Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mad Men, "The Jet Set": Old habits die hard

Spoilers for "Mad Men" season 2, episode 11 coming up just as soon as I change my hairstyle...

"Hello, it's Dick Whitman."

Especially taken back-to-back, "The Inheritance" and "The Jet Set" are the two most unsettling (or, if you're feeling less generous, frustrating) "Mad Men" episodes to date. Last week, we spent most of our time with the show's two most emotionally remote (or, IYFLG, dull) characters in Betty and Pete, while Don was largely a bystander, or simply absent. Tonight, we got a lot of action (by "Mad Men" standards) at the Sterling Cooper offices, but Don spent the hour in a remote location, surrounded by strange people and not acting remotely like the man we know. (That's the point, of course, which I'll be getting to in a minute.)

But those four words -- hearing the Don Draper of 1962 almost casually refer to himself by the name he's worked so hard to escape -- and the possibilities contained therein compensated for any of the problems I had with either episode. When I heard those words, all complaints were immediately replaced with questions: Who is he calling? Who on earth could be important enough to Don that he wouldn't have a problem acknowledging his true identity, when he essentially drove his brother to suicide by denying it? Is this the blonde from the 1950s car dealership flashback? The woman he sent the poetry book to? Are those two women one and the same?

And, in many ways, the use of the Dick Whitman name fit perfectly in an episode whose two main characters (Don and Duck) recklessly lapsed back into old personas: Don as the runaway hobo, Duck as aggressive, hard-drinking wheeler-dealer.

Now, there are moments in "Mad Men" that require a lot of deep thought to decode. The final scene of "The Jet Set" isn't one of them. Don has already gone on this trip to escape the collapse of his marriage, and for him to wind up in California literally without any baggage -- and for that same baggage to wind up back at the Ossining house (where Betty has been having nightmares about suitcases) while Don resumes calling himself Dick Whitman -- well... it doesn't take an aerospace engineer to figure that one out.

Don's inner hobo, having already awoken when Don returned to the near-empty office last week, takes full control after that doomsday slide show (which Mo Ryan very astutely pointed out to me is like the dark mirror image of Don's Kodak sales pitch in "The Wheel") and winds up throwing in his lot with a group of rich Europeans who are even more-hobo-than-thou: rich and cultured enough to easily move from place to place, identity to identity (Willie treats Joy as his friend rather than his daughter) and never worrying about the consequences. Note the look on Willie's face when Pete asks if they ever met each other in Newport; it's the same expression we saw on Don's face when one of his old Army buddies bumped into him on the train last season. These are people who do not want to be recognized by anyone who knows them from a past stopover.

And you can see how Don starts to feel intoxicated being in their world. He's never fit in anywhere in the world, has at best done a good job of faking it, and here he's found fellow nomads, including a pretty young thing with a sexual appetite to match his own, and one who has no hang-ups about monogamy. But Don Draper's life isn't left behind as easily as his luggage; when he gets a look at the two small, sad children who are being dragged around the world by these dilettantes, he realizes that even his inner hobo has his limits. It doesn't send Don running back to his own kids (the same ones he was more than willing to abandon for Rachel Menken last year), but it at least puts the brakes on any thought of heading to Nassau with this crowd. (Or is he simply inviting the mystery person on the other end of that phone to join him?)

If it's uncomfortable to spend an hour with Don acting so quiet and passive, it at least matches the glimpses we got of him as Dick Whitman last season. Don Draper is master of all he surveys; Dick Whitman was a coward who pissed himself after a battle and tried to abandon his family to avoid getting into trouble at work. Don Draper is in charge at meetings; Dick Whitman collapses from heat exhaustion. (In a shot that I assume required a special kind of camera rig.)

Adding to the episode's sense of dislocation were a number of Fellini-esque touches: the almost menacing casualness of Willie's group (note Klaus' disappointment when Don declined to be injected with "medicine"), the glimpses of the woman at the hotel bar who looked like Betty in a certain light (and, for all I know, was played by January Jones in some of those shots), and, especially, the way that in certain scenes as Joy, Laura Ramsey sounded exactly like January Jones. (Seriously: I had to rewatch the bit where Joy talks Don into coming with her to Palm Springs about seven or eight times to figure out whether Jones was just dubbing in the voice; an AMC publicist says that's Ramsey's voice the whole time.)

And making the Palm Springs sojourn more unsettling is our knowledge of what's going on back in New York, with Roger bracing himself for an expensive divorce so he can have his midlife crisis marriage to Jane, while Duck tries to take advantage of Roger's fiscal crisis and Don's absence to plot a Sterling Cooper palace coup.

Just as Don retreats back into his Dick Whitman habits, Duck returns to the behavior that made him such a star -- and then such a cautionary tale -- during his time in London. As Bert Cooper exclaims, not realizing that Duck has just nervously chewed a few breath mints to cover the smell of Tanqueray on his breath, "There he is! There's the man I heard so much about."

Though Duck has been set up as the antagonist to Don this season, it's hard not to feel for him, and not just because Mark Moses is so superb in the role. (Another scene I had to rewatch a bunch of times, but for different reasons: the very long pause that Duck takes after having what appears to be his first drink in years.) After his meltdown in London, he came back to America to reclaim his family and some professional respect, but his wife is remarrying, his kids are too old to need him, his dog is wandering the streets of Manhattan (if he's lucky; and this one is all Duck's fault), and his time at Sterling Cooper has largely been a failure, which Roger tells him in a blunt but not overly nasty way when Duck inquires about becoming a partner. It's hard to blame him for going back to his old mates from across the pond and making a bold power play.

The question is, will he be functional enough to pull it off? The scene in the restaurant with St. John Powell and the way Duck reacted to the gin passing his lips suggested I was wrong in my belief that he had resumed drinking earlier in the season. (My new guess is he sent Chauncey away because the pooch was too great a reminder of his drinking days.) So we don't know exactly how well he works once he's drinking, especially now that he's got that crate of liquor in his office to tempt him all hours of the day.

With only two episodes left in the season, this creates a lot of interesting possibilities for a potential season three, as Sterling Cooper gets to play with the big boys but also isn't in charge of its own destiny anymore. We know Don's going to come back to New York eventually -- the show wouldn't reinvent itself that much -- but he's really going to be kicking himself for checking out at this particular moment in time. The chaos that I expect this deal to create might give him enough cover to avoid getting in trouble for bailing on the aerospace convention, but I suspect he's not going to appreciate becoming a cog in a much bigger machine, whether or not Duck is the man running it.

Some other thoughts on "The Jet Set":

• Peggy also finds herself in a familiar pattern: developing feelings for a guy who for some reason (Pete because he's a sociopath, Father Gill because of his vows, Kurt because he's gay) can't reciprocate. But she seems on the road to breaking out of that pattern with a little hairstyling help from Kurt. We've already seen Peggy slowly reinvent her wardrobe (she'd have ditched the little girl clothes altogether, I expect, if she had a higher salary) and now she looks very much like a woman of the '60s in a flip 'do that's part Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie, part Marlo Thomas as That Girl.

• I'd object more to the whole Fairy Godfather thing with Kurt -- He's so nice to poor Peggy! And he's a fabulous hairdresser! -- if the scene where he came out of the closet to his colleagues wasn't one of the funniest scenes in the history of the series. As Joan, Harry and Ken struggled to find something to say in response to his declaration of his sexuality, I laughed so hard it eventually morphed into a painful wheeze. And then, just as I was on the verge of pausing for air, I caught a glimpse of Salvatore's face and saw so many emotions -- fear, envy, and, after Ken's slur about not wanting to work with "queers," heartbreak -- washing over it. Just like Mark Moses' bit with the martini, Bryan Batt gave a little acting master class in that moment.

• Roger's been reading too much ad copy, claiming that his marriage to Jane will give him "the life I was always meant to have." Based on his surprise at learning she had composed that poem at the episode's opening -- and Jane's awareness of what was behind that surprise -- I don't see this relationship lasting any longer than it takes either one to get bored with the other, which should be... how many episodes do we have left again?

• Another wonderful Salvatore moment (that, in retrospect, was a nice set-up for Kurt's coming out party): while discussing TV last night, Sal gets visibly upset at discussing "The Loretta Young Show," and then explains that he was nauseated by the ugly costumes and decor.

• Harry's reaction to the trouble down in Mississippi (why should people stir up trouble and give others reason not to watch TV?) and to Kurt's sexuality (calling him a pervert) make it pretty clear which side of the cultural divide he's going to be on as the series moves further into the '60s.

• If you watch the episode again, take a look at how Joan reacts whenever Smitty (the shorter, American of the two Smiths) is around. He clearly throws her off her game: she's not prepared for someone this young and not classically handsome being this flirtatious with her. In her own way, Joan may have just as tough a time adjusting to the '60s as Harry, because all the sexual rules she plays by are going to be thrown out the window.

• Do you think Pete is going to hold Don playing hooky from the rocket fair over his head? Or would the writers not want to conclude two seasons in a row with Pete trying to blackmail Don with some damaging information? While he was embarrassed to be left at that initial meeting, Pete seemed to adjust to flying solo just fine by our next glimpse of him at poolside.

• Bob Dylan's eponymous debut album came out in March of 1962, and we're at least into late summer, if not early fall of the year by now. I wonder if season two will also close with a Dylan song. (And a non-anachronistic one, at that.)

• I blessedly watched very little of "The Nanny," so when Charles Shaughnessy turned up as St. John Powell, I didn't have the automatic "Oh, Mr. Sheffield!" reflex. On the other hand, I knew how to spell his name because I had watched a lot of "Airwolf" as a kid and Stringfellow Hawke's missing brother was a "Sinzhin."

• Yet again, we get a shot of Don reclining on a couch in the same pose as the opening credits. Has there been one in every episode this season and I'm only noticing it some of the time?

• I tried and I tried and I tried -- employing Photoshop at one point to try to enhance a screen capture -- but I could not successfully make out what name (if it was a name; it could have been an address) Don wrote down in Joy's copy of "The Sound and the Fury."

Just a reminder: no talking about anything in the previews for next week's episode.

What did everybody else think?

198 comments:

Stef said...

I really, really liked this episode. Bryan Batt deserves an Emmy for acting the heck out of a scene in which - as I recall - he doesn't utter a single word. I thought Kurt was irrelevant before, but now he may just be the agent of change that both Sal and Peggy need.

While I have been growing to like Betty, it was nice to have one episode free of the home life. The further Don gets from her - both literally and figuratively - the more he's reverting to Dick Whitman. I'm sure that whomever he called was the same person he sent the book to earlier this year, but I really can't imagine who it might be. Exciting!

Jon Hamm was magnificent in this episode (in scenes both fully- and partially-clothed!). When Don took a fall near the pool, I was at the edge of my seat. I'm glad it was only heat exhaustion, because I started thinking back to the season opener and his doctor's warnings. (Side note: It was nice to see a version of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" trailer cut specifically just for Hamm fans! Better than Keanu anyday.)

Note the scene where Pete dropped in his mother's family name when trying to impress the Euro set. He'll still work it when he can.

JoeE said...

Freeze-framed it - that was definitely January Jones that Don saw at the bar. You can identify her pretty easily as she walks away. They switched her out twice for the other woman, but Don definitely saw her. Heat mirage?

kathy said...

I liked last week's episode a lot. But for me, Don's CA sojurn = FAIL. I did not get it, it did not ring true and for the first time, I felt this show was very much too Sopranos-y. I've seen other people make the criticism before and I never really saw it until tonight but the whole surreal business trip thing, I've seen that before.

The whole thing was creepy and made zero sense in the context of who Don is. Hated it. Although Jon Hamm could not have been more gorgeous in this episode, so it's got that going for it.

