Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mad Men, "Wee Small Hours": His master's voice

Spoilers for tonight's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I say "fresh towels" in Farsi...
"'I want what I want when I want it.' And you don't care what it does to the rest of us - like someone else I know." -Betty

"Fine. What do you want from me, love? Your work is good. But when I say I want the moon, I expect the moon." -Connie

"I don't know what you want." -Henry
How do you solve a problem like Conrad Hilton? Or Lee Garner Jr.? Or Betty Draper? How do our characters - particularly Don Draper, whom we've grown accustomed to as master of his own universe - deal when they have to accommodate the whims of fickle men and women of power? How do you give the person you're beholden to what they want when even they don't know what that is? What do you do when you're trying to satisfy grown adults who are as changeable and demanding as baby Gene?

Those are the big questions of "Wee Small Hours," as Don, Sal and Henry Francis all struggle to decipher mixed signals from, respectively, Connie, Lee and Betty. In the end, none of them manages to satisfy his demanding master or mistress, and the only one getting any personal satisfaction at all is Don, who finally gives into his attraction to Suzanne Farrell.

Having already given up the freedom to run from his life, Dick Whitman-style, thanks to the deal with Conrad Hilton, Don discovers that he has to give up his sleep as well. (Not that any new dad sleeps that peacefully, even in the '60s when Don wouldn't be expected to do much during the night.) In their late-night chats, we see why Connie so powerful, and also why he's a little nuts: he has a missionary's zeal to "bring America to the world, whether they like it or not." He wants his hotels everywhere, including the moon - a line that Don assumes is Connie using hyperbole to make a point, but which Connie is deadly serious about.

Yet for all the aggravation Connie has brought him, we see just how important this relationship is to Don - how much he admires Connie, a man from circumstances so much like his own, who didn't have to cheat to get where he is, and who seems to appreciate both the Dick Whitman and Don Draper parts of our hero's life and personality. When Connie likens Don to a son, Jon Hamm shows just how shaken and touched Don is by this. He's never had approval from a paternal figure before, but it matters to him - dearly. He can't get Archie Whitman to say he's proud of him, even in a delusion, but dammit, he can get Conrad Hilton to say it, and he's going to do whatever he can to stay in Connie's good graces.

The Don we see at the office throughout "Wee Small Hours" isn't the commanding figure we're accustomed to. He's tired, and he's desperate, and he's creatively blocked. You can see that Peggy (who wound up on the Hilton account, after all) isn't so much upset when Don belittles her work as she is worried about him. She understands Don so well that it's scary to see him this frayed; it's not quite as startling as when Don turned into Dick and asked Rachel Menken to run away from him, but this is not what Peggy expects or wants out of her boss.

In the end, Don comes up with a fine campaign, gives another vintage Don Draper pitch... and Connie couldn't care less, since Don neglected to include the moon in it. That it's an irrational request - even if Don were to do some sort of moon campaign, it would have to be its own thing, not part of a campaign for the terrestrial Hilton hotels - doesn't occur to Connie, nor does it matter when Don points it out. This is what he wants, and what Conrad Hilton wants, he gets. And so we see Don in the bizarre position of desperately defending his idea - "This is a great campaign!" - in a position where he would previously have acted as scornfully as he did when the Belle Jolie guys initially rejected Peggy's Mark Your Man campaign.

Much as Don doesn't want to hear it from Roger, he is in way over his head with Hilton, and with all the new responsibilities he's taken on in a post-PPL version of Sterling Cooper. He's in trouble, and we know that when he's in trouble, he runs. Between the baby and the contract, though, he can't run very far, and so finds himself giving into the attraction he's felt for months to the geographically-convenient Miss Farrell. This is not a mistake he would have made in an earlier era - even she can tell that he doesn't usually operate so close to home - and it's going to end horribly (Miss Farrell is a little too in touch with her emotions to go quietly when things inevitably get rocky), but Don needs someone right now, and we know that unfortunately that someone will never be Betty. He needs a Midge/Rachel type, and she's the only one within an easy driving distance. But he understands her only slightly more than he understands Connie, and I suspect she doesn't understand our two-faced protagonist any better.

As vulnerable and sympathetic as Don is in the "You're like a son" moment in Connie's suite at the Waldorf, he is as as cold and cruel as he's ever been when poor Sal comes into his office, hoping that Don his secret-keeper will save him from Lee Garner's petty wrath. And I, unfortunately, had the same expectation. Back in "Out of Town", I braced myself for the worst when Don and Sal were on the plane back to New York, and Don turned out to be mostly cool about Sal's double life. (Undoubtedly, he could relate.) And because of that, I assumed Don would be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat to rescue Sal. But this hasn't been a season of rabbits for Don. He couldn't avoid signing the contract, couldn't please Connie, and he sure can't fight Lucky Strike. And in his powerlessness, he unloads on Sal - who's already terrified for his livelihood, and for his public standing - and contemptuously suggests he should have whored himself to Garner to keep the client happy(*).

(*) Fun with hypotheticals time: put Peggy in Sal's position in this story, as Sal more or less tries to do. How does Don react when he finds out a client ordered her firing because she wouldn't have sex with him? Go.

"You people," he tells him, and it's a testament to Hamm's bravery as an actor that he doesn't in any way try to protect his alter ego's image in that moment. This is Don as complete and utter bastard, destroying Salvatore with two words, and not really caring. Even if his larger point is sadly correct - that the firm can't afford to lose by far its biggest client, and Sal therefore has to go - his presentation is beyond wrong.

And my god... Bryan Batt... what can you say about the guy after an episode like this? Salvatore episodes tend to be rare, and therefore a treat when they come up. Here's a character who started out as obvious (some would say too obvious) comic relief and has become one of the show's great tragic figures. Everyone on "Mad Men" suffers in some way (except maybe Ken Cosgrove), but Sal's burden is especially great, and Batt rises to the occasion every time he's called to show that burden with almost no dialogue. Sal dare not speak his problem's name, so Batt has to internalize most of it, play it with the eyes and body language, and the look on his face when Don turns out to be another villain, not a savior, is just devastating.

And that encounter in the editing suite was nearly as brutal. In the past, when Sal has been identified by a fellow traveler, it's in a personal situation, and Sal has a choice. He walks away from the Belle Jolie guy, and he lets the bellboy ravage him, but in both cases, it's up to Sal. Not here. Lee Garner Jr. wants what he wants when he wants it, and he's gonna take it personally when Sal isn't into it, even as he acknowledges that Sal may not want to do anything where he works. If this isn't Sal's worst-case scenario - that would be complete public exposure - this is pretty close, and he winds up out on the street, literally. He can't tell Kitty the truth, or even a fraction of it - How does he explain the firing otherwise? And wouldn't any version of this story finally give Kitty her Eureka moment, if she didn't already have it in "The Arrangements"? - so he has to pretend to still be employed, all while doing tawdry things with men in the park.

Betty's standards for assignation are higher than that - or, at least, they've gotten higher since the time she and Captain Awesome had sex in that bar's back office - and so she won't sleep with Henry in his office, or even at a motel. In the end, she won't sleep with him at all, to his - and, a little, to my - frustration and confusion.

Roman interludes aside, I've felt far more engaged by the show this season when it's at Sterling Cooper than when we're following Betty on her attempt to find fulfillment. And though an argument could be made that Henry is the powerful, confounding figure in this particular story, I think it's Betty who has all the power. Like he says, she's the married woman, so she has to choose to come to him, and she gets to choose to walk away from him. She's the one who decides to be his pen pal, the one who insists on going through with the fundraiser idea, and the one who throws the lockbox full of letters campaign contributions at him. Henry's all-in, and unlike Lee Garner, he's not going to force himself on the one he wants, so Betty holds all the power.

And because of that, Betty's story was the least compelling part of "Wee Small Hours." It's one thing to watch a character we know and care about like Don struggle to satisfy a bewildering master; it's quite another for the bewildering master to be someone we know and care about, and for the confused one to be the guest star. As written, and as played by January Jones, Betty is designed to be a frustrating, and frustrated, character. She's trapped in a life that should make sense but doesn't, with a man who professes to love her but only occasionally acts like it, with mixed signals coming from family and friends from childhood on. Of course she wouldn't know quite what she wants - might drop the idea of Henry in one episode and then decide to pursue him again in the next - but dramatically, it's not always that interesting, particularly when Betty's directionless quality is pitted against a relatively minor guest character.

Maybe that story is eventually going somewhere, I don't know. With only four episodes left in this season, I'm damn curious to see where all of this is going, particularly now that Sterling Cooper has said goodbye to both Joan and Sal, at the same time that Don is tied to the firm for another three years. I sure don't want to say goodbye to Christina Hendricks or Bryan Batt, but if Don isn't going to set up his own shop, how realistic is it to keep them as part of the narrative? Or will "Mad Men" increasingly spread its world beyond the walls of Sterling Cooper, as we see where the '60s take all of these characters, even if it's not together?

But I suppose it's no easier to decipher what Matthew Weiner wants than it is with Connie, or Betty.

Some other thoughts on "Wee Small Hours":

• This episode was the directorial debut for "Mad Men" executive producer Scott Hornbacher, who, like Weiner, used to work on "The Sopranos." I'm guessing, but don't know, that it was Hornbacher's choice to put Miss Farrell in the Bowdoin t-shirt, since it was one of the two schools Tony and Meadow visited in the famous "College" episode of "The Sopranos."

• So it turns out Don's "I want no contact with Roger Sterling" line to Cooper as he signed his contract in "Seven Twenty Three" wasn't about keeping Don away from Roger, but keeping Hilton away from Roger. That makes more sense, as I imagine trying to end all contact between the creative director and a founding partner (even if he's something of a figurehead now) is untenable. Also interesting to see Roger continue to be more passionate and invested about his job ever since his wake-up call in "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency."

• I want to be clear that at this point in the season, I'm seeing my episodes one week at a time, only a few days before you all, so when I joked in my review of "The Fog" that Chekhov had said, "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," I had no idea that the sex would actually first happen in episode nine.

