Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mad Men, "Seven Twenty Three": Looking at the sun burned my eyes out, now I'm blind

Spoilers for tonight's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I spend time with my family reading the Bible...
"Let me explain something to you about business, since as usual, you're turning this into something about yourself: No contract means I have all the power. They want me, but they can't have me." -Don
"You're right. Why would I think that has anything to do with me?" -Betty
A total solar eclipse arrives midway through "Seven Twenty Three," and characters are warned repeatedly to not look directly at it. Betty tries and feels faint. Don puts on his sunglasses and waits for the sun to pass a bit before looking up, while Sally and Miss Farrell watch the eclipse from the safety of a cardboard camera obscura. And at other points in the episode, both Roger Sterling and Francine's husband Carlton talk about looking at the normal sun without any ill effects.

And all throughout "Seven Twenty Three" (the title stands for the date on which Don signs his contract), characters are given the opportunity to directly face something they want, or something they fear. Some choose to stare into the sun, while others try looking indirectly, each with varying degrees of success.

The episode itself starts with the indirect approach, as we get glimpses of Betty, Peggy and Don in situations that won't explain themselves until much later in the hour. It's not really necessary - I'm not fond of non-chronological storytelling, or in media res openings, unless they reveal something that wouldn't have been apparent had the episode been told in a traditional way - but it at least sets the tone for another intense, unsettling episode.

"Seven Twenty Three" doesn't have the macabre comedy of "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency," nor does anyone lose a foot (and the ability to golf). But by episode's end, we may have witnessed a murder, because it feels like when Don signs that contract on 7/23, Dick Whitman dies.

And if that's the case, good riddance to bad rubbish.

Because most of Dick's appearances in the first two seasons were in situations where Jon Hamm got to play him as vulnerable, even tender (think Don-as-Dick in Anna Draper's house), it's easy to forget just what a bastard he is. He's the one who coldly stole the real Don Draper's life without thinking of the consequences, the one who chased away his own brother to protect his secret, the one who makes Don hold himself at such a crippling distance from his wife. And Dick Whitman is the one whose first impulse at a sign of trouble is to bail on everyone who cares about him. As Jon Hamm put it to me, "When Don's in trouble, Dick runs."

And in "Seven Twenty Three," forces conspire to keep Dick from running, maybe ever again. Sterling and Cooper have always indulged Don's refusal to work without a contract, looking the other away and allowing him to make his power play against Duck. But Conrad Hilton's lawyers force the firm to look directly at this particular quirk, and they realize that it's no longer acceptable. Cooper won't let Don avoid the confrontation, and when Don tries, Roger tries going around Don to Betty, who calls out her husband for his wanderlust - where, she rightly wonders, does he plan to be in the next three years that this is such a burden?

Don-as-Dick is not pleasant to watch in this one. Cornered, he lashes out in ugly fashion at Peggy (who's devastated by it) and then at Betty (who has learned how to fight with her husband), and I'm not sure the character has been any more unappealing than he is in those two scenes. Then he tries going hobo, but he can't even do that well anymore, as his getaway is interrupted by visions of Archie Whitman calling him out for what Don fears is an empty life ("What do you make? You make bulls--t!"), and as he winds up getting rolled by the two hitchhikers. Dick's supposed to be the hustler, not the victim.

The man Dick Whitman turned himself into is a master of the universe, capable of playing all the angles and finding a way to win the unlikeliest of victories. But here, we see other men sitting in Don's chair, putting him ill at ease and telling him how his life is going to be. Connie makes it clear that, however they bonded at the country club, he's going to dictate the terms of this relationship. And Bert Cooper turns out not to be the doddering eccentric we've taken him for, but an absolute killer. He's had the Dick Whitman card in his pocket since the end of season one, but he's declined to play it until now, going straight at Don with it, yet being elegant enough to phrase his attack in an oblique way. (He paraphrases a line he used on Don in last season's "The Gold Violin" about how he knows a little about him, then asks, "After all, when it comes down to it, who's really signing the contract, anyway?")

With no contract, Don has always had the ability to walk away from his job, and even from his life. That's gone now, at least for the next three years. He completely loses this fight, able only to divorce himself from Roger (who poked his nose into Don's private life one time too many), and he's stuck. Throughout "Seven Twenty Three," we see how Don/Dick behaves when there's even a threat of taking away his freedom. Now that it's gone, will things get even uglier? Or will rooting him to one place - and therefore making Dick Whitman irrelevant - allow him to finally accept that this is his life, and to maybe be content with that?

Whatever happens, we can now forget about the idea of Don leaving Sterling Cooper to open his own shop anytime soon (unless Weiner decides to throw us a curveball and opens season four sometime in 1966, as Don's contract is coming to an end). This is where he is, and he, the show and the viewers need to make peace with it.

Getting back to the direct vs. indirect approach, the episode's three lead characters each try a different strategy in dealing with business and with potential romantic partners.

Betty, having realized that the baby isn't going to fix her marriage, is eager for the opportunity to do business with the very interested Henry Francis (who touched her belly at the same party where Don met Connie), and she and Henry flirt with each other without either one coming right out and admitting that they want to jump the other's bones. The closest they come is when Betty calls Henry out for knowing in advance that he wouldn't have time to see the endangered reservoir, and he cleverly changes the subject to the fainting couch in the furniture store window. And Betty, interested but maybe not ready for another affair just yet, can at least buy the couch so she can lie on it and fantasize about him (while looking like a character out of a Renaissance painting).

It's unclear whether Don is actually trying to flirt with Miss Farrell or if he's just making conversation, but things get frosty when she cuts right through all the talk about vacations to accuse him of hitting on her like every other dad. Between her behavior in the classroom, the drunk-dialing episode and now this, sometime tells me that Abigail Spencer is once again playing a role that needs to be measured on the Crazy/Hot scale. But even if she's as cuckoo bananas as I fear, her forthrightness clearly appealed to Don; if he wasn't interested before their conversation began, he is now. And this won't end well for anyone involved, least of all poor Sally.

Peggy tries the indirect approach with Don about the Hilton account, and he sees right through it. This is the second time this season she's had the bad timing to go see him after he had a bad meeting with one of his bosses, and it's just brutal to see Don be that cruel to Peggy, even if he does have a point about her ambition.

And just as Don chewing out Pete in last season's "Flight 1" (after a similar case of poor timing) drove Pete to become Duck's acolyte, Peggy goes to Duck's hotel suite. Duck - who has never had a problem being direct - tries to give her a glimpse of "what opportunity looks like," but she has to look away. And having never looked in Peggy's direction during their time at Sterling Cooper, Duck finds he can't stop looking at her now. Though the Peggy/Duck hookup comes from out of the blue, it makes sense in the moment. Peggy has only ever been with boys like Pete and the college kid, who don't know what they want and/or need Peggy to take the lead. Duck is a man, one who knows what he wants and can describe it in detail to Peggy. As with the Don/Miss Farrell flirtation, this will not end well - Duck is always too impulsive (he sees what he wants and goes after it), and the way he talked about loving the taste of liquor on Peggy's breath doesn't speak well to the long-term prospects for his sobriety - but at the moment I'd prefer not to look straight at that probability for the time being, and instead look around to the more immediate questions. Will Peggy be smart enough to realize that taking the Grey job now would be a big mistake? Will she feel so close to Duck now that she won't be able to resist it? And either way, how will Don and/or Pete react when they find out?

Some other thoughts on "Seven Twenty Three":

• I can only cover so much - and only notice so much - in any given episode, and sometimes the analysis in the comments of these reviews has me smacking my head, wishing I had thought of (or wrote about) something one of you suggested. With last week's episode, it was the notion (first suggested here) that Guy's maiming and its aftermath could be read as a kind of black comic allegory for the Kennedy assassination: an energetic, charismatic young rising star (who may have been more style than substance) has his life cut down in a moment of shocking violence, and in the aftermath, the beautiful woman by his side (Joan standing in for Jackie) wanders around in a blood-soaked dress. I'm never sure how much of any of this stuff is intended by the writers, but it's fun to talk about all the possibilities while we wait for the next episode, isn't it?

• Along similar lines, I had a long conversation with Mo Ryan (whose own review should be up on her blog shortly, if it's not already), and she had a slightly different take on the eclipse, suggesting the episode is about people being blocked in the same way the moon blocks the sun. Don loses his escape route, Peggy is denied a choice account, Betty appears to lose her chance to save the reservoir, etc. "But," she added, "nobody denies Connie or Bert. Two sun kings who used their power and schooled Don about who's in control."

• Joan was unsurprisingly absent from the proceedings this week. I think Hamm, Jones and Moss are the only castmembers who appear in every episode each season (many shows these days have what are called 10-for-13 deals - as in, you're a regular, but you're only paid to be in 10 out of 13 episodes - with their supporting actors to save money), and it makes sense that one of Christina Hendrick's non-appearances would be immediately after Joan's grand exit from Sterling Cooper. I still believe she'll be back, and hopefully soon.

• The book Roger mentions on the elevator is "Confessions of an Advertising Man," by David Ogilvy, one of the most influential books ever written about the profession. Ho-Ho (still being swindled by Don, Pete and the gang) mentioned reading the galleys of the book back in "The Arrangements," though he mispronounced the author's name as if he were an Irishman named O'Gilvy.

• Loved how Don the amateur decorator was able to concisely identify the one part of the new living room that needed changing, and that the professional quickly realized he was right. And even my completely untrained eye can tell that she's right about the fainting couch: that thing is way too big for the space, and too out of sync with the other furniture. It sticks out just as badly as Marty Crane's recliner did in Frasier's apartment, and it blocks out the fireplace in the same way the moon blocks the sun for a few minutes.

• Interesting that Lucky Strikes would still be considered Sterling Cooper's biggest account, though it makes sense given that Connie is so far only letting them take over the New York hotels. If he had handed Don the keys to the entire chain, they'd be number one on the client list, right?

• Ever since Hamm told me about all the pieces of physical business that Weiner likes to throw at him, I can't help paying more attention to them, and how easily he seems to pull off bits like Don refilling his cigarette lighter while he talks to Roger. And his grace then stands in contrast to a moment like Don and Pete's conversation about the Hilton account, where Vincent Kartheiser spends the entire scene struggling to button his jacket with one hand. That may have been intentional (to show, again, that Pete isn't nearly as smooth as Don), or it may just be that Kartheiser was having a problem, but the director liked his performance enough to stick with that take; either way, it was momentarily distracting.

• When baby Gene came home at the end of "The Fog," it sounded like Carla wasn't going to be around for a while to help, though some other people suggested all the dialogue implied was that Carla wouldn't be a night nurse because she had to get home to her family. But if Carla's not around, then Gene is either the easiest baby of all time, or Betty Draper really does have the assistance of magical fairies to always look so put together (and to have time for things like the Junior League) during the newborn stage.

• You understand why the intensely private Don would want no part of Roger anymore, but it's a plus for the viewer that Don won't be starting up his own shop, because we get to keep enjoying John Slattery's knack for saying the most obnoxious things - the line about Don's name being on the sign, but only after his, "and probably Cooper" - and seeming charming doing it.

• Note that Betty, the anthropology major-turned-housewife, often feels compelled to show she's just as smart as the professionals she meets. Hence her saying "like in a skyscraper" to make it clear that she understood Henry's joke about not sleeping well with so many people on top of him, or her peevish reaction when he tried to explain his reference to His Master's Voice. Do you think she actually knew what it was, or is she trying to act worldly in front of him?

• Hard as it is to see Don rip into Peggy, it's more than a little amusing to see the two of them awkwardly come face-to-face the next morning: Don with his busted nose, Peggy wearing the same clothes from the day before after doing the walk of shame from Duck's hotel. Now, does Peggy have the apartment with Karen yet? Was there no time to go home and change? The Pierre is at 61st and 5th, and Sterling Cooper is on Madison between 47th and 48th; I suppose it's possible that the apartment, if she has it already, was in the opposite direction.

• Though I'm sure Don already regrets his relationship with Connie, I'm going to enjoy watching Chelcie Ross spar with Jon Hamm on a regular basis. Connie's not a man who's used to being told "no," and you can tell he's equal parts peeved and intrigued when Don does it. (In that way, Don was right when he said Cooper should have told Connie's lawyers to pass along the message about it being important to Don.)

• Bert's sharp as a tack moment in Don's office is nicely set up by a more typical moment of Cooper goofiness, as he puts his shoeless feet up on the coffee table and says of Connie, "I met him once. He's a bit of an eccentric, isn't he?"

• Carlton, played by Kristoffer Polaha, is skinny again after sporting a gut in his lone season two appearance. I guess the running is paying off for him.

• When Don is in the car with the hitchhikers, it's the second time this season (the first was with the stewardesses) he's briefly let a stranger believe he's some kind of spy. Come to think of it, the Europeans in "The Jet Set" also assumed Don was a spy until they saw his business card. Weird foreshadowing, or just an acknowledgment that Jon Hamm looks like he could have played James Bond?

• After sharing very little screen time together in the first two seasons, we've had a good amount of Roger and Peggy moments this season, here with him running into her on his way out of Don's office, complaining, "Didn't we give you an office?" (Which, to play the role of Betty the joke-explainer, is funny because Roger's the one who gave it to her.)

• Do Don and the thieving hitchhikers stop at the liquor store on the way to the motel, or did Don have that much booze in the Caddy? There are a lot of bottles on the motel room table.

Finally, thanks again for being so smart and passionate in your comments about the show. As I'm writing this review on Friday afternoon, the number of comments for "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" is edging close to 400, which is a ridiculous number for this blog - and which may be getting unmanageable if I want to enforce Rule #5 of the commenting rules. So I'm going to amend that slightly for this show, and say this:

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

And, as always, remember Rule #1: Be nice and respectful of each other.

What did everybody else think?


1 – 200 of 359   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Good god, what an episode. I'm really quite speechless. Definitely one of those episodes that feels like the Great American Novel. But Duck and Peggy made me go EW.

The episode was perfectly topped off with the song Sixteen Tons.

Dr Linda said...

For the first time, I think that Pete really does love Peggy. He does seem to be looking out for her all the time (the promotion, catching her last week, trying to protect her from wrath of Don with Ducky this week). Poor Peggy has not been having good luck with Don - he was very harsh but I think for the most part he was kind of right. Most of her interaction with Don lately has been her asking for something - and it's always right after he's had a bad interaction with someone else. I wonder if that is being built up to a big fight between them.

It was a little disturbing watching Ducky seduce Peggy, though in a way it was nice to see her with a man and not a boy. Also disturbing was the teacher with Don during the eclipse - she's veering into bunny boiling territory.

Snap. Bert smacks down Don big time. I wonder how being tied down is going to affect him.

CarolMR said...

For some reason I thought the funniest line was when Peggy and Pete were talking about Conrad Hilton and Peggy said, "My mother gave me his book. He's Catholic."

Anonymous said...

2 funniest lines (both Don to Carlton):

"You stare into the sun?"

"You run?"