I loved Kurt's coming out at work, heh. They ruined it with appalling gay=hairdresser ending to that plot line, but that moment was perfection, so funny and at the same time, heart-wrenching, world-shattering for Sal.

Very interesting to see where this is going but I hope to god this is the last we see of the Euro-trash hobos.

erin said...

That was January Jones in the opening scenes, interspersed with the look-alike, I'm almost certain of it.

I was not a big fan of this episode at all--it seemed disjointed, and we were spending way too much time with the Jet Set. I didn't find them interesting and couldn't figure out their purpose in the overall story. I see it more now--they are tempting Don to lead a life that has always appealed to him--but I thought we spent way too much time with the creepy clan. And while I do enjoy breaking down out of his box, so to speak, I found that part of the storyline a little tedious. And aggravating.

Really enjoyed the Sterling Cooper bits (and Sal's face when the guy came out so easily and drama-free was just heartbreaking).

I'm really looking forward to what adventures Don will get himself into on the West Coast!

An interesting side note: tonight's episode of Cold Case was dealing with a death of a young white woman in 1963 trying to fight racial injustice in Mississippi. I hope Paul gets home safely!

Jim's Library said...

There were more than a few allusions to Through the Looking Glass, with Jane commenting to Roger about eating mushrooms and having the room vanish, to Don sipping wine upon his arrival in Palm Beach, and passing out right after. I almost felt that when Don had that last sip while in the pool at night with Joy later in the episode, and he looked into the glass, he seemed to be wondering if it was going to wake him up.

Helene H. said...

This episode reminded me of the time when Don took the afternoon off from work to go see "La Notte," or what-have-you. "Don Draper's European Vacation," anyone? I am astonished beyond belief that he would not only call someone seemingly out of the blue, identify himself as Dick Whitman, and whoever it was on the other end apparently was not at all astonished to hear from him. Virginia Heffernan (sp?) in The Times' wrote a piece recently about how Jon Hamm is disappointing her this season by not keeping his cool swagger together like he did in season one, as if he's saying he really does not want to be seen as this bad character. I don't agree at all. I think that Hamm is showing that Draper's mask is slipping, and behind it is the panicky visage of Dick Whitman.

Stef said...

Also, in the Right Guard meeting early on in the episode, I definitely got the sense that Peggy was calling the shots. Seems that promotion has lifted her above most of the guys.

Jim's Library - nice call on the Through the Looking Glass references. That CA trip probably seemed as surreal to Don himself as it did to all of us.

Anonymous said...

Why "The Sound and the Fury?" Are we supposed to draw parallels between the LA crowd and the ruined Compson family?

Nicole said...

The coming out scene made me laugh and yet almost cry for Sal It helped overcome the obviousness of the gay stereotypes that existed in the rest of the episode, what with Peggy and her new gay hairstyling friend. Clearly Peggy can't be too into the Catholic dogma otherwise she would have cancelled the Dylan date. It's still an issue for many present day Catholics of that age (who would be in their late 60s now) to accept them.

Then when Duck made his power play, I cheered even though I haven't forgiven him for what he did to the dog. Sterling Cooper will need to do this to survive past the 60s, and Roger knows this.

Finally, when "Dick Whitman" returned I was shocked and wanted it to be next week already to find out who he was speaking with.

I haven't noticed if Don has done the opening credit pose in every episode, but in this one, it's his left arm and not his right arm stretched out, suggesting a change in direction for Don/Dick. Maybe left even means he will be leading a more "liberal" and less "conservative" lifestyle.

I'm not sure what Pete will do with Don's disappearance. It may be something that shows up in the next season. Knowing Pete, he will hold on to this if it can help him.

The James Meredith incident would place this episode in October 1962 and while many things have improved since then, the ugly undercurrent of racism that is surfacing in the US election is very disheartening and makes me wonder if people alive in that era actually opened their mind or just buried their thoughts for polite society.

Geo said...

First time posting but I love this blog. Since this is the first of the final three episodes of the seaons, I see a thematic parallel to the first season, where the third from the end was "The Hobo Code" and, in "The Jet Set", you have Don seduced by the ultimate Hobo Code. If this pattern holds true, the next episode, like "Kennedy vs. Nixon" in the first season, will give us more revelation into Dick Whitman (teased in the last scene of "Jet Set"), then the season ender, like the incredible "The Wheel", will resolve the Betty/Don storyline in some way, shape, form.

Absolutely amazing how this show gets better and better and better.

Anonymous said...

Love this show so much but these rich nomad weirdos did not seem based in any kind of reality. Nothing they did made any sense and they just seemed like aliens from another planet sent just to mess with Don. They reminded me of when Tony Soprano was in the coma. Still, watching Don with them was interesting, if weird and unreal.

Loved everything in the office. Kurt's coming out was so awesome I screamed at the television with delight.

Love the other Smitty too.

As for the hairdressing stereotype, I don't think it is unrealistic to think that Kurt would know something about the latest hair trends and how to do them. And Peggy desperately needs a gay best friend, perhaps more so than a boyfriend, so let's just be happy for her.

lungfish said...

...I could not successfully make out what name (if it was a name; it could have been an address) Don wrote down in Joy's copy of "The Sound and the Fury."

It was an address- something like 1604 N. Station Pl.

Also- what does the acronym IYFLG stand for?

Jim's Library said...

Lungfish, it means "if you're feeling less generous". I did a double take too. ;)

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm not above inventing my own acronyms when the need arises.

Stef said...

Does anyone have any guesses as to when season 3 will take place? I'm guessing post-Kennedy assassination, for an obvious "new era" but also so they don't have to get trapped in writing about such a universal historic event.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant synopsis of the episode!

Nicole said...

I thought that I had read somewhere that Weiner planned to have the seasons use a 2 year interval between them.

I forgot to comment earlier on St.John / Sinjin. I had heard the name in Airwolf too, but never made the connection until years later watching a Jane Eyre movie where I realized that it wasn't Saint John Rivers, having read the name that way when I first read the novel.

Daniel said...

This episode was indeed in October 1962 -- early on, Ken says to Kurt, "You're gonna miss the playoff," referring to the 1962 National League playoff between the Giants and the Dodgers.

The Giants and the Dodgers, it should be noted, were transplanted from New York to California...just like Don, at the moment.

I also liked that Don ordered an "old fashioned" from the hotel bar -- before he went off down his new path with Joy and the Euros.

And his parallel character, Peggy, was told by Kurt that her hair was "old style" -- before she went down her own new path.

Kingo Gondo said...

The whole Don sequence was CLEARLY an homage to the influential Fellini (La Dolce Vita) and Antonioni (La Notte and more) films of the era. Setting the dissolute rich under the California sun was a nice substitute for the settings used by those directors. If you are familiar with their films, it hit you like hammer tonight.

Also, they telegraphed something that I knew had to be coming--the Cuban Missile Crisis is just around the corner. What they do with it--which may be very little--should be interesting to see.

Andrew said...

While I agree that Kurt's coming out scene was hysterical, I found it's minisequel when Ken informs Pete about it to be even funnier. After Ken tells him, there's a fantastic beat followed by an even more fantastic Pete head tilt.

Anonymous said...

So the rich nomads, they're planning the Kennedy assassination, yes? And feeling out whether Don would make a good patsy?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

That last comment was me; I must have clicked the wrong button.

Karen said...

I didn't like the eurotrash at first--I shouted with laughter when Willi gave his name, it was so implausible--but then I began to get how they fit in and it all began to make sense. I also loved the sort of 1001 Nights music on the soundtrack whenever Don was poolside at the hotel. It really underscored his escape to this strange world.

But my shout of laughter was as nothing to the laugh that came when Ken said to Kurt, "I don't think that word means what you think it means." I loved that line when Andre the Giant said it to Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride, and I loved it tonight. But, as with the rest of you, my laughter died with the look on Sal's face. Poor man. Born just too early and just too American to have Kurt's freedom.

There were a lot of great lines tonight ("You want to be on vacation, Pete? I can make that happen.") and there were a lot of painful moments, such as Don's face when he saw Christien's children, especially Bernard, just about Bobby's age.

The Dick Whitman, so casually dropped, stopped me in my tracks, too. I was also struck by Don's writing the address in the back of the Faulkner book, when he had a little notebook to hand, out of which he'd gotten the phone number. Also, he tore out the final page of the novel, not allowing an ending for poor Joy on yet another level.

I, too, was certain that was January Jones at the bar. I was sorry not to see Betty's face when she sees Don's lost suitcase--seeing the image from her dream could well push her even farther over the edge.

Duck's power play struck me as petty and vindictive, a response to being belittled by Roger, and reminded of Don's dislike of him. I don't see how that case of Tanqueray on his desk, however, is going to keep him in shape to take that company presidency he's after.

Fluffy said...

Hehe. INAIMOAWTNA either.

Maultsby said...

The Bob Dylan played Carnegie Hall for the first time on September 22, 1962.

Did it seem to anybody else that the Draper house when the suitcase was delivered at the end looked vacant? All the windows were uncovered.

Anonymous said...

Question... why were all the rich folks drinking out of plastic cups? What did done see in his at the end?

Mark said...

I don't think Duck is ready to Tanqueray. His power play with Powell may have been clever, but I bet old St. John is even cleverer. Duck wants to be president of the post-takeover SC; sending him that case of Tanqueray may have set the wheels in motion for Powell to get rid of that lame Duck president when the occasion arises. Alternatively, Duck will face his demons and emerge stronger and more formidable. In any event, we won't be seeing the present Duck anymore in season 3.

Dasho said...

This show is, in my opinion, the best show every made for television, if not the movies. It makes you THINK. I probably watch each episode two or three times before logging on to Alan’s web site to get his meaning of things . I treat it like a college critical literature class.. what is theme of each episode and how does it tie everything together? What is the literary leitmotif? What is the symbolic meaning of a particular scene. (was Don looking into that etched glass indicative of a very cloudy future?) What is REALLY going on, and, in reality, how many interpretations are there?

On top of that, you have the stylized look of the 60’s, when looks and appearance take precedence over everything else. In short, everything was beautiful. The producers take such pains to that era right, to give the proper look and feel, that when they get something out of place it sticks out like a wart on an otherwise perfect face….

The Mercedes Benz 230 SL (which Joy drives Don to Palm Springs in) was not released until July, 1963.

Pamela Jaye said...

wow. i have never even *seen* IYFLG! It took me a minute.

More when I've finished reading. (yes, I'm more than an hour behind - I watch Brothers & Sisters first - and what is it? earthquake week?)

Pamela Jaye said...

PS- nice new pic!

Anonymous said...

Very good episode. It's really going down now. I'm dying for next Sunday to come.

It's interesting to see certain characters kinda being confronted by lives they'd like to live. Don is out in CA with people who are living freely and have gotten away like he wanted to do in the previous season. Salvatore has a co-worker who's openly gay. Duck and his old job.

Brandon Nowalk said...

Alan, do you know what the chances are of Mad Men not getting renewed? I read they're negotiating now for a third season, and it surprised me. I guess I assumed this show would last as long as Weiner wanted.

Rick said...

Don's face when he saw Christien's children, especially Bernard, just about Bobby's age.

My wife and I went back and forth a few times over who Bernard reminded Don of:
-Bobby, the case being that he is about Bernard's age, has January Jones for a mother, and an older sister, or
-Young Dick Whitman, being cared for by his father, being a "whore-child", and seeing the strange hobo at his home.

Seeing Don's phone call makes me vote for Dick Whitman, since something triggered that phone call. For the connection to be to Bobby, Don would have to have some sort of emotional connection with his children.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad someone finally tied Mad Men back to Airwolf.
The Antonioni influence is getting pretty thick. If Don and Betty are La Notta then this is Don's L'avventura.