• Unless he was using a pre-existing bit of music I didn't recognize, David Carbonara's theme for the Betty/Henry scenes was some of the lushest stuff he's yet composed for the show. It really sounded like something out of a '50s or '60s melodrama.

• Some "Mad Men" episodes cover the span of a day, others (most notably "Three Sundays") a much longer period. This was one of the latter, as it opens before the start of the school year and ends on September 17, the day of the funeral for three of the four girls who died in the Birmingham church bombing.

• Speaking of the bombing, I don't think it's a coincidence that Martin Luther King and the civil rights struggle are so prominent (on the radio, anyway) in an episode in which Carla gets stuck in the middle of the unfaithful Drapers. Carla's no dummy; you can see from the instant she walks in on Betty and Henry that she wishes she hadn't, and that she resents Betty's later attempt to get her to participate in the fundraiser lie to Don. And her brief conversation with Betty about the bombing underscores how difficult that working relationship must be for her. You understand where Betty is coming from when she suggests now might not be the best time for civil rights - it's the same patronizing attitude expressed by baseball people who weren't racists but were afraid Jackie Robinson would be in danger if the game integrated. But Carla doesn't want to hear that, even though she knows she has to hold her tongue and not tell Mrs. Draper what she really thinks (which is that change will never happen with that attitude, that the bigots will always win). If there's an area where Weiner has been consistently dinged even by ardent "Mad Men" fans, it's been how little the series has touched on the black experience of the era. I'm hopeful that's starting to change, and that whenever season four is set, black characters will be a significant part of it.

• Harry Crane, idiot. His plan to take a step back and do nothing turned out to be just as bone-headed as his usual impulse decisions. Had he gone to Roger, or even Pete, they might have been able to fix things - sent Sal far away for Lee's visit without firing him, or talked Lee out of it, or some other brand of client-cooling - but Harry's complete inaction ensured that things went down as poorly as possible. And I suspect Paul could have told him that, but chose not to because Paul would rather witness the carnage.

• After his spotlight episode last week, Pete largely recedes to the background here, but Vincent Kartheiser gets a choice gag to play, as non-smoker Pete spends the entire scene at the commercial shoot loudly coughing in the background after Lee forces him to sample the product. That's also another sign of what a bully the guy is, and how he's used to people doing what he tells them to.

Finally, we're going to stick with the slightly modified version of the commenting rules for these posts, so let me repeat how it works. Until we get to 200 comments (i.e., until the comments are split into separate pages), the original rules apply (skim everything before posting to avoid annoying duplication). After 200, if you're going to ask a question, or if you're going to suggest a theory or observation that you don't think has come up yet (i.e., "I think that guy Connie from the country club bar might be Conrad Hilton" or "Do you think Joan's bloody dress was supposed to be a Jackie Kennedy analogue?"), or if you want to answer or correct something from a previous comment, I want you to do a word search (every web browser has one, usually listed as Find in the Edit menu) for some possible keywords you might be using. (In those cases, try "Hilton" or "Jackie" or "bloody.") If you don't see any of your keywords - and again remember that Blogger splits the comments into multiple pages once you get past 200, so check 'em both - then ask/opine away.

It may seem annoying or laborious for you to do this, but I want everybody to show respect for - and not waste - everyone else's time and effort, and this seems the best way to do that.

Keeping that in mind, as well as the usual commenting rules (no spoilers, no talking about the previews, etc.), what did everybody else think?


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Susan said...

Lars, needy and desperate are great words to describe Don. But this behavior is nothing new. He was that way when he went to Rachel and asked her to run away with him. (I believe that was after Roger's heart attack.) His extramarital activities are not just about sex; not that simple. When his life gets to be too much for him, he looks for solace with someone other than Betty.

He is not becoming a less sympathetic character to me. I really felt for him when Connie Hilton pushed the daddy button.

Brandon said...

I forgot an early moment that wrecked me: When Betty's reading her letter and she announces, "And I have thoughts." It's an assertion of independence, but it's also a crystallization of Betty's loneliness. She has no one to tell her thoughts to.

Arthur Case was right saying Betty's so profoundly sad. She can't communicate with her husband, her social circle haven't shown much beyond shallow expressions and gossip.

I took her civil rights faux pas with Carla as an attempt to speak frankly with someone about something. I don't think it was racist, at least not deliberately hateful--patronizing maybe--but more a real attempt to engage with another worldview. Unfortunately, Carla is her employee, so their relationship can't exactly be the fulfillment Betty seeks.

Deborah said...

Alan, the episode actually ends sometime after September 17, as Sal is in different clothes in the park than he was when he was fired. It's not the same day.

Anonymous said...

Great comments so far. In response to a couple of them, first, Anon 12:43? Thanks for noticing. I don't think "think on that" was part of the 1963 vernacular any more than Peggy's "I'm in a good place" in the pot-smoking ep. The writers certainly have an attention to detail; how are they not catching these slips?

I can't help but wonder if Don had seen it differently if Lee Garner Jr. had come on to HIM instead.

"You people" was certainly offensive, if indeed he was referring to gays, but I found "my girl is due back" to be just as offensive. Carla, a grown woman with a family, being referred to as "girl" was offensive as well. Nope, Mrs. Draper is definitely not ready for civil rights.

The hurt in Sal's face? Award-worthy.

And isn't it interesting that Connie has made Don his bitch?

dc said...

Excellent comments, everyone...

I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop for Sal since "Out of Town." I suppose I just didn't expect that Don would be the one to deliver the coup de grace. That was as merciless a scene as we've seen thus far on MM. Poor Sal indeed.

I join with others in not understanding how Suzanne Farrell is getting so swifly labelled as CukkooBananas. If anything, she seems more in touch with her feelings than most women in the Drapers' neighborhood; in that respect, she might be understood as yet another example of a strong woman entering Don's life. Midge lives her love life on her terms; Rachel fearlessly asserts her position as an independent businesswoman; and Bobbie, as the season 2 DVD commentary points out, was modeled after a certain kind of French feminist thinking: "be a woman -- and realize that that can be a powerful business when done correctly."

Now, we get Suzanne Farrell: idealistic, emotionally uninhibited, and savvy enough to call Don on his paint-by-numbers attempts at seduction.

Also, I just want to say that at least one thing here in this dark episode had me bursting out laughing: in the pitch to Connie Hilton, we don't see Connie until the second shot, when we get that massive, looming stetson in our face. If it already wasn't abundantly clear, that gave us a heads up that he was going to say something truly CukooBananas, saying one of those things that only the truly powerful could say.

I'm truly loving the loving portrayal of Conrad Hilton as a figure of missionary zeal and messianic delusions. He is someone who truly doesn't fall into the neat categories of either button-down early-1960s rationalism or longhaired late-60s counterculture.

Zack Smith said...

I always read AMC's recap, which helps clarify points -- in this case, they make it specific it WAS Betty's dream at the beginning, and the content of her and Henry's letters, among other things:

Also, I forgot to post a link to this earlier, but here is a piece about Draper Daniels, one of the inspirations for Don Draper:

Stephen S Power said...


How is it misogynist to point out that Suzanne obviously knows a thing or two about how to have an adulterous relationship, whereas Betty is lost in the woods and behaving like a schoolgirl with a crush (and thus with the danger of drama and exposure)? Suzanne is, as several people pointed out, very much like Midge: very in control of herself. She is not, as others have said, crazy. That she knows how to twist Don around her finger, in the world of Mad Men, that makes her seem crazy, just as in the Middle Ages she'd seem like a witch. She knows what she wants and she knows the consequences of getting it. The same was true of the woman who owned the store.

That's why it's so important to Don for those women to want him: he wants them to submit. Because they aren't usually the submitting type.

Betty, however, is an emotional wreck. She doesn't know she wants, except out of the course of her life. The show might have dropped her quivering hands and the shrink, but she's still quivering uncontrollably. The funny thing, given the faux seduction scene in last week's episode is, Don would never have an affair with someone like Ossining Betty, only the cool Italy Betty.

How this is misogynist, please explain.

Unknown said...

The dream sequence in the beginning is definitely Betty. As she enters the room to head over to the fainting couch, you can see a man resembling Henry Francis closing the door after she comes in.

Unknown said...

Should have said the dream sequence is definitely Betty's dream and not Don's.

Julia said...

Is teacher more "in touch with her feelings" (not a concept in the early 60s) or is she more likely to act on her feelings? Big difference.

Susan said...

Stephen, what an insightful thought, that Don wants these powerful women to submit to him. I have wondered why he goes after strong women and I believe you have answered my questions. The most vivid example of this is when Bobbie decided to have Jimmy apologize to the Utz couple. Interesting food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the cultural norms of the past are now shocking and obviously wrong. I wonder, though, what sins the sanctimonious of today will have to answer for in the future when society becomes even more enlightened.

KcM said...

"Is anyone else surprised at the way this show is interweaving actions from a real, non-fiction person (Connie Hilton) so intricately into this story? Is there no worry about it clashing with the real world."

The Connie story has been reminding me of something over the past three weeks, and I couldn't put my finger on it until now.

It's Season 3 of Deadwood again, with Conrad Hilton playing the part of George Hearst (Gerald McRaney), the wildly, fantabulously rich, and historically real "Great Man" who shows up in Season 3, outranks every character we've already met in terms of power (Swearingen/Tolliver, Sterling-Coop), manages to bend even the heretofore unbendable (Swearingen, Draper) to his will, and just doesn't take no for an answer.

Now that I think about it, if you flip the switch a bit and put Lucky Strike Jr. in the Hearst role for this episode, then Sal is suddenly very reminiscent of Ellsworth or Jen (Johnny's girl), good-natured sorts taken out as collateral damage for failing to obey the Golden Rule. (Gold makes the Rules.)

dc said...

Is teacher more "in touch with her feelings" (not a concept in the early 60s) or is she more likely to act on her feelings? Big difference.