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to add that I appreciated that Little Miss Teacher wasn't just another doe-eyed ingenue, easily seduced by Don's charms (and Jon Hamm did look very nice in those sunglasses). She has a backbone! And she called Don out on his behaviour, much like Bert. No wonder Don was so snappish in this episode...his desperation is showing.

Rebekah said...

O almost vomited when I realized the man in Peggy's bed was Duck, and that had to be the unsexiest dirty talk of all time.

KcM said...

This one seemed a bit weaker to me than the rest of the season. Partly because of the opening flash-forward, I think, which is a gimmick that really wasn't necessary and hardly ever works very well.

Also partly because a lot of it seemed too on-the-button, from Dick's Dad dream sequence (too Sopranos-ish by far -- did The Wire ever have a dream sequence?) to the teen too unambitious for college but who nonetheless has Vietnam pegged by the summer of 1963, a year before Tonkin.

That being said, perhaps the point of the teenage couple was that he/she saw the light and escaped. Don, meanwhile, was forced to sign on the dotted line -- by an objectivist, no less -- and is now in for a three-year tour.

Not sure how Coop could keep Roger away from Don, unless the former gets fired. As this episode showed, they'll see each other in the elevator, if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, when Don signed the contract, he dated it 3 years previously, 7-23-1960. I don't know how well that would hold up in court, but it could give him an out from SC if he really wanted one. Or maybe it was just one more way for Don to stick it to the man. He is a slick one.

Michael said...

Is there a greater cultural significance to Conrad Hilton other than wealthy hotel magnate? It seems that every time his name is mentioned it comes with a greater sense of importance. Would this be like a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs of his time? More than just a CEO/President of major corporation? Or is it just a huge account to land?

Steve Ely said...

Don's secretary Allison has really grown in confidence since the episode when she told the chipmunks she was always wrong about what mood Draper's in. I loved how in control she was in the scene tonight when Hilton was in Draper's office and the look she shot Don when he said to hold his calls. Give that actress more to do!

Nathan Melby said...

Favorite episode of the season so far, does anyone know off hand if the director for this episode has done any of the others? All I can remember is that it was a woman.

I thought that the reason Betty had such an peevish reaction to his reference to the old advertisement was because it brought her back to earth. I was under the impression the instant he said the quote....she thought of the ad, and thus her husband. Him clarifying made it sting just that much more.

DaveMB said...

Recreational running was pretty rare before 1970 or so, wasn't it? My dad (born 1933) is roughly in Carlton's generation, and ran cross-country in college. He struck me as an "early-adopter" of the jogging fad in around 1970 or so...

So Miss Farrell was doing some sort of summer school activity on July 20, on the payroll even though the kids are off?

Nathan Melby said...

I found her was her first episode! I love the rotation of directors, a different eye for every episode!

Unknown said...

Wow, could Don have been any more unlikable this episode? The way he described his relationship with Sterling Cooper to Betty was just so whiny and filled with self-entitlement that I just wanted to slap the guy, which the writers actually allowed me to do by proxy when the draft dodger did so. Between that and his adventures with phenobarbital (real mature, Don), I'm glad he got robbed by those kids. He even handled the physical act of signing the contract with all the dignity of a petulant toddler.

Not that Peggy comes off so much better. One particularly nasty chew-out and she jumps into bed with Duck? Duck? So much squirming.

Pete, amazingly, came off as more likable and more importantly mature than either of the leads - contrast his respectful, direct approach to the Hilton account versus Peggy's, and his very insightful, accurate advice to Peggy. He certainly wasn't wrong - Don didn't even like having his secretary sleeping with Roger, if he ever finds out about Duck and Peggy she'll be handed her papers within the hour.

Cooper also came off very well, handling Don's assorted temper tantrums with more patience than Don probably deserved.

And if Don has any intelligence, he needs to run for his life from the teacher.

cgeye said...

"Start showing up on time?"
"I have this... involvement... I have significant needs, Don."

Good Lord, Connie's the anti-Archie -- Archie can joke with his son about being a raping hillbilly, but Connie wins the realness contest. He invades Don's space, tells him how to manufacture the appearance of morality (punctuality? a Bible? Really?) to help him promote a business that involves more than a little graft to every dictator reluctant to let a Hilton land without a little something off the top.

As Don gets Connie as a Archie replacement, Betty gets her Henry as both a Don-substitute (furniture mover turned lawyer/advisor, indeed -- and how nice for the Junior League to be her pimp) and as a Gene-substitute (what's the practical diff between being a housecat and a lady in regular need of a fainting couch?).

And, poor, poor Peggy. *sigh*. I know she's vulnerable, and she wants the seduction, but *Duck*? DUCK? A man who couldn't keep faith to his dog, she's trusting with her career and reputation?

I know Dick's self-destructiveness was behind Don's condemnation of Peggy doing what she was supposed to do. She didn't come up as Don's lapdog, and she shouldn't have held back once everyone but her knew about Hilton. Her pregnancy and child is a secret she didn't want, but this is one secret she didn't have to add on. I hoped she'd break free without sex. And can I say how completely icky it was that a) Pete was right and b) Pete's insistence on managing Peggy's relationship with Duck drove her into Duck's arms. Damn.

And I'm wondering how Don has evaded as many bunny-boilers and muggers as he has. Keeping secrets are double-edged.

And I wonder whether the Hilton lawyers even gave a damn about Don's contract. If Cooper could wait that long to pull that trigger, he damn well could have waited for Don to land that big fish, then make it plain what had to be done. He would have waited for payback regarding Duck -- despite the outcome, that was an embarrassment in front of PPL, and Bert would have not forgotten.

Blair Waldorf said...

Nope, Don definitely wrote 1963.

chiefbroad said...

Judging by the comments here and on The Twitter, I am in the minority when I say I thought Mark Moses was hot delivering his seduction lines. It was just so unexpected. And, i confess to having a crush on Moses since seeing him in Platoon back in the day.

The Lost Texan said...

Don got pushed out of his own chair in his own office twice. Connie then Cooper took away this bit of power from him. I thought that was fascinating to watch. Don's not easy to rattle, but he was clearly a bit out of his element here. Very cool to watch.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else gaffaw when Duck told Peggy he wanted to give her a "go around"? Was that a common phrase? Too funny, hokey, and so perfectly delivered.

cgeye said...

To be blunt, Conrad Hilton was pure Yanqui imperialism -- if you went somewhere that had a Hilton, you had a place where American logistics, infrastructure, State Department, clandestines, all had a colonial home. To have American plumbing, catering, laundry, valet parking was to establish said assumptions in that culture about the American way of life. *That's* why he was a big a symbol of America as our intervention in Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

Naggie said...

I think this episode was also about betrayal:
Peggy's betrayal of Don by literally getting into bed with the enemy; Betty wanting to betray Don with Henry; Cooper betraying Don by pulling out the Dick Whitman card; Don betraying Betty by not telling her about the contract and when he does by being so hurtful about it; Roger betraying Don by bringing work into his private life; the two kids betraying Don by hitting him and robbing him; and finally Don betraying his own self, the one part of his self he knows to be true: that he is not bound by anything.

Also, I thought I have to disagree and say the flash back technique did not feel gimmicky but rather created tension and mystery in an incredibly taut episode. It worked well with the claustrophic feel of the episode overall: By showing us from the beginning where we were going to end up, the structure of an episode that finally boiled down to being tied down (beautifully evoked by the teacher pointing out how Don is dress like all the other dads there) reflected the feeling of a world tightening and closing in on Don.

All in all, amazing. Though for me, watching Peggy kiss Duck, was my equivalent of searing my cornea from looking at the sun.

Suzanne said...

And Duck likes it in the morning..... ewwww.

Anonymous said...

Loved Don's jokes about running and staring at the sun.

I know Weiner mentioned that he was going to tackle the Kennedy assassination differently than others, has anyone else suggested that maybe this season all we get are allusions to the event? I mean, Sterling's daughter's wedding, Joan's bloody dress. What if Weiner only interjects these little hints throughout the episode rather than deal with it directly? If it's only July right now there's the possibility that the season ends before November 22nd, 1963. What a (potential) letdown.

liz said...

@ Tobey - I know! I think that actually makes me feel dirtier about the whole thing, is that I was so grossed out, and yet a little turned on. Probably much like Peggy, come to think of it.

Stephen S Power said...

When Betty checks their phone bill, the Draper's address is listed as 42 Bullet Park Road. But isn't the address on the contract under Don's signature line 1 Bullet Park Road?

Anonymous said...

Yowzah! Weiner could've titled this episode "Hardball," 'cause that's what everybody's playing w/ each other: the teacher w/ Don, Cooper w/ Don, Don w/ Peggy, Connie w/ Don, etc, etc.

I got the feeling that Don's had a charmed life in the biz world and as of tonite he's starting to find out (personally, I mean) it's kill or be killed.

Oh yeah, and I nearly spit beer thru my nose when the show closed w/ "16 Tons."

Sloansy said...

Mo Ryan mentioned this in her review, but my biggest laugh of the episode was Betty trying to open the locked desk.....still can't get that damned thing open.

The scene with Peggy and Don was amazing in that it combined so many elements. Brutally honest mentor-student advice, ie., "You are good, stop asking for things and get better," plain old lashing out rage (the bit about her coming in on a pretense to try to grab Hilton) and vintage 1963 sexism "You have a job that a grown man would be happy with." Plus the cruel and devastating mention that she used to be Don's secretary, with the subtext that all her success is really due to Don.

Also, Duck needs to write a seduction manual. "You see, 30 seconds after first mentioning you are interested in a woman, tell her you want to take her clothes off with your teeth. Chicks love that."

One other only on Mad Men image....Don washing down two phenobarbital pills with a glass of Scotch.....while driving a vintage Caddy.

Devin McCullen said...

What does it say about how much Roger's lost his mojo that Betty Draper has no hesitation in telling him off and hanging up on him?

jogree01 said...

Amazing post as always Alan.

So much to digest but, I do have one quick thought. I felt the final scene with Cooper was more of a compromise then anything....I dont remember his exact words but they were something like "remember don its just a name on a piece of paper"

Don is just a name, Dick Whitman can up and run away any time he wants to...

cgeye said...

Oh, and to break this down:

Mark Moses in Desperate Housewives: Damned creepy, but asexual. It's hard to be the mysterious plot point, innit.

MM in MM: teh sexxay, but still damned creepy.

"You're all the same, the drinking, the philandering... they don't know that word." Run, Don, run!! RUN!

Dave F said...

Could someone explain why Hilton needs Don signed? If Hilton has a relationship with Don, if he leaves Hilton could follow. What am I missing?

I really thought Cooper crossed the line with blackmail. I actually thought Don was going to tear the contract up and tell him to shove it. I am expecting something significant (way more than Roger and the Oysters) to get him back.

Anonymous said...

As I digest this episode, I can't help to recall Peggy telling one of the Smiths that she always picks "the wrong boys." I wonder what this will mean for Peggy that she "went swimming" with Duck. This can't be good. Can't be!

Stephen S Power said...

I love that Betty put the fainting couch directly in front of the hearth, which the decorator says is the place the family gathers around even if there's no fire lit. Clearly, there no fire in her family life any more. And now it's like the other elephant in the room: Betty and Don's desire for other people and other lives.

Ann T. said...

Dave F: it's all about the lawyers. As mentioned earlier, if Cooper went to Connie and told him that not signing a contract was important to Don, then I'm sure that Connie would have told the lawyers to back off.

The Lost Texan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Sloansy - Duck needs to give Pete Campbell that seduction manual. All Peggy needs is a drink and an Hermes scarf, and you'll get her naked in about thirty seconds. Apparently.

Ann T. said...

The Lost Texan: They thanked him and said that they left his car.

Schticky Fingers said...

Pete was right: by screwing Peggy, Duck was really hoping to screw Don.

Sloansy said...

Nathan, I had the same reaction as you in the Betty-Henry scene. I think she was well aware of the ad (her tone when she said she was aware of it was so icy that she almost had to be actually aware of it). She just was having a grand old time with Gov. Rock's right hand man, she didn't appreciate being reminded of her unfaithful ad man hubby back home.

The Betty storyline brings up another basic relationship problem...once you cross that barrier and cheat on your partner, how can you really stop from doing it again? Betty clearly wants another go, and Don barely tries not to indulge himself.

Interesting that even though Betty was acting on behalf of the town, with the full knowledge of the "junior league" (anyone have any clue what that is?) she still didn't want to be seen being walked to her car by Henry.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the hitchhikers say something like "we left you your car/you're welcome!" I was surprised that they didn't steal the car but I guess they figured Don's self-preservation would kick in for taking his money, but not stretch to car theft.

Anonymous said...

Not to nitpick... but Archie says to Don/Dick, "you GROW bulls--t."

Coming from a man who had to work to grow things that were real- his contempt for Don "grows" was palpable.

Anonymous said...

Powerful episode...Rarely does Don lose his cool but when he does....look out. Now that Don feels "had" I imagine he will become quite dangerous and nasty.

Don drinking, driving and popping pills that he took from two total strangers was downright scary. I thought he was going to wreck his car and kill himself. His getting robbed was minor compared to what could have happened to him.

Poor Peggy..Don told her to get better, yet whenever she asserts herself or her ideas she is shot down (like when Don dismissed her insight about the Patio ad). How can she get better when they won't let her? Her jumping into bed with Duck was a bad idea, one that I think she will come to regret.

I think Betty's response to the "his master's voice" comment was her response to remembering that she is a married woman toying with having an affair. I thought I remembered reference in the 1st season to SC having the RCA account. Perhaps Don was part of that campaign and had something to do with that slogan.

musicmajor said...

I felt more sorry for Don than angry at him in this episode. It was just painful to see him get slapped down by Connie, Burt and (literally) by the hitchhikers all in one episode. Brilliant acting by Hamm, you could just see Don's insides tearing up at the thought of signing the contract.

However, the one part of this episode that made me really mad at Don was when he lectured Peggy to "quit asking for things". Don is used to things (like the Hilton account) falling into his lap because he's gifted. Peggy, as a woman trying to have a career in this era, couldn't have gotten anywhere without asking for things (like her office). Think where Joan would be now if she had just asked to become part of Harry's team in the TV dept. last season.

I also agree that the flash-forward was unnecessary and made the episode weaker. While it made the beginning of the episode more intriguing it made the resolutions of the plots too predictable.

Ann T. said...

Regarding the locked desk drawer, why doesn't Don just put all that stuff in a safe deposit box where no one else can get to it?

Tamara said...

"Devin McCullen said...

What does it say about how much Roger's lost his mojo that Betty Draper has no hesitation in telling him off and hanging up on him?"

I think this also says something about Betty. She's still childish, but she's grown up since she was the charmed little girl who was a bit charmed by Roger when he invited himself over to dinner and then threw himself at her. That act deserved the venom she threw at him in this episode. That Betty did not fight back, but the season three Betty told him where to go. And he sure as hell deserved it. Baby steps....

Stephen said...

Wow. This was the first episode that had me talking back to the characters on the screen. Shouting, actually.

Anonymous said...

Don's opening scene was reminiscent of the first time we see Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now. Interesting, because Don was forced in this episode to take a figurative trip up the river to confront Dick Whitman once again.

lungfish said...

