Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mad Men, "The Arrangements": Teach your children well

Spoilers for "Mad Men" season three, episode four coming up just as soon as I get a prescription for unguents and salves...
"If you'd even known what was possible..." -Gene
There's a question most parents will ask themselves a thousand times before the baby is born, and a thousand thousand times after: How am I going to get this kid ready to live out in the world when I'm not around to take care of everything?

Parenthood is one of the dominant themes of "Mad Men," and in "The Arrangements," we see how several parents have answered that question - and how several of them realize they may have answered incorrectly.

Gene knows his days on this Earth are coming to an end sooner rather than later, and so he wants to make arrangements not only for his own funeral, but for his family's future. Realizing that he didn't do right by his daughter by sheltering her from most of life's problems - turning her into an arrested development case who neglects her own children's needs and views Gene's impending death only as a burden for herself - he decides it's not too late for something to be done with Sally and Bobby. You could read his decision to let Sally drive his beloved Lincoln as a sign of Gene's dementia, but he was more on than off this season, as if he'd been mustering his mental strength to pass some wisdom (like how to drive a car, and also the bravery to try it) to his grandkids while he still could.

Peggy decides it's time to move into Manhattan and discovers that her mother only wants Peggy to go so far in the world and no farther, and the demarcation point is roughly the East River. Mrs. Olson lays a vicious guilt trip on her daughter, and when that doesn't work, she warns her, "You'll get raped, you know that?" And she turns away from Peggy's attempt to kiss her goodbye; if the Olsons were Jewish instead of Catholic, she might have rended her garments, "Jazz Singer"-style, and declared "I have no daughter!"

At work, Pete (whose own father's idea of child-rearing seemed to revolve around belittlement) introduces Don to Horace "Ho-Ho" Cook Jr., an old college buddy with money to burn and a pathological need for someone to loan him a match. For all of Don's misdeeds, he has more of a moral center than most of his colleagues and feels uncomfortable about taking a million dollars of Horace's money for his misguided quest to turn jai alai into our new national pasttime. But a meeting with Horace Sr. doesn't go how anyone expects. Horace Sr., like Gene, realizes he sheltered his child too much - "We didn't know what kind of person we were making" - and has decided the best thing for the boy is to have his bubble burst, over and over, until Ho-Ho recognizes how the world really works, as opposed to how he wants it to work.

Flanked by Gene at home and the jai alai situation at Sterling Cooper, Don has cause to think back on his own upbringing - by a set of parents who didn't want him at all, and certainly didn't want him to do better in life than them - and to ponder what kind of father he is to his kids. He's automatically a better dad than Archie by virtue of not hitting Bobby and Sally, and he's good with them on those rare occasions when he's home and willing to engage with them. But he's also afraid to take the lead in terms of discipline and moral instruction - probably because he thinks it would make him a hypocrite and/or an awful role model - and therefore hangs back too long even when he sees other people treating his children differently than he would like. You can see that he's uncomfortable with Gene showing Bobby his WWI souvenirs, but it takes him a while to work up the nerve to vocally disagree with his father-in-law. And when Sally is upset to hear the adults laughing after Gene's death, you can see Don wants to comfort her, but he can't bring himself to undermine Betty when she scolds her. At episode's end, Don is caught in the middle, standing between the bed of the man who just died and the crib of the baby about to be born, not sure what kind of father he's going to be to this new addition.

And Sally? After having a month and a half or so to live and bond with her grandfather, she's again being ignored by parents who don't know what to do with her or how to respond to her needs. At the start of the episode, she's beaming as Grandpa Gene lets her drive the Lincoln and showers her with attention; at the end, she's left crying on the living room floor, with the TV as her only companion (and even the TV is showing grown-up things).

My one issue with the episode was Sally's outburst in the kitchen. I think the emotion of it was fine, but the presentation wasn't. Her rant seemed too articulate and/or on the nose, or maybe it's just that Kiernan Shipka is good with expressions but still learning how to handle a lot of dialogue (particularly dialogue that has to be delivered through angry tears).

And speaking of Shipka, I wonder how the show will deal with her in the coming seasons. They've already recast Bobby twice, but Shipka has been much more prominent as Sally. Matt Weiner has talked about how Sally is representative of the kids who are going to plunge into the counter-culture to rebel against neglectful parents. But to get to that point -- and to get to the 1970 endpoint Weiner has said he'd like to hit if he can -- we're going to have to start taking bigger jumps forward in time soon, and Shipka doesn't age that fast. Unless she has a major growth spurt between seasons, is she going to be left behind just like Sally?

Some other thoughts on "The Arrangements":

• I can't let the talk of parents trying (or not trying) to advance their children's fortune go without noting our latest Kennedy reference, when Ho-Ho explains that his father hates JFK because he used to deal with old Joe Kennedy, and Don in turn points out that John wound up with a better job than his old man. More often than not, both Don and "Mad Men" come down hard on the Kennedy clan and the realities of Camelot, but in that one moment, at least, Don acknowledged that family didn't do everything wrong.

• Sal's subplot wasn't related to the parenting theme - unless you want to blame his decision to stay in the closet and in a sham marriage on his fear of/respect for his very Catholic mother - but it was another great showcase for Bryan Batt. Kitty's line about something being wrong the past few months would date the start of the problem back to Sal's coitus interruptus with the Baltimore bellhop, and whether or not Sal has acted on his needs since then, he's sure been thinking about them more than he has in a long time. Kitty knows something's wrong, and is clearly disturbed to watch her husband so expertly ape Ann-Margret's "Bye Bye Birdie" performance, but she can't fathom the true nature of the problem. Like Joan's marriage, this will not end well.

• So what do you reckon so unnerved the Patio people about Sal's commercial? Was it, as Roger suggests (in his only line of the episode), that the number only works because Ann-Margret is so naturally sexy? Was it, as Peggy's smirk to Don suggests, that they realized (as she had argued in "Love Among the Ruins") you need to sell a woman's fantasy to women? Or do you think they could recognize, on some subconscious level, that the actress here had been directed by a man whose appreciation for the original had nothing to do with an attraction to Ann-Margret?

• Whatever issues the Patio men had about the ad, Don liked it enough to give Sal entree into a new, more promising career. But in the same episode, we get a reminder of just how much Joan is being wasted as office manager. Her spiel to Peggy about how to write a better roommate ad was a classic Don Draper-style pitch. She nailed the emotion behind the product (adventure) and described it so eloquently that you could tell Peggy was racing to jot down Joan's exact phrasing before she could forget it. Television department, copywriting, filling in as Don's secretary... every job you ask Joan to do, she nails. If she could think outside the box society has placed her in the way Peggy can, Joan would be running Sterling Cooper within five years.

• It's interesting to see the role reversal between Peggy's sister and her mother. Last season, Anita resented how Peggy got to skate away from the consequences of her actions, while their mother indulged her because she was worried about her mental health. Now (after taking Father Gill's advice to heart), Anita has made peace with the idea that Peggy is going to be one of "those girls" -- Peggy, her confidence rising every episode, points out, "I am one of those girls" -- while their mom now understands that Peggy isn't crazy and therefore resents her push for a different, geographically distant, and presumably promiscuous lifestyle. (Of course, we saw a few weeks ago that Peggy has no problem being promiscuous in an outer borough.)

• Peggy's prospective "fun" new roommate Karen was played by Carla Gallo, best known to me as the girl across the dorm hall in Fox's short-lived "Undeclared" (and for getting Jonah Hill's leg bloody in "Superbad"), but she's done a lot of other TV work, including "Bones" and "Carnivale."

• Bert Cooper's ant farm returns (as does Pryce's unctuous assistant, Mr. Hooker), only for the thing to be destroyed by Don's attempt to master jai alai. (Hooker, alas, survives.)

• I've read some complaints this season about the commercial breaks popping up seemingly at random. Watching the episodes on screeners, I have to admit that there often doesn't seem an obvious "act-out" moment to lead into an ad, but this episode had a hilarious one: After Don takes away the Prussian helmet, Gene shows Bobby a woman's fan, smiles, and says, "There was this girl..." Cut to black.

• The episode ends on June 11, 1963, made clear by the news report (on at both Anita's apartment and the Draper house) featuring snippets from President Kennedy's address on civil rights in the wake of sending the National Guard in to help integrate the University of Alabama (click the link to read/watch the whole thing), and then featuring a report on the death of The Burning Monk.

• A few secretarial matters this week: Lois has gone from switchboard to Don's desk, back to the switchboard and now to Paul's desk. (And was happy to participate in the Paul-scripted prank call to Peggy after Peggy made her cry in the season two premiere.) Meanwhile, Don's new secretary gets a name (Allison), and a bit of a personality, as she confesses to the chipmunks that she still hasn't learned to read Don's moods.

• Salt on ice cream? Is that just to make it melt in your mouth faster, or is the combination of salty and sweet appealing to some tastebuds?

• Finally, in case you somehow missed the news from earlier this week, AMC has renewed "Mad Men" for a fourth season. That's not really a surprise, but it's still nice to know that we'll definitely get to see it, whenever it happens to be set.

As the number of comments is now starting to surpass what I used to get even for the likes of "Lost" and "Battlestar," I want to again remind you about the commenting rules, specifically about not posting spoilers for upcoming episodes (and that includes talking about the previews for next week) and about making an effort to at least skim previous comments so you're not asking questions that were asked and answered earlier. But with that in mind...

What did everybody else think?


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Laura R. said...

Great recap, Alan. I especially agree with your assessment of Sally's outburst. For never really having all that much to say, her diatribe seemed a bit out-of-character.

All I have to add: Bobby Draper cracked me up tonight! The combination of "IT'S AN ENGLISH MUFFIN" and "Peaches give me a rash!" killed me.

frabjous said...

Seeing Betty eat (and make a mess of) the peach her father had bought for Sally was the most subtly devastating moment of the ending - a perfect symbol for what a terrible parent Betty is.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone explained why Bobby was re-cast? I miss the old Bobby; his sadness was palpable, perfect for the non-person he is in this family.

SK Rollins said...

I, too wasn't quite sure how in character Sally's diatribe was. It was still a touching moment and one that truly highlighted the inadequacies of Don and Betty as parents though.

Re: Laura R regarding Bobby's lines: those might have been the first memorable lines of his I can remember since the episode where he proudly announced peeing behind the tree to his parents to general indifference

Zack Smith said...

Wow, I really thought the Gene arc was going to go on longer. The car-driving moment had me screaming explicatives at the TV screen, but it does seem like it was less unusual to teach kids driving in those days, and it was probably more common in Gene's era.

Poor, poor Sally. And it seems like the Vietnam era is starting to swing into effect.

I so wanted Don to go to Sally's room at the end and say the right thing. Sigh.

Matthew Weiner was saying the pre-recession era of the late 1990s and early 2000s would be looked back on like "The Roaring Twenties." This season has had a few allegories for the economy so far, and it seems like it's really about destruction on the horizon.

Good note on Peggy's sister. She seems much more supportive of her. The fact that Peggy's mom turned on the TV as Peggy left suggested that, while a nasty fight, was pretty much typical of the guilt trips in their family, and they would stay in contact.

Carla Gallo is pretty cool, and here's hoping she shows up a few more times. But it's clear she and Peggy might not be a good fit. Peggy is a single girl in the city, but her reasons really are about her career. Though the fact that they flashed back to the college boy in the "previously on" segment suggests that perhaps she does want to open up her love life.

As a Pete apologist, it was amusing to see he was right about the Ho-Ho account, and Don's good sense was wrong. Also, seeing as he just brought the company a lot of money while Cosgrove's team lost out on Patio, this would likely put him ahead in the promotion race in Pryce's eyes. Ken is better at his job, but Pete seems to be using his connections to appeal to the old-money mindset at Sterling-Cooper. That could advance him for a while, but unless he can embrace his forward-thinking mindset, he could get left behind in the long run.

Boy, was Sal's Ann-Margaret impression sad. Kitty's look was priceless -- in the "Sad Marriages on MAD MEN" ranking, I would put this at #2, just behind Joan and Dr. Rapist, slightly ahead of Don and Betty. Roger and Joan could catapult ahead of all of them by season's end, though Pete and Trudy seem borderline-functional and Harry hasn't blown it with Jennifer yet.

Sal's commercial was scary. I loved Roger's subtle eyebrow-raise when it was over.

Joan about stole the episode with her monologue. If only she and Peggy wind up as roommates...

nancy said...

Sally's initial reaction to Gene's death slayed me though. Betty shuts the door in sally's face-no comfort to her daughter, naturally, and sally tries to reach for the door handle, doesn't quite make it, leans her head on the door. I was a mess.

SK Rollins said...

Speaking of Roger I was amazed he even got a meaningful line during that meeting. Isn't he just going to those for appearance's sake now?

romanholiday said...

In line with Alan's observation about Don's hesitation at role-modeling for his kids, I read Don as being pained (and maybe a little ashamed) at watching Gene and tell war stores to Bobby-- he can't share his own less-glorious war experience with his son. At least he earns some honesty points for not fabricating stories centered around the real Don Draper's Purple Heart?

Nicole said...

While I was grossed out by the salt and ice cream, my dad does salt his apples (when my mother isn't looking), so I suppose it isn't that far off with the sweet/sour mark. He also started driving the tractor on the farm at about 10, so it wouldn't be that different from Sally driving the car with Grandpa Gene's supervision. He would have been a teenager in 63, but often says that parents of that era often did not want their children to do better than them, and there was push back necessary to become independent, especially in a small town environment.