Nemme said...

It took me a while to relax into Don's California journey, because I was convinced the jet set were out to get him. First I thought Willie was Joy's pimp, and then I thought they drugged him when he fainted. It wasn't until late in the episode when I started to see the europeans as nomads with this tempting life. I kind of saw it as Don's mystical journey into the desert - or Est, though 10 years early.

And then the Dick Whitman reference and I was knocked off my chair. I can't wait to watch again not being so nervous. I'm very protective of the existentialist semi-(not really)-reformed hobo Don/Dick.

Anonymous said...

The music being played when Draper was at the hotel pool sounded a lot like Pink Martini. Anyone know?

Jimmy said...

I don't know. I loved everything else that went on including Pete's misadventures, but Don...

I just hope that Fonzie isn't looming out there on his waterskis somewhere in that California Ocean...

Pamela Jaye said...

still reading comments, but "Palm Beach" threw me - clear across to the other side of the country, actually.

"Sinzhin." There was an episode of Quantum Leap where Sam's actions did a "Back to the Future" trip on Al and basically threw him out of existence. He was replaced by a man called "Sinzhin." played by Roddy McDowall.

Perhaps that other blonde was January's stand-in? The other half of the time, it had to be her.

I like Peggy's haircut. I like Elisabeth a lot, but I don't find her pretty. At least now she looks a bit more mature (said the girl whose hairstyle is half from 1992 and half from 1978) but she still has the bangs. I'd love to see someone make her look beautiful. In the meantime I feel sad for Peggy. She just can't get it right (though honestly I hadn't expected that she thought it was a date. Was it just me who thought whats his name was gay?)

And Roger and Cooper are HAPPY with Duck's proposal? Is he lying to them or telling them everything. I'm confused.

Never watched the Nanny, so...

I saw the movie commercial while FFing to find Bryan Batt's facial expressions and imdb'ed it as there were no names listed and I was in a hurry.

I like Jon with "more relaxed" hair.

Alan Blumenfeld seems old...

I thought Don passed out due to the high blood pressure.

And found it slightly amusing that Pete can't drive.
Having lived in Boston for several years, I did understand it, though. I couldn't (really) drive till I was 40.(though I held on to the license I just barely got in Great Bridge Virginia when I was 21 for dear life)

Nicole said...

At least Lauren Bacall is safe...

Anonymous said...

I think the music by the hotel pool was Misirlou (a more traditional, non-surf version).

Pamela Jaye said...

having never watched Airwolf (I think) I had to look to be sure, but I think my friends had noted - It's a Don Bellisario show.
He loves using the same names for characters over and over, apparently. Maybe someone on the internet will get bored and make a web page about how many of his characters from all his shows had the same names. (and in QL, characters in two different eps - one being the Cuban Missile Crisis ep - were named Elway (i think that was it))

I'd be happy with Peggy having a gay best friend. She could use an actual friend, I think.

When is Joan getting married?

Mo Ryan said...

At least Lauren Bacall is safe.

For now.

It's interesting to see certain characters kinda being confronted by lives they'd like to live. Don is out in CA with people who are living freely and have gotten away like he wanted to do in the previous season. Salvatore has a co-worker who's openly gay. Duck and his old job.

Interesting. Yeah, you could add Roger to that list -- he pictures some perfect life with Jane, but come on! He'll get bored with her really soon. And what happens when he's bored with Wife #2, and has half the money to spend and isn't even in control of his own firm? I mean, that would totally Rumson him (well, if we're using hobo as a verb...)

I think the dynamic of Duck being Don's boss would be kind of delicious for a while. Don would so clearly hate it. But I agree with whoever said Sinjin Powell knows full well what he's doing by sending a case of gin to Duck. Duck engineers the whole deal, but soon goes under, leaving the field clear to Sinjin's minions.

Joan doesn't necessarily go for the obvious types. Could her looks of disdain toward Smitty hide the fact that his brazenness kind of intrigues her?

One tiny thing I loved -- Sal reading Playboy at the Right Guard meeting. And of course Bryan Batt had a perfect look of mild "wtf" on his face in that little moment. Obviously Sal reads it for the articles...

My editor was reading my Jet Set blog post last Friday (it should be up in the morning), and she also made the observation that the episode sounded like the Sopranos' episode "Join the Club," the episode in which a comatose Tony is "Kevin Finnerty." I mean, they're not direct parallels but both had that otherworldly, down-the-rabbit-hole vibe.

I don't think those cups were plastic, btw. On re-watching the episode, they appeared to be using blue glasses of differing shapes and sizes. The glass Don looks at when he's in the pool -- just after glimpsing poor little Bernard -- has a crack in it, I believe. Dun-dun-dun! A little overly symbolic for me, but oh well.

Interesting that Don didn't write down the address in his little book -- perhaps he doesn't want that information anywhere Betty could find it?

Bryan said...

I thought Don wrote in the Faulkner book,

"Key Largo
Fla"

Is Dick Whitman married? Is that the woman from the car dealership?

arrabbiata said...

The coming out scene was hysterical. I laughed at Ken's statement, but I completely lost it with Harry's "So Kurt is a pervert. How about that?" comment. This scene could almost have happened in the office at Dunder Mifflin, except no one looked at the camera.

The California scenes definitely had a different feel. Light and architecture contributed to that. There was a little of the Kevin Finnerty feel at times. The way Don felt out of place in Palm Springs also reminded me a bit of his visit to Midge's apartment, hanging around with the pot smoking beatnik types. Like then, it looks like Don knows when it's time to make his exit.

And the "Hello, it's Dick Whitman" phone call. Wow. Something's coming.

As for the Sinzhin thing- very familiar with this from years of watching Monty Python and the Avengers.

Roger said...

The whole scene of Pete returning to the office was interesting. You had Pete saying that while L.A. was good businesswise he didn't like it. You'd have to imagine if the girls by the pool stopped to talk to him he definitely would not have felt that way.

You had Peggy waiting for Pete to notice her cool new hair. (The most telling was how quickly she said, "it's my hair" when he commented something was different about her.) Does she want him to notice to make him jealous? And why?

And we can't forget Ken's comment followed by Pete's askance response. Priceless.

Anonymous said...

Bryan seriously deserves an Emmy nomination!!

(Still processing the episode)

Craig said...

The California crowd reminded me of Tony Soprano going to Vegas and the whole peyote thing.
Also, there were many shots of topless women in this one. From Jane on the bed to the girls in the pool. For those of you smarter than me, is there any connection?

Anonymous said...

Pete didn't like CA because no one knows he is a Mad Men there.
He is likely known as the sleazy guy by the pool.

Brandon Nowalk said...

Regarding The Sopranos: For me, "The Jet Set" is most like "Kennedy and Heidi." Tony goes to Vegas after increasing stress back home and gets his angst out with a hippie. Much like Don in LA. One difference: I doubt Don learned as much about himself as Tony did.

P.S. I think January Jones is rocking this season, and I missed her tonight. No Betty, no Pam, still no Street...it's been a hard week.

Anonymous said...

I am a book nerd.
So I was appalled when Don wrote the info on the last page of the story AND then tore it out!!!

Mo Ryan said...

Is Dick Whitman married?

Dude. You are wigging me out right now.

What if all Don's wackness about abandoned kids isn't just the result of his own messed up history? What if he has another family socked away somewhere - a family he just up and left?

That would be nuts. And kind of soapy, but it would also explain why Dick Whitman does not want to be found.

Anonymous said...

I see The Sound and the Fury here as a reference to the original Macbeth quote, which reminds us of Don's hobo philosophy:

"[Life] is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing"

You could also see echoes of major themes in The Sound and the Fury in the episode - e.g. the spiritual emptiness of sexuality and money.

dez said...

Why "The Sound and the Fury?" Are we supposed to draw parallels between the LA crowd and the ruined Compson family?

I was thinking more of Faulkner's adventures as a Hollywood screenwriter and how that worked out for him.

And I also know how to spell "St. John" from Monty Python, of course.

Wasn't really on board with this ep until Kurt came out and then the Dick Whitman phone call sealed it. Also, I think Jane's already getting bored with Roger. She didn't seem very enthused about his proposal at first.

LA said...

FYI, Don drove to Palm SPRINGS with Jane, not Palm BEACH. It's about 2 hours outside of Los Angeles. And I loved the fantastic Neutra house they stayed in.

Anyone get the feeling that the scene between Joan and Duck will be significant? It felt like the perfect setup for Joan to align with Duck in his takeover attempt to get revenge on both Roger and Jane.

Sal, as always, killed me. I feared that Peggy's new gay friend was going to out Sal to her. I liked that Peggy was so accepting and matter-of-fact about Kurt's homosexuality. Considering she's a nice Catholic girl in 1962 with likely no frame of reference to process that information, her mature response was quite revolutionary.

Brilliant analysis, Alan.

I can't believe there are only two episodes left this season.

R.A. Porter said...

I'm sure Dick Whitman left a wife - who is an older version of Betty as surely as Joy is a younger version - and a son. That's who he called, that's who received "Meditations in an Emergency" back in 2.1, and that's who we're going to meet next week.

Or, you know, I'm totally cracked.

Also, it's not just that the slideshow is a mirror image of the one in "The Wheel"; it also conjured up memories of the death of Dick Whitman/birth of Don Draper. Nukes are a bit bigger, but to Dick/Don, that artillery shell must have seemed pretty big. I think that, plus the boy torn between parents divorcing finally pushed Don to make that call.

My thoughts here.

Ben K. said...

Am I the only one who's still bothered by Jane's last name? Siegel is a very common Jewish surname, as Matthew Weiner surely knows. But if Jane were Jewish, you'd think someone would have made something of it by now, either at the agency (where 'David Cohen from the art department' is a unique specimen) or in the context of her relationship with Roger. Is it possible that she is Jewish and Roger knows but doesn't care -- or that he doesn't know, but will find out at some inopportune moment?

Given the show's propensity for dealing openly with ethnicity and prejudice, it's surprising that this hasn't come up.

cgeye said...

"As for the hairdressing stereotype, I don't think it is unrealistic to think that Kurt would know something about the latest hair trends and how to do them. And Peggy desperately needs a gay best friend, perhaps more so than a boyfriend, so let's just be happy for her."

YAY PEGGY, YAY QUEER BOY KURT!

I was screaming, too, just at the nerve of that child telling the truth, and cutting all the secrets and drama of that firm with a big-ass sword. It's as if both the Smiths can't be bothered with all the drama, since they know they won't be partners, and life's too short to lie to vapid people. (If they do lie, it's for cash money, just like all the other ad men.)

Peggy needs someone who doesn't want to fuck her or fuck her over, and Kurt's the first guy we've ever seen who hasn't brought more grief to her life. It's about time, sweetie. Now if she can move into a pert short-haired style curling around her ears, then we'll see something.

As for Don, hell, I don't know, I called Danger, Danger out once they started talking about orbital warheads, which weren't banned yet, and the whole astronaut thingy a sham for M.A.D.... it just seemed that if Don was going to bug out, he'd do it over a product he knew he could in no way sell to the American public. Astronauts, sure; warheads, hell no. Why not bag a barely-legal hottie, and stay with her perv extended family?

I mean, really, I was squinting at the screen to make sure David Foley wasn't playing Willie as the *European Commie Bisexual Roue* waiting for an invite into his daughter's bed and new boyfriend. (No one's had the Ick Signal going off about that, when Glen and Betty last week set off the claxons? Sheesh.)