Perhaps, but if "in touch with her feelings" seems anachronistic for the early 1960s, I think it's because Suzanne is meant to anticipate a way of being that wouldn't really come into its own until the late 1960s.

As others here have pointed out, the default mode for Weiner's pre-Friedan housewives (represented here by Betty) and for their Ken-doll husbands (ie. Don) is the stiff upper lip, a kind of emotional tone-deafness that takes those troubling emotions and stuffs them way, way down.

Not so with Suzanne. When the Drapers inform her that Sally has lost her grandfather, her emotional response is spontaneous, genuine, and uninhibited. Betty, by contrast, is so desperate to deny those emotions that when she does finally lose her composure, she all but tells Suzanne that there's something in her eye.

Whether or not there was such a phrase in the early-1960s as "in touch with your feelings," Suzanne appears to be heralding a new type of emotional honesty associated with the youth of the late 1960s.

Keep in mind also Don's first encounter with her, as the leader of the maypole dance in "Love Among the Ruins": the episode opens with the brash, Broadway artificiality of Bye Bye Birdie, and closes with teacher dancing around the maypole. If anything, Matt Weiner seems to be setting her up to embodying a kind of carefree, back-to-the-earth authenticity and naturalness, something that would probably have seemed like a breath of fresh air to Don.

Anonymous said...

poor Don - he needed to go get his mojo back! His affairs seem to be his creative outlet - he dies artistically when his life is mundane, Betty has dies inside due to the lack of intellectual (or beautiful experience around her?) stimulation.

My husband has asked why she keeps pursuing attention from men when she just walks away. I think that it is because it is an abberation from her daily routine, and the monotony of her life. She may not want an affair, but receivign letters from a man, taking time to herself to write notes to someone, the anticipation of seeing him - perhaps it is the thrill of those moments in a day, not the love of the attention per se.

An aside - I am a well educated woman who has chosen to stay home with my kids. I love them dearly and believe that I am in the right place right now, but I can absolutely identify with Betty. The days can run together, your focus is everyone but yourself, and you feel like you lose parts of yourself. Mine is a choice, and I know it is temporary and I am thankful to be with my kids, but boy, do I ever get a thrill from adult conversation and doing something outside the normal routine.

madmaniac said...

"Just FYI, school kids did not use backpacks or bookbags. From grade school through high school, I remember carrying books in the crook of my arm, the large looseleaf on the bottom, and any textbooks stacked on top in size order. That's all! So the pencil case that was held securely inside the looseleaf by the rings was a great invention indeed!"

Remember that rubber band, with hooks, kind of like a bungee cord, that went around the stack of books? I was also a suburban New first grade in 1963...vivid memories of being in school when the word came through about President Kennedy being shot. That's a viewpoint MW might lean Miss Farrell has to deal with that day.

Unknown said...

Alan, you refer to Roger as a founding partner, but he's not. His dad founded the agency with Bert Cooper -- that's why the Sterling name is first, even though the older named partner in 1963 has second billing.

jenae said...

Though the language is more hostile and disdainful than I'd like, I like it that one Anonymous (using terms like "Postmodern" and "Capital") is raising (or moving) the discussion to the level of social critique.

I agree that if Betty were more interested in Carla's feelings and views, she'd be on her way to building a worthwhile identity.

On the other hand I think one can be a true humanist, an activist, even a Buddhist near-saint, but you still have a personal life and personal problems.

That's what feminist, writer, and poet Katha Pollit realized when when she discovered that her now ex-husband was a serial philanderer.

Julia said...

Are there going to be any characters in the MadMen world who don't sleep around and are not terribly unhappy? Is this supposed to be how ad men on Madison Avenue and their families behaved or people in general in the times portrayed? This show is getting terribly depressing.

Rick and Gary said...

lactic said...
"You people," said Don to Sal.

Wasn't that the same thing Betty said to Jimmy Barrett last season?

Yes it was. I think his response was, "You mean a comedian?"

evie said...

Well, I was planning to comment until your penultimate paragraph.

A bit controlling, are we? Sort of the worst of Don & Roger & Cooper rolled up into one.

I like your blog, but surely there is another place to comment where the host does not try to play master as well.

It's about respect.

Susie said...

Re undercurrent of civil rights movement: I keep thinking back to Pete's carrying the Ebony magazine in the office a few eps back. I think he's aware of what's coming and he's going to benefit from changes yet to come...if the agency is willing to go in that direction.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Well, I was planning to comment until your penultimate paragraph.

I hope you appreciate the irony of this sentence.

Thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...


It was briefly mentioned up thread by a poster, but I thought I would ask directly if you have any comments/insights into the Kater Gordon matter that seems to be roiling.

cmyk said...

The painting in back of Connie while he is talking to Don is "Noli Me Tangere" by Titian -- see it here:

Alan Sepinwall said...

It was briefly mentioned up thread by a poster, but I thought I would ask directly if you have any comments/insights into the Kater Gordon matter that seems to be roiling.

Brian, I have no idea of the internal politics of the Mad Men writers room. All I'll say is this: on other dramas with showrunner as powerful/meticulous as Weiner (Milch and Sorkin, to name two), the contributions of the non-showrunning writer to the final version of the script is often minimal at best. I'm not saying that's the situation with Kater Gordon, or anyone else on staff, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was. And that, in return, would make the non-Weiner writers more or less fungible.

But it could be something else entirely. I'm just spitballing here.

Anonymous said...

Great recap and comments as always. This episode just made me so darn sad. I hope that Sal will be OK and that Don will not be. "You'll be fine"...what a cop-out. :-(

Thanks Levy and Scott and for the Hilton Space Hotel links! Gosh, not so long ago we used to dream big dreams.

This Dick/Don character is reminding me more and more of the "Three Faces of Eve" story, with every episode full of contradictory behavior swings. Don knows about Dick, but does Dick know about Don? I wish that we could get a psychologist's take on it.


Lois Strikes Back said...

I agree with Therem and others who don't think Don's use of "you people" necessarily was meant as a slam of gays in general. Instead, it was this master ad man's ability to make words hurt. He was trying to be cruel because this had become a headache for him.

Also, Sal is definitely in a gay hook-up area. In the background, you can see two leather dudes on a park table when another man comes up to one, lights his cigarette, and then they both walk off together.

I don't think Betty is just toying with Henry. Sure, she enjoys the fantasy, but I think she actually wants MORE than an affair. That's why the idea of sex in the office or in motels "tawdry" and why she's so disappointed to see Rockerfeller's slipping power.

One more thing. Does anyone else think it's hilarious that Roger keeps asking people rhetorically what an account man does? He's still trying to prove his worth!

Anonymous said...

Re: the "you people" remarks.

In the earlier episode with the Barretts, I thought "you people" meant Jews (Jimmy & Bobbie in particular, showbiz or maybe all Jews in general).

In last night's episode I assumed "you people" meant either ad agency creatives (known to be high-strung drama queens, gay or not) and/or anyone who gets in Don's face.

I don't like Don OR Betty. I never liked Betty but now I don't like Don either.

And I also wished the teacher had said, "You're handsome and sexy as hell, but I need to keep my job more than I need to have sex with you." Now that would have shown some stones on her part.

But -- like everyone major character on this show -- she's a lush.

Unknown said...

Thanks Alan. I got a sense of that with his name credited on pretty much every script but didn't know the level of the collaboration with the "co-writer".

Anonymous said...

Checking out the Belle Jolie Lipstick link really shows how much they've aged Don

Anonymous said...

I am impressed by Alan's razor sharp insight into the themes of these episodes. Last week, it was roles--everyone was pretending to be someone else. The week of the eclipse characters were exposing what is hidden. Did anyone notice a theme of getting something then having it taken away? Don got praise from the father figure, Connie, (you're more than a son to me) only to have it swiftly taken back later with his disappointment over the ad. Carla got empathy from Betty about the civil rights struggle, only to have it withdrawn with her callous statement about it not being time yet for civil rights. Betty was giving in to the flirtation and the affair only to abruptly change her mind and take it away.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I have such high hopes for this show and Max Weiner. I 'm disapointed in these silly affairs and too much BETTY. Peggy and Joan are far more interesting characters. Brilliant comment, anonymous-- that Betty's answer is across the table from her-- Carla and the welfare of others-- The Long Walk Home style (Sissy Spacek and Whoopi Goldberg). Stand up, Betty, you miserable spoiled WASP.

PanAm53 said...

I think that what some people are viewing as mistakes by the writers, are done deliberately because it is more important to appropriately depict the actions and interactions of the characters than to have obsessive historical accuracy at all times.

It was deemed necessary for Betty to note Rockefeller's status in the presidential campaign and for the viewers to note that she noted it. Therefore, they had to find an article about it on the front page of The New York Times. Betty just glances at the front page and does not actually read the paper. Since there was no one at home with whom she could share this information, the camera had to pan in and allow the viewers to read the beginning of the article themselves. Monday, August 26th was the closest date that an article on Rockefeller's status appeared in The New York Times.

When I commented on "The Fog" episode, I stated that there were some slight inaccuracies regarding childbirth at that time. Don would not have been in Betty's room with the baby. However, the scene with Don, Betty and the baby (where Betty calls the baby "she" and Don says "it's a boy") was necessary, and would not have been as effective if Betty and Don were viewing the baby from the nursery window.

I also read somewhere that the typewriters that they used in Season 1 were not available until 1961, but the older ones would have been too noisy.

kgfreeperson said...

It would be wonderful to have some interpretation of Noli Me Tangere "backing up" Connie Hilton while he is talking to Don about seeing himself as a missionary for America (that might not be quite right--his messianic vision for the world?) Bringing God and America to the world whether they want it or not.

And saying he sees Don as his son is also saying he sees himself as Don's father.

I wonder if Hilton actually owned Noli Me Tangere.

erin said...

I thought this episode was really powerful, indicated to me because I was getting SERIOUSLY pissed off in the Connie pitch, YOU IDIOT. SHUT UP.