I feel for Sally, losing her one actual support, although maybe Don can become a little better when the baby is born, and Betty is less needy. I forget if it was mentioned earlier that Betty was a fat child, but it certainly makes sense in terms of how she treats Sally about her looks, as if that's all Sally will ever be values for.

The son as disgrace to the father's fortune was a week too late for me, although perhaps Conrad Hilton's kids weren't completely useless in 1963. Obviously we know that jai alai will be a huge fail, excepting a prominent position in the Miami Vice credits. I hope Don pins the failure entirely on Pete for this fleecing because it's obvious that Pete is trying to use the potential income as a way to move up. Don will not be as generous as he was with Sal's failed commercial. Speaking of which, I do think the main part of the failure was that it wasn't Ann Margaret, because often certain roles only work because of the charisma of certain actors. Could anyone but Jon Hamm pull off Don Draper at this point? Unlikely, even if there are several actors who resemble him physically. Hollywood moguls have tried to figure out the combination for years, and there is no real method. It's also why most remakes are horrible, even if they are the exact same plot as the original. I won't discount that Sal's inability to understand how straight men viewed Ann Margaret played a role, but I don't think that's the ultimate reason.

Kris said...

I don't know ... I thought the outburst worked. Sometimes a moment of crisis or loss lends one an articulacy lacking in one's day-to-day life. Also, Gene was the only person to value Sally's intelligence. Now he's gone, and the other adults are laughing and not doing a damn thing to comfort her. That'd give a kid a lot to say.

Anonymous said...

I guffawed when Pete told his college buddy/fatted calf that his idea was an investment Pete's father would have loved. Considering the diminished circumstances of Pete's family fortune, that is a heck of an endorsement, not.


Anonymous said...

Chocolate covered pretzels? Caramel corn? Most recipes for cookies have salt in them.

HaroldsMaude said...

I was Sally and her outburst was a surprise. In the early 1960s if parents were talking with other adults, or even just talking alone, to have that kind of outburst was unheard of. Her silent listening under the table (or at the top of stairs) is expected. But in a 60s, coldly distantly emotional family, never would we be allowed to express such emotion directly.

On the other hand, Betty's lack of recognition of Sally's presence on her learning of her father's death was appropriate.

Best scene? Sal's wife's slow recognition of the truth during his demonstration of the next day's simulation of Ann-Margaret. Priceless. And sad.

Brian said...

Wunderbar write-up, Alan.

A note on the closing music: it was "Over There" by George M. Cohan, the famous World War I homefront rallying song, nicely bookending Gene's World War I reminiscences. Mad Men is great at ironizing old music (never better than "On the Street Where You Live" from the pilot), and this was no exception.

Brandy said...

I don't know that I've had salt on ice cream but salt and sweet is a good flavor profile... so it's probably not bad.

Nothing better than salt and chocolate.

Tony Semczuk said...

I have to disagree with the sentiment about Sally's outburst. I have a 7-year old daughter and that outburst hit a nerve with me, as it sounded as if it were coming straight from my daughter's mouth. I totally bought it.

Also: I loved Peggy's reference to the cane on the subway seats destroying her panty hose. More props to those in charge of the fine details.

I had a bad feeling about Gene when he spoke about smelling oranges when he and Sally were sneaking ice cream. I started thinking a stroke was in his near future.

The look of horror and recognition on Kitty's face after Sal ran through the Patio commercial does not bode well for that marriage.

I also don't see much hope for the new "Odd Couple," Peggy and Karen. It'll be fun to see how that arrangement holds up.

Renton said...

"That's a dead man's hat," Don said, clearly disapproving of his daughter following in his own footsteps.

Jennifer said...

Oh man, my heart broke for Sally when Betty shut the door in her face and then when she has to comfort herself alone on the rug with only the nightly news for comfort.

The timing of Gene's death in tonight's episode struck me as odd. He's obviously making a concerted effort with the kids all of a sudden, he discusses his final wishes with Betty (whose selfish reaction was uncomfortable to watch) and then he eats ice cream with salt when he knows he has high blood pressure? Made me wonder if he was almost pushing things a bit...

CincyNat said...

Loved how Peggy lied to her mom about her roomie being Norwegian. (It didn't help anyway.) Wait till that roomie finds out Peggy isn't actually fun at all.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I'm not convinced that we saw a "role reversal between Peggy's sister and her mother". I got the feeling that Anita that was happy to see Peggy go to Manhattan so Anita could be be seen as "the good daughter".

Mel said...

I definitely thought that the Patio exec's response to the ad stemmed from a perception that it was directed by a homosexual. I almost was waiting for them to make a comment about it lacking in testosterone or some veiled slam.

Sally Draper breaks my heart. I'll be sad if and when she is recast. I personally loved her outburst.

Marie said...

Thanks for the great insight; I come here after every episode. I just want to say that Don's secretary isn't new; Allison has always been in the office (she's most known for being the girl Ken chased down in the office election party wearing the blue panties and was also the one questioned by the researcher in the lipstick scene).

Anonymous said...

The salt on ice cream thing sadly reminded me of when my father wanted something similar the day he died from a heart attack (sorry for the TMI for some). Gene's impending death seemed destined from the start of the episode with his teaching Sally how to drive. Sally is just never going to get the attention she deserves, and my heart broke when she was seen hugging the Fall of the Roman Empire book by Don at the end.

Anonymous said...

As someone who's both Norwegian and Swedish I found that part of the conversation between Peggy and Karen hilarious (intermingling was quite the scandal when my grandparents got married). Even though it makes complete sense that Peggy _Olson_ is Norwegian, I'm left wondering why they're Catholic rather than Lutheran. I guess I always read that family as Irish or something rather than Scandinavian, despite the last name.

Todd said...

My mom salts her ice cream AND her fresh fruit, so I suspect it's a thing some people do.

chris said...

I thought Don's comments to Ho-Ho about JFK ending up with a better job than Joe Sr. was an attempt by Don to be kind to Ho-Ho and not so much an endorsement of JFK.

cgeye said...

Sea salt caramels? Yup.

And chubby Betty having to walk all the way home? Yeah, I now get why Betty had such hatred mixed in with her mourning. And her mom was a career woman -- a drafter.

"Tastes like chocolate, smells like oranges..." I thought that was a sign of another stroke.

"I/you could really do something" -- said within 5 minutes of each other, I guess that qualifies as a theme, too.

I thought the Patio ad failed because the lyrics sucked. They didn't scan, they didn't flow, and the screeching never let up. There was no emotional throughline for the character. Bye, Bye Birdie's opener was all about "Birdie, before you go, frak me against the wall" -- who is the audience? Who is to be seduced?

"Bye, Bye Sugar" puts sugar in the role of the desired lover, when Patio should be there. Most of the song's dedicated to what the character *can't* have, versus what she can.

It might have worked by having more than one gal as spokesperson, or physically showing cakes/goodies being pushed away in favor of Patio. In short, doing what Peggy said, and embracing a woman's POV instead of having a second-rate Ann-Margret selling men on something they won't buy.

"I think that the right girl could have a good effect on you..." Oh, sure, remind us of Carol, who Joan used worse than Dame Edna uses Madge Alsop.

Anonymous said...

Grandpa Gene smells the scent of Oranges when eating ice scream. Oranges = Death in all the Godfather movies

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget the funny interstitial scene with Joan and the bug spray "napalming" the escaping ants. That ant farm sure has gotten prominence this season.

Anonymous said...

The thing I regret about the 1970 endpoint of the series is that Sally won't be all that old when it ends. I presume she's what, about 8-9 now? That puts her at only 15 or 16 by the end of a show. Not many quality hippie years for our Sally, and I was really looking forward to some very ugly arguments with her Hitchcock blonde mother, because Betty certainly has them coming.

cgeye said...

One thing about Sal and the commercial -- how come Sal was so hot when he performed it, and the actress was so bland?

Part of it is her yellow dress washes her out. Joan never dresses against her coloring. And the actress has no growl to ground her belt -- A-M does, even though she's singing above her range. Without Ann-Margret, the look is mercenary; there's no innocence we can pretend is still there.


And Don simply isn't having Sal's pity, even before his bad news. If Sal had to fail, these are the best circumstances to do it -- he did everything the client asked, and he has time to develop his own taste.

Anonymous said...

Just occurred to me-

Grandpa Gene dies
Ants Die
Patio Commercial Dies
Sal's marriage dies (just thinking of the expression on his wife's face)
Jai Alai's takeover of baseball (nuff said)

Yikes that's alot of death (actual and symbolic)

And that peach didn't go elegantly either

arrabbiata said...

So of course I went and tried some salt on ice cream. At the point where there was enough salt that I could taste it I thought it pretty terrible. The whole thing reminded me of when I was in Virginia for a scout jamboree and some of the kids (all southerners) were shocked that we were served watermelon without salt to go with it, and just as shocked that I had no familiarity with the concept. They claimed it made the melon taste sweeter. A few months later I was back in Virginia to go to college and again found it a popular combination among many of my fellow students. Maybe it's a regional thing.

Upon my first viewing, I tend to agree with Roger's suggestion that maybe the biggest issue in Sal's commercial is the lack of Ann Margaret. It seems to be exactly what they were asked to produce, but it didn't have the energy of the original. While it does seem that Peggy was right about it being a bad idea, I don't think the Patio people rejected it because it would appeal more to men than to women. It's just not a good idea.

As much as Gene's interaction with the kids could be scary at times, in some ways he was the best parent in that house. Looks like Sally will have to pull herself through the challenges of life, and there will be some interesting stuff going on in the world as she's hitting her teens.

Anonymous said...

I think there was some foreshadowing when Peggy's prospective "roomie" indicated she only got along with men.

As for the commercial: without Anne Margaret's star quality behind it, it's just a pretty face marred by a screechy voice. I wanted to hit the mute button and that seems like a not so subtle problem to me.

Stephen S Power said...

"Mad Man" has been forthright about showing how, back then, pregnant women drank and smoked. For instance, Gene in this episode is more concerned about smoking affecting Betty's health than her baby's, and Weiner again shows a wine glass prominently in front of Betty in the last scene.

Now, regarding Don and Betty neglecting Sally after Gene's death, we're seeing what was the norm in parenting then. Today, we're used to the tenets of Dr. Spock, who advocated hugging children, whereas the Drapers lived in a world of corporeal punishment, as currently manifested by the book "Dare to Discipline" by James Dobson of Focus on the Family, which would see children beaten because that was what worked in the good ole days (remember how Betty wanted Don to beat Bobby, until he told her that his father beating him only made him want to kill his father?) Not hugging a child is part of the same ethic; as Bert puts it, "Eat or be eaten." In the world of Mad Men, you are on your own, and those who are coddled like Betty and Ho Ho grow up weak and useless.

Anonymous said...

Y, I was thinking the same thing about Don's reluctance to interrupt Bobby and Gene - because after all, Don is supposed to be a war hero too but of course can't share that part of his life with his family. And we've seen in past epiosdes that Don is very reluctant to talk about the war or his experiences.

Question Mark said...

Sal's pajamas are worth an episode of their very own. I actually read that scene as 'Kitty suspects Sal is having an affair with the actress in the ad' rather than she suspects Sal might be gay.

As someone who has liked Elisabeth Moss's work but was somewhat surprised to see her get an Emmy nod, I've been loving her performance this season. Great stuff all-around. That scene with her new roomie was hysterical.

Anonymous said...

I missed two more deaths in my prev post:

Peggy's Mother being upset at the Death of the Holy Father

Death of the Burning Monk

Erin said...

Tying into your idea of Don being a hypocrite, I liked the moment when he tells Bobby not to put on a "dead man's helmet"...

I'm not sure I'd call Sal's marriage "dead" yet. Kitty knows something is wrong, but I definitely don't think she's able to name it yet.

Garrett said...

We've been seeing a lot of Peggy adopting alternate personas ("Bye Bye Birdie," pretending to be a secretary at the bar). In that scene with Carla Gallo's character*, you could practically see Peggy thinking "What would the girl in my ad say?"

* I almost called her "the Swede," but then I flashed back to season 2 of Friday Night Lights. Ugh.

Stephen S Power said...

Anyone who thinks Kitty hasn't figured out which way the wind blows has to turn their gaydar on. Watch her reactions as Sal performs the Patio scene. She's still with him when he does the limp wrist come here move, but when he pulls up the bottom of his pajama top like it's a skirt and mince foreward, she totally gets it. Of course, now what does she do?

Anonymous said...

The scene with Sally watching the news after her outburst was very moving for me and a nice touch by Weiner. In Phillip Roth's "American Pastoral" that image was a major influence on a character's path to tragedy. This is definitely a night Sally won't forget, one that will surely shape her future.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that Betty's parenting style was still the norm by 1963. Doctor Spock had already come out, and was the go-to manual in many households. In fact, at this exact time, Rob and Laura Petrie are explicitly relying on Doctor Spock (on the Dick Van Dyke Show) and that program goes out of its way to demonstrate their "modern," caring parenting skills. Of course, such parenting does, in those portrayals, have something of the novel and outre about it. Betty clearly hadn't read the good Doctor's text. Don's struggling in that direction, but clearly lacks much faith in his parenting skills/instincts, likely because of how he was raised.

Kitty knows, at least in part. Sal has no idea that she knows, but she knows. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes her to admit it to herself, much less act on the knowledge.

Heart-breaking and heart-broken daughters everywhere in this episode.

Monica said...

I thought it was interesting that after Sally's diatribe and she was ordered to go watch TV, the news was about the burning monk, followed by... an update on the Dow.

I could just imagine what was going through her head then: "Someone died... but this country only cares about money. Just like how mom and dad laughed after grandpa died, like it was no big deal at all."