I mean, Don hates it when ladies dish about his bonum suum, and he's thinking of running with Eurotrash whose only currency is gossip? And what's he gonna live on, his golf score? For a man who painstakingly built his reputation on work -- flim-flam work, at times, but hard work, nevertheless -- seeing him consider that rootless cosmopolitan stylee was deeply disconcerting. Not for the least reason that I had a flash of him dying his hair blond, getting his teeth capped, and walking around with tight white shorts.... Nevermind.

Anonymous said...

ooooo! something just occurred to me.
what if those palm springs people had something to do with Pete's father squandering away the family fortune!

on one hand, i don't like it because it seems too soap opera-ish.

but on the other hand, it explains Pete's recognition, Willie's reaction, and why Don seemed drugged at times.

The Rush Blog said...

"Peggy also finds herself in a familiar pattern: developing feelings for a guy who for some reason (Pete because he's a sociopath, Father Gill because of his vows, Kurt because he's gay) can't reciprocate."


Peggy's feelings for Pete have not disappeared. They still exist.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Could her looks of disdain toward Smitty hide the fact that his brazenness kind of intrigues her?

I didn't read that as disdain at all. I think she's both confused and more than a little intrigued by this cocky little squirt.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Clearly Peggy can't be too into the Catholic dogma otherwise she would have cancelled the Dylan date.

Like Peggy told her mom (or was it Anita?) back in the second episode, she doesn't really care about the Church -- "It doesn't mean the same thing to me that it does to you" -- and just goes to appease her family.

The Rush Blog said...

Also, I think Jane's already getting bored with Roger. She didn't seem very enthused about his proposal at first.


I don't think she's bored with Roger. But Mona's previous office visit may have scared her.

Anonymous said...

According to Wikipedia, "The Loretta Young Show" ended in 1961. "The New Loretta Young Show" debuted in September of 1962. Could we be that late in 1962?

Anonymous said...

Th Sinjin thing also comes from Four Weddings and a Funeral. In the first wedding the priest mangles the name of the groom, St. John/Sinjin.

Hilarious then, but not even remotely funny here.

Lizbeth said...

I agree with those who said this episode had a "Sopranos-feel" to it. It had a very existential vibe, and Don seems to be in a hallucinatory state most of the episode. "Who are you?" he asks, and the young woman answers only "Joy."

Has Don found his true JOY in the desert with this group of wandering nomads?

By the end of the episode, it is telling that he is completely stripped of Don Draper's clothes (which never even made it to Cali).

It is only when he awakens, practically naked, that he is able to say "this is Dick Whitman" to whomever is on the phone.

Is Dick Whitman finally waking from his Don Draper slumber or is this all just an existential interlude?

Roger said...

And what's with the Tony Curtis hate? Hah.

zodin2008 said...

While I wouldn't put past the "Mad Men" writers for it to turn out that Dick Whitman is in fact married with an estranged, older wife and child - adding to the level of why he is so hush hush about that former life - I am just wondering WHEN he would have had time for this?

I mean, how old was he supposed to be in Korea? Since he immediately "shed" Dick Whitman when he boarded that train and left his immediate family behind, would he have really been some teenaged husband father before he left for the war? I suppose it's possible considering he's kind of hillbilly.

It was interesting about Pete, my wife's reactions to Pete's flippant, snooty remarks about "where's the good help when you need it?" were very negative, but I think after we saw Pete last week with that mother of his and really understanding how he was raised and trained in this rich, emotional arms length lifestyle, it's understandable that Pete doesn't know any other way, than to try and put down people with less means than him because it's all he knows.

I felt sorry for him watching him in that scene with his mother and brother. She's the reason he's got the emotional level of an 8 year old.

I thought the scene where the Russian openly talked about being gay, the look on Sal's face was sad & heartbreaking and was the realization moment for him that he can never truly come "clean" with his so-called friends and colleagues and even his wife.

The one person Sal may come out to in the future now is Peggy. Not only was she surprisingly comfortable (as opposed to her colleagues) with the Russian's sexuality, but sal also has to remember the way Peggy attempted to be discreet about Rumson's drunken blackout, and it will start to add up for Sal that Peggy is the ONE person in the Sterling Cooper offices he can trust.

dkellergrl said...

Sal, as always, killed me. I feared that Peggy's new gay friend was going to out Sal to her.

I'm not so sure that Kurt knows about Sal's sexual orientation. What would he gain by "outing" Sal to everyone at SC? Is Sal his boss?

E. Conty said...

As someone else said, the period piece was Misirlou, better known these days as the "Pulp Fiction" theme.

According to Wikipedia, James Meredith was enrolled in U. Miss on October 1. That should date the episode pretty accurately.

I completely forgot about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy's speech was on October 22, so I guess that's what happening next episode/season finale.

BTW, anyone have any idea what this "optiman" project that Pete was talking about actually was? I didn't catch the name of the scientist he mentioned. (I know, it doesn't have anything to do with the main story, it's just my inner science geek acting up.)

Anonymous said...

Isn't Kurt a Germanic name?

My " eyuw" reaction went way up when Willi-daddy seemed to be inviting himself into bed with his daughter and Don. Joy did tell Don that daddy finds him beautiful.

Don is such a remote observer of life he barely reacted. Or was that a delayed reaction when he saw the little boy?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"I am just wondering WHEN he would have had time for this? "

And would someone Dick had abandoned like that be someone he'd call with a casual, "Hi, this is Dick Whitman?"

KLE said...

The name St. John is not uncommon in period English lit (Jane Eyre comes to mind) and usually belongs to someone of upper class/old money and estates/expensive and exclusive schools kind of social rank. I would assume this background for the Mad Men character based on his name and also his accent, which would be considered to be "posh".

arrabbiata said...

If Don was calling an ex-wife, I think it unlikely that he'd identify himself by his full name, but rather with "Hello, it's Dick", or "Hello, it's me."

Libby said...

I LOVED this episode - great acting all around and some truly "holy crap" moments. I'll be on the edge of my seat until next week.

One minor point though - was the atmosphere really so open that Kurt could come out that easily in front of everyone? In 1962? Even the fact he's European doesn't make it that plausible to me...

Cervantes said...

Dick Whitman has a benefactor, it's possibly the woman he met at the car dealership. For a hickerbilly like Dick Whitman to have transformed himself into the unflappable Don Draper, he'd have needed some guidance.

Draper was, as we know, an officer in Korea, which means he likely came from some means. He, in Betty's father's parlance, "has people." His ruse uncovered, it's likely that Whitman was able to seduce Don Draper's friend, and then benefit from her wisdom to parlay his stolen identity into something more lucrative than a gig as a used car salesman.

Whoever his benefactor is, they no doubt get a "friendly" mark on their mailbox. Keep up the good work, Alan.

Evie Garland said...

I'm really interested to see if Sal says anything to Kurt about his sexuality, and I'm wondering if that really WAS just heat stroke that caused Don to pass out....

Libby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I would tend to think Kurt was German rather than Russian. It was the height of the Cold War and people didn't travel back & forth easily between the US & USSR.

The coming out scene was well done and someone finally did something about Peggy's hair. But otherwise, this episode didn't grab me the way the others have. But it could be an interesting set up for the ones running up to the season finale.

Alan Sepinwall said...

What did I say about not discussing the previews for next week's episode?

Lizbeth said...

I don't see Sal coming out anytime soon. We're still a good seven years away from Stonewall.

And now that Sal sees exactly how Ken and others perceive homosexuals, I'm sure he'll go even deeper underground.

BTW: Kurt remaking Peggy was a very "Queer Eye for the Straight Girl" moment.

Sam said...

Just had to throw in this comment about the Sound and the Fury and William Faulkner because I don't know if anyone noticed it.

I think one reason they included the Sound and the Fury is because Faulkner died the week that this episode took place. He died about a week before James Meredith was enrolled at UMiss, which is in Oxford, where F. lived his whole life.

And with Don ripping out the last page of the book - you could see it wasn't the "original" last page, but the last page of the "appendix" F. wrote for the book 15 years after it was first published (which gave it a new and slightly altered ending). So to me I saw the comment on Faulkner's life, as a writer - he tried to change the ending of his own most well-known book, and Don just casually rips out the last page of the "new" ending.

The appendix lists the name of every character in the book and explains what happened to them. It ends with the name of one character, and then the enigmatic last line: "They endured."

Anonymous said...

It appears as though the "Jet Set" Palm Springs house is one of the Southridge homes in Palm Springs. Only 19 homes were built on this gated street, which winds up from the valley on the side of the Smoke Tree Mountain. Bob and Delores Hope's "saucer" home is the most well known residence on the street.

Anonymous said...

Dick Whitman is definitely off to see the person he sent the book to in the first episode. I agree with others that he'll see a child there as well. But I don't think it's his--I think it's Peggy and Pete's.

Anonymous said...

just one thought as we move to the close of the season.....if history is any guide, buckle up for next week's episode as we all know the Sopranos style formula is to have the most action in the penultimate episode, and not the season finale.
Should be fun next Sunday night!

Capcom said...

Great recap and comments! :-)

Yes, the ick factor was way up on the Willie and Joy relationship. It's a lot like the father/daughter thing between David Niven and Jean Seberg in "Bonjour Tristesse". She also called her father by his first name, and they jet-setted and free-loved around the world. I laughed at how Willie's group was traveling with their personal "Dr. Feelgood" too. On another blog there was talk about Don perhaps being drugged. I can see that possbility, not that they did it intentionally, just that he drank the "koolaid" that they were drinking.

Tx for the Palm Springs info Anon. I love the Hope house. At first I thought that the jet-setters were at Sinatra's old house, but the pergola near the pool was all wrong.

Anonymous said...

I am positive that Don WAS drugged when he fell, then the needle...and the big question I have...when Don looked at his glass there seemed to be a grainy substance on the inside, drugs of course, but what kind...this is blowing mind to try and figure this out. HELP ! I am 61 so I know there were plenty of people like the "jet-set-people" in that time, the first real drug users of the upcoming time, Beats maybe or just rich (insert name of choice here) type people. But I am convinced that Don was being dosed and High Def made it very clear there was something in the glass.

Marc said...

Folks, folks, what if it's not Dick Whitman's wife--

What if it's Don Draper's?

You know, the real Don Draper.

Mo Ryan said...

Dick Whitman is definitely off to see the person he sent the book to in the first episode. I agree with others that he'll see a child there as well. But I don't think it's his--I think it's Peggy and Pete's.

Wow. Yes, that would make a ton of sense. I also agree that the tone of that phone conversation was too casual to be to an ex-spouse, or anyone whom Dick had just hobo'd out on.

As Cervantes said -- very interesting thought -- I think Don probably befriended the real Don Draper's friend, the woman from the car dealership. And that relationship allowed "Don" to go from car sales to ascending the ad-world ladder.

Just speculation, I haven't seen previews, promise.

Yeah, I'd guess disdain is the wrong word for how Joan treats Smitty - I guess she is just thrown off by his boldness. Not that she regards that as a bad thing, it's just that Joan likes people to stay in the categories she puts them in. Smitty is in the "creative weirdo" category, so his attempts to cross over into the "date bait" category just strike her as ... strange. Yet it's not outside the realm of possibility that she's respond to his confidence and boldness.

Agreed that next week's episode might be really interesting. Wonder if they'll skip past the Cuban Missile Crisis or if that situation will be one of the factors that speeds Don back to his family.

I so want more than two more episodes.

I still think Glen-Betty was more creepy, but there was for sure a creepy vibe (under the surface) with Willi and Joy. At first I thought he was a high class pimp, trying to get Don interested in his women. Then it turns out they're all "family," but a family that's apparently not opposed to sharing bed partners. uuugh. Not sure why it didn't creep me out as much as Betty-Glen, but yeah, there was some ick there, but perhaps more under the surface.

Skip said...

very interesting. a few random thoughts:

note the vagabond set's reaction at the Mexican dinner when Don announces that members appear to be independently wealthy. They react harshly and quickly change the subject.