And Sal! I really just wanted him to protest his innocence and tell Don to go screw himself. Don, you self-righteous, out of control bastard.

I was just so...frustrated all episode. In a good way.

And I also noticed at the end with Don embracing CrazyTeacher (oh, you know she is bat**** insane--that's going to end so badly, in ways that will make Bobbie Barrett look like Mother Teresa) was not only was he finally sleeping, but just how WARM their spooning embrace was compared to him and Betty. Betty is just so icy cold. As is their marriage.

It's getting good!

PanAm53 said...

"When we travel to the moon, there will be a Hilton."

I watch Mad Men on Sunday at 10PM, and then watch it again with my husband on Monday evening.

My husband, a scientist, made the above quote while Hilton was showing disappointment with Don's presentation.

After the show ended, I talked with my husband about my confusion re: was Hilton a nut, or was the reference to Don not giving him the moon metaphorical? Neither option seemed right to me.

My husband once worked directly for a self made millionaire and said that the portrayal of Conrad Hilton seems very realistic to him. Hilton was a poor boy from the middle of nowhere NM, and built an empire. This type of person is very different from the rest of us.

Connie was not nuts. He just wanted what he wanted when he wanted it and Don did not deliver.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else get the impression that during Don's conversation with Sal that his derogatory 'you people' wasn't in reference to his contempt for gay men but with his contempt for his work subordinates desire for his protection.

ScottyG said...

"Great! I missed all the commercials." - Harry

is that supposed to guilt trip TiVo owners not the skip ads?

Parker51 said...

What about the hat? I'm not surprised that Connie is wearing a Stetson, a smallish-brimmed one with that characteristic "rain gutter" crease you see on wider versions worn by actual working cowboys, or at least country music artists and PBR riders on Versus. It was a popular model at the time, also worn by Truman and LBJ, and would be a serviceable topper for someone who wanted to preserve a sense of style from his roots in the American West, but also look good when worn with a business suit on the streets and in the boardrooms of New York City.

What did surprise me was that he was wearing it while sitting down at the ad presentation meeting in the boardroom. We have seen him visit
the offices of Sterling Cooper previously, with his hat off, usually held in his hand. Men at the time may have kept their hats, expensive wardrobe accessories vulnerable to being stained and misshapen, on their heads when in public places like lobbies, elevators, subway stations, and casual diners. But what is the purpose of wearing it when sitting down in a business boardroom? Surely there were secretaries and assistants available to check client's hats and secure them on a hat rack. Men usually took their hats off indoors when sitting down and their hat could be properly stored.

Is there a larger symbolism here? Is Connie wearing the hat to distinguish himself as the leader of his entourage? (Also notice how the yes-men assistants are expressionless until Connie expresses tentative approval of the ad campaign, then immediately start smiling and nodding.) Or are the writers presenting it as a symbol (crown of King Midas, perhaps?)

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see so many posters thinking of bailing on the show because things have gotten a bit more ugly -- Don sometimes reminds me of The Shield's Vic Mackey, where you want him to get out of the mess he's gotten himself into because he shows just enough humanity and good traits to occasionally overshadow his dark and disturbing side. I actually enjoyed the conflicting emotions that Vic produced, and feel similarly about Don Draper. Face it, the same people who are appalled at his hook-up with the Bowdoin bombshell and his casting aside Sal so callously were also disappointed that he wasn't able to win Hilton over with his pitch... And I don't think Sal would have survived no matter what his response to Lucky Strike Jr's editing room proposition -- either way, I think he would have asked for him to be fired... And how is it that Sal knew right where to go to find the cruising scene that night??? Seems like he's a little more experienced and knowledgeable of his situation than he has been perceived to be... Harry may be an idiot, but he did recognize right away that he was screwed no matter which course of action (or inaction) he took...

Anonymous said...

I guess the origin of the Bowdoin shirt has taken on a life of its own.

One interesting factoid about Bowdoin fits into the civil rights thread that ran through the episode.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote much of Uncle Tom's Cabin while living in Brunswick, Maine, where her husband was a Bowdoin professor.

cgeye said...

Why didn't Don pull a Bobbie Barrett on Lee Garner, Jr? A man reckless to make a pass to someone who didn't ask for it might respond to being thrown on his knees and being told what to do... since Weiner considers that the primary male seduction technique of the age.

Lucky Strike's a heck of a lot more valuable than Utz. And, if you were as rangy and plain as LGJ, would *you* refuse Draper?

And how did that commercial come out, since SC's art director as well as commercial director has been fired? The fact that we don't hear that phone call to LGJ is almost as worse as Sal's humililation -- we no longer see Don have a mojo to work with any client this week.

Commie Bastard said...

LOL at those taking Hilton's "I want the moon" demand so literally.

Look, it's pretty clear that Connie isn't talking about anything so specific as the actual Moon itself - what he laid out quite clearly for Don in that suite is a VISION, a means of claiming something simply by "casting one's eyes" towards it.

What Connie strives is nothing short of Manifest Destiny, which in its intangibility is bigger than the moon. Just in case the getup in the Sterling Cooper boardroom wasn't enough to tip you off, Connie IS the prototypical American Cowboy...Pull yourself by your own bootstraps, sonny! You can't work hard enough! Conquer lands unknown and those not even imagined! Etc. etc.

Don's take on this quintessentially American Dream as consumer creature comforts peddled to distinctly un-American spaces was clever, to be sure, but once again we return to Connie's original admonition: think BIGGER.

Connie's not an idiot and his deceptively hokey banter is steeped in metaphor - what he was driving at was nothing less than a holy crusade, i.e., a not entirely consensual takeover of the entire world - and beyond!

And he's understandably frustrated that Don, someone who comes from the same background as him (and thus must surely share the same sort of vision, if not values) and someone he considers his "son"/heir apparent can't wrap his mind around what for Connie counts as pretty damn plain speaking. The fact that Don wasn't able to follow Connie, LITERALLY (that ad campaign was still too rooted to specific, already recognizable places) to unknown lands must make the old patriarch feel even more damn lonely.

Julia said...

With just a bit of googling I found this 2005 article from Ad Age about "What is a Hilton?" It talks about branding and why simply making a client famous is not enough.

One concept is that staying at a Hilton should make you feel good about yourself. Not just that you are satisfied with the hotel, but that it makes you feel proud that you were staying at a Hilton. How to do that?

The article goes back to Conrad Hilton opening his first hotel in Texas in 1919 and brings its advertising. It isn't enough just to be famous, marketing/advertising has to be more than that.

By the 1960s, Hilton was the best-known name in the hotel business. Now was the perfect time to answer the most important question in marketing, ?What?s a Hilton??

He says the muckety-mucks at Hilton have still not figured that out.

Owning a word in the mind - that's what he says the ads are supposed to do. The author is talking about simple positioning of the brand in people's minds.

Example: What's a Volvo?
A safe car.

The writer dismisses the original ads for Embassy Suites which used Garfield the Cat.

The writer does like the BMW positioning slogan - the ultimate driving machine.

There's lots more there to get the drift of what Connie is lookin for.

Julia said...

Looking at the headline of this thread, there's a great slogan that was dropped sometimes about the 1960s, IIRC.

His Master's Voice - RCA indicating the fidelity of its sound reproduction.

It would have been sentimental to keep that slogan, but the picture of the dog with his head cocked toward the old crank record player recognizing his master's voice will go over the heads of younger folks in the 1960s.

Another indication of the youth culture that's coming, requiring a re-thinking of lots of things.

Here's the link to that article in Ad Age I forgot to put in my last comment.

KeepingAwake said...

DC, I tend to agree with you that Suzanne Farrell is not 'crazypants'. She's a realist in the sense that she sees Don coming a mile away, unusual in that she tells him so and a tad self-destructive because she entered into this relationship knowing exactly how it's going to end.

And I also think you are right that she is a marker of the impending sexual revolution. Why would she want to marry when she sees up close and personal on a regular basis what a myth marriage often is? In a way, she's proving to herself over and over again that men can't be trusted because they're impulsive and weak, and that she has a lot more power than the men can recognize. Frankly, I think she views them as little more than the children she teaches daily, although she'd likely want a true companion.

Is that an entirely healthy way to go through life? No. But neither is marriage in the way it was defined at the time. Who's to say she's any worse than Betty or the other wives we see on the show? She's chafing against the defined role of women as well, just in a different way.

Anonymous said...

DoubleLifeofaSalesman again, still Anonymous for convenince's sake.

First, I have to say how pleased I am for Chelcie Ross, a trouper I've noticed for years who has finally landed a plum role.

But I'm a bit stunned at all the "nothing wrong with Connie" reactions. It's pointed out that Hilton was self-made -- but I don't think anyone disputes that. His life does indeed make for a great story, I don't question that at all. But to say "He's been through so much and done so much, therefore he can't be criticized" doesn't wash. For that matter, the Mad Men and Connie aren't the only ones who can deal in metaphor -- I can talk in metaphor too, so any presumption that I'd be so silly as to think he's Genghis Connie is itself silly and misses my own metaphorical humor.

In short: let's chill.

And now that we've chilled, let's actually look at the basics. Connie started out with a Jerry the Mouse cartoon campaign. He remembers some guy he met at a bar while ducking out of a wedding and calls him out of the blue to give him something new. Then he's calling this guy at any hour of the night. The only time he mentions the moon is in passing after he's just woken the guy up and he never cites it again.

True, there are worse ways to do this. Take the Patio campaign. Pepsi had an exact idea -- but as someone else here pointed out so well, the idea itself made no inherent sense. A farewell to sugar, sung to an ode of undying love for Birdie? But give Pepsi credit, at least they were clear in their instructions -- it's just the idea was inherently flawed to begin with.

If Connie wants the moon -- yes, metaphorically -- that's not how you ask for it. Wealth does not equal telepathy.

Tom said...

Lars wrote:

weiner & co has apparently decided that don shall lose his cool and integrity.