Can someone refresh my memory. Betty unsuccessfully tries to open the locked drawer in Don's desk again... did we ever find out what was in it?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Bullet Park address for the Draper residence (as seen on on Don's contract and, earlier, on a phone bill: regardless of what the house number on that road is, Bullet Park is the title of a novel by real-life Ossining resident and major Mad Men influence John Cheever.

Tamara said...

To lungfish:

Isn't that the drawer that holds all of the Whitman family photos?

HaroldsMaude said...

what a great episode. I too liked the hints at the beginning we had to wait the episode to understand. It kept us (at our house) guessing - who hit Don, who Peggy was sleeping with, if Betty was in another dream.

I really liked Betty's confidence and directness in this episode. Telling Roger off; confronting Don. You're right, Alan. She's learned how to fight. But I think it's also stimulated by the sense of commitment from Don, over the baby, perhaps, his choice to stay with her. It's empowered her.

So, did the kid in the hotel room hit Don because he wanted him out so they could have sex? Or out so they could rip him off?

And it was thrilling to see Don in such a vulnerable position - pushed into the contract from everyone around him, even his own father - no wonder he was so angry with Betty when he came home.

PS: I love the fainting couch and Betty's purchase of an item that allowed women to relax after being bound up with corsets all day long. You put that couch any where you want to, girl.

JoeInVegas said...

I figured that since Duck couldn’t get Peggy to leave SC, that “having a go” with her would be the next best thing to get at Don. You know Duck heard all about what a ladies man Don was when he was at SC and probably figured that he was tapping Peggy in return for mentoring her.

How old is Peggy anyway? She graduated from Mrs. Somebody’s Secretary school in ’60? So she’s between 21 and 24? Easy pickings for a man like Duck.

KcM said...

@Sloansy: the Junior League is a long-standing non-profit women's organization. (These days, it tends to lean GOP, so I was sorta surprised to see Betty take the "Silent Spring" side of the question -- I always kinda thought she would be our proxy for the rise of the New Right on the show.)

Perhaps relatedly, Betty has pretty much lost my interest on the show by now. And I don't really think it's a double standard thing - it's more the writing. She's been petulant and self-absorbed for two seasons now, and unlike Don, Pete, or anyone else, there are no mitigators.

I ask y'all, what is the last vaguely positive thing Betty has done on the show?

arrabbiata said...

Cooper's comment about who was really signing the contract got me thinking about another possibility- Draper may be tied to SC for 3 years, but Dick isn't. If he really wants out at some point he can still walk away, as long as he's willing to leave Don Draper (and advertising) behind. I don't think this is at all likely, since the plot of the show pretty much requires that he stays part of that situation, but in the past he has shown the strong urge to leave job and family behind and run. The contract makes that much harder to do, but not impossible. The hallucination about his father should be enough for now to make him realize that he'd still rather be Don Draper than Dick Whitman.

Didn't like the flash forwards. It caused me to be too distracted wondering how the events would come to pass, then taking the surprise away when they came. By the second time we see Peggy in bed she's had her call from Duck and all I'm thinking is no, Peggy, no, but then it happens. Once Don stops for the hitchhikers we know they are going to have something to do with the way we see him wake up. If not for that, maybe I can imagine that they will encourage him to run.

But that's a minor complaint in an outstanding episode.

Anonymous said...

Awesome episode. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Don getting schooled over and over tonight.

And Betty! The lady finally grew a backbone. Loved hearing that comeback she had to Don's whining about his contract. Loved her meeting up with a guy she's attracted to. And loved loved loved her buying that couch that was not decorator approved. Hah!

Anyway, I really hope Don gets more of a taste of his own medicine in future episodes. The character is such a self-absorbed and ungrateful jerk.

Stephen S Power said...

Nope, I was wrong. The contract does say 42 Bullet Park Road. Darn. That would've been a sweet nit.

Ann T. said...

I don't think that Don would run and leave his life, at the very least because of the kids. He had a crappy childhood and was for all intents abandoned by his parents. I would think that his one shred of humanity would keep him from doing the same to his kids.

@KcM: regarding Betty, her role is not to be the positive bright spot in the show. We're supposed to hate her and think that she's a child, so that we feel some empathy for Don. Don's just as selfish as Betty, but he's smoother about it.

Crystal said...

I'm wondering if Peggy will end up working for Duck, and then BAM!, we'll see Joan working there as a secretary at his firm. And Peggy will stare in shock - awkward.

It'd be a good way to get Joan in some episodes. And really, Peggy doesn't even have to go work there, she could just be touring the firm or something.

Plus, I love Peggy's character, and I just can't imagine her staying at Sterling-Cooper after Don treated her like that. Or maybe that's more me just wishing she won't stay there.

Also, I'm a little offended that some think Don had at least a foundation for yelling at Peggy about her ambition. The girl is getting SCREWED over with pay so I don't think that asking for either more opportunity (the Hilton account) or a raise is being over ambitious.

Overall, good episode, but not as good as last week's.

dunhamsc said...

I'm still digesting the episode. As has been mentioned so many times, each episode is like reading a chapter of the Great American Novel.

has something to say about advertising. I was struck by the way the young lovers called Don "Cadillac" and the way the teacher judged him because "you all wear the same shirt." Perhaps the lovers left Don his Caddy because they don't want to be associated with taht way of life. This is advertising at work. The possessions are signifiers, and advertising is the reason. Betty's decorating and later purchase are part of this. And so is the Hermes scarf. Lots to think about. Man, I love this show.

Anonymous said...

I feel like this episode is all about being trapped (or having your path somehow blocked) -- but I also think the eclipse referred to whether you admitted what that path was, i.e. were you facing your desires head on or not - Roger always takes what he wants, Betty does not. I think the scene with Betty fussing with the desk drawer symbolizes both her frustration with Don's privacy and to reassure herself that its ok to do things she maybe shouldn't.

J said...

The main problem I've had with this season - that there wasn't a profound thematic emotional connection to the period the way there had been in the first (post-war male existential dissatisfaction) and second (the growing awareness of dissatisfaction with women's roles)
seasons - is starting to fade. The throughline this year has been the feeling of a loss of control, and I think more and more they're showing how characters/companies cede personal freedom by making commitments to outside associations.

I'd resisted the Vietnam parallels just because I didn't know how to figure the Brits there (shouldn't it be the French, at least?), but I'll buy that their presence upfronts imperialism. As the spectre of war grows - and this week we had profiteering and talk of proto-draft-dodging - characters continue to tie their hands and make their beds.

I wonder if in the last episode of the season, everyone will look at where they are and wonder how they got into the mess they did.

J said...

Also, yeah, Peggy & Duck, ewwww.

Sloansy said...

Thanks KCM. Actually, the fact that the Junior league is Republican leaning but was liberal at the time is not that unusual. The Rockefeller Republicans ruled the GOP roost in 1963 (and of course, Betty is appealing to some sort of aide to old Rock in this episode. How important is he? Not the campaign manager yet, of course, and end of the day it appears he has no power to stop the water tower. Anybody want to venture a guess as to whether he has real power or is just trying to impress the hot blonde with the body that can't possibly have had three kids?)

I've mentioned it in a previous thread, but one of the most significant developments of the 60's was the fall of the country club liberal republicans and the rise of the modern conservative movement that will really take power in 1981 and dominate for the next few decades. I do think Matt Weiner is aware of this, and has incorporated it into his amazing and rich story, which will obviously cover a huge amount of ground.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Anyone else laugh at Roger apologizing for the position he was putting Betty in?

Brian D said...

Did anyone notice that Don's contract listed his address as "Bullet Park Road"? "Bullet Park" was the eponymous suburban purgatory in John Cheever's 1969 novel. Cheever was the poet of suburban alienation and masquerade in the 1950s and '60s. Don Draper could easily have been one of his protagonists. I'm sure this was an hommage to that great writer.

Lindsey said...

Don used the "we gave you an office line" on Peggy after Rodger used it on him. I'm not sure what that means but I'm sure it wasn't a coincidence. Maybe he can't come up with an original thought.
I'm not convinced the kids were going to get married. The note spelled 'your' instead of 'you're' so they probably are dumb enough to not get into college. Maybe they were just out to scam and rob people. They seemed to know what they were doing where Don was totally in the dark. It's really unlike him to be in that position.

Anonymous said...

I know we're not supposed to post comments that repeat earlier sentiments but I just have to add my own "Peggy and Duck EWWWWWW!" too.

evie said...

I just finished the episode, and my first thought is: Shame on all the television reviewers who acted as if last week's episode was the be-all, end-all of the season's episodes. That episode was nothing -- truly nothing -- compared to this one. So sad that the promotion of this show goes the way of the Jai alai campaign, while the show itself is, uh, Hilton.

Why did you and so many others get sucked into the lawn mower scene when, except for Joan, every significant character's life changes in this episode? That's the one I'd tell people (50 times over) to watch.

My only other comment about tonight: The "fainting couch" is the perfect metaphor for poor Betty. She wants to move backward in time, while everyone else in the world (most especially her husband, her kids) are moving forward.

Anonymous said...

I loved the way they wrote Don's condescending speech to Betty (which Alan quoted): "Let me explain something to you about business, since as usual, you're turning this into something about yourself: No contract means I have all the power. They want me, but they can't have me."

Translation to Betty: You're a little girl. I don't respect you enough to tell you something that obviously affects you. You're self-absorbed, and I'm better than you. You want me, but I cheat on you. I have the freedom you can't afford. I have all the power.

That one little speech was packed with all their marital problems of these three seasons. Wowza, that's good writing.

Sloansy said...


There is no ambiguity over who signed the contract. Don/Dick will be bound by it no matter what name he calls himself (what this means in practical terms is that Don OR Dick cannot work for a Sterling Cooper competitor for 3 years.)

I'm not sure if Don has revealed his true history to his lawyer (he really should, of course, its all protected. But I would not be surprised if Don has failed to do so.) But really, the signing of the contract does not have to be quite as damning as Don thinks it is. It probably doesn't even prevent Don from going in house someplace, like Hilton, if that is not a direct Sterling Cooper competitor. Covenents not to compete are generally not favored, and Courts interpret them narrowly. (yes, in real life I am a lawyer, though this is just internet BS).

KcM said...

Sloansy: "One of the most significant developments of the 60's was the fall of the country club liberal republicans and the rise of the modern conservative movement that will really take power in 1981 and dominate for the next few decades. I do think Matt Weiner is aware of this, and has incorporated it into his amazing and rich story, which will obviously cover a huge amount of ground."

Agreed. One of the great correctives of recent historical scholarship is how the Me Decade and the Conservative Era (Nixon-to-Dubya) arose correspondingly with the liberation movements of the 60's and 70's.

I'm personally of the lefty persuasion, but I think Weiner would be doing the history a disservice -- and not be doing his homework -- if he didn't nod his head to the origins of the New Right as much as the New Left. (See also: Rick Perlstein, Lisa McGirr, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Alan, I really love watching Mad Men. Second to that, I love reading your insights immediately afterward. I will always continue to be a faithful reader. I don't know that I can contribute by commenting anymore. I've had one too many times of asking specific questions and being ignored. I know these things happen, but it also doesn't mean I have to like it. It's also very difficult to keep up with 400 comments. It almost becomes painful reading. So I'll keep to what I do very much like which is your blog and your opinions on the show. Thank you, Alan.

berkowit28 said...

Dave F: the reason the contract was important to Hilton is because he is signing an agreement with Sterling Cooper, when what he wants is to have an agreement with Don. If Don has no contract with SC and walks out no, he can't simply follow Don - he has a contract with SC and would no doubt have to pay them in full, plus some sort of extra penalty, to get out of it. Or would have to stick with SC without Don, which he wouldn't want.

Pamela Jaye said...

I honestly can't remember why Don is so ticked off at Roger. (and i never made it to the end of last week's 395 comments)

Now I must go decide whether *my* duck will be sleeping with me, or in her own bed. In either case it will be far less gross than Peggy and Duck (ick, ick ICK!! (and I think I'll have to readjust the brightness on my TV - I couldn't tell in the opening that it was her))
and again - ICK (good thing I couldn't tell)

Sloansy said...


Exactly. In fully disclosure, I lean to the right myself, but that is really of no significance for this discussion, which is about the rise of both movements, as you pointed out. Also, I greatly enjoy the way these reviews allow us to talk about these things civilly, like people. Modern politics to so depressingly vulgar.

As I said in a previous review, I think you could look at Harry Crane and Paul Kinsley as starting at a very similar point, and moving in different directions in accordance with the fragmenting of the political consciousness of the age. Alan once said Harry is out of touch, to which I offer a humble disagreement. He is following a different path than the sterotypical path of the 1960s yes, but he's tapped into something that will achieve a significance all of its own (for better or worse, depending on your own perspective).

Sloansy said...

Oh, and as a couple of people have mentioned, Alan, I really appreciate that you run such a fantastic blog and make an effort to keep the comments productive. I have literally been reading this blog for years (since the Sopranos days) but never had the guts to post a comment myself until quite recently. Thank you for carving out such a nice and friendly little corner of the internet.

evie said...

In terms of the Kennedy reference -- even if you forgo the blood on Joan's clothes, look at the scene just before that. The guy who took the mower out of the room in the first place was driving around the office confidently while a secretary -- in a lovely pink skirt suit -- was waving to the crowd (i.e., others at SC) while standing on the mower directly behind him.

There is no way that visual is a coincidence.

Groovekiller said...

Carlton should have told Don that it's pronounced "Yogging" with a silent J.

Anonymous said...

Seems that I'm in a minority not bothered by the Peggy-Duck thing. She was upset; he was shot down with one sales he made another, and made his case pretty bluntly. (Think of Peggy and the random guy at the party last season; she shot him down because, well, she was in the persuasion business and he clearly wasn't. Not recalling the exact quote, but the scene jumps out.) Not only is she intrigued; she's probably still ruffled from the Don incident and what is the perfect way to get back at him? (Maybe not LITERALLY get back, but she sure is dealing with her frustrations in a very Don like way when you think about it...)

Anonymous said...

Pamela Jaye: I've never posted as 'Anonymous' until tonight. My question was posted 2 episodes ago (not counting this one). Plus, it was fairly high in the comments, definitely above 70. I came back to check tonight...I'm relieved to see no one has tried to malign me for my actual feelings. I've never believed a feeling is wrong. However, if you really do want to feel like a member of a community... it helps if you ask a direct question (it was one outside the norm) and at least one person answers you. It sort of feels like high school did...I'll even ask Alan questions that never get answered. I don't know why. I just chalk it up to him being very busy, but I have seen him answer plenty of other people's questions. Therefore, I don't feel I belong. That's hard on me for reasons I won't go into here so as not to sway anyone into a pity party. I can and will read the blog faithfully. I might occasionally read comments. I think I'm meant to be a bystander. But, Pamela, thank you for at least noticing my comment. I do appreciate that.

Nicole said...

I didn't realize that last week went up that far. I read comments until about Monday afternoon and then I move on because there are other shows to watch and I have to work at some point too.

