Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mad Men, "Love Among the Ruins": A change is gonna come

A review of "Mad Men" season three, episode two coming up just as soon as I enjoy a drink that sounds like a floor...
"Let's also say that change is neither good or bad. It simply is. It can be greeted with terror or joy: a tantrum that says, 'I want it the way it was,' or a dance that says, 'Look, it's something new.'" -Don Draper
The '60s are famous as a decade of great social change. So far, "Mad Men" has taken place on the front side of that change, but now that we're in 1963 - and now that we see that Roger Sterling's daughter is scheduled to be married the day after John F. Kennedy will be assassinated - we know that seismic changes are coming, both to Sterling Cooper and the world it tries to depict in its advertising.

But the shot of Margaret's wedding invitation aside, the changes people are either struggling against or embracing in "Love Among the Ruins" are on a smaller scale. The Draper/Hofstadt families are grappling with a new dynamic where Gene has to be treated like a child rather than the patriarch. Peggy wants to change the way her business works when it comes to selling to women, but in the end settles for changing her approach to men (even if just for a night). Roger doesn't understand why his marriage to Jane has irrevocably changed all of his personal relationships, and the new British overlords of Sterling Cooper don't seem to want to change their old business model to accommodate the new thinking of their American colleagues.

But as Don tells the Madison Square Garden representative, change is inevitable. The seasons change (and Don enjoys the feel of fresh grass under his fingers as he watches Sally and her teacher dance around the maypole), attitudes change and relationships change. You can't stop it. So the best thing you can do is find a way to make your life work around the change.

Don, despite his slip with the stewardess last week, is still making an effort to change, and to be a better husband to Betty. We know he didn't get along with Gene even before senility became an issue, and yet when he sees Betty wracked with guilt over the idea of her brother and sister-in-law becoming her father's caretakers, he goes alpha male and assumes control of the situation to make his wife feel better. William notes that Don has no family, had no people at the wedding, and in previous seasons Betty has complained that Don shows no interest in making her family his own. In this instance, he's willing to bring Betty's father permanently into his home because he knows it will make her happier. It's one of the more generous impulses Don has had of late. (Though even it's bolstered somewhat by a negative emotion, since Don dislikes William and takes obvious pleasure in sending his family back to Philadelphia without the Lincoln.)

And then Gene's midnight mental trip back to the days of Prohibition (he hears a police siren in the distance and assumes it's a liquor raid) makes both Don and Betty realize that having Gene live with them may be a much more drastic change than they had anticipated. Yet the situation isn't all bad; you get the sense that Don and Betty are happy to have Gene there for the family photo after Sally's dance.

At work, Don has a relatively easy time fixing things with the MSG people after Paul turns his pitch into an outraged ode to old Penn Station. But he has a much harder time understanding why Pryce's bosses back in London can't see how valuable the deal will be for Sterling Cooper long-term. During our interview about the season premiere, Matt Weiner said this about the folks from PP&L:
The British have come here because we're great. They're redefining how things are done. But at the same time, they feel everyone needs a parent. That's their attitude.
Here, they're being too much the parent who knows best, when they should be recognizing that the son has a broader range of vision than they do. I suspect this is not the first time Pryce has butted heads with Don, nor will it be the last. (Though I hope this doesn't turn into a Richie/Ralphie situation where every season, Weiner brings in a new money man to cause Don problems, and not just because Jared Harris' accent is too good not to keep.)

But if Don can't bring Pryce and the Brits around to his way of thinking, he does eventually get through to Peggy on the subject of Patio. Though Peggy is now comfortable enough to openly disagree with Don (in one-on-one situations, at least), he's still her mentor and professional role model, and you can see how disappointed she is when he's just as turned on by Ann-Margret singing "Bye Bye Birdie" (he says it "makes your heart hurt") as the more callow likes of Pete and Harry.

Where Peggy is understandably interested in pushing to change the way Sterling Cooper sells products to women, she has the bad luck to catch Don in a bad mood. (Just as poor Pete did at the end of "Flight 1" last season.) Demoralized after the meeting with Pryce, Don bluntly tells her, "You're not an artist, Peggy. You solve problems. Leave some tools in your toolbox."

Now, since she gave up the baby, Peggy has deliberately walked her own proto-feminist path. She's now at the point where she doesn't understand a woman like Joan any more than Joan understands her. But frustrated first by this account, and then at not getting approval from Don, and at constantly having to deal with the sexism of her time and workplace, she decides to see how the other half lives. First there's her Ann-Margret pantomime in the bedroom mirror, and I love how Elisabeth Moss just turns the teenage girl thing on and off like she's flipping a switch. And then, satisfied that she can play the role, she picks up a college boy at the local bar. They're roughly the same age, but she seems years older than him (and certainly more sexually experienced), and she certainly never wants to see him again. But at the same time, there's sincerity in her voice - as much as you can read anything into the show's most inscrutable character - when she tells the kid, "This was fun." Might this evening lead her to a more carefree personal life? Whether it does or not, the experience allows her to set aside whatever irritation she feels for Don(*), and the next morning she's back in his office, just another colleague, the previous day's conflict forgotten.

(*) When Peggy is pretending to be the dumb secretary for the college boy and complains, "My boss is a jerk,"she seems to be using her real current issues with Don to enhance the performance.

I find it really funny that Peggy borrows Joan's joke about the subway in the same episode where Roger confronts Don about their estrangement, since I thoroughly believe that Don is as mad at Roger about stealing his "move forward" line to use in dumping Mona as he is that Roger violated Don's various codes about privacy and personal ethics by hooking up with Jane. Don may be a problem-solver some days, but in his heart he's an artist, and he just won't tolerate plagiarism of his words.

Aside from maybe Harry Crane, Roger is the character on the show who most strongly symbolizes the side that's going to be left behind in the cultural revolution. (Even Bert Cooper seems more forward-thinking; if nothing else, he was in on the Hentai boom decades early with that octopus painting.) Roger doesn't think about the future because he's too busy thinking about himself. He irrevocably transformed his life by leaving Mona for Jane, but he expects everything to more or less remain the same. He doesn't think Don should feel betrayed by Roger using him as the excuse (and the words) to leave his wife. He expects Margaret to be happy and smiling and eager to welcome homewrecker Jane into the family. He even expects Mona to make some pretense of being nice to him.

Roger wants things the way they were, not the way they are, nor the way they'll become. And because we know his daughter's wedding is scheduled for November 23, and that JFK will be killed on November 22, we know Roger's going to get an up close and personal view of one of the most transformative moments in our country's history. Knowing Roger - and knowing what Matt Weiner told me about the way history is viewed by the people living through it - we're going to see Roger too wrapped up in the ruin of his daughter's wedding to notice the larger story.

Some other thoughts on "Love Among the Ruins":

• Patio was, indeed, the awful first name of Diet Pepsi, though it only lasted into 1964. I can only assume that the commercials featured a Chevy Chase type explaining that "It's a floor wax and a diet cola!"

• It's always funny to watch Michael Gladis play Paul as the youngest old man in New York, but in this case, history will have proven Paul right, as the outrage over the dismantling of Penn Station (you can see a picture of the old interior here) will lead to the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

• I'm also amused whenever whenever Pete goes all Dychman blue blood whenever he's in the presence of people who come from old money. In many ways, Pete's similar to Don; he doesn't really know how to be a human being, but he can fake it in the right situations if he can remember which persona to adopt.

• Born in Indiana but largely raised in South Africa, Embeth Davidtz is one of those actresses where I'm never quite clear what her real accent sounds like. But she fits in nicely next to Jared Harris as Pryce's wife Rebecca, and seems just the kind of brittle, overly-cultured type who would make Betty feel uncomfortable (and inadequate) around.

• I can't be the only viewer who gets angry at the merest mention of Joan's husband, can I? It appears that he's only allowing Joan to keep working at Sterling Cooper until he gets promoted to chief resident, at which point he becomes the breadwinner and she becomes a baby machine. Grrr...

• Gene brings over steaks from Pat's, which raises the eternal question for anyone who has either lived or spent significant time in Philadelphia: Pat's, Geno's or Jim's?

• When Gene appeared last season in "The Inheritance," a number of fans pointed out actor Ryan Cutrona's resemblance to John McCain, and suggested that Matt Weiner was making some sort of commentary on the then-presidential nominee. But Cutrona had already appeared in the first season, more than a year before McCain had gotten the nomination. And now I'll remind you of the No Politics rule, and let's let this be the last that this comes up, okay?

Speaking of the commenting rules, I should say that you guys were great last week with all your comments. You pointed out things I either forget to mention or hadn't noticed, and just as importantly, you played well with each other. Even though I didn't bring up the rule about at least skimming all previous comments before posting your own, there was very little duplication among the comments. So good on ya.

That being said, iTunes recently goofed and for a few hours made next week's episode, "My Old Kentucky Home," available for download. And apparently, a number of people did download it. So it's at this point that I need to remind you about the No Spoiler policy here on the blog. Simply put, I don't want any discussion of that episode. I don't even want discussion of the previews for that episode (even though AMC's previews for the show tend to be opaque and/or misleading). Not a word. Are we clear about that? Good. And that being said...

What did everybody else think?


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Anonymous said...

Here is the Wikipedia entry on Patio, in case anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts on the Maypole scene (and I hope I can articulate them): Don was so entranced by the teacher dancing barefoot in the spring grass, that his caressing the grass by his side was his only - but very visceral - way of making a connection to her. His skin brushing the same grass her naked feet were. It was definitely a connection to the woman, not to the season! - and also a way of showing how he's sublimating desires these days. But, oh, they exist.

Zack Smith said...

This episode felt like the symbolism went overboard -- the bit at the end with the maypole signaling the renewal of Spring and Don fingering the earth was a bit much for me.

The seeds of Sterling Cooper's eventual downfall really seemed to come into play this week. As Don points out, they're going to lose a lot of potential business by not putting resources in the new direction represented by Madison Square Garden. Don, as has been seen in the past, has an idea about some progressive ideas, but sometimes clings to more traditional values when it feels safe (see: London Fog). So now there's the question of not just whether he'll be able to adapt, but whether the company will LET him adapt his style as the decade picks up.

Peggy's Ann-Margaret pantomime sort of creeped me out with the low lighting and camera angle. The poor girl's still not sure how to have a career, be one of the guys, and also be a female.

The college boy sort of looked like Pete to me.

Things with Gene are not going to end well, but it'll be interesting to see how this affects Peggy. Interesting how her brother is quite arrested as well -- he wants to take this as an opportunity to get out from Gene's thumb, but also is a bit of a financial leech, the implication being that he's never gotten quite far from the nest.

Pryce seems quite socially awkward, despite his power at the company. It seems like he and his wife are lonely, and he doesn't know how to handle meetings properly. Not sure how this will develop.

Oh, Roger. You're headed for such a fall...

Did not download next week, looking forward to watching it live.

Nicole said...

When I first saw Sally's teacher, I thought "I guess the hippies have come early", but then understood the outfit. The camera did focus on her a lot, so I won't be surprised if Don hooks up with her in the next episode.

I'm glad that there was more Peggy this week, but she is in a tough place. The guys still don't give her that much credit when she was clearly pointing out that the product was aimed at women and not men. I can't say that I was impressed with the real-life Ann Margaret footage, but then I'm not a guy. Every time I hear her name, I always think of the Jan Hooks SNL version when she was trying to pick up Wayne Gretzky.

While it was frustrating for the British home office to disregard the New York office, especially Don, it really does parallel what the men were doing to Peggy. Both think they know best, and both are on the losing side of history.

Marlark said...

I wondered if the mother earth teacher with the "wild" hair and maypole chanting was more about a proto-green movement, causing Don to enjoy a moment of what's real. The dawning of the age that will be Aquarius.

Laugh out loud moment: Roger's response to Peggy about finding a way to have her father not be invited to the wedding.

P.S. This Philly guy says, Geno's!

Laura G said...

Alan, thanks for the blog- reading it is the first thing I do every week after watching a new episode. What do you think Don was referring to when he told Peggy to "leave some tools in her toolbox?" Do you think the tool he is referring to is himself? That she can look to him to solve more dire problems but should not turn to him for more banal issues?

In response to other comments, I don't think the grass/may pole bit was overly symbolic or sexual. I think Don was envious of the teacher's freedom and bohemian spirit, not looking to sleep with her. He is trying to commit to a life in which he could never run barefoot on the grass, and more than ever in this episode he has rooted himself further into place. I think it was a nice moment of showing the viewer that those decisions are a constant struggle for him.

Snacktime said...

There is so much going on this episode, so many levels, that I know I'm going to have to rewatch it soon. I'm wondering two things at this moment: 1) is Don going to be tempted every episode, balancing it with his wanting to make Betty happy and 2) How dumb can PP&L be? (that they had no plan for SC when then bought them.

Okay, need to go rewatch!

Jon Garelick said...

I'll put out a vote for Dalessandro's as the best cheesesteaks in Philly (even if it is in Manayunk).

BigTed said...

I thought that, more than usual, the commercial breaks got in the way of the story flow this week. One of the unique things about "Mad Men" is the way it's made up of brief scenes that are sort of like snapshots of life. But when those scenes lead into a commercial, they seem cut off rather than edited.

lungfish said...

grrr... DVR cut off last few minutes of the episode. Now staying up an hour longer to watch the replay...

Sloansy said...

The Maypole lady looked a lot like Don's apparent ideal woman - an independant brunette. And I agree that Peggy's hookup looks like a Pete.