I probably wouldn't use the word 'integrity' to describe Don Draper.

'Don Draper' doesn't even exist, per se. It's a persona created by Dick Whitman to conquer and rule postwar America. What we're seeing is the crackup of "Don Draper" as the carefully-constructed character finds itself unable to adapt to changing circumstances.

So, on second thought, I guess that is a sort of integrity that "Don" is losing. But it's a fundamentally dishonest 'integrity.'

I really like the mirror characters of Papa Whitman and Conrad Hilton. They're classically abusive fathers whomping on Dick (physically) and Don (emotionally), respectively. Just one's a whole lot smoother than the other.

PanAm53 said...

Conrad Hilton started out with nothing and ended up with an international hotel chain. He has extremely high expectations for himself and everyone around him. Maybe I'm the one who is nuts, but I seriously believe that it was Hilton's expectation that we would soon be traveling to the moon, and when that happened he wanted to have a Hilton there.

I also believe that Hilton wanted Don to give him the moon metaphorically. Hilton wanted to convey that he was bringing American values worldwide. Don gave him ice water, fresh towels and hamburgers, and then kept repeating that it was a good ad campaign.

Don is in a serious downward spiral. He is not the same Don who presented the Kodak Carousel ad campaign.

marb said...

The shot of Betty driving to Henry's office with the lockbox on the seat next to her--the unusual camera angle, plus the underscoring-- brought to my mind an early scene in Psycho, with Janet Leigh making her ill-fated escape after embezzling from her workplace. I don't know if it's the same shot, but it certainly had the same feel.

Also, in an episode where all the major characters were troubled by not knowing what they--or the people around them--want, Sally knew exactly what she wanted: a pencil case. Maybe there's hope that Sally is going to be the one who comes out of this tormented family intact.

AnnaN said...

Wow, day late to the commenting party and 250th in line. :)

I am thinking Conrad Hilton is bipolar. His irrationality, leaps of thought, sleepless nights, inhibitions and proclamations of devotion ("You are better than a son") all seem to indicate a manic episode. The Hilton-on-the-moon comments seemed like nothing more than illustrative hyperbole and no one eavesdropping on that conversation would have assumed that Connie was serious in including it in the campaign.

His dressing down of Don during and after the meeting was indicative of the depressive dip after a major high.

Lithium was used to treat this problem in the 1960s, but my guess would be that Hilton's attitude and prominence would keep people from saying, "You know, Connie, there's an excellent doctor I think you should get in touch with...."

Julia said...

Life magazines in 1963:

April - School row in Paradise, California, teacher Virginia Franklin tries to teach students to think for themselves by exposing them to a variety of ideas, parents in an uproar.

July - NY Hilton opens with dancing girls.

August - Hilton sets up hotels in 19 countries - theme is "American outposts".

Here's a link to some info about the CA teacher who thought her kids should know about the world around them - kind of like Suzanne intending to read MLK's speech to her students.

John Coulter said...

The whole Harry Crane/Sal thing reminded me of how I felt when on The Wire, Herc screwed up Randy's life.
Where because of one person's seemingly minor bumbling, its going dramatically alter another person's life's trajectory.

Leah said...

I don't think Betty's hesitation and then mind-change in Henry's office had much to do at all with liking the romanticism of an affair more than the tawdry details-- I think the reason she changed her mind was because having an affair the way she would have to have (played out in Henry's office, in hotel rooms, etc.) wouldn't meet the need she was looking to have met through the affair: a reinvention and re-ignition of the domestic space in which she lives.

Her dream at the beginning of the episode was notable for it's location: in her home, in the middle of the living room, in that deliciously, rebelliously out-of-place fainting couch (even more delicious for the fact Henry is the one who suggested she get it). What that brought home for me was that Betty is looking to change the way she feels about her current life (in contrast to Don's coping mechanism of running away)-- she's looking to bring the excitement and fulfillment she lacks into her domestic space, into her everyday existence.

It's why she was so upset last week when Don tried to continue the vacation fantasy at home (she knew it wasn't going to last, it wasn't genuine), and it's why she was so angry Henry didn't show up at the fundraiser she held in her home (and why she was so excited about having it to begin with). It's also why it was so very pleasurable to be writing letters to Henry (his letters are delivered to her at her home; she writes hers at the same tables and in the same chairs where she talks to her husband, feeds her kids).

She knows she can experience excitement on vacation or in bars with random men or in Henry's office or a hotel room (whoever she's with). That's just not what she needs or wants.

Susan said...

KeepingAwake, I question whether Miss Farrell having sex with Don is self-destructive. Maybe she is just having fun. I agree with you that she is chafing against the roles of women.

marb, you are correct that Sally certainly knew what she wanted. Betty told her she looked tired, and Sally plainly stated that she was not tired. She wanted a pencil case for her loose leaf. Refreshingly honest for the times and ironic that she had this conversation with her mother. Her mother, who has no idea what she wants or how to get it. Betty made a similar statement when she was feeding Gene after Don hung up from being on the phone with Connie. Something about knowing what you want and wanting it and wanting it now. (paraphrasing) When she was pregnant she referred to the baby as a girl and Don mentioned she seemed so sure, and Betty said that she certainly knows what she wants (again paraphrasing.) This is a very sad aspect of Betty's personality. She is unhappy, discontented and frustrated but really doesn't know why. She wants Henry, not now, maybe later, she's done with that, not here, it's tawdry, you didn't even show for the fundraiser. Poor Betty is very confused. She has all these emotions and wanted to label Sally's attitude as being tired, when all Sally wanted was a pencil case and she'd be fine.

Susan said...

Leah, that is a great analysis of Betty. But she so lacks self-awareness that she does not imo realize any of these things about herself.

Politburo said...

Julia: "Are there going to be any characters in the MadMen world who don't sleep around and are not terribly unhappy?"

Ken Cosgrove? Though there hasn't been much about his non-work life since earlier in the series.

flyboy said...

Alan, et. al,

"Give me ideas so I can reject them," Don says to Peggy and the Chipmunks. Rejection seemed to be the overriding theme in "Wee Small Hours."

First we see Don get rejected by Ms. Farrell, little Sally's bunny boiling teacher after he gives her a lift in his car. At SC, Don rejects Peggy's flat tag, even after she tells him it was his idea. Don shoots down the foreigner's Hilton artwork now that he can understand him, and shoots down his colleague for laughing.

Little Sally's request for a pencil case gets rejected by Betty, who tentatively says "we'll see." Betty gets rejected by Henry, who was a no show at her fundraiser. Betty rejects his envoy Elsa Kittridge at the fundraiser by conveniently forgetting her name during her introduction. Later, Henry gets rejected by Betty, after Betty hurls the money box at him.

Pete rejects Lucky Strike cigarettes by coughing up a gallon of phlegm. Lucky Strike Jr. gets rejected by Sal in the editing room. (And, like Betty, Sal hurls the film canisters against the wall.) Harry rejects Lucky Strike Jr.’s drunk dialing order to remove Sal from the account and also rejects Paul’s offer of help. Later, Lucky Strike Jr. rejects Sal (and possibly SC) by doing an about face at the client meeting. Finally, Don rejects Sal’s explanation and sends him away to play with the seedy wolves in the park. By the way, did anyone catch the overtly homosexual punch line to Pete’s joke as he’s walking into the Lucky Strike meeting? Something about “The hillbilly said, that’s not my finger.”

Even Carla’s anguish over the Birmingham slayings gets rejected by Betty, who wonders aloud that “maybe civil rights are not supposed to happen right now.” And finicky eater Bobby rejects Carla’s salad at dinner.

Connie (at least partially) rejects Don’s Hilton campaign pitch, after Don rejects (or at least dismisses) Connie’s “Hilton on the moon” request as hyperbole.

Roger rejects Don’s contention that “everything’s under control” when it’s obvious to anyone it’s not. Roger, stating the obvious, puts Don “on notice, you are in over your head.”

And paradoxically, through all the rejection and moving targets of the “Wee Small Hours,” the only non delusional, clear thinking character is Ms. Farrell, who warns Don before sleeping with him that “I don’t think you’ve done this before this way.” I hope Mr. Weiner develops her character, because her lucid thinking provides a great juxtaposition to losing a foot in a lawnmower.

Susan said...

flyboy, I don't see Miss Farrell as a bunny boiler. I do agree with your assessment of her in your last paragraph as lucid and clear thinking. She approached having sex with Don (or any dad) eyes wide open.

Leah said...

Imamarilyn, I agree! Self-awareness isn't at all Betty's strength. :) But I also think she wouldn't necessarily have to realize that was the problem to make the decision she did. She would just need to realize the thing she's about to do isn't quite what she wanted.

chris said...

Two comments that I haven't seen anyone mention yet:

1. With what happens to Sal - I was reminded of what Roger said after Pete screwed up the Admiral account, "Do you know how many handjobs I'm going to have to give now?" At the time I thought he was being figurative but seeing how Lucky Strike is shaping up - maybe he was being literal. ;)

2. The King Midas reference by Connie Hilton. Midas had all the money in the world but was cursed because he could not have any human contact (when he touched his family they turned into gold statues). In the wee-wee hours Connie thinks he can't have any human contact and he turns to Don. In the light of day he turns back into King Midas in the conference room turning everyone into yes men statues with gold filled pockets.

PanAm53 said...

Hey y'all:

One last entry about Hilton, then I'll cease and desist:

From: Hotels: By Golly!
Time Magazine
Friday, Jul. 19, 1963
Where does Hilton go from here?" asks Lawrence Stern, chairman of Chicago's American National Bank, a Hilton director. "To the moon!" Hilton people get to talking like that.

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

(previous deleted because I've apparently entirely lost my spelling mojo)

Julia and PanAm53, you're right and thanks -- I was taking the moon business too literally. But I think, PanAm, that it's actually right in line with why the Carousel campaign worked. Once again in the "how do you say" ads, Don's talking about home and where we *feel* at home. (Home is where the hamburger is, I guess.) Hilton, in contrast, experiences barriers only as something to be crushed under the juggernaut -- home is where you plant your flag, and the natives are going to knock off the silly lingo in the face of superior firepower, or something like that.