It'll be interesting to see if Sally rebels more and more for the rest of the season.

Zac F. said...

My dad likes to put salt in his beer.

I'm posting this using Opera on my Wii on a 52 inch TV.

Unknown said...

Salt + ice cream is a trendy thing here in San Francisco:

If Sally is 16 in 1970, I think that is plenty old enough to be rebellious and hippie.

As for Bobby and his admiration of his grandfather's participation in WWI (and his statement that war makes one a man), if he is about 7 or 8 now, he will be old enough to be drafted for the Vietnam War (which did not end until 1975). Although if the series ends in 1970, we may not actually see this.

HaroldsMaude said...

Although your 7 year old daughter's outburst to parents may seem appropriate, the difference is a generation. In the early 1960s the mantra leading parenting was still, children should be seen and not heard. As we grew up (especially as women) in the 1960s and 1970s, we learned what independence was, and the appropriateness of raising our voices. But as white suburban upper middle class children we knew our place.

HaroldsMaude said...

I agree. When Gene said the ice cream smelled like oranges, I thought is was a sign of a stroke. It could be what took him. We only hear he collapsed.

Another observation: I loved Don's honorable action in bringing Ho-Ho's actions up with his father. And the priceless look on little slimeball's face when he thought Don was ruining his million $ deal.

Dan said...

Personally, I think they should pace production of the show so that there is never a need to recast Sally.

And Grandpa was killed off a little hastily, but I suppose it was worth it for the scene when Don can't take Sally's side or comfort her. (Not that humor isn't a perfectly appropriate response to death..) The foreshadowing of Gene's fate was a little thicker than you usually see on this show but I think that was intentional because that's how a death in the family comes a lot of the time. Not that I wanted more "Where's my 5 dollar bill" subplots, but I thought it would be interesting to make a further exploration of the burden of caring for a relative long-term in your home, the disruption of the nuclear family, blah, blah, blah.

Don is overwhelmed by all the things he can't explain to Sally, and I suppose Betty can be defended for retreating into her own concerns as usual during a traumatic event that she hasn't been prepared to deal with. None of the grownups know what to do so they can't be leaders for their children.

PS - Of course there was an allusion to Chris telling Snoop "Don't wear no dead man's hat" as they stood over the bodies of a couple of NY boys who came too far south for their own f'in good.

Anonymous said...

A couple of possible anachronisms in tonights episode: 1) One of the chipmunks said "Patchie-The Motion Picture". Was "The Motion Picture" commonly used in movie titles? I can't think of an example from 1963 or earlier.

2) the policeman who arrives to inform Betty of her father's death is driving a 1957 Chevrolet 2 door sedan. Would the police still be using a 6 year old car in this part of the country, and would it have been a 2 door instead of a 4 door sedan?

Possisble ananchronisms aside, I found Don's accidental destruction of the ant farm surprisingly un-suave (which reminded me of his jarring of the ash tray recently).

Lastly, I loved Sally in this episode and found her tearful speach to be the most moving thing in tonight's episode.

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to add, as someone in her early twenties who loves Mad Men just because it's so delightfully old-fashioned, I had never heard of jai alai before this episode! Was it truly a popular activity back then? (And if you look up jai alai on wiki, Mad Men is already mentioned there!)

Unknown said...

I too was surprised that the Olsons are supposed to be Norwegian since I thought that Norway is generally considered to be a Lutheran country. In fact, there is a Wikipedia article on "Roman Catholicism in Norway" that claims that the Church was not allowed to operate there between 1537 and 1843.

Chris said...

I've read that adding salt to things heightens their flavor - makes them taste more like themselves.

It could also be that salt and sweet go together pretty well - pretzels and ice cream is a good combination.

Anonymous said...

Would school have still been in session on June 11?

Loved the expression (fear, daunting realization and nascent disgust) on Kitty's face as Sal acted out the commercial

Garrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ella said...

I would assume that Peggy's Norwegian heritage (and last name) perhaps comes mostly from her father, while the family's Roman Catholicism is more from her very devout mother (who may have any manner of heritage).

Peggy's use of the "Norwegian" roommate to try to placate her mother would resonate more fully if her mother were also Norwegian, but maybe Peggy's just grasping at straws and assuming that her mother will have some sort of familial reaction based on the roommate's family's "Swedish" allegiances?

CarolMR said...

I was surprised to learn that Peggy's family is Norwegian. It doesn't make any sense for them to be Catholic. This is a major mistake by Weiner.

Nicole said...

I didn't find Sally's outburst that out of place if only because it wasn't something she did all the time and it was the following a great emotional trauma for her. I don't think we can generalize that children never talked back to their parents because of the "children should be seen and not heard" maxim that had been out since the Victorian era. My parents are roughly 3-6 years older than Sally would be, and they experienced very different upbringings, even within a similar social class. It was actually my father, in a family of mostly boys, where they felt they could not "talk back" to their parents. I take Alan's point that the vocabulary may have been a bit sophisticated, but the emotion is not unheard of.

Sally is unlikely to be a hippy, but she will definitely hit adulthood when the feminist movement hits its stride in the 70s, and hopefully the words of her grandfather help motivate her to do that much more.

The pope who would have died at that time would be John XXIII, who instituted Vatican 2, which ultimately "killed" the Latin mass, and fostered reconciliation with other religions. It would also have been around that time that women and girls would no longer be required to cover their heads to enter a church. (my mother fondly recalls when she no longer had to wear the "doilie" on her head.)

Pamela Jaye said...

School in mid-june. In Boston it was. So in NY, i don't find it unreasonable.

I've been trying to figure out where it was that Gene was sleeping. it looked like he was under the stairs.

My Nana lived with us till I was 3 or 4 (a strange family: my father's mother and my mother's sister. My aunt hid in her room a lot)
I was told years later that I was not told that she died, but I came out and asked if she had.
I really don't remember her at all, just that I got her bedroom after she died. and that my father decided he wanted another child after that, too. So off to the suburbs we went, getting a smaller house and a VW beetle to replace our station wagon - for our growing (one last time) family.

I looked up the monk on wikipedia. I never knew what it was about.

Do sheltered Catholic wives in the 60's know about gay people? I have no frame of reference. When I was hearing "gay" on LaughIn in he 60's (wasn't I) I had no idea it didn't mean happy.

Julia said...

"Vatican 2, which ultimately "killed" the Latin mass"

It was a committee after VII that wrote the new Mass, which can be said in Latin but usually isn't. If you read the documents from VII, you will find it says that the vernacular can be used when appropriate, but doesn't mandate it. You are thinking of the old 1962 Mass which was drastically revised.

Anonymous said...

Schools in NY run until the end of the third week in June, so yes, the Draper children would have been in school on June 11.

As for this idea that all middle class white children would be seen and not heard, therefore Sally's outburst is somehow anachronistic or wrong... well, we've seen several times that Sally is something of a rebellious little rule breaker (smoking, stealing, mouthing off). I think she felt very connected to her grandfather, and that emboldened her, after having the door shut in her face, to tell everyone off. Sally is not a demure little flower as her mother would have her be. I think she's going to put the screws to her parents as an adolescent, and who can blame her? The Sixties will be timed perfectly for a rebellious, neglected kid to lash out.

Oz said...

"Or do you think they could recognize, on some subconscious level, that the actress here had been directed by a man whose appreciation for the original had nothing to do with an attraction to Ann-Margret?"

Hmm, I find this line of argument as off-putting as the commercial. Let's explore why:

(1) The viewers are clearly meant to have the same reaction as the Patio execs.
But of course what we actually see wasn't directed by the fictional Sal, but rather by (I presume) the director of the episode, who may or may not be gay. I believe the episode was co-written by Weiner, who as a married father of four is ostensibly straight.

(2) Now I suppose it's possible that Weiner's teleplay instructed the director to misinterpet the Bye-Bye Birdie scene in the same way that a gay man might. But if the director were straight, then doesn't the premise of this entire argument dictate that said director would have the same inability to apprehend Sal's response as Sal would in understanding a straight man's reaction to Ann Margaret?

(3) So I think this theory can only work if the Patio commercial we saw was actually directed by a gay man (which again, might well be true), but conversely would also mean that a straight director could not have created such an off-putting parody commercial-- which just
seems a bit absurd, doesn't it?


p.s. not to mention that we're talking about a parody of a scene from of all things a musical-- the genre that has perhaps most benefited from the "sublimation" of homosexual urges into heterosexual manifestations.

Julia said...

This Catholic woman was 19 in 1963 and had known about gay people since grade school in the 50s. The word on the playground in those days was "fruit".

There were two roommates in my Catholic college dorm in 1963 who wore heavy shoes and wrestled loudly in their room. People were more hesitant to call attention to such things, but we all knew what the deal was. Of course, the house mother, aged 50+, didn't seem to be aware.

Julia said...

My mom was half-Norwegian and converted to Catholicism when she married my German father. That's probably what's going on with Peggy's family. I have a Catholic cousin who married a Norwegian and he converted. It happens.

Lou said...

does anyone find the cuts in general to be a little sloppy this season, not just the cuts to the ads but just in general? i don't know if it really bugs me yet, every episode has had one or two that felt really off.

Manton said...

From Anonymous, "Let's not forget the funny interstitial scene with Joan and the bug spray "napalming" the escaping ants. That ant farm sure has gotten prominence this season."

Sure has. But isn't that just perfect allusion to what is to come as the 60s move forward? Look at all those worker ants, doing the same things their parents told them to do, doing the same menial labor, following the same order, working together. Make that Jai Lai ball any one of the social upheavals or changes (or maybe just the summation of all of them).

Poor Gene. As soon as he smelt oranges, I smelt death. Sigh. And he was only such a minor nuiscance and not a major game-changing conflict. Oh well, I guess that's what Sally's teenage years are for.

Finally, I couldn't believe how selfish and childish Betty was throughout this episode as well as this season. Save for the "eye seducing" and flirting at the Sterling bash, she's seemed to devolve back into Old Betty, which is a bit disappointing after her wonderful arc (and the equally wonderful performance of said arc by JJ) last season. I don't know if I can handle a Draper house with 4 children soon.

Then again, doesn't look like Don can either....

Kris said...

Although your 7 year old daughter's outburst to parents may seem appropriate, the difference is a generation. In the early 1960s the mantra leading parenting was still, children should be seen and not heard. As we grew up (especially as women) in the 1960s and 1970s, we learned what independence was, and the appropriateness of raising our voices. But as white suburban upper middle class children we knew our place."

But ... presumably SOME kids acted out on occasion during that time, especially if they experienced something as traumatic as Sally did tonight. The children of the early 60's weren't a completely monolithic group, were they? Saying all 60's children knew their place is like saying all millennial children are overpraised, lazy and fame-obsessed -- haha, it's not true, I swear! One of the things I like about Mad Men is seeing how it explores a cultural value by showing which characters subscribe to it and which rebel against it. I'm often pleasantly surprised to see how it shakes out. The Draper family may superficially conform to the ideal image of family then, but their behavior is another story. The feminist movement of the 60's and 70's did not count every woman among its members, and, sadly, far too many present day women have yet to raise their voices or believe it is even appropriate for them to do so.

Anonymous said...

Sally Draper has never "known her place." She smoked her mother's cigarettes, chastised her for messing up her marriage, stole from her grandfather, broke the lock on her father's suitcase to prevent him from leaving... shall I go on? Her grandfather seemed to embrace this independent streak in her, and I'm sure she felt like she had to speak up on his behalf in the face of her heartless parents' laughter. Perhaps the dialogue wasn't perfectly written, but the sentiment and the fact that she did it is 100% consistent with the character, regardless of what parenting norms were in the early 60's.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Poor Sally, losing her only support. No one else will value her as her grandfather did. Also the ref to "a dead man's hat" resonating with what Don/Dick did certainly resonated with the character. And I also felt that Sal's wife knew what was going on in her marriage when Sal recreated the commercial for her, but whether she'll be able to voice her concerns is another question.

I certaionly hope they keep the actress who plays Sally--she's perfect. If they don't, it would be like recasting the Harry Potter characters. We're invested in her as a character, and a switch would be more than disconcerting.

kris said...

"That's a dead man's hat."
Interesting comment, coming from someone who took over the identity of a man killed in war.

I also thought it was noteworthy when Peggy's sister mentioned that their mother "didn't take it well" when the Pope died... while the news is broadcasting a JFK speech. How will Peggy's mom react come November?

Was Sal's version of the commercial the equivalent of Michelangelo's sculptures of nude women, which look like men with apples glued to their chests?

BigTed said...

As someone pointed out, Gene's tremendously high salt consumption (he probably put more on that ice cream than you should consume all day) may have been what caused his demise. But was the relationship between hypertension and salt consumption known at the time?

For all of Don and Peggy's faults, it's always been possible to view them sympathetically... until this episode, when their utter failure to be decent parents was actually kind of shocking.

Marlark said...

Gene tells Sally she can do great things and talks about how his wife was a draftsperson. Helping sow the seeds of a women's movement in little Sally?

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

I think that the title of the episode reflects the book/film The Arrangement, written by Elia Kazan about an ad exec. The protagonist takes on roles in a similar way as Don does and Peggy is doing now, although Peggy reflects less self-hatred at this point. And while some of the plot devices from the novel have been covered earlier in the show, this episode carries one of the major themes of family throughout. Dick's parenting ability was stunted by Archie and even though he loves his children, he cannot connect with them because of his paralyzed moral compass.

Also, when Don went into Sally's room to see if she was asleep, I fully expect that if she had been laying awake in the bed, he would have comforted her, as throughout this episode, Don was parenting those around him, whether they be Sal or Hoho.