I agree that Harry Crane will be left behind by the cultural revolution, but I wouldn't go so far as to say he'll be (like Rodger) on the totally losing side. After all, the Goldwater campaign is in 1964, and that is essentially the birth of the modern conservative movement, including the political debut of Ronald Reagan in his famous speech, and Harry seems inclined to follow that path. The book Nixonland discusses how the 60s was less about the Country going in one direction that about the consensus of the 50's fragmenting. In 1960, Paul and Harry seemed to be largely on the same page. By 1970, I imagine they will be polar opposites (they nearly are already). That will be very interesting to watch unfold.

(note, this is NOT political post, just a historical observation as it pertains to the characters on the show).

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

Thanks for explaining that grass fingering stuff.

To be honest I thought he was having a stroke.

HaroldsMaude said...

(first, Alan it's great to have you back. I devoured your reviews of NYPD Blue oh so many years ago...)

The Ann-Margaret scene was a great way to start this episode. My family went to see BBB at the drive in in 1963 and all there was was blue screen and Ann's red hair. It was a magic as the men in MM thought it was (and that Peggy tried to emulate). I loved Don's little smirk while he watched it.

I agree with the above posts on the Maypole scene. Don was making a connection to two things that he loves: beauty and freedom. He'd been doing the upstanding father and worker thing at home and at work and in both cases he was reminded of being on a leash.

And his stroking of the grass may have been a way to connect with the beautiful teacher; I saw it more as a more sensual gesture. That of his stroking.... well, lets keep it clean.

For me, Embeth Davidtz appearance took me out of the story. She was too prominent in "In Treatment" for her to be neutral here. I like my Mad Men performers to be a bit anonymous.

And finally, while a good episode, I grow impatient until I have a good dose of Joan... and her retribution.

Hyde said...

Don's quote about change, quoted at the top, was awfully reminiscent of Ian McShane saying "Change ain't looking for friends. Change calls the tune we dance to" in Deadwood: the first and probably the last time Don will remind me of Al Swearengen.

I'm not sure what to make of Pryce's wife, but her comment about "plenty of Africans" is easily dumber than anything we've ever heard Betty say, so Betty would have nothing to be embarrassed about around her. And Pryce himself came across as a good deal less effectual than he seemed last week.

Even Don is now mocking Roger's uselessness to his face. Things move slowly on this series, but this is looking more and more like a situation that will be resolved by the end of the current season.

I have never seen Bye Bye Birdie, and from the evidence of this episode, I haven't missed much.

Linda said...

The use of Ann-Margret is such a great choice for an episode about change at that particular moment in history, because she was a great example of a sort of half-sweetheart, half-tart (as far as the image, not the actual person). Peggy's comment about how she can be 25 and act 14 isn't just about starring in "Bye Bye Birdie" at 22, I don't think -- it's about the same combination of childlike qualities and overtly powerful/sexual qualities that all the women on the show are dealing with. It's a great choice of cultural icon, and a great thing to show her doing. Because Ann-Margret in that movie is both awesome and ridiculous, in just the right way.

Garrett said...

Sloansy: Good observation. I'm reading that book right now, and Harry's comments about taxes from last week could have come from a Reagan speech.

We've seen Paul's bohemian leanings before, but I think this is the first time it's shown in his work (having Sheila drop by SC doesn't count).

lunarangel01 said...

Oddly, I thought that the Maypole scene with the teacher was really a parallel with the Bye Bye Birdie performance. The actress who does the Birdie performance is supposed to be displaying the more attractive features of femininity: youth, beauty, carefree happiness, fun, etc. but it really seems fairly fake and obnoxious when she does it (Peggy quips that she's throwing herself at the camera).

Don is right when he tells Peggy that this is what men are attracted to... It's just not the false Hollywood version that Peggy is trying to emulate. It is the genuine version that Don witnesses with the teacher at the Maypole dance. These very same qualities of femininity are being put on display by the teacher, but they are genuine and thereby more attractive. I got the impression that the reason Don was so fixated on her was because of these more genuine qualities.

After the Maypole dance it cuts to the scene where Peggy goes in to talk to Don about the Patio account, and this is part of why I feel like it is alluding to it.

Either way, to me it just seems like another part of the truth vs. illusion theme that is fairly prevalent throughout Mad Men.

Sloansy said...

One other point. Harry aside, Alan's point about Rodger being on the losing side of history is spot on. No way he supports Goldwater in 64 - he is going to be a Rockefeller man, as he is a quintessential Rockefeller-country club republican, a faction that is by modern times completely dead. I doubt he could find any political faction in 2009 that wouldn't turn his stomach.

And I agree with Hyde, his end is coming soon. He works at a company that he no longer owns, at which he has no function. He's clearly blowing through his money from the sale at a record past, and the US is about to enter a high inflation period that will wipe out his assets. And what happens if Jane divorces him? Poor Rodger.

Joe Coughlin said...

I'll second the complaint about the ad breaks being jarring. Nothing says come back after this thrilling revelation better than a woman telling an old man to take his Coumadin with his sandwich.

I connected the maypole dancer thing with Don thinking about California where things are new.

As for Philly Cheese Steaks...Tony Luke's or Chink's for me.

eddie willers said...

"plenty of Africans" made me think she was from South Africa and so felt "at home".

Alan saying the actress was raised there makes me think I was right.

Garrett said...

"Bye Bye Birdie" is also an interesting choice - a fictionalized version of the end of an era (Elvis joining the Army).

Sloansy said...

Thanks Garrett. I also found the Kinsey thing odd; especially the lack of repercussion. He nearly blew a client account, one that the firm had been cultivating, because he injected his own personal feelings into the matter. Being able to put aside person opinons seems like it should be rule 1 of advertising, and I'm surprised Don didn't come down on him for that.

Artemisia said...

My dvr did the same thing...apparently the show went to 11:03.


I loved how (relatively) assertive Peggy and Betty have become - and how Don was proportionately more attentive to Betty. The Draper's relationship may still be precarious but it's changed enormously.

One thing that did not make sense to me was Betty wanting Gene there (does she want to look after a senile parent AND a baby?) and having such a problem with her brother moving into their childhood home and her sister-in-law taking care of Gene. And I don't understand why the more assertive Betty didn't propose keeping Gene there to Don - was that really what she wanted?

Blair Waldorf said...

I was depressed seeing how little dating in New York has changed since 1963. Sigh. Meeting guys in bars so loud you can't actually hear each other. One night hookups with a guy who isn't that cool and who you never want to see again.

I found myself wondering if Peggy has any girl friends. It doesn't seem like she has many. I wished she had a wing woman in that bar.

What was the deal with that guy "living around the corner" or not, and whether he needed cab fare? Did anyone get that? I thought he was trying to make it seem like he lived in Manhattan but really lived in Queens or something. But then Peggy went back to his place. right?

Word Verification: Tatio. Another Diet Pepsi predecessor?

karaokequeen said...

What was Harry's line about taxes? I must have missed it.

Loved this episode. Peggy was fascinating.

Wasn't Ann Margret in a lot of bad movies with Elvis? I thought she could actually sing. Apparently not.

BigTed said...

One thing about Peggy... She may be learning from Don and Joan and Ann-Margret how to be more of the kind of woman men want, but in her encounter with the college student, it was clear that she still prefers the man's role. She basically picked up the guy (while allowing him to think he was picking her up), took control of the kind of sex they'd have, and then left in the middle of the night with work as an excuse and barely a backward glance. It was exactly the sort of thing Don would do with, say, a stewardess.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"I can't say that I was impressed with the real-life Ann Margaret footage, but then I'm not a guy."

My wife tells me she was singing. I hadn't noticed.

Mapeel said...

On the surface, the Drapers really have pulled it together. Betty's pink paisley outfit to meet the Brits was stunning, and Don looked particularly stunning himself in those sunglasses at the maypole dance.

Lane said...

"What was the deal with that guy "living around the corner" or not, and whether he needed cab fare? Did anyone get that? I thought he was trying to make it seem like he lived in Manhattan but really lived in Queens or something. But then Peggy went back to his place. right?"


I think that was a potential escape route for the guy by his buddies if he wasn't interested in Peggy

Sloansy said...

Harry said (paraphrasing) that there was no point in working hard beyond a certain point because the government will take so much of your money. (a very Randian view. I wonder if Harry has had more bonding sessions with Bert Cooper over art?)

The top marginal tax rate was much higher at the time. I don't know if the Kennedy tax cuts have gone into effect yet, but either way the top taxes would have been much higher.

Blair Waldorf said...

I was also puzzled by the conflict over what to do with Gene. Why were William and Judy so bad to want to want to move in with Gene and take care of him in his own home? Don ordered William to go out there and pretend he did the right thing on his own. Why is moving Gene in with Don and Betty the "right thing"? Just because Betty wants it? Just because William wants to live in the family home?

You are so right. Peggy was totally pulling a Draper with that guy.

Marlark said...

Oh, and something we now take for granted by Season 3" "Yes, I'm pregnant and I'm going to drink and smoke." Still kind of jarring. Okay, now I need to hang up my sooty coat downstairs.

Pamela Jaye said...

"Plenty of Africans" I thought she was being like Paul - all "enlightened" and "open-minded."

I have never heard of Patio, though I see the cans that went right up to 1970. reminded me of MJF in Back to the Future, asking for a Tab...

I realize, I don't even know what Bye Bye Birdie is about.

Where are they having Gene sleep? Under the stairs?

I guess Trojans were the brand of choice in 63?
I found it amusing today, listening to the "radio" (internet) and a commercial on how to talk to your kids about sex - but they couldn't even use the word sex in the ad. Is radio that much more censored than TV? The S word, they called it.

I have only seen Embeth on Grey's Anatomy, and she was playing b**chy there.
I wonder - what about the real people who planned to get married on Nov 23. Was it a weekend? I was 4...

Speaking of which, however soon November is.... 6 months. After the Assassination comes the Beatles. And I had to googlemap MSG as I actually have never wondered where it is. (I've been to Carnegie Hall, the WTC, Empire State Bldg, Staten Island Ferry (I love Ferries) Port Authority terminal... and Footlight Records. And someplace near the UN where our church met. And near the Museum of Television... and in some museum with glass walls. A lot of my New York experience was in the 80s. I once followed a crowd walking to the East River to see the Fireworks on the 4th) I've never been autonomous in NYC. Not like LA. I always hang with someone who is from the city. For someone from Boston - I've been to LA more than NYC.

And I just keep coming back to that wedding date.

As I lie here, looking at no fewer than 3 hair garlands from Renfests past, I really liked the Maypole scene.

Ooh! If they decide to stop skipping years, I want to see the Blackout of 65. Now *that* I remember! (obviously it won't be this season)

Josh said...

Peggy is my favorite character on the show, and here is why. She, more than anyone, embodies the spirit of the show's theme of "Where do I fit in?". I found the scene of her singing "Bye Bye Birdie" to be a tragic scene, and I cried at it because I saw it to be a perfect symbol of her having no idea where to go or who to be. Elisabeth Moss is brilliant.

And is it wrong that I cheered for her when the guy said "I'm at that bar a lot" and she completely denied him?

David J. Loehr said...

Leaving aside the always-excellent deconstruction and comments, I'm going right to the vital question.

Gene brings over steaks from Pat's, which raises the eternal question for anyone who has either lived or spent significant time in Philadelphia: Pat's, Geno's or Jim's?

Tony Luke's.

Roger said...

What was the deal with that guy "living around the corner" or not, and whether he needed cab fare? Did anyone get that? I thought he was trying to make it seem like he lived in Manhattan but really lived in Queens or something. But then Peggy went back to his place. right?

His friend was informing Peggy in his own way that the guy lives right around the corner, in case they wanted to be alone.

I'm either going to look ridiculous or incredibly prescient, but Betty's brother's comment of "The one thing I learned is never to get old" keeps ringing in my ears. I'll say he dies by the end of the season.

Manton said...

Content aside (you folks have already done a good job on that), I want to further bring up how bad the editing was for tonight's episode. It wasn't just for commercial breaks. Scenes were cut shorter than usual, and felt a bit stifled where this show usually breathes in between scenes. It just felt far too abrupt.

And the end shot seemed like it went too long - you expect them to "talk" about the ad, but it's Peggy flipping pages, not talking and sat there for far too long before the credits just popped in sloppily. For a show that is so perfectly crafted as Mad Men usually is (technically and otherwise) tonight's ep felt rushed and more thrown together than usual. Wonder why....

Jon Garelick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I think it was the NYT piece last week where Weiner mentioned something about Don never putting the Brylcreem/Man in a Grey Flannel Suit look behind him. If that's really true, I wonder if Don's lifelong chameleon act is coming to a close. Obviously an ability to deal with change goes beyond looks, but I wonder how Don will adapt. He's a god right now, but where will he be in '67 or '68? Everyone thinks that Roger will hit the curb (which may well be true), but I kind of wonder about Don.

Jon Garelick said...

Does anyone else think that the blatant shots of Betty drinking and smoking while pregnant are there for something more than to provoke a reaction of, "I can't believe things were done like that!"?
I would not be surprised if the new baby is born with some kind of major problem, something that may even be foreshadowed by Betty wanting to take care of her extremely ill father.

Jape said...

My wife and I have been going over it again and again, but we can't figure out why Don stopped and stared at Peggy in her office at the end. Did he realize she was *right* about the "fake sell" in the Patio ad? That the natural and honest way was the way to go? Or was it something else?

Usually one or the other of us can figure out what the character is thinking, or what the subtext is, but this one had us vexed.

Anonymous said...

Artifice seemed to be the theme of the day. Peggy uses Joan's witticism of the subway, to draw attention to herself, a more aggressive version of herself.
Joan, of course, was blowing smoke herself. As she told Peggy in the last epi, she nevers rides the subway.


Chip said...

