Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mad Men, "The Fog": Waiting for my real life to begin

Spoilers for "Mad Men" season 3, episode 5, "The Fog," coming up just as soon as I steal a credenza...
"You have everything... and so much of it." -Peggy
I've been getting a sense from some critics and "Mad Men" fans that, while they've enjoyed season three in isolated moments, the lack of a major story arc akin to Duck vs. Don, or a secret to be revealed (Dick Whitman, Peggy's baby) has made this season feel oddly lacking compared to the first two.

I don't agree, but I at least understand where those complaints are coming from. And now that we've seen "The Fog" - an episode that had almost everything people have been asking for, and so much of it - it almost feels like the first four episodes were just an extended prologue, and the story of season three genuinely begins here.

In the space of an hour, we get the return of Duck and his attempt to woo Pete and/or Peggy away to a rival agency; more overt signals that Don is attracted to Sally's teacher (and, especially, vice versa); the conflict between Don and Lane Pryce coming to the forefront (and complicating the Peggy situation); and, of course, the birth of baby Eugene Scott Draper, whose arrival takes over the middle portion of the episode, in the same way he's about to take over Betty's life.

And with the birth of the new Gene (so soon after the death of the old one), the episode is as important for what doesn't happen as what does. Since the season began - really, since the final scene of season two - we've seen that Don and Betty are each making more of an effort at closeness in their marriage. Don's doing it because he realized in California he wanted to stop being a bystander in his own life. Betty, on the other hand, has been doing it for this baby. She doesn't want to be a single mother to an infant, and it's become increasingly clear over the past few episodes that Betty has convinced herself, as many expecting parents in problematic marriages do, that the kid is going to fix everything. But when she's under the influence of the anesthetic, she's able to articulate her true fears about Don: "He's never where you expect him to be!" And in director Phil Abraham's beautiful final shot of the episode, we see her stand in shadow in her bedroom, shoulders slumped, bracing herself to deal with a crying infant, and she realizes that nothing is better. (And with her father dead and Carla gone to be with her own family for a while, things will probably get worse; Gene may have been losing his marbles, but at least he was available to drive the kids to school when needed.)

Things will get particularly bad if Don acts on whatever is going on between himself and Sally's teacher, Suzanne Farrell. When Don stroked the grass while watching Miss Farrell dance barefoot on it at the end of "Love Among the Ruins," some of you speculated that he was attracted to her and trying to connect in the only way he could. I assumed that Don is too intensely private and compartmentalized to relieve himself where he eats, so to speak. But it's clear during their meeting at Sally's school (with Don managing to look anything but childlike while seated at a kid's desk), and especially during their phone conversation, that they have the same kind of connection Don had with Midge, and Rachel, and even Bobbi. Her proximity to his home life aside, Miss Farrell ticks all the boxes for Don - smart, independent and ahead of her time (she believes in a different, more nurturing model of childcare than what Don and Betty are familiar with) - and they both know what it's like to lose a parent (or in Don's case, two parents) at a very young age. And it's even clearer during that call that Miss Farrell wants to, and likely will, have a more private, clothing-optional parent-teacher conference with Don. What is it that Chekhov wrote? I think it went something like, "If you put a drunk woman with a half-buttoned blouse and a dangling bra strap on screen in episode five, she's going to have sex with Don Draper by episode nine." Right?

Because of the long birth sequence and the visit to Miss Farrell's classroom, we spend little time at Sterling Cooper this week, but Kater Gordon's script makes every second there count.

We knew from the MSG incident in "Love Among the Ruins" that Don and the Brits don't exactly see eye-to-eye, but the conflict becomes starker with Pryce's expense account witch hunt. Their refusal to do the MSG deal was absolutely penny-wise and pound foolish, and Pryce's "Pennies make pounds!" rant just confirms that they have no eye on the long-term, and that this will continue to cause problems between the two.

Yet this isn't a straight rehash of Don vs. Duck. For one thing, Don has become much more important at Sterling Cooper than ever before - work essentially stops while he's at the hospital, because too many decisions now require his approval - and Lane can only afford to fight the firm's star so much. For another, we see later in the episode that Lane (who, despite his background in finance, doesn't seem to resent Don's position in the same manner as Duck) isn't completely reactionary and inflexible, as he's willing to consider Pete's ideas about marketing across racial lines. As written, and as played by Jared Harris, Pryce still remains an enigma. While he could certainly turn out to be the Richie Aprile of this season, I hope Matt Weiner has something more complex - and, yes, long-term - in mind for the character.

But the tension over expenses in turn puts Don in a bad spot when Peggy comes to him to ask for a raise. (This is the second time this season where Peggy has unwittingly tried to get something from Don while his thoughts are occupied with a conflict with Pryce.) We know, of course, that everything Peggy says about equal pay for equal work is right - even as it's sadly amusing to hear her describe the concept as such a novelty - just as we know that Don doesn't have the juice right now to fight this battle for her. And what makes this scene - one of the best Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss have ever played together - sing is how well we understand each position, even as the characters are only somewhat aware of what the other is dealing with.

But the scene becomes more than just two characters talking past each other when Don catches Peggy's gaze lingering on the baby booties. Just as Peggy has seen the face of Dick Whitman, Don has seen Peggy suffering from post-partum delusions. These two know each other so well, and care about each other so much, that it hurts to see them at cross purposes like this. Though she doesn't intend to, Peggy cuts Don to his core when she points out how much she envies him - Don can't stand to hear that this life he finds empty seems so bountiful when viewed from the perspective of somebody who isn't really Dick Whitman - and Don in turn lets her down when he fails to make even a token attempt to get her more money.

And outside Don's office, Peggy comes face-to-face with Pete, another man she's wounded deeply, even if she doesn't understand how much she hurt him - or, for that matter, that Pete is capable of being so hurt. Though he's as petulant and childish with Peggy as he was with Duck when he stormed out of the recruiting lunch, when he says "Your decisions affect me," it speaks volumes. Now we understand why Pete and Peggy haven't had any significant one-on-one interaction this season, why Pete was so unhappy in the premiere to get so many accounts that Peggy works on, why he's so often working with Paul, and, for that matter, why he and Trudy suddenly seem like such a functional unit. Peggy had Pete's baby and gave it away, all without telling him, and while he likely wouldn't have been much help if she had told him, he feels betrayed. He wants no part of Peggy, which has driven him away from her at work and driven him towards Trudy at home.

I certainly can't imagine Pete going to work for Duck if Peggy's part of the deal, but given that meeting with Don, would Peggy go on her own? Knowing Duck, he's selling Peggy (and Pete) a bill of goods in order to hurt Don and Sterling Cooper (though if he had to poach two SC employees, these would be the right two). Should Peggy go to Grey, things likely wouldn't turn out to be any more enlightened than the frat house she'd be leaving. But it feels like she needs to leave the nest at some point, doesn't it?

Because most TV shows try to maintain the status quo at all costs, I could see some resistance to having Peggy or Pete jump ship to a rival firm. But if this season, and this series, are about showing how much things changed (and how much other things didn't) during the 60s, then does it really make sense to have all the same characters working at the same place for however much of the decade we cover? Isn't it only logical that someone like Peggy would try to branch out? Or that Ken would hop from agency to agency?

For that matter, wouldn't Don sooner or later get fed up with working under the authority of men who don't share his values and vision and consider opening his own shop? I don't know that you can plausibly bring everybody on board in that scenario, and I would hate to have to say goodbye to, say, Roger Sterling as a regular character. But Duck's attempt to sow discord at Sterling Cooper is just a reminder of how unlikely it is that all these characters will continue to work together for however long a period "Mad Men" ends up covering.

Because Weiner isn't generally in any kind of hurry to tell his stories, we'll get a few episodes a season where the plot is put aside for a long interlude, like the election party in "Nixon Vs. Kennedy," or Betty playing house with Glen Bishop in "The Inheritance," or the lengthy hospital sequence here. If "Mad Men" had been more plot-driven once upon a time, passages like these might feel self-indulgent, but from the start, the show has been as much about taking a snapshot of the era as it is about showing us the adventures of Don Draper, mad man.

The birth of the new Gene is important to the larger story of Don and Betty's marriage, but it's also a window into a very different time from the one we know. When my daughter was born, there wasn't even a question that I'd be in the delivery room to provide moral support (and snap a ton of photos once the baby came out). Don, on the other hand, is told "Your job's done" as soon as he drives Betty to the hospital, and he spends the entire birth getting drunk in the waiting room with prison guard Dennis Hobart, while Betty is left alone with a cheerfully condescending nurse who has no patience for the overgrown child in her delivery room. As Don was told by a nurse during Sally's birth, "Your wife's on a boat. You're on the shore."

Abraham's direction and January Jones' performance do a great job of capturing the fog of the title (which I initially assumed was referring to another trip to the London Fog plant in Baltimore). Cut off from her husband, under the influence of anesthesia, failing to get the sympathy of her own Nurse Ratched (or even to get a return call from her regular OB/GYN) as she experiences labor pains, Betty feels lost in a fog, disconnected from her body, and her life. Even after the baby comes, she's still mostly alone, forced to wave to the kids from the distance of her second-story hospital room window. And in the dream she has under the anesthesia's influence, she sees her late father, and her mother (comforting civil rights activist Medgar Evers, who was murdered on June 12, the day after Grandpa Gene died in the "Mad Men" universe) and is again infantilized by them both. Gene tells her she's a housecat with little to do, while her mother points to Evers and warns Betty, "You see what happens to people who speak up? Be happy with what you have."

But Betty's not happy with what she has, and despite his best efforts, Don isn't, either. Jon Hamm is so terrific at showing how anxious, and ambivalent, Don is about all of this. As Dennis talks and talks about what he's going to do with his own child, you can see Don thinking of all the ways in which he's let his own kids (and his wife) down, and yet he's also still not sure this is the life he wants, no matter how much he tries to dedicate himself to it. He's noticeably uncomfortable when Dennis insists on telling him how little baby Hobart is going to change his life - "This is a fresh start. I don't know who's up there. I'm going to be better. I'm going to be a better man." - because Don know how often he's made those promises to himself, and how hard they are to live up to.

In many ways, "The Fog" is a fresh start to this third season. Until now, the characters have all been in a holding pattern. Betty's been hoping the baby's arrival will make everything better. Peggy has been working hard and assuming her effort and talent will allow her to keep rising. Pete's been avoiding the woman who gave away his son. Don and Lane have been trying to avoid locking horns. But by the end of this great episode, they all know none of that's possible. The baby can't fix the Draper marriage on his own, Peggy still has a glass ceiling to break through, Don's going to keep chafing under Lane's authority, etc., etc.

And now that everyone has had their own emotional fog lifted and can see clearly the position they're in, what are they going to do about it?

Some other thoughts on "The Fog":

• Pete proves himself worthy of Duck's interest with his attempt to convince the Admiral execs to market their TVs to the black community. It's easy to see why Hollis might take Pete for a bigot - he's snooty and class-conscious, and in the season one episode where he and Peggy had a morning quickie in his office, he acts annoyed when Hollis lets a black custodian board the elevator - but we also know that for all his faults, Pete is the most forward-thinking guy at Sterling Cooper. If there's money to be made by marketing to a new demographic, Pete has no problem trying to make that money. But it's interesting to see that even after Hollis drops his guard, he's still not all that interested in who made his TV or why he bought it. With Evers' murder so fresh in everyone's memory, it's not surprising Hollis might find it frivolous to think about "The Beverly Hillbillies." Pete's dream of a homogeneous, integrated America where blacks and whites can have the same lifestyle, and the same aspirations, isn't necessarily Hollis' dream. On the other hand, Pete's right that Hollis watches baseball; when Marilyn Monroe died last season, Hollis was the one to note, "I keep thinking about Joe DiMaggio."

• Don's midnight snack with Sally was another suggestion that Don and Miss Farrell will hook up (Sally: "That's what Miss Farrell said." Don: "Then I guess it must be true."), but it also showed what a good dad Don can be when he's both present and not busy trying to be supportive of Betty when she's having one of her moods.

• Is it unfair to Yeardley Smith (who played the nurse who kept updating Dennis) that she's the one "Simpsons" voice cast member who I can't see in another role without automatically envisioning her Springfield alter ego?

• The camera lingers on Betty's feet during her anesthetic fantasy. If Matt Weiner hadn't said in our interview that the image of Don's bare feet is "the story of the season, in a way" (suggesting the pained man underneath the impeccable suit), I might start wondering if he had hired Quentin Tarantino as his new director of photography.

• It's nice to have Mark Moses back as Duck, and I made sure to take note that Duck was having coffee while Peggy pondered her Bloody Mary. Also, Grey is still in business today. Judging by Pete's comment - "Two months at Grey and you're already having a nosh?" - Grey was a lot more friendly to Jews back in the day than Sterling Cooper.

• Dennis, like the car salesman last year, has no idea how to read Don. The salesman assumes Don is comfortable in his own skin, while Dennis, the alleged expert on criminals, stares at the identity thief in front of him and declares him to be an honest guy.

• Miss Farrell is played by Abigail Spencer, and it's been bugging me where I knew her from ever since she appeared in "Love Among the Ruins." Turns out I know her from a bunch of shows (including a Lifetime drama where she was the lead), but was thinking of her both as the Carrie Bradshaw stand-in from the "D-Bag in the City" episode of "My Boys," and as Ted's girlfriend Blah-Blah on "How I Met Your Mother."

Comments continue to mushroom, and again, I commend most of you for being both damn insightful and damn respectful of each other, but for the small few who need a reminder, here are the commenting rules. Read them. Know them. Then discuss "Mad Men." That is all.

What did everybody else think?

280 comments:

1 – 200 of 280   Newer›   Newest»
Garrett said...

I thought Pete's scene with Hollis was an echo of the opening scene from the pilot. As with everything else,Don was a lot smoother about it than Pete.

Linda said...

I couldn't understand the look that Dennis Hobart (when he was pushing his wife in a wheelchair) gave to Don - it looked like he was disgusted with him. Did I miss something or was he just embarrassed to have shared feelings with another man?

Anonymous said...

Whether or not this becomes an issue in upcoming episodes, but here's the Wikipedia note about scopolamine, the drug used to put Betty into her twilight sleep: "Scopolamine was used from the 1940s to the 1960s to put mothers in labor into a kind of "twilight sleep" that did not stop pain, but merely eliminated the memory of pain by attacking the brain functions responsible for self-awareness and self-control. Often, this caused a kind of psychosis, followed by post-traumatic stress-like memories in thousands of new mothers." - my own mother had LSD-like flashbacks after being administered scopolamine during childbirth.

Zack Smith said...

Damn, Alan, this was one of your best reviews yet. You analyzed everything!

This is weird, but I'm glad to see Duck is doing okay and appears to be on the wagon. I realize he's a fictional character, but this show makes you care about them that way.

Peggy seems most likely to leave S-C, but could change if she eventually gets her way. Pete seems so desperate for the old guard's approval that he'd stick around the second they indicated they wanted him.

Don is going to get with the teacher, and frankly, she might make a better mother to Sally. Unless this is just par for him having another epiphany.

Poor, poor Gene 2.0. Or Gene #2 2.0. This is confusing.

This season is definitely clicking into gear.

Boudica said...

Linda,
I got the impression from the scene with Dennis and his wife that their baby had died. Since he was wheeling his wife without the baby in her arms.

Anonymous said...

I was also confused by Dennis' look in the hallway. My first thought was that something happened to Betty or the baby, Dennis knew and felt bad for Don but didn't want to break the news. But Linda's idea makes sense. Two guys got drunk and exchanged personal feelings and now Dennis feels ashamed while Don thinks nothing of it.

Cassandra Marcella said...

I loved that they used the soundtrack from the movie Sex and Lucia for Betty's dream sequences. If you've not seen it, it's a movie about a writer, for writers. Plays with narrative but not in an annoying, I-can't-follow-this, post-modern way. Beautifully lyrical, but I love that it's used here. Pitch perfect.

Dianora said...