Also, Don plays the city game with gusto. He demonstrates his intelligence and familiarity (actual or vicarious) with exotic locales. This pleases the euroset and causes Joy to kiss him passionately. He has earned his keep with the group.

When Don uses the aqua colored rotary dial phone (we are just on the verge of touch tone being introduced; the wealthy Palm Springs set would likely be among the first adopters) he dials what seems to be a long string of numbers. Is he calling long distance vice locally?

Kennedy, the Cold War, and the possibility of nuclear holocaust seems to be increasingly visible. As others have noted, we are on the verge of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I suspect this is key.

Last episode, Pete discusses a string of companies (General Dynamics, Martin Marietta) expected to be present at the aerospace conference. I thought the timing was wrong, but I checked: both companies (and others) existed under those names by 1962. This episode, by contrast, includes an apparent inaccuracy. The Polaris submarine missile could not accommodate 14 MIRV warheads (it was far too small) and consequently was never considered for such. But, I suspect there is a point to be made by the conference briefer, who says something like "2/3 of the proposed warheads will get through" Soviet defenses, notwithstanding Khrushchev's bluster. Do fractions (or partial solutions) play a role in the series?

JustJoan said...

I was also struck by Don's writing the address in the back of the Faulkner book, when he had a little notebook to hand, out of which he'd gotten the phone number. Also, he tore out the final page of the novel, not allowing an ending for poor Joy on yet another level.

Oh, Karen, this, even more than the Dick Whitman identification, made me sit up in protest. That is just cruel, especially to a Joy who was nothing but good to and for him! But it made me laugh as well, because I immediately flashed on Peter Cook, as the Devil in the first, best version of Bedazzled, methodically ripping out the last pages of a carton of Agatha Christie mysteries.

Capcom said...

Right Anon, it did look like there was some serious residue on Don's glass in the pool. They were drinking from those blue bubble-filled rustic hand blown glasses made in Mexico, but there was an odd ring around the glass near the lip. Either it was drug residue or they don't wash the glasses.

It would indeed be very interesting to meet someone who knows Dick. Especially if this person might know about his Don-life too. Someone who's the bridge across his two lives.

Wordnerd said...

Again, I'm not done reading all the comments, so I may well repeat things that have already been said, but here goes.

First, Sal's envy/sadness at Kurt's coming out was palpable. That scene right there is 'best supporting actor'-material. I don't think Kurt has anything to gain by outing Sal -- but I do think he will approach Sal and suggest that he be true to himself.

The Wille-Joy business has a very high ick factor. I hope this is the last we see of those folks. They did not ring true to me and the whole segment came across as a bad dream sequence. However, tearing out the last page of that book has loads of implications, all of them genius.

I noticed, too, that Don's arm pointed a different way. I think that's his Dick Whitman personality, which I think has been trying to break through more and more.

Great review, Alan. Ordinarily, I draw my own conclusions and then log on here to see what you and everyone else say. But last night? I was logging on before the credits.

cgeye said...

One more idea for who Dick Whitman was contacting: His bank.

If Don had that much money to buy off his brother, then why not a stash of cash just in case he had to completely bug out of his life?

It wouldn't have been so hard to fake ID that he already had, and change the DOB so there'd be no correlation between his past stats and any deceased data the Army would send around.

Capcom said...

Thanks for looking up the info on the ICBMs/SLBMs Skip, I was wondering about that. And yes, those companies existed back then, they also mentioned Aerojet General who my father worked for at that time, beginning in 1961. CA was all about jet and rocket manufacturing back then.

Debbie said...

I was wondering if Don saying how old he is (36) is significant? I'm trying to remember where on here was a post about Don's trip to the doctor and wondering if he was saying he was a lot older than he actually was.
So, if Don's 36, and it's 1962, then he got out of the Korean War when he was 24-26. While I don't think he's going to see a left-behind wife and child in Calif., it's clear that Don probably established some sort of life as Dick, and that begs the question, what exactly was that life like?
And what is the big abuse that Don suffered as Dick?
Oh, and here's another thought on Don's whole blonde-brunnette complex. Obviously, he prefers the mysterious dark-haired women, but he married a blonde...Could that be Dick trying to emmulate the real Don's life (if the blonde woman in the dealership was actually the real Don Draper's wife)? It'd be furthering the Mad Men theme that none of these characters know how to be an original human being, but instead just immitate one.

lizriz said...

I think the energy with Willie and Joy and Don was that if Don went with them, Willie and Joy would want to share him.

JustJoan said...

One tiny thing I loved -- Sal reading Playboy at the Right Guard meeting. And of course Bryan Batt had a perfect look of mild "wtf" on his face in that little moment. Obviously Sal reads it for the articles...

And the late, great and extremely gay Robert L. Green, Playboy's long-time men's fashion editor, would have understood Sal perfectly.

About Peggy's need for a good gay friend in her life, hair-dressing skills or no, I agree and also agree that the timing is perfect. I came to New York City fresh from college in 1962, and my first job was at a large bookstore chain. Virtually all the help were out of work actors who preferred the job because they could arrange time off for auditions. All of my first friends in New York were drawn from my co-workers and about 75% were gay. It was a total immersion education, and I only wish everyone could have such a fabulous fringe benefit. Peggy is lucky to have Kurt in her life right now. I hope he has more than Dylan tickets and a new bob in store for her.

lizriz said...

Another quick thought about the Palm Springs people... I live in L.A., and they ring plenty true to me.

Darren said...

I feel silly posting this, but who else am I going to tell?

I just received a gift from my mom of a Samsonite suitcase that she bought to take to college in 1960 that has been sitting in storage for at least 35 years.

Exactly like the one left on the doorstep!!
I excitedly relayed this info to my wife this morning and she just looked at me funny...

Anonymous said...

Loved the foreshadowing when Pete was buying time with the clients waiting for Don to arrive (and I'm paraphrasing") ...

"Let's give it a few more minutes. I think Don had to make a phone call."

Anonymous said...

Aren't the European characters straight out of the Fellini's "La Dolce Vita?" They're the international idle rich that live life for instant kicks and to stave off boredom. Don is getting a taste of their unconventional lifestyle but the flip side is that they dump people after the novelty wears off - which is usually quick. Don should get out while the gettings good.

Capcom said...

LOL, Anon, "Come play with us and we'll take care of you, until we use you all up."

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the architecture buffs- great work on the Neutra, LA!

re: Sal reading Playboy at the Right Guard meeting. OT: i think Playboy was a pioneer in wanting homosexuality decriminalized, etc. Not that Sal would skim Playboy for its human rights standing.

Kurt coming out to the office in 1962? Unlikely. Someone like Quentin Crisp was out back then, but young men did not follow his example.

the original Dr Feelgood was Max Jacobson, who dispensed his shots of B12 and speed to the Kennedys and friends with glee

emeraldliz said...

I agree that the crack in the glass image was heavy handed.

The only note I made on all the nearly nude chicks was as a counterpoint to all the dressing/layers of shielding they've built up so far. Now it's all coming off.

The first thing I thought when Joy jumped on Don/Dick was "yea, give her the full Draper treatment" In the non monogamous nomad sect, his virtues will be far more known than in the NYC wealthy.

I wouldn't be surprised if Dick has a previous wife or serious person, but I have to say I'm skeptical about kids as well.

I also don't think the blonde from the car dealership has anything to do here. She was from Don's past, not Dicks. I'm not saying it's not possible, just not what I'm expecting.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point re: the nudity. It really stood out how overdressed Don was when he first got there.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that January Jones voice coming from Joy?

Suzanne said...

I think the season will end with the Kennedy assassination.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think the season will end with the Kennedy assassination.

Given that Kennedy was assassinated late in 1963 and the current season is taking place in 1962, I doubt it.

emeraldliz said...

Though they might start next season right after the assassination, since they started this one right after the inauguration with everyone watching that "inside the white house" program.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Though they might start next season right after the assassination, since they started this one right after the inauguration with everyone watching that "inside the white house" program.

This season began in 1962; Kennedy was inaugurated in 1962. Jackie had already been First Lady for more than a year by the time of that TV special.

emeraldliz said...

OK so I suck :) My point on next opener still stands!

LA said...

As usual, I'm enjoying everyone's thoughts and comments. Many thanks. There are always such stimulating ideas here.

JustJoan said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. You don't suck, you just are a little off in the tempo department. I think the point of the gap in M M's seasonal timeline is not to catch the milestones we know, but rather the reverberations that follow those milestones. If the characters discuss current events, it seems more likely that it is the intimate and iconic, as in the death of Marilyn Monroe, rather than the the universal, earth-shattering event. And, too, perceptions taken in hindsight are often colored by everything that has gone since; in contrast, these people experience their lives as they happen.

questionista said...

That version of "Misirlou" is by Martin Denny. It's on "Mondo Exotica" from the Ultra Lounge series.

Great episode, as always!

shara says said...

@Karen (up top): I'm pretty sure that that was Indigo Montoya who said "I do not think it means what you think it means", not Andre the Giant. . .

The Professor said...

Any more comments on whether Don was dosed the entire time he was with the "jet setters", dosed of course meaning drugged.

Karen said...

@Shara--you're right; it WAS Inigo Montoya! (I just had the accent in my head, and went with the person with the natural, not affected, accent...)

Sandra McPherson said...

Some random details that stay in my curiosity: I watched this episode with a chef who said the nomads were drinking out of jelly glasses and perhaps canning jars—not exactly crystal. And aren't there too many multilingual vagabonds to make a simple point about free love and rootlessness? Could their travels be supported by some political or industrial organization? Did Carlos(?) say in Spanish about Don, "Is he someone important?"

Mathis's affirmative gay voice was beautiful to end the episode on.

Jane's "poem" in bed was godawful; not in O'Hara's league by any means.

Why is Don getting less and less selective about the women he beds with? Compare careless Joy to marvelous Rachel.

Could Kurt be Danish or any number of other nationalities? I love his limited vocabulary in English: only the necessities, and affirmative ones at that—"good" and "neighbors."

R.A. Porter said...

@Sandra McPherson, I don't think Don's getting less selective at all. Joy and Rachel represent two different female ideals Don's always trying to find. That's why Joy sounds just like January Jones and gazes at him with the same worshipful look and why all those Rachel-like women are intelligent, independent, and unafraid to assert themselves.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that nomadic Europeans were actually cold war spies? After all, they just happened to be in CA when the aerospace convention was going on. Also, when "Willi" first approached Don, he asked whether Don was an astronaut (or something). Could they have deliberately targeted him (and then drugged him), hoping to get some aerospace secrets out of him? When Don asked the nomadic Euro's if they were all wealthy, they all shut up - perhaps that was because they didn't want to reveal the true financial backers of their nomadic lifestyle.

And is it possible that Don is actually an undercover spy for the CIA? Perhaps the military encouraged him to change identities during or shortly after the war? In the teaser for next week, they showed Don at some sort of military base (there were sailors on the background) - perhaps he was going to see a military liason or spy supervisor. So when he called and said "this is Dick Whitman", perhaps he was using his real name when calling in to his supervisor in the spy world. Another thought: Could he have been a spy for the Soviets? (I thought of Kevin Costner's character in "No Way Out"). What do you all think?

ascot said...

Alan - fyi -

JFK's inauguration was in 1961, not 1962

Mo Ryan said...

Don drank out of a cup on every Palm Springs scene except the last one. In the last one, he "woke up" literally and figuratively. In the PS scene before, he'd eyed the cup strangely, seeing either a crack in it or a residue (I didn't spot the residue myself, but I think the fact that someone from the Nomad tribe gives him a drink in every other scene may signify something).