Totally agree with what you're saying about Pryce, second ep in and he already seems like the antagonist for Don to butt heads with a la Pete and Duck (at least he's not an archetype of Duck, I really liked his response when Don asked why PPL even bought them). So what was up with the Don and the grass thing, fantasizing about the teacher? If so that's a bit much. I always thought Don's cheating was mental, he had full side relationships cuz he wasn't getting what he needed from Betty. I know he's done more than Midge Rachel and Bobbie (she implied that there's a Don Draper cocksman fan club) but I just can't buy him feeling up the grass because he's horny.

suz said...

Hi guys, was the pickup bar that Peggy went to Maxwell's Plum? I remember it in the late 60's but don't know if it was open in 1963. Anybody know if this was the place? Thanks....

Jimmy said...

I think lunarangel01's on the right track about the Maypole scene. For all his demons, Don may have actually just been casting the Ann Margaret character for the Patio ad. Wasn't he reaching for a soda cup in that grass?

romanholiday said...

I found this episode to be so frustrating, saddening, and infuriating. Maybe it's the presence of the Brits, but I keep recalling the Pink Floyd line, "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way."

Did anyone else want to punch Harry Crane in the face when he said to Peggy, "You're not fat anymore"? Scenes like this make me wish this show wasn't so verisimilitudinous-- then I could hope that men didn't actually behave this way towards women in the workforce.

Nice that they managed to craft Pryce's wife into such a boorish woman-- almost makes Betty look angelic in comparison.

cgeye said...

I worked with gentlemen who went through the Blackout of '65, down to walking home over their respective bridges, or standing pat at the bars then walking to hotels.

Then again, they got that nostalgic feeling when Times Square panicked over the OJ verdict, so go know.

As for Miss Ann-Margaret, she was in her day Madonna, there's no other way to say it. She was the first Sex-Kitten, with her wholesome Nordic farm upbringing mixing it up with her hubby's Svengali Vegas instincts. Until TOMMY, she was on fire, running neck and neck with Mac Laine as the Ultimate Hollywood Showgirl. With TOMMY and MAGIC, she started branching out acting-wise.

If Allah were merciful, and took Col. Tom Parker from us before a 1968 Comeback was even necessary, there would at least have been a artistic marriage to shake Heaven. Ann-Margaret and Elvis? The screen couldn't hold them, and it's a damn shame they didn't do more together.

Verif: rumerium. The inert element formed in the corner of one's eyes whilst watching Papa Willis' lil' goil strut the catwalk.

Unknown said...

Don't know if it was intentional or if there were no other brands at the time (or if they paid for it), but Peggy's question on whether he had a "Trojan" rather than a "condom" seemed to me to be a subtle detail of how brand conscious she was even in the heat of passion. Made me laugh.

Lou B. said...

Don's grass-fondling moment reminds me of the line he used to soothe Betty in last week's episode: "As you slide your hands through that cold patch of sand underneath the shadow of your deck chair..." Very tactile guy, that Don.

Rachel said...

I think Peggy is wrong, and Don is absolutely right, about the appeal of Ann-Margret. It's not just her overt sexiness -- it's about youth and beauty and energy.

Even I'm not immune to the charms of Ann-Margret, and I'm a straight woman (at least I was the last time I checked).

Anonymous said...

Why does Don have to get Pryce and the other British to accept "his" way of thinking? Are we really supposed to accept that Don is always right?

Anonymous said...

I think Peggy is wrong, and Don is absolutely right, about the appeal of Ann-Margret. It's not just her overt sexiness -- it's about youth and beauty and energy.

But the appeal of Ann-Margaret continued long after she lost her youth. Perhaps Peggy is right.

Anonymous said...

Alan you clearly not a Philly resident. Geno's, Jim's and Pat's are tourist traps. Jim's is the best of the lot but it ain't even crackin the top 10.

John's Roast Pork makes the best cheesesteak in the world. Problem is they shut the grill off at 230, so it's really just a local lunch stop.

arrabbiata said...

Put me down with those who think Don's caressing the grass was about making a connection with the teacher dancing through the same lawn.

I think that Peggy has a point about the sponsor proposed Patio ad having more appeal for men than the women who this product would likely be pitched to. Kind of surprising that the men are ignoring her concerns, considering what got her noticed was her instincts for what would appeal to women. I'll attribute it to the mesmerizing power of Ann Margaret.

Watching Peggy's pick up, I was thinking it was more about proving something to herself than a quest to have some fun. I hope for her sake that she did get some enjoyment out of it. When she asked specifically about a Trojan, my first thought was to wonder if they were an SC client. (guess I've seen too many 21st century commercials)

As for the cheesesteak question, I had the privilege of riding on the Munchmobile for an all cheesesteak journey several years ago, but Munch policy didn't let us cross the Delaware.

Anonymous said...

Great and insightful post and comments.

I have only two comments to add.

I hope whatever dreadful tragedy transpires about as a result of Gene's living with the Drapers happens sooner rather than later... I can't spend the whole season dreading the moment when, as a result of his senility, something cruel and heartbreaking takes place.

I may be in the minority, but I found the Draper strokes the grass at the Maypole scene to just be a big old groan-inducing, eyeball-rolling crap... As great as the show is- the "Don-Gets-More-Ass-Than-A-Rental-Car" element is turning into self-parody... His perpetual horndog mentality is- for me anyway- working against the dimensionality of the character that we see in the best moments of the show (such as the carousel monologue in season one or the moments last season when he advises Peggy on how to put the past behind her...).

Of course, when the show creator is named Weiner, maybe it's too much to ask?

Savvy Veteran said...

Really good episode. Thanks to everyone who's offered some thoughts on the maypole scene; I was a little puzzled myself when seeing it.

Blair Waldorf said: "Why is moving Gene in with Don and Betty the "right thing"? Just because Betty wants it?"

I think William's insensitivity towards Gene's dementia (the chicken parmesan "we'll mail it to her" scene) in both this episode and in a few similar instances last season somewhat answers your question (not to mention all of his dubious motivations). William has a fundamental misunderstanding of what is taking place with his father psychologically, and putting him in charge of Gene would perhaps not be the best environment.

Anonymous said...

I thought the reason Don was staring at Peggy was because she was doing her own typing? Last episode, she was having problems with her secretary not talking her seriously. (Chatting with Moneypenny instead of answering the intercom! Hrumph.) That'll probably be an issue this season, the girls in the office not knowing how to treat her.

LA said...

My take of Don watching the Maypole dance and then stopping and staring at Peggy in her office the next morning is that first he was comparing the Maypole teacher's free and natural dancing with Ann Margaret contrived in-your-face version, and then he was having an a-ha moment when he saw Peggy, realizing she understands better than he gave her credit for.

I expected Don and Betty were going to find Gene urinating into the kitchen skin when they came down to investigate the noise.

So much to grasp in this episode, I know I need a rewatch.

Jaya said...

About Betty's puzzling desire to have Gene move in:

Betty is one of my favorite characters on the show. I loved how in the first season she kept mentioning how her mother had "passed away recently" and it seemed to me that she was never really able to grieve. She never said more than that, but it was apparent that she was waiting for someone to pick up on her sadness. Of course, that's not to say that she had a perfect relationship with her mother - she admits to her shrink that her mother did not agree with her choice to model and encouraged her to become a housewife. She says, "She wanted me to be beautiful so I could find a man. There’s nothing wrong with that. But then what? Just sit and smoke and let it go ‘til you’re in a box?"

Betty hasn't been allowed to deal with this conflict, partly because of Don's ostensible inability to attend to her emotions and her own desire to present a polished facade. Her mother provides an ideal that she tried to live up to, but which did not make her happy. And at once, this ideal was snatched away from her. Not only did she lose someone who she had looked up to for so long, it left her both adrift in questions as to why her life had staled in the way it had and positioned her as next in line. She must come to terms with growing older and the loss of her youth.

I think living with her father is a way of repenting for her conflicted relationship with her whole family. We hear from William that Betty also feuded with her father, so perhaps by helping her ailing dad, she is trying to absolve herself of her anger at bad choices and failed dreams which were at least partially attributable to her family's influence. In other words, maybe she's trying to keep her family together in a way that she has never before. I can't help but think that all that happened with Don last season along with her pregnancy has influenced this change toward family preservation.

I really need to think about this more to get it right, but this is just what I've been musing lately.

Wes covington said...

@Pamela Jaye
November 23, 1963 was a Saturday (the invitation says so), which is the most common day of the week for people to get married.

The wedding will be at a St. Bartholomew's Church at 3 pm.

Scott J. said...

I took Peggy as sincere when she said she worked for a jerk. It was startling, actually. And there still seemed to be tension between them in that last shot, in my viewing. Among all the foreboding of change in this episode, it may be showing that Peggy is beginning not to see Don as her mentor anymore. I imagine watching that relationship break down would be painful, which is just why I expect it to happen.

Eric Berlin said...

Great review and comments. Only thing I'll add is that I thought it was hilarious that after Peggy's college one night stand guy informed her that he didn't have a Trojan, he said something to the effect of, "Well, it's getting late."

Oh, and other hilarious moment was Don's "Drop your socks and grab your... something" line. Gene's reaction humanized him greatly in my view, and the line reminded me of my own step father (who, somewhat ironically, also suffered from dementia).

Unknown said...

In answer to an earlier question, November 23, 1963 was a Saturday. The Kennedy assassination on Friday.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Great comments, everyone!

I don't know if one can say Peggy pulled a Don Draper because I think her motivation is different. After being told to stop being a prude, reminded she is not fat anymore, and informed that she is not an artist, perhaps Peggy is proving to herself she is capable of more.

side topic:
The kitchen sink scenes seem to stick with me tonight. First, we see Peggy carefully wash and dry her under-garments (call back to Maidenform?), and then play with a new persona in front of the mirror.
Second, we see Don returning to an overcrowded home, which is mirrored in the fact that their kitchen sink is clogged and his favorite brother-in-law is using a plunger (yuck!) to clean it. Don then takes matters into his own hands regarding Gene.
Finally, we see Gene having an episode pouring the alcohol down the drain as Don realizes the reality of his decision.

If the kitchen is the heart of a home, tonight we saw the characters experience/contemplate something in their kitchen that leads to a change of heart and spurs them to do something they would not have done before.


Whisperia said...

I enjoyed the Patio storyline with Ann-Margaret and Peggy. The Pepsi brand has always been about youth. It was interesting to see the show hold true to that. (And I'm not just saying that because I have a close relative who has worked for Pepsi for almost 40 years.)

Whether the grass fondling scene was meant to be sexual, sensual or something else entirely, all I know is that it was hot. I agree that the teacher reflected the "Ann-Margaret type" they wanted for the Patio campaign. I do think she might also be reflecting the coming hippie movement. 1963 is not too early to start seeing flashes of it. Remember that it wasn't long after this that Timothy Leary was doing his LSD experiments and Ken Kesey was doing his thing with the Merry Pranksters. The hippie subculture starts building steam within a year of where the show is now.

Anonymous said...

one more thing:
The mutuality between Peggy and Don was nicely shown. When Peggy showed her surprise that Don had not scene the movie, he immediately watches it!
And that stare between them at the end gave me the chills. I kept waiting for one to nod and acknowledge the other - I guess that would be the customary thing to do. But they didn't. They just stared -- because their relationship is anything but customary.

My head is full with the meanings in that scene!

Arthur F said...

Each time a certain significant Mad Men shift is made, a rather business-like "casual" sex with a stranger signals it. Think early Pete with the prostitute, Betty at the bar, even Roger and Joan in a way are with strangers, and now Peggy. So I wonder if ultimately the signal for the final changeover to the 60s, and crumbling of the old guard, would be when Peggy goes after Don, ultimately to free herself, destroying everything left of the conventions Don wants to believe he upholds. Essentially Peggy will challenge Don by way of understanding to use the precise 'tools in her toolkit' - her sexuality, sending her message of power through the "nice girl/daughter/protege" position Don accepts her equally within. That will finally bring in the full meaning to Don's worldview, about the changes ahead, and what little the character of Don Draper can manage still ... over Dick the upcoming dawning age of Aquarius.

Anonymous said...

The sub-text of this entire episode is the ironic contrast between the present and coming future events. At the beginning, Ann-Margaret is the epitome of a fifties girl. She’s purity and innocence in the film, but it's purity and innocence fifties style.

In real life, AM's public image is about to be transformed into that of a sixties sex kitten who rides motorcycles, hangs out with Elvis, and performs one of the hottest Academy Award numbers of all time. That’s the way most of us remember her. It’s a shock for the viewers to see that she was once so guileless and so young.

At the end, we have another performance. This one contrasts with the first performance (MM seems to do that a lot in first and last scenes.) The dance of the teacher and kids foreshadows the coming of the flower children. We don't know what Don thinks, but he senses something wholesome and real.

Roger’s daughter’s wedding is going to be a disaster–-the viewers know it. Cosmic forces are about to descend on Roger and his family and they are oblivious.

Don talks about California as the clean and shining future and New York as the decaying past–-but the viewers know it isn’t that simple. Penn Station isn’t going to give way to MSG after all, and its status and value as a historical landmark will be preserved.

Betty’s father is stuck in the past–-he still thinks he’s living in the days of Prohibition. Betty is sure she knows the future gender of her child. Does she?

Even the college student Peggy dates has changed his major in anticipation of what he thinks the future is going to need–-more engineers.

I felt a sense of foreboding while watching this. It’s as if the writers are saying, “Take a good look at this world. The sands are shifting and all expectations are about to go up in flames.”

Tyroc said...

I agree with Jimmy above that the Don was thinking about the Patio commercial when he saw the teacher dancing -- I too expected him to bring her in to get the part. Her being barefoot was startling to Don, but refreshing -- he followed it by "smelling the roses" himself so to speak (fondling the grass, in this case.)