I also wondered how much of Betty's hesitation to go into the baby's room in that last scene had to do with the fact that just a couple of weeks ago it had indeed been "Grandpa Gene's room."

Laura R. said...

Maybe it's just me, but I felt like this episode - though chockablock with interesting developments - was considerably less cohesive than any of the others this season. I'm not sure if the issue lay with the writing or the editing (I'm guessing the former) but something just felt...off.

One thing that really bothered me was the opening scene in the classroom. I'm not a fan of the actress cast as the teacher (I vaguely recall not liking her in HIMYM either, but I'll chalk that up to the character she was playing); her line delivery felt kind of choppy. And what was with the random jump-cut to Sally wiping blood on her face? That seemed like it came from an entirely different show.

That said, the too-brief scenes with Don and Sally in the kitchen, as well as Don's conference with Peggy, more than compensated for the rest of what I perceived to be a messy episode. I'm not really able to articulate the other problems I saw tonight (plus I want to read everyone else's thoughts), but I hope I'm not the only one who wasn't thrilled.

Rachel said...

Nice Colin Hay reference in the title! And the teacher is BlahBlah? Wow!

Linda - I wondered if something had gone wrong with the other couple's baby, because of the breached birth...

Alan, I'm not sure how forward-thinking Pete is. Pete's not necessarily unbigoted or progressive; he just thinks that when there's money to be made, it doesn't matter from whom it comes. He might be getting a little more polish in his comments about the blacks and Jews, but hes still making them, and he's still completely unpolished. I thought a really significant moment was how surprised both Bert and Roger were at the thought that something is happening in the country, race-related...

Also, "get your nails dirty with Bert Cooper and Harry Crane" -- Harry's importance has increased exponentially this season, yet he's not really doing anything on-par with his increased importance yet.

Kris said...

Suzanne Farrell. Ha! The young, beautiful, brunette, early '60s elementary school teacher who dances is named Suzanne Farrell! Will we see her moonlighting at NYC Ballet? Interestingly, like Don Draper, the real Suzanne Farrell originally had a much more down-home name: Roberta Sue Ficker.

Anonymous said...

I loved Hollis' pun, "Every job has its ups and downs."

ZackHandlen said...

I thought it was remarkable, strongest episode of the season so far. I love how deeply disturbed Betty is--she's essentially a high functioning child who keeps stumbling towards self-awareness, only to be thrown backwards by the people and systems she relies on to keep her safe.

I found it interesting how Don resisted Eugene as a name; happy to see that Betty got her way in the end, even if the kid is probably going to wreck her life for a while. (I can't think of another show on TV that has so much dread in its silences; there's been hardly any real violence or horror on the show to speak of, and yet it always feels like doom could break at any moment.)

Oh, and in regards to Don's crush on the teacher--she's emotionally unbalanced, and I see bad times ahead if he's foolish enough to get involved with her.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, I'm not sure how forward-thinking Pete is.

He understood the appeal of JFK to young voters when everyone else at Sterling Cooper didn't think Kennedy had a chance. Though he's not OF the youth culture of the '60s, Pete has generally seemed more willing to acknowledge it than a lot of the people he works with.

Weiner likes to say that, whatever Pete's faults are as a person, at work he's almost always right in his opinions.

Brandy said...

Also confused about the look the other father gave Don. But their baby not having a good outcome seems plausible to me. Sad. That guy liked his wife and baby.

Poor Gene, Sally will always hate him for trying to replace her grandfather.

Sally and Don were really cute.

But gah Sally's teacher. I don't expect Don to keep it all zipped up. I would have expected him to keep it in the city, but Sally's teacher going after a man who has a heavily pregnant grieving wife? Ouch.

Peggy, take the job with Duck. You'll never get equal pay at SC (not that in a different time Don wouldn't be ameanable to it) but seriously, if Duck's offering equal pay, take the job..

And Pete, typically awkward but he's trying.... I like that.

Ellie said...

"Every job has its ups and downs," says the elevator operator. Oh, Kater. Well, I guess wouldn't be able to pass on that cheap joke either.

Maybe you guys right about the Hobart baby. That exchange, or lack thereof, between the two men confused me.

I thought Hobart's fresh start speech in the waiting room was a tad heavy handed.

Anonymous said...

When Betty paused in the baby's nursery, shadows were cast on her back providing the effect of stripes - made me wonder who were the prisoners and who were the guards in this episode? Betty's locked in with the baby, Peggy may or may not be locked in with Sterling Cooper, Don's always looking for an escape, Pete's locked into his position and his sense of loss of control related to Peggy's adoption decision . . . and on and on. Prisoners/guards, Blacks/Whites, jailer/criminal, employers/employees, advertisers/clients all locked into their dynamics.

georgekaplan said...

I think naming the hot dancing teacher Suzanne Farrell is a little ham-fisted, and I feel a little the same way about the dream with Medgar Evers (although it *looked* great - I just generally feel that way about dream sequences) but Pete and the Peggy/Don conversation made up for it. And Yeardley Smith and any _Sex and Lucia_ music, too.

cgeye said...

Ofc. Hobart is a hard man, professionally, and he was afraid that Don would reveal anything about his weaknesses.

Thinking about Duck. So glad to see him, because he doesn't ever pretend that changes are easy or safe. I missed him so, and will never forgive him about Chester, but still, he's welcome.

I think Duck correctly assesses that the horserace has been won, by Cosgrove and Kinsey, and now it's time to pick up talent cheap. The only thing that could happen would be for Peggy to go alone -- despite his ongoing humiliations, Pete will never leave Sterling Coo as long as Cooper's alive. He needs that connection to Bert's social status, now that his family's is hollowed out.

No comment about the Admiral mishegas. Who's to say Admiral isn't right, considering the damage TV dealers will face during the season of riots? Offering opportunities to purchase goods to an oppressed people is no substitute for them winning their full civil rights. That confusion in our culture's led to a lot of damage -- it's also why in Betty's dream she's surrounded by nice homes, nice things, but still feels superfluous as a housecat.

The only drawback with Peggy leaving is that she's done no homework. What other women work at Gray, and what equality do they actually have?

Jenny said...

Thank you Alan for your review (as always). Maybe I'm the only person who had this feeling, but I thought that something was going to go wrong during Betty's delivery and that she would not make it through. Did anyone else get that feeling?

SuzMiCo said...

I loved that this episode finally brought the internal politics at SC into stark relief.

A couple of nice touches that I noticed:
- I loved that when Don was talking to Dennis about Dennis' fears, he repeated the Balzac quote that Sal had used with the London Fog people in the premier about our greatest fears lying in anticipation. Given Don's history, it was an utter lie, but I'm sure that it was the most comforting thing Don could think of. Don knows as well as anyone about a father's inability to love his child due to the circumstances of his birth.
- Suzanne Farrell is also the name of a prima ballerina I used to idolize when I was a little girl with two left feet.

cgeye said...

So, scopolamine's like rohypnol, affecting conscious memory but leaving the memory of trauma resident in the subconscious?

And in the maternity ward, just before commercial? The screams were freaking me out.

hipo said...

Great episode and great review, both had everything. What I love about this show is that it doesn't give you everything you want when you want it, but then in one episode it will give you way more than you expect.

Though short, the scenes between Pete and Peggy and Don and Peggy were fantastic. Best line of the episode was Pete's, "Your decisions affect me." This has been a great season for Vincent. Pete has become one of the few characters that seems to have a grip on reality. The problem with Pete is he assumes that everyone else does too. That is what will keep him from really succeeding.

J said...

@ Carmella - That's interesting, because I remember Sex y Lucia as being rife with daddy issues, and those were sort of overbearing here. It's interesting that Betty would use her child's name to drive a wedge between herself and her husband; the schoolteacher, having lost her father at a young age, would have an additional draw towards Daddy Don.

I haven't cared so much about plot arcs as thematic ones, and have been having trouble figuring out what all the Brit stuff's about this year in a larger societal picture. If the first season was Don's and was about post-war male existential dissatisfaction and season two belonged to the women and explored their self-awareness of their roles, this season is...? It feels like a sort of aimless batch of plot extensions. Thematically there's been an emphasis on generational shift, and a sense of slipping control... but the reason for the Brits' presence eludes me.

gma said...

Sally's teacher's name is Suzanne Farrell? Suzanne Farrell is a former NY City Ballet principal dancer, who choreographer George Balanchine "worshiped" ... is this a coincidence?

The part where Don brings Sally and Bobby to the hospital where they get to see Betty and the baby stand by the window -- I remember doing that for my grandfather and aunt when they were in the hospital - another period detail done so well.

Great review, Alan, especially about Don and a "fresh start." Anyone wonder if they will call the baby "Scott" and not Gene? (Eugene Scott Draper) The final shots of Pete, so small against the door to Cooper's office, and the poignancy of Betty - not Don - waking up to the crying baby - great film making.

Loretta said...

Agree with georgekaplan on the Suzanne Farrell thing. Her career with New York City Ballet began taking off in 1963 and, from what I understand, she was actually a topic of conversation in the 1960s--a name many New Yorkers would have known by the end of the decade.

But I suppose whoever named her probably figured that America's memory was short, and most people watching Mad Men wouldn't get the reference. To be honest, very few people probably did.

cgeye said...

As for the Hobarts' baby, didn't the nurse say it was already in the nursery? If the wife was so weakened by blood loss that she needed a transfusion, she wouldn't be strong enough to hold the baby right away.

I'm not going to assume anything a dead baby, because that would be too fricking sad.

M.A.Peel said...

I finally saw Revolutionary Road this weekend. Betty's delivery made for a poignant bookend to that sad tale, though of course she'll suffer all the miseries that April couldn't bear to face.

I know that this show is a drama, and there are moments of humor ('cos every job has its ups and downs) but a friend of mine has stopped watching because it's too depressing to watch this many lives in misery, every week.

Anonymous said...

How did you know it was Medgar Evers?

Tesswpfd17 said...

Quick note... Did Sterling Cooper lose the Lucky Strike account? The cigarettes bought in the Hospital were L&M's. That style of cigarette machine sells many differnet brands and varations of them were used into the 90's at least they were here in NY.

Disgust was rife in this episode. Yes we have the opening of the Guard to Don. We have the completely selfcentered disgust of Pete to Peggy.(Kodos to her for putting him in his place I believe the line was do you want to follow me in there too or something to that effect) The disgust of the Admiral TV people towards Pete's headlong tilt at intergration of the ads. (You would have thought to fall back and punt with regard to ok double the ads or artwork with different inks for skin tone). The Disgust of the partners at Pete although I do believe Don would have made the statement or said something to the effect of what Pryce said. Pete was deffinately disgusted at Duck I mean there is no good way for him to know that Pete has at least in Pete's mind has been kicked in the teeth. If it was a one on one meeting after the Admiral fiasco Pete is gone in my opinion.

OK secretly was I the only one that hope that Yeardley Smith would say "Don't have a cow man" ( ok ok bad joke)

Hollis by the way is a black neighborhood in Queens NY.(actually it is where Run DMC is from)

Also the prisoners at Sing Sing wear not stripes but gray clothes the goes back to the War Between the States (1861-1865) The vicotrs being the union army and the defeated being The Confederacy. At least that is what an old retired guard told me when I lived in Briarcliff Manor NY(next town over from Ossining were amusingly enough I spent the weekend because of a class reunion)

Jennifer J. said...

I'd really like to hear any opinions people have on the "show down" between Pete and Ken. Just a few episodes ago Ken was very calm and interested, now he's getting cocky and flashy. Does anyone think they know Pete's most likely better, but are seeing if indeed Ken will succumb to the flash as they think he might? I mean, it does seem that Pete has the harder set of accounts and yes, he is babyish about it, but I think he's very astute and can ultimately handle them. A character like Cosgrove would not handle them well and can only do well when given the full blossom clients. Anyone think this is true? If so, why? I'm just curious to get people's thoughts on this without berating either character.

Jaye Berman said...

I noted so many references to time, beginning with one of the chipmunks wearing a watch (from a client?), the question "What time is it?"...answer: "What time isn't it?" The prison guard also mentions not being able to wear a gold watch, Duck telling Peggy, "This is your time." Peggy saying to Don, "What if this is my time?" Betty saying to Don, indicating she needs to go to the hospital, "It's time." There were more I was aware of as I was watching, but I'd have to rewatch the episode to recall everything. It seemed like deliberate symbolism on Weiner's part. Was anyone else struck by this?

cgeye said...

OH, and in the wheelchair, Mrs. Hobart is smiling and calm. 'nuff said.

Jeff said...

@Boudica - We're with you -- the baby didn't make it. No baby in the mother's arms as she's being wheeled out.

(Also, Alan, I think you mean "delivery room" in your review, when you typed "waiting room" -- tho at times, they felt like the same thing to me. :-)

Captcha: YINGEL. 1. The feeling right after your hand wakes up from being asleep. 2. The opposite of yangel.

Jennifer J. said...

cgeye: Maybe due to the breach birth, the Hobart baby has to stay in the hospital for some care before they can take the baby home. At least this is what I'm hoping for....

Lane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jamfan said...

Thanks for such a quick but thorough review and great comments. My comment is about Roger; though his screen time was short this week, I thought the writers used the opportunity to pull him back from total caricature (which he was, literally, last week) and uselessness. His first scene continued his slide into silliness, with him on the phone with Don, reminding Don how powerful Don was (and, without saying so, how powerless Roger himself was), all the while eating a giant hot fudge Sunday with a big bib around his neck like a toddler. But then, in the scene in Cooper's office where they ripped Pete, he showed through his anger much more real professional interest than we've seen this season (for example, his cavalier and mentally absent performance during Bert Peterson's firing) -- and he indicated that his function was actually quite an important one. Saving shaky accounts is critical, and it's a pretty big part of any Managing Partner's job in a service firm. Anyway, I just found it interesting that Roger went from clown last week to baby this week but then all the way back to grown-up.

Anonymous said...

"when my daughter was born, there wasn't even a question that I'd be in the waiting room to provide moral support (and snap a ton of photos once the baby came out). " I assume you meant to type delivery room, or I need to re-read the surrounding context

Glad the days of shaving and aenemas are gone!

Peggy and Don scene was so well done.

Tesswpfd17 said...

With regard to Pete and race he was one of the people that did not enjoy the blackface act that Sterling put on in My Old Kentucky Home.

Also forgot the digust on Peggy's face when dealing with Don.

Also did you see the regret on her face looking at the baby booties. Alittle self pity or intropective disgust?

Anonymous said...

I must be in the minority but I didn't think Don was pursuing Sally's teacher romantically at all - rather, during their phone conversation, he seemed to be humouring and placating her, the silly drunk teacher.

Of course I don't except Don to keep it in his pants for much longer, though.

arrabbiata said...

During the scene in the elevator with Pete and Hollis I kept thinking of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". But I guess that's a few years away.

Even during the parts of the birth events that were not obviously dream sequences, I was wondering how much was real and how much may have been hallucinations from drugs or otherwise. Some of the interactions with the nurse had almost a surreal quality.

Rachel said...

Alan - I guess I associate forward-thinking with more idealism, less pragmatism. Although his speech in the elevator has the line about the American dream, it's undercut -- purposefully -- by the "don't tell me you don't watch baseball". He's pragmatic, not pro-civil rights for ideological conviction; he sees which way the wind is blowing, and jumps in.

I know Mo Ryan wrote in her review last week, "I was thinking, what mitigating qualities does Betty possess that will make me truly care about what happens to her?" I think I may have reached that point as well; I know Betty is in pain, I know she has deep-rooted parental issues and that Don is not a great partner to her, but she is so utterly indifferent to her children and the people around her, and spreads her pain so wifely, that I don't think I can care about her anymore. I'm surprised Carla won't be there; I can't imagine Betty wanting to be a primary caretaker.

Also, a brilliant moment: When Peggy says, "maybe this is my time," she delivers the line as though she's making a grand statement. Don says nothing in response. The way Peggy's eyes shift, as though she wonders how stupid she must be sounding -- so true to life.

Mart said...

There were several funny lines this week. After Bert Peterson says something to the effect of "that's enough flogging" (when castigating Pete), Roger said "That's never as fun as you think it will be."

