see the right brainers going up against the left brainers as recurring theme this year.

zodin2008 said...

Alan,

I had forgotten about Vic the Painter - thanks for the reminder.

I agree - no guy has to worry about being 'whacked' if Don finds out said guy is sleeping with Betty. Still, Don is a powerful presence on the show and his wife is torn between being the dutiful, traditional early 1960's homemaker and underneath it all, a very, very unhappy and unfulfilled woman.

Take away the 'mob' side of things from Tony, and I think there are a lot of parallels between Don/Betty and Tony/Carm.

Even the scene where Don and Betty were at the Savoy and ran into her friend and afterwards how Don explained what was really going on there, that reminded me a lot of some conversations I've seen between Tony and Carmella.

It wouldn't shock me if at some point, a storyline drives Betty into another man's bed. At the very least I wonder if this show does any more 'time jumps', that perhaps taking the Drapers to 1970 in a few years, the issue of divorce might creep up.

(Poor Roger Sterling...he'll simply be too old to enjoy the swinging of the '70's by the time it rolls around for his character!).

Susan said...

"Here's my question: With all the speculation in the office regarding Peggy's absence; is Pete so dense that he hasn't even considered that maybe HE knocked her up or is he so uncaring that he doesn't care. It didn't even seem to cross his mind in this episode at all. Granted, she has been back for a year, but still."

See, I think Pete's "Fat Farm - I thought we had verification!" line was both funny and a very clever cover. Obviously the idea that Peggy was pregnant has come up, the other guys just think it was Don who did it. Pete never let on to the other guys that he was sleeping with Peggy and certainly doesn't want to now, so it's in his best interests to provide misdirection and lead everyone towards the "fat farm" theory. It's also not in his best interests to confront Peggy about it - if she went off and had his child without him, and never bothered him with the details, he'd be *relieved*, not interested to know more. So yes, I do think he's that uncaring.

Anonymous said...

I hope he sent that book to Rachel. I like her. He gave the big kiss off to Midge. Rachel left to get away from him. She might still be gone, maybe back in NYC. either way, he wanted her more than Midge. that's clear to me, at least.

Capcom said...

Very intereseting post and comments!

What was the music that was playing when Betty descended the stairs? I thought maybe it was from South Pacific, but now I don't think so. Perhaps something from one of those Martin Denny exotica albums. I'll have to pull out my Denny CDs and check.

MMS said...

Forced to postpone watching this episode until just now. Thank you DVR. Happy to see the episode met expectations. A small meta detail not yet remarked upon is Peggy wearing the same blue check dress she wore early in season 1, as one in her salary bracket would, and I believe that Joan's red dress is also one she wore last season.

My one problem with the episode is I thought that at the end of Season One Don hired Duck to take over Don's previous job as head of creative once Don became a partner. Here, however, Duck is on the sales side and maybe higher up, or at least equal to, Don in the firm organizational chart. Did I miss something?

Alan Sepinwall said...

MMS, Duck was hired to be the head of accounts, which had been Roger's position.

DJ RJAY said...

I thought it was funny that while the rest of the cast (and most of the nation) was glued to the Kennedys on TV, dopey dim-witted Pete was the only one watching something else (and some kid's show at that}.