Not sure which I enjoy more at this point, the episodes or everyone's interesting take on them.

Only two more! aaaagh.

Capcom said...

Thanks for the music info, Questionista!!!

Brian said...

Hey, do we know what year Don and Betty tied the knot? He assumed Draper's identity in '50 or '51, sold cars and met the mysterious blonde in '52... if young Sally is about 8 years old, then she'd have been born around '54, so the marriage was before then. That's at least two years of mystery time...

It is possible/likely that that blonde was the recipient of this episode's phone call (and the O'Hara book). It's ALSO possible that Dick Whitman was married, and that his estranged wife is the recipient. But these are two parallel, distinct possibilities: the blonde could not have been Dick's wife, because as others have noted, she was looking for Don (as in the real Don), not for Dick. My money is on the former possibility (and that the blonde was probably the real Draper's wife), because as Mo notes, giving Dick Whitman an abandoned wife/kids would be awfully melodramatic. But who knows.

Jimmy said...

Credit goes to my sister on noticing this detail:

Anyone think there's anything at all to the fact that Duck's secretary who Joan found to have "stepped away" was also named Joy?

Brian said...

Oh! Wikipedia reveals that the title of the season finale will be "Meditations in an Emergency." This points to both a revelation as to the book's recipient and, to my mind, the Cuban Missile Crisis serving as the episode's backdrop (the CMC was the emergency; can't wait to see what the meditations will be...)

Jimmy said...

I forgot the continuation of my comment...

The secretary was named Joy, paired with the incident from a few eps ago where Don walks by another secretary and calls her the wrong name. He barely notices them in the office. It's plausible he could meet a young dolled up thing outside of work and not realize he walks by her everyday...

And also, if Pete really did recognize Willie...

Thoughts?

blogward said...

More nice foreshadowing when Duck, who entered as Roger sloshed booze into a (single) glass, offers Roger a cigarette and Roger says, 'What the hell'. Duck has his own 'what the hell' moment when the martinis come round.

I've FF'ed it too and January Jones definitely stands in as the two girls leave the bar.

Touch of 'The Swimmer' as the suitcase is left at the empty house.

I've played back Don's dialling on the phone, and the number is...

But here's a link to the page he wrote on. Doesn't look like 'Key Largo' - [IMG]http://i36.tinypic.com/vi36n8.jpg[/IMG]

Helene H. said...

Thoughts on some of the more interesting comments: I doubt that Don is a military spy - he ripped the dog tags off the real Draper's neck in a very spontaneous moment. I also do not think he has another wife and child, although the idea that the blonde from the car showroom became his benefactor and secret keeper and is the possible recipient of THAT phone call is intriguing. I also think that Smitty's coming on to Joan does not necessarily rule out the possibility that he's also gay.

Anonymous said...

what is the book everyone is talking about? I must have missed that episode.

Alan Sepinwall said...

what is the book everyone is talking about? I must have missed that episode.

At the end of the season premiere, Don sends a copy of Frank O'Hara's "Meditations in an Emergency" (which he saw a beatnik reading at a bar) to some mystery woman.

Redsmom said...

My impression of Smitty was that he was overcompensating. His, "More for me!", his cliche flirting with Joan, his cover for Curt, "He's Eurpean" and his touchy, Homos in advertsing comment all point to Smitty being just as gay as Curt, but, because he understands the reactions of the office, is not ready to come out.

I loved Don's drink order, "Old Fashioned," which he clearly appeared in his New York suit and hat beside the LA pool.

There was also a reworking of the Mad Men theme music in one of the last scenes that was cool.

I'm going to look up those foreign films to try to get more out of the episode.

Although I have thorouly enjoyed all the speculation here, I think whoever Don/Dick called will be a complete surprise and will reveal something we can't even guess right now.

star said...

Jimmy: you thought Duck's secretary's name was Joy. actually because I had closed captions, I realized her name is actually Joyce......

this episode like all others was definitely very thought provoking. I really enjoy watching, then reading the posts, then watching again and again....

I cannot wait to see who Don called. I think this is the same person possibly that he sent the book to and the only possibility so far is the blonde woman. she knew the real Don Draper and she knew that was not him.

I always wondered about the real Don Draper's family and how Dick got away with taking over his identity. wouldn't the family wonder what happened to him or claim his body if he died as Dick Whitman's family did? Don must have had some help there as well. the call he made seemed more formal than personal. could there be someone from the military that had a hand in the deception?

the blonde woman also seemed somewhat distant from the real Don Draper - remarking "you're not him ". not the reaction of a wife or lover. she didn't seem very outraged,she seemed curious. I could also see her helping him in some way. Don has a way of getting people to root for him even if he is wrong.

I find myself rooting for his character too and I am looking forward to learning more about his past. I also hope to see his return to Sterling Cooper and Betty. if season 1 is any indication, the next episode should include plenty of turning points. should be explosive......

Redsmom said...

And for some reason, I feel a visceral aversion to the idea that Dick/Don had to have help to make it from the car dealership to Madison Avenue. I want to think he was smart enough and crafty enough and enough of a mimic of other people's behavior to have made it on his own. I credit the show, itself for engendering such a strong feeling in me about that. Excellent characterization!

Mo Ryan said...

Touch of 'The Swimmer' as the suitcase is left at the empty house.

Nice - yeah. I can totally see that.

I think whoever Don/Dick called will be a complete surprise and will reveal something we can't even guess right now.

Yeah, I think the show's fully capable of doing that (and in a cool way, too). But then would we get to the end of the season without a single other reference to who that woman at the car dealership was? Would that scene just exist to tell us that someone was on to Don several years earlier?

I've been thinking about that "spy" line Don said at the dinner table. I don't think he's literally a spy. But isn't a lot of the show is about how good he is at going undercover? How good he is at assuming a new identity, which is a very spy-ish thing to do?

And now, to stretch the analogy to the painful point, maybe the spy wants to come in from the cold?

Steve Pick said...

I don't remember whether the book was definitely sent to a woman - I thought he just wrote something like "Thinking of you" didn't he?

I was struck that Joy resembled Sally Draper more than anybody else, and that the look she gave Don was very much like the look of adoration Sally gave him a few episodes back when he was shaving.

Hatfield said...

Ooh, way to make Joy go from hot to jail bait with that comparison right there. Well, she practically IS jail bait, but you know what I mean...

For everyone commenting on Don ordering and Old Fashion(ed?), while I agree it's a nice commentary on his style, it's been his drink for a while. I couldn't quote you the specific episodes it's come up in if my life depended on it, but search your feelings; you know it to be true.

This show is silly good, and I must say that I'm already mourning the end of this season. I'm not completely sure I'm following what Duck's doing, but it seems like he's playing both sides against the middle a little bit, with the plan for him to wind up on top, and that basically kicks ass. I've liked him from the beginning, even though Don doesn't, and I kinda hope he sticks it to Roger and Bert. Wait, he ditched his dog. Ok, so I hope after that he gets run over by a bus

Britni said...

From that image, the address that Don wrote on the page appears to be:

1604 N. Station (or Staron) Pl

jana said...

Hey Alan,
Do my eyes deceive me, or are you a mere shadow of your former self? Based of course on your tiny thumbnail picture for your blog.

Chris said...

Is he calling his mother? He was born to a whore, but do we know if he ever sought her out?

Just a thought.

Helene K. said...

Crazy episode. Last week's was dull by comparison but had seemingly added layers to the onion.

I was too young to remember but know from my ex-husband that in the early 60's telephone calls were not made like today, i.e., 1-212-555-1234; an outside area call required an operator, so it seems strange that the continuity wouldn't have picked up on this.

I initially thought he was callingn an attorney's office after seeing the small boy and hearing something about shared custody, but also agree with the earlier comment that he probably saw his young self.

I'm dying now that I know there are only two shows left this season lol.

I agree with the majority that Duck will implode prior to any M&A of SC.

I thought it funny to see someone who is normally so uptight and "New York" to immediately adopt the California lifestyle. The group is creepy though, nonetheless, and I'm sure he'll get away from them in time to learn how bad they are.

With the exception of The Decemberists piece at the beginning of the one episode, the music is so fitting.

Thanks, Alan, for this blog. I've read it religiously this season and post the link on Twitter and other SM sites to share with other Mad Men fans.

Willow said...

Dick's mom died, didn't she? I thought that's how he ended up with the ultra-Christian step-mom.

I've been wondering since the scene w Don at the doctor's office if Don/Dick is really 36, or if Dick aged himself to fit the real DD age. I got the impression that the real DD was a few years older than Dick during the war flashbacks. It would make sense for Dick to assume Don's age as well as the name, to fit the military records.

Like many others have said, I thought the scenes with the Jet Set were surreal, captivating, and odd. I think it likely he was drugged. Sometimes Don looks like a little boy getting a special treat, as when he played the name game.

My fav character this epi had to be Pete. Loved his little double takes and comments.

Can't wait to see who Dick called. My money is on someone totally new and not an abandoned wife or someone from DD's life.

emily said...

i haven't read through all the comments, so this might have already been addressed:

what don writes down in "the sound and the fury" is not a name, it's an address. i watch the episodes via season pass on itunes, so after pausing it, as far as i can make out, it says "1224 n stanton pl."

because you KNOW they'd never give us so much as a name! can't wait for next week's episode! i am really hoping that this person that don is meeting is the same person he sent the book to--i am dying to find out who that was!

Anonymous said...

Great Episode! a perfect example of duality set in 1960's. All the scenes on the west coast have a relaxing, escaping..lose yourself atmosphere. Don reverts back to a Dick Whitman attitude and persona. Reliving his hobo mentality. The bossa nova music really transforms you to the setting of 1962. The east coast scenes are darker, direct, and agitating. Kurt closet opening, Sal's flush of emotions. Duck's calculating ambitions, and Peggy's embarrassment all serve to expose the inner secrets and weaknesses of each cast member. Even Joan seemed out of her powerful self, to a much younger man no less. The second season's tensions are finally starting to show signs of an eruption or a total meltdown!

John I said...

The thing that I find curious is about the family and history of the real Don Draper, and of whom would know that Dick ain't him. The woman in the dealership is the only hint of his past life we've seen, and I would suspect the person he called has at leas something to do with that world.

The whole impostor plot reminds me of a great article in the New Yorker, profiling a con man who pretends to be other people, and how he preys on them wanting to believe:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/08/11/080811fa_fact_grann?currentPage=all

And not to over analyze the music, but the lyrics to Miserlou have to do with an exotic taboo love, which is just about right for Don and Joy.

Debsa said...

'What if he has another family socked away somewhere - a family he just up and left?'

I totally agree, it seems to me there is a longing in Don and it could be a second family.

Pamela said...

I'm surprised that some folks think the call Dick/Don makes could be to a love interest. Since he gives both his first and last name, rather than "this is Dick..." I think it's someone who he has not been romantically involved with. It's more of a business-like relationship--yet obviously personal. The gal from the car dealership --is the most likely candidate.

California came across as a hot house where clothes come off, don't arrive, or just aren't needed. Duck's business deal was clearly personally motivated. And if there a premium to be paid for Sterling Cooper--Roger is now set up to need lots of $. Will be interesting to see the various motivations as the deal evolves. Burt needs a new painting...

Anonymous said...

Gatsby all over the place, film and novel. At the end of "Jet Set" the song "What'll I Do" played. Same song in the film. Gatsby is by the pool as is Don/Dick. His mansion is left empty as is the Draper residence. The acknowledgement of the name Whitman; Gatsby's dad says the real name is Gatz. Willie keeps referring to Don as beautiful; Meyer Wolfsheim refers to Jay Gatsby as nice to look at. A house full of strangers partying by the pool. Can't be a coincidence. I think we have to have a Dan Cody moment in the show; a time when Dick is lost and Don is created. For Gatsby, it was when he re-emerged from the water on Cody's boat; a baptism or rebirth. We keep getting bits and pieces. I can't wait to fill in the blanks, but at the same time, I like the blank spaces and the guesses. Once you know it, you know it. No more fun; a let down.