Anonymous said...

@BigTed re: salt consumption - yes, I remember last season when Betty was worried about her dad's health she refused to serve Don salt with dinner, much to his dismay.

LA said...

Kitty absolutely put two and two together during Sal's "performance." Love that Don has the confidence in Sal to keep letting him direct.

Little Kiernan Shipka is terrific. Sally broke my heart tonight, and I've never disliked Betty more. I, too, miss last season's Bobby (I think Babby was played by 3 actors in total season one).

Add me to the list of folks who knew Gene was going to have a stroke tonight when he smelled oranges.

fgmerchant said...

I found the outburst quite fitting. Even though there was a different set of societal rules for children back in the 60s, moments of crisis seem like the perfect time to break a rule! I felt her delivery was spot on. It captured an emotion, and made me nervous and shocked, she may not have intended to do that, and it may just have been her own nerves of delivering a monologue coming through, but I thought it worked.

What nationality would a name like Kiernan Shipka indicate? Scottish? Irish? Ukrainian?

Carla Gallo has also been on Californication, and she has been quite good in that (and quite naked as well)! I'm surprised you don't watch Californication Alan, it's an amazing show!

How many times have they recast Bobby Draper? I only seem to remember the one from last season. Have they done a new one each season?

Mauimom said...

I was rather annoyed with this episode because of what seemed to me to be "wasted space."

Weiner doesn't dole out any too much on each story line, so when he spends time on one item, it's at the expense of something else.

I REALLY want to have more focus on Joan and her life; we got a couple of lines [though quite good ones] and an ant massacre.

OTOH, we got scene after scene on the ridiculous jai ali story: WTF was that all about. So we learn that Pete went to Dartmouth and has stupid, wealthy friends that he has no qualms taking advantage of. Was that really worth the time it took up?

I'm grateful for the time alloted to Peggy's story line, and Don's screen time seemed about right, although strangely lacking in substance at some points.

I dunno. I just found myself looking at the clock all during the episode, aware of how much time had been spent and how much was left, and feeling that Weiner wasn't alloting it well.

Aaron said...

Did anyone else read the scene in the car with Gene, Sally, and Bobby as a glimpse into Betty and her brother's childhood with their father? When Gene promptly struck down Bobby's attempt to dissent to Sally's request for peaches, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Betty's brother and the lifelong frustration/resentment he has undoubtedly felt from always being number two in the eyes of his father.

Wes covington said...

Gene already had suffered a stroke and suffered from hypertension. He suffered from dementia at times. It's not all that surprising that he would pass away so suddenly. I doubt adding sodium or fat to his diet at that point in his life made much difference.

JT said...

I think it is VERY possible that Sal's wife has just realized that her husband is gay. I think that is what her expression meant.

Alan, unlike yourself, i thoguht the girl playing Sally did a spot on job. As a former kid who has had serious issues with death (who doesn't), I thought her emotions were perfectly rendered and this is the first ep i took real notice of the kid, something I tend to ignore is child actors but she was perfect and awkward here and, yeah, she'll have to e recast to grow older. Just the way it is with this show.

I think this was the first truly great ep of this season. things are picking up for our gang.

Man, these Beatles remasters are amazing!

Disappearing Atlanta said...

Roger said only four words, but he spoke volumes: “It’s not Ann Margaret.”

In explaining why the Patio commercial seems hollow and phony, Roger is really talking about his 20-year-old daughter, Margaret Sterling, his only child. She refuses to accept her father, so Roger chases girls barely in their 20s (e.g., Mirabelle in S1; Alice Cooper says that Roger has always wanted “to die in the arms of a 20-year-old” near end of S2) and then he marries a secretary the same age, Jane, to try to “replace” his daughter who is headed to the altar. Roger is becoming resigned that Jane can be no substitute for his daughter.

The Patio client didn’t like the ad, as the idea sounded good “on paper” but onscreen it was too obviously derivative and the best talent, like Ann Margaret was known for in the 1960s, can’t be duplicated.

The name “Margaret” recurs. Searching for a roommate at SC, Peggy Olson identifies herself as “Margaret” in her posted ad. No one really calls her that, so use of “Margaret” is deliberately misleading to anyone seeing it at SC. Peggy’s new roommate, Karen, is a Swede. Peggy also deceives her mother, volunteering that her roommate-to-be is Norwegian like her, not Swedish. And Ann Margaret is a Swede in real life. Her real last name is “Olsson.”

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of shocked that they killed off Gene so soon. I thought he'd be around for a few more episodes to tear down the "perfect" Draper household.

The thing that bothered me about the Patio commercial was that the actress portraying the Ann Margaret look-alike looked too modern for Mad Men. It completely ruined the atmosphere for me.

Joan giving Peggy advice was a fun scene to watch. Joan finally wears something fabulous this episode. I can't wait to see how the Peggy roomate storyline plays out.

Unknown said...

Another comment on the chocolate ice cream having an orange smell:
One of my favorite ice cream flavors, available at the Swensen's Ice Cream chain, was called Swiss Orange Chip. It was swiss chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and orange flavoring. I remember during graduate school in the early 1970's trying to recreate the flavor using home ice cream equipment. When Gene talked about the orange smell, I was thinking that the ice cream might not have been pure chocolate but might have had some orange extract added.

Anonymous said...

Seeing Betty eat (and make a mess of) the peach her father had bought for Sally was the most subtly devastating moment of the ending - a perfect symbol for what a terrible parent Betty is.

How did Betty know those peaches were for Sally? Because the above statement does not make any sense to me. Especially since Betty was in a state of grief over her father's death.

Finally, I couldn't believe how selfish and childish Betty was throughout this episode as well as this season.

It's interesting. Everyone expects Betty to be perfect . . . a perfect wife, a perfect mother and a perfect person; yet the rest of the characters are also incapable of being perfect. Yet, no one has ever considered that being in the last stages of her pregnancy might be affecting her. So, could someone please explain why Betty should be perfect and not the other characters?

Observations about this episode:

1) Gene Hofstadt was rather morbid in this episode, talking to Betty about distributing her mother’s furs (why did he hold on to them for so long?) and giving Bobby a dead German’s helmet. Was he close to his grandkids? Of course. It’s usually the case, isn’t it? The grandparents are able to connect to the kiddies and the parents play the bad guys.

2) Sally, shut up! You’re getting on my nerves. Sorry, I had to get that out of my system.

3) It’s interesting how some people demand that one should grieve over a dead loved one in a certain way. Sally had ranted at her parents, uncle and aunt about their reactions to Gene’s death, not realizing that they were grieving . . . in their own way. I guess she’s too young to realize this.

4) Peggy is so desperate to be the young Manhattanite that no wonder her mother saw through her. Mind you, Mrs. Olson is a rather selfish woman. I wonder if Paul, Ken and Harry also saw through Peggy. I suspect that Joan did.

5) No wonder Kitty seemed taken aback by Sal’s “performance”. I would too, if I were in her shoes. I wonder if her “gaydar” is up.

6) It’s funny. Peggy is being smug over the failure of the Patio commercial. She thinks it was a bad idea. It was Roger who accurately saw the problem. The female in the commercial was not Ann-Margret.

Anonymous said...

Roger said only four words, but he spoke volumes: “It’s not Ann Margaret.”

In explaining why the Patio commercial seems hollow and phony, Roger is really talking about his 20-year-old daughter, Margaret Sterling, his only child.

I don't think so. I think that Roger simply managed to guess why the commercial had failed . . . it lacked the one element that would have won the clients over - Ann-Margret. The commercial looked hollow and phony, because it featured a woman looking like a second-rate Ann-Margret.

KarenX said...

1. I've salted ice cream, but you need sea salt and it has to be chocolate.

2. Peggy told Anita at the very beginning of the episode that she is "that girl." I haven't ever seen the show, but I know about Marlo Thomas in the 1965ish show, "That Girl," about a single, young working woman living in the city. Peggy's confession made me laugh. And yes, it's nice that Anita can be Peggy's ally in the family, but she's getting plenty of "good daughter" mileage out of it. Win-win, I suppose.

3. I didn't find the jai alai storyline pointless. It was set at a time when a big television campaign maybe could have changed the face of American sports--who knew? I don't think we would have heard about Pachi's good looks otherwise. He was a handsome man playing an exotic sport and for all anyone knew it might have taken off, Hoho notwithstanding. Of course, we had to see the beautiful Pachi against the backdrop of that horrible commercial, starring a woman who was attractive enough for TV but it wasn't sufficient to make her ad a success. We know now that jai alai went nowhere and that diet soda did, but we have hindsight to make us feel smart. And I'm sure someone can provide an example of a bold, radical television experiment that turned out to be an unexpected success.

4. I don't know what to think about Betty's mother anymore. I am floored that she was a draftsman for an engineering firm, but I don't think Betty has been telling lies about the things her mother said to her growing up, especially with Gene's corroboration of the Fat Betty Tale in this episode. Interesting, however, that Gene feels like he's the one who squandered Betty's potential. I wonder what he thinks about William's childhood.

5. I'm sorry, but when Pryce asked Hoho for one meellion dollars all I could think of was Austin Powers. Throw him a bone, people!

cgeye said...

"She refuses to accept her father, so Roger chases girls barely in their 20s"

Wrong, unless we date his borderline-pedophilia to when his daughter started her periods. If we tie Roger's doghood to his daughter, then that's exactly what we're doing -- assuming he screws anything as young as his daughter because his daughter does not satisfy him. There has not been one hint that Roger has been inappropriate to his family. Distant, yes, flippant, sure, but not abusive.

Since Miss Alice Cooper made that statement about his death preferences, we've known Roger's been chasing his *own* youth -- his brief burst of being carefree, young, rich, unassailable. Young women just don't see his mistakes -- the ones he's made and will make. Or, if they're golddiggers, they've made their choice to profit from his weakness.

Don't blame a strong and independent daughter for seeing through her father's lies -- blame the dad for telling those lies in the first place.

belinda said...

After Joan's declaration of "Branch out!, I would think that the trajectory of Peggy's career would lead her outside of Sterling Cooper as well.

I think Kitty knows too. That scene was heartbreaking.

Loved Peggy's smirk at the Patio commercial - given what we've seen this season, there's definitely a sense of doom that's about to hit Sterling Cooper.

I like Carla Gallo, but at the same time because I was familiar with Undeclared and her particular comedic timing, it took me out of the Mad Men decade for just a bit.

I don't necessarily think that Gene is being a good parent ("there was this girl" made me laugh and laugh), but he did provide the much needed attention to Sally and Bobby (my guess at why they switched actors is because the old Bobby grown too much. I suspect it's definitely a possibility to switch actors on Sally for next season, if only because it's noticeable (for me) even in this season that Sally seems much older than last season). Ultimately, I'm not really sure what I make of Gene's passing, and whether his presence affected the Draper household or not. I guess, we will see.

The oranges comment definitely made me think Gene was going to kick it.

TV Obsessed said...

The last scene in which Sally gives her rant before going to sleep watching a monk set himself of fire was so disturbing. From her driving a car in the beginning of the episode to curling up feebly under the table was just unbelievable. Full review of the episode on my blog.

I agree with your assessment of the rant. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a child actually talk like that while crying.

Anonymous said...

Gene's "oranges" comment before his death was clearly a shout out by Weiner to his old boss David Chase. The final season of 'The Sopranos' and especially "Made in America" were littered with orange references.

Hank said...

As cgeye and others also pointed out, Moss' expression while the Patio ad was dying was pitch perfect. Even better was when she was walking out and made brief eye contact with Don, letting him know that she was right.

Rachel said...

I thought this episode was a little on-the-nose, but still effective.

How can Peggy, who managed to go from secretary to senior copywriter in under three years, not know how to write an ad selling herself as a roommate? She can sell herself to a guy in a bar -- she can't figure out that writing "clean, neat, responsible" and posting it only in the SC office isn't effective sales?

I noticed Bobby had been recast -- at least one of the previous Bobbys looked so uncomfortable on-camera that it was a relief -- but I really hope they keep Kiernan Shipka, who is winning my heart every episode.

I was one of the people who though that Ann-Margret was far too shrill and obnoxious, and I found Sal's ad to be much more appealing -- perhaps it was the irony? I'm pretty sensitive to camp and the like, and I didn't see that element anywhere.

I can't believe no one mentioned Gene's line to Betty, "I don't like watching you commit suicide, and neither do your kids." That was a pretty intense line -- especially because three years ago show-time, everyone smoked non-stop...the times, they are a-changing.

Kate said...

I can see that Betty was being a lousy parent (or a lousy daughter), but I'd cut Betty some pregnancy hormonal slack, given she looked like a tent in this episode, and I might have been much ruder and behaved worse than her while I was on my last weeks of pregnancy (other than the smoking and drinking whilst, of course).

Also, I just loved Pete Campbell's expression during the first meeting with "Ho-Ho", and loved him saying his father would have invested in something like this - knowing how his father lost their family fortune, I don't disagree with him.

G-Fafif said...

The two people who truly "get it" in this episode -- Joan (who gets how Peggy should attract attention) and Roger (who gets how Patio should attract attention) -- each recently made what appear to be huge mistakes in attracting a new spouse. They were both better off sticking with each other even if it was in a shadowy affair.