I suspect that Don was right in that Hilton could have overridden his lawyers' desire to have everyone on contract. However, SC saw this as an opportunity to lock Don down, especially with the Brits coming in to oversee their work. Don of course hated having his back against the wall and was cranky with everyone, especially Peggy until forced by Cooper to sign the contract. Cooper's comment about it not really being Don Draper signing the contract is funny, but would ultimately be incorrect if Don tried to break the contract. The Don we know would be held to the terms regardless of his actual legal name.

I don't want to think about Peggy and Duck too much, but it's an obvious reaction to having been yelled at by Don, and I wonder now more than ever if she took an underlying attraction to Don and transferred it to Duck for that brief moment, because of being noticed by an older man in the ad agency. Peggy's mom is around, but not her dad, so she is probably vulnerable to that kind of thing.

And of course Betty purchases the Victorian fainting couch.

Lisa said...

I wonder how this assignation with Duck is going to play out for Peggy. She was knocked off balance by her mentor, but what a stupid, STUPID move. A promising woman creative hopping in bed with some sleazeball from another shop -- in 1963? I suspect Duck doesn't have a real job for Peggy and he'll threaten to use this against her in the future. And for a change, Pete actually looks smart.

Oh, and viva the wonderful Robert Morse.

The thing with Cooper is that we always get these eccentric little glimpses of him, but Morse plays him so brilliantly. Cooper is one of these silk stocking guys who knows the 400, but at the same time, this is a guy who likely started in the ad industry during the Depression and that's where he learned his street-fighting skills. Forget how much Roger or Duck hate Don. Cooper absolutely CASTRATED him in that scene all the time sounding like a kindly uncle. We've never really seen anyone successfully do this to Don, and I think it's a turning point.

And with that chilling line, "Who's really signing the contract anyway?" you realize that Don is going to be under lock and key until Cooper drops dead. Which hopefully won't be soon.

Looks like Don and Peggy have opened themselves up to the worst kind of blackmail -- wonder how they'll resolve it.

Snacktime said...

Amazing episode. I spent a lot of it cringing. Cringing at Don's treatment of Peggy and Peggy's naivete at going to see Duck, and getting seduced literally and figuratively by "opportunity."

Alan used the term "ending badly" and that's what this episode felt like. Everyone's gotten into something that will not end well.

I also laughed hard at the sycophantic behavior of Pete Campbell and the boys of the office waiting for scraps of information about Conrad Hilton.

And, I've relieved that Don did not sleep with the teacher.

Jennifer said...

It's fascinating to watch the chinks starting to form in Don's typically unflappable demeanor of control and suaveness. He was literally de-seated by Conrad and Bert and you can see how uncomfortable it made him to be put on the spot that way. He's starting to feel trapped and it's making him lose his cool.

Makes me wonder if the next few episodes will see him pull it together and regain control of his double life or if he will continue to fall apart.

Randomly: I chuckled out loud several times during the contract scene: once at Lane's "huzzah!" and another time at Cooper calling Hilton an eccentric.

Unknown said...

I thought Cooper was giving Don an ultimatum: either Don signs the contract, or Dick gets fired. That's why Don finally signed the contract. On the other hand, I like how he tried to smooth the blackmail over at the end with "it's just a name on a piece of paper." Don Draper may be a phony name, but the man who uses it is what Sterling-Cooper really values.

Anonymous said...

On the eclipse: Should we forget the mythological significance of eclipses as portents of doom?

Also: great/funny editing tonight: Hitchhiker kid asks Don if he "wants to watch" - Cut to closeup of Don's hallucinatory dad, grinning and rocking. (Ew.)

Peggy wakes up with Duck (also Ew.), Cut to Betty's decorator: "What were you thinking?"

SR said...

I can't help but wondering, what has Don donned and what is Duck ducking?

Duck's seduction of Peggy was a nice reminder that, despite his recent track record, he's not entirely without skill in the persuasion business.

ScottyG said...

I got a few thoughts on the episode

-I've always thought Bert was a good guy, but that Ace in the Hole has made me think twice about him
-I found Don's interactions with those hitchhikers (I wish I could call them worse on this website) cringe-inducing as the result was sure evident
-Betty's attempt to open up the desk in the study almost seemed routine
-and last but not least, I think that the baby starting to cry as soon as Don left showed Betty that she probably couldn't handle this life by herself

Deanne said...

"I ask y'all, what is the last vaguely positive thing Betty has done on the show?"

Did you even watch this episode?

Deanne said...

Don's treatment of Betty and Peggy is absolutely nauseating. He deserved that broken nose.

I loved Pete looking out for Peggy.

groovekiller said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet but this episode, if we are to believe Weiner's statement that Mad Men has been envisioned as a 5 season story, is the exact midpoint of the entire series. (13 eps/ssn x 5 ssns = 65, this was the 33rd show).

In one way, it's sad to think that we've already seen more Mad Men than is left for us to see.

But in another way, if as in many works of literature, the whole of this narrative can be correlated to a parabola, we are either at the apex or the zenith (depending on how you look at it) and this episode is the turning point of whatever story Mad Men will have told.

Steve Wirzba said...

I love how even lines tossed off in passing in this show can catch you. I particularly liked this one, dont think it's been mentioned(?)

"So, how do people live elsewhere?"

"They don't have as much, they don't get as bored.."

Anonymous said...

remember Cooper at the end of Season 1 when Pete told him about Don/Dick.

Cooper said "Fire him if you want but One never knows how loyalty is born."

Looking back now - it seems like Cooper was talking about Pete AND Don.

a.e. said...

I'm not getting all the outrage and hand wringing in regards to Peggy sleeping with Duck. Is the assumption that, as a woman, she will fall in love with him after succumbing to a physical act him (which would be odd seeing as how Peggy has been able to successfully separate sex and emotion thus far)? How exactly does Duck blackmail her with this, as some have asserted? It's not as if the advertising world was a chaste affair, nor, that affair's were uncommon in the 1960's.

Peggy is not like Betty. Betty is married and worries about her reputation in a small town and so does not want to be alone with a single man. Peggy is young and single and a professional woman living in Manhattan who drinks whiskey and is free to visit men in hotel room's in the evening. I truly don't see this as some possible doomsday scenario, just added complexity to Peggy's character.

And I can't believe people here don't think morning sex is hot (or a guy being plain spoken about wanting to get in your pants). I guess this is why so many married men frequent the likes of Ashley Madison...

dunhamsc said...

This episode is about the desire for possessions, possessions which signify something about to us to the world. Isn't it funny that the lovers thought they were doing Don a huge favor by leaving him a dollar and his Cadillac, as if taking his Cadillac would be taking an intimate, personal part of him. Ah, advertising.

Don is now a possession of Sterling. He's a commodity with an imaginary appeal and significance, like a Cadillac, or a shirt or a Hilton hotel. But now, after signing that contract, he's no longer the amazing unpossessable Don Draper. He's a quantity (seven twenty three, to be exact). This will not bode well for Don, for people soon tire of their possessions. As Don said, "No contract means I have all the power. They want me, but they can't have me." Oh, they've got you, buddy. They've got you. And you will be out when the new fad hits.

Peggy is lured by the Hermes scarf, not just its beauty, but the fantasies of style and Paris(!). Duck is a fantasy... just as Peggy is a fantasy for Duck. Disappointment looms.

Betty has hired someone to design her living room and project an image. And what does she do with the warm hearth area? She puts that narcissistic Victorian couch dead center. Betty is crying for attention/help.

Unlike a lot of you, I don't feel bad about Don's speech to Peggy. He nailed it. Peggy has been just as brutal at times (think about her talk with Pete last season). I think the Don/Peggy/Joan relationships are going to be the key to the season. They are the few that are about true respect and friendship. Don, as we have seen, can count on Peggy. And I believe Pegs can, ultimately, count on Don. When you strip away all the BS, all the labels, all the projections of wants and desires, this is what matters.

arrabbiata said...


My comment was not meant to be on the legality of him working in advertising under Dick's name (I'll happily defer to your experience in that area), but rather a reaction to Alan's view that the contract could effectively kill the Dick Whitman part of his life. Maybe it will, but seeing how Dick has emerged under stress from time to time, I think he'll always be in there.

If I remember correctly, around the time Don was made a minor partner he declined to sign a contract, but assured Cooper and Sterling that if he ever left, it wouldn't be to work in advertising somewhere else. I tend to believe that. I think being an ad man is so much a part of his Don Draper identity that if Dick decided to run, the least of his concerns would be over a landing another advertising job.

Dick drives at night with a drink in his hand, picks up strangers and accepts drugs from them, and is Archie's son. And has done worse things. As much as Don hates giving up some control, I think he sees it as a better alternative to living Dick's life. I believe that will be a bigger factor than the contract in him staying put.

Anonymous said...

On second watching, I was less less struck by this than I was on the first viewing, but maybe it's worth mentioning.

So, the first image is Peggy in bed with mystery guy. Then there's Betty on her fainting couch, but I'm ignoring that one. Then there's Don, passed out and bloody on the floor.

Then we cut to a short series of anonymous images of Don getting ready: the tie, the shoes, the gray suit coat that he puts on from behind. Then the decorator scene, which I'm again ignoring.

Then, at Sterling Cooper, there is this shot of the back of Don's head as he gets into the elevator, and the camera pulls back to revel that everyone in the elevator is wearing almost identical gray suits. Roger's wearing a vest, and Hollis has the red trim, but those early scenes of the episode really kind of threw me and made me wonder who all these people were, and why are they all the same. And then it got hammered home when the teacher said that all the fathers wear the same shirts.

I'm not good at deeper analysis, but that really hit me the first time. The second time, I felt it was less obvious (maybe because I already knew what was going on?).

rhys said...

I don't think Dick will go quietly into that good night. Meaning I don't think Don is simply going to accept his lot. I think the freedom of not having the contract may have been something that limited Don actually, he always had that out, so he never had to make the tough decisions. Now that he is stuck I think he will be more likely to buck against other things that he had always let slide because he always believed he could just walk away. For instance, right at signing the contract he said he doesn't want to have contact with Roger anymore. Previously, he'd put up with Roger because he knew he could always walk away if he really got sick of it. Now that the option is gone he's willing to finally lay down the law and sever ties with Roger permanently. I am interested to see how this will affect his relationship with Betty. Will he finally acknowledge the fact that he is unhappy in that relationship and bring it to an end? Will the teacher help him take that leap? I am not sure that Dick is really dead, but maybe that Don is simply being forced to merge the characters finally and emerge as a whole individual in his own right.

Susan said...

I loved it when Peggy told Pete to stop infecting her with his anxiety. What a wonderful line.

It was great after Don being almost likable thus far this season, to see him in all his narcisstic, mysoginistic glory. Don Draper is such a disturbing man.

Bert Cooper was in much of this episode and I really enjoyed those scenes. Fabulous how he got Don to sign the contract.

Rita said...

I'm wondering when Don will mention to someone (where it will get back to Pete Campbell) that he met Connie at Roger's party - after he told Campbell at that same party not to pass out his business cards?
Don's been really careful about not saying exactly where he met Hilton.

Julia said...

Betty calls Henry out for knowing in advance that he wouldn't have time to see the endangered reservoir

On the other hand, she wasn't exactly dressed for tromping around looking at a reservoir, was she?

Tyroc said...

I took Cooper's bringing up the Dick Whitman card to be much more sinister than many of you. Not playful, but blackmail. Don's life would be completely destroyed if the truth came out -- he's a draft dodger. He would most likely be in prison, let alone ever work in advertising again.

One funny bit that I haven't seen mentioned yet is that the young folks who robbed Don used "your" instead of "you're" when they wrote "your welcome." Made me laugh.

So how now that he's feeling more trapped than ever, how soon before Don takes up running?

BigTed said...

It was interesting how Don's encounter with the hitchhikers led to him symbolically being beaten up by the '60s. I wonder if that's some kind of foreshadowing of a future in which the dark side of the decade (screwed-up hippies, drugs, Vietnam) may end up really taking a toll on him.

Maybe Betty was peeved by the implication that she hadn't heard of "His Master's Voice" because it suggested she didn't know anything about advertising. Of course, we've learned that one of the things she hates about Don is that he refuses to talk to her about his job, and seems to think she wouldn't understand what he does anyway. (Despite her having been an anthropology major.)

I'll add to a previous poster's disagreement with the contention that Peggy is overambitious. She apparently does make less money than the men at her level, and we've seen virtually all of the guys scrambling just as hard for position and the best jobs. It's difficult to see Don's attitude as anything other than lingering sexism, and the attitude that as his former secretary she should shut up and be grateful for anything she gets.

a.e. said...

Tyroc - Don/Dick is not a draft dodger seeing as there was no draft during WW2. The real crime he has committed is identity theft. (And besides, he did serve in the war he just happened to "luck" into another man's identity and escape his previously bleak existence).

Bill White said...

Don's/Dick's life starts to fall apart bit by bit, and we move a step closer to each episode's opening sequence. I haven't read all 2-1/2 seasons of comments, but have you all discussed the similarity between the opening sequence's falling man and the 9/11 photo ? At some point, Don/Dick will need to choose (metaphorically) between death by fire and death by falling. Dick or Don survives, but not both.

oSoFine said...

I agree with S.S. Power that it was an interesting decision for Betty to put the "fainting couch" (chaise lounge) in front of the "hearth" (as the decorator described it).

It made me think of the Greek Goddess, Hestia, who was the only one of the Olympiads to decline a throne, choosing instead to mind the hearth and take care of family and guests. By putting her own lavish "throne" (one might call it) in front of the fireplace, Betty is taking a stand away from her role as the center of family life, elevating herself above that role (if only in her own imagination), and ready to take on her own adventures, which Hestia herself shunned. Also, the concept of hospitality. At first we see her welcoming the women of the Junior League into her newly-appointed living room, but after using that relationship to find a way back in with the man she was attracted to, seems little interested in using that room for anything else but as her own sanctuary (really quite fore-thinking to us in an age where both spouses tend to want, and possibly fight over, a "home office" for themselves).

The fact that her throne is a "fainting couch" also symbolizes Betty's tendency to "tune out" what she doesn't want to deal with - or her desire to still be able to.

(And yes, she did ruin the room... I would not want my name on it any more than her decorator did - and I'm not a decorator.)

Great blog, as usual, Alan. However, I would have to disagree with the idea that Don would become a spy - it would be too much like trying to change the character into some kind of Chuck Barris type. I think that Don's already established facility with donning (no pun intended) different personas as needed makes him spy-like enough - without any actual espionage.

Finally, in your end notes about your "rules", there is a typo: you used "ever" instead of "every". (Damn, now you are all open to pointing out my typos and mistakes! Oh well....:P)

KarenX said...

The only thing I can think of to say right now is that boy! The Swenson's bakery was integrated! And Betty--who walked right past the black couple at the table behind her, who I noticed during her conversation with Henry with all the close-ups--reacted not at all to their presence.

Maybe that's just small-town 1963 New York and I'm the one who is out of touch.

Tyroc said...


Don served in the Korean War not WW2. And I believe the Korean War had a draft. (Could be wrong!)