Anonymous said...

Okay I'm old enough to remember waving at my mom from a hospital sidewalk, wow, that was great how MM got that.

I had the vibe Mrs Hobart was wearing a bed jacket and being wheeled to the nursery to see the baby. I did not see her purse. They did not seem upset. I thought I saw a glimpse of a grin on Dennis's face, that vanished when he saw Don. Dennis felt embarassed. He was oogling a novice nun/candy striper for God's sake. He's a scum bucket.

Anonymous said...

Weiner's accurate portrayal of race relations in this episode was brilliant. Hollis was terrified of getting into trouble - blacks were seen and not heard during this period and the actor's body language in the scene was suberb. Though Pete marketing acumen is sharp he is still very much out of touch as it relates to dealing with blacks as evidenced by the conversation. He had no care how Medgar Evers' death affected blacks. Also, had he actually talked to Hollis instead of talking at him (explaining a bit better why he was asking about decisions in purchasing, etc.) he may have gotten the information he was after.

Finally, ironic that the Admiral Execs dismissed the reality that they ignored a large market segment (many companies did) and had they not, would have put them miles ahead of the competition in terms of profit.

Great episode.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Thanks to those of you who pointed out that I wrote "waiting room" when I meant "delivery room." That's the kind of error that's hard to catch with either spell-check or (in a 3000 -word post) with the naked eye. Fixed.

Anonymous said...

A few small points:

- I still have the HIMYM Hot/Crazy Scale pop up front and center in my mind when I saw BlahBlah and Don Draper in the classroom by themselves.... I watch waaay too many Sepinwall covered shows, but as they said in the Chuck video "Sepinwall will destroy us!", so I feel like I need to watch the shows lest I get in trouble :)

- I have expected someone in the room to say "Bobby, don't touch the soft spot!!!" but once again, parental indifference shows thru, and no one lets Bobby know not to do that. With Carla away, the Draper household will fall apart at the seams

Buchholz Surfer said...

It was interesting that the last thing said to Pete in the meeting was Cooper saying "You can leave."

Pete just had a meeting with another agency that was hoping to hire him away, and he might change his mind and leave SC after getting ripped by the partners, especially if Peggy doesn't go to Grey.

I could see Peggy getting an offer from Grey, and giving SC one last chance to match it, and they find a way to do it. And then Campbell going to Grey himself.

Eric said...

I have to say, I wasn't really a fan of this episode for a number of reasons that other people have mentioned:

- I'm kind of weirded out by the Don/teacher budding romance. I'm not sure if it is because she is Sally's teacher, or if it is because the actress is pretty weak (she needs to go to the John Hamm school of "less is more" acting). I think that Don/John deserves a better actress.

- My least favorite moments of "The Sopranos" were Tony's dream sequences, and I actually thought to myself a couple of weeks ago that I am glad Mad Men hasn't gone to that well. We've had Don reminisce/daydream, but I thought that was acceptable within the context of which it was used. I understand the point of the Betty delirium, it just felt too jarring for this show.

- I found Dennis' speech to Don about being "an honest man" to be a blunt, oratorical whack to the head. For a show which is remarkable for its writing, this lack of subtlety was kind of disappointing.

- My favorite parts of the episode were the Pete and Peggy story lines, yet they were so minimal. I understand that this is just the beginning, but I still would have preferred a few more minutes with either (or both) of them.

Mind you, a bad episode of Mad Men is still much better than 95% of anything else out there.

dylanfan said...

Alan,

Might as well go ahead and change the "You're" in the next sentence to "Your job's done" ... Miss Farrell would approve.

What's the music at the end?

Even more than usual to think about in this one -- looking forward to reading more comments!

Jillian Leigh, esq said...

I too was very struck by Don's look to Dennis in the hallway--it seemed to imply (to me at least) that Don too had been in a fog of sorts (a pre-baby, post-jitters fog that's helped along by the hooch). His face seemed like he barely recognized Dennis when they crossed paths. Also, even in her brief appearance, Dennis' wife looked old enough to be his mother.

Sigh. Sometimes I don't know whether to worship or whiplash Matt Weiner for making us work so hard to parse these moments out.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

In chastising Pete for his suggestions to Admiral, Bert Cooper showed the limits of his Randian beliefs, which I thought was an interesting revelation about him.

Unreliable Narrator said...

Anonymous @ 12:01am:

The only force in American history that has been able to stop capitalism is racism (see redlining).

Cantara said...

Suzanne Farrell -- thought I recognized the name. Saw her dance when I was Sally Draper's age.

Stephen S Power said...

Hollis's "up and down" line was great, but equally good was the line about how Admiral didn't want to make "colored TVs."

My favorite part was the brief shot of a wall with black stripes, presumably shadows from blinds, stretching and shrinking across it to show the passage of time while an ominous drone rose. It was magnificently Lynchian, like something from "Inland Empire."

Sloansy said...

The Peggy and Pete scenes were terrific. Aside from Don, they are far and away the most complex and interesting characters on this show, and the ones I am most interested in seeing develop.

Pete in particular, is something so strange you can spend all day trying to figure out and never do. He's more aware of coming social change than any other character - even more than "Marx wasn't so bad" Paul, but he is so totally detached from other people that he barely cares. Its like he's watching something unfold that has no connection to his own life.

What can make Pete scary, in a way, is that he sees which way the wind is blowing, and yet, has no other interest in it other than figuring out how to exploit it. He's like some sort of profiteer in the cultural wars, like last weeks shipping magnate, and I have to think that guys like him will be the real winners of the 60's. After all, it must of been some sort of real life Pete Campbell that thought of the idea of using singing hippies to sell coca-cola, with some real life Peggie writing the ad, of course (it is her time after all).

Anonymous said...

The Admiral problem was delicate, as was the whole problem of race to the corporate world.
The Admiral numbers probably reflected that the Admiral brand was the low cost leader, and therefore the urban poor was its prime demographic. More Admirals were probably on sale in inner city stores than higher priced RCAs. Pete's ideas to focus on this market would lead to larger sales, but might also lead to perceptions. Perceptions that Admiral was a "colored" brand. And that perception would sink it in their other markets, like the Deep South.
The execs might not even be bigots just market conscious. Ethnic targeting of African-Americans wouldn't be implemented on a national scale for a decade or two.
I think it does point out how the views of a minority can be magnified by the response of the corporation.

Puff

berkowit28 said...

I'm sure Alan is right that some of the protagonists will leave Sterling Cooper. But that doesn't mean the show will stop following them. Even a peripheral figure like Duck is back. In real life, Peggy and Pete are indeed the most likely to leave - or Don. These are the people with various degrees of acumen and ambition (some more of one than the other) who would leave if offered more of what they're looking for. I expect that at least one of them will move on - and the show will go with them.

Erin said...

@Tesswpfd17 - Thanks for pointing this out. During the blackface scene, I thought it was so telling that Pete's initial facial expression was disgust...until he he glances at his wife and notices she's laughing, and then he plasters a smile on his face to pretend he also finds Roger's antics amusing. I think in his heart, Pete is a lot more progressive than others at Sterling-Cooper, but his upbringing and his total lack of social skills get in the way.

Deborah said...

Though Pete marketing acumen is sharp he is still very much out of touch as it relates to dealing with blacks as evidenced by the conversation.

Absolutely. The look Hollis gives Pete after his "But everyone's going to have the American Dream" comment was brilliant.

Hobart's reaction to Don -- I assumed that he'd already fallen short on those 'new man' promises.

S.A. Miller said...

Did Don go an buy a new car? In the waiting room he ripped an ad for a car out of a magazine. Was that the car he took Betty and Gene home in?

smarty said...

@ Jaye Berman: I was also quite struck by the references to time, the passage of time. The episode spends much of its 'time' watching people waiting, Don and Dennis in the waiting room, Betty in delivery. Also, Don says to both Sally's teacher and to Peggy, "this is not a good time."

Susan said...

What a great, and hard episode. Watching Betty give birth was very painful. It reminded me of the stories my mother told about 'twilight sleep' and tough nurses and being so alone through the process. When Betty was thrashing about in the delivery room, I wanted her to punch someone (still thinking of her with that gun, cigarette dangling from her lips, when she had it in for the pigeons).

I loved the scene with Don and Sally ("I didn't know you could cook.") For the first time, as she talked, I realized how Sally looks a bit like Betty. Good casting.

I also loved the writing of the scene between Hollis and Pete. So much was conveyed, with efficient words.

And Roger's line, after being asked if the flogging was over, that it's never a good as you imagine (or something like that). I will SO miss Slattery if his character is off the show.

And Peggy's fingering the booties on the gift. Could she have been doing that intentionally to pull at Don's heartstrings? She surely has little emotion or thought towards that baby (that we've seen). She may have been thinking of her loss when she gave Don the line about how much of everything he has; but she also might have been trying to manipulate him. Either way, her timing was lousy (though she was right to ask). I'm wondering though, why she didn't reference Duck's lure to Grays. Its' the standard ploy and Don would have had something to go to the Brits with.

And finally, can I just say how much Sally's classroom was JUST like my own 3rd grade class? I adore the attention to detail in this show.

Boresville said...

Your recaps are killer, Alan. I think the ad Don clipped was for a G.T.O.. Excitement, anyone?

Speaking of the waiting room, I think the conversation with that guard was a figment of Don’s imagination. He looks identical to the cop that informed the Drapers of Gene’s passing. He brings a bottle. He knows Don dreams of ending up in Sing Sing. He talks about the baby being a new start. This would explain the odd moment in the hallway, when the guard failed to acknowledge Don.

Juanita's Journal said...

This episode has confirmed what I have always suspected . . . Duck Phillips has always appreciated Peggy's talent. Which is not really surprising. He has never expressed discomfort or hostility toward her role as a copywriter. And he has always accepted her presence at Sterling Cooper without any attitude. And whatever flaws he has, Duck has always been about moving foward. He sees nothing wrong in a woman wanting a career. Well . . . at least a single woman.



When Sterling Cooper has clients like Admiral, it's time for Pete to leave.

Sarah said...

I have enjoyed this season but this episode was really the first that grabbed me like my favorite episodes in the past of Mad Men have.

It totally felt like a shift in the season (in terms of all the characters) and I would say one of the biggest shifts was Betty having the baby.I feel like something is coming between her and Don...and I'm just waiting until it comes to a head.

Loving the storyline with Duck trying to woo Peggy/Pete.I feel like this season has been fantastic for Peggy...lots of character development.I have missed seeing Peggy/Pete interacting so I was glad to see that again.

But best of all,I was reminded how much I adore any and all Peggy/Don scenes.The actors play off each other so well and as Peggy considers leaving SC,I feel like this may have an effect on their relationship.Should be interesting to watch.

Overall,I just love how no matter what,Mad Men has the best and most realistic character development of any show (in my opinion).This was a perfect episode to showcase the wonderful characters.You were able to see the good and bad in many of them this week,especially Don/Betty/Peggy/Pete

ScottyG said...

As Peggy said, Don has everything, including a new healthy baby boy.

Envy would be why I think Dennis gave Don that look.

Paul said...

Betty's story is an arc of her life, and the life to come. I felt her entire episode was a summary of Wolff's "Mrs. Dalloway," where a woman livess her entire life in a day. Her first shot is one of (pregnant) glamour...and each successive scene she loks more and more disheveled, and haggard, (except for the dream sequences, which Mrs. Dalloway also contained.) Then, after birth, she returns to radiance, if only briefly, and finally makes her peace with -- yes -- this is her life. She won't change with the decade...she is one of those brittle 60's women who didn't change, and bought into the cluture they live in and didn't look back until they bought the farm.

Manton said...

Jillian Leigh, esq said...
I too was very struck by Don's look to Dennis in the hallway--it seemed to imply (to me at least) that Don too had been in a fog of sorts (a pre-baby, post-jitters fog that's helped along by the hooch).


Because it didn't actually happen.

Mad Men has a jarring effect on its flashbacks or dream sequences (for example, when Don is in California, Mrs. Draper leaves and returns in Christmas a decade earlier - it through my mom, so I'm taking some generalization).

When we first see Don in the room, there are more people in the room. Then a bottle of booze comes out, Hobart works in a prison (well isn't that convenient as Don awaits his child!), and Don is incredibly forthcoming, which seems to be a new hobby of his this season. Hobart's first line, "this is not how I pictured it."

Then, after they're drinking in those little cups, he asks Don if he throws the ball around with the boy (in an almost pointed way). Don looks down, says "not enough," a brief moment of clarity. Immediately it cuts back--again, almost jarringly since there is no real transition, just a straight cut--to Don reading his magazine without a cup in his hand, Hobart facing the other direction.

These men were never talking. Look at their positions; they are totally indifferent to each other, just like two strangers in a waiting room would be. When Don rips out the ad, Hobart looks around, takes a second to look at Don, then turns back around like nothing happened. Why? Why would he suddenly be so cold to Don, and then revert back to the chummy nature they shared while pouring out the Red Label?

This is the idealized situation, especially for a man who "watches everything." A young nurse! Wacky shenanigans getting cigarettes! Drinking! Lots of Drinking! In essence, this is the Don version of Betty's fog.

And then it gets very blunt. "I'm going to be a better man. Tell me you heard me." This is all Don trying to sell himself, again, on that idea, that this child will be the one he will make the change for. An ad man has to try and sell himself on an ideal he can't seem to get on his own.

Finally, the look on Hobart's face when he was with his wife was one of confusion. He's sharing a moment of joy with his wife, looks up, and sees a man in a sharp suit beaming right back at him. For Don, Hobart has given him a lesson, a friend. For Hobart, he's a stranger who is oddly smiling at him. He reacts by politely acknowledging and dipping his head, like any of us have done on a subway car. Don's best relations are illusions with strangers.

Brings the Connie discussion a few episodes ago into another light, certainly.

Which brings us back to the original postL
Sigh. Sometimes I don't know whether to worship or whiplash Matt Weiner for making us work so hard to parse these moments out.

I'm building him a bronze statue. Anybody wanna chip in?

sara said...

I see Dennis and Betty having similar reactions w/r/t having a baby.

In the waiting room Dennis is all ebullient (drunk) about how having this baby will be a fresh start. But considering his other comments about how he NOW has to be careful not to bring work home, and how he can't believe their (his and Don's and husbands in general)wives put up with them, and his generally napoleonic behavior ("It's like I'm God!", I think it's pretty clear that Dennis is a wife-beater. When Dennis makes his statement about a fresh start, he makes it to Don after looking up and saying "I don't know who's up there, but I'll say this to you" as if giving Don equal weight to god. When the men pass in the hall the next day, I think that Dennis' fog of drunkenness and anticipation has worn off, and he realizes that Don is just some dude, and that he (Dennis) has not really fundamentally changed.

Betty awakes from her pregnancy fog with optimism. When she and Don arrive home, they are a ridiculously perfect tableau: the perfect car, the perfect house, both husband and wife dressed and coiffed perfectly, with perfectly well behaved children waiting inside. Betty rides this optimism by thinking she will not need the help of a replacement for Carla, but as soon as that baby cries, she, like Dennis realizes that nothing has really changed for the better.

One last thought: I actually think that Pete handled his market research with a black person much better than Don did in the pilot. While DOn was undoubtedly smoother, Pete seemed to be able to be more natural and have a more human connection with Hollis in the end.

Anonymous said...

I hope Don doesn't get involved with the teacher because it would be monumentally stupid of him. If he can't keep it in his pants, he can at least keep it in the city.

Also, who was the woman who was taking care of the kids at the end of the episode - I did not recognize her as one of Betty's regularly appearing friends?

Anonymous said...

I feel like you are trying to excuse the self-indulgence of this season and lack of quality by saying that it just b/c of a lack of a larger plotline. I think in reality the reason is that there has been nothing new. We have seen (wonderfully done) in the first 2 seasons that people were racist, sexist, and smokers. We have seen that people are alienated, childish, and petty. It is time to show us something new and different (whether by means of plot or character); it would also be nice to show us more about the workings of S-C or advertising scenes (something that there used to be more of).