Pandyora said...

What a fantastic episode. As a military wonk, I especially loved the aerospace briefing. It accurately captured the over-the-top missile-swinging that one often sees at these briefings.

In terms of the substance, the MIRV was indeed a hot topic in 1962, largely because of proposed Soviet anti-ballistic missile defenses (ABMs). In hindsight, the Soviets never really had much of an ABM capability; they deployed a rudimentary system around Moscow which would have been easily overwhelmed. But the idea of a Soviet ABM was a useful way to sell big budgets to skeptical members of Congress.

@ Skip: "The Polaris submarine missile could not accommodate 14 MIRV warheads (it was far too small) and consequently was never considered for such."

You are correct that the Polaris never could accommodate 14 MIRVs, but the Polaris A-3 did have 3 MIRVs. And the subsequent Poseidon C-3, which utilized modified Polaris launch tubes, did have a standard 14 MIRV package.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who was reminded of "The Riches" by the Euro-nomads? A little more high-class maybe, but not all that different. Seems like the Hobo code to me...

Juanita's Journal said...

"If it's uncomfortable to spend an hour with Don acting so quiet and passive, it at least matches the glimpses we got of him as Dick Whitman last season. Don Draper is master of all he surveys; Dick Whitman was a coward who pissed himself after a battle and tried to abandon his family to avoid getting into trouble at work. Don Draper is in charge at meetings; Dick Whitman collapses from heat exhaustion. (In a shot that I assume required a special kind of camera rig.)"


I think you're making the same mistake that Dick Whitman has been making for the last twelve years of his life. You are compartmentalizing his character.

Don Draper has not existed since 1950. All of those personality aspect that have been on display by Dick Whitman - the good and the bad - have been Dick Whitman. Whether he was the "master of his domain" or "the coward". Dick Whitman is all of that and more. Don Draper is nothing more than an empty name and someone who died in Korea, 1950.

Juanita's Journal said...

"Another quick thought about the Palm Springs people... I live in L.A., and they ring plenty true to me."


Then Palm Springs must be filled with foreign born travelers who flit from one place to another. Because Joy and her bunch were definitely not typical Californians.

cinnette said...

I'd be surprised if the person Don called was another wife -- not because of who he is, but because of how he said it. If it was someone as familiar as a wife, no matter how long ago he could have left her, would "this is Dick" not suffice? He wouldn't need the formality of his whole name with someone like that -- no?

Or I could be just reading too much into it, I s'pose.

Mark Madel said...

I'm not sure why many people keep calling the Palm Springs group 'creepy', etc, or assuming they drugged Don or something ridiculous like that.

They're just part of the idle rich - they've existed since ancient times (the Romans had them) to modern times (Paris Hilton, etc). As with any subset of humanity, there are all kinds of people within the group - fascinating, boring, etc. You can't paint all of them with the same brush.

The questions that some judgmental people should be asking themselves are: would you be similar to them if you were fabulously wealthy? And would you like to hang out with them if given the chance?

Daniel said...

When Don signed the book in the season premiere, he only signed his initial, "D." Ambiguous enough that it could mean Dick or Don...

Mark Madel said...

P.S. Don's not looking at a residue in his glass; he's looking at a crack that runs straight down the middle - clearly visible in high-def - an imperfection in the midst of all that opulence.

Whiskey said...

Excellent insights from everyone. I'll try to keep mine brief and non-repetitive.

* I think the disjointed feeling some people got from last week's ep and this week's is intentional -- we're supposed to feel as disjointed as Don does, as his Don/Dick personas battle for control of his actions, his world, his reality

* loved the comment re: the nuclear warhead presentation being the dark echo of Don's family slideshow in "The Wheel". Something was nagging at me during that scene and I couldn't put my finger on it but that's it, and it slaps Don in the face with the urgency of the "Carpe Diem" undercurrent that is critical to the hobo lifestyle.

* I've known plenty of people like those aimless Europeans, they were around in the 60's when I was a child and still in the 80's when I attended NYU with some of their children. I did wonder for a while if they were legit Eurotrash, or if they were grifters pretending... but I think their place in the ep was to help move along the Don/Dick conflict, so I was game for whichever option turned out to be true. For example: Willie getting in bed with his daughter & Don and approving of their union stands in great contrast to last week's ep with Betty's dad pawing her (due to dementia) and making Don feel like he's unworthy of his "princess". Other contrasts include Joy's full acceptance of her father's frank sexuality and his relationship with Rocky vs. Betty's attitude towards her stepmom, and someone else has already mentioned the lack of clothing in CA and specifically in Palm Springs which I couldn't help contrasting to the formality of the group gathered in PA last week. Oh, and yes they were most definitely all sauced/high/something and I suspect Don fainted because between the heat and whatever he was given to drink his body had to hit the reset button.

* I agree that Don's reaction at the sight of the sad little boy was a throwback to himself, not Bobby. Don's relationship to his children is so tenuous and shallow...

* I suspect that the person Don called is the mystery blonde from the car dealership. I didn't think he'd written a name down (since he knows who he's calling) so I figured it was an address. (I was also appalled at him ripping out the last page of the book, even as I appreciate the symbolism of the act) Thank you to whoever posted the address for the rest of us, as I don't have a big and/or HDTV. I'm surprised no one else looked it up but I did, since I figured it was a local address to the LA area (I too noticed the lack of an operator request when he made the telephone call). The address exists in Long Beach, CA and thru Google maps I got a street view that jibes: nice little bungalows from the 40's - 50's. So it'll be interesting to see what happens next week but my bet is that he'll still be in the LA area and he'll be meeting up with a blonde who knew the real Don Draper and knows the Dick Whitman story.

* I'm also hoping the talk about ICBM's was a prelude to the Cuban Missile Crisis, I've been looking forward to seeing the characters live through that part of American history and I'll feel really cheated if we don't get that.

* Pete is such a dork. He uses his mother's name to introduce himself to a man with a title, because in his East Coast world the Dyckman name is the closest thing there is to nobility. And Willie just ignores him, heh. Then the girls at the pool ignore him too because without his suit and his Mad Ave cachet he's just a skinny, pasty, insignificant little man. No wonder he didn't like CA, bwahahahahahahahaha!!! I was disappointed we didn't get more of "Don & Pete take LA", because I was hoping to see more of the tension in that relationship, on a personal and professional level. I think we'll see Pete try to use Don's absence to position himself with Duck & gain his favor while Duck is positioning himself to be Don's boss. It'll be interesting to see if that goes as well as it did last season when Pete tried to out Don to Cooper and the old man.

* hubby and I howled when Kurt "came out", we had to pause the show and compose ourselves. When I replayed the scene, I was then able to focus on Sal (brilliant performance!!! he needs an Emmy) and try to imagine the complexity of emotions he'd be experiencing as the younger man does what he couldn't bring himself to.

* it was interesting to see Duck morph into the Alpha male he'd need to be in order to survive in the Mad world. He's been playing a somewhat simpering 2nd-in-command to Don, so it was bittersweet to see him baring his teeth and jockey for power & control even as I know that he's emboldened by the alcohol that will probably be the end of him & his career.

I try not to think about there only being TWO eps left in the season... I am so addicted to this show, to the way it makes me think about so many things, such as the complex layers of human behavior. It's like a great tiramisu: (not the mousse-y kind, the really expertly made kind) so many rich layers, so much complexity, each part can stand on its own but when put together deftly the depth of flavors is something sublime. The writing, direction, and acting on this show are just so first rate, it makes me sad there isn't more on TV like it.

Maura said...

Gatsby all over the place, film and novel. At the end of "Jet Set" the song "What'll I Do" played. Same song in the film. Gatsby is by the pool as is Don/Dick. His mansion is left empty as is the Draper residence. The acknowledgement of the name Whitman; Gatsby's dad says the real name is Gatz. Willie keeps referring to Don as beautiful; Meyer Wolfsheim refers to Jay Gatsby as nice to look at. A house full of strangers partying by the pool. Can't be a coincidence. I think we have to have a Dan Cody moment in the show; a time when Dick is lost and Don is created. For Gatsby, it was when he re-emerged from the water on Cody's boat; a baptism or rebirth. We keep getting bits and pieces. I can't wait to fill in the blanks, but at the same time, I like the blank spaces and the guesses. Once you know it, you know it. No more fun; a let down.

Nice breakdown of the moments. I've always thought of Don as Jay Gatsby. And I can see him ending up just as tragic a figure. (OK, not an original thought, but mine nonetheless :) )

I was very unsettled by this episode. It felt like a fever dream, which isn't always a bad thing. But I hate the idea of Don going down a path that might destroy him. I hate what Duck is trying to do to him. (Although I'm not feeling quite the same sympathy for Roger.I realize I'm being reductive, but what an idiot.)

But I think this has to happen. He has to own up to who he is and what he's done. Otherwise, he'll be running all of his life and will end it floating face down in a swimming pool.

Like Peggy told her mom (or was it Anita?) back in the second episode, she doesn't really care about the Church -- "It doesn't mean the same thing to me that it does to you" -- and just goes to appease her family.

That's an important point, Alan. She's just being dutiful daughter. I imagine she gets nothing out of going to Mass, but it's a big enough deal to her family that she's willing to go to make them happy.

Peggy's such a weird mix of naive and worldly. She's a savant in some ways, as if she has insight she's not even aware of. Things just roll out of her mouth.

She might have been a little put off by Kurt's coming out in front of all those people, but I don't think she was horrified by it. If she were horrified, she would have broken the date, I think. She's not reluctant to say what she thinks.

I felt bad for her because she had to deal with the very modern problem of falling for a gay man. Every woman I know has gone through that.

Juanita's Journal said...

Pete is such a dork. He uses his mother's name to introduce himself to a man with a title, because in his East Coast world the Dyckman name is the closest thing there is to nobility. And Willie just ignores him, heh. Then the girls at the pool ignore him too because without his suit and his Mad Ave cachet he's just a skinny, pasty, insignificant little man. No wonder he didn't like CA, bwahahahahahahahaha!!!


At least Pete did his job, which is more than I can say for Don.

Anonymous said...

Could Don be calling a shrink? His previous advice to Peggy while she was recovering in the "hospital" was appropriate. Perhaps he's had professional help previously.

There is a North Station in Boston and a North Staion Plaza in Great Neck.

Brandon Nowalk said...

Mo: Thank you for pointing out The Spy Who Came in from the Cold! All through Duck's scene with his old British friends I kept thinking about Alec Leamas: A washed-up alcoholic working as a double agent to negotiate one side's victory, not to mention meeting over drinks to discuss plans. Things didn't turn out too well for Leamas, and I have a feeling things won't turn out too well for Duck either.

Jeremiah said...

According to the credits for "The Gold Violin" (where this mystery woman shows up) her name is Anna, played by Melinda Page Hamilton.

Anonymous said...

I apologize if this was brought up in another comment, but I'm afraid that I ran out of steam at about comment 80 and have jumped to the end to post this.
In your analysis you mention that Don (or Dick I should say)pissed himself after coming under fire. My memory was that he was wet from spilled fuel that the real Don Draper thought was piss. The suggestion surprised him causing him to drop his lighter which caught the stream that had wet him. I don't have access to the episode to check so I could be remembering incorrectly.

cgeye said...

I'm just thinking what it took to get Duck kicked out of London... it's near the time of the Profumo / Christine Keeler scandal, so it must have been some impressive debauchery, considering what hard drinkers his former co-workers were.