That said, Don switched identities in part to get out of his service much earlier, which is not only identity theft but going AWOL.

Whatever the case, a cold blooded move by Cooper. And so well acted by Robert Morse, as it was done with a smile.

Chaz said...

Is it just me or is Chelcie Ross looking a lot like John Waters?

Raz Cunningham said...

i loved the subtlety of betty pulling at don's locked drawer in his study, still trying to get in, she's just not giving up, or is it just routine at this point?

Unknown said...

Great episode all around. I love the comments.

@Michael about Conrad Hilton, I wasn't around in 1963 but he founded one of the biggest hotel chains in the world. He's famous enough that his great-granddaughter is one of our biggest celebrities here in 2009 despite not having any discernible skills.

And let's not forget. Conrad Hilton was on the cover of that week's Time magazine.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Completely gob-smacked, once again, by this show.

Another thing about the "16 Tons" use that cracked me up... when Paris Hilton showed up on South Park, and attempted to buy Butters from his parents, we see Butters shoveling coal, and singing "You load 16 tons, whatdya get? / Parents try to sell ya to Paris Hilton." I mean, it's GOTTA be just a coincidence, but I loved it just the same.

LA said...

Someone above mentioned really disliking Don throughout the episode, but I offer that the man we saw in Seven Twenty Three was Dick. Loved the Archie Whitman hallucination.

Bert Coooper, you sly dog you. In the scene he nailed Don to the wall, I liked the callback to previous dialogue in season two. He repeated the exact line (paraphrasing) "would you agree I know something about you..." before he went for the jugular.

Very strong review, Alan. Sincerely, one of your best. My sincerest thanks for the thought and effort you put into reviewing this show.

Mauimom said...

I wonder if Peggy had to remind Duck to wear "a Trojan"?

[This is just another way of saying "ick!!!"]

ryan said...

when cooper says "after all, who's signing the contract anyway" is that a reference to don's double identity or that it's really cooper's contact as it's him that will be stuck with don for 3 years?

Unknown said...

I may be in the minority, but I didn't see Cooper as threatening Don as much as he was matter-of-fact about the situation. When he asked Don, "Who's really signing the contract...", I think he was letting him know that Dick Whitman could go or do wherever or whatever he liked, but Don Draper belongs to SC. He'll always have an out, but it will cost him the identity SC helped him foment.

Julia said...

Since Dick switched identities with Don on a Korean battlefield he would be guilty of desertion during a war, much more serious than going AWOL.

Also - I was a college student in 1963and frequently hitched rides to get from one part of town to another - never alone and always with other students. Hitching was very common and it was very rare for either the person giving the ride or the hitchhickers to be hurt. My brothers all hitchhiked clear across country. It all went bad rather suddenly at the end of the 1960s and people wouldn't dare try it any more.

Julia said...

Should add that although Dick was injured somewhat and spent some time in the hospital in Korea, he had just come in country. They would have patched him up and sent him back into the fray. The Don guy had been there for some time, that's why the new Don got to go home and it seems he was also discharged after escorting the real Don's body.

Unknown said...

Mauimom, Peggy touched her belly when she walked into Sterling Cooper after she talked to Don. I took that as an indication Duck didn't wear a Trojan.

Unknown said...

Alan great point about 7/23 being the day Dick Whitman died-I felt an ominous tone and a sense of mourning throughout the episode-which was aided by the disjointed beginning and Don lying on the floor.

I thought the two scenes in Draper's office w/ Hilton and Cooper were excellent and ominous-well Hilton's comments to Don were. I thought for sure that the Hilton relationship would change Don's life for the better and after some of Hilton's comments and attitude I wonder if that will be the case-or if it is a be careful what you wish for.

Cooper is a sly one-he appears to be senile and eccentric but that is for show. Although great scene when he called Hilton eccentric-the look on Sterling's face was priceless.

Similarly the two scenes w/ Don lashing out at Betty and Peggy were very ugly (the two times when he had control and power and could exercise them he did)-but you have to wonder how a "less free" Don Draper will now behave at work and at home. Does it affect his creativity? Does it make him feel "bored" and "hemmed in"?

The teacher is frightening-be afraid be very very afraid-and Don (like Tony S.) has a definite type he is attracted to and it is not a positive.

The Vietnam excuse by the two grifters didn't work for me at all-one of the few occasions I thought the show missed the mark historically. It is difficult to realize now but the war was very popular well into 1967. It was also not a major issue in the public consciousness and that was partially a result of how Kennedy was dealing with it-incl. a sizable but hardly significant American troop and adviser presence in 1963.

but definitely enjoying the season and Alan great write-ups as usual. Thanks!

Farm Girl Pink... said...

What struck me odd was the comment from Conrad Hilton. About how Don needed a Bible and pictures of his family on the desk. (Shows stability?)

Seems like a odd thing for a legendary skirt chaser (Hilton) to be so concerned with appearances.

Now I see I am maybe the third person not traumatized by Duck and Peggy. I actually found it to be a interesting development. And if there was a ever a girl that needed to get la*d properly, it is Peggy.

I just don't believe for a moment Duck did the big nasty with Peggy without a ulterior motive. Maybe he is wanting to know about the accounts, that he thinks he can steal from SC.

But Pete is not looking out for Peggy. He is looking out for himself.

If she leaves, she takes all her smart work with her. He needs her there to make him look good.

If anyone rats out Peggy's relationship with Duck to Draper. It will be Pete.

Anonymous said...

A previous commenter wondered when/if Don will mention that he met Connie at Roger's party.

That got me thinking... in the meeting in Bert's office, Roger asked Don where he met Hilton. Don said something like "we travel in the same circles" (can't remember the exact line right now). Is this Don's passive-aggressive response Roger's mean-spirited comment in "My Old Kentucky Home" when he told Don that the great thing about country clubs is that you get to choose who you "invite"? (Sorry again, can't recall the exact line right now.)

Alan-- thanks for the great insights. Like other posters have mentioned, I read your blog right after I watch every episode to get a fuller understanding of what I just saw.

Farm Girl Pink... said...

Dang, I forgot to ask.

Did Don make the statement that Sterling Cooper didn't have the Hilton account at the end of the episode?

Unknown said...

Man, this show just keeps getting better and better. Some random thoughts that I didn't see addressed ...

About the flash-forward opening scenes ... Did anybody else think you were seeing missing footage from Season 2 when Don was living in a hotel away from the family and Betty was off having a torrid affair on a button-tuffed leather couch inside the manager's office at a hotel bar?I thought it was a clever misdirection by Weiner.

Anybody else suspicious about Duck's "office"? First we see him in a bare space with his signature ducks flying on the wall, as if it could have been an office he rented on his own dime, and now he is conducting business out of a hotel suite? Something doesn't add up.

And what about Roger's line... When Sterling says to Don, "I'm not sure if you don't want to be doing ad work here, or if you don't want to be doing ad work period" he is saying what Don hasn't been able to answer himself. Don just seemed exposed all over in this episode - as an adulterer by the teacher, as somebody so comfortable/unmotivated he regularly shows up late by Hilton (and remember, he showed up late to hear the announced about PPL coming a few episodes back), as an out-of-touch rich guy by the hitchhikers, and most damning of all as an imposter by Bert Cooper. His smooth facade isn't as convincing as he thought.

The theme in one word: opportunity Duck goes right out and says it to Peggy: "This is what opportunity looks like." Sally's teacher reminds Don that he can only get the chance to look at an eclipse once every 10 years. Don jumps at the Hilton opportunity and has his whole life turned upside down. The simple message is be careful what you wish for and all that glitters is not gold, but each opportunity teaches its own lesson.

With Peggy and Grey, we see that making the right decision once might be easy, but when another equally shaky opportunity arises on the heels of that decision, its not so easy to say no again.

With the eclipse we know that just because an opportunity is rare, doesn't mean it's good for you as the potential eye damage that comes from gazing at the solar event.

Finally, with Don and Hilton, we see that even if something looks to be a fail-proof decision, there's nothing quite so easy in life and every life move carries consequences that change how we operate.

belinda said...

- This time, I think Betty wants to find something incriminating in that drawer so she could justify her wanting Henry.

- I love that Pete includes himself in his "Duck wants to hit Don where it'll hurt the most". I am getting very soft on Pete - he's about the only one in the office who treats Peggy with the same respect as he does with anyone else.

- I like that the contract thing came back around, because I had been wondering about that since the British took over. I can only assume this final move to 'stability' would be as painful a process as that nose looked on Don. Which he totally deserved in treating Peggy as terrible as he did.

- Duck and Peggy is surprising, but I wouldn't go eww at it. She's not married, neither is he now, so morally it's heaps better than any given affair of Don's. And I like Duck! :D I'm curious to know whether Duck is genuine (I think Pete is right on this occasion), but I'm even more curious as how Peggy feels - are they foreshadowing a possibility of Peggy and Don together later on with this Duck/Peggy pairing?

- That suggestion about Joan working at Duck's by a previous poster is a good one! I'd love to see that.

- I'm starting to think Pete would end up being the one leaving SC. Don's tied up now, Peggy shouldn't move now that she's involved with Duck, which leaves the one who was most adamant about not leaving, and the one whose job is heading towards redundancy, Pete, to leave.

Hatfield said...

Yeah, this show is pretty great, isn't it?

I say Betty was compensating; when she said "I know what it is" I immediately said "Liar!" Classic Sopranos and Mad Men trick. "My friend couldn't make it" also clearly a lie.

I have a hard time with Duck and Peggy, unless we're saying she was so taken by his blunt appreciation of her. But the theory that he's using her to get back at Don and Sterling Cooper is interesting.

The show doesn't operate this way, but I really wish Don could beat the snot out of that hitchhiker guy.

Only halfway and it feels like everything is getting turned on its head; Weiner wasn't kidding!

Anonymous said...

Your quote: "A total solar eclipse arrives midway through "Seven Twenty Three," and characters are warned repeatedly to not look directly at it. <> And all throughout "Seven Twenty Three" ... characters are given the opportunity to directly face something they want, or something they fear. "

Oh for God's sake, these looney analogies, trying to make every little thing have some huge meaning - it's is like a not too bright student in English Lit 101.

TheQueenOfSheba said...

Peggy perhaps has no contract with Sterling and Cooper. IF this is the case, this makes her potentially the most powerful individual in the firm.

BayouWho said...

Regarding the observation that this is exactly the midway point of the series, I find it interesting that it comes right when Don has his a ceiling at SC for the first time.

The first half of the series we saw that Don made a continuous ascent at the firm. Right at the midway point, he, for the first time, does not get a promotion. Are we to assume it's downhill for him from here?

I sure hope not.

Matthew Stollak said...

I may be late to the party, but Don Draper was not wearing (or has not worn) a wedding ring. Another sign that he doesn't want to be tied down?

Anonymous said...

I'm commenting here for the first time, and while I mostly agree with you, I believe Pete's button-fumbling was an intentional choice on Kartheiser's part. If you've ever watched Angel (Joss Whedon's other vampire show), Kartheiser played a character there who spent most of his time being angry and disturbed and was later mind-wiped into a more balanced person, and the difference between the original version of the character and the mind-wiped one was visible already in the body language, so I think Kartheiser knew exactly what he was doing.

Whiskey said...

I haven't seen anyone mention that Don wasn't wearing any socks in that first meeting with the Chipmunks, post-Hilton visit. Unless my eyes are majorly deceiving me... I hit the DVR back button so I could watch the scene again as the camera panned away from him, seated in his chair with his pants leg riding up. There's been so much talk about feet on here recently, I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise. But it struck me as so odd, given how precise his morning ritual seemed.

I thought the beginning scenes of Peggy in bed, Betty on the couch, and Don on the floor worked. In a hazy, "how-did-I-get-here?" sort of way (actually made me think of David Byrne and the Talking Heads for a second).

Another thing that seemed weird was that Don seemed to be stuffed in that first grey suit, when he's in his office and the reception area talking to Connie, the torso of the suitjacket seemed ill-fitting, like he was bloated. Don did not look his usual devastatingly handsome self in this ep. Which is good, since the last scene from "Guy" last week was incredibly beautiful and his hotness increased by a factor of 10, with the baby in his arms and Sally all snuggled up to him. Thanks to Alan's interview with Jon Hamm, I too am always acutely aware of how smoothly he performs every secondary action while on camera.

Don was drugged by another set of grifters... maybe he's getting too old for this hobo business?

I loved that, once again, we see Betty and Pete actually behave in a more adult-like manner. Pete has inside info on the prep for war -- he's working his connections, paying attention to what's going on with business & government. Betty is finally joining a volunteer group and being something more than a pampered "housecat" by replacing Francine on the JL. This is the first time we've seen her receive anyone like that at her house, which is why I've been so frustrated when people spoke of how trapped she was in her house with the kids. Francine has obviously been "out there", and we saw Trudy Campbell in the first ep this season with some "ladies from the Met" at her apartment. (And no, I don't think the assorted volunteer organizations are necessarily a remedy for an empty life in the 'burbs, but they did provide a creative and intellectual outlet for women and were a natural first step for housewives of Betty's class to get out of the house). I also thought of Betty's pulling of the drawer in Don's desk as a reflexive act, as if she tries it every time she goes in the room on the off chance he'll have left it open one day. And Betts is now wearing dresses with fitted skirts, more modern. She definitely wanted Mr. Francis to appreciate her post-pregnancy body. But then on the fainting couch, she's back to wearing one of her fluffy-skirted dresses, more old-fashioned. It's like she takes two steps forward and one back... the metaphor of the elaborate antique ruining that room full of fabulously modern furniture was indeed a metaphor for Betty and her life. Every time she tries to move forward with the times, she winds up defaulting back to the past. And the decorator was scolding her like a child! (she was right to complain about the effect of the couch, but still the tone was very demeaning)

Alan, WRT Carla and baby Gene, I think Carla's there and the kids are all there but they are very much in the background and not being seen or heard. Poor Bobby, he just can't do anything right!

Oh, count me as one of those who thought it was hot when Duck told Peggy that he wanted to take her clothes of with his teeth. And morning sex? Right ON! I don't want this to be a relationship, but I didn't think it was gross. Peggy doesn't know Duck's history so to her, he's a good-looking successful MAN who is notDon.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the key points to having the flash to what happens at the end is that when we see Jon H, it looks like we have an old "Dick Whitman" scene. It's not until the end that we realize we have a "Don" scene.
Don in certain ways is one of the Sun Kings here. That's why you see him getting dressed and pressed and so spiffy he's almost shiny. Dick is the shadow that pops up every so often to obsure Don.
Re Betty's snappishness after hearing the "His Master's Voice" line probably has to do with a number of things, but primarily that it is an advertising reference, and thus takes her out of her flirtation and brings her back to thinknig about Don.
I've thought again about how Don treated Peggy. It seemed horrid, but is it much different than the way he treated Pete when Pete kept at him in Season 1?

JT said...

alan, how could you NOT use Duck's great line as your tag? "As soon as I give you a go around like you've never had..."

This was the best ep of the season so far. The groove is back (I hope!).