Anonymous said...

Also, the dream sequence felt like a cliche and left me cold.....

Anonymous said...

Loved the episode. What is the green worm in Betty's hand supposed to be? Threw me off kilter.
Times and new beginnings...tonight's theme...Potential?

EC said...

I find the teacher's comments about Sally asking questions about Medgar Evers in school interesting because it demonstrates that Sally is absorbing and is pretty traumatized by all of the TV news that she's watching. Betty can't deal with the teacher mentioning bad news such as the Evers assassination (and interrupts to use the lady room), but doesn't protect her own daughter from such news.

MyFawny said...

I guess it comes from years of watching The Wire, but I haven't had a problem with there not being one giant story arc so far this season. I just assumed everything will come together by the end of the season, so I've been trying to note everything that may take on new meaning by the end.
The topic of race relations has been a good example of this. SInce we only see it from the POV of the Caucasian characters, the topic of race has been slow build. I suspect it will continue so until it is too obvious for them to ignore, uch like Pete's clients who refuse to tap into the AA market.

SR said...

Neither the very artificial first dream sequence nor the very un-Mad Men-like insert shot of Sally smearing blood on her face worked for me. I'm not opposed to innovation and experimentation, but both struck me as derivative and out of place.

That said, the episode did have a number of great moments and seems to kick in motion a lot of promising plot points. Plus it's always nice to see more Anne Dudek.

Brandy said...

Sally's asking questions about the Evers assassination because she's lost somebody close to her and it's a good way to bring up questions that she has.

I'm not sure that she's traumatized by all the tv news she's watching but rather that the subject of death is weighing on her and so the evers assasination hits close to home.

Should it be something she's talking to her parents about, sure. But her parents don't talk.

I'm not defending Betty as a good parent. But I'm unsure what Betty is supposed to do to protect her daughter from a major news story.

Jakie O died the same week my grandmother did and my 90 something grandfather was traumatized by news coverage of that but it was hardly something that could have been predicted.

I do think it's interesting that Betty left because she was upset by the Evers mention. I had assumed it was early labor because of the "I can't help it".

But childlike Betty unable to deal with a real world death, I buy that. Interesting.

Scott J. said...

The comment from sara already said very well much of what I wanted to. It's shame on Dennis' face when he sees Don again in the hall, as Dennis has realized that he's no better a man now than before the baby came. He put Don in the place of God when he made that promise, and now that he knows he can't keep it, he can no longer look Don in the eye.

heleneharris said...

Random thoughts after reading all the other comments -
1. did anyone find Duck's desk/office noticeably bland/sterile? As in, does he really have a position of any importance at all at Grey? Was it even an office at Grey?
2. I found Sally's greeting to Betty - "mommy,i missed you so much" - absolutely heartbreaking. Betty's parenting leaves so much to be desired yet Sally still worships her. And then her kiss on the top of Sally's head made you hope against hope that there's a chance here (but probably not).
3. I totally agree with the two posters who suggest Don didn't really have an interaction with the prison guard (dennis?) Makes total sense now that you think about it.

belinda said...

Random tidbit: I was floored when Pete received Duck's first call. Just a really great scene, and I like that we see Duck's ducks in his office as well. It really tickled me, that scene.

I enjoy the return of Duck, but as far as I remember, Duck wasn't a guy who cared about creative much last year, so I'm not sure what to think of his courting Peggy over. Was there something to him thinking that Pete and Peggy had something that led him to wanting to bring Peggy over (as an incentive for Pete, not knowing that P/P had a fallout)? I'm getting the feeling that Duck would actually want Pete, a good accounts man, more than Peggy, creative.

I'm really enjoying Pete. I think Pete is starting to get a grasp of who he is, finally, and I like that. I think the loss of his child with Peggy (and since Trudy can't conceive, the end of him ever having any children that's truly his) has actually affected him a lot more than I've realized.

But, glad to see I wasn't wrong thinking previously that it might be time for Peggy to branch out.


I'm not really feeling the teacher much. She holds no intrigue or interest for me for now, and while they might have bonded over losing parents while young, I don't really see much of any chemistry between the two.

I mean, Don and Peggy had way more chemistry (not that I want them to go there, at least not yet) in that heartbreaking scene than with that teacher. It's nice that Peggy doesn't have to be fun roommate gal pal or someone really hard to put up with how people treat her at the office, she can be her real self with Don.

belinda said...

Oh, I forgot:

I thought it was pretty clear that Don projected his interaction with the prison guard, given what he says to Don towards the end,so I agree with some others that the whole interaction was Don's fog.

Another thing is that I was wondering about Peggy's pay vs. Joan's pay in last week's episode, and here, I guess I got my answer - it's very likely that the difference between the two wages is very small (given Peggy only makes 70 more than her (most likely least paid) secretary, while Joan is the head secretary office overseer person), if at all.

Anonymous said...

"I do think it's interesting that Betty left because she was upset by the Evers mention"

Betty left to go to the bathroom because she had a baby pushing up against her bladder. Pregnant women need to pee all the time!

Deanne said...

Was that the Song of India being played again at the end of the episode? I remember it being used in For Those That Think Young when Betty was descending the stairs on Valentine's day.

Doug S said...

Manton's comment above will force me to re-watch this episode...fascinating idea, thanks.

For me, this episode struck me as the first MM that felt like a Sopranos episode, though I'm hard-pressed to specify why. The overall feeling it had, maybe the dream(s?) - whatever, it just hit me.

A small addition: I interpreted the comment about Carla's absence to mean she wouldn't be staying overnight with Betty to take care of the baby, not that she wouldn't be around at all. Guess we'll see.

And Alan, I continue to marvel at your ability to crank out these incredibly thoughtful, in-depth posts in such short time. Thanks.

Sonia said...

Very interesting that some of you thought the conversation between Hobart and Don was in Don's own imagination...I didn't think so when I watched but it actually makes sense.

Anyone else think that Betty squished the caterpillar in her hand? She seemed to have a bizarre look on her face when she closed her fingers around it.

kate said...

I also thought there was something strange in Betty's eyes (kind of like a widening) that I also interpreted as hostile to the caterpillar. Is something bad going to happen to little Gene?

There's this part during Duck's luncheon with Pete and Peggy, where they both denied their secret relationship and then they looked at each other really quickly at the same time that I loved watching over and over again. How did the actors manage to time it so it's exactly the same time? Wow.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm going to go back and rewatch the Don/Dennis scenes sometime later today, but having watched the episode twice already, I didn't see any of the visual cues that the show uses to signal a flashback or dream sequence. As Manton notes, the series has very specific visual rules for this sort of thing, and the transitions in, say the California episode were much more blatant than anything that happens between Don and Dennis in the waiting room.

Karen said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one to pick up on the Suzanne Farrell allusion--funny that, when we first met her, she was dancing. Although I do think that naming the teacher after someone that well-known takes the viewer out of the story a bit.

I loved Betty's "twilight sleep" hallucinations, but that's probably because they reminded me so strongly of a favorite book of mine, Good Morning, Miss Dove, which features a stern schoolteacher who has similar hallucinations during a hospital stay. Even more appropriate that the first indication of the onset of her hallucination was Nurse Ratched referring to Chapter 12 in a textbook. I didn't get that Ruth Hofstadter was standing with Medgar Evers (how did everyone figure that out??), but I liked Betty crushing the green caterpillar before it could become a butterfly.

It's confusing to me that I can be so continually ticked-off at Betty for acting like such a baby (shutting down Gene's end-of-life planning talk was particularly egregious), but when the horrible nurse treated her like a badly-behaving child it really pissed me off.

I'm intrigued by others' suggestions that the entire relationship between Dennis and Don in the waiting room was Don's hallucination, but I'm not convinced. I feel that if that were the case Weiner would have been a bit more explicit about it--and that Alan would have remarked upon it. I'm also not convinced that Dennis was already not making a "fresh start"--a day later??--and that his not meeting Don's eye was shame. I've not yet seen an explanation for that odd hallway scene that satisfies me.

Alan, can you help out?

Anonymous said...

Like Jenny, I also thought that Betty's pregnancy was doomed, particularly when Gene was mopping what looked like blood in the dream sequence.

miles said...

The green caterpillar in Betty's dream reminded me of metamorphoses. The caterpillar is the first stage or larva stage. Betty is locked in a childlike state due to her family dynamics, but also, Don doesn't treat her like an equal--he isn't real with her. Finally, of course, society at the time treated housewives as not much more than capable children. No wonder she seemed to want to squish the caterpillar in her hand.

The thing about a caterpillar though is that it is destined to be a butterfly. To me, this brought to mind the coming consciousness raising for women.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

re: the Don/Dennis dream sequence - While it would be interesting, I do think the interactions actually happened. Over my years of traveling, I have had loads of what I call Temporary Friendships. Quick, fast friendship formed in airplanes, airports, waiting rooms. I have had some fairly deep, intense conversations, then went about my life. I think Don and Dennis were uncomfortable with having to face each other again.

re: the Caterpillar - I think the caterpillar represented Betty and her chance at a new start, a new life - a complete metamorphosis. I do think she squashed the caterpillar as a symbol of her choice to not move forward, to not change.

Mr Whirly said...

Great review as always, Mr Sepinwall. I have tried to writ my own blog but it feels so weak compared to your reviews. That is what separates the professionals from the rest of us.

I thought that the Hobart baby had died since the shot opened with a focus on Don carrying the flowers to Betty. No one brings flowers to the mother of a dead baby. I assumed that Hobart was angry/jealous of Don's successful delivery. It seems to parallel Peggy's line to Don, "You have everything, so much of it." Hobart just wants a son and Don has two sons and a daughter.

I tried to read through the comments and I don't think this is redundant but, am I the only one scared by dream sequences? I am scared of them because The Sopranos ruined them for me in latter seasons. When Big P talks through the fish's mouth to Tony it was great television. In the final two seasons there were entire episodes that were dreams. It always seemed like an easy plot device and those are some of my least favorite episodes. I am happy they didn't linger too long on them in Mad Men and I hope they do not continue to use them very often.

jasctt said...

Bollocks to those who think this season ain't up to snuff, Alan. Seriously. To be blunt, this was not only the best ep of season 3 so far, but one of the best of he series. Christ, doe this show reward true fans.

Does anyone have any idea how effin hard it is to decide whether Jon Hamm or Bryan Cranston is the best actor on TV. they both do these great things with their faces that tell so much with out uttering a word.

We've come to a realm of acting "at a glance" and it is just amazing.

Come on, could ANYBODY turn down that sexy teacher? Don has to bang her! On principle!

Someone said betty Draper is the new Livia Soprano and I think they might be right.

Vincent K. had the best line of the night with his "of course, I work in advertising."

Did anyone else think that Dennis the prison guard's newbon son died? The way he avoided looking at Don in the hallway?

l.b. weighs in said...

This episode was definitely firing on all cylinders! As the posters have said time and prison, dark and light, conscious and unconscious, the big themes being subtly positioned and explored as the show keeps moving forward to JFK's assassination.
The two things that I noted that haven't been mentioned yet is how precisely we are being kept to the calendar this season. They are practically counting down the days having already set up Rodgers daughters wedding to be the weekend after the shooting. Which just makes everything that much more wrought for me.
And with all the comments about Pete and whether he is acting out of social or monetary acuteness, I thought it was interesting that in the scene where he was called on the carpet the top button of his suit was undone and made it seem like it didn't fit. They are so precise about the costuming that it had to be intentional. So often it does look like Pete is play-acting wearing his "adult" clothes.

jasctt said...

That earlier post, I didn't mea to put out there that only one of those two actors could be "the best." they're both aces in my book.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't it only logical that someone like Peggy would try to branch out? Or that Ken would hop from agency to agency?"

Alan - In light of the fact that you speak with Weiner from time to time, it's entirely inappropriate and dishonest of you to write things such as the above quote.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan - In light of the fact that you speak with Weiner from time to time, it's entirely inappropriate and dishonest of you to write things such as the above quote.

Every time I speak to Weiner, I write about it. The last time I talked to him was at press tour, after having seen the first episode, and you can read that entire conversation here. I know no more about what's coming than you do. It just seems obvious to me that, whether or not this is where the show is going, it's where it should go.

Anonymous said...

To me, everyone is in their own prison and their individual clocks are ticking...

I believe that the interaction between Dennis and Don did take place. When confronting Don again in the hallway, Dennis was a bit embarrassed...the drink had caused him to share more with another person than he was comfortable with.

Mo Ryan said...

Anonymous 9:51, I have no idea what you might be objecting too. This is Alan's blog and what we come here for is his opinions and analysis (as well for as the group discussions).

If Alan was sharing thoughts or conjecture about Ken and Peggy, I don't see the problem with that. If Alan had specific information about Ken or Peggy job-hopping, I very much doubt he would share it in this context -- he is known to be anti-spoiler.

Besides, whenever Alan speaks to Matt Weiner, he publishes the entire transcripts of those talks soon after they occur. He's not holding back spoilery bits to spring on people in his weeky posts. That is not his modus operandi at all.

In short, I think your comment is uncalled for.

bsangs said...

I found the scene with Roger calling Don to be another strong indication of how far their relationship has fallen.

Roger used to pop into Don's office to discuss the most mundane, silly issues, but Don has a child and all Roger does is call? From down the hall? Wow.

I noticed above that somebody mentioned the Roger character possibly leaving the show. Has there been any indication Slattery is departing? I read he signed on to do something else in another show or movie, but didn't think it'd mean the end of Roger Sterling. Because faults and all, he is far and away my favorite character.

JasonR said...

Put me in the group that has thoroughly enjoyed the episodes leading up to this one. Unfortunately, I did not find this one that enjoyable. The fact that I abhor almost all dream sequences has a lot to do with it. And as much as a I am aware that Betty is a product of her upbringing I still find her utterly unlikable, and therefore almost bored watching her dream/fog.

I also think that Manton's idea that the waiting room was a dream sequence is wrong, but perfectly points out why it did not work. The whole thing was too on the nose for me and would have worked better as a dream sequence (even though I hate them!).

Otherwise, a pretty good episode - I appreciate some plot movement.

Imamarilyn said...

I wonder if Paul Kinsey took the credenza home to go along with the typewriter he stole.

Another amazing performance by January Jones. I agree with another poster who said she visited the ladies' room because the baby was pushing on her bladder. She told Miss Farrell she wasn't as upset as she appeared. Isn't that the truth! She just wanted to get the problem with Sally behind her so she could go back to pretending things were perfect. It was unusual for Don to go to school, as the teacher was impressed he was there. Dads didn't show up at school back in the day, as I recall from my own childhood. (I was 5 in 1963.) I loved seeing Betty's mother, and the interaction we saw between the two helped me understand Betty better.

Interesting observations from those who said the interaction
in the waiting room was a dream, especially the poster
who said the men were there together but not talking. That never occurred to me, and I still am not sure how to interpret those scenes.

Miss Farrell is no longer Sally's teacher now that it is summer vacation. I agree she is similar to Midge, Bobbie and Rachel. They are all strong brunettes ahead of their time. She is also the aggressor, calling him. I enjoyed Alan's remarks that top partially unbuttoned, bra strap falling down, that it's only a matter of time. Don Draper would be irresistable to many.

Tom said...

Good episode, if not quite up to the standard set by the previous two, IMHO. Some interesting plot developments, though....

One note: Paul has finally and indisputably established his douchebaggerhood. I'm referring to the scene where Pete pores over Admiral TV sales, his privileged brain trying to grasp what X-factor could possibly link the cities of Chicago and Detroit and St. Louis and Kansas City and New Orleans... "Great jazz towns," Paul simpers, unable to break out of his own self-indulgent cocoon and realize this is a chance to actually APPLY what he digs in a useful way.

Having Paul clean his own pipes during the scene was a great piece of stage business.