More than twenty years later, Pepsi (maker of Patio) would see the value in casting celebrities in Diet Pepsi commercials. They didn't go for a Michael J. Fox type, a Don Johnson type, et al. They went for the (if you'll excuse the Coca-Cola nomenclature) real thing. The world was still figuring out diet colas in 1963, but eventually their selling point was image -- that they were every bit as "sexy" as regular colas -- as much as calories or lack of sugar. Roger may have been well ahead of his time on this one.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this has probably been answered or discussed somewhere in the wedge of comments above, but I'll throw it in, just in case. Regarding the odd timing of commercial breaks, I've heard that the editors are instructed to chop episodes together for DVD/one sitting, and that this has already caused some tension between the producers and AMC, who feel (as we have felt), that the breaks they then have to shove in seem, well, arbitrary.


kathy said...

I didn't find Sally's outburst out of place or overly articulate, I found it just about right, a kid that age wouldn't understand the ability adults have to laugh and be sad at the same time and Sally seems to be to be just the kind of kid who would be passionate about right and wrong and see it as an outrage that they could laugh while her beloved grandpa was dead. Being treated like a valuable and worthwhile person by her grandpa has had a profound effect on her and standing up for him seems just right to me. I lvoe the actress and I hope there is never a need to re-cast her, I miss OG Bobby Draper.

Episodes 3 & 4 have been home runs for me. In this episode, they had me at at "Ho-Ho"...which tells you everything you need to know about the guy right there. I loved everything about that storyline, it was the first really juicy client storyline we got this year.

Kitty watching Sal act out the commercial was an amazing scene. Bryan Batt is fearless. I agree that the original A-M version is shrill and horrible, I always hated that scene. So I'm not sure it being directed by a gay man is the issue with why the commercial didn't work. I think it was a shitty idea that they should have talked the client out of, but only Peggy saw that and they dismissed her, per usual.

I think Anita is genuinely happy for Peggy, sisters have mixed feelings about each other so while she has anger at peggy for "getting away" with having a baby out of wedlock, she does love Peggy and I think she's glad Peggy is finding her way. I also sense that she gets a bit of a vacarious thrill at the life Peggy is leading, which must seem very glamerous to Anita. "I *am* one of those girls", such a great line.

Anonymous said...

A few have commented on Betty shutting the door in Sally's face, but it wasn't Betty - it was the police officer.

Betty went through the door first, followed by the officer.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Re Sally's outburst to her parents: I was a little older than Sally when my grandmother died, and I couldn't understand how people could be laughing and talking at the house after the funeral. I thought they should all have been weeping uncontrollably, but they were drinking and eating and having--what seemed to me at the time--a really good time. I can certainly understand that someone younger wouldn't understand what seems to be frivolity. Since he seemed to be the only one who really understood her, I think her outburst was right in character.

Also, maybe it's regional, and my mother was from the South, but I always salt canteloupe, sometimes lemons, and, as someone else mentioned, sea salt caramels--yum. I've never tried salting ice cream, though.

Artemisia said...

Loved this episode, but Sally broke my heart too.

I cut Betty no slack - pregnancy and grief are no excuse for such cruelty towards her daughter. And her reproaching Gene for wanting to tell her how he'd prepared for his death was breath-takingly self-absorbed. I developed some sympathy for her over the last three episodes, but it's gone. She's selfish to the point of being pathological. What in the world did Don ever see in her?

Sal's wife's expressions as he did the Ann Marget number were priceless - but I still wonder if she would have been able to connect his mannerisms with homosexuality, even if she was aware of homosexuality at that point?

I didn't think Sally's outburst was at all out of character. It made perfect sense to me - not understanding how grownups grieve, unable to figure out what to do with her own.

dylanfan said...

Is it too picky a point to question how the peaches got into the car all day if Gene died in line at the A&P? Also noticed that Peggy's mom used "Peaches" as a pet name for her.

I thought for sure I might get a glimpse of "Pie-O-My" when the bar scene was part of the previously on trailer :-( Has anybody confirmed that comment from last week?

Garrett said...

Patxi was mentioned in a Sports Illustrated article on jai alai from 1965 (even mentioning "a vague resemblance to the actor Mel Ferrer"):

Julia said...

"mother "didn't take it well" when the Pope died"

It was John XXIII who had initiated and presided over the first session of Vatican Council II which is going to have an incredible affect on Catholics like Peggy's family. It was an unsettling happenstance that John died when he did - everybody was wondering what his successor would do about the unfinished Council. Would the new Pope carry it on or change its focus?

Not surprising at all that Peggy's mom was unsettled by that death. Also telling that it was the death of a "Holy Father", as Catholics call him.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I think they're overdoing the monsterization of Betty Draper. I know *why* they're doing it (making a point about the infantilization of certain women of Betty's generation; setting up Sally's rebellion just a very few years hence) but it is (to steal the wonderful phrase of an earlier commenter aimed at a different context), a little on the nose -- and a little too much.

Anonymous said...


I forgot to add the dead Prussian German soldier to my list of dead/dying on the vine theme for this episode.

FWIW, I think Kitty's realization about Sal not being the suave ladies man she thought he was when she set her eyes on him is reflected in the series of facial expressions during his performance. You can see her processing the wave of emotions and the tell for me was when she was lying on his chest at the end. She might not have connected all the dots yet, but what she has connected isn't the picture she had in mind about Sal.

miles said...

I was thinking about the relationship of Don and Sal. Don really looks out for Sal now. I think he sees him as a kindred spirit, obviously. They both are hiding their true selves, which they deem as unacceptable. They also both think that with 'really trying' they can both make a marriage work in which they are not really present.

Joan did such a good job creating the roommate ad because she was describing herself. Probably the self she really misses.

I think that folks watching this show need to stop thinking that because homosexuality was not in the public eye, that people didn't know about it or have words for it. Lesbians, queers, fruits, fags--these words go way back--Lesbian goes back to the ancient Greeks. People talked quietly about this stuff, but they talked.

Julia said...

"still wonder if she would have been able to connect his mannerisms with homosexuality, even if she was aware of homosexuality at that point?"

Paul Lynde was the father in "Bye, Bye, Birdy" and his schtick was not thought of as gay, but as silly. He was ubiquitous on TV in those days and later became the center of Hollywood Squares. As time went on he gave veiled indications of being gay in his double-entendre answers.

Charles Nelson Reilly, who had a similar schtick, had his big break-though in the original 1961 Broadway production of Bye, Bye, Birdy. He had a small part in the movie. Reilly was also ubiquitous on TV in the 60s and thereafter.

They were "campy" even if the majority of Americans didn't even know that word yet. Yet, they were not thought of as regular guys - even if people preferred that these guys stay in the closet.

I'll bet that's the connection Sal's wife was making. She has seen this over-the-top stuff on TV from Lynde and Reilly. Whether considered overtly gay or not, you wouldn't really want to be married to somebody with that kind of personality. She's thinking: my husband's like Paul Lynde !!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the woven seat line about the subway was fine, but, IIRC, pantyhose was just coming in in '63, and wasn't all-pervasive. I don't think Brooklyn Peggy would have pantyhose...also, her prospective roomie sounded way too "valley girl." I've always thought Betty was a neglectful parent...nothing new this week.

Brent said...

I agree that it seemed pretty clear that Sal's wife was coming to a pretty disturbing realization in that scene - that their marriage was essentially a lie. Its hard to interpret it in any other way. I guess the difficulty I had with it is that it wasn't like Sal was particularly "butch" before that moment. I get that modern viewers will necessarily "read" his particular body language differently than his contemporaries but in that same context, I am not sure then why his little Ann Margret dance would have made things any clearer to his wife than the million other effeminate gestures he affects on a regular basis or his lack of "tending." She is quite stunned by his performance but it really didn't seem especially out of character to me.

Anonymous said...

I saw jai alai in Connecticut some years ago. All the players had Basque names unpronounceable to the Yankee bettors, so the cheers were mainly "Go, Number Six! Go!" I thought I had wandered into a kosho match.

miles said...

I think my tone in my post above about homosexuality was too strong. I didn't mean to sound snotty and I think I was.

I do think that we put too much emphasis on what people saw in the media versus real life. While there were no gay media figures, people still knew about gays. It was on the playground as I grew up in the 60s and 70s.

Tyroc said...

Someone above pointed out that it's been sad to see Betty regress back to her more selfish self after all the growth and maturing she seemed to do at the end of last season (toughening up a bit.) Maybe it's a stretch, but possibly she's regressed because her father has been around and so she's gone back to acting as a child around him (acting as she did when he was a regular presence in her life.) In any case, she acted horribly to her poor kids.

I gotta go with those who thought little Kiernan Shipka did a great job in her outburst as Sally. It felt VERY real to me, and not out of character. Part of me got worried when she watched the monk on fire, that she too would try doing something like that to herself. I was worried when Don got up in the middle of the night in the following scene that he was smelling smoke. Thankfully, the show isn't THAT dark.

And I too think Sal's wife was having her full realization that he's gay in the moment we watched. Not just suspecting something is wrong as Alan argued, but getting the whole truth. Great acting by everyone involved.

(Who plays Kitty? She's HOT!)

The one time I went to see Jai Alai (in Connecticut) it seemed to be completely rigged. Players would lose on purpose to help make money for certain people betting. Lots of alleged mob influence. Be interesting to see how the group tries to make such an odd game popular.

Anonymous said...

Am I reading too much into this, or is HoHo's crush on Patxi the real reason he's going all in on jai alai? Hoyay much?

HaroldsMaude said...

Let me first return to the favorite point of discussion: Sally's rant. While I agree that children of the early 60s were more diverse in behavior, and that Sally has demonstrated a slightly devilish streak at times, I would argue that her behavior is very appropriate for her age (9?) to experiment (e.g., with cigarettes) and push boundaries (talking back to her mother, sneaking the $5) in small, quiet ways. But I still think that the outburst to a group of adults was extreme. I could see Sally taking that rant to Betty the next morning over her cereal, for instance (with the same result).

But from a creative standpoint, it probably served as a stronger juxtaposition to have Sally rant and suffer the punishment of experiencing significant, sad, world events alone and in silence.

Other observations: I thought that Peggy's mother, while she was defensively rejecting the idea of Peggy moving to Manhattan, would bring up Peggy's baby. Perhaps it was veiled ("Why should I believe anything you say?"). But while she was on the trash and pity train, I thought she'd add that to the pile.

Speaking of Peggy, I'm appalled and not surprised by the chipmunks behavior towards her. I continually think about other (real) women who sought advancement into men's world of work in the 1960s, receiving similar behavior.

Anonymous said...

Re the discussion about the relative rarity of Catholic Norwegians:

I thought it was an odd slip too until I considered the fact that for both sets of my grandparents as well as my in-laws, the husband is/was Protestant and the wife Catholic. The marriages were allowed in the Catholic church as long as it was promised the children would be raised Catholic. Probably a similar scenario for Peggy Olsen's parents.

Julia said...

Here's Paul Lynde singing his big moment from BBB - "Kids" for those who never knew him. Sal's wife would have been very familiar with Lynde.

Do you think the writers of Mad Men had this episode on their radar? "Campy" performance from Lynde, petulant mother, cowed adult child, shushed kid, essential assistant called a secretary, appearance of Anne Margaret, etc. etc. etc.

Methinks, there's more to the one snippet of Bye, Bye, Birdie influencing these past two Mad Men episodes.

HaroldsMaude said...

Julia, I'm so glad you mentioned Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Rielly. They were campy and fun, and at least to my preteen mind, their heterosexuality was not a question.

We also though, had Liberace. And he was all over the place on TV, especially on Johnny Carson. Though Sal dresses in a very masculine way (and very stylish) and not in the velvet and sequins Liberace was known for, I wonder if it was his mannerisms that Kitty saw in Sal's reenactment of Ann-Margaret's number?

Anonymous said...

Someone said "For instance, Gene in this episode is more concerned about smoking affecting Betty's health than her baby's, and Weiner again shows a wine glass prominently in front of Betty in the last scene."

In the old days, the fetus was viewed as growing on its own, not really affected by things like what a mother was taking into her lungs. Even booze was no big deal. The fetus was supposedly taking what it needed, and leaving the rest. They didn't know!

About the Patio ad, everyone in the room got the same sense that it was shot with no real appreciation of female sexuality. It was so "off." Poor Sal. Poor Sal's wife. The look on her face in the bedroom- very well done. Subtle. Devastated.

I'm just going to throw this out-- not my own idea, read this on another board-- What about the Gene #2 thing, and the fact that no one identified Gene's body yet? What if it was Gene #1 who dropped dead in the supermarket and Gene #2 is still alive and kicking somewhere? What if?

Betty said...

Not really crucial to the ep, but another note on how little respect Peggy gets at SC: When the roommate arrived to meet Peggy, reception just sent her back. She wasn't escorted, Peggy was not called, etc. By contrast, Don's secretary announced "Mr. Salvatore" was there to see him!

Erizu said...

Any Bergman fans think the ending with Sally echoed a similar moment in Persona? Liv Ullman's character watches the news report on the buddhist monk and recoils in horror, in this case Sally was already consumed with emotion. It was the first thing I thought of, not sure if there is any huge connection with this episode, but as a whole Mad Men has a lot in common with Persona, and Bergman in general (Scenes from a Marriage anyone?) in particular the notion of 'trying on' different masks of identity for different purposes, and of blending and taking on another's identity is very much a major thematic element of Persona.

Devin McCullen said...

I agree that Don is sort of looking out for Sal, but he may also be thinking of a way to ease him out of Sterling Cooper. Help him become a director & he can go work for himself.

On the peaches, it's not that Betty could have known they were for Sally, but the effect is the same anyway. Although it is a fair question how the groceries got in the car if he died at the A&P.

Alden said...

When Betty said, "I'm your little girl!", I wanted to shake her.