Stil, Duck and Peggy? Ewww...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Did anyone notice that Don's contract listed his address as "Bullet Park Road"? "Bullet Park" was the eponymous suburban purgatory in John Cheever's 1969 novel.

Yes, someone already noticed that, and pointed it out, which you would have noticed had you done as I'd asked and done a quick word search for either "Bullet Park" or "Cheever."

People, please: try to show respect for the other poster's time, and mine.

Schticky Fingers said...

"Alan once said Harry is out of touch, to which I offer a humble disagreement."

Sloansy, I don't think Alan was implying that Harry is out of touch based on the fact that Harry is an early iteration of the neo-con. Harry is out of touch because he was the only one in the room who didn't realize he'd been promoted. Harry is out of touch because he and Jennifer don't know how to fit into the business man's world.

And I'll add my voice to the quiet chorus re: Peggy's hookup with Duck. I thought it was kinda hot. Instead of a petulant and/or selfish boy, Peggy goes to bed with a man. The fact that the man was Duck was unwise to be sure, but still ... kinda hot.

TIMMY!!! said...

I think Don is going to try to regain the control he lost in this episode by reverting to some old habits, namely he's going to go after Sally's teacher with all guns blazing. And if he gets her, things are NOT going to end well...

And was Betty wearing the same dress on the fainting couch that she had on at her meeting with mini-Rockefeller? If so, nice touch...

Mapeel said...

Don can be very witty, but we don't see it often.

Connie: there is no Bible or personal photos of your family here, and you need to come in on time.

Don: I was spending time reading the Bible to my family.

Anonymous said...

1. Anonymous by convenience, DoubleLifeofaSalesman by choice, back again, and I apologize that my gushiness over some old Don/Joan link led another Anonymous to believe I was just thinking in sexual terms. Later contributors said it better: that Doan and Joan are each so formidable that surely they must have been on each other's radar, but somehow managed to steer clear of each other in recent years. But all this is my awkward way of saying how I miss Joan and hople they'll fir her back in somehow.

2. I remember at the show's outset how my heart leapt for joy to see them hire Robert Morse, J. Pierpont Finch himself, and this episode at last truly rewarded him. I've played enough chess to know that the king is usally a bit of a drag, an embarrassment and a liability -- but when the fighting gets dirty and close enough, the king can become a surprisingly powerful force. Bert's "Sacajawea's baby" speech was brilliant. Bert is da king, and in the close and dirty fighting, he makes it known.

3. Last week I decided that this show may really be about the Modern Woman as split between Peggy and Joan (it'll be a while yet before, as wronged as she's been, I'll really "get" Betty), with the show steadily pushing Peggy, a character who would not otherwise register that strongly with me. My take on her has been much like Don's very first comment on her "earnestness." But seeing Don snap at her makes me root all the harder for her. And the thing is, Don may well be right -- and what's RIGHT is not always what's GOOD, let alone just. As a long sneaky campaign to get me behind Peggy, this is working briliantly,

And about the whole Peggy/Duck scene: it's regrettable, but it reflects the show's realism and attention to character. Liberation is not some snap decision, but a hundred major decisions, all of them wrenching and counterintuitive. In the very beginning Peggy tried to come on to Don, and she still wonders if that sort of avenue is open to her.

But because I like her, I'm getting out the stopwatch and counting the minutes until she realizes that Duck isn't worth it.

4. "No more Midge Daniels!" is the moral I see for Don when he gets "rolled." Seems like only yesterday he could hang with Midge and her kooky beatnik pals -- but things have become much more desperate. Yet another prize of the past closed to him -- as, with any luck, our Teacher/Ballerina may be. Don hates aging like this, surely hates the change in the world, resents it, hates the whittling away of his claim to infinite freedom.

5. My biggest laugh was at the very end. After Don tightly and ruefully says "I signed ... !" the ending credits go out on the line "I owe my soul to the company store."

6. Everyones on about JFK, and rightly so, but I'm really hoping for a glimpse of "I have a dream."

7. To Chaz, I'm with you: Chelcie Ross plus that skinny 'stache IS sort of reminsicent of John Waters.

I hopte to return.

Lee said...

I'm not sure that the characters were confronting something in their lives like watching the eclipse (yes, I know I screwed that up), but I think that what is eclipsing many of the character's sunny future/being a Sun King... is Dick Whitman.

It's Dick that is eclipsing Don and holding him back. It's Dick that tore into Peggy, not Don. And it's Dick that is a wedge in Betty and Don's marriage and keeps Betty at a distance. Dick is the eclipse blocking out the sun.

laurav said...

ok, so if hilton was such a huge account to grab, how is it that neither cooper, roger nor pete (or harry for that matter) know that he was at roger’s party? i don’t get it….did hilton crash it? i could give roger a pass because he’s always so drunk, maybe he didn’t remember that he was there or something. and maybe pete and harry – because they usually don’t know which way is up until somebody points it out to them. but cooper? the way everyone at sc is acted when don had his meeting w/ hilton (applauding him), you’d think that at least one of those four other guys (harry, roger, pete, cooper) would have known that he was at roger’s party.

re: pete and peggy. pete clearly said during his little chat w/ her in her office when he was telling her to return the scarf that he “doesn’t care about her”, it’s sc he’s worried about (and himself) when it comes to duck.

peggy and duck, while a shocker, wasn’t ewww for me. and on another note - why would duck feel that peggy is that important to don? so many here have expressed their feeling that stealing peggy from sc, or sleeping with her, is a way to get back at don – but don clearly points out in this episode that peggy would be pretty easily replaced. does duck know something that we (or peggy) don’t?

finally, i saw don’s treatment of peggy as totally out of line. i mean, ok, she was his secretary. but in all honesty, who in that agency didn’t start out at the bottom like she did? it doesn’t seem to me that any of the main players actually went to school and studied advertising (i could be forgetting though). don didn’t. they all have seemed to just fall into their roles at the firm….harry got promoted and hardly even knew it. sal is now a director? come on……don’s acting like peggy needs to accept the fact that she’s still just a secretary, which is complete crap. she’s mimicking everyone else’s actions in that firm, including don’s, and he’s just too self-absorbed to realize that he’s set an example for her and she’s following it. don always gets what he wants and for the first time we’re seeing him having to compromise and so he berates peggy for trying to get what she wants. it’s like if he can’t have what he wants…nobody can.

Julia said...

Throw-away lines. I love the throw-away lines you have to go back and listen again.

In the episode where Sally is watching the newscast of the monk igniting himself in Saigon, there was a few-seconds-long bit on a postive day on Wall Street with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining almost 2points.

I forgot that once upon a time they still reported fractional gains and losses. In 1963 the Dow had not yet hit 1,000. That didn't happen until 1972.

Lionors said...

ok, so if hilton was such a huge account to grab, how is it that neither cooper, roger nor pete (or harry for that matter) know that he was at roger’s party? i don’t get it….did hilton crash it?

Connie was at the same country club, but at a different event. I think he was hiding out from a wedding.

Unknown said...

Like the Godfather movies and their image of the puppet on strings - Don's position, with his increasing success (a la Hilton), is making him realize it comes with strings. Like Vito, he doesn't want to be 'one of those men controlled like a puppet, on strings' (or whatever Vito says). But Don's finding out he's still got Hiltons and Hoopers in the world who control his strings - directly like Hooper, or indirectly like Hilton.

Melissa said...

To me, this episode was about Don (and Dick) being overpowered - by Hilton, Bert, Betty, the hitchhikers and even the teacher. The first two take away his professional power. Betty stands up to him, which leads to the hitchhikers and, in the end, him signing the contract which symbolizes his complete loss of power.

My favorite part of the episode was the teacher shooting Don down. Finally, a woman that is immune to his charms. I'm more than a little distressed to see the commenters, and Alan, who have mentioned her at all think that she's some sort of bunny boiling psycho because she doesn't start shedding clothes as soon as Don looks her way.

I never viewed the teacher's call to the Draper household as a bid to get Don to notice her. I think Sally's grief brought the teacher's personal grief to the forefront. She was drinking and made the call which she never should have made. She probably regretted it the next day.

I know that to this point, practically every woman Don has been in contact with has wanted him immediately. But, wouldn't it be novel if this woman doesn't? I didn't live through this period but my mother was a professional woman working in a city who managed to keep her morals and resist many advances. Mad Men has spent 2 1/2 seasons showing us the seedy side of morality. I would enjoy seeing at least one character from the other side of the coin. Plus, what better way to show Don's complete loss of power than for him to be really spurned (not just delayed gratification) by a woman that he wants?

Melissa said...

RE: Harry being out of touch - he was the one that realized Don wanted them to interrupt in 20 minutes so he looked busy. I don't think he's as out of touch as people think.

a reference said...

What an episode. I am blown away. Here are my thoughts:

I think that Don is going to unravel. Nobody has really mentioned the hallucination he had with his father. This is probably one of the first times we’ve seen a semi-good vision of Dick’s father. Dick of course changed his identity because of this man. He’s been fighting it his entire life. Now I think he may give up trying and give up. He’s lost his cool. A new generation is upon Mad Men and he is no longer “the type.” He’s old and cheesy in the 1960s. In the 1950s he was “the man.” I think this is what both incidents with the teacher and the hitch hikers were about. Also the drugs given to Don by the hitchhikers seemed important. Maybe Don is going to become a pill popper.

Has anyone seen North by Northwest? It’s a Hitchcock film about a man who is trying to prove his real identity. For some reason, this episode reminded me of that.

I love Betty. I love how she is standing up for herself. Wouldn’t it have been great if she had put that sofa in the bedroom?

Duck. I thought he was gay. Wasn’t he hitting on Sal, or am I confusing him with another character?

Anonymous said...

Really liked the quality of the writing, especially in the power play scenes with Connie and Cooper. My interpretation of Connie is that he is every bit as sly as Cooper. That business about Don's being late, the family and the Bible are his way of testing Don and seeing if he can trust him to take his own position on things as opposed to being just a yes-man. Of course, as Connie correctly predicts, he will change Don's life in some fundamental ways, so even if Don gets points on the board, we know who's going to prevail in the end.

Anonymous said...

I did cringe, cover my eyes and yell "No!" several times during this episode. I was convinced Don was going to get beat up in his hookup with the teacher, glad that didn't happen; although whatever happens with her will certainly not end well. I envision a suicide, but I am not sure she will hookup with Don, maybe with Carlton. He does see her when he is out running. Hmmm...

Susan said...

Dave, I agree Duck's position at Gray appears questionable. He was less than honest (with both the PPL guys and Roger and Bert) when he was putting together the merger.

Peggy is exploring her sexual freedom and not imo looking for a long term romantic relationship. I do not attach any particular importance to her having sex with Duck.

Liam said...

Don did not back date the contract to 1960, just to close that line of speculation; the last digit is 3.

Of the chipmunks (who get very little time this episode), Harry Crane gets props for noticing that Don wants to look busy for Connie, and Pete gets props for being very right (and Peggy was also a bit too modern in being so non-codependent in her reaction).

I actually found some of the character development here as artificial, especially Peggy and Duck, as well as Connie.

Bert, however, was the best development.

Scott Hollifield said...

Awesome episode, and devastating to see Don's world cracking the way it is. I'll also briefly speak up in defense of the flashforward framing device, which was employed subtly enough and is unique enough for this show, that I think it worked. It added a bit of unusual dramatic punch at certain moments, to wit, when Peggy showed up at Duck's hotel room, we could at that moment feel sure from having seen the flashforward that they would end up in bed together, but the agony was in seeing it play out; same as with when Don entered the hitchhikers' room, we knew he'd leave with a concusssion, if still unsure exactly how. I felt that it was a new way with playing and shuffling with the viewer's expectations -- a little bit of information given ahead of time -- which, to be fair, wouldn't work if they tried to repeat it beyond this episode.

@Anon 8:52 9/28: I agree that you don't have two people like Don and Joan and not have them at least notice each other. For the benefit of others who may still be speculating about a past unseen Don/Joan affair, however, the first season episode "5G" pretty clearly outlines that there's not been one, when Joan finds out about Don having a mistress and says something like, "I've wondered why he's always ignored me."

@Laurav: I think that Duck was right, and that Peggy is important to Don. We've seen before that Peggy is someone that Don recognizes as a kindred spirit; if he didn't care, he wouldn't have shown up at her hospital bed and goaded her out of her catatonia. His outburst in this episode came from a place of weakness and feeling threatened. I also believe that nonetheless, Don had a point. Except for landing the actual position in the first place, Peggy's ascension has mostly been marked by asking for things outright. That only works up to a certain point.

@Faire: Duck's never been shown to be gay; could be you're thinking of Elliot, the Belle Jolie rep who tried to gently come on to Sal in the first season.

@Imamarilyn: How was Duck dishonest when putting together the PP&L merger? He told SC's management outright that he had been in contact with the guys from PP&L and had them on the hook; he also told the Brits that SC might be ripe for a takeover, which it was. Granted, he made sure to retain control when dealing with both sides of that arrangement, and didn't immediately being everyone into the same room together, but I wouldn't call that dishonest, just savvy. (Although I do agree with your characterization of Peggy's relationship with Duck. It will be interesting to see how these two proceed professionally, if they do.)

Susan said...

akaBruno, Don has never worn a wedding ring.

Raul, I agree nothing was sinister about Bert getting Don to sign the contract. Lane failed at convincing him to do so, Roger failed as well, then Bert made it happen as he should have. Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. It's business, plain and simple. I don't think Don's reluctance to have a contract has anything to do with him wanting power. IMO not having one made him feel he had the freedom to run away any time he wanted. Betty intuitively understood that when she said it's three years, can't he commit to staying somewhere for three years? Now practically speaking the contract does nothing to keep him from running away. He could at any time just up and leave his whole life behind.

Miss Farrell is something else. She called the Draper residence, drink in hand, clothing disheveled. Now she tells Don philandering, drinking dads come on to her all the time. Oh my. For a woman to tell Don Draper he's nothing special. This is going to be good!

Anonymous said...

1. Don & Peggy: lots going on there when he chews her out, but I thought Peggy was a stand-in for Betty when Don rips into her for always wanting more.

Betty's just spent a small fortune on new living room furnishings (remember Don says something about not seeing the bill for the redecorating yet). Betty's hair, clothes & upkeep (riding, for one) are pricey.

While Don heard Peggy asking "for more" (to which she is entitled, being paid less than the men in the office) I suggest that he saw Betty, and felt a surge of pure rage at how women's needs force men to do things they don't want to do (like sign contracts).

Of course -- hypocrite -- it's Don who chose, demands and maintains Betty in her housecat role. All very much of its time and place. Men used to call their wives "the old ball and chain" and crap like that. Some probably still do.

2. Don's choice in women for affairs. He seems to like smart brunettes, Jews and independent, spirited types who do their own thing regardless of the cost. Midge, Rachel, Jimmy's wife: all anti-Bettys. The socialist-summer camp (to paraphrase Woody) teacher is definitely from the same pool as Midge, but less together (she drinks, poormouths and pouts about having no life).

Did anyone else catch her hand-made leather bohemian Greenwich Village flats? Loved that touch.