One tantalizing little bit laid out there...when his British Overlord barged in with the minutes of his bean-counting meeting, Don was dictating a response to London Fog's suggestion that they manufacture products for women and children. We never do hear whether or not Don thinks it's a good move to, you know, extend the brand...but, given what he said during the Baltimore trip, he's probably agin it. Proving once again that he's really pretty terrible at his job...but he's no longer able to mollify the boss or his more talented underlings with a bowl of scotch and a seductive flash of intimacy.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Then, after they're drinking in those little cups, he asks Don if he throws the ball around with the boy (in an almost pointed way). Don looks down, says "not enough," a brief moment of clarity. Immediately it cuts back--again, almost jarringly since there is no real transition, just a straight cut--to Don reading his magazine without a cup in his hand, Hobart facing the other direction.

Okay, I watched the scene again, and I see the jarring edit you're talking about, but it plays to me more like a bad match - like that was a shot from earlier in the scene they put at the end, perhaps because they didn't want to close the moment on the shot of Don saying "Not enough," and they didn't realize how it didn't fit the previous shot - than it felt like an M. Night Shyamalan clue.

Yes, Mad Men at times is incredibly subtle. But for something like your theory, I believe Weiner and company would have made damn sure it was clear this was all in Don's head, in the same way they spelled out the transitions from 1962 Don to 1950s Don in "The Mountain King," or how they cue us to the usual transitions between Don's real life and his daydreams of childhood as Dick Whitman.

And I think Dennis is cold to Don in the hallway simply because he's embarrassed to have revealed so much of himself to a total stranger. He even put his hands on Don's face, which just wasn't done between grown men in those days.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"He even put his hands on Don's face, which just wasn't done between grown men in those days."

Is that done today?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is that done today?

Probably a tiny bit more, but you're right. The larger point is that Dennis exposed his soul to another guy in a way that just wasn't done for a man like himself.

Anonymous said...

Were we supposed to see the string that brought down the caterpillar into Betty's hand? Technical gaffe or not?

54cermak said...

First time commenting here. An anon poster above mentioned that he/she felt like the show had already done everything it could by showing how people used to be more racist, sexist, callous, etc than they are today.

I think thats the wrong way of looking at it.

This show is more than any other period drama thats existed to date - a history of a time as much as it is a scripted show with stories to tell.

The 60s just didnt happen all at once where one day you had the world of SC and then the Beatles landed in America and everybody just changed overnight. The attitudes of people in that decade changed at different rates and from different angles and in some cases didn't change at all. Some folks changed in the opposite trajectory from what we typically think of as embodying the 60s.

(Forgive me if I'm treading too deeply into politics here)

We saw last season how Randite Bert Cooper was taking Harry Crane under his wing. We've also seen how Harry has morphed from the most soft hearted and likable of the chipmunks to his lecturing the others about losing the work incentive based on the marginal tax rate. Harry is going to be the backlash vote that Nixon capitalizes on 68 and is just as vital to telling the story of this decade as Paul Kinsey's trip to Alabama was or Sally Draper's (presumed) metamorphosis into hippie-dom.

The joy of this show is watching how all this unfolds and how the societal changes of the era transformed and shaped (often unknowingly as we're starting to see with Pete) different people in different ways.

Wordnerd said...

I always enjoy your reviews, Alan, as well as the comments. Manton, I never considered that scene to be a dream sequence -- I just assumed that Hobart was embarrassed at having let his guard down (pun sorta intended) with Don. Much to think about now. I also felt the whole imprisonment vibe -- Hollis stuck running an elevator for Mr. Businessman, e.g., and Betty's squashing the caterpillar before it could grow wings and fly away. I also think that Peggy is imprisoned -- she's trying so hard to be an independent career woman, but the insecure girl who went to secretarial school seems to seep out of her pores any time she tries to assert herself.

I'm hoping that the Don-Ms. Farrell attraction is one-sided for a change, with Don resisting her advances for once.

Liam said...

Two unrelated thoughts:

1. The appearance of Medgar Evans in this episode has to be counted as one of the most surreal moments in TV history.

2. The bit speech by the nurse (a great part, btw) just before Betsy goes under, with the dada-esque reference to the Hebrides, was brilliant.

MadAsHell said...

Discovered this blog (googling for the exact "nosh" line) around midnight and stayed up well past two reading all the Mad Men comments.

I know very little about the childbirth process, but it seems to me that Betty's dream relates to Betty's real task at the time. If you leave a caterpillar alone, it will naturally transform into a butterfly. If you clutch it in your hands - well, the musical Zorba has a whole song about not rushing that process.

So, under the influence of drugs, Betty sees herself clutching the caterpillar. If she can just stop holding on, the new life will begin. Which happens.

srpad said...

I really enjoyed this episode! A few points:

I was also confused by the dour look Don got from the other couple. The theories I have read here are intersting. I have decided I think Alan is right: it was nothing more than the other gentleman regreting how he acted. the emotions of the momment put him, too, into a "fog".

I absolutely *loved* Don just getting up and walking out of the meeting. His saying nothing spoke volumes.

I also really liked the quiet midnight snack scene. I think that was the most parenting Sally has gotten in the series to date.

The shot of a sweat-drenched Betty (the one you used for your screen shot) made me think of the Twilight Zone. It reminded me of similar shots in the episodes "Eye of the Beholder" and "Midnight Sun" and some others. I know it wasn't intentional but the fact that it would fit the era made me enjoy the coincidence.

Karen said...

Were we supposed to see the string that brought down the caterpillar into Betty's hand? Technical gaffe or not?

Um, caterpillars spin silk out of their bodies to make cocoons. They have been known to descend on those strings of silk.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Rush Blog uninvited from commenting on the blog?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yup. Just hadn't had a chance earlier in the day to deal with that.

Imamarilyn said...

heleneharris, good thought on Duck and his relationship to Grey. It did not look like a normal desk. It could have been a conference room table. Maybe he isn't employed at Grey but is trying to get a job there and having Peggy and/or Pete in tow might increase his chances. He was less than honest with the Brits and then with Bert and Roger when putting together the merger to enhance his career. He is a manipulator and not in a good way.

oSoFine said...

Great blog, as usual - as are the comments! I too, recognized Suzanne Farell's name. I don't know why they would pick such an iconic name. This didn't take me out of the show as much as the guest appearances that we've had this season. The first was when Embeth Davis appeared as Pryce's wife - that was a huge distraction for me. This has all been covered before, but it is still bothering me. I'm sure a lot of name-actors would love to do a cameo on MM, but IMO, the show works much better without them.

Now that is out of the way, I want to comment on Pryce's reaction to the "dressing-down" meeting of heads of SC and Pete. I found his reference to himself as a "stranger in a strange land" very interesting (I wondered if he had read the book by Heinlein, which was first published in 1961. He certainly seemed to "grok" the racial issues in America better than the American's in the room!)

Right after watching that scene, I got the chorus of Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man" in my head (unfortunately, the song wasn't published until 1965, otherwise, I'd love to hear it integrated into the soundtrack!).

"Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?"

To me, it just sums up so much of not only the ignorance of the SC people to understand the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement, but also so many other aspects of the show! Sometimes I just want to yell at some of the characters, lol.

I also laughed so hard at Pryce's "meeting" about office supplies, etc. When he referred to the theft of a credenza as a "conspiracy", I almost spit out my drink!

So much to say, but so much has already been covered by other posters. I will say that though it is an interesting theory that Don and Dennis's conversations weren't real, I think there would have been some kind of clue if that were the case. Frankly, I was also confused by their weird exchange (or lack thereof) later in the show, but I think that that perhaps Dennis was sobered up, literally, by the reality of what his "girl" went through and maybe even felt ashamed for trying to turn the waiting room into a party. He was also probably embarrassed that he had shared so much with this other man, and maybe didn't want his wife to think that while her life was hanging in the balance, he was off drinking and making new friends. Still, it was odd, and it would be nice if we saw him again to get some insight into what that was about.

from a stolen pen to a velvet glove said...

@cgeye

Re: Calling Duck's dog "Charley"

CHAUNCY! Your dog's name is CHAUNCY! ;)

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested you can read the August 1963 issue of Ebony at google books to check out who was advertising in the magazine back then:
http://books.google.com/books?id=3fQqJPg1QeIC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Hayden Childs said...

I'm fairly certain that the line about the wife being on a boat and the husband being on the shore is verbatim from Robert Bradley's book on husband-coached childbirth. I don't have a copy with me to confirm, but having had two children using the Bradley method (more or less), I've read the book twice, and that line has stuck with me. Bradley's book is from the late 60s, and he spends quite a bit of time documenting the horrors of twilight birth.

gypsy howell said...

I'm hoping that the Don-Ms. Farrell attraction is one-sided for a change, with Don resisting her advances for once.

I'm taking it as a bad sign that he lied to Betty about who was on the phone.

tgd4 said...

I’d like to share a few thoughts on last night’s episode of MM:

Smeared blood on Sally’s face: I interpreted Sally’s face smeared with blood as evidence of her misdeed at school that prompted the parent-teacher conference. Was she in a fight with another student? I forget the details stated by the teacher.

Re: the look Dennis (the expectant father/prison guard) gave Don in the hospital hallway: I don’t think that anything happened to the Hobart’s baby because the nurse had announced that both Dennis’s wife and baby boy were fine & doing well when she congratulated him in the waiting room. Also, I agree with another post that his wife didn’t appear to be dressed for leaving the hospital. I think that the exchange we were seeing in the waiting room between Don & Dennis was between two men sharing the same experience from very different perspectives. For Dennis, it was his 1st baby & he clearly was swept up by the emotion of the experience & the introspection that such a profound transition brings. For Don, however, this was his 3rd child, he could relate to Dennis’ position but was experiencing his upcoming birth from a much more jaded perspective, knowing how transient are those new father feelings of becoming a better man & that the novelty wears off & life returns to normal (at least for the fathers). In the hospital hallway, I believe Dennis, a normally tough man, was embarrassed at having shown so much emotion and soul-baring to Don in the waiting room. Remember, in those days didn’t men essentially communicate through sports talk –especially with strangers?

Duck commenting on Pete & Peggy’s relationship: I thought it was odd that Duck verbalized his suspicion that Pete & Peggy had a “relationship.” It seemed out of place for that occasion & setting.

I’m wondering if Duck has as much power & control at his new firm as he implies. I think it would be an uncharacteristic risk for normally pragmatic Peggy to leave SC, where she has worked so hard to carve out a niche, for Duck’s firm.

Grandpa Gene mopping: I’m glad someone finally pointed out that Gene was mopping up blood off Betty’s kitchen floor. That was one of several ominous clues that seemed to signify impending tragedy. Another was the caterpillar. Let’s face it, whatever one thinks of Betty, she doesn’t seem like the type of woman who would embrace a fallen caterpillar –I definitely felt she crushed it.

Betty’s homecoming: One post mentioned the kiss Betty gave Sally as the child hugged her mother & said how much she missed her. I felt that Betty definitely gave Sally a very dismissive little peck on the head which showed her discomfort & irritation with Sally’s display of affection.

Didn’t anyone else feel a sense of dread building regarding Betty & the baby? At the end when Betty awoke to the crying baby, I was sure her pause signified some profound contemplation about whether she was going to commit to this new responsibility or not. The lighting, the upset baby, the sleeping Don, all seemed to point to a moment where Betty was going to finally come unhinged & either harm the baby or leave.

I have one comment regarding a season 2 episode that I have yet to see in any other posts. I wondered if the reason Peggy’s sister appeared pregnant while visiting Peggy in the hospital was because she was making it look as if she were the pregnant one so that the family could save face when the baby suddenly appeared. If you think about the months involved, given that noone mentioned they were expecting in those days until they began to show & that Peggy was hospitalized for an additional 3 months, a faked pregnancy on Anita’s part would possibly allow her to fool the community into thinking the new baby was hers rather than unmarried Peggy’s. It would certainly have made explaining the little one’s first arrival in church much easier! Just a thought.

Thanks Alan for thought-provoking recaps –watching Mad Men is definitely even more enjoyable after reading your summaries.

christy said...

Ha, there's an ad (featuring photographs of black faces) for Johnny Walker Red, the scotch that Don and Dennis drink.

And a LOT of well-known to ubiquitous brands also showing black faces in their ads. I don't really see any "integrated" ads, though, if integrated means the ad would show both white and black people. Some don't show people at all and seem mostly race-neutral.

I find that Arrid ad, with its explicit talk of "sex perspiration" rather shocking!

Chicken Pizza? said...

More and more Betty reminds me of Janice from Updike's Rabbit books.

This is, of course, another bad omen for baby Gene.

Cantara said...

I dunno... Anyone here suspect little Gene might have a birth defect that doesn't show up for a few episodes -- or even not until next season?

christy said...

When I see Yeardley Smith in human form, I think first not of Lisa Simpson, but of Square One. Man, I loved PBS as a kid.

Imamarilyn said...

gypsy, I had the same feeling when Betty asked who was on the phone and Don said, "No one." Back when Don stroked the grass, I thought of him putting his hand up Bobbie Barrett's skirt at the restaurant. He is definitely attracted to Miss Farrell, although she seems to be pursuing him. Also it could have been he didn't want to upset Betty as she was on her way to the hospital since she had said she wanted to put Sally's problems at school behind her. He did say it was "no one" and I think that is the misogynist in him dismissing a woman as no one. With the exception of Peggy, Don in general is. disrespectful and dismissive of women.

Liam said...

Also: the pineapple reference. Pineapple was considered a food that might lead to miscarriage.

gypsy howell said...

Imamarilyn, that was my more charitable explanation as well - he didn't want to upset Betty on the way to the hospital.

Still....

Wordnerd said...

@gypsy howell - you may be right. I just took it, at the time, to mean that it wasn't worth getting Betsy upset. I just think it would be interesting to see Don rejecting an advance, even if it's just for a few episodes.

Manton said...

Great comments about Betty and her being the caterpillar. Really interesting takes.

I read Alan's response and have watched the scene for, oh, about an hour now. I can see that it's possible to have misplaced that particular clip in the timeline of the show (it would have to be placed after the establishing shot but before Nurse Lisa Simpson enters the room).

This would be possibly the worst editing of a show I've ever seen. It's too haphazard, too loose, especially for a show this meticulous.

The best literal clue you can find is the man in the background, sitting next to the tv. If you follow his trajectory, he is present in the establishing shot, then vanishes, then re-appears when Don pulls the ad out at the end of the scene. So, it's possible that they just haphazardly threw an early part of the scene at the tail.

However, I'd be remiss if I didn't go back and further analyze the scene as not entirely "real" and "true.". What kind of film school grad would I be?

Why would they go back and throw on that new tail to the scene when they have such a great out when Don is resigned and looks away? It's perfect.

The ambience is slightly different throughout the cuts, which might be a sonic clue. The TV is talking about the Metropolitan weather as Don pulls the ad out (two people going on a trip in a car, just like Hobart and Don?) while in the establishing shot they discuss mourners for "Negro...Edgar Evers." The sound volume actually kicks up a little bit from the establishing shot to when Don pulls out the ad, with a loud ringing phone and voice over from the hospital speaker. They don't exactly seem to jive, and wouldn't necessarily if they were in proper sequence, like brought up above. The other way we can track the scene is through the magazine in Don's hands, and the pages don't match.

What the two talk about is also up for discussion. All of Hobart's line are so specific not only to Don, but of Don's situation, that it's fishy. Earlier, Hobart says, "like the prison can't run without me," when Don gets back to work, Roger says that everything came to a standstill without him there. When they come back to Don and his new friend, Don hits his watch, saying, "Well the good news is time has stopped." Again, something you can say in that situation in real life, but it lends itself to this discussion.

The rest of their interaction is similar. Hobart describes being a jailor roughly in equal terms of Don's running of his house, but especially his job. Some good ones, some bad ones, how he is like "the King," and how they don't do anything because they respect the badge, or in Don's case his talent and reputation. Finally, "they're all in stripes," possibly referring to pinstripe suits? You probably think I'm reaching here, so I'll digress....

Mad Men doesn't do on the nose like this. And, in an episode with the incredible "your decisions affect me," these are just too specifically tailored to Don. Earlier, Hobart says, "like the prison can't run without me"; when Don gets back to work, Roger says that everything came to a standstill without him there.