Geezus. JJ's doing great work, but playing a frustrating character. And my heart really, truly broke for Sally - the only person in that entire house who paid her even the smallest bit of positive attention is now dead.

He essentially said, "I believe in you." Which in some cases is more important and helpful to a young person than even "I love you." Somehow, I get the sense little Sally Draper doesn't get much of either.

Lane said...

I'm just going to throw this out-- not my own idea, read this on another board-- What about the Gene #2 thing, and the fact that no one identified Gene's body yet? What if it was Gene #1 who dropped dead in the supermarket and Gene #2 is still alive and kicking somewhere? What if?
wouldn't Gene#1 be living in Pennsylvania, where Gene#2 lived before relocating to live with the Drapers? So no, its not a case of misstaken identity.

Mauimom said...

The Patio client didn’t like the ad, as the idea sounded good “on paper” but onscreen it was too obviously derivative and the best talent, like Ann Margaret was known for in the 1960s, can’t be duplicated

After reading this, I thought one could say the same thing re both Roger & Jane's marriage, and Joan + Dr. Evil: the idea sounded good "on paper" but the reality is pretty horrible.

And as to "dying in the arms of a 20 year old," isn't that what Nelson Rockefeller did? [Okay, maybe not a 20 year old, but the nearest thing an old fart like him could get.

miles said...

Just wanted to add that I too thought of Roth's "American Pastoral" when Sally saw the news footage of the Buddhist who burned himself. I wonder if the writers have read that book. It definitely forbodes a troubled future for Sally.

Unknown said...

Am I the only one who laughed at Ho-Ho's "balls in the face" comment about Patxi? It was funny if a bit juvenile for this show.

Anonymous said...

Dan --

Yeah, that was priceless. And Pete managed to get and respond to a joke on his own, without having to wait to gauge the surrounding reactions first. He may just get to become a real boy some day.

hipo said...

@Rachel, Peggy only knew how to sell herself to the guy in the bar by using Joan’s words. I think Peggy can sell almost everything but herself. She is still learning from Don and Joan how to do that.

As for the Norwegian Catholic Olson family, there are lots of potential inconsistencies with that scenario (Norwegians are typically Lutheran and Olsen is the typical Norwegian spelling of the name and Olson/Olsson is more often Swedish), but all of these inconsistencies are quite possible with immigrant families. Though it wasn’t always preferred, there were Catholic/Lutheran or Swedish/Norwegian marriages. My own family’s genealogy clear reflects this. My father is the same age as Peggy is and our namesakes are Danish Olsons (should be spelled Olsen, but was misspelled at Ellis Island), but it is the Swedish and Norwegian cultures that my family most closely identifies with regardless of the Danish name.

My thoughts on the scene with Sal and Kitty, I do think Kitty was taken aback by Sal’s performance, and I think that part of it was because something about it just felt wrong, but I almost wonder if her concern was more in line with Peggy’s. I think it was concern that her husband had just expressed real fear about the future of his career and this commercial was terrible. I don’t agree with Roger that AM’s presence in this commercial would have helped. It might have help Patio's sales that AM was endorsing it, but it still would have been a ridiculous commercial. I think Peggy is right about this one, and I think Kitty's concerns were multifaceted.

Betty said...

My take on the roommate ad: it's not so much that Peggy *can't* write a good ad ~ she does write a good ad the first tme through. It describes her and what she is looking for perfectly. Once she took Joan's advice, she wrote a great ad describing someone else. The roommate said how funny everyone at the travel agency thought it was. This is fantastic when you are writing for a client, but Pegs is going to have to live with the consequences. She is going to be stuck with a "roomie" who is expecting some fun-loving, gal-about-town (who leaves her door open) and not the responsible, hard-working, private woman that Peggy is. This is going to be another relationship that is based on a false persona and it is also not going to end well.

dez said...

Wow, I really thought the Gene arc was going to go on longer. The car-driving moment had me screaming explicatives at the TV screen, but it does seem like it was less unusual to teach kids driving in those days, and it was probably more common in Gene's era.

In the '70s, my grandfather tried to teach me to drive (I was 12), and I had other friends who had similar experiences (some with their dads), and I don't doubt the practice continues now (the whole, "If it was good enough for me, it was good enough for you" syndrome).

Add me to the list of people wholly affected by Sally's outburst. That little girl sure can act.

CarolMR said...

I just read James Wolcott's blog on Vanity Fair and he comments every week about MAD MEN. He obviously doesn't like the show, but his observations are interesting, nonetheless. He stated that David Selby was in last night's episode. Can that be true? I have to watch it again. Am I the only one old enough to remember David as Quentin on DARK SHADOWS? Had a huge crush on him.

Anonymous said...

Re: whether or not a child Sally's age would speak up to the adults or not. My husband is only two or three years younger than Sally and he got in trouble all the time for calling it like he saw it. Were children supposed to be seen and not heard in adult settings? You bet. Did they all hew to that? Nope. Sally is very much like my husband and his nearest sister in other ways, too - the cigarette sneaking, the passive-aggressive acting-out.

Hate to say it, but his whole family turned out a mess (what a surprise!). My husband is the least dysfunctional of the lot, and he literally can't watch Mad Men because it's too painful for him to watch the family dynamics.

Anonymous said...

David Selby was "Ho-Ho's" father. Zero resemblance to junior, so I assumed that Ho-Ho's mother must be a beautiful and possibly Latina.

And the actor who played Pete's dad last season did die; thus the death of his character.

Liam said...

Re Joan's re-write of Peggy:

Peggy is a client who did not know what she wanted.

Re peaches:

Recall that there were baggers who took things to cars, and that cars were often unlocked. Now, someone had to bring the car back, but it doesn't shock me if his car came with the bags.

wildflowermaven said...

Chiming in on a couple of things others have commented on: I was just like Sally as a child, didn't understand and was horrified by adults laughing and having normal chitchat after a death/funeral. And I remember distinctly when my grandfather died having a tearful talk with my father (mother had left to be with her mom) about why didn't my brother and sister seem to care --they were younger and didn't grasp what death was--but I was myself too young to understand why they couldn't get it.
And on the Norwegian/Catholic thing, I've wondered about that for a while. I am half Scandinavian, and all that side of the family is Lutheran. The German side is Lutheran too, but there are a lot of German Catholics too. Would make more sense if Peggy were German for her to be Catholic. And loved the reference to Norwegian/Swedish friction. My grandparents caused a big controversy in their respective families with their "mixed" marriage -a Swede marrying a Norwegian.

My favorite part of the episode was Don objecting to Bobby wearing "a dead person's hat". Gene says it was an enemy, while Don replies it was a person. Don respects the dead soldier while to Gene the hat is just a trophy, the person that was in it dehumanized.

wildflowermaven said...

Oh, and on the actress who plays Kitty, she's Sarah Drew, who played Hannah on Everwood.

Anonymous said...

Juanita's Journal said: It's interesting. Everyone expects Betty to be perfect . . . a perfect wife, a perfect mother and a perfect person; yet the rest of the characters are also incapable of being perfect. Yet, no one has ever considered that being in the last stages of her pregnancy might be affecting her. So, could someone please explain why Betty should be perfect and not the other characters?

Does it really take a perfect parent to show some iota of empathy to her own daughter at the death of her grandfather? When Sally had her outburst, that would have been an ideal moment for a caring parent to call her over, explain that everyone IS very sad, but sometimes adults laugh to deal with the sadness, not to disrespect the dead. OR, if incapable of something that articulate, just hug and comfort the child. But Sally got nothing from either parent, as per usual.

I'm not sure why asking Betty to be a responsive parent in any way = expecting her to be the only perfect character on the show. Betty has been utterly self-absorbed and childish since the beginning of the show, a fact that Gene laments and for which he blames himself in this episode. Gene is trying to tell Betty about his death arrangements, and she calls HIM selfish for upsetting HER! Amazing. She just does not have time for anyone's feelings but her own, and being pregnant is no excuse for that.

No, no one expects Betty to be a perfect parent or person, but she is so far from it that even small improvements would be a big deal. Don should not be let off the hook either. He could have comforted Sally too but did not. They are both flawed, selfish people whose children are emotionally and spiritually neglected. I'm sure the Draper children will make their parents pay in spades for their crappy parenting in the decade to come. I rather look forward to watching that, in fact.

Anna said...


As usual, great recap.

I love reading through the comments, because people will sometimes pick up on things that both you and I missed (e.g. Connie = Conrad Hilton from last week)

However, as the number of comments continues to grow, can we add a suggestion to the "rules". I know you emphasized "don't ask the same question that has already been answered." In an effort to keep the number of meaningful comments at a reasonable reading length, could we also suggest "it's not necessary for so many people to offer similar opinions on the same (often small) things."

We are up to 137 comments less than 24 hours after broadcast, and I've noted at least 15 of which are about salt on ice cream - whether it's normal, people who know others who do it (or similar - e.g. watermelon), etc.

And there are also too many similar comments on Sally's behavior. Some think its normal behavior for the time, some not..

I know it's nice to have balance and for people to put in their perspective, but after a while, it's just too much of the same and makes it less likely that people will want to read through all of the comments. This also happend last week with Pete's dance.

Just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

I felt Roger's comment about it not "being Ann-Margret" reflected his growing regret over his marriage to Jane. Clearly, Jane is Roger's 2nd best substitute for his "Valentine heart" Joan. Too bad for Roger that Joan is too smart a cookie who always saw through his charming antics and thus refused a deeper commitment to such a selfish pleasure-seeker.

Anonymous said...

It may take a while to read through all the comments, but I enjoy hearing the different perspectives. Regarding Anna's comment, I think the rules should be kept as is.

cgeye said...

So, Anna, is yours the cutoff point, for comments? Will you comment early, so the rest of us know it's time to refrain sharing our opinions?

If Mr. Sepinwall wants us to scan all comments for opinions as well as questions, and limit our expression of both, that's fine -- but that reductive approach creates a false duality. For example, if one person believes Joan enjoyed her husband's rape, and someone else disagrees, then those become the only opinions stated; they, therefore, become equal in force. What this community has done is made clear our perspectives on the past, and our present.

I just want a fair standard to follow without silencing opinions. Questions that have already been answered are a separate issue.

oldmandeac said...

New wrinkle on Don and Sal - they share a common bond of a hidden life - Don's Dick Whitman background and Sal's closet homosexuality.

I think that link creates a special empathy within Don, enough to promote Sal in light of an unsuccessful debut commercial.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yeah, Anna, it's one thing for me to limit people stating (or asking about) facts that have already been stated. But this is an opinion blog. If everybody doesn't have the chance to (politely) share their own take on subjects ranging from salt on ice cream to Norwegian Catholics, then what fun is that?

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of people really missed why Sal's wife was so appalled.Sal in his reenactment of the Patio ad in essence was more feminine than she was in her initial stab at getting Sal in the mood.

As for those comparing Sal to Paul Lynde, there was nothing "campy" about what Sal did if he had put on a red wig and some lipstick it would have been An Margaret in drag "not that there is anything wrong with that".

Anonymous said...

Re: Jai Lai marketing, in the late 70s I was in junior high and there was a big market push for soccer. We never played it in elementary school, but did in jr. high. We were in the NYC area, so Werner Roth from the NY Cosmos came to talk to us at an assembly. While it didn't catch on too much with our age group (probably because we were too old), it did take off at least at the amateur level with younger kids.

Unknown said...

Don's accuracy in destroying the ant farm with the jai alai equipment left me wondering how they did it. That shot would be challenging to actually pull off and difficult to fake with CGI.

Anonymous said...

PS What struck me even more than Sally's speech was when she curled up on the floor afterwards in that ballet outfit and the news was playing while it was dark. Correct me if I'm wrong, but pre-cable, there was only the 6, 7 & 11pm news broadcasts (I think the 5pm & 10pm started in the 70s/80s). In June, it would still be light out for the 6pm & 7pm newscasts. Which meant it was 11 pm at night and she was still dressed for the ballet class she never got to go to. Even though it was still sad to see her clutching the book, at least she was in her pjs by then.

dylanfan said...

Also noticed that Don and Betty went to sleep on top of the bedspread still fully dressed ...

Lane said...

someone sent this to me (kind of lol), from, called "Why you Should be Watching Mad Men"

also, I'm for a moratorium on Norwegian Catholicism as well

The Gregarious Misanthrope said...

bill, in the "Inside Mad Men" segment on props, the props mistress said that Jon Hamm destroyed the ant farm in one take. No CGI, he really put the pelota through the ant farm. He only had 2 chances to do it, since they only had 2 ant farms, but he nailed it on the first try.

Anonymous said...

I read on another site that the German WWI spiked helmut would not have been used on the field by the time the Americans arrived in France in 1917. Could the writings/props dept. have simply made a mistake OR is there perhaps another layer of meaning? If Gene didn't capture the helmut on the field, he was making up the story he told Bobby. Evidence: the uncertain way he answered Bobby about the bullet hole in the helmut. If Gene was fabricatihng a war story, he has more in commeon with Don/Dick than was previously acknowledged.

Ciji said...

Hmmm.... I thought the reason the Patio ad sucked because it was about a soft drink called Patio!

chiefbroad said...

"the props mistress said that Jon Hamm destroyed the ant farm in one take. No CGI, he really put the pelota through the ant farm. He only had 2 chances to do it, since they only had 2 ant farms, but he nailed it on the first try."

Of course he did.
Further proof that Jon Hamm is some sort of superman.

Julie said...

If Grandpa Gene died in the A & P Grocery store line, how did the peaches get in the car that Betty is eating???