And yes, the commercial breaks were awful. Mostly because the show isn't written for them -- so there's no cliffhanger like there'd be in most shows act breaks right before the commercial. They were just completely jarring and as there were more and more of them in the 2nd half, it really took away from the viewing experience (much like happens when watching shows on BBC America, as the English also don't write to the commercial break.)

While a bit happened this episode, I did feel like there was a lot less comedy than last episode. I like it when there is more of a balance. I think this is one of my least episodes of the series as it mostly felt like set up.

Tyroc said...

One of my least favorite episodes of the series, that is.

Late night typos!

snugglebear said...

Regarding DVRs cutting out "early": This season's episodes are 1:02. TiVo knows about it. AMC wanted to add more commercials, but Weiner didn't want to shorten the episodes. This was their compromise.

Anonymous said...

Don's toolbox struck me as such an insult! But I could not articulate why until i read Tom and Lorenzo's blog on the episode:

"He waves off her attempts to point out that women aren't always going to respond to the Ann-Margrets of the world and he insults her in the process. 'Leave some tools in the toolbox,' he says to her, a somewhat obscure thing to say that nonetheless serves as a callback to Betty's acid "little lesbian" crack about her daughter's love of tools last week."

Rachel said...

I couldn't understand why Betty's brother would acquiesce to Don's demands in the first place. Normally when Don's doing that kind of negotiating, he's got the other person by the reins. This time, he had nothing -- I had no idea why William folded. Was he afraid of being punched?

I'm surprised that Sterling Cooper has actually gone backwards on selling to women. I guess this actually started in season 2; in season 1, they were willing to use Peggy's copy for selling to women, but by season 2's Maidenform ad, they had started selling female products to men. Women may buy deodorant for their male family members, but do men really pick out bras for women? Lingerie, sure, but...

(Also, Paul really stinks at this job. What he was saying to the MSG people was totally out of line. It's obviously he doesn't like his job very much, but really? Insulting the people he's trying to court? People have been fired already for less. Is there a hiring freeze at Sterling Coop?)

Peggy was right; the Ann-Margaret song made me cringe. "Shrill" was the exact word in my head; I would never buy any product advertised by that. Sigh...

Karen said...

Interesting that Betty shrunk at the notion that Judy would nurse Gene, but the moment Gene had an actual crisis, she turned around and walked out, leaving Don to deal with it.

That whole situation was so much more about Betty's relationship with William than anything else. William pointed out himself that Betty and Gene had always fought.

Tom said...

Maybe it's because I'd just watched the latest installment of "True Blood," but during the maypole scene I was hoping that everyone's eyes would turn black and an orgy would break out. It would have certainly livened up a slow hour of TV.

Seriously, I don't mind glacial pacing, but in this episode the glacier felt like it was inching backwards.

Still -- one very good moment -- when Don lectures Peggy about her job, saying that they are 'problem-solvers,' not artists. The depths of our hero's self-deception were artfully revealed. If there's one thing Don Draper does on a regular basis, it's to CAUSE problems.

Blair Waldorf said...

Gene living with the Drapers is going to be incredibly difficult and sad. So William acquiescing made sense because this way he is off the hook. He has been taking care of Gene more and knows how hard it will be. And it will just get worse.

I thought Don touching the grass was not so much sexual as it was a tiny attempt to connect with the feeling the teacher had, the freedom, the natural joy she exhibited. Don looks almost comically stiff and unnatural sitting outside in his suit and sunglasses. He looks joyless and soulless and like he hasn't run around barefoot in the grass in far too long. Maybe he has never run around barefoot in the grass. I thought the reach for the grass was a wistful acknowledgment of being out of touch with this feeling.

Peggy and Don are both right about advertising directed to women. Yes, men respond to sexy women and women want to be sexy. But that isn't the only element. We respond to women for their other qualities too I'll buy anything Beyonce tries to sell me, not because she is hot but because she is hot and talented and strong and fun. She represents lots of qualities I would like to have.

So Ann-Margret's playful young sex appeal there might have appealed to everyone at the time. But, in 2009, I'm not buying it. I agreed with Peggy that it just felt fake and contrived. And shrill.

Scazza said...

I'm finding the rhythm of this season more difficult. The openers of season 1 & 2 were so lyrical and mysterious and that somehow anchored the show. Without that, with everyones secrets kind of out there and clashing constantly, I find it more soap opera-like. The look of the show is also more crowded and gaudy. Peggy's scenes were so depressing to me personally. Her plight is so complex and emotional, she is clearly suffering. The scene in the meeting where she was insulted and called names was painful.

I found myself saying "and topped off with Matt Wiener's signature frown." It's not like I need this to be Grey's Anatomy, but I'm missing a through-line this season. Maybe it's that it's acting more like Grey's Anatomy, all crisis and confrontation.

A couple things thing I found interesting: that they can kill of Gene at anytime, so it's not a long term commitment. It's valuable to see contrary to modern society how families took care of their own themselves. Also, that Ann Margaret song was the most awful singing I think I have ever ever heard. It was so off key, sounded like screaming, a heart attack, madness.

Anonymous said...

I agree with lunarange101 and others that Don's reaction to the Maypole dance was about the Patio ad. I think he comes over to Peggy's pov, seeing the teacher as a more natural example of the woman men want and women want to be. The teacher is beautiful in a much more modern way than Ann-Margaret or all of the girdled characters on the show. Can't you just picture her singing on that hilltop in the "I Want to Buy the World a Coke" ad of 1971?

I also found the cuts jarring but am wondering if it was all a lead in to the first shot of the teacher. I think we see her face framed much the same way Ann-Margaret's face is shown at the start of the show. The cuts this week were so odd that seeing this much more modern woman suddenly made me wonder if I was still watching the show or a commercial. Had he switched time peiods? Flashed to a scene in California?

Scazza said...

By the way "Penn Station isn’t going to give way to MSG after all, and its status and value as a historical landmark will be preserved."

Maybe I'm reading this comment wrong but see here. As Alan mentioned, ""Until the first blow fell, no one was convinced that Penn Station really would be demolished, or that New York would permit this monumental act of vandalism against one of the largest and finest landmarks of its age of Roman elegance."
Its destruction left a deep and lasting wound in the architectural consciousness of the city." A great long entry about the old station and its demolition.

Scazza said...

Hmm can't figure out Blogger links, here's that Penn Station link:

Anonymous said...

Pat's over Geno's - no contest. Give me a whiz without and a cherry coke. Is there a better 2:30 am post-bar meal? I think not.

Kira Gartner said...

Sadly, Penn Station is long gone. You are probably thinking of Grand Central Station, which was preserved and recently renovated.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned that constantly seeing Betty smoking and drinking while pregnant may foreshadow problems with the baby. Don's comment that Betty should "eat some oatmeal, that baby will weigh a pound" seems to echo this.

nancy said...

I interpreted Don's toolbox comment as "pick your battles"-that he wants her to stick to what he feels her strengths are-not a reference to Beyy's lesbian comment.

As for Betty not wanting her brother to take control of their father's care, remember that the brother's original plan was to put dad in a home, NOT for them to move in with Dad.It was only the wife who suggested they move in w/Dad, but that was brushed off. Bro just wanted to shove Dad out of the way so he could snag the nice house.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I have to agree with Anonymous 11:13: the first thing I thought when Don was caressing the grass was that that was the way he could connect with the teacher because the camera had just focused on her bare feet. Sort of like Ethan and Mattie in "Ethan Frome"feeling the electricity between them with the piece of cloth that each one is holding the end of. They never even hold hands or make physical contact, but because they're both holding an end of the cloth, the connection is made. And because Don is wearing sunglasses, we can't see his expression at all, so we really don't have many clues as to what he's feeling.

Also, I agree with Zack. I thought the college boy pickup looked an awful lot like Pete. First thing I thought of.

Linda said...

Incidentally, for those who are curious about Ann-Margret being so "shrill," it might be helpful to note that within the context of the movie, she's kind of supposed to be shrill. The singing is in that style on purpose -- the show is basically a parody of Elvis/Beatles-style screaming-girl fandom (and of teenage girls in general), so don't feel like Ann-Margret is singing that in what's supposed to be a straightforward singing voice, because she's not. It's done as a wail intentionally. The character she's playing (she's singing that song, after all, in character) is a parody of a silly girl -- which, it's interesting to note, didn't bother the guys who found it sexy and youthful.

Unknown said...

After 2 years of business school in Philly, my choice will always be Tony Luke's in South Philly. Runs rings around Pat's and Geno's in my opinion.

Alan, great blog entry on what I thought was a great episode...Peggy is fascinating to me and I seriously thought she might sadly crash and burn at the bar before she found her eventual one night stand. I honestly can't see Don really trying to hook up with his daughter's teacher...seems a bit too close to home and I think at the end of the episode he was just feeling the spirit of nature/renewal/etc. but I could be wrong.

AnnaN said...

I have to disagree with regard to the reasons underlying the friction between Roger and Don.

Don is a master of change. He dances with it, but only when he is control of that change. When confronted by change not of his own making, his tendency is to freeze or run. I see his irritation and resentment of Roger stemming from the change of the work environment; he wasn't the architect of that overhaul.

Bringing Betty's father into the household was an attempt to reassert control in at least one aspect of his life. When posing for a picture of "the family" during the May Pole Festivities, Don had a look of grin and bear it on his face as his FIL joined in for the picture.

Is this season about change? Because it seems to me all about control.

I do agree with Peggy regarding Ann Margaret in Bye Bye Birdie. Her singing was more like screechifying, her smile overlayed a sneer and she looked positively predatory.

Although, I suppose that's why the men salivated over her. Heh.

Anonymous said...

On Penn Station:

For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of visiting Penn Station, it is a series of miserable, dark, underground, low ceiling tunnels that make you feel like a rat in a maze. A crowded maze. It feels like the entry way to hell. I curse those jerks who tore the old Penn Station down every time I have to go there.

Grand Central, on the other hand, is gorgeous and I go there sometimes just to walk around.

HaroldsMaude said...

Roger is an interesting character as, as Alan noted, he becomes obsolete. They have set him up to be increasingly pathetic and useless, yet still likable (and Slattery's performance is the key here). Don is angry at him because he's not doing anything (I especially liked the scene with the MSG guy at the restaurant, as Roger completely doesn't know the account or the issues with it and immediately passes the ball to Don) and impatient with the woes of his life (though Roger admits making choices he has to live with).

There is such a spark between Joan and Roger, and it's interesting to see their relationship now that they've both married and moved on. Even Joan seems to dismiss Roger's presence.

Nicole said...

I wasn't sure if it was a sign of bad things to come when Don and Betty couldn't agree on how long they have been married. Betty said the lower number, so I wonder if she discounted when they were separated?

Seeing the pictures of old Penn Station really makes me side with Paul, since it was an architectural work of art... and the modern version seems a disgrace.

Henry said...

I got a little angry at the mention of Greg in this episode, but it was only residual feelings from the rape last season, which still is prominent in my mind. His brief appearance in the previews brought out the pure hatred I have for the guy.

Anyone else feel like the cuts to commercial came during the strangest times in the episode?

Wholi said...

Lane said: "What was the deal with that guy "living around the corner" or not, and whether he needed cab fare? Did anyone get that?


I wondered that too. My wife, like you, thought it was his friend's way of getting the guy out of being with Peggy. The guy either did realize it was an out or didn't want to get out.

Peggy certainly has found her voice! ("Leave your coat downstairs!")

LOVE the way the voices over the intercomm are barely understandable - both in this and last week's episodes. Hope it's a running gag throughout the season.

Also, how awkward are Mr. Pryce's glasses on his face? He can't seem to decide where on his nose to place them or whether to look over them or through them.

debbie said...

Did anyone else want to punch Harry Crane in the face when he said to Peggy, "You're not fat anymore"? Scenes like this make me wish this show wasn't so verisimilitudinous-- then I could hope that men didn't actually behave this way towards women in the workforce.

Hah. I don’t think some percentage of the population being insensitive has changed that much.

I thought the reason Don was staring at Peggy was because she was doing her own typing?

My take on Don in that scene was he kinda got lost earlier at the Maypole display, letting his mind and emotions wander from being a stone-cold business man on the outside to a free-spirit on the inside. Then when he got back into the office, he looked to Peggy to sort of ground him.

I think he’s going to start relying on her a lot more this season. Although Peggy’s clearly lost in where she thinks she fits in, at least she’s TRYING to be her own person and make it her own…whereas everybody else seems to be just play acting.

Also, in regards to the Brits call on axing the Penn Station account, I think Don’s discontent with the new overlords is going to keep growing and push him to open up his own firm soon. Even though, personally, I agree with the Brits on this one…listen to the Europeans when it comes to preserving architectural gems. I guess that means I’m siding with Paul too. Cringe. Love that PETE had to actually call out Paul this episode.

CarolMR said...

Why did Don demand that William pay for the care of Gene? William obviously doesn't have anywhere near the money Don has. AND Don demanded the Lincoln stay with him and Betty, too.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"Why were William and Judy so bad to want to want to move in with Gene and take care of him in his own home? Don ordered William to go out there and pretend he did the right thing on his own. Why is moving Gene in with Don and Betty the "right thing"? Just because Betty wants it?"

Judy taking care of Gene would be a constant reminder to Betty that she does not have the perfect father-daughter relationship she thinks she's supposed to have with Gene. Ironically, as my wife noted, Judy seems to be the only one in the whole family who actually cares about Gene.

Unknown said...