Don's genius has been clearest when he's feeding on that sense he has that home is a goal, however unobtainable; it's how he connected with Hilton in the first place (nostalgia for a past that contrasted with their shared circumstance at the country club). Hilton, whatever he expressed during that original meeting, doesn't share Don's need to treat "home" as anything but cheesy Jerry-the-mouse fodder.

(Semi-idle question I've not seen answered: My grandparents also had a copy of Hilton's autobiography, which I always figured they'd lifted from a visit to one of the hotels; wasn't it the *other* book, along with the Bible, that was in every Hilton desk drawer?)

captcha = inomed = I'm spending too much time wandering around these comment threads!

PanAm53 said...

AG said:(Semi-idle question I've not seen answered: My grandparents also had a copy of Hilton's autobiography, which I always figured they'd lifted from a visit to one of the hotels; wasn't it the *other* book, along with the Bible, that was in every Hilton desk drawer?)

Yes, it was!

Unknown said...

So I word-searched Far From Heaven and didn't find anything. Todd Haynes' 2002 drama hangs over the early sixties of Mad Men-world, as does the Douglas Sirk melodrama it's in symbiosis with - aptly titled Imitation of Life (apropos to Betty and Sal in this episode and Don/Dick almost all the time).

I'll be interested to see how they handle Sal going forward. This is the first moment in this series where I've seriously considered that a somewhat major character will die (via suicide, in Sal's case, although that might be a bit overdone, seeing as they've already gone down that path with Don's brother). Maybe more likely is that he'll seek medical attention or a 'cure', as Dennis Quaid's character does in the Haynes film. Medical industry people, we're they still doing that in '63 in the progressive northeast?

After a dreadfully Peggy-less episode 7, Ms. Olson is back giving away lots of information with simple looks and gestures that at least reassure me that she hasn't been moved to the margins. She's in tune to what's going on with Hilton, etc.

I agree with Sepinwall that the Peggy stuff is less interesting than the Sterling-Cooper stuff. Even Don finally making his move on Miss Teacher Face is a little predictable and 'pat'/soap opera-y. I mean, I don't want this show to descend into 'The Philandering Drapers'.

Last thing, the race angle was also a little pat/on the nose. MLK's 'I Have a Dream' and the Birmingham church bombing are a bit predictable (not quite as nuanced a choice for a cultural time-marker as say, The Defenders episode/abortion thingy).


jane said...

@ John Coulter - good call on Harry Crane/Herc, who I passionately loathed with the fire of a thousand nuns every time his stupid face appeared on The Wire. Both started out sort of harmless seeming, kinda comic relief, although clearly out of their league in some way, and then proceeded to descend to fucking with the lives of characters I actually cared about through their own incompetence. Which also facilitated their continued employment/success despite their moral midgetry. I need to stop talking about how much I hate Herc like, right now. Great comparison, though I hope I don't grow to despise Harry as much as I do Herc. This kind of hate clearly takes a lot out of a girl ;)

Marlark said...

Yes, Conrad's dream dream realized here, at least in orbit

Anonymous said...

WOW. Jon Hamm and Bryan Batt. That was the best scene of the season for gut wrenching pathos. Of course you have to praise the
writing as well. MY GOD.

Don Draper is SUCH a Bastard. Good for Jon Hamm for just going for it and not trying to make us like Don or soften the blow he deals Sal in any way shape or form.

Batt's use of his eyes and the very slight adjustments in posture! Genius.

(applause from the living room)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Laura V in an earlier post. I think the "you people" was a larger indictment.

Harry screws Mr Lucky Strike's request up,everyone is yelling to "Get Don To Fix IT"...

...Pete nearly tanks the Bethelhem Steel account in a much earlier episode,Don has to fix it..

...Don smacks Peggy down over her ideas The Patio Account.

...Don had to fix things with UTZ potato chips when "Leopold and Loeb" allowed Jimmy Barrett to savage Mrs Utz Potato Chip..

Paul going off on the MSG people
over Penn Station. Who fixed it?

"You people" seemed more about the underlings at SC to me...

..wish I knew what Wiener meant when he wrote it.

Anonymous said...

BookwormRach had some decent comments on the Betty situation. I don't get her.

So there's the 'courtly love' idea: the couch, the letters, etc, possibly mixed up with this double-access life where she has this professional/civic role that lives side-by-side parallel with Henry as he saves the day (politically) and covertly courts her on the way with some double entendre or something.

And how does Henry compare/square with Captain Knockup and the guy from the country club (or even the Italians)?

And what was up with Betty on the phone? Was she excited about getting caught by Don, when she was on the phone with Henry? Or was she just doing that in front of him for her own secret revenge?

But the courtly love thing may have more to do with what she doesn't get from Don. She's not valued, desired, chased, what-have-you. So she sets all this up for Henry, and then Henry doesn't follow the script. (Actually, it reminds me of an episode of Hung.)

I for one, would want to hear other people's takes on Betty-desires, motivations, etc.

jenae said...

Anonymous, Henry *is* the guy at the country club. (Am I right you thought they were two different people?)

And she did the call in front of Don b/c she felt she had to follow thru on the cover story she made up to deceive Carla. (Therefore had to mention the fund raiser to Don, then had to either make up a "oops, it was canceled for some reason" story or "go thru with it." People were actually afraid of being discovered by their servants doing illicit things; it's in Jane Austen, etc. (Virginia Wolff was afraid of her house keeper.)

I think she thought she could make good on the cover story they used to keep up appearances in front of Carla, and then she'd also getting a chance to see Francis again, while Don wouldn’t, as he said, be there.

Unknown said...

Ham's performance is brave as you say Anonymous, in showing how cruel Don can be. (Whatever he meant by "you people," I'm not the first to point out how thoughtless and/or cruel it was.) My husband's take--he was in his teens in '63--is that in that era the mere fact that Don ended with "You'll be fine" and a handshake is more sensitivity than any but the most thoughtful straight guy would have mustered. Fuck.

Re: Sheree’s comment the reason Betty is romantically involved (at least at the level of flirtation, first kisses) with an older man is ‘cause her father died, I wanna add that that may be and only the writers and January know for sure, but I just wanted to put in my 2 cents about the fluidity and paradoxical nature of such things.

Six months after my own dad died (I was 30) I was separated from my husband and got involved with a drunken but brilliant young novelist--he was 27 and a rather young 27, semi-homeless, pretty unstable--whom I briefly fell for.

I had nursed my dad thru a grueling death and was definitely affected, and very much noticed that this younger man had the same coloring as my father. (All my other partners have had dark hair and eyes. This young man was the only Northern European, like my dad from very all-American stock, I’d even been with—and maybe even a similar personality.) Meanwhile my husband whom I was ultimately reunited with, and who is older than me by 22 years, is much more like my mother in ethnicity and education, and our dynamic is similar to my dynamic with her but quite different from the relationship my dad and I had.

To me that just underscores how fluid and paradoxical it all is: the only guy I ever dated who reminded me of my dad was younger than me (and pretty immature). Then again, the crucial memories I have of my parents were when they were 30-35, so maybe it’s not so odd. (He died too young to ever look old, poor guy.)

(As I write this I wonder if Alan and others would think this too long a digression from *the show itself*. To me it’s interesting when people here connect the themes with their own lives.)

Unknown said...

What I see with Betty is that Don lives by “The Hobo Code” that he witnessed as a boy. Though it’s not entirely by-the-book to pursue a married woman, I’d bet that Henry Francis is basically a solid, well integrated citizen. He’s not profoundly at odds with being a straight member of society the way Don is. He sure as hell isn’t hiding a secret identity. In all those ways (repeating myself here) he’s more like Eugene.

You can imagine Gene straying from his marriage, but probably not over and over like Don, and you can’t imagine Gene abandoning his wife and kids. When Pete threatened to out Don’s identity, he was all too ready to run away with Rachel, “like Adam and Eve.” Then he toyed with staying in CA. Henry is a man who doesn’t have a stack of fuck-it-and-run money in his drawer, a different creature than Don. (Again, I don’t find him that appealing as a guy, I just think Betty’s process is interesting. She’s groping for a exit from her predicament, I think. Maybe.)

Shitty though Betty’s post Rome behavior was, it doesn’t justify Don’s bedding Ms. Farrell. I think she knows, or rather feels in an inchoate way, that he shuts her out emotionally, and that he’s capable of abandoning her (won’t sign the contract, then does so with great resentment). It would be sheer instinct to look for, or gravitate to, a more reliable man, one who seems so smitten with her.

And though Sheree you were gracious enough not to get Freudian, I have a slightly Freudian idea: I wonder if Betty has a bit of an Electra complex: She hated her step-mom (sometimes people displace their unacknowledged feelings about their mom onto the step mom, much easier to hate a step than to admit you’re angry at your own parent) and when Henry sent someone else in his place--a somewhat matronly woman, she would probably seem to Betty, to me she seemed another pioneer career woman in a position of responsibility--Betty called her “That Woman!” with totally irrational hatred.

(Being myself a step mom, hopefully much more sensitive than what’s-her-name who ran out on Gene, it was painful to me to watch Betty despise her step mother so.)

I guess I'm saying Betty was longing for masculine attention, and when this matronly woman showed up instead, maybe it tapped into anger at her mother that was also tapped into by having a admittedly very imperfect stepmother.

Just a thought, to be taken with a big grain of salt like all Freudian notions…

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

" that deliciously, rebelliously out-of-place fainting couch"

Well put! Good insight.

Unknown said...

"Don got praise from Connie, (you're more than a son to me) only to have it swiftly taken back"

Yeah, ouch.

Unknown said...

i see i contradicted myself:

when I said "electra complex" i was thinking of the hatred-of-mother aspect, not the in love with father side, which i had already called into question with my personal anecdote.