That being the only slip up it was a great episode. Sal's wife realizing that something is not right after Sal does his entire commercial/Ann Margret impersonation is right on target.

Betty is a horrible mother and her shutting the door on Sally was heartless.

JenJen said...

I admit to laughing out loud when the commercial cut came right after Gene showed the fan, and said, "There was this girl"

Found it clever. Gawd I love this show.

JenJen said...

And just having read Alan's post and before reading any comments, I'll add that Gene's salt-on-ice-cream episode made me LOL.

My own father loves salting ice cream. He says it makes it taste like it did when he was a kid.. all homemade and salt-laden and a pain-in-the-ass to get, but oh, the joy when you finally got to taste it.

Pirate Alice said...

I want to point out that Betty DID NOT SHUT THE DOOR ON SALLY. Betty walked in the house to get Gene's file, the police man followed her. Sally was standing on the porch upset and sad. The police man shut the door. Then Sally turned to enter the house, she had a few steps to get to the door. The door was closed before she got anywhere near it. No one closed the door in her face. She took hold of the door handle and then in her grief leaned her head against the door to cry.

Betty didn't shut the door in Sally's face nor did the police officer.

dez said...

someone sent this to me (kind of lol), from, called "Why you Should be Watching Mad Men"

Oh, I am so going to Draper That Shit for some of the probs I have at work that need solving this week.

Bill Huelbig said...

>> Was "The Motion Picture" commonly used in movie titles? I can't think of an example from 1963 or earlier.

I think the first use of that was in 1979 for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". But when a show is as wonderful as "Mad Men", you gotta forgive a little mistake now and then.

"Mad Men" is almost as good as seeing a new Stanley Kubrick film once a week.

Bill Huelbig said...

>> Was "The Motion Picture" commonly used in movie titles? I can't think of an example from 1963 or earlier.

Unless, of course, Paul Kinsey was just being clever enough to come up with the concept for the first time?

Tom O'Keefe said...

So did taking out an ant farm mean that this episode couldn't get the ASPCA endorsement of "No animals were harmed during..."

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"Which meant it was 11 pm at night and she was still dressed for the ballet class she never got to go to."

One wonders if anyone remembered to feed the children dinner, unlike that Sunday Don & Betty drank into oblivion a season or two ago.

AFish said...

don't know if anyone pointed this out...the sweet/ salty thing with the ice cream may have had more to do with foreshadowing than character development.
I got suspicious when gene was eating chocolate and telling Sally he smelled oranges.
radical changes like that in taste and smell are big red flags for impending seizures and stroke.

Anna said...

CGeye - I did not say it should be a rule. Just that Alan could suggest that people read the previous points before commenting. I was not suggesting that Alan censor.

Agreed that everyone should be able to give their comments. My suggestion was that perhaps Alan could "suggest" that people be read the other comments before commenting and be thoughtful in expressing. It can only improve the blog.

TC said...

Cracks me up, the minutia some people get so hung up on. Isn't it entirely possible that Grandpa Gene bought the peaches *somewhere other than the A&P* earlier in the day? Like, say, at a farm stand?

Also, Peggy's family ancestry is Norwegian, but she's clearly at least second generation American. What's to say her family hadn't been in the U.S. for multiple generations and had converted somewhere along the way?

Anonymous said...

Instinctive reaction was a theme in the episode. The most obvious example was the Patio commercial. Peggy's feeling that a BBB ad would not work was instinctive and correct. Loved her smug smile and Don's look of awe and parental satisfaction as Peggy walked out of the meeting. Think he will ever doubt Peggy again ?

As far as her job is concerned, Peggy's instincts have been proven correct. We also see Peggy taking another step in her personal life- moving to Manhattan. She is "That Girl". Thanks to Joan's advice, Peggy has sold herself to a prospective room-mate. Is what she sold accurate ? 2 of the 3 previous encounters Peggy has had with men ended up in bed after the first date so to speak. Is this how Peggy thinks dates end up ? It will be interesting to see what Peggy does now that she will be on her own. Moving away from Brooklyn is metaphorically moving out of her home.

Don's instincts have been seen by the viewer as being correct. First with regard to Madison Square Garden and now in his opposition to accepting HoHo's business. In deference to Bert Cooper, he felt that HoHo's father should be informed. Even when he agrees to sign the client, he still tries to disuade HoHo from going forward. He does sign, the firm is happy because of all of the short term revenue coming in the front door, but we know how this will end up. When Gene tried to give the WWI helmet to Bobby, Don protested and in so many words, expressed his opinion of war. Gene felt it made you a man, Don knows the reality. I also think this is a clue as to how Don will react later in the decade as the Viet Nam war escalates. This is a hint we are supposed to get- When Sally watches TV, she sees coverage of the Dali Lama setting himself on fire in protest of Vietnamise policy. For many in the US, this was their first exposure to and knowledge of unfolding events in SE Asia.

Why didn't the client like the Patio ad ? It was exactly everything that they has asked for- but they didn't like it. Why ? Sure the actress wasn't Ann Margaret, but the ad was "Campy" only the execs wont know what Campy is for another 20yrs. Instinctively they knew the ad was done by a gay man, in a time and place before they were aware of gay men in the workplace. They knew but they were unable to verbalize their feelings.

Kitty's reaction to Sal's performance was heartbreaking. You can see her realization that her husband likes men- the shock and sadness and heartbreak were all there on her face. At the end of the scene, she literally curled up into a fetal position- another instinctive reaction.

berkowit28 said...

If you google "Motion Picture", the second item there is the Motion Picture Association of America. In their "About Us" at, you can rea dthat it was founded (under that name) in 1922.

If you check the Wikipedia article (first google item), you'll see that it was in fact the very first name used for movies, way back as far as the 1880s. I believe it was the way most movies were advertised and referred to in the 1920s and 1930s.

Far from being a new term, "motion picture" was already a rather old-fashioned term in the 1960s. It's how the industry referred to itself (as now, sounding a bit pompous), and was understood by everyone.

berkowit28 said...

Anonymous (one of many) - not the Dalai Lama himself. A regular Buddhist monk.

belinda said...

I wonder how much Peggy makes compared to her male peers, and also compared to Joan, who before getting married, had a roommate in Manhatten, but after that whole roommate episode, lived alone (until now with Dr. Rapist). Does Joan make more than Peggy?

Obviously, Peggy moving to Manhatten was more about leaving her mother than the whole money issue, but I wonder if she really needed a roommate, or is she that underpaid?

christy said...

Whether Kitty would know homosexuality existed isn't really the issue. There's a difference between knowing it exists and recognizing it in a specific person, and then a whole other thing to recognize it in someone like your own husband. Kitty has what you'd think would be pretty solid evidence that Sal likes women, namely that he married her and presumably has sex with her at least sometimes. She also has plenty reason to be in denial about it--it would be a pretty horrible thing to learn about your husband now in 2009, let alone 1963, when people would think of it as a bad thing even if you weren't married.

So, though doing a disconcertingly impressive female impersonation is arguably a bit more perverse than anything you'd see Paul Lynde or CNR do on TV, it really shouldn't be enough for a woman to say to herself, about a man with whom she's had sex, "yep, he's definitely a homosexual."

My guess is that someone in Kitty's position would go through a loooong series of increasingly strongly nagging "hmm...I wonder if...nah..." moments before finally admitting to herself the truth. I don't think we have enough information yet, to really know what stage Kitty is at right now, except that we know she knew something wasn't quite right before. She told us so in this episode, and she also had a bad reaction to Sal's flirting with Ken last season. We don't know exactly where Kitty is on the road between "everything's fine" and "my husband's gay," but I think it's safe to say that this was a big milestone along that path.

There were people in this country that were shocked--shocked--to find out that Clay Aiken was gay, one year ago. Those people knew gay people existed. A lot of them probably had perfectly serviceable gaydar. But they wouldn't admit/acknowledge that it'd gone off.

christy said...

"Instinctively they knew the ad was done by a gay man, in a time and place before they were aware of gay men in the workplace. They knew but they were unable to verbalize their feelings."

My only real problem with this is that before this commercial, all of the artwork for all Sterling Cooper print ads was also created and art directed by a gay man. And many of those, perhaps the majority, have been attempts to target straight men by turning them on. Why can he do it with print but not film?

Nicole said...

The previouslies before the episode quoted the scene with Peggy saying that sometimes the client doesn't know what it wants. This may just be a case of giving the client what they thought they wanted. The purpose of an ad agency is normally to distill what the client's goals are for the product and to interpret that in the best way to sell the product. SC was a little lazy in basically copying a scene image by image. It's like the shot by shot remake of Psycho which was horrible, not because the actors involved were that much worse, but since the original spirit was missing. The failure on Sal's part (and SC) may just be that and not so much Sal's homosexuality. Roger's simple point could actually be the correct reason, which is bittersweet in that Roger is barely around, but still could be useful if someone bothered to check.

As for the Norwegian/Catholic thing, it's likely that Peggy's mother isn't Norwegian, and as stated above, she could marry a non Catholic if they agreed to raise the children Catholic.

KarenX said...

The Patio Commercial Debacle could also be a case of Sal not knowing how to direct a commercial. Sure, he storyboarded the whole thing, but it's gotta be different with cameras and actresses. This is the first thing he has ever done. I know Kitty was pressuring him to open up to her the night before and he did have other things on his mind, but I don't think he was lying when he said he was nervous about work.

Perhaps the problem was not that Sal injected his (purportedly gay) perspective into the commercial but rather that he did not eject his perspective into the commercial enough. Maybe he was too passive and hesitant. His performance for his wife had oodles more sincerity and charm than the performance he demanded from the actress. Maybe he'll be more confident and authoritative next time, now that he's the Company's Director Guy with the official title granted him by Don.

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that Don selects Sal to direct the Patio commercial, and then tells Sal that he should be happy about being a commercial director even though the client panned the work is partly based in him realizing he has a strange connection to Sal -- after seeing him in the Baltimore hotel room with the bellhop, Don sees Sal as someone else who is leading a secret double life, and feels some type of strange kinship with him as a result...

Julia said...

Personally, I didn't like the commercial because the words were strange. It was hard to figure out what she was saying and what she was getting at.

So - that made it appear awkward, at least to me.

Ann Margaret's song was very, very simple, but the commercial song was trying to convey a message that didn't go over.

Also - Ann Margaret was singing to a person; was the girl in the commercial singing to sugar? Or what?

Rotomobees said...

A thought on the Patio Diet Cola ad -- Roger said the ad failed because it was not Ann Margaret. Patio Cola is not "real cola" because it's a diet drink. In effect the ad failed because it attempted to sell "fake" cola with a fake Ann Margaret. This idea seems to fit with MM's theme of the characters being something they're not.

Mapeel said...

Seeing Peggy with her sister and mother again reminded me that I'm not certain what happened to Peggy's baby. Was it ever definitively resolved that she gave it up for adoption, and not by her sister?

Gene was the only element of warmth in the Draper children's lives. How awful for them to lose it and have only the parental icicles.

Paul Outlaw said...

As I was reading the comments, I was amazed that no one was mentioning David Selby's appearance as Ho-Ho Sr. and when someone finally did, about 130 comments in, it was someone who hadn't recognized him and read about it in a column!

Five and a half years from the day this episode is set he debuted in the role that would make him a household name for several years.

I thought he was great as Ho-Ho Sr., by the way.

Whiskey said...

the commercial bombed thru no fault of Sal's -- Peggy was right about the campaign and the fact that the client doesn't always know what they want. Remember last season when she got mad at the priest for not backing her up when she was trying to sell her creative idea to the dance comittee, she said it was the priest's "job" to sell the idea to the client. So, Cosgrove failed miserably by letting the client insist on getting something that ultimately didn't work. The guys were all so mesmerized w/ Ann-Margaret singing the BBB song, they were thinking with the wrong head. Last week there was discussion about Don recognizing that pure free-spirit in the way Sally's teacher was dancing, how that was the genuine article and the BBB intro was so contrived. So how much more contrived is a ripoff of that? I loved the eye contact between Don & Peggy and the smug look on her face after the client nixed the commercial. I wanted to poke my eyes out when they were previewing it, OMGosh the singing & the dress were awful! But, while I think that Don does feel some kinship towards Sal because of their secret lives, I also think that Don genuinely appreciates Sal's talent and wants to help him stay employed *because of* that talent. Just as Sal knows that his artwork hasn't been in much demand for campaigns, Don would know this too. As to Kitty's reaction to Sal's interpretive dance, I agree that she's feeling uneasy about something but can't quite put her finger on it. I didn't see horror in her face, just major discomfort and a bit of "WTF?"

I'm surprised we have so many comments and no one's mentioned that Sally in her ballet outfit laying on the floor crying looked like a broken ballerina doll. It was such a great echo to Betty last season in her beautiful party dress, also looking like a broken doll on the floor (which everyone commented on back then). I wonder if it's not accidental, since we have all these comparisons between Betty and Sally being made constantly. Even the image of Betty eating the peach that was meant for Sally, which is one of the few things I *don't* blame Betty for, since she didn't know. But it would've been hard for Sally to witness this (she must've heard her mother being admonished for eating it) on top of everything else, her grandpa's last loving gesture towards her coopted by the mother she doesn't think cares. And I agree with those who say that Sally's demonstrated through many of her previous acts that she's capable of something like mouthing off to a roomful of adults. I was that kid, so I can totally see it happening. And I too was concerned when we saw Don waking up at the end, that maybe he was smelling something burning. I was so relieved to see Sally sleeping. Of course, poor Bobby doesn't get a bed-check. Now HE is rarely seen or heard!