Someone posted 'Are we always supposed to think Don is right?' No I don't think so, however, Don can think on his feet. He came up with the MSG spiel with vey little notice and I am sure he wasn't thinking Gene would be moving in when he walked in the door that night. He is able to read people and know what they need/want and acts on it confidently.
So he isn't always right, but he is great at his job - persuasion.

D Dubya said...

Does anyone think price is testing Don as he did the heads of accounts? I think he may be lying about some of these calls from London. He positions himself as a mouthpiece but I think he is being devious.

The toolbox comment threw me. I think he was saying don't waste effort on a drink named after a sitting area. Save it for something important.

Poor Don, he did all the heavy lifting in this episode. Maybe next time he will treat himself with a nubile prototype hippie.

Memphis Creep said...

I think "Do you want to talk about Pampers?" has to be one of my favorite Mad Men quotes yet.

Unknown said...

First things first: I prefer Pat's, although I will eat at Tony Lukes if it's more convenient to where I'm going next.

The second that flower-haired teacher appeared on the screen I said "that looks like a Don Draper sort of woman."

I think his watching her showed his very first self-aware inkling of something we've all known since Season 1 -- that Don could never truly connect with a woman like Betty. On the one hand, he's really making an effort to be a better husband. But on the other, he's realizing what a shallow woman Betty is, at her core. He is longing for the freedom that the teacher represents.

Boy did she piss me off in this episode. She seems to care more about her parent's house than about her ailing father. I don't think she'll want Gene to stay there for too long. She can barely stomach taking care of her own children, and Gene is much less predictable.

How much did I love the contrast between Ken's meeting for the patio pitch and Pete's total failure of a meeting on the MSG pitch. Yes, I agree with Peggy that these sodas should be pitched to women. But Ken's meeting still seemed to foster productive brainstorming. Pete's was just a disaster.

Anonymous said...

one nice subtle touch, i thought, was the litter and garbage strewn on the subway stairs that Peggy walks up. New York is indeed getting shabbier, and pretty rapidly...

Unknown said...

"Judy taking care of Gene would be a constant reminder to Betty that she does not have the perfect father-daughter relationship she thinks she's supposed to have with Gene."

SO TRUE! As Betty's brother said, she always wants to romanticize everything. She allows herself to forget that when she lived at home, she fought constantly with her father. Reminded me of her comments last week about wanting the home and family to be perfect for the baby's arrival, even though it's only been a few months since she threw her husband out of the house. Her will to re-make the past is nearly as strong as Don's.

Devin McCullen said...

I suspect Paul might not have gotten in that much trouble because Pete didn't let the bosses know exactly how bad it was. Pete gets more satisfaction out of Paul groveling to him than he would over ratting him out.

I guess by this point nobody's really surprised that Dick Whitman is willing to defend Gloria for cutting and running.

BrianD said...

Jon Garelick is right - Dalessandro's has much better cheesesteaks than Pat's, Geno's or Jim's. A fine point, though: Dalessandro's is in Roxborough, not the contiguous neighborhood of Manayunk.

christy said...

So many great comments. Love reading them, even though the number is just as overwhelming as on LOST posts now.

First off, Peggy was doing her own typing, but at one point in the episode (right before Pryce came in and complimented him on Betty maybe?) DON was sidling up to his typewriter to type something for himself. Have we seen that before? Was that meaningful? Meaningful in a "the way men depend on women in the workplace is changing" way, or meaningful in a "Don and Peggy are writers, they sit in their offices and write, and other people interrupt them" way?

The whole thing about selling women's products to women by aiming the commercials at men is complicated. Still matters to this day. So you have an Ann Margaret type. Men want her and women want to be her, OK. But women want to be her not for its own sake but BECAUSE men want her. Even if they themselves are not looking for a man or interested in pleasing any particular man, for women then and now, especially then, women were judged, by almost everyone, often including themselves, based on their attractiveness to men and not much else. Don sees that this WORKS, Peggy sees that this is WRONG, and thus the conflict.

I have an ever-so-slightly different interpretation of the grass stroking. The sexual connotations can't be avoided, of course, but that always leaves room for more meaning. Rather than touching the grass to try to connect to her, I think he was touching the grass to try to put himself in her place, to try to figure out what it felt like to be her. He is imagining her ecstasy, like Cooper said in the premiere. She has her bare feet on the grass, and he's wondering what that's like. It's part of what he does, what makes him so good at selling things to strangers. And I agree with others that he's connecting it to his conflict with Peggy over Ann Margaret, perhaps seeing that some women use that fancy-free attitude not to attract men, but to enjoy the grass beneath their feet for its own sake. And it still attracts him.

I was stunned when Peggy said the line about being 25 and acting 14, because when I was watching Ann Margaret this time I kept thinking about how her voice sounds like a little boy. Or rather, kind of unisex, like a little kid. I'm also a little surprised that so few commenters here have seen Bye Bye Birdie before. It's not a great movie--they cut out a lot of songs I like from the show--but I love "How Lovely to Be a Woman." Elisabeth Moss was brilliant singing into the mirror. So funny and sad and weird all at once.

christy said...

Betty drinking and smoking: I don't think it was for shock value, because they covered that in season one when Francine was pregnant. I did have a moment, though, when Pryce was going on about how great the wine was, thinking how annoyed I'd be if I were Betty and someone bought an awesome bottle of wine and I couldn't have any. Then I was like "oh, right, 1960s." Of course, nowadays it wouldn't be totally scandalous to have a few sips of wine with dinner on a special occasion. The smoking would be frowned upon big time now, of course, but let's face it nicotine addiction is a hell of thing and some people don't make it the whole nine months. Anyway I have to say when I rewatched the first two seasons, some of the moments that seemed like huge "HAY LOOK it's the 60s can you believe it???" moments now seem to have deeper meanings. For instance when the Drapers leave their picnic trash behind, it really seemed more like a reminder of how privileged they are. It feels less like "no one cared about littering back then!" and more like "someone else will clean this up, la la la."

So, Betty's brother is obviously a greedy little wanker. But have we actually seen any evidence that Judy's so bad? Betty seems to have a bad impression of her. But I thought it was interesting that when Betty asked what she thought, she said "I know I don't have a vote..." and she didn't get to finish, and William said "Don doesn't either." But as it turned out, Judy DIDN'T want to send him to a home, but Don didn't seem opposed to it until later on. Seems like all parties would have been better off sitting down and listening to all four opinions. Instead they made assumptions about what the others wanted and it just turned out weird. Man, I would love to have a sister-in-law so ready and willing to care for an ailing parent. But I'm seeing more and more that some folks really would prefer to have them in their home.

bobfromthe sixties said...

I love Sal's little "awhhh" whine after "Bye Bye Birdie" was cut off after Ann-Margaret's number. And then his "I saw Susan Watson do it on Broadway, but she didn't have ... that!"
Dear ole Sal is half a martini away from a Judy Garland fetish.

Very moving complex image with Don's fingers barely caressing the grass. I think he sees the future and knows it's barefoot flower children and not tight bosomed Ann-Margaret. He knows Peggy is right, but he can't find his way to being an artist, not a problem solver. At least not yet. For now, Don sure isn't looking happy at home these days, though. Change is a-comin'.

Leguleius said...

I agree with the earlier comment that the Ann Margaret scene and the Maypole scene were bookends. Also please note the little boy's introduction to the Maypole dance. It is 500 years old (I think he says), and the Maypole dance may appear innocent, but it is historically an erotic exercise. The Maypole is phallic. So it's all about innocence (Betty as the Madonna in the pre-Raphealite office scene) and the wanton (Peggy "dancing around the college boy's Maypole" in lieu of the full sex act).

Anonymous said...

Interesting episode in a lot of ways. Did anyone feel that the pacing felt rushed a bit.

As someone who found the young AM very attractive, I did enjoy the opening scene. Don is correct in his assesment- her image for the ad works because men want her and women want to be her. What was left unsaid is that women want to be her because she is what men want. Women's products from the viewpoint of attractiveness to men. Women submissive to men. Peggy's exploration of her sexuality may be about her resisting submissivness- she is desirable and can attract and then control a man on her terms. In the context of MM how will this affect her approach to Ad copy ?

Don is clearly trying to appease Betty- did you see how she looked at him when Will announced their agreement ? Don's assertiveness was about doing what would make his wife happy. Will's ready agreement was because he saw the easy way out. Will had already said that they would have to sell their house to financially assist Gene and he is openly resentful of Don and Betty's affluence. Will clearly wants his parent's house, but getting out from under the burden of Gene was enough for him. Don's decision was gallant, but not fully considered. When Don and Betty woke up to find Gene emptying the bottles into the sink the look on Don's face was let us know that things will only get worse from here. On the other hand, Don's offhand joke about the Army and the way he causually sat down to read the paper while Gene was playing solitare certainly holds out the promise that Gene and Don will eventually develop a better relationship.

Roger realizes that he is unnecessary- he was drunk for much of the episode. His family holds him in contempt, his collegues are dismissive of him, and after the sale of his company he has no working role left. What will come of his dissipation ? Since we know what happened the day before his daughter's wedding, what impact will that have ? Don and Roger's relationship has soured for several reasons. Roger's use of Don as an excuse to divorce his wife, Roger's use of Jane as a spy into Don's life, and for Roger's circumstances essentially forceing the sale of the company- putting Don into direct conflict with Layne Pryce.

I have long felt that Don seeks to escapte into arms of a new woman when he feels preasured in the convential areas of his life. In the episode, Don got it from all sides- trying to appease Betty, dealing with her family invading his house, being treated like a yo-yo by his new boss. When he saw the teacher, barefoot, long hair, flowing dress, bathed in sunshine- he was attracted to her. Depicting her as a barefoot bohemian proto-hippie is clearly a nod to the future of the decade, but it is also a reminder of the type of women Don is attracted to outside of Betty- the strong outsider. Midge- beatnik. Rachel- Jewish in a Wasp world, successful women in a man's world. Bobby- agressive and successful women in a man's world. And now the teacher. Putting this scene outdoors, where Don had to wear sunglasses and where she was barefoot and bathed in sunlight was clearly a reminder to Don of California. This was previously touched on in his pitch to MSG- Ca is new and bright where everyone is optomistic, while NY- his present environment- is the opposite. While Don's stroking of the grass can be seen as a sensual yearning for more tangible attachement to something, I see it as a yearning to break free of his present circumstances- to be free. Don wants to escape when he is unhappy. To paraphrase the title of Maraline Monroe's last movie- Something's Gotta Give !

evie said...

Jape, Arthur F -- That moment where Don looks at Peggy at the end of the episode seems important to me as well. I actually think it's inevitable that they are going to have a fling, and the scene coming right after the maypole was a major signal. The only question for me is whether it will be a one night stand or something more substantial between them over time. Probably a bit of both.

I adore the Peggy character so much that I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy the show without her. Everyone is complex, but she just takes it to a different level.

I found it extremely odd that making such a major, life-changing decision as having ailing Dad move in was done so impulsively. Perhaps that's again a throwback. Can anyone today imagine making that decision without hours of discussion and planning? And I hated the way Don handled it with William, but I guess I'm in a minority. I agree with others who feel like it's not going to end well, so in that way has zero suspense around it. I actually think I'm going to be pretty bored with that whole story line.

I wonder what the wedding/assassination date is in relation to Betty's due date. Intense times.

John Carr said...

Philly Cheese steaks: None of the above. All about Tony Luke's.

DiscoLemonade said...

I have the same question as others re: Betty, Gene, William, Judy...

I too don't understand why the notion of Judy and William moving in with her father was so unreasonable. I understand she wants to feel like the good caretaker and doesn't want William to nab the house, but that set up still seems fair to me... I also don't understand how Don could demand that William pay for everything... was that customary? and I agree with the question of why did William just fold to Don... I understand he never wanted to take care of Gene in the first place but the financial burden seems too heavy. I don't see why he would feel that intimidated by Don...

and I'm starting to get a little annoyed with the powers of Don...reminds me of the SNL skit they did making fun of his ad pitch abilities. Can't we see him fail at some point? It's not realistic that he can spin ANYTHING. unless people think his MSG pitch wasn't spectacular but I think it was presented as being good...

also...does anyone else find it annoying that Joan has to constantly mention the fact that she's married?

BrianD said...

As several other posters have noted, November 23, 1963 was a Saturday. My cousin was married that day in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. As I recall, it was a miserable day-it rained incessantly. If it was the same in New York (as I suspect), Roger's daughter's wedding will have an extra element of misery. (BTW, my cousin and her husband are still together nearly 46 years later.)

On another note: while I can't argue with Brian's comment that Peggy's referring to a condom specifically as a "Trojan" shows extraordinary brand-consciousness befitting an ad person, I recall that "a Trojan" was a generic term for a prophylactic in the 1960's --at least in Philly. I was only a kid, but I distinctly remember hearing older boys use the term.

LA said...

Evie - Betty's baby is due any time now. She found out she was pregnant during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962. The Maypole scene tells us we are now at the 1st of May 1963.

evie said...

I answered my own question about the baby's due date. Unless Weiner screws around with months, the Cuban missile crisis (which I just looked up) happened in October 1962. So Betty has to have her baby well before the wedding/assassination. In fact, it means we are probably still quite a way from the wedding/assassination happening at all. There are not typically big time jumps within a season. I guess it'll be near or at the season finale.

evie said...

LA - thanks! I just realized the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Two question:

Could the Trojan reference be nothing more than a product plug?

Could the grass be nothing more than a tangible realization of the chestnut of "not letting the grass grow beneath your feet"?

dez said...

Why does Don have to get Pryce and the other British to accept "his" way of thinking? Are we really supposed to accept that Don is always right?

In thinking of the bottom line (ad revenue and a long-term contract), Don is right, but as others have pointed out, the cultural backlash will be significant and could tarnish SC's rep, making Pryce right. In this case, they're both right and they're both wrong, a grey area the show is very comfortable in.