So...in my estimation, it's either some sort of dream sequence (possibly it's based in reality, but veers off into non-reality, such as the break from the guys getting cigarettes out of the machine and then Hobart completely changes direction and gets emotional for no reason whatsoever other than to drive story points home for Don) or really, really terrible editing which goes in line with this season, for whatever reason.

If that were the case, and I was Mr. Weiner, heads would roll. And they should. Mostly because of how much time I just threw away!!

gypsy howell said...

I just think it would be interesting to see Don rejecting an advance, even if it's just for a few episodes.

Progress in baby steps, as they say.

TIMMY!!! said...

A couple of minor things to add:

Typical very nice Mad Men touch that working-class Dennis was planning to celebrate the birth of his first child with Johnnie Walker RED (the cheap JW).

Also liked the casual reveal (for the first time?)that old, lovable, eccentric Bert Cooper is racist to the bone.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Mad Men doesn't do on the nose like this.

Hey, I love "Mad Men" enough to write all that I write about it every week, but it is very much guilty of being on the nose at times, and was for a lot of this script (Hollis' ups/downs line, for instance). Most of the time, the show is so subtle that it can get people to look for meanings and plot developments that might not actually be there, but there are other times when the show puts a big blinking neon sign above its thematic moments. Don's conversation with Dennis was one of those times.

Since I think you're going down a rabbit hole on this, Manton, I'll just ask two questions and let the subject drop:

1)What do you feel is added to the episode by making Don and Dennis's interaction take place entirely inside Don's head? And, particularly, by doing it in such an apparently subtle way that you would need some basic knowledge about how film editing works to understand the one and only clue that it wasn't real?

2)Assuming that your thesis is right, and Dennis never talked to Don in the waiting room. If he and Don never spoke, why would the happy mood that he's in as he wheels his wife down the hall (presumably to see their son in the nursery) disappear? Why would his face turn ashen at the sight of a total stranger carrying flowers to some other new mom in the maternity ward? Wouldn't he either return the smile or, at least, not change expression? Isn't the only sensible explanation that he reacts to Don's presence because he knows Don and is thinking about the circumstances under which he knows him?

Anonymous said...

Great recap and helpful comments everyone.

This ep was 60s deja vu for me in so many ways, e.g., my dad making eggs and hash for just me and him, having to wave to my mother from the grass outside the hospital when my younger siblings were born, etc., wow.

Poor Peggy, even after 4 decades there's still not equal pay, at least where I worked for 32 years.

LOL about the Tarantino feet. I also thought it was very QT with that flash of Sally wiping the blood on her face.

For a sec there, I thought that Betty was going to go smother the baby in post partum depression, yow.

I also thought of the brief relationship aspect in the waiting room -- even before the scene in the hallway I thought, "those two will never speak again." It's just how those momentary sympatico things go sometimes. But that's not to say that I'm right. :-)

I like Hollis a lot.

Juanita's Journal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juanita's Journal said...

Also it could have been he didn't want to upset Betty as she was on her way to the hospital since she had said she wanted to put Sally's problems at school behind her.


I think that Betty meant Gene's death.

Juanita's Journal said...

I'm beginning to suspect that many fans view Betty Draper the same way her parents did. In a superficial manner. Why do a lot of fans expect her to be an ideal mother and yet, tolerate the flaws of other characters?

Someone had seen the final scene as a hint that Betty might become unhinged and harm the baby. Yet, many fans have failed to see her as a prisoner of her upbringing, her marriage and the expectations others have of her. Is this due to the fact that Betty is merely a houswife and not a professional like Peggy and Joan?

Betty's brand of motherhood does not strike me as monstrous or neglectful. It seems typical of her era. Yet, she seemed to be judged bu 21st century sensibilities because she interacts with children and is a woman. On the other hand, Don does not receive that many criticisms when it comes to his children. Yet, I feel that he is not really much of a parent, even based upon mid 20th century sensibilities.


I had asked several people who are part of Sally Draper's generation if parents were automatically expected to inform teachers about traumatic family events back in the 1960s. Those I had asked, never heard of such a thing. Which makes me wonder why Matt Weiner had allowed Miss Farrell to admonish the Drapers about failing to inform her about Gene's death.

K. said...

Susan: I can’t agree that Peggy is being manipulative or self-pitying as she touches the baby booties in Don’s office. I saw it as a moment of self-doubt more than anything else … sort of like, “Really? So the baby was what I was supposed to want, and not my career?” While Peggy’s career has been (and no doubt will continue to be) marked with moments of ambivalence like this, it’s important to remember she’s traveling a path where very few women have gone before her. She’s got a mentor or sorts in Don, but in this scene he had just let her down rather dismissively. She’s got a mentor of sorts in Joan, but she’s just as confused about the role she wants versus what she’s supposed to want as Peggy. In short, Peggy has a lot to figure out at a very young age, and it’s completely understandable to see her doubting herself and her decisions from time to time.

54cermak, I couldn’t agree more with your comment about the various methods and paces of change afoot in the 1960s. Socially, culturally and politically, the 1960s didn’t even begin in 1960 nor end in 1970, so to expect a television drama to neatly encapsulate all of the changes underway is, I think, a bit unrealistic.

I didn’t think Betty crushed the caterpillar, but that she clutched it in such a way that it couldn’t escape. I thought it was interesting that she was NOT pregnant during that part of her dream. Overall, I felt such sadness surrounding the birth and homecoming. Giving women a drug to help them “forget” the experience of childbirth, and then sending them home with a newborn with the expectation that now happily-ever-after-time begins, is misogyny bordering on cruelty. I think Betty’s in for a major bout of postpartum depression … of course, at a time when such a thing wasn’t even acknowledged. Talk about the deck being stacked against you.

Oldmandeac said...

There was a lot to Pete's scenes that should be mentioned -

In the elevator scene, Hollis says, "My name is Hollis, Mr. Campbell". Pete never offers his first name. Even though he wants Hollis' opinion and his demographic's money, it was an indication that Pete did not consider Hollis an equal - hence not on a first name basis.

Pete has always seen himself as an equal or superior to Don. Yet, his inability to sell Admiral on his mixed race ads and his being left speechless and looking silly is something you never would see in Don Draper. Don would have sold the idea, if it were his.

Pete has always seen himself as superior to Peggy, yet Peggy always upstages him. Peggy goes to her superior (Don) and pitches her value. Pete gets summoned by his superior (Roger with the others) and gets his head handed to him.

berkowit28 said...

"And I think Dennis is cold to Don in the hallway simply because he's embarrassed to have revealed so much of himself to a total stranger. He even put his hands on Don's face, which just wasn't done between grown men in those days." [Alan]

Absolutely. I'm rather surprised that several people are getting rather carried away with the notion that Don's talk with Dennis could be a dream sequence, purely on the basis of the placement of a cup. I know we have come to expect only the best from Mad Men in terms of production values. But with the pressure of getting out weekly episodes on schedule (from all we've heard, mad Men is successful at this: no suggestion anywhere of schedule or cost overruns such as led to Aaron Sorkin leaving West Wing), there is bound to be the occasional slip up.

Here there might indeed have been a very, very minor error in editing, using a take they actually shot earlier later in the scene without due regard for cup holding. I can't imagine very many people are going to notice that (I didn't). In the same way they slipped up with the Compact Edition of the OED making an appearance before its publication date. These things happen. This is far more likely than a dream sequence that is not clearly tagged as such, as Mad Men always does. The idea of a narrative sequence later being exposed as a dream sequence that never really happened is not believable to me. Mad Men is not Dallas.

Susan said...

A lot of this episode felt to me like, “look, this is what it was like to give birth in 1962!” The drugs, the dad in the waiting room, the waving from the sidewalk. I found myself having more of a distant reaction to it because it felt so clearly “period detailed." Like, I was thinking less about Betty being alone in the room, distant from her waving family, and more wondering about whether they kept kids away from the baby in 1963 due to germ fears.

I think the "Hobart was a dream" thoughts are interesting, but I don't buy it. Perhaps his comments were a bit heavy-handed in relation to Don's situation, but that's a writing/plot flaw. I read the look in the hallway to mean that this supposedly tough guy was embarrassed that he confided his fears and hopes about fatherhood to a complete stranger, in the middle of the night, drunk.

I wonder if Duck is struggling at all at Grey. When the going got rough for him at Sterling Cooper, his response was to look to his last employer to step in. Perhaps that’s what he’s doing again, poaching from his last employer to save himself.

I also found that quick shot of Sally wiping the blood on her cheek to be odd and out of place. It reminded me of the shot of Joan spraying the ants last week, which also came and went so quickly that I was confused and taken out of the moment.

@jamfan, re: “Anyway, I just found it interesting that Roger went from clown last week to baby this week but then all the way back to grown-up.”

I didn’t think Roger seemed that grown up in the scene with Pete. It was Lane who asked if they could finish the “flogging” of Pete, and Roger said something like, “It’s never as fun as you think it’s going to be.”

Paul Outlaw said...

Grandpa Gene mopping: I’m glad someone finally pointed out that Gene was mopping up blood off Betty’s kitchen floor. That was one of several ominous clues that seemed to signify impending tragedy.

I would not say "impending" tragedy, but "recent" tragedy. If you look at Medgar Evers in that dream sequence, it seems clear from the blood on his clothing that it is his blood that Gene is mopping up.

Anonymous said...

Juanita J, Thank you, thank you for making these points about our current day filter of Betty. Thank you January Jones and Matt Weiner for your comittment to showing her story.

dc said...

Great blog, Alan... I've been poring over it every week since the start of Season 3. The only drag is I get my iTunes delivery at 4 AM, so I'm never in time for the initial discussion... hopefully people will scroll down this far...

I'm in agreement with Tesswpfd17 that Pete's dubious expression during the blackface performance indicates that he has a somewhat progressive attitude on race, or one that at least wouldn't have been seen at the time as especially bigoted. That said, it's still extraordinarily ham-fisted of him to corner Hollis in the elevator and demand that he be spokesperson for African America on the subject of television purchases. It reminds me of the first episodes with Peggy as copyrighter in season 1, where she was assumed to be representative of all women, everywhere.

I find myself beginning to understand Mad Men's trajectory on the topic of race. It looks like it's going to be an extraordinarily slow build, with civil rights themes only coming to the fore in seasons 4 or 5 (should we be so fortunate as to see those seasons). The effect will be pretty dramatic, as it gives Weiner the opportunity to demonstrate how much terrain separates the freshly-scrubbed, apple-cheeked optimism of 1960 from the turbulence of even just a couple of years afterwards. In that respect, the impact of this episode is pretty intense; we're moving into territory a little thicker than Paul Kinsey's flirtation with interracial dating in season 2.

I'll leave people with my lone complaint about the episode: if Duck is going to try to woo Peggy and Pete away from Sterling Coo, shouldn't he sport something a little less dowdy than that awful turtleneck? He was *not* dressed for a power lunch.

DaveMB said...

How do we know the black man in Betty's dream was Medgar Evers? Along with the date and the mention of Sally's questions about him (which Betty heard), the real Evers was shot by a sniper through the window of his house (cf. the film Ghosts of Mississippi) and the Mad Men Evers had the back of his bloody head to the window.

Name-check of Suzanne Farrell? Don't forget that Bert Cooper's sister is named Alice. The temptation to have fun with names like that must be irresistible.

"Stranger in a Strange Land"? Lane is more likely referring to the Bible verse from which Heinlein took his title, rather than the title itself. He probably sat through lots of Bible readings in the sort of English school he attended.

And yeah, many kinds of real caterpillars descend on visible strings.

WV: "verio" -- a misspelled songbird

gypsy howell said...

if Duck is going to try to woo Peggy and Pete away from Sterling Coo, shouldn't he sport something a little less dowdy than that awful turtleneck?

I think the look Duck was going for was "swingin' 60s avant garde."
It did make Pete look stuck in the past by comparison.
(And could Trudi please help Pete pick out a decent suit that fits?)

Coleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manton said...

Alan,

It's fun in the rabbit hole. At the top, I'll just say that the edit sucked regardless, even if it was real (which is probably what happened). Like really, really sucked. It didn't match, at all. So again, boo the editing this season.

To your questions...

1)What do you feel is added to the episode by making Don and Dennis's interaction take place entirely inside Don's head?

Because it's a device that allows the audience to see Don's thinking, like any dream sequence. More so, we would see the two sides of Don's head: the way he wants to see his life, his family, the new baby (embodied by Hobart) and the reality of who he really is.

Why did they specifically needed a dream sequence? Things that have been brought up earlier: out of character for both men at the time to be so open, how pointed and specific it is to Don and seemingly Don alone, and the last part with Hobart making sure Don said that he'd be a better man, too. Maybe you would do that after polishing off a bottle of Red Label, but I'm not totally sure.

2)Assuming that your thesis is right, and Dennis never talked to Don in the waiting room. If he and Don never spoke, why would the happy mood that he's in as he wheels his wife down the hall (presumably to see their son in the nursery) disappear? Why would his face turn ashen at the sight of a total stranger carrying flowers to some other new mom in the maternity ward? Wouldn't he either return the smile or, at least, not change expression? Isn't the only sensible explanation that he reacts to Don's presence because he knows Don and is thinking about the circumstances under which he knows him?

This one comes down to perception of human interaction, so we might never disagree on this specific point. If you do the converse, why would he be so ashamed, especially with the emotions of having a child and drinking so much, to see Don? Why didn't he at least return the smile and put his head down?

I think it's logical that someone smiles at you and you avert your eyes. It's happened to me on the subway, walking in the street, etc. It's odd to match the emotions of a stranger at times.

I think you can enforce my position by how Don takes it, confused as to why he didn't respond. Wouldn't the scene say everything it needs to with the non-reaction and a cut to Don walking into the room? Plus, with Betty having hallucinations, is it so crazy (sorry for word choice) to think that the show would have Don reciprocate and get into his own head as well?

Now does this argument change the story? No, not at all. But what if this was a dream sequence, and it's revealed as such later on. That certainly shades the Don Draper character another way: he's so good at lying, he can now convince himself. And we know how this show favors character over story....

In the end, I'm happy to be part of provoking such an exasperated tweet :) Thanks for the conversation, the space to do it, and the great review, Alan.

Coleman said...

@Manton = Stop thinking so hard. The whole dream sequence theory hinges on the fact that a piece of an extra's leg wasn't shown for a few frames - maybe he'd gotten up and went to the bathroom?

Mad Men has very specific rules and procedures that are followed to denote dream sequences. It is meticulously done, as you noted before - that's why it's so great!

Occam's Razor is always applicable in times like these: most people that occur on screen are, in fact, real people. Especially when we see them appear later on in the episode.

@sepinwall

Excellent review, as per usual. Having watched this show from the beginning, I am just as amazed as you by people complaining about the "lack of action/development" so far this year. I think that people who make comments like these are generally those who picked up the show late. They had the luxury of watching 4 or 5 episodes in a row on DVD; having whole story arcs hashed out for them in a day or two. But the true Mad Men fan knows it doesn't work like that. Week after week, developments and trickle little by little, until the dam breaks. Then a year or some unspecified amount of time goes by and it starts all over again. We see drips with Hollis and Pete in the elevator, drops of Medgar Evers...all the while knowing the flood is coming with the I Have a Dream Speech. Same re: Roger's invitations and Kennedy.

It's been a wonderful season so far, and the fact that your meticulous reviews are on par with the show's attention to detail belies your own fascination.

PanAm53 said...

I am trying to keep up with all these great posts, while attempting to get ready to leave for a 10 day vacation tomorrow.

However, this episode was so strong that I felt I must take the time to post. In my opinion "The Fog" is thus far the best episode of Season 3.

They got the birthing experience of the 60's so spot on, that I will allow a little poetic license for some minor details.