It seems to me there's something to be said about the nature of identity and specifically names as an undercurrent to the show. It was a bit startling to hear Betty and her brother explain that Gene was referred to as number 2 at his job at the bank. Given how special Betty always makes him out to be, it turns out he was Mr. Number 2 all this time. And of course, Don with the stolen name, Peggy when she uses her proper name for the roomate ad, and Pete with the family name that weighs him down at the same time as it opens doors for him.

femmeperdue said...

Re: Kitty and Sal. I don't think it's ridiculous to think she might recognize homosexual stereotypes in Sal's reenactment. After all, if Betty can know and reference lesbianism and an affinity for tools, why not?

Re: the Patio video. I was pretty impressed by the Ann-Margaret impersonator. I thought she did a good job imitating the original, while simultaneously making it seem "off" the entire time (For me, it was something about the facial expressions and eyes).

Bill Huelbig said...

Berkowit28 said:

>> Far from being a new term, "motion picture" was already a rather old-fashioned term in the 1960s. It's how the industry referred to itself (as now, sounding a bit pompous), and was understood by everyone.

What Paul did was use "The Motion Picture" as part of the actual title of a motion picture. That wasn't done until 1979.

Anonymous said...

Belinda, interesting comment on Joan's finances as a single in an apartment vs. Peggy needing a roommate. What it made me think of is Breakfast at Tiffany's. Not that Joan is a call girl by any stretch, but I'm sure she received plenty of gifts when she was single. I don't think she paid for a lot of meals (at a time when those were a bigger part of one's income than they are now) and I bet she received a lot of jewelry and scarves and handbags and even dresses. Every little bit helps!

I don't think anyone has commented on Pete's line about how this thing with Hoho is payback for all the effort Pete spent in college keeping him out of financial foolishness. It's so interesting that Pete felt it necessary when they were college buddies to look out for Hoho, but now that they're both adults in the workplace, it's every man for himself.

Finally, someone mentioned the echo of "I am that girl" with Marlo Thomas's TV show "That Girl" - and I just wanted to connect the dots with comments in an earlier review that Peggy's new hairdo is reminiscent of Marlo's. Interesting that this echo is repeating, especially because Marlo Thomas went on to create the incredibly influential kids' album "Free to Be You & Me" in the '70s. It was about everything these folks aren't: expressing your feelings, being straight with people, equality, etc.

Here's a picture of Marlo for hairstyle comparison purposes:

Anonymous said...

"While it does seem that Peggy was right about it being a bad idea, I don't think the Patio people rejected it because it would appeal more to men than to women. It's just not a good idea."

But remember Peggy told the boys back when Ken first communicated the Patio people's idea to the group that sometimes the client doesn't know what they want. So this is showing that she was right all along to want to challenge the client's desires, not specifically that she was right about the men/women pitch issue.

christy said...

"I can't believe no one mentioned Gene's line to Betty, "I don't like watching you commit suicide, and neither do your kids." That was a pretty intense line"

I've felt for some time that this whole show is really infused with suicide, to the point where sometimes I feel like I'm watching it silently pleading with each character not to kill themself.

You have Dick's brother, of course. There's the opening sequence with Don's cipher falling from a building. There's Marilyn, and how strongly Joan and some of the other female characters related to her. Many people here commented they were worried that Freddy was going to off himself after being fired, especially when he replied to Don's "goodnight" with "goodbye." I had the same worry about Betty, during her descent into despair in her party dress--especially when she broke the glass. Pete sitting around with his rifle in hand. Gene called smoking suicide, and he knew that sneaking salt against doctor's orders would bring his end sooner, though maybe he didn't expect it that day. Then Sally hearing about the burning monk.

I've wondered if we were heading toward Don literally acting out the opening sequence, near the end of the series. I don't really think they'd go that literal though. I can only hope, if any character does end up doing it, it's Dr. Greg.

christy said...

Joan has also been working for many years, and this is Peggy's first job. More time to save money.

Anonymous said...

"How did Betty know those peaches were for Sally?"

Betty didn't know the peaches were for Sally. Betty isn't conciously destroying Sally's last gift from her grandfather.

But the audience knows.

Her grandfather not only bought those peaches for Sally, he shot down Bobby's attempt to get a different fruit, because he wanted to please his granddaughter. But Betty unknowingly takes that gift from Sally and then completely brutalizes that peach.

If that's not a symbol of Betty's unintentional poor parenting then I don't know what is.

Unknown said...

I have a theory on the patio account. It gets a little abstract so bear with me.

Sal’s advertisement and the Anne Margaret’s song are the same, in terms and look and sound.However they differ in what they sell;

Sal is selling diet soft-drink and show tunes. You can see him bopping away during the presentation while everyone else is motionless.

Anne Margaret sells sex, pure and simple.

Every man in that room (except Sal) will happily buy what Anne Margaret sells. None of them will ever drink Patio. The executives will therefore not buy the add.

Roger says “It’s not Anne Margaret”, implying that the product they are ‘getting’ is not what they want. This is why all the men in the room (except Sal) think the ad is not quite right.

The ad no longer is selling them something they want to consume.

Leguleius said...

Some random comments:
Peggy is Norwegian, as was Ibsen, a playwright famous for his suppressed/repressed women characters. HoHo essentially asked Don out to dinner, and I agree that he is interested in Jai Alai because of its handsome star. The Prussian soldier was shot in the head, where Kennedy will be shot, and where Gene has his fatal stroke.

Leguleius said...

Just thought of this...The helmet is put on Bobby's head, and Bobby Kennedy will also be shot in the head.

wildflowermaven said...

M.A. Peel--it was settled that Peggy gave the child (a boy) up for adoption. Her sister was very pregnant (shown in flashback) when Peggy had the baby.

Anna-know you clarified your ideas on thread content, but thought if you haven't yet discovered it, you might want to check out Basket of Kisses. They have all things MM there, many blog entries on specific aspects of episodes, actor information etc. It may satisfy the type of conversation you're looking for.

And on the Norwegian/Catholic thing, I don't think any of us who commented on it think its impossible for her to be Catholic and Norwegian. But for those of us from this ethnic background and/or lived in areas with sizable numbers of Scandinavians, we know its unusual. What would you think if the Italian family in the Sopranos had been Baptist, Lutheran, or anything but Roman Catholic?

Russell Lucas said...

Wow, it really is daunting when you wait a day or so to comment. Great comments, though.

Sally's disconsolate watching of the nightly news had me thinking back to Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death." Fresh from being told that she's overreacting to her grandfather's death, Sally watches the news report, complete with the iconic photo, of the monk's self-immolation, then the newscaster segues into reporting the Dow's progress for the day. Postman talked at length about how the evening news was so rhetorically destructive and ineffectual because, in part, of those juxtapositions of stories which would naturally elicit differing levels of emotional and moral response, but they are presented in the same droll manner, without one being privileged over the other. I can't imagine seeing that argument better illustrated than in Sally laying on the floor and hearing that a man set himself on fire and that the stock market is up slightly. Now she knows why grown-ups are hesitant to make such a big deal out of death.

I really love the way in which the show communicates things between characters through glances-- you could write paragraphs about what Peggy and Don are telling each other through wordless glances in episodes 2 and 4 most notably, and elsewhere as well. I guess that's why it seems to me so unfortunate that the writers chose to show Kitty becoming aware of Sal's homosexuality simply by watching his jazz-handed, skirt-whooshing imitation of the Patio ad. We've seen little bits and pieces of Sal's somewhat effeminate leanings throughout the series-- in the script for the pilot Weiner referes to his closeted status as "the worst-kept secret" in the office, or something like that, so we'd assume that he takes that home with him to some degree. For Kitty to watch that display, odd though it was, and conclude that the husband she loves is attracted to men was quite a leap. Really, it reminded me of the cops in "Heathers" who find the paper bag full of mineral water next to the undressed jock corpses and immediately jump to the gay conclusion. It seemed to lack the emotional nuance that the show normally exhibits. Why not show her through actual behavior on his part, rather than ambiguous stereotypical behavior?

There is, though, that neat juxtaposition of Sal's socially-unacceptable homoeroticism with Horace Jr.'s socially acceptable homoeroticism directed to Patxi.

I loved the Joan-Peggy scene, and it's great that no matter how much Peggy succeeds in her job, she's still in the same place she was in the very first episode with regard to needing Joan to help her negotiate the career girl aspects of things.

Stylistically, the show has a neat habit of eschewing establishing shots coming out of commercials and when changing locations. That's easier to do when you only have a few locations, but it shows, among other things, confidence in your audience to figure out where you are. The dinner scene with Don, Humps and HoHo was nicely put-together. We know about the dinner, but they cut right to a medium shot of the table from the previous scene, then do shot/reverse shot of the three as they converse, but finish the scene with a long shot of the table, at which time we see for the first the opulent dining room they're sitting in. Reversing the normal editing grammar makes the whole ridiculous enterprise of spending a fortune to publicize a game that no one will ever watch without having a bet on the line
seem all the more vacuous and absurd.

Anonymous said...

When Pete made the reference to HoHo about it being his father's type of investment shouldn't it have sent out some warning bells that the jai lai is not a good thing? Presuming this because I think there was a reference in Season One that it's known that Pete's dad spent his family's money. Or is HoHo too warped up in his own excitemet over the game to realize this?

Also good insight to the person who said how Grandpa Gene treated Sally and Bobby in the car might have been how he treated Betty and William.

Also being pregnant does not excuse you from being self absorbed and cruel. Having just had a baby this year. There is being responsible and empathetic which Betty (and Don) do not demonstrate well to their kids.

Too bad Grandpa Gene died. I was kinda looking forward to that storyline having been raised mostly by grandparents (parents worked) when I was young.

LDP said...

So many good things about this episode, but my favorite, I think, is the developing relationship between Don and Sal. Don is protecting Sal now, and it makes me wonder if and how Sal will come to Don's assistance, and under what circumstances.

Such a great show.

Hatfield said...

Someone mentioned how daunting it is to wait a day or two to comment. Hell, try waiting three hours! By the time I get through the episode here on the West coast, there are typically upwards of 70 comments already!

Anyway, I will miss Gene. I find it interesting that he almost seemed to like Sally more after she stole his money; he clearly respected her more than he did Bobby, and it seemed to be about more than the age difference. Actually, other than giving Bobby all that war stuff, he was kinda harsh with him, particularly in the car when Bobby declares that peaches give him a rash: "Your sister likes it!" Ryan Cutrona was great in this role, hopefully he'll pop up elsewhere soon.

Carla Gallo looks even skinnier than usual, it took me a minute to recognize her. Also, for all the fanboys around these parts, Ho-Ho was played by Aaron Stanford, Pyro of the X-Men films.

The first two episodes had a strange feel to them for me, and I still can't put my finger on it--it might have been a different pace, or cadence, or something--but the last two have been superb.

cgeye said...

Oooh, shoulda known Ho-Ho was Pyro.

(just had to add that, sorry)

Hatfield said...

cgeye, I couldn't place him beyond the maddening sense of familiarity until the end credits, so don't beat yourself up too much

Julia said...

After viewing again the 3rd episode, something just jumped out at me.

Gene has a second wife who abandoned him when he developed dementia and fled to Florida. The relatives around the table after Gene died were laughing about the unlikelihood of the new wife ever coming back from Florida.

Well, she's the widow under the law! Was there a pre-nup? If not, she is certainly coming to come back to get hers. Even if there was one, she could try to get it disallowed for some reason or the other. Or the terms might be something unexpected by Betty and William. If successful in overturning the pre-nup, she probably gets half. If not successful, she would probably get a settlement to get rid of her.

That's a cynical lawyers' take on the situation. Does anybody remember talk of a pre-nup in previous seasons? I don't. I don't even remember seeing Gene's wife. Was she really young? Dumb? Same age as Gene? I don't think she's never coming back from Boca Raton.

arrabbiata said...

To Anonymous 10:42 AM today,

I agree that in the bigger picture Peggy was right that sometimes the client doesn't know what they want and that the idea should have been challenged. However I don't think she had the clout to do it. Don will sometimes challenge the client, as in this very episode where he tried to talk HoHo out of his idea and then went to his father to give him a chance to kill the project. And if Don couldn't succeed, what chance would Peggy have?

In my original comment I was addressing the one argument Peggy made against the idea in Ken's meeting (that the BBB-style pitch would have more appeal for men than for the women who would be expected to respond and buy the product), a concern that Don brushed aside in her later meeting with him. And in my opinion the Patio execs would be very unlikely to ever reach the conscious conclusion that the reason the idea didn't translate was because of the gender issue that Peggy had originally raised. They just sensed that despite being exactly what they asked for, the commercial didn't work on any level. On the positive side, maybe Don will give Peggy's objections a little more consideration the next time such a situation occurs.

The thing that I was left wondering as the Patio execs all departed the room was if this was the end of their working with SC. It doesn't seem fair to lose the account because of the client's mistake. On the other hand, HoHo's comment that Don could follow all his (ridiculous) suggestions for how to promote jai alai and would still be blamed if it didn't become America's biggest sport shows that fairness may not enter into it.

HMM2 said...

I didn't recognize Selby, and went back to re-watch the episode after seeing the initial comment here. He looked more like Quentin in "Tell Me You Love Me" than he did here.

Donna said...

I'm still nonplussed by the existence of Roman Catholic Norwegians in the series, so I had to look it up. Just over 1% of Norwegians are Roman Catholic. I guess the Olsons are the American remnant! Most Norwegians are, of course, Lutherans.

I too was wowed by the quick reference Peggy made to snagging her nylons on public transportation cane seating. That brings back memories.

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