I also agree with the reading of the Maypole scene as much more complex than "Don wants a piece o' that!"

Glad to see Peggy's past experience has taught her to be careful with sex, and I'm guessing her Catholicism taught her the rest [nudge nudge wink wink say no more!]. I liked seeing her liberated and taking control.

Wes Covington said...

Condoms are frequently referred to by brand names because I think it's less objectionable. A lot of British films say "Durex." In last week's episode, Don's mother called it a "sheath."

LA said...

Wasn't the MSG account the one Bert Cooper brought in to Pete at the end of the first episode? How is old man Cooper going to feel when he finds out his British overlords interfered in this?

Karen said...

I'm enjoying reading everyone's takes on the grass-fondling scene. I'm not sure that any one of these interpretations has to be the correct one--I think that it, like so many things in this show, can be multi-layered.

But first I want to say that, as a Woman of a Certain Age, I am made a little melancholy by the responses of so many people who seem to be seeing the great Ann-Margaret for the first time. Oh, I am OLD. Bye-bye, Birdie was a huge hit when it came out--I was only about 4 1/2, myself, but I actually do remember it quite vividly, and Ann-Margaret was just a monster, monster star, the ultimate sex kitten. I've never thought of the opening as shrill before (what's always bothered me was the way she pronounces "Birdie," like bird-hee). But it's definitely a very Vegas floor show style, a style steeped in the '50s and in the part of the '60s that never did quite turn on-tune in-drop out. So the contrast to the Flower Child teacher at the Maypole was quite striking.

I'm surprised that everyone was so quick to blow off Peggy's opinion on Patio (I had no idea that was originally Diet Pepsi's name; thank heavens they changed it!), since her female perspective on the weight-reducing orgasm underwear was considered so crucial. I don't know that she was entirely right--the advertising world hasn't exactly gotten poor selling diet goods to women by putting in front of them the sexy image they might eventually attain--but she shouldn't have been ignored quite so brutally.

As for the teacher and the grass--the way the scene was edited, showing the teacher's bare feet in the grass right before cutting to Don reaching down to the lawn, seemed to me to indicate buttoned-down Don's wistfulness at the freedom her dancing represented. (Not buttoned-down morally, I hasten to add--but emotionally, and as a consequence of years maintaining such a careful facade.) So, yes, he was connecting with her freedom, but she was also very beautiful and, as others have pointed out, brunette and uninhibited like his mistresses past, so there was clearly a connection to her that he couldn't satisfy any other way (he may have slipped up with the stew last week, but he'll never make a mess so close to home as to dally with his daughter's teacher).

And, I think, the connection that he felt in himself to this joyous, free woman, dancing with children, DID point up the difference he felt in the connection to Ann-Margaret on screen, with her come-hither sexbomb airs. And since they cut straight from the Maypole to Don looking at Peggy in her office, I think he absolutely found himself reconsidering her approach, whether he followed through at that moment or not. We'll have to see.

Those two final scenes were perfect Mad Men scenes to me: layered thick with meaning and nuance, there for those who want to find it but never making it too easy for the viewer. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...


It's heartbreaking because it really is everything Joan said she wanted. Now she wants different things in different ways, but is stuck with the old thinking.


Ellie said...

"Judy taking care of Gene would be a constant reminder to Betty that she does not have the perfect father-daughter relationship she thinks she's supposed to have with Gene. Ironically, as my wife noted, Judy seems to be the only one in the whole family who actually cares about Gene."

As someone in the middle of a similar (but not live-in) situation, I think this is dead on. I'm "Judy" in our little play. Happily, our family dynamic is much more functional--there's a lot more caring from the adult children and fewer power plays.

As for any "inevitable" Don and Peggy hook-up: No, no, no. I really hope not. I want Peggy to continue to grow and make her way, but not as Don's GF.

In fact, if we went the rest of the season with no more Don hook-ups, I'd be happy. Certainly not with flower-child teacher!

Liam said...

Recall that Don has already tasted of bohemia (his former ongoing mistress) and is not likely to be idealizing it as such.

I think, rather, that it was a parallel to Peggy observing people: both Don unconsciously and Peggy still somewhat consciously step back into observation mode when they are seeking ideas for connecting to audiences.

Ann Margaret represented the transition between the Marilyn/Liz world and the Raquel Welch world yet to come. And she perfectly captures the special feel of the early 1960s.

And, if you want to feel a little younger, "Bye Bye Birdie" leads Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera are still very much with us (as are Dick Gautier and Susan Watson). And of the Broadway musicals of the period, this one is very apt for the whole issue of the power of promotion and advertising and media, for example:

Jayde said...

Did anyone else think find themselves remembering Midge in the image of the free-spirited teacher dancing around the Maypole? There was an obvious sense of mesmerizing, bohemian abandon in the dance and for a moment there, Don seemed to lose himself in connecting to the freedom of not only the ritual itself, but also of the earth, with all of its potential and rejection of the stagnant. I think the teacher's beauty and allure played a factor in Don's reverie, but wasn't the sole motivator. This scene also reminded me a bit of the final "baptism" scene in "The Mountain King" from last season -- another instance in which Don embraces and is overtaken by the beauty and power of the natural world.

JT said...

Alan, you're mad Joan would be a baby machine? Damn, dude. I would NEVER have kids and don't want 'em but I'd have a thousand with a goddess like Joan. the hottest broad on TV ever!

cgeye said...

About episode 1, I think the closed captioning said "sheep". Makes sense either way.

And Bryan Batt reminds me so much of Dick Gautier it isn't funny.

Anonymous said...

On Betty's motivations re: her father, it seems that just like with motherhood, it's very important to her that to all appearances, she is the paragon of a good daughter. William's solutions challenged that, and Judy's offer to act as nurse (indeed it seems she is the only one that truly cares about Gene) wouldn't "look right" or reflect well on Betty.

So much on life stages in this ep: Pregnancy, aging, marriage, divorce, college, the blush of youth, Pampers, etc

Anonymous said...

Also - I could not disagree more on a Don/Peggy fling. Won't happen. (Alan, could we have a "no shipper" rule?) Any young, ambitious, talented woman who has worked for a talented, ambitious boss who is surrounded by a cult of personality will recognize the undercurrent of "connection" that underlies their scenes.

Not only do they have secrets binding them (Don visiting Peggy in the hospital, Peggy bailing out Don and nursing Bobbie), but Peggy lives for the moments when Don recognizes her talent, offers her opportunities, and sees her for who she is. None of the other SC guys see her for who she is and what she's capable of, and Don has from nearly the start. She is therefore crushed when she and Don aren't on the same wavelength re: the Patio pitch (leading to her calling him a "jerk" to the proto-Pete). I think the long stare at the end of the ep was indicating they were back on the same wavelenth.

Anonymous said...

I want to add that my thoughts on the "keep some tools in your toolbox" comment was meant as a "You can be smart, but not too smart" sort of insinuation. He recognizes that she's probably right, but he doesn't want to face it and knows that no one else does either.


Anonymous said...

Question (very technical): does the British boss have a micro-edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (in the slipcase) behind his desk on the shelf?

What looks like that micro-edition has been shown briefly in both episodes this season.

I ask because the micro edition wasn't produced until 1971, and the third volume supplement only appeared in the late 1980s (I thought the boss's edition had the supplement as well). But I don't have TIVO and am not sure this is what it is, etc....

Margaret Porter said...

Given Don's professional knowledge of Pampers, could the reference perhaps be the set-up for a fresh conflict with Betty re: the better method of diapering their infant?

Sorry my comment/question doesn't match the preceding ones. I found this a very dense episode, with much to ponder. The withholding of Joan's storyline is quite effective, I'm longing for whatever comes next.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that Peggy and Don are contemplating a sexual relationship with each other. I think the long look they exchanged at the end of the episode was Don realizing, again, that Peggy was more insightful than he had given her credit for. He found the happy, genuine abandon of the teacher dancing around the maypole far more appealing than Ann Margret's "Bye Bye Birdie" persona, and when he saw Peggy back at the office, realized that she had seen that lack of sensual authenticity in Ann Margret's performance before Don did. What's more, I think Peggy KNEW Don had realized this as they looked at each other. She carried that into the last scene in Don's office: Rather than feeling rushed and nervous as they sat down to discuss (Pampers? Patio? I couldn't quite make out which one she said), Peggy took time to page through her notes and get settled, while Don waited. That's a subtle, but very important, marker of the shift in their relationship, and entirely in keeping with Matt Weiner's approach to the characters. I'm finding their relationship, and Peggy's storyline in general, absolutely fascinating.

Yes, it's true that Don's way with the opposite gender absolutely pervades the series, but one of the things about his character that keeps this aspect of him from becoming a parody is his ability to sometimes see women as something other than objects for sexual conquest. His longing gaze at the barefoot teacher didn't strike me as one of longing for her personally, but of longing for the joyfulness and abandon of her dance.

Anonymous said...

"If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation."

Very simple, very astute, and especially true today....

Also liked "You're an Army Man, Gene. Drop your socks and grab...something."


Henry said...

Is it just me, or did January Jones look absolutely lovely in every scene of this episode?

Elisabeth Moss, too.

Sorry. Tangent here.

berkowit28 said...

Actually, Karen said...

"what's always bothered me was the way she pronounces "Birdie," like bird-hee".

Yes! It was so pronounced, and so annoying, that I thought this must be a parody, not the real thing. But evidently it *is* the real thing. Why was she doing that? Was it supposed to be sexy? A come-on, a la Marilyn Monroe? Dumb blonde (redhead) sexy? It just sounds silly to me.

berkowit28 said...

"Question (very technical): does the British boss have a micro-edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (in the slipcase) behind his desk on the shelf?"

It looks like it, but (aside from the date, which I was sure of, you say is 1971), I'm sure I spotted three volumes in Pryce's bookcase. The micro-OED is (was) only two volumes, plus a little box on top for the magnifying glass.

It's likely to be an OED, or just Oxford, spinoff. It might even be one available only in Brutain, that he brought with him to NY. Maybe we'll hear about it in the DVD commentaries a year from now.

Anonymous said...

Just a brief comment on the gender of Betty's baby. I decided to look up the meaning of Joan swinging a necklace a over Betty's stomach. Side to side means girl, round and round means boy, according to an old wives tale, so it seems Betty may be right about having a girl.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"But evidently it *is* the real thing. Why was she doing that? Was it supposed to be sexy?"

It may simply have been easier to sing that way.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

GREAT comments!

I completely related to Don's stroking of the grass. He spends most of his days running back and forth from the city to the suburbs. He spends his hours in sterile environments and rarely gets to walk barefoot in grass, something that is very "real".

I understand this because I noticed when I left my corporate job to stay home full-time with my son that I was getting to spend time OUTSIDE and in the GRASS. Literally. And that I was beginning to feel so much more connected to my world and to life, in general. When you are pounding the pavement, answering The Man, it is easy to lose that sight.

And Betty wanting her father to be taken care of? Guilty, just old-fashioned guilt.

christy said...

Ann Margaret's weird pronunciation of "Birdie" seems like the work of an overzealous vocal coach to me.

Daniel said...

I definitely got a "hippie" vibe from the teacher dancing around on the grass barefoot. Knowing that Don's really just a hobo masquerading as a cleancut rich guy, I think the sight of the teacher affected him in an odd way. I took the grass-stroking as him acknowledging his roots and poor background.

I grew up in the 80s/90s, though, so what do I know about hippies, besides those "Freedom Rock" commercials?

I can't stand commercials, but I find myself paying close attention to them when I watch "Mad Men." I actually enjoy those AMC-created tidbits about BMW, Target, Jack Daniels, etc.

I have to admit -- I can't get "Bye, Bye Birdie" out of my head, especially the way Ann-Margret says "Bird-hee." God that's cute.


Karen said...

A nicer exposure to Ann-Margret in Bye-bye, Birdie is this:

How Lovely to Be a Woman

Which also serves as an interesting correlative to the women we've been seeing in Mad Men.

Anonymous said...

I'll back Betty up. I don't think you have to have a perfect relationship with your parent to want to care for them in your own home. And yeah, William does seem like a weasel, and I am sure that doesn't help.

I just finished rewatching Season 1 on DVD. (Thanks Target for the $19.99 sale!) Including the episode in which Don is wooed by a larger company, but he stays at SC because he likes "the way you do business." Now, the Brits clearly don't operate in a way Draper likes - he seems pretty put out by the MSG thing. So why is Don still there? OK, he is a partner and has a wife and kids and one on the way, but he doesn't have a contract. Plus, he's Dick Whitman - he runs when he wants to.

So let's say it's another 14-episode season. That puts 14 weeks after the first episode is Nov 15th. So are we actually ending the season ON Nov 22nd? They've done so well matching up dates before, but wouldn't that be too obvious for this show?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"I don't think you have to have a perfect relationship with your parent to want to care for them in your own home. And yeah, William does seem like a weasel, and I am sure that doesn't help."

That's true, but Betty's always had a contentious relationship with her father and we've gotten hints he and Don don't get along. And they now have living with them a man with worsening dementia at the same time they're about to have another child, and no one available to take care specifically of Gene (or even a dedicated space for him -- that fold-out we saw for him looked like it could destroy the spine of a much younger person!). I don't think that's necessarily a better arrangement for anyone than Judy being a primary caregiver would have been.

Anonymous said...

Matter-Eater, agreed. That was my first thought - really? Two kids, a newborn, AND an elderly man with health issues? I know she has help, and Don is around more now, but STILL!

Unknown said...