My hunch is that it is particularly painful for betty to feel that some woman--a woman who is in some way a possible mother figure especially maybe?--comes between her and the masculine attention she craves, be that the step mom blocking her total access to her dad, or that competent political woman showing up in lue (sp?) of Francis. and maybe this pattern shows that, as Dr Wayne suggested, she's angry at her mother.

Julia said...


Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl came out in early 1963.

In the November 1, 1963 Life magazine, Betty Friedan attacks the Feminine Mystique.

Yes, women of that era were mighty confused. Brown was urging single women to go after men, even married men; and Friedan was trashing married women's role in life. Both ideas were big breaks from the past.

On that same Life cover, Goldwater is on his horse "riding East". Another Westerner who won't fit in to NE country club Republicanism.

Julia said...

Earlier I noted that the August 30, 1963 Life magazine said the 19 new foreign Hilton Hotels were to be considered "American outposts".

Hugo Chavez has captured and nationalized the Hilton in the Venezuela capital of Caracas and now the vast Hilton complex on Margarita Island - Venezuela's resort community.

Symbolic of Chavez' disdain for the US, no? Connie was successful in having his hotels emblematic of the US of America.

mmjoan said...

Anonymous 4 am, thanks for asking for comments regarding Betty and Henry. Sometimes I hesitate to share that I relate to her because so many people dislike her character. (I've seen selfish, cold, empty vessel, petulant, etc. written about her.) I can see how it is possible to interpret her that way, but I believe there is more to her than that.
I agree with many posters about Betty's attraction to Henry and her desire for romance. She doesn't get what she needs from Don and there's definitely truth to Gene's death playing a role. Someone questioned why she'd write letters to Henry because it leaves evidence. Betty isn't Don. She isn't trying to carry on one illicit affair after another. She NEEDS someone to care about her and listen to her. As Brandon mentioned, Betty was emphatic that she had thoughts to share, and because she is so lonely, she wrote them to Henry. (That part wrecked me too, Brandon!) There is no adult left in Betty’s life who truly cares about her. Since the day she met Henry at the country club, he made it clear how much he'd care for her if she were his. That is VERY powerful to a woman in Betty's situation.
Also, Betty did not turn down Henry once he locked his office door because she doesn't know how to have an affair or because she is hot one second and cold the next. IMO, when Henry said she had to come to him "because you're married," Betty instantly was jolted back to reality. She doesn't want to have an affair. Like Leah posted, her dream at the start of the ep is what she wants in her every day life--a HUSBAND who loves her that way. When Betty apologized to Henry, she meant it. It was one of Betty’s most genuine moments.
Jude, I found your thoughts on Betty's reaction to Henry's replacement at the party very interesting. It makes sense that her anger at her mother/step-mother would play a role. She was already feeling rejecting because Henry didn't come himself. Those two factors could definitely lead to her irrationally driving to his office, hurling the box at him and calling her “THAT woman.” Ordinarily, Betty would never act so hastily as to not even dress herself up first. We all know how important it is to her to look beautiful. She definitely lost her cool that night and didn’t calm down by the next day. Such a strong reaction had to be caused by more than just Henry not coming. Perhaps if he’d sent another man to speak she would have handled things differently?

Anonymous said...

DoubleLifeofaSalesman again, posting as Anonymous for convenience, some reactions.

I'd sworn to myself to just post once per week, but I feel particularly blown away, not only by the quietly violent power of "Wee Small Hours," but by some of what's just been contributed.

to Jude: for what it's worth I think you've done right to talk about age differences in your own relationships. This is that rare show that gets us to reflecting on our own lives. To judge from this feedback, it's become something of a Rorschach test.

to flyboy: taking zero away from Alan's great start, I wondered at the sucker-punch feeling of the whole episode and I think your "rejection" thesis accounts for a lot. Thank you.

to AnnaN: I thank you for your suggestion that Connie could really use some lithium. I once dated a woman who turned out to be bipolar and I find your diagnosis worth consideration.

to Marlark: THANK YOU for that link! The crazy thing is, I always catch "2001" when I can, but I haven't seen in on a nice big screen in ages -- and besides, I always get wrapped up in how nice and tense that conversation is between Floyd and Smyslov and the others, I guess I sort of block out peripheral data. I stand (actually sit) corrected!

to AG: I think you're onto something with "home as anchor," which served Don back with the slide show carousel.

Confronted with Connie, I might have been tempted to say "In developing this campaign, one idea we considered was a window looking out on the Acropolis. There's a problem withb that, of course, because you can't make that claim and then not deliver it. The problem would have been far worse if the window had looked out on some major lunar crater like Copernicus or Tycho or Clavius. It's not that we can't imagine it -- but that the window itself would have to be different, radically different, in a way which may not automatically connect with the average traveler. It would have to be airtight, block intense sunlight, even help block out cosmic radiation. Yes, someday we will go to the moon -- but the accommodations, to lunar gravity, to the Spartan constraints on payload by rocket economics, will be so unique as to require their own special orientation, one that would require at least an extra month -- appropriately enough -- to prepare for the customer. We would be asking the customer to consider embracing the kind of bravery we now delegate to astronauts. The customer deserves a proper orientation."

Compared to all that, though, Connie should simply take some lithium.

Anonymous said...

Sal would have been in deep doo-doo even if he had said yes to Mr. Lucky Jr. I imagine LJ has nothing but disdain and revulsion about his own homosexual feelings and anyone who knows about them. He's married and he only came on to Sal when he was skunk drunk. Don't you think that had he and Sal "done the deed", he would have been so ashamed he would have still arranged for Sal's firing. Of course if he had spoken to someone at SC with a little more sense and leadership than Harry, than it was possible Sal could have been removed from the account but kept at SC. (That is how agencies today handle situations where the Client, no matter how important, is dissatissifed with a key staffer. )
To me, part of what makes Sal's story so tragic is how differnt things are today for gay men in ad agencies. Women and ethnic minorities have come a long way as well, but seeing Sal struggle to understand much less accept who is has been heartbreaking. Today, he would he have his partner's picture on his desk or if single, would be as free to discuss his dates and heartbreaks as hetero colleagues.

Doug P said...

Am I the only one who thought that the reason Betty didn't go further with Henry goes back to her "kissing conversation" with her daughter? She said the first kiss is the special one and after that, it's not the same. After she kissed Henry in his office she realized that indeed the 2nd kiss was not the same.

Susan said...

mmjoan, props to you for admitting you understand Betty. There is just so much there that you can't boil it all down to "Betty is a bad person." Your thought that Betty doesn't want to have an affair is interesting. I believe there are people who stray who would never do so if their needs were being met in the marriage. Maybe Betty is one? Something to think about.

I think Don does love her and care about her, but you are right he doesn't listen to her. He is not interested in her thoughts. Don is far from perfect, but he did make a huge effort from October 1962 when he returned home until this episode when he had sex with Miss Farrell. That's almost a year of really trying to be a good husband. Betty was more miserable than ever and nastier than before. I doubt any man could make her happy.

Marco said...

I thought everyone would enjoy this article from the Houston Chronicle. The University of Houston is home to the Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management and houses Hilton's archives. Mad Men did some research there.
If this link doesn't work just go to!d9&pId=HeOHCWXaPRs=&acn=zj!d9

Julia said...

Another source for tidbits on Conrad Hilton. Go to Google Books and look for the Life issue of August 30, 1963, starting at page 67.

There's several photos of him and stories such as the furious Roman who objected to ruining the view of the hill where the new Hilton sat. To satisfy them he had a fake hill built that hid the hotel and had trees planted at $1,000 each. Lots of other over-the-top stories from around the world.

He's quoted as saying "Golly" at least once in the long article. Supposedly his motto at the time was: World Peace Through International Trade and Travel.

The TV Connie looks an awful lot like the real one.

Commie Bastard said...

Well, of COURSE Connie is barmy as a bedbug on a badger! Duh. Hehe, any great leader - political, industrial or otherwise - of the Western world is afflicted with a touch of moonstruck madness... just in case the scene where Connie literally gives some of this moonshine - oh, sorry, I mean "hair tonic" hahaha - to Don wasn't obvious to anyone but myself.

LOL, does anyone really think that pointing out the neo-imperialism of Connie's campaign qualifies as an endorsement of his insane worldview, or are they just grasping for a straw man argument in which they can emerge as the sole beacon of reason in an ostensibly "overheated" sea? ;)

(I'm still really surprised at how literalism prevents so many from basic comprehension of Connie's vision, which simply distills a pretty cursory knowledge of American history. I think this episode did a dandy job in critiquing the Evangelical values of First World(tm) foreign policy.)

In closing:
Cripes, it's a TV show, people. I know it's a drama and it's got high-brow white male critics all aflutter, but let's have some fun with it, shall we?

p.s. Are we suuure that was a "Jerry" mouse, or was it a different kind altogether hailing from the "happiest place on earth" that Connie already namechecked and re-styled to escape licensing fees? ^^

smartypants said...

don't they all try to reach for the moon? Connie is the only one to say it outloud - Don wants the american dream with as much independence he can aqueeze out of it, Betty wants the perfect everything (family, husband, outer beauty), Joan wants the Dr husband and babies, Sal wants to be a good heterosexual husband, the clients want the perfect pitch, Peggy wants to be all that Manhattan has to offer in abundance etc. I realize that some (Joan, Don?) maybe don't really want what they thought they wanted, but they are all still reaching for the moon. Connie's moon happens to be literal and he is able to make the demand out loud.

Commie Bastard said...

@smartypants: OOH, stellar observation (...literally?)! Yeah, each of the more prominent characters projects their own interpretation of the American Dream - a dream that was (and remains) about as far out of reach for much of the rest of the world's population as the moon was.

Still, I'd argue that Connie's firing on a bit more missionary zeal in his jetpack than the rest - other characters may be dreamers, but they're not megalomaniacs.

mmjoan said...