3. I wasn't grossed out by Duck & Peggy. I thought the seduction was hot and not icky. You didn't see him riding her like a horse or behaving like Roger (though this doesn't mean I don't suspect him of using her for more than sex). The guy is sensual! I was more upset when he sent his dog into the NYC night.

4. Don's misadventures with the hitchhikers. The times they are a'changin' for sure. Don's getting older. Will he get wiser? Sometimes he seems positively stupid.

AnnaN said...

I look at Don's treatment of Peggy as a parallel of how he was treated by Sally's teacher. In each case a moment of "whoops, I just made a misstep" was followed by a verbal smack down directed at the person who was the only person privy to the bungle.

Miss Farrell calls Don while slightly inebriated and vaguely comes on to him. He cuts her off at the sound of his wife voice, leaving Miss Farrell to gulp and try to grab the interpersonal upper hand at their next meeting by claiming that Don is the one who is being the aggressor between the two. Not so.

Don, given his reputation, expertise and insight should have realized that Peggy was right in that a Bye Bye Birdie/Patio commercial would not work. Don has NEVER had a problem telling a client that what they want will not sell. Don missed it and takes it out on Peggy. Both Don and Miss Farrell took a portion of their target’s personality and blew it out of proportion in order to devastate and regain the power in the relationship.

This also ties into Don’s talk about who has the power in the Sterling Cooper professional relationship. Don (consciously or not) may realize he has been losing the power. He got the Madison Square Garden contract, but was ultimately shot down. He blew the handling of the Patio account. He may have hooked Hilton, but doesn’t have the power to land him unless he relinquishes the one bit of power he believes he has – the lack of a contract. It’s not been a good year for Don.

In closing, I am on the tiny little bandwagon of people who declare: “Duck and Peggy Hookup = Oh yeaaaaaah”. When Duck made his intentions explicitly known, I totally clapped my hands together and said yes, please.

Anonymous said...

I thought it said a lot about the 2 days that Don and Betty had in this episode that when Don comes home with 2 black eyes and a bandage over his nose and finds Betty laid out on a large, antique couch, neither one seems to notice these hard-to-ignore things.

Maura said...

It was great after Don being almost likable thus far this season, to see him in all his narcisstic, mysoginistic glory. Don Draper is such a disturbing man.

"Misogynist" is a word that gets thrown around a lot (not just here), and I just don't think it's a fitting description for Don. As another poster already pointed out, Don has snapped out at Pete in the same way on more than one occasion. It's all about timing with Don, and if someone asks him for something when he's acting like (a) Dick, they're in for a serious beating.

He was way out of line yelling at Betty the way he did. She does have a right to know what's going on. I haven't decided if he was right or wrong with the things he said to Peggy.

Don treats everyone with pretty much the same amount of respect. Which is to say, not much. Judging from the scene between him and Joan last week, I'd say he respects her more than anyone.

My favorite part of the episode was the teacher shooting Don down. Finally, a woman that is immune to his charms. I'm more than a little distressed to see the commenters, and Alan, who have mentioned her at all think that she's some sort of bunny boiling psycho because she doesn't start shedding clothes as soon as Don looks her way.

She didn't shoot Don down, because Don wasn't doing anything. He was standing alone, and she approached him. He looked both genuinely surprised and offended when she accused him of coming on to her, when he was just making conversation. Now, I get why she might think that, but it was inappropriate and little crazy for her to suddenly go into "you men, you're all the same" mode. If nothing else, she's needy and she lacks a much needed filter.

Don can be a miserable bastard, as we saw in this episode, but I think, in this particular case, he wasn't at fault.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned in a previous post that Duck's "office" at Grey was very generic, implying that he he may not actually work at that agency. I thought about that scenario last night when Duck insisted Peggy meet him at the hotel because Grey's offices were somehow not up to snuff. Did anyone else find this odd? Is Duck just out to totally scam everyone?

Unknown said...

@ Melissa

We think the teacher is crazy because tried to catch Don hitting on her when he hadn't even made an attempt. Their exchange:

Don: You've been here in August? It's a ghost town.
Teacher: Where are you going?
Don: Oh, we'll be here.
Teacher: So now I know that. Most just come right out and ask if I'm going to be around.

Of course you know that now! You asked him!

If you watch the scene again, she doesn't do any deflecting or dismissing of Don's advances - Don doesn't advance. If anything she's being the direct one, framing the conversation and turning it to philandering without any prodding from Don.

In addition, the fact that she felt the need to act that way in front of the children also seems a bit reckless.

Add her drunken phone call, and the little foreshadowing hints about Sally's connection to her, and it's pretty clear that something's going to happen. And as others have said before, it will not end well.

Anonymous said...

As to Duck being gay, no that was another character (who resembles Duck a bit). He was from the Belle Jolie account and ran into Sal a few times at meetings.

Anonymous said...

I think the teacher is giving off some crazy signals. She's not being consistent in her interactions with Don, and she'd taking leaps about his intentions. I don't really think it would be his choice to have an affair with Sally's teacher (too close to home -- too easy for her to cross paths with Betty). Hopefully, he learned that lesson from the Jimmy/Bobbie situation last season.

marianne said...

Betty and the couch:
Some of us have been wondering what happened to Betty literally on the couch in the first season, when she was seeing a psychoanalyst. Well, here the "couch" is back. It's described as a Victorian fainting couch - Freud, perhaps? In the first few scenes on it, Betty seems to be fantasyzing about someone. We eventually learn who she's thinking about. Betty's interior designer is horrified that she's placed the couch in front of the fireplace, ruining the "perfect" livingroom she designed. Betty places the couch right in front of the fireplace, what the designer had described as the hearth and center of a home. Betty always looks perfect (except for the birth scene) and says she just wants things to be perfect. The new couch looks completely incongruous in the livingroom, but Betty looks very content on it. Could this be a signal that Betty's need for perfection is starting to unravel, and that the unraveling may happen as a result of her own sexual desires, a very 60s feminism concept? Maybe she married Don because he was handsome and she thought she would have a perfect life with him, but now she's starting to realize that their facade of a perfect marriage may be a hollow one.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the "Your welcome" showing that the hitchhikers weren't too bright, it also foreshadows how much Don's life, and the country's, will be falling apart: it welcomes Don to a new and less-safe world.

I liked how Betty asked for a straw to drink her iced tea with--another expression of her childishness.

Anonymous said...

Great post, great comments. Just a few followups I haven't seen:
** Upon seeing Betty on the fainting couch,I flashed immediately to her on the psychiatrist's couch long ago. Then, she didn't know what was wrong with her, nor what she wanted, and now she does.
** Don telling Peggy she has a job that any man would envy, then Peggy drinks a whiskey with Duck, who commments that she's really a man's woman. Then she becomes one of the boys even moreso by upping the ante via casually sleeping with Duck.
** Correct, Vietnam wasn't on the radar that much back then, nor was "Silent Spring" a book suburban ladies were necessarily reading. I think Weiner may be looking at that time with too-modern eyes there, I think. ** Betty rattling Don's locked door meant to me: "You have a secret, and now so do I." ** many men indeed did NOT wear wedding rings then. Too emasculating? ** What is Peggy's birth control situation? Surely she doesn't want to get pregnant again! I can't quite remember when The Pill burst through...anyone know? ** Regarding the political atmosphere in the background: recall that here we are one year away from the Goldwater nomination, and the beginning of the right-wing wave. Nelson Rockefeller was a big object of derision by that crowd. The Eastern moderate Republican was on his way out, though it took a while to completely disappear. [Claiborne Pell just lost recently.]
Thanks for all this meaty goodness!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I may be stretching, but did they purposely make Cooper look like the Devil there at the end?

He had a red bowtie on and his pointy beard, asking Don to sign away his soul....

KeepingAwake said...

Yes, a lot of the episode was about Don's signing the contract and all that implies.

In a larger sense, it's a metaphor for mid-life crisis. He's a man of a certain age with a family and a career, and, when he's honest with himself, a lot of potential doors have been closed by his choices. He is who he is, and where he is, and that's not going to change. Worse yet, everyone around him saw it before he did. Isn't that everyone's mid-life crisis?

Roger handled his the way Don used to--distraction with a hot chick. Don's actually being far more grown-up about it, surprisingly.

Anonymous said...

One of the most famous "marriage deferments" was Dick Cheney's. He was married in 1964, though I don't know if it was after Tonkin.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"[Claiborne Pell just lost recently.]"

Pell was a Democrat, and he retired in 1996. He did, however, die recently.

Anonymous said...

I think the opening scene flashbacks acted as a "camera obscura" for the audience. Upside down, topsy-turvey images of a reality that is too hard to look at directly. It was difficult to watch the characters in this episoide: seeing Don backed into a corner and off his game, seeing Peggy make what I consider a dangerous mistake (how many baby daddy's can one girl meet in one office?)

laurav said...

i think peggy's on the pill - remember she went to joan's recommended doctor over her lunch hour and he gave her the lecture about "getting around town" or something to that effect.

Whiskey said...

I thought it said a lot about the 2 days that Don and Betty had in this episode that when Don comes home with 2 black eyes and a bandage over his nose and finds Betty laid out on a large, antique couch, neither one seems to notice these hard-to-ignore things.

LOL, no doubt! I thought the same thing!!! I also thought they both had valid points when Betty confronted Don about the contract, she just happened to be much more in the right at that particular moment.

When Don ripped into Peggy it made me flinch, but I didn't see it as being any worse than what he's done to Pete. In a way, she should be happy that he's treating her the same way that he treats the guys, sometimes being treated equal *sucks*. As to why Duck might think that Peggy was valuable to Don, wasn't there a rumor at SC about her being Don's lover? I remember Peggy making an offhand remark to someone, "don't you know? I'm sleeping with Don, it's going very well for me" when she first got her office. So Duck might actually believe that he's taking something that was Don's at one point and maybe still is. WRT the "same social circles" reply to Roger, my take is that Don was definitely getting back at him for Roger's comment at the country club. I miss the days when people dissed one another with such elegance... verbal sparring, yeah! That scene with Bert Cooper "persuading" Don to sign the contract was so well written, I was holding my breath and then feeling positively giddy once Don signed. You know, one of the things I enjoy the most while watching this show is the way the writers create tension. Once again, they didn't disappoint, this ep was chock full of it.

The more I think about Betty, the more I feel like banging my head against a wall. I would've never guessed Anthropology as her major... I would've pegged her for an English Lit major with a focus on Poetry -- Courtly Love, Romantic Poets, that sort of thing. It would explain so much about her personality.

I love this show, I love this blog and I love being able to obsess with all you guys!!!

Susan said...

Scott, Powell assumed Duck was sent to negotiate on behalf of Sterling Cooper and since that worked to Duck's advantage, he did not correct him. When he talked to Bert and Roger about it, he said PPL called him to approach him about a merger. I agree with you that it was savvy, but it was also dishonest and imo Duck is being less than honest with Pete and Peggy about his status at Grey and their employment potential there. Duck has and currently is playing both ends against the middle.

Anonymous said...

Re: Claiborne Pell
My bad! My bad! I meant Lincoln my point still stands.

Liam said...

And yes the sight of an erstwhile objectivist like Cooper using blackmail (however elegantly) to coerce Don into signing something that benefits Cooper more than Don was masterful. Where's John Galt when you need him? Cooper is thus exposes as a poseur not merely an eccentric.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I'm convinced Dick is dead for good, but Don has certainly lost his ability to move seamlessly from one world to the next. Someone earlier mentioned Don hanging out with Midge's friends. Think about how easily he was able to put on his hat, become "the man" and stroll past the police while Midge's friends were trapped in the apartment that night. Remember how he signed over his bonus check to Midge before leaving? This time he's rolled by a coupleof kids who see him as nothing more than Cadillac. Don's power came from being master of both worlds, and he even wins over Connie with his story about life as Dick. Now the prize of the Hilton account has trapped him in Don-world, where even a fling with the teacher would be predictable and suburban.

Scott Hollifield said...

@Whiskey: We've never really seen anyone spreading rumors about Peggy and Don, but there were no doubt some simmering in the background as a result of her ascension to the new office, as there would just about have to be in an environment like this. Peggy's comment about this was made to Pete as a sardonic joke, which he seemed to appreciate. Apropos nickname, by the way; did you "grow up on" the stuff like Peggy? :)

@Imamarilyn: Fair enough. I was trying to think back and recall if Duck actually misrepresented the context of his offer to either side, and I couldn't remember that he had. You may well be right about that. There's absolutely no doubt that Duck likes to play both ends against the middle, and even if he hadn't lied about anything during the PP&L talks, I think you'd be right to question his motives in dealing with Peggy and Pete.

@Liam: I don't understand how Bert's actions here conflicted with his objectivist philosophy, in fact it seems like the objectivists might approve of how he handled Don. Then again I've never been convinced that objectivism is an entirely consistent belief system.

KeepingAwake said...

@Whiskey: Re Betty's major.

Betty is vain and self-involved, yes. But she's not stupid. She's never been stupid! Look at how deftly she played Don's conversations with her shrink back onto him by telling the shrink she'd be happy if he were faithful to her. Since Season 1, they've shown she she was no idiot. It also wasn't common for women to graduate college in that day.

She's caught in a trap--she's smart enough, although not yet mature enough, to have been anything she wanted to be. Gene even told Sally as much. She chose the traditional path of marriage and family, and it's not meeting her needs in any way. Part of her immense frustration and anger are driven by her intelligence. She can see that other choices were possible, even in her limited appreciation of those choices. At the very least, she could have chosen a better husband.

She's symbolic of many women of the time, like my mother. Raised well, very bright, but who limited their lives to the choices they believed were available--spinsterhood in a dead-end job, or marriage to a relatively successful man and raising a family. You think Don feels caged? Try being an intelligent woman in 1960! They play this out with Joan's story as well.

KeepingAwake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

At some time, almost any middle-aged family man has gotten behind the wheel of a car and thought, "You know, I could just keep driving. Start over."

While intellectually we know it's practically impossible to simply begin again, it still offers some kind of comfort, an ever ready trap door to help us figuratively escape to the life we dream of.

But Don already used his trap door only to find his past isn't so easily shed.

I've always thought this is what makes him so desperate. He doesn't have the device many of us use to convince ourselves we're happy. He's, very simply, caged. And signing the contract just locked him down even tighter.

rcobeen said...

I thought this episode was a Soprano-like corrective in our view of Don. Tony Soprano was a magnetic, sometimes caring person who it was easy to like. Just when you think he may be turning the corner, Chase would have him do something evil or uncaring to jar you back into the reality of the character. This episode felt like that. People were afraid last week that Don was being made too nice, almost perfect. Don. in this episode, was anything but. When Betty is more adult, than something is truly wrong. Don was petulant and childish. His "I don't want Roger to speak to me again." sounded like a third grader. It was nice to get this corrective, even though the episode was not up to some of the previous episodes this year.

Anonymous said...

Loved the Roger/Betty scene, I think it was my favorite of the night and was a nice glimpse on how the Draper marriage works. They do put up a front for the world; but they also have each other's backs whether it's Don when it comes to Betty's family or Betty when it's Don's work. You can see the good in the marriage in these parts; at the same time Betty pretty much did what Roger wanted, lol.