I, too, got the feeling that Don and Peggy were going to hook up, and I'm kind of interested to see if that develops. 1. Both have gotten involved with work colleagues before - Peggy with Pete, Don with Bobbi AND Rachel. 2. Both are capable and used to keeping those relationships on the DL. 3. Peggy is pretty much the closest thing around to his type - the independent, capable, strong woman. 4. They're both kind of "twirling" in that department right now - neither is settled on who it is they want to be or act like when it comes to relating to the opposite sex. I wouldn't be surprised if they did hook up,and the effect on their moral compasses, such as they are, could prove VERY interesting.

Re: Betty's family. As far as Don's motivation, I think he just wanted all those damn people out of his house, NOW, and he was tired of hearing about it. William didn't want to deal with his Dad, Betty wanted to be the good daughter, Don wanted to be a good husband.Win-Win-Win. Well, until Gene got rid of all the booze in the house. They're going to need that.

Also, Betty isn't the only one in MM world who's pregnant. So's Jackie Kennedy. Due in November.

Unknown said...

Whoops, sorry. Jackie was due in August, so only a couple of months from where the show is now.

Anonymous said...

Embeth Davidtz took me out of the 60s because (and I could be totally wrong and rude by typing this) her face looked a bit plastic and her lips overly full.

I thought Matthew Wiener was avoiding casting actors who looked more modern.

Kathy said...

It occurred to me while I was watching Peggy emulate Ann Margaret in the mirror and then use Joan's lines that she is "trying on" different personas to see which one gets her what she wants. She is the male version of Don Draper who has borrowed another man's identity because he isn't pleased with his own. Perhaps they stare at each other because they recognize themselves in the other person.

Johanna Lapp said...

The beef (eye round) is so much more tender at Jim's that Pat's and Geno's aren't even in the running.

Maxwell's Plum ran from 1966 to 1988. I'm sure there were pick-up bars earlier, but everyone pretended they were a huge secret until Time and Newsweek dared to declare them a trend.

Interesting that NYC hopes to convert the old Farley Post Office across the street from Penn Station into the new old Penn Station. It (also) was built by McKim, Mead and White in the 'teens and would bring back the grand arrival hall to replace the cattle pen in the basement of Madison Square Garden. I fear the recession has put that plan on hold.

Other than the fact that the Garden was round in a grid of rectangular buildings, I'm having a hard time imagining it as a vision of the future. Interesting that the tunnel from 34th Street into the station features a bas-relief of a crumbled column to mourn what was lost.

More interesting that a centuries-old dance gets the last word here on modernity vs. tradition. A lot more than one fifty-year-old train station will see the wrecking ball in the next twelve weeks, I suspect.

Griselda said...

I'm 30, and I definitely know who Ann Margret is. And when I hear her name, I picture the Ann Margret we saw last night.

And then I think of Elvis, immediately. Then again, I'm a Southerner, so maybe I just know my Elvis's Ex Girlfriends better than the next girl.

I don't think Don and Peggy will hook up, but I think they will become much closer and will share some big/horrible/game-changing events/secrets.

Rebecca immediately pulled me out of the early 60s and caused me to exclaim to the assorted friends at my watch party, "Oh, it's that bitch from Bridget Jones!"

What's up with Roger's daughter's tiny nose? It distracts me.

Why is Peggy still dressing like a deflated Margaret Thatcher?

Anonymous said...

Does Don have a contract yet? Is this important?

Ann T. said...

There are so many great comments, and I only have one question for all: when you sit down to watch each episode, don't you have a great sense of anticipation when the announcer says, "Previously on Mad Men"? When I see which previous scenes the writers/producers choose, I'm always so anxious about the show to come.

Capcom said...

Such a helpful article and comments! Don't thinkt hat I could figure this show out without it.:-D

I could sure agree with Don's comments about California back then. I grew up there in the '60s and the entire state seemed like one big Disneyland. And the architecture did indeed seem clean and shiny, and futuristic.

While they were talking about tearing down Penn Station I couldn't help thinking, "Don't worry, Jackie-O will come to help rescue the other old architecture!" Too late for Penn though, unfortunately.

I agree with Linda and Karen about Ann-Margaret, I guess ya had to be there, and also see the entire movie. It is indeed about a bunch of shreeking teenagers in love with Birdie, so the Bye-bye song reflects that. Not so very different from Grease, and actually Grease is a modern take-off of Birdie.

Don may well be ticked off about the Brits and the changes, but maybe if he wasn't jet-setting in La-La-Land and missing the merger planning, he would have had a better anchor on what's going on at this point of the re-org and might not feel so put-upon if he had been around to prepare for it.

I loved how when Roger was b*tching to Don about the changes in his life, Roger said something very immature about his new life vs his old one (sorry can't remember) and Don was quick to reply in effect, "Those are your words, not mine!", to keep himself from getting into trouble again, heheh.

Brian said...

Watching with my wife last night, as Betty and Don drove home after dinner, Betty smoking and says to Don something like, "The baby's really kicking." My wife then said to the TV, "of course he's kicking, he can't breathe." Which then led us to wonder if the baby might be born with some type of disability. Thinking about it some more in the time of the 60s, would a disabled child (either mentally or physically) be a parallel of the "whore child" that Don was? Would a disabled child in the 1960s be considered an outcast as Don was as a child? How would Don deal with that? Would he embrace the child and give him/her everything he didn't have? What would Betty do when her desire of a "picture" life is shattered?

Probably too over the top, but more interesting to me than the possibility of a Don/Peggy romance.

HaroldsMaude said...

someone asked above why Joan keeps announcing that she's married.
Interesting because I don't think she does. Weiner included information in a blog last week, after the first episode, telling us that she was married, after the 6 months had passed between seasons. And for many (including me), that came as a surprise. Even so, this week she said something about being married which would be appropriate for Joan. Despite the dipwad that she did marry, a) marriage and b) to a doctor was big stuff in the secretarial pool. It's like Joan won the lottery. Of course, we know better, but it would be in her character to talk about it. Marriage is now part of what defines Joan. (though we love her for sooo much more).

Karen said...

I'm not sure anticipating a baby with birth defects is productive. I mean, there were, what, two generations of women who smoked through their pregnancies, and they didn't all produce children with disabilities.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Karen that some are jumping to what I hope is the wrong conclusion in regards to Betty's drinking and smoking while pregnant. Not only would this resulting in a disabled child fly in face of reality -- 99.9 percent of women behaving that way had healthy children [including my mom] -- but it would drastically alter the show to one about the parents of a disabled child. That can't be swept under the rug, or hardly mentioned... I feel Mad men already verges too much to being a family drama [a parent with dementia is trite in TV land], and that would push it over the edge.
Paul W

helga said...

It seemed like Betty likes being able to play the pregnancy card with Don; she's quick to make allusions to the baby or her "condition" whenever their arguments start to heat up or she's not getting her way. I can't recall the specific scenes now but I remember noticing it at least three times during last night's show.

Pandyora said...

Like others, I wondered why Betty was so satisfied with Don's handling of the Gene situation. But I agree with Jaya's really excellent post. In the end, I think Betty's reaction is all about unresolved childhood issues involving her father, and some lingering competitive instinct with her brother. Or perhaps more precisely, her brother's wife; just look at Betty's satisfaction when its revealed that Gene has always preferred her cooking.

I also wonder if part of Betty is thrilled by Don's assertiveness. After all, if Don is trying to prove he's recommitted to their marriage, strong-arming and humiliating her brother is a pretty good place to start.

The whole Gene story line is fascinating to me, especially the idea of elder care before the baby boom. I know that Wiener cut his teeth on the later seasons, but is it a coincidence that the Sopranos also dealt with issues of elder care? After all, "its not a nursing home, its a retirement community!"

One small comment to add to the Ann-Margret
versus the Maypole dancer. It strikes me that both are (or will become from the perspective of the shows) the epitome of sexuality for their generations. To steal from the Don Draper quote at the top of Alan's review, doesn't every generation have their "look its something new" dance?

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

My interpretation of the maypole dance scene is simply that Don was remembering, perhaps subconsciously if nothing else, his tarot card reading with Anne back in California, just before he baptized/resurrected himself in the Pacific. Remember the crucial card was "The World" as represented by a woman who was the "soul of the world." When Draper reaches down and embraces the Earth, he is stepping out of his straight-jacketed false "Master of the Universe" persona for just a moment and connecting with the world, and for just a moment, losing his belief (everyone's belief?) that he is alone in this world.

A masterstroke of a scene, really. Subtle and telling.

Anonymous said...

Alan, is the Teacher Miss "Blah Blah" from the Hot/Crazy Scale episode of How I Met Your Mother? Boy, that would add a whole other meta layer of attraction to her beyond the proto-hippie free spirit dancing wood nymph vibe.

If it is her, I am mentally picturing Barney's Air Chart as Don is watching her.

Anonymous said...

I was a very young boy in the 60's. I clearly remember watching Ann Margaret's opening and closing numbers when the movie was re-run on television. I think it was my first "I want to go to there" moment.

P.S. Thanks, Tina Fey.

Rachel said...

To all the people mourning that so many of us missed the point of Bye Bye Birdie -- I've seen Bye Bye Birdie, I understand the song she was singing in context of the show itself, I know Ann-Margaret. But in the show, none of that matters. The characters didn't care that Ann-Margaret was purposefully being shrill and parodying anything -- they took it straight as a cute, sexy girl being cute and sexy for them. The chipmunks thought that girls felt the same way they did, because they can't conceive of thinking otherwise. When Peggy suggested parodying her, they didn't see the point: the boys want to screw her, so the girls want to be her. QED. And for Peggy to get a boy interested in her, she has to pretend to be less than who she is. This isn't limited to 1963.

I really hope that Don and Peggy don't get together. There is something there, but they know each other too well for seduction. People can be intimate without hooking up. Even on TV.

JoeInVegas said...

Anonymous said...

“So let's say it's another 14-episode season. That puts 14 weeks after the first episode is Nov 15th. So are we actually ending the season ON Nov 22nd? They've done so well matching up dates before, but wouldn't that be too obvious for this show?”

I think that would be a stroke of genius. The season final climax and say @ the 59 min mark we hear Walter Cronkite break in to announce that the president has been shot. Stunned looks. Fade to black….

Can’t wait to read the comments if that happened.

dylanfan said...

I have revisited the blog repeatedly relishing every comment and had several "yes!" moments when someone else penned answers and/or thoughts similar to mine, not to mention corrections to points where my first impression was totally wrong, e.g, I took the the melba toast comment somehow to mean that Don was chastising Betty not to eat so much and have another fat baby girl.

So, asking about just a couple of points that I didn't see addressed:

(1) Peggy saying to Don something like 'you really haven't seen it?' when he was oblivious to her comments about AM and then her getting the projector out to show him the clip -- despite the tools comment, I took the look he gave her after the grass to allude to this realization of her value;


(2) Is there really no guest room in this house? Just the 3 bedrooms all upstairs? Dad is out in the open (in what? a fold-out sofa?) and that leaves just the bunk beds in the son's room for comic relief? Are all 5 kids in the daughter's room? Why not put them on pallets in the bunk bed room and let the brother and his wife have the double bed? Passive aggressiveness? I guess I just keep remembering the comment alluding to Hitchcock's "Rebecca" after the episode when we first met the brother and he came in through the study window ... what is this? "Strangers on a Train?"

Erica said...

My own first reaction to the Maypole scene was that Don is going to go after Sally's teacher. Then I thought about what a terrible idea that would be, for him to go after someone so close to home. That's so unlike Don -- but it's unlike Season 1 Don. In Season 2, we saw him lose a little bit of control. And I think the moment in this episode where Don misses his ashtray and burns the table shows that he is not in control at all anymore. As does his decision that Gene WILL live with them. He thinks he's doing something good, but he's not thinking ahead. It won him points with Betty, but in the long run, we all know it will be terrible -- and if he had put a moment's thought into it, he would have known it too. So I think he may very well try to pursue the flower-child teacher. What would be very interesting, though, would be if she didn't respond to his pursuit. She represents what-is-to-come. Don represents a way of life whose time is up. What would happen to Don Draper if women started turning him down?

belinda said...

Finally got the chance to watch the episode, and some thoughts:-

1. On Harry Crane - I do detect him to be something similar to Bert Cooper. He definitely does not like change, but like the previous season told us, he has no love/loyalty to the old either. Like Bert and his painting, Harry is only concerned with his own job and the money it brings, and he'd bend to any changes when necessary.

2. I've never seen BBB before, but that first scene really creeped me out. I'm on Peggy's side on that matter, so perhaps the show is suited for men and not so much on the modern women.

3. On some levels, I thought Don made Gene stay at his house because it was a change he could make, right being unable to take up on something new at the office after getting stunted by Pryce. Which he realizes, after the action, that taking in Gene, would be grounding him further in the same life.

4. Don's speech on change so aptly describes everyone's dilemma - the yearn and fear of change, and I'm not sure which side of the line Don stands at the end of the episode. On the one hand, he was angry at Pryce's dismissal of the MSG account, but everything about his and Betty's relationship feels tired and strained due to changes (pregnancy and Gene).

5. I don't really know the history of the maypole, so I had trouble understanding the significance in that scene. I remember last season when Peggy did the flyer for the church, the priest said something on the lines that the old fliers were girls dancing around the maypole, so my feelings at first veer towards that watching the maypole was watching something old instead of a renewal (spring) that some of you've mentioned. When Don touched the grass (and looked on the bare feet on the grass), it felt more like the old calling him back more than him embracing change.

6. I feel that in the last scene, Don looking at Peggy was his realization of change that she represented, and there's a certain sense of grim that comes with holding a scene that is just a tad too long at the end. Just uncomfortable and ominous. Is that what Don is feeling?