Capcom said...

Thanks for the info on Miserlou, JohnI. I looked it up and it has an interesting history. :-)

dez said...

And now that Sal sees exactly how Ken and others perceive homosexuals, I'm sure he'll go even deeper underground.

He'll probably get on the baby bandwagon to further prove how un-gay he is.

I think Duck's going to go down in flames spectacularly and I hope he at least singes Roger (if not burns him) when he does.

Tully Moxness said...

Alan,

I think it was a typo, but Jack Kennedy was inaugurated in January, 1961 and not 1962. The Kennedy's had been in office for over a year when the TV special aired.

Trust me, I'm a Jeopardy! champion who made his money on a Warren G. Harding Daily Double question.

Stephen said...

Could Don have been calling the hobo or the Greek copywriter he worked under early in his career -- both had a great influence on him and he may have remained in some contact with either of them over the years and perhaps gone back to either for advice.

LA said...

Maybe this is a stretch, but Joy does mention she went to Pembroke when her father had a house near there. Perhaps Pete really DOES recall Willy from Newport. Maybe Willy's living off some of that Dyckman money that Pete's father "spent on strangers."

It's a long-shot, I realize, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. Willy wore an uncomfortble expression when Pete introduced himself.

sean said...

Kennedy was elected in 1960 and inaugurated in 1961.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Kennedy was elected in 1960 and inaugurated in 1961.

Yeah, that was a typo on my part.

medusa said...

Have to run to work before finishing all of the comments, so not sure if it's been addressed, but in response to the suggestion that Don called his "other" wife, would he really say "Hi, it's Dick Whitman?" Wouldn't he say, "Hi, it's Dick?" Surely your own wife would know your last name - and even if she currently knows several men by the name of "Dick" it would be more natural for her to respond, "Dick who?" than for him to use his full name when in conversation with someone, who (from the tone of his voice and direction of the conversation) isn't super surprised to hear from him.

Maura said...

RE: Don's phone call at the end of the episode. It was a weird mix of personal and impersonal. He uses his full name, but then says "I'd love to see you", in an almost intimate tone. So, possibly (I won't even say "probably", what with my moratorium on assuming anything) someone he was very close to in the past, even someone he was romantically involved with, but hasn't seen or spoken to in a very long time. On a lighter note, the idea of Don using his full name to call a former lover made me think of MASH. Frank always signed his letters to his wife "Frank Burns".

As to whether Don was drugged, I re-watched that scene closely last night. I doubt they drugged him, unless everything was spiked. He was immediately given a drink, and it didn't look like anyone had time to spike it.

I'm willing to accept that he's merely taken up with the idle rich, which is disturbing enough, in my opinion.

wjm said...

For me, the Jet Set was more like the Wet Set. Wet as in soggy and dull. I never thought I'd say this, but even Pete's a more interesting conversationalist than that crew. Don ripped out the last page of S&F because he knows Joy won't ever get that far.

Smitty outing Kurt was the biggest laugh I've ever had on this show. That was a line worthy of "Earl."

And speaking of Kurt, Peggy's new GBF only did her half a favor. Those bangs are still all kinds of wrong.

Finally, what color was that jewel-toned dress Joan was wearing? Please help settle a husband-and-wife argu--discussion over whether it was royal blue or purple. One of us is clearly color-blind.

Anonymous said...

wjm, that's a tough call. The warm colors in the room plus Joan's orange-red hair color are complimentary colors and pulling her dress to appear purple. However, if you pause the scene and cover everything but the dress with white, I believe it tilts to royal blue. Everyone's right.

Anonymous said...

"in the early 60's telephone calls were not made like today, i.e., 1-212-555-1234; an outside area call required an operator, so it seems strange that the continuity wouldn't have picked up on this."


This didn't sound right to me as I recall that in the mid-sixties, long-distance calls within the US could be dialled directly(at least from the SF Bay area).

Here's what wikipedia has to say on the subject:

"In order to facilitate direct dialing calls, the NANP [North American Numbering Plan] was created and instituted in 1947 by AT&T, also known as the Bell System, the U.S. telephone monopoly. At first, the codes were used only by long-distance operators; the first customer-dialed calls using area codes did not occur until November 10, 1951, when the first directly-dialed call was made from Englewood, New Jersey to Alameda, California. Direct dialing was gradually instituted throughout the country, and by the mid-1960s, it was commonplace in most larger cities."

I'd guess that greater LA was one of the first areas to institute direct dialling.

sean said...

Question for Alan:

In your review you wrote "while discussing TV last night, Sal gets visibly upset at discussing "The Loretta Young Show," and then explains that he was nauseated by the ugly costumes and decor. "

I may be incredibly dense but could you(or anyone else) explain this to me? Why should Sal Romano become upset over an episode of the Loretta Young show?

Sean

Alan Sepinwall said...

I may be incredibly dense but could you(or anyone else) explain this to me? Why should Sal Romano become upset over an episode of the Loretta Young show?

It's a (stereotypically) gay thing. He was disgusted by the clothes and the decor.

For a broader example, go to about the 1:30 mark in this montage of scenes from "Airplane!" featuring Johnny the swishy flight controller.

Anonymous said...

"I was too young to remember but know from my ex-husband that in the early 60's telephone calls were not made like today, i.e., 1-212-555-1234; an outside area call required an operator, so it seems strange that the continuity wouldn't have picked up on this."

Actually, Don's dialing on the rotary phone was in perfect keeping with an early 60's long distance call that you could make without an operator's assistance. Back then, you didn't dial a '1' first, but just began with the three digit Area Code. Ma Bell knew it was the beginning of a long distance call, because the middle digit of all US Area Codes was either '0' or '1', as in '707', '213', or '212'. The down side to this approach was that no local exchange (the first three digits of the local number) could have a '0' or a '1' in its middle. As the US began to run out of telephone numbers with the cellular explosion, the phone company inserted the "dial 1 first" step to create many more numerical combinations.

In the scene, if you watch closely, you'll see Don pause after the first three numbers: he's finished the area code and is moving on to the local seven digit number.

I still look twice when I see new (mostly cellphone) numbers like 403-1234. Couldn't have happened in the 60's.

Anonymous said...

I really need to discipline myself to log in here MUCH earlier -- I just can't read all these posts, so I apologize for any redundancy -- but I love this blog.

A couple of points: this is indeed wild behavior for Don, but he's put on existentialist airs before (especially for Rachel) -- and I think the man had to seriously wonder at his having any hand in delivering the equivalent of ninety Nagasakis to the Russian civilian population. It might be enough to make ANY man wonder "What am I doing!?" and then be susceptible to escapism.

On a more childish note, I just liked the nasty little Don?Pete contrast. Paradise falls into Don's lap; Pete can't get any action going. Don frolics; Pete squirms. It's a kind of vengeance.

maggie-texas said...

> And speaking of Kurt, Peggy's new GBF only did her half a favor. Those bangs are still all kinds of wrong.

Warn your daughters! Bangs do not just GO AWAY. The only way to get rid of them is to wait while they grow out. And it can take forever.

Let us hope that Peggy's unfortunate bangs are gone by next season.

Girl Detective said...

Woo hoo, I just finished all 181 comments. Alan, I'm glad you mentioned Joy's voice, as I thought I was listening to Betty, too.

For the people who saw residue in the glass, could it have been salt?

Joan's dress will look different under different lights. It is royal blue with some violet in it--did anyone see the Olympics challenge on this season of Project Runway? There was a similar issue.

Does anyone else think that Christina Hendricks is wearing a wig? Those styles look way too torturous to be real.

And did anyone else have problems understanding some of the dialogue? There were a few passages that I rewound repeatedly and still couldn't decipher: what Kurt says to Smitty as he exits the room, the exchange between Kurt and Peggy after she asks if he wants to go with some guy, and what Joy says to Don about the couple arguing in the other room--something about "he ...she doesn't."

I didn't see Don's silence and observation as timid--I saw it as cautious and canny.

I also think he saw himself taken to an extreme with those people and it finally frightened him.

Bad Mommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

While I don't believe there is a relationship between the 'jet set' and Pete's father. Don's whole experience with them did bring to mind Pete's comment to his mother in "The Inheritance," where he said that his father spend all their money with strangers. Exactly who are strangers? This show has the ability to make us all feel disconnected from one another. Who knows Don? He doesn't even seem to celebrate a birthday. He was 36 at the beginning of the season and I has encompassed most of 1962. Does he arbitrarily change his age every year?

Capcom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Capcom said...

I think that Misirlou was played also. Here's a great site where you can hear the Martin Denny version that sounds like the one that was played (as well as other versions, and there's also a history of the song):

http://www.dinosaurgardens.com/archives/297

Colette said...

Did anybody notice that the last shot of Don on the couch and the opening credits shot is a mirror image of each other? It's def a Through the Looking Glass situation.

Nicole said...

Mad Men renewed for a third season! Yay! I just hope Weiner stays for it.

Toby said...

My first "Sinzhin" was from the early 70s: Laurence Olivier's use of "St. John Lord Merridew the great detective" in "Sleuth"

Molly Q said...

He was 36 at the beginning of the season and I has encompassed most of 1962. Does he arbitrarily change his age every year?

It's only late September/early October, so he has plenty of time to have a birthday. I know, as I've been obsessively watching the dates progress, waiting for my own birthday (yup, I was born in 1962.) Also, if memory serves, the season didn't start on January 1, so he could have been born in the beginning of the year and not turn 37 until early 1963.

Another thought though, if the show really will skip two years each season, we'll not see the characters react to JFK's assassination, only the effects.

kevingattaca said...

Am I the only person here who thinks that "Joy" is actually a spy ?.....
Or am I just going Crazy ??

K

Niffer said...

I'm a bit behind and didn't see this ep until last night. Two quick thoughts:

1. I replayed the bit, but to me it sounded as though Don said, "It's Steve Whitman." My brain tells me it must have been "Dick Whitman," but my ears indicate otherwise. Maybe I should turn the volume down on my iPod as the everyone else heard "Dick" instead of "Steve."

2. The Jet Set rang true to me, based on stereotypes I've held of the the 60's and California :) One thought that hit me was that Don was uncomfortable with the differences between the East Coast and the West Coast. California , as presented here, fit in with various stereotypes I picked up as someone growing up in New England. Everything seemed groundless. Maybe like Betty, Don needs something to ground him, and California was too out there.

Wouter said...

Anonymous said...
Why "The Sound and the Fury?" Are we supposed to draw parallels between the LA crowd and the ruined Compson family?


Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" is a classic example of a book with an 'unreliable narrator'. I think Don's entire adventure with the Jet Set can be an exaggeration, this would be the parallel. He is confronted with the ultimate seduction into a world of pure joy, hence the gorgeous young girl's name.

Anonymous said...

In the DVD commentary to this episode, Weiner mentioned books (plural) of photographs of jet setters/the beautiful people. It sounds like he says the author/photographer is "Slim Errins." I've spent several hours trying to identify the books with no luck. Any ideas?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Slim Aarons, not Errins.

chris said...

"Kurt's a homo."

Funniest throw away line of the show.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this episode for the first time. The Palm Springs stuff was so surreal--not necessarily in a bad way, but what it reminded me of most was Homer's sojourn on the Ship of Lost Souls in the Simpsons episode "Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble". With Don Draper as Homer Simpson, of course.

Anonymous said...

Just saw the episode. My personal name for it is "Don among the Lotus Eaters." It was fascinating. If you've ever hung out with idle Eurotrash, that's EXACTLY what they're like.

Agreed with many of your perceptive points, but peeing on yourself after you've almost been hit with a mortar does not make you a coward. I'll bet it happens quite a bit, although maybe not on TV.