Re the Hobarts' baby: Mrs. Hobart was not going home when they passed Don in the hall. She seemed to be dressed in a long robe. Also, if she was being discharged, a staff member would have been pushing the wheelchair. No, the Hobarts were going down to the nursery to view their son through the nursery window. At that time, babies were only brought to the mother's room for feedings. There were very strict visiting hours...no visiters, including fathers during feeding times. The father only saw the baby through the nursery window. I strongly agree that the interaction between Don and Dennis was real, and that Dennis later regretted it.

dc said...

I think the look Duck was going for was "swingin' 60s avant garde."
It did make Pete look stuck in the past by comparison.


You're right, gypsy howell; I guess I'm so enamored of the "rat pack" look sported by the Sterling Coo regulars that I forget how backwards it would come to look in a couple of years, when everyone starts dressing like the Byrds or the Stones.

berkowit28 said...

"But what if this was a dream sequence, and it's revealed as such later on." [Manton]

They don't do that - thank God. They occasionally set things up to allow us to jump to conclusions (is that Peggy's baby?...no) which are put right later on, but to trick us with a narrative sequence that later on is shown to be a dream? You're just making that up. It's never happened in this show, and would pull the rug from under its own feet, not only ours. The show is grounded in reality, not nonsense. As I said above, Mad Men is not Dallas. Enough.

gypsy howell said...

@Manton: ...out of character for both men at the time to be so open...

But not at all out of character for Don to open up to a stranger. That's often when we get the most revealing tidbits about his life. I don't think it was a dream, if only because I don't see what purpose it would serve to make it that complicated.

berkowit28 said...

"the fact that your meticulous reviews are on par with the show's attention to detail belies your own fascination." [Coleman]

Did you really mean "belies", Coleman? "gives false impression, shows to be false" [Encarta]. Not the opposite (underlines, confirms)? I'm a bit puzzled.

gypsy howell said...

I forget how backwards it would come to look in a couple of years, when everyone starts dressing like the Byrds or the Stones.

I'm really kind of dreading the day we have to see Don in white bell bottoms, electric blue nehru jacket and long sideburns. {{{shudder}}}

Anonymous said...

Roger does have the best bang for the buck lines. His Ann-Margaret line from last week.
This week's line about flogging an underling not being as fun as one thinks made me think of HBO's Rome where they would routinely and casually have the roman aristocrats flogging slaves as they casually held conversations with other aristocrats. They also would casually throw out lines like that.

Juanita's Journal said...

Pete has always seen himself as an equal or superior to Don. Yet, his inability to sell Admiral on his mixed race ads and his being left speechless and looking silly is something you never would see in Don Draper. Don would have sold the idea, if it were his.


I never got that opinion. I find the idea of Pete considering himself superior to Don, while longing for the older man's approval rather hard to accept.

Anonymous said...

Looking back, I took the comment from the guard about Don being an honest man fitting, because it seemed like the male bonding equivalent of a junior high school girl telling a fast friend "you're my best friend."
Between the drinking, smoking, and the harrowing/stressful delivery conditions, it's a wonder babies ever came out right back in the day!

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

@berkowit28

oops, you're right.
shame on me.

...and i deleted it the first time I posted because of a spelling error. Then I did it again by spelling your name wrong. I hope this last one is error-free...

dcesq said...

I may not be remembering this correctly, but I thought that during Season 1, Betty said something to Don about walking around all day "in a fog" thinking about him (brushing her teeth, drinking her milk...). If I'm right about that, seems like this title and concept was an interesting way of bringing us full circle back to Season 1 and showing that very little has truly changed in the Draper home...

Anonymous said...

To be respectful to others who don't get the inside references (I hate it when I am the one not getting the joke), I thought I would provide the links to the Blah Blah reference:

How I Met Your Mother Hot/Crazy Scale:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OAHvQKDddU

With Teacher Blah Blah drunkenly calling Don at Home in the Chekovian manner Alan described, she is not only Blah Blah, she is on the Hot/Crazy scale that Barney talks about and what Don is often attracted to (season 1, throw TV out the window type of crazy)

At the Chuck session at Comic Con 2009, the producers of Chuck made an intro video for the panel that Alan himself was moderating that used the line "Sepinwall will destroy us" at 6:07ish:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwp0XGPtZ2w

When Chuck was renewed for a third season after much anguish, NBC president said on the conference call with critics and reporters that it was in part because of Alan's efforts. I believe he is no longer the president of NBC, such is the Kaiser Soze like influence of our Alan.

Love MM, Love the Blog, Love the comments and discourse

RachelP said...

Even though I know this show is fiction, I like to imagine that somewhere, out there, there is an impossibly handsome 46 year old man who prefers not to tell people that his first name is "Eugene."

Mrs. H. said...

Yes, thank you for commenting on and defending Betty. She's a complicated cat.

The closing scene with her in the shadow of bars created by the banister reminds me of Susan Minot's Monkeys. Parenthood as prison. Oh, those middle of the night feedings. And she, like so many mothers of the era, is not breast feeding so she'll be warming innumerable bottles and changing all of those presumably cloth diapers. Just when she was getting some freedom back (children in school, ability to take up riding again, even telling Don Juan to beat it for a while) it's back to nappy duty, sleep deprivation and tedium.

While she may be childish in the ways that she deals with things, let's not forget that she has a Bryn Mawr College degree as well as years in NYC as a model under her belt. I don't know what she majored in but it certainly wasn't Home Ec at a state school (sorry, Mom) so there must be more knocking around that head than we see as she plays her role of Mother/Wife.

And Betty's example for motherhood and wifely duties is straight from a Victorian era. The way her mother looked and spoke to her said volumes.

She is the female Pete - the Dartmouth grad for whom everything came easily. Then, the end of his adolescence arrives in that he has to prove himself to the made men (and women) who surround him. Maybe this third child and her being without parents will represent the end of her rather prolonged adolescence.

Finally, my husband wants me to get a dress like the one she wore in her caterpillar dream sequence.

Anonymous said...

You're right Susan, kids were not allowed in the hospital rooms to visit poeple back then due to the germs, or at least that's what they told us kids. In addition to not being able to visit my mother after giving birth, my dad was in the hospital a couple times and we couldn't visit him either. Most of the time we didn't even get to go into the lobby. I'm glad times have changed in that way.

Betty's behavior isn't really typical of the era, but perhpas it was for her WASPy class or station. The regular middle class moms were much more in touch with their "careers" at home (altho they were sometimes susceptable to that "19th Nervous Breakdown"). A very accurate contemporary portrayal of wives/moms back then is the 11th episode of "From The Earth To The Moon", which shows the astronauts' wives holding down all aspects of the homefront like cheerful octopuses, understanding that their family's well being depended on them keeping it all together while Dad worked most of the time, which was not unlike the average 60s housewife with commuting husbands. Granted, the astronaut wives had their own issues that degraded their psyche, and the difference is well described by the wives in "The Right Stuff", in the comment about the difference between "cut-throat" office jobs vs the perils of test flights.

I agree about telling the teacher personal family business as being pretty odd, people were much more private then, than they are now. Always TMI nowadays.

Millie said...

Now I've only watched this episode once, but I'm pretty sure Hobart had a black eye when he was wheeling his wife down the hall. Although all of the "dream" theories are interesting, I think there's a bit of over-analyzing going on. Hobart said he wanted a new start and to be better for his child.The black eye is a big red flag that says he's still getting in trouble.

tgd4 said...

Yet, many fans have failed to see her as a prisoner of her upbringing, her marriage and the expectations others have of her. Betty's brand of motherhood ... seems typical of her era. Yet, she seemed to be judged by 21st century sensibilities... Don does not receive that many criticisms when it comes to his children...he is not really much of a parent, even based upon mid 20th century sensibilities.

In response to Juanita's Journal, I completely agree with your take on Betty as a product of her upbringing. As a child of the 60's I would like to say that women were given a clear message by their doctors (& their husbands) that childrearing, like the rest of society's aims (remember this was the Sputnik era –the dawning of science/technology as the cure for all society’s ills)was to be viewed objectively, not emotionally. Women were told that the scientific, medical establishment (i.e. all male) knew more about raising children than mothers. Overindulged, emotional, "intuitive" parenting was considered wrong – as a parent now, I often joke with others who grew up in the 60’s, about where the adults were in our lives –mothers were all at home but not interacting with the kids, dads were in the city working, & teachers were never out on the playground during our 1+ hours of recess. Just like Sally, there was an unwritten expectation that children of any age were to solve (or more often, ignore) their problems. Also, there was a clear difference re: the freedom given to boys versus girls. From what we’ve seen of Gene, & Betty, I’m sure she grew up extremely sheltered. It was not uncommon for someone of Betty’s social strata to have worked for a year or 2 as a means of getting out in the world (the better to find a husband) or possibly to go to a strict 2-year college before marrying. Therefore, Betty was probably only a working model for a few months to a year or 2. This means that she was most likely only 20 or 21 when she married Don & found herself thrust into the responsibilities of being a wife & then a parent, after a lifetime of being “daddy’s little girl.”

Didn’t Betty say to her psychiatrist that she was angry at her mother –the woman who had so much advice regarding finding a husband - for dying before telling her what to do afterward?

I’d also like to offer the opinion that what viewers are reacting to so strongly is not so much Betty’s behavior toward her kids but the lack of emotion behind it. Neglect, at least compared with today’s parenting standards, may have been part of growing up in the 60’s, but most of us knew our mothers loved us & were conflicted by the advice they received re: not overindulging our emotional needs. Clearly, Betty, is missing the maternal love we would like to see. This, probably, adds to her guilt & feelings of isolation.

After all, from Betty’s perspective she played the game by all the rules. She grew up to be sweet & beautiful –didn’t get fat as her mother predicted –landed a successful, handsome, smart man who could provide for her as her father had. She keeps her house clean, takes care of her kids, has dinner on the table when (or if) Don arrives home, has sex when he wants, doesn’t outshine him in any arena, doesn’t cheat on him, and yet her life is not being lived “happily ever after,” as all the books, TV shows, & Disney movies of the era indicate is due to women like her. This realization is what. I think, spawned the women’s lib movement that grew throughout the 60’s & 70's.

Sorry for making this so long – I think we need to view Betty as either a young “work in progress,” or, hopefully not, a casualty of the time when Valium was becoming popularly known as “mother’s little helper.”

Pamela Jaye said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tgd4 said...

McMann & Tate.... Darren Steven's office in Bewitched????

Alan Sepinwall said...

If you don't read all the comments, you don't get to comment, Pamela. Them's the rules.

Pamela Jaye said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Imamarilyn said...

Baby steps, indeed, gypsy. Don is allowing Miss Farrell to pursue him. Don seemed ambivalent in his encounter with the stewardess in episode 1. Either he wasn't all that interested in her (too much like Betty) or he was making some kind of effort to control himself. Even in the hotel room, he seemed to lack passion and I think it's possible they didn't even have sex, the fire bell being a welcome interruption so that Don had an excuse to just move on. I get the sense that he knows he needs to be more "respectful" of Betty, but it's tough. Ridiculously handsome, successful, powerful, rich, Don could have his pick of women.

I think that Don and Betty's marriage is so troubled that sex is unlikely satisfying for either one of them. I also believe Don views his wife in the classic Madonna scenario where he can never truly get into it with his with her. His remarks last season when she lost her modeling job were a reference to what a beautiful, loving mother he thinks she is and he would have given anything to have had a mother like that when he was a kid. He needs to see her that way and this inhibits their sexual relationship. When they were in a hotel on Valentine's Day and he seemed to have trouble performing, she made excuses for him (we had too much to drink) and also said she wished he would tell her what to do. They are out of touch with each other in a number of ways.

He gravitates toward strong women (Betty is definitely weak) who are ahead of their time (Betty is definitely a throwback.)

Don's infidelity (and Betty's for that matter) is more about the state of their marriage than it is a character flaw with Don. I don't believe he is a serial adulterer.

7s Tim said...

Just wanted to highlight a couple of my fav parts that haven't gotten much attention here, what with diversions into possible dream scenarios. Roger's every line in this episode was funny, from "Dada" to "hand-job" to "never as much fun". But the best line still goes to Dream Betty, when, like a little child, she informs her mother "I left my lunchpail on the bus...and I'm having a baby." just great. I really liked the drug fueled dreams Betty was having, especially the way Gene was shot to look so big, like to a child.
Oh, and I prefer to think of Betty's bug friend as an Inchworm, which granted is a caterpillar.

The best thing this episode did was have people (either real or hallucinatory) remind both the Drapers and us the viewers, that the problems that Don and Betty each have are essentially the same: their inability to be happy. Betty's dead parents tell her to be thankful for what she has, and Peggy is blatantly jealous of the life Don leads (although perhaps partially since it is so denied herself), yet the Drapers only see the prison they are in (to steal the episode's own motif). Good episode, even if the poor editing choice in the waiting room left the possibility fro some confusion. And even though it was a bit out of place, the flash to a blood smearing Sally was just kinda kick ass.

jenae said...

This blog is better than the AMC one, I think. I found it by googling "Mad Men" and "Suzanne Farrell." (Doesn't it seem off to give the name of a famous ballerina of the mid-sixties to Sally's teacher?)

I thought Alan's joke about Chekhov was very funny. (It’s nice to see a funny joke that's free of malice.) Also Zack H.'s comment about Betty is insightful.

I've been reading the AMC blog with trepidation. While Roger is not a deep fellow and so far we haven't seen great depth from Jane either, I have been hoping and sort of trusting Weiner et al to deal with their relationship in a three dimensional way. (If you listen to the commentary that accompanies their hotel room scene in season 2, you’ll hear that in Matt’s view they are really attached to each other and he loves exploring that dynamic, going outside the stereotype.) I myself have been married for 15 years to someone older than myself (unlike Roger he didn't abandon anyone to be with me, his romantic history in fact is one of loyalty and not being the one to leave)--anyway, I have a personal interest in whether they will develop the relationship of R & J in a three dimensional way. Clearly she's not mother Theresa or a rocket scientist, but when posters on the AMC blog start referring to her as "nothing but a bimbo" I think and hope they will be surprised as the show evolves, simply because the mad men team is too smart to think that anyone is "nothing but a (fill in flimsy label)". All personalities are complex; even someone as shallow as Rodger is complex in his contradictions. (E.g. he clearly, visibly got in touch with his love for Mona after the heart attack, then a stray train of thought about how nice it would be to fall in love again led him to overturn his whole life in such a haphazard way.)

I'm glad to find a blog where people are discussing the show with the same kind of depth the creators bring to writing it.

Imamarilyn said...

Good thoughts on Roger. He may get the lion's share of the best lines in Mad Men. His comment to his attorney that he didn't want to die with that woman (Mona) showed me that his health problems scared him to the point he realized time is short, life is too short to be unhappy, and if he thinks a 20-year-old secretary is going to make him happy, he is going to go for it.

Tim had an interesting thought that Betty and Don are unable to be happy. Very good way to describe them. Roger Sterling, on the other hand, is able to be happy.

I don't believe Jane is a completely shallow person. Remember the words she wrote lying in bed that one day? Roger asked her who wrote it and she told him not to be surprised that she had, it was insulting to be treated that way. There are no one dimensional characters on Mad Men. They are all complex as real people tend to be. If they appear shallow, it's simply because we haven't seen enough of them yet.

Pamela Jaye said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wescovington said...

I remember even back in 1975, the doctors had to make a special exception to allow me (who was just 10) to visit my mom in the hospital on Christmas Day. She had been hospitalized for detached retina surgery.

I recall that it was a very big deal for the hospital to allow this.

My mother also gave birth to rather large babies (who grew up to be rather tall adults). My brother born in 1962 was a few ounces shy of 10 lbs and was 22 or 23 inches in length. As my mom looked at him through the nursery window, another mom remarked "I would hate to have been the one who gave birth to that thing."

My mother was also denounced by some as "a cavewoman" for choosing to breastfeed her children.

I think by the time I came around in 1965, there was less of a stigma.

dez said...

In the elevator scene, Hollis says, "My name is Hollis, Mr. Campbell". Pete never offers his first name. Even though he wants Hollis' opinion and his demographic's money, it was an indication that Pete did not consider Hollis an equal - hence not on a first name basis.