7. I agree! That college guy is totally a Pete Campbell lookalike.

And yes, thanks for everyone who comments - it is just as interesting as reading Alan's post.

belinda said...

And one more thing:-

Though it is obvious that the props on this show are pretty amazing, I've never noticed just how gorgeous the lamps are in this show until this episode. I WANT Don's office and home desk lamps.

Becky Roach said...

So many people in so many blogs have asked about the grass. In the poem Love Among the Ruins, there is this line:

"And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass
Never was!
Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'erspreads
And embeds"

There are so many ruined kingdoms in this episode:
1. Betty's father is losing his own kingdom.
2. Penn Station is being torn down and Don refers to New York as a ruined place.
3. The date of the wedding invitation is JFK's death.

I don't think the maypole scene was about the woman dancing, Don doesn't leer at women. He also seems to be attracted to powerful or aggressive women, not innocent ones. It was Don feeling that freedom. He was putting himself there by feeling the grass, the way he put Betty on vacation in episode one. But, a girl around a maypole has all its own inferences I won't even go into here. Mainstream society sees it as freedom, spring, newness.

This show has so many references and layers.

I think that Peggy realizes in this episode that she can call the shots in a sexual relationship. She can be coy to attract a man, but then tell him what to do in bed. This change is noticed by Don, who does a double-take when he sees her the next morning. She is a different person.

Reading the poem, Love Among the Ruins, gave me a completely different take on this episode.

Chris in Dallas said...

I can't believe nobody has commented on funniest thing of the night when Roger, looking at the suit of armor and asks, "You ever get three sheets to the wind and try this thing on?"


Liam said...

About Bye Bye Birdie

For all their intelligence, neither Peggy nor Don demonstrate awareness that the Ann Margret character is a gentle (but still pointed) satire of the very thing Peggy is complaining against. We can see this with hindsight, but they are both still stuck in their worldview, rather than ironically detached from it (though both do detach from time to time, and that will likely increase). The musical was a satire about the manipulative power of catering to youth, imagery, celebrity and promotion.

Jennifer said...

So Peggy went on the pill Season 1. Now she needs a condom. So at some point, she went off the pill.

My guess is that it was part of the "recovery" from the horror she went through with childbirth and the adoption and all with her family, but still worth noting. And it is further evidence that her man-trolling in the bar was a first, not a regular event.

Jennifer said...

Liam, I agree with other posters that Don is precisely aware of that, comparing the (plastic) Ann-Margret performance with that of the (genuine) teacher at the Maypole.

Karen said...

@Liam: We who've seen Bye Bye Birdie know about the satirical nature of the film. Don had clearly not even heard of it--or Ann-Margret--and my impression was that Peggy and the rest of the staff hadn't either. They just had the clip of the opening number, which was what the client wanted to emulate.

So it's not surprising that they are not aware of this, and I don't think it means they're stuck in their worldview. They've just seen a 2-minute clip.

cgeye said...

I guess this is one of the times where they can legitmately say, "oops":

"Lexicographical cognoscenti will immediately identify the three-volume work as The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The Compact Edition is a micrographic reproduction of the OED, with each page making room for four reduced pages of the original. A magnifying glass is handily supplied to avoid damaging the reader's eyesight. The only problem is, there was no Compact Edition in 1963. It was first published as a two-volume edition in 1971, but what we see in Pryce's office is even more anachronistic: it's the edition published in 1987 with Robert Burchfield's supplement to the OED in a third, slimmer volume. (Even after the 1987 edition was published, book clubs continued to sell the original two-volume version for bargain prices. Like many Americans, I was first exposed to the OED through one of these book club editions, squinting through the magnifying glass at the tiny type.)"

The Rush Blog said...

One thing about Peggy... She may be learning from Don and Joan and Ann-Margret how to be more of the kind of woman men want, but in her encounter with the college student, it was clear that she still prefers the man's role.

What makes people think that the real Ann-Margaret was like that in 1963 . . . a infatuated 16 year-old girl she was portraying? And she does have a good singing voice. She was being shrill on purpose - she was portraying a role.

Karl Ruben said...

Does anyone know if the Dychman/Dyckman/Dykeman name is connected to a real New York dynasty? I tried some googling, but the various spellings made it a little difficult.

Liam said...


The movie was released on in early April, 1963, just in time for Easter week school break (the major spring release week in those days for youth-oriented films) and about 4 weeks before the Maypole dance, as it were. It's pretty clear Peggy had seen it, because she makes clear her surprise when Don indicates he has not seen it. The movie was the vehicle for Ann Margret's stardom and was probably one of the two big releases for that break period (the other being The Birds; Operation Bikini and The Courtship of Eddie's Father were also released around that time). It was not obscure for someone like Peggy. And Don surely was aware of the preceding Broadway musical (I am sure he had to consider it among the options to bring clients for wining and dining) upon whose reputation the movie was promoted.

Liam said...

The Dyckman family was a Dutch family that lived in upper Harlem, back in the day before it was part of the city of New York (Harlem - the upper half of Manhattan in a diagonal line that ran through what is now Central Park - was not annexed by the City of New York until the early 1800s, and to this day there are those who allege it was never fully legally annexed).

christy said...

Complaining that Ann-Margaret wasn't really like that, and the performance was satirical, seems to be missing the point a bit. What matters is how these characters see it. Though it was satirical, men responded to it sincerely. The client wants the sexuality of the opening scene, without the satirical context of the rest of the movie. They're taking something that should have been empowering to women, and making it objectifying instead. Making it all about the men and what they want. It's an age-old story.

What's interesting is that now you have at least some viewers who aren't familiar with the movie saying to themselves, "I agree with Peggy, I find the performance off-putting. I guess that movie's not for me." But part of the point is that it's not just that Peggy's right that it would be better as a joke, it actually IS a joke. And the other characters either don't get that or don't care. But it's not Weiner or the MM writers' fault that some viewers don't have the context to see that layer of it. You couldn't really ask for a more mainstream pop culture icon to use. They could have been talking about Casablanca and some people won't have seen it.

"So Peggy went on the pill Season 1. Now she needs a condom. So at some point, she went off the pill."

Using condoms doesn't mean she's not on the pill. If she's serious about avoiding pregnancy, she'd be smart to use both. But it also seems very possible that she dismissed the effectiveness of the pill when she got pregnant because she didn't know it doesn't become effective the day you start taking it.

Paul Outlaw said...

Love Among the Ruins (1855)

Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles,
Miles and miles
On the solitary pastures where our sheep
Tinkle homeward thro' the twilight, stray or stop
As they crop--
Was the site once of a city great and gay,
(So they say)
Of our country's very capital, its prince
Ages since
Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
Peace or war.

Now the country does not even boast a tree,
As you see,
To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills
From the hills
Intersect and give a name to, (else they run
Into one)
Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires
Up like fires
O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall
Bounding all
Made of marble, men might march on nor be prest
Twelve abreast.

And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass
Never was!
Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'er-spreads
And embeds
Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
Stock or stone--
Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe
Long ago;
Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
Struck them tame;
And that glory and that shame alike, the gold
Bought and sold.

Now--the single little turret that remains
On the plains,
By the caper overrooted, by the gourd
While the patching houseleek's head of blossom winks
Through the chinks--
Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time
Sprang sublime,
And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced
As they raced,
And the monarch and his minions and his dames
Viewed the games.

And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve
Smiles to leave
To their folding, all our many-tinkling fleece
In such peace,
And the slopes and rills in undistinguished grey
Melt away--
That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair
Waits me there
In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul
For the goal,
When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, dumb
Till I come.

But he looked upon the city, every side,
Far and wide,
All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades'
All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,--and then
All the men!
When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand,
Either hand
On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace
Of my face,
Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech
Each on each.

In one year they sent a million fighters forth
South and North,
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
As the sky
Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force--
Gold, of course.
O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
Earth's returns
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
Love is best.

-- Robert Browning

Liam said...


My point was a little more subtle than that. The movie has anticipated where she's heading but she is not of the Age of Irony that was yet to come. That's appropriate for where she is right now, but I thought showed insight on the part of the creators of the episode to choose this bit of pop culture to deepen this point.

Anonymous said...

Matt Weiner's attention to detail is amazing. Although many readers got the Philadelphia reference, what jolted me was the mention of "The Parker Home, in New Brunswick" as a possible place for Betty's father, Gene. Parker Home still exists (100 years +) and I am there regularly as I have family there. Either Weiner knew of its reputation, or was looking for an "old age home" (read: nursing home) that has been around a long time.

As to the Maypole: the reader who thought of it as the rising "hippie generation" may be on the mark, as "the times they are a'changing" ... although growing up poor, Dick/Don may have run barefoot through the grass and the current suit-wearing Don may be merely remembering, or wishing he had such a carefree childhood.

berkowit28 said...

Thanks, cgeye (re Compact OED). I noticed the three volumes and found it unusual, because i wasn't aware of the 1987 edition: I have the 1971 edition myself. (I think I got it through a Book Club deal when it first came out.) That's why I thought it might be some other spinoff entirely. Odd that they didn't check this - they're usually so meticulous. But of course not only will hardly anyone notice, it really makes no difference. Still, someone's probably sorry.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe nobody commented on Peggy using Don's line "The client is not always right" in the initial Patio meeting, showing how in tune they actually are.

I think shot of Don looking at her in the office is a realization that they are indeed working from the same toolbox.

On that note there have been a lot of tools references recently, hmmmm.

Dan said...

I just wanted to add that it was amusing to see Peggy and the guy she picked up at his place on his couch, then see a shot from a few hours later with that same couch folded out into a bed. "That's all part of it, that's foreplay."

Anonymous said...

What about Don upsetting the ashtray on his desk? Does this mean he will not always be as smooth as he has been?

And does anyone else think that after showing Pryce out of his office (which is very awkward seeing Pryce is his boss), he goes home and very intently wants to talk to Betty. I think he may have wanted to actually open up to her for a change and tell her he wanted to quit his job and do something else. But he didn't get the change because she was so unhappy and he had to take care of the Gene problem to her satsifaction, thereby entrenching himself even further into his Don Draper existence.

I think when he was watching the Maypole dance that he was connecting with Dick Whitman. Bare feet denotes his more rural beginnings.

Anonymous said...

I was 15 when JFK was assassinated and I can tell you that the wedding will be a disaster. I don’t know about the rest of the country but in NY everything, I mean everything stood still from Friday afternoon when the assassination was announced until Monday when JFK was buried (and, in between we were rocked by the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald on Sunday). Everyone was in mourning so I can’t imagine most people felt like going to a wedding.

As for BBB, I find it interesting to read men’s take on Ann-Margret because at the time I hated that part of the movie – I felt it had absolutely no relation to the film and was only put in there because AM was so popular that the PTB wanted to give her as much exposure as possible. And to answer those of you that question her pronunciation of the word “Birdie” – she was supposed to be singing in a sexy, little girl, cutesy wootsie way, again to please her target audience. I guess it worked.

As I recall everyone called condoms “Trojans” back then no matter what brand they were.

And finally, to those who saw the garbage on the subway – as I recall there was always a problem with garbage on the streets of NY until Rudy Guliani became Mayor and cleaned things up... in more ways than one

Anonymous said...

This seems to be the topic of debate on some other boards, is Joan gaining weight?

I know Joan has always been curvaceous but in the scene were she is walking up to Don's desk she looked "healthier" than in seasons past. Her womanly appendages were abundant to say the least.

Virgil said...

Regarding the cab fare comment by college boy's friends--my take was that they assumed that Peggy was somewhere between a tramp and a pro, and would probably be hitting him up for money later.

Considering his gawkiness/youth, and her poise/maturity, they may have wondered why else she would be interested.

Kokuanani said...

I'm confused about something.

I've been reading over your [Alan's] write-ups of last season, specifically "Flight 1." In it you refer to Peggy's sister "taking in" Peggy's baby & raising it as her own -- something I'd assumed was the case, but that comments here and on other threads don't seem to acknowledge.

I'm wondering why Peggy tells Pete she "gave the child up for adoption" -- just to cover the truth, 'cause she couldn't tell him the Real Story?

I'm also wondering why, two episodes but some time into Season Three, we haven't seen any "fallout" from this confession.

I'm curious what you think.

Alfred A. A. said...

Well, I took the dancing school teacher scene to be what Don would want to do with Patio, and his touching the grass was just the visualization the customers would have about it, hence why they didn't even bother explaining the scene with Peggy.I don't think there was anything sexual about it. It's too close to home and he's never behaved that way around them. Much less in front of the whole family.

ghoti said...

Wow, Philadelphians are so cool. Look at all those losers eating cheesesteaks at Geno's and Pats. We eat our cheesesteaks at "Guido's Hole in the Ground" which is open from 4:18 am until 4:23 am and you need to prove Fermat's Last Theorem to get in.

I'll just fry up some Steak 'Ums and Cheez Whiz and stay the hell out of Philly, thanks.

ghoti said...

I just think Peggy is trying to be more human, and of course she thinks the way to do that is to emulate Don.

And I am Peggy in the Mad Man quiz, so if she wants to love 'em and leave 'em, I'm all for it!

par3182 said...

I wonder if Ann-Margaret watches 'Mad Men'?

I expected Don and Betty were going to find Gene urinating into the kitchen skin when they came down to investigate the noise

That still would've been less of a faux pas than pouring perfectly good booze down the drain in the Draper home.

dez said...

I really hope that Don and Peggy don't get together. There is something there, but they know each other too well for seduction. People can be intimate without hooking up. Even on TV.

Don's already proven he can have that kind of relationship with a woman, someone he sees as a peer and not a potential conquest: the real Widow Draper. I think he will keep his relationship with Peggy platonic.

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