Imarilyn, thanks for the props. You're right, sometimes people would only cheat if their needs weren't being met. And I think Betty is one of them.

And yes, overall, Don was trying to be a better husband this season. But he messed around with the stewardess and was cruel to Betty when she confronted him about his contract. I don't recall her being nastier than ever. And I don't think no man could make her happy. But I do think she needs to learn more about herself and what she needs to be happy including what she needs from a husband. I doubt she would have married Don if she'd worked all this out earlier in her life.

Doug P, I see your point about Betty and Henry's kiss not living up to their first. It's another reason Betty walked away from Henry.

Marylanewhite said...

It would help for me to understand what being a gay man in the 60's was like. I feel that Don saying "you people" was a reference to "you stupid underlings" because I am not thinking that homosexual men were seen as a group to be referenced in the "you people". Am I wrong here? I do need some historical context if anyone out there has any. It would seem that at that time, it was much more of a challenge to integrate as a gay man or woman, and that may be why the character of Sal married. To integrate. Does the character of Sal even see himself as homosexual, or is he conflicted and confused? He loves Kitty, he is attracted to men but wants desperately to keep that under wraps to protect himself. When Don doesn't back him up in this horrible situation, he has no place to go. I appreciate Matt Weiner giving us this insight to what life might have been like for a man like Sal during that time.
Even if we don't love to death every single episode, each episode gives a lot to think about and reflect on.

PanAm53 said...

I so agree, Mary: each episode gives us a lot to think about and reflect on. I am never disappointed in an episode. Each episode provides new insights.

I also agree that when Don said "you people" to Sal, he was not referring to homosexuals, but rather to his staff who were not performing to his expectaions.

PanAm53 said...

OOPS...missed a "t" in expectations.

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

Re: references to Kennedy: It's on. An early episode of Season 3 made a *huge* point of showing Roger's daughter's wedding invitation… dated Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963. The day after.

I'm assuming season finale at this point. Matt Weiner apparently likes to torture his characters almost as much as Joss Whedon does.

bsangs said...

Just wondering Alan, what have the ratings been like for Mad Men this year? Not just the premier, but week-to-week?

I know I'm in the minority around here, but I don't think this season holds a candle to the first two and was wondering what the ratings reflected. If you know, thanks.

Naggie said...


The answer to your question re: fresh towels in Farsi is...

howleh-ye taazeh

and yes, there is a Hilton in Tehran.

Therem said...

Mary and PanAm, you might want to take a look at the link I posted in an earlier comment about gay publications and societies in the mid-20th century. Homosexuality was not a complete mystery to people in the early 1960s.

As far as I can tell, Sal is deeply repressed, but not delusional. He knows he is gay. He knows where to hookup for casual sex. But he would rather not mess up his entire life by exploring his sexual orientation. Alas, even abstinence didn't help him this time.

I find it really interesting that the other gay employee at SC is quite open about it and hasn't suffered for it at all. I wonder how realistic that is?

Frankiehi said...

Why was Connie at Sterling's party in the first place? I forgot. They clearly don't know eachother. Was it at some fancy country club that was open to all guests?

Anonymous said...

Connie was attending a wedding at the same private country club at which Roger and Jane were holding their Kentucky Derby party.

schoolbooksue said...

Since I work on Sunday nights I don't get to watch until later in the week. Reading Alan's post and everyones' responses to it adds something extra to my watching. However, I came away with a sense that I haven't read about here yet. I saw many characters realizing the possibility of their secret wishes come true- and having to also see the price that fulfillment costs.

We know that Don wants a father's approval and Connie offers that to him but that approval is coming at a HUGE price. He has to sign a contract that he hates, thus tying himself down in a way he has avoided for years. He has to come up with an ad for something that he thinks is ridiculous. He sees that in order to get what he thinks he has always wanted, he will nearly have to sell his professional soul. He has also wanted to "have what he wants when he wants it." He can't have that with Connie. He -can- have it with Miss Farrell. I think he thinks he has power over her at a time when he is feeling powerless everywhere else. He says, "I want you." I think he is wrong and I think that in having what he wants so close to home, he is going to have to pay even more.

Sal has wanted sex with men. He has hidden it for a long time and has gone to great lengths to keep his desires a secret. Now he can have what he wants but it is with someone he finds repulsive and who has the power to ruin his life- and does. Sal's job doesn't matter to Don as much as it should because Don it too busy saving his own life. His "you people" seemed to me to be "you people who want me to solve all of your problems when I have too many of my own." The only way Sal can get what he wants now is to hang out in the park and after all,he has lost everything else, why not his pride.

Betty has wanted a more exciting life. She is bored with her children, her absent, unfaithful husband and her suburban housewife existence. She can have what she wants with Henry; he offers it to her intellectually through their political cause and romantically through his letters. She thinks he has what she wants. Then he lets her know that it won't be the romantic interlude she had with Don-the-stranger. It's "tawdry" and not at all what she wanted.

Even Harry and Carla get a taste of their wishes granted. Harry wants advancement and responsibility. When he gets it he finds out that he isn't man enough to do the right thing. Even though he doesn't know what the actual issue is, a real executive would have been smart enough to keep Sal out of the meeting and out of the way until Lucky Strike Jr. left for home. He blows his chance and now Don knows it. To make it worse, he forces Don to fire someone he values.

Carla sees that getting the equality that an intelligent woman like herself has to want is being bought at a high price. We hear about the church bombings and we all know, even if she doesn't, what will happen to Martin Luther King Jr. He had been in jail many times by then and other civil rights leaders had been killed.

At the end, everyone is exactly where they were to begin with. Don is a prisoner of his dishonesty, Sal is hiding his life, Betty is back home, Harry is a low-level weenie and Carla is wearing her uniform being a "girl". Be careful what you pray for- you may get it.

jenae said...


Good insights. (Connie’s paternal love is pretty fickle.)

Brandon said: "I forgot an early moment that wrecked me: When Betty's reading her letter and she announces, 'And I have thoughts.' It's an assertion of independence, but it's also a crystallization of Betty's loneliness. She has no one to tell her thoughts to." --I think that's true.

And I want to say again that your comment, Leah, about Betty's "deliciously, rebelliously out of place fainting chair" was so well put. That chair is like a monument to her wayward, unfulfilled sensuality, rebelliously placed in the middle of her oh so correct living room, but I didn't quite see that 'til you put it that way.

imamarylin, you wrote that no man could make Betty happy. Maybe so. I may have been too imaginative in some comments here, as to her motives and dissatisfactions.

On the other hand, I think intuition may be a factor with Betty. In one of the commentaries, when she was tearing thru Don's clothes in the closet, it was mentioned that lack of confirmation of what she felt in her gut—that he'd been unfaithful—was driving her crazy.

It's interesting that January thinks Betty has an authentic love for Don that isn't returned. What a sad state of affairs that would be.

Maybe the very fact that things got so hot between she and Don when she pretended to be someone else was a painful reminder of how driven he is to bed other women, a double edged sword. Had they both been faithful thru-out, the role- playing would have been just fun, but it'd probably feel rather different (maybe a bad, painful and angering after-taste) when you know your husband actually has cheated many times.

Betty told the psychiatrist that Don comes home smelling of perfume "or worse". A movie I saw recently about Georgia O'Keefe's life had a scene where one brother tells another something to the effect that if you're a decent man and love your wife, you hide your affairs. What does it mean that Don didn't manage to avoid coming home smelling of sex with other woman?

I don't think any of us who haven't been thru that can imagine the feelings Betty has stored up.

Also I think there was a "don't ask don't tell" implicit approach in marriage back then; Don could have fooled himself that Betty was willing to turn a blind eye. But once he pleads to come back and pledges (implicitly) to be faithful, the betrayal is worse. And I do think that Betty was already suspicious (about the phone call at least) while she was giving birth (her twilight-sleep freak-out was full of distrust of Don), and what a horrible time to be doubting your husband?

Hmmm, spilling lots of digital ink in sympathy with Betty here. That seems odd. Her hatred was vindicated I guess (though I'll always consider it irrationally over-the-top and immature), but watching her so resent her dad's new partner certainly didn't endear me to her.

I think Betty scores very low on emotional maturity, but pretty high on intelligence, and maybe even higher on intuition, and that some of her seemingly insufferable behaviors stem from her intuitions about Don.

I think she even understands why he cheats: "(He) can't help himself." She knows he's driven in some way he has little control over.

jenae said...

I never mentioned at the time, but Allan I thought your use of hyperlink to insert the Joan image into the text (Joan being raped) in the "Guy Walks In" article was f@cking brilliant. Maybe I'm behind the times: I never knew why people say blogging is different from writing 'til I saw that, that the hyperlink could be a truly new element.

Unknown said...

mmjoan and Anonymous, thanks for responding in a positive way to my sharing personal anecdotes / info. I was unsure how that would be received.

Unknown said...

2 things;

mmjoan: Your (agreeable) response was more about interpretation of the show than reaction to personal disclosures, on 2nd read. I misspoke there, I think. :)

dc: I agree with, I think, all you say. It does seem odd that S. Farrell is being spoken of as Glen-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction nuts. I can see that there's something on-the-edge about her (the drunk dialing, or tipsy dialing—of her student's dad, who’s wife is soon to give birth no less--and that knowing-to-the-point-of-devilish look in her eye when she implicitly admits she's thought of Don when she runs, then goes on to say she's also rehearsed how it will end), but not enough for her to be deemed a psycho.

She and Don may both be philanderers, but she lives in an in-law apartment, so bad break ups no doubt effect her much differently. (Again, the woman has less power.) Maybe it’s that vulnerability that makes people think she could go over the edge. Plus some anti-woman bias, I think. You’re right that Connie did the really nutso move but he’s an eccentric millionaire so he can get away with most anything.

I'm hoping to see An Education tonight (the look of the movie has been compared to Mad Men; screenplay is by Nick Hornsby) in which case I'll miss tonight's episode but will certainly catch ~ the next day.

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