I thought Hollis was saying that to cut off Pete, who seemed about to say, "Call me 'Pete.'" IIRC, Hollis emphasized the "Mr. Campbell" when he spoke, as if he wanted to keep the barrier between them intact. This is based on one viewing, mind you.

To whoever asked above: That was Betty's friend Francine (Anne Dudek) helping out at home.

Anyone wonder if they will call the baby "Scott" and not Gene? (Eugene Scott Draper)

As long as they don't call him "Dr."...

jenae said...

Yes, I agree with imamarilyn, Mad Men generally finds the nuances of all the characters. I didn't mean to say that Jane was especially shallow. I'm wary of making any claims for them as individuals or as a couple, as people can be so harsh when there's a so-called May / Dec situation.

I think it's very unfair but all too common that if a woman is beautiful and young, she's assumed to be a bimbo, and then she has to be a paragon of intelligence and virtue to shake off that stigma. Jane isn't a paragon of intelligence and virtue, but she isn't evil and stupid either (as younger wives are so often portrayed to be). She's a fairly normal young woman who happens to be exceptionally beautiful. And her beauty caught the eye of Roger.

I think her infatuation / love for him is real, though since he really is not a very consequent or thoughtful person (in my opinion), I doubt that what I would call true love could evolve between them, unless he changes. She's young and assumably will change. I hope the show will deal with them in a sensitive way. Not hide their flaws--that absurd black face scene, for instance--but not allow them to become less fully human than all the other characters. The depth of characterization is the great strength of the show. Don's character, and his rather tortured journey, especially is I think one of the most complex and moving in the history of TV.

I can see that this blog could quickly get addictive, Especially if one tries to follow The Rules. Feel like I'm playing hookie; may have to go cold turkey.

rcobeen said...

I think Juanita's Journal has it wrong. It's always a bad idea to generalize about how people are thinking, and accusing people of looking at Betty superficially just because they don't agree with you is beneath the level of discussion at this site.

I thought this episode was weaker than the last two because it focused on Betty, but it's not because I filter Betty through a 21st century lens. It's because she is uninteresting and I don't care about her, which is how quite a few people feel. At some point her simplicity becomes a dead end, and that happened last year.

I also thought the dream sequences felt too Soprano-ish to succeed. That they were Betty's didn't help.

I happy if they tread water if they have episodes as strong as the previous two, which clicked beautifully.

belinda said...

Thanks to one of the posters above who posted the link to a 1960s Ebony magazine. It was very interesting to peruse some of the writings as well as the ads of the time. Thanks!

And I don't know about Jane. She wanted to be Don's mistress before she settled with the older guy Roger. I doubt her love for him is that genuine.

What I do miss is Roger and Joan scenes.

And, glad to know I'm not the only one who still cares about Betty. There's something so inherently sad about Betty that is fascinating and tragic to watch. While I wouldn't ask her to babysit my kids anytime soon, I don't think her particular mode of motherhood is all that outrageous or different from other mothers of the time. And Betty has no (or doesn't realize she has in the eyes of the society an) escape - she has no other life other than her being a mom. It's one big fog. I'd go crazybadmom too on my kids if that were me stuck in that time.

Cantara said...

I don't think it was in this comments section, you're all much too bright... But somewhere someone posited the idea that Dennis scowled at Don because he suspected that their babies were switched! Which brings me to ask you all: Anyone else remember the hilarious "That's My Boy?" episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show that was aired in September, 1963? Remember the punchline? I was Sally's age when I saw it first-run, and Rob Petrie's face when he opens the door still makes me laugh out loud to this day...

TimmyD said...

The whole Don/Dennis dream sequence is interesting and reminds me of the discussion over at House Next Door from last year about whether a date given on the episode "Three Sundays" was a mistake or purposeful (which would have made a few scenes out of sequence).

Alan posted that he talked to some Mad Men people and it was just a plain mistake. Makes me realize that no matter how good this show is they do make mistakes. So a bad edit isn't out of question. I remember thinking there was no way Matt Weiner would let the show air with a wrong date and it must have been intentional but I was wrong. Mistakes are mistakes.

Here's the link to the episode review by Andrew Johnston.

http://www.thehousenextdooronline.com/2008/08/mad-men-mondays-season-two-episode-4.html

Tom said...

People, it's obvious why Hobart scowled at Don in the hospital hallway. After Don got the call that his baby had been born, Hobart must have returned to the waiting room, where he began to read the magazine article that ended on the back of the car ad Don ripped out. Destroying waiting-room reading material is the sort of antisocial behavior that can really get you snubbed. Just ask Dr. Melfi.

berkowit28 said...

[meta-comment]

So if Pamela Jaye starts her next attempt to comment with "I have now read all the comments amd still feel that..."it will be allowed to stand, yes? Rather than (presumably) defending why she can't be bothered to read. (I've missed the originals after her first attempt.) Just checking whether people get automatically removed after a first lapse of the rules. If not, they can "sneak one in" for a time. If so, they may not get a chance to atone (or would they be posted after review)?

andythesaint said...

RE: Peggy's raise

While Peggy undoubtedly deserves to be paid more if she's not making much more than her secretary, she still wouldn't be in line to make as much as Kinsey even in today's day and age. Not only has been a copywriter longer (and a Sterling-Cooper employee longer), he's also a Yale graduate while she's a secratarial school grad. So while there's definite sexism going on here, there's also legitimate reasons for Peggy to be lower on the pay scale.

I'm not sure if that's appropro of anything, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

Anonymous said...

I think I have the explanation why Hobart looked away from Don. I actually thought of it after I saw the scene but haven't seen anyone mention it elsewhere so I started to have my doubts. Here it goes:

-Hobary tells Don he can spot "Criminals" and the like and instantly knows Don is an "honest" man.

-When Betty is heavily medicated she tells the nurse that Don is never to be found and asks the Nurse if she's "been with" Don. In the background we hear ANOTHER woman yelling in potential childbirth. This would be Hobart's wife (we see no other husbands in the waiting area).

-I think Hobart's wife heard everything that Betty said. Who knows what else she said about Don while she was drugged?

-Hobart's wife just relays that juicy gossip to her husband ("you woundn't believe what that woman was saying about her husband.." or the like).

-Hobart knows he's been duped. Don's a cheater and an awful husband. So much for him being able to judge a person's character or truthfullness.

-Consequently, we see Hobart very happy when he's with his wife. However, when he sees Don, he feels like he was duped and hence the look of shame and disappointment. Also, he ain't exactly going to give a high five to Don. After all, his wife knows he's a cheating, absent husband and his wife wouldn't approve.

dez said...

I'd be very surprised if the reason Hobart looked away from Don was anything other than shame and embarrassment from having been too open with Don while they were both drunk. I understand the impetus for looking for deeper meaning when it comes to "Mad Men," but I think some of the theories posited simply aren't supported by what we saw onscreen.

Captcha: yalfun - fun with y'all :-)

Devin said...

@Manton

I don't usually pick up on continuity errors, but back in season 1 when Don was agonizing over how to market Israeli tourism, during his lunch with Rachel, his old-fashioned move around the table every time the perspective shifted. I chalked it up to the scene being shot out of sequence and edited as a conversation. By your logic, the moving cup should have clued me into the slipping into and out of a dream state.

Re Duck, he may be struggling, but that is surely his office if they're letting him hang his ducks there.

jenae said...

I agree with dez as to why Hobart looked away (though the gossip explanation is interesting).

Did Jane want to be Don's mistress? I see now what you mean, the attempt to get candid with him over his stay at the Roosevelt while fighting with Betty.

I guess I'm following M.W.'s lead, as he narrated the hotel scene between R & J by repeatedly saying they were "really attached to each other" and that Jane's "not a gold-digger." However, this is not the May / Dec story I would be telling myself. I'm writing a series of such stories (both directions, older women with younger men also) and my heroines are generally more clearly earnest and introspective than Jane, who, other than her young-sounding but sweet and good-enough for a 20 yr old poem and fairly sophisticated comment that Roger shouldn't underestimate her, has in fact been a bit bimbo-ish, e.g. in her willingness to use Roger's initial attraction to her to save her job. But I applaud the show for making her a normal, flesh and blood person, not a raving caricature.

The question of whether Betty is interesting in her underdeveloped plight is a good one. I’m on the fence. I had hoped something more would come of her confession to her analyst in season one, that she would teach him to forget Freud and learn about her actual concerns and he'd help her find herself, that they'd become allies. I was very moved by that idea.

I think don has at least a vague idea of who he is but is crippled by the fact that he thinks he can tell no one (his secrecy drove his brother to suicide, and he has never confided that terrible event to anyone, not even his one confidant, Anna). Betty's problem is that she doesn't have even a rudementary idea who she is. If these two could talk to each other, they could find themselves together, but everything is against them ever doing that.

I said cold turkey, huh? Well, I'm sick today, so I guess it's okay. (But no more!) Maybe I'll have to unsubscribe ‘til next week. Think I’ll do that, and not bend your collective ears any further. ;)

mjryan said...

I missed Joan.

As a mother, I find Betty/Bets/Elizabeth's scenes fascinating. Every scene after Don is sent to the waiting room felt so desolate to me. She was even having to fill out her own admission paperwork? That just ain't right! :)

I felt so sorry for Betty when she was alone in the delivery room, listening to the patient in the other room scream through her own delivery. I cannot imagine sitting there, knowing what pain awaited you and not having anyone with you to give you comfort. It didn't even seem like the drugs were very comforting. I could see the fear, and maybe a smidgen of anger at what she was about to have to go through, on January Jones' face. Great acting.

There was also a subtle reminder when she corrected the nurse about the mountains/islands that, no matter how inmature Betty is, or how bad of a mother/wife the viewer might think she is, the woman has a brain.

The scene that broke my heart was when Betty and Don got home with the baby and Sally plopped down as close as possible to her mom. Betty looked at her (down her nose, I might add) and continued her conversation with her friend.

Someone mentioned that Betty will be the woman that doesn't change with the 60's. I believe the adjective used was 'brittle.' (Please don't make me find the comment; I promise I read them all!) I disagree. I would think, between Betty and Don, she would be more likely to embrace change than Don.

I was thinking the other day that it is unrealistic for Sterling Cooper to retain the same employees for an entire decade. That the lineup has stayed mostly the same for 3 years is, in itself, amazing. Don starting his own shop, or Peggy or Pete leaving seems very likely. In fact, the three of them leaving to start one together is a very appealing idea to me.

mjryan said...

I would think, between Betty and Don, she would be more likely to embrace change than Don.

I need to add to my own comment: especially when you consider how restricting and unsatisfying her life has turned out to be.

Also, I think Don didn't tell Betty who called and why because 1) how the conversation at the school upset Betty 2) why upset her when she's in labor? I saw this as him protecting Betty instead of him being deceitful. I don't want to see him sleep with the teacher but I'm sure it's an inevitability.

Imamarilyn said...

I agree with belinda that Betty is tragic. She is my favorite character because she so perfectly embodies the upper middle class housewife of the day. January Jones does a fabulous job with this very complicated character. She is intelligent but very emotionally stunted and immature. Seeing Ruth last night and hearing her words, "This is what happens to people who speak up" helped shed more light on what Betty is all about. And she passes it down to Sally who was in so much pain over losing her grandfather in episode 4. Sally had an outburst which Betty deemed hysterical" and was sent off to watch tv. Betty is so cold to
her children, even by the standards of that day, yet she is
never an evil caricature.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I agree with Gypsy Howell at 1:00 PM that the fact that Don tells Betty that "no one" was on the phone is suspicious. Also, just before his wife called him, he had a very relaxed, sexy, flirty tone when she apologized and he said something like, "You're all right." Then as soon as his wife called him, he quickly hung up. I think he's attracted, and she certainly is. Where it will go, who knows?

Re the name Suzanne Farrell: while there was a famous dancer by that name, it's not inconceivable that someone named Farrell might name a baby Suzanne just because it sounded good together. I teach, and every so often I run into a name of a person who is now famous, but who wouldn't have been when the name was given.

I agree with the earlier poster that the details of the classroom were spot on. Oh, I remember the Palmer method of handwriting, and I had a desk just like those in some grade school classroom. Brings back memories of eating paste, which we all loved to do in those days.

At first I thought that something had happened to Dennis's baby, but the nurse had said everything was fine, so maybe not. Certainly many people reveal the most intimate details of their lives to complete strangers on a bus or plane. The safety is that you will NEVER see those people again. Then if you were to meet someone in another context after being so revealing, it would be very uncomfortable for at least one of the parties. I'm with those who say the waiting room was not a dream sequence, BTW.

And the details of childbirth also brought back memories I'd rather forget. Fathers weren't allowed in the delivery room at all, and women were kept in the hospital for several days--not up to two weeks, as they had been in the past, but in 1960 the average stay was 5 days. I was in for a week because of toxemia, and I'm sure that wasn't unusual. Although I don't know how much time had passed since the birth when we saw them going down the hall, I had the impression that it hadn't been that long, and his wife certainly wouldn't have been going home so quickly.

Great comments from everyone. I'm in the process of watching the episode again, and it's interesting how much more I pick up after reading the blog and all the comments from others. This time I noticed more stripes with the shadows from the blinds in the hospital room--lots and lots of bars in this episode.

Mart said...

A comment about the quick view of Sally smearing blood on her cheek. I agree it was an out of "character" scene for Mad Men, but it fit into this episode if you imagine it was a hallucination of Betty's upon hearing about Sally's actions. Betty seems to be going slightly mad throughout this episode even before she is injected with drugs. For instance, while she is being wheeled into the hospital room, she sees a man mopping and calls out "daddy". (And then sees him mopping again, this time blood, in the twilight sequence.) Her hands got numb as they did in season 1, again before the drugs.

I found it amazing how put together she managed to look on going to the hospital, and on the return home in her pink suit. She always looks so perfect on the outside, even when she claims to look upset.

On another topic -- maybe Duck's office looked fake to avoid the need for an entire new set just for that one scene.

Hannah Lee said...

Though Pete's marketing acumen is sharp he is still very much out of touch as it relates to dealing with blacks as evidenced by the conversation with Hollis.
I think you could take the word "blacks" and replace it with "anyone" and you still would have a pretty good description of Pete. Poor guy just doesn't know how to relate to anybody. He does seem to have a good opportunistic business sense; maybe he just didn't get the "emotional intelligence" chip in his robot firmware set. Maybe he'll get an upgrade some day.

The dream sequences reminded me of The Sopranos also, but reminded me of Six Feet Under even more...just something about the way they were shot and the way Gene was mopping the floor and Medgar Evans was sitting calmly at the kitchen table while Betty's dead mother dressed his wounds. (Maybe Peggy's moment fingering the tiny bootie brought SFU to mind, too?)

Anyone else think that Betty squished the caterpillar in her hand? She seemed to have a bizarre look on her face when she closed her fingers around it.
Yes...she's a very important housecat, after all. In her dreams she admires a pretty creature, and then pounces on it and crushes it...like a housecat let outdoors nabbing birds under a feeder. Not malicious or with emotion, just reflexive, instinctual. To be honest, though, I really didn't get that scene of her floating down the sidewalk. The dream sequence of her in the kitchen was a little easier to make sense of.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has gotten so fixed on Betty and the Don/Hobart scene that I don't think the Duck poaching his prior employees has gotten enough ink. Remember Duck? - his strength was always in his contacts, whom he knew, never any latent talent or abilities of his own. (And those contacts rarely worked out to the level of his bragging.) His sad, sterile office telegraphed to me that he's not doing well at all, so he's falling back on old tricks: trying to elevate himself by virtue of being the entree to this fab new talent. And he's sunk to the point he can only approach youngsters? And this being Duck, neither side is going to profit as much from the interchange as he professes they will. If Peggy or Pete go to Duck's new agency, they will NOT be the hot shots he promises; if his agency hires them, they will NOT be bringing the long list of clients Duck has undoubtedly said they will.

Anonymous said...

I like this season better than the first 2. I think the show has earned the hype it gets, even though it still irks me that a show about whites in the 1960s gets so much love while The Wire was never even nominated for best drama.

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