As for Peggy/Duck: it made me think of Peggy/Don and that this is actually something Peggy wants. The affirmation Duck is giving her...from Don. The sex...from Don. I kinda wonder if they're going to go down that road with these two; especially given how much they know about each other's real lives.

The contract is awesome. Betty asking Don where he expects to be after 3 years; on the heels of her flirting w/that dude is interesting. So too, the Roger/Henry interaction. I kinda get the feel that much as Roger blew up Don's work life; Henry's about to blow up his home and the baby maybe not being his could come into play there, no? And in both cases; Betty (the symbol he married) is going to be the cause of it.

And now, he's tied to a contract so unless he wants to become Dick Whitman again and go west; he can't run away.

I have to say: I don't have a problem with Dick Whitman. He stole, he lied, he cheated, and he took a dead man's life. But he treated that guy's wife well, he made something of himself, and he had dreams. Don Draper, he seems to me to be the bigger bastard. He's the adulterer. He's the guy closed off from his wife. (Whitman didn't have a problem w/Draper's wife.) He's the one who can't accept what he has; because it's stolen. And that drives him to act in a way that he can lose it all.

Dick Whitman didn't have a thing to lose in life; Don Draper has everything to lose. And of the two of them; Draper's the bigger bastard IMO.

Whiskey said...

@Scott: I can't stand the stuff but I married into a proud Irish-American family, so it's always around. As a joke, I named my cat Whiskey, then chose to use her name when I started posting here because so many people on the show are always drinking it. I grew up on rum!

@KeepingAwake: hey now, I wasn't alleging that Betty's lacking in the intelligence department. (and I was almost an English Lit major myself) But she reminds me of the heroines from the Courtly Love poems, the way she flirts with men, and is always the image of idealized perfection. Does that make sense? If that was her academic background, it would make sense that her head was so filled with the poetry that she would choose that as her reality. Anthropology to me seems like an academic path that would force her to do some self-examination, to have self-awareness... ::shrug:: And I dunno about you (not sure if you're male or female), being an intelligent woman in the 80s, 90s or aughts hasn't been a walk in the park for ME either! But I relate way more to Peggy and Joan than I will *ever* relate to Betts.

I've been meaning to say for a few weeks now that I feel like we're definitely seeing choices and their consequences be a much stronger thematic element in the eps. It was definitely the whole point of this week's, I thought.

Anonymous said...

Betty was an anthropology major... studying things buried in the past.

So she marries a man with a buried past.


Unknown said...

I also don't get all the ew-ing over Peggy and Duck. I admit I didn't follow Duck that carefully and really have no opinion about him, but last night seducing Peggy he looked presentable enough, and was a probably a nice change for her after the grubby college student. Is it mostly men here, who find this coupling repellant?

Don and the hitch-hikers. Now that was ew. Don looks so suave in his own millieu but out of it, not so much. Like with the Eurotrash in California? He was a fish out of water and looked it. Awkward. Same here with these young low-lifes. Maybe it's because Don is a carefully constructed image, rather than the real thing.

I kept wondering last night, where's the baby? Who's got the baby? Then we finally caught a glimpse. I thought she'd be all haggered and spiteful by now from being tied down by that baby, but no! Not a bit! She's more fancy-free than ever. It doesn't seem that the baby has served the purpose of bringing Don and Betty any closer. They've never seemed farther apart actually. IMO.

Jon Williams said...

I don't understand how anyone can accuse Don of anything concerning his conversation with Sally's teacher. While he is obviously somewhat attracted to her, she walks up to him and initiates a conversation. He backs away from his children only when she starts to talk about Philandering (which is probably NOT beyond Sally's understanding. Another example of the age we're dealing with -- underestimating the intelligence on children.

I also think that it's wrong to be mad at Don for being straight with Peggy. The tome may have been a bit aggressive (he was in a bad mood and he made that fairly obvious when she came in) but he treated her like he would have expected to be treated. He doesn't ask his bosses for things. Whenever they've given him anything it was to convince him to do things their way. So for Peggy to ask him for a raise or new assignments is rude in his eyes. The salary structure at Sterling Cooper is not consistent everyone gets a different wage almost on a whim. The Chipmunks are not paid the same and the newest copy writer shouldn't expect any special treatment when she's already advanced so far so fast.

I also don't understand why everyone seems to think Don avoids a contract because he needs to be able to escape rather than for exactly the reasons he describes. We've already seen him wield the power the lack of one gives him. Why would he willingly give that up. Cooper using the name thing against him is just dirty pool.

KeepingAwake said...

@ Whiskey-I didn't mean to offend and hope I didn't!

You have a fair point there, yes, that years of intensive study of literature could have predisposed Betty to romantic fantasy. But it could also have brought her some of the exposure to the real world that an Anthropology major would have accomplished.

She's mainly a victim of her times. Marriage and family were the accepted goals for women, and they largely remain the goals today! (If I have to explain to one more person in a business meeting that I don't care that I am not married while they shoot me looks of suspicion or pity, I will scream, frankly.) Betty won the genetic lottery in the looks department, and that in no small way shaped her path toward marriage and family. Not only was it the expected path, she'd been dealt a seemingly winning hand. Why wouldn't she think that her entire existence is based on her looks and her manners? It's what she was taught from cradle onwards. Intelligence was a bonus, but not a requirement. And in the life she's chosen for herself, it's a hindrance.

Original Ray said...

Intelligence was a bonus, but not a requirement. And in the life she's chosen for herself, it's a hindrance.

How so?

Lee said...

@anonymous at 12:35 -
There is no question that the baby is Don's. Betty had her affair after she went to the doctor's office and knew she was preganant.

Anonymous said...

Great post and comments! It really helps me sort out the details that I miss.

The flashforwards didn't really ad anything for me. Just as seeing Guy writhing on the floor in the opening scene last week would have taken away from the surprise of the lawnmower scene, it sort of ruined it for me.

It made me cheer when Hilton told Don to get into work on time!

Good point about the ad talk reminding Betty, Nathan.

Very interesting Brian D about "Bullet Park".

Don's lecture to Peggy really made sense to me. In that day it would be extremely rare, if not impossible, for a woman without the specified education to move up the way that Peggy did. And even a guy with a fresh degree would also be told to spend the first 5 or so years in the entry level position humbly brown-nosing, paying the dues, and proving his worth. IMHO, she's been far too upitty about her good fortune since she got the job and in the real world that just wouldn't fly. While I do believe in setting your personal goals beyond what's merely expected of you, Joan would probably agree since she deserved getting that job more than Peggy did, I thought. :-)

Anonymous said...

As long as she doesn't reveal any S&C secrets or anything about Don or be really indiscreet about it, I don't think Don will care that Peggy slept with Duck. His objection to Roger and Jane wasn't based on morality, but more about their lack of discretion and loyalty. And that he got dragged into the tensions between Roger & Mona.

I didn't see Peggy/Duck as eww or hot. I see it as the 2 of them wanted some physical satisfaction and went for it. Duck may think he's getting access to S&C secrets, but I think Peggy is smarter than that.

As for the way Don spoke to Peggy, I didn't care for it, but she does show a real lack of sense of timing. She & Pete keep walking into these situations, whereas I think the other characters will check his moods first. If I'm recalling correctly, some have asked his secretary first, maybe one of the other Chipmunks? Most people do this with their supervisors on some level. Peggy's really going to need to develop that if she wants to succeed.

I agree with the camp who finds Miss Farrell to be unbalanced. First she way overshares at the parent-teacher conference given this is the pre-let it all hang out era. Then she gets drunk and calls him. Then she accuses him of hitting on her when he's just talking about the town/vacations.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I had read Steve Ely's post about Alison & the Chipmunks re: reading Don's moods, but by the time I scrolled down & read all the posts, I forgot it. Didn't mean to bring up something which had already been addressed without attributing/concurring with it.

KeepingAwake said...

@ Original Ray:

Because what does intelligence get you in this equation of totally submitting yourself to the service and control of your husband in exchange for social status and financial security?

It gets you boredom and frustration if you have any life of the mind or goals of your own. You question authority and chafe against its confines, realize that you're often and in some areas smarter than your husband (who is undoubtedly in charge) and you are stifled as a human being.

Intelligence would allow you engineer some moves in the social wars or to perhaps advance your husband's career at times. But an intelligent woman would be incredibly bored and frustrated to be treated as a glorified servant. Don essentially assumes that anything that might interest Betty outside housekeeping, entertaining and decorating are 'over her pretty little head' while Betty is dying to be included in something that would allow her to do more than plan a seating arrangement at a dinner party. There's a reason that prescribed drugs for housewives became a necessity to keep women in their place in the 60's. They would have gone crazy without something to dull the pain of not being a full human being.

Anonymous said...

@11:29pm anonymous

I don't think it will be a letdown if Weiner doesn't directly address JFK's death. Given how frequently it's been covered on other shows and in movies about the event, I don't think there's really anything new or interesting to be gained by directly addressing it. The indirect references work much better and are more original.

At some point, though, I do want to see a Mad Men Christmas. Can you imagine what that party would be like?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said at 1:18 on 9/28 --
spend the first 5 or so years in the entry level position humbly brown-nosing, paying the dues, and proving his worth. IMHO, she's been far too upitty about her good fortune since she got the job and in the real world that just wouldn't fly.

When I was working on Madison Ave in the 70s, men routinely walked straight into management or management-track jobs while women were always put first (and often forever) into secretarial/assistant roles. Same education (BAs from good colleges), same intelligence. It was "just the way things worked."

Susan said...

Whiskey, I agree Don's reprimand of Peggy was no different than what he did with Pete. One of the things Peggy is learning is being equal with men has its negative aspects as well. Don reprimanded her when she was his secretary (season 1, episode 1) when she let Pete in his office and Pete stole the report from Don's trash can. He softened it because Peggy was a girl. This time he did not. He treated her like a man. She reacted well, too, no crying. It was obvious it hurt, but I give her credit.

Anonymous said...

From day 1, MM has been as much about what happens outside of the viewer’s field of vision as it is about what happens on the show. 7-23 is no exception.

We have known since S1 that Draper shares many characteristics with Ayn Rand’s male characters. Don is correct when he (harshly) tells Betty that no contract means he owns his life. He understands that his own moral compass guides his actions. He can not be bought. In contrast to Rand’s strong male leading characters, we see that everything that can be bought will ultimately be corrupted and destroyed.

Both Connie and Cooper want to own Don and as we saw, both succeeded.

“Connie” Hilton has involvements. It is implied that he gets bored and he states that he has a wandering eye. Now he is looking at Don. Don instinctively understands that Hilton wants what he can’t have. Now that Hilton owns Don when will he tire of Don and when will his eye wonder again ?

The pretense of Hilton’s lawyers requiring a contract for Don was quickly seized upon by SC/PPL. Too quickly in my opinion. Would it be a stretch of imagination to assume that the basic contract was on hand from almost the day that Don agreed to come back, but management wanted to wait for an opportune time to bring up the matter ? The advent of Hilton’s business was just the lever that SC/PPL management needed.

While we know what Cooper said in S1 when informed by Pete of Draper’s true identity (“Who cares ?), Cooper has been depicted as being well connected and sly I think it is entirely possible that he has known about Dick Whitman for much longer than he let on and probably has let Don know that he knows much more. The comment that “we brought you in, nurtured you, treated you like family” implies a deep bond between Cooper and Don. Would Cooper had made such commitment to Don without knowing who he was doing business with ? I don’t think so. Somewhere along the way, Cooper may have done a background check on Don Draper and discovered enough of the truth to know the origin of Don Draper. This has been his trump card for a long time. He may have played it if the merger did not go through, but he chose to play it now because of the prospect of a very large client coming in the front door. Thus the scene has more potency- Cooper can destroy Don. And now he owns him.

Miss Farrell’s actions are baffling. Drunk dialing Don then calling Don out. Curious indeed. Instinctively Don should stay away, but we have seen him make stupid decisions before and she is precisely the kind of women that he is attracted to. This will end badly.

Their encounter during the eclipse could also be a sign that Don is starting to lose his charm with women. In his close up in the scene with Miss Farrell we see that Don’s eyes are puffy and just starting to sag…sign of age and stress catching up with him ?

As another poster pointed out, we are now halfway through the stated arc of the series- 2.5 out of 5 seasons. But we have only moved from Winter 1960 to Summer 1963….about 3.5 years. Adding another 3.5 years brings us to approximately New Year’s 1968 or not quite to 1970 which was Weiner’s original desired ending point. Here’s to hopping we have more than 2.5 additional seasons of Mad Men to see on AMC !

laurav said...

it’s interesting reading all of our comments regarding women’s issues during this time period. last week it was joan’s rape and how it was handled. this week it’s don’s treatment of peggy. i find it very interesting that most posters are quick to say that don’s treatment of peggy was to be expected because it was the 60’s, and women weren’t thought of as being equal in the workplace. yet the discussion of joan’s rape led to a lot of posters saying how we should be looking at the rape and the aftermath through our own 2009 rose-colored glasses, not so much through the lens of what it was like in the 60’s. it seems as in peggy’s situation most posters are looking at it from a 1963 point-of-view, while most comments addressing joan’s situation addressed it as if it took place in 2009.

Anonymous said...

I made a comment last week that I might interpret the Joan rape differently. What I observed was someone disassociating during the incident -- her face blank -- a behavior that COULD be explained by childhood sexual abuse. SOmeone who has been sexually (and otherwise) abused would have learned how to suppress certain feelings and comparmentalize them.

We don't have any backstory on Joan, do we?

It's hard for me, anyway, not to put contemporary interpretations (eg sexual abuse history) when there isn't any backstory for a character.

Peggy often has unreadable (to me) facial expressions. She apologizes abjectly to Don when he rips into her. What was her father like?

Is Don a father figure for Peggy?

shinything said...

Weren't there a lot of references to books in this episode?

- Ogilvy
- Hilton
- Bible
- Don to teacher 'Don't judge a book by it's cover'

Significance anyone?

Anonymous said...

I also agree with you Anonymous about men vs women in the workplace. I didn't work in an ad agency, but I did work at IBM for 32 years. I saw it go both ways for men...some men had to scrape to get recognition, and some just had the knack for getting their foot in the manager's, um, door. Many of them described it to me (I'm female) as who brown-nosed the best. Quality of work was not always a factor, and it often showed (and still does). And for women unfortunately, where I worked the Old Boys Network still exists just not as overtly, and women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves there and to get paid half of what the men do. Which is why I feel about Peggy the way that I do, i.e., be bold, but don't be shocked when you're told to pay the dues, them's the rules fair or not.

I was just like Peggy and worked my way up from nothing to a great job without a technical degree (I was an art major actually), and I was often unfairly reminded of that when I asked for fair recognition for my work. I realize that it's not like that everywhere today, but you've got to play the game where ever you are for the most part, and it seems as if Peggy needs to try that. I suspect that if she goes to Grey, she'll get an eye-opener there as well and will wish she never left SC, but that's just a guess. :-)

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 359   Newer› Newest»