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?


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Flynn said...

First-time poster here. This board is very well-done, Thank you Alan.
I think too many people think in termsof today's moral standards when commenting on this show, as opposed to what things were really like in ther early 60's. The early 60's still had much more of 50's feel to it at this point int ime, not til about 1967-69 did things start to change with the advent of Vietnam, hippies, Flower power, et. al. So for Don to dress down Peggy as he did I thought was completely apprpriate for the time.

Anyone else get a chuckle when Betty's son hung up the phone before she could pick up the extension in the other room. Happened all the time at my house growing up.

Lastly, Alan, you or anyone else have any thoughts on the use of NUMBERS in this episode? Watch again, and see often numerals are mentioned in this particular episode, starting with the 723 title. Almost every siginificant scene contains dialogue involving numbers. I ask Why?

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to read the perspectives of the viewers on the roles and relationships of the MM characters viewed as they are through their own generational prisms.

May I gently suggest to those who did not live through the milieu of America in the 60s, that there were in fact both men and women who lived full, productive, and satisfying lives while still conforming to the social norms into which they were born.

The fact that Don does not feel obliged to share (or as an American man of the 60s might say: "burden") with Betty a blow-by-blow of his work life was not all that unusual at the time. The traditional roles of "breadwinner" and "homemaker" were a lot more defined then than they are today but that does not necessarily mean that generations of Americans born before the current Age of Enlightenment led miserable lives because of the role expectations in which they found themselves.

Actually, as someone who was Peggy's age in 1963, I seem to recall that there were as many of my peer group who were distressed by the breakdown in gender roles and responsibilities in the 70s, 80s, and beyond as were encouraged by those changes.

Dr Linda said...

@1:32 PM, September 28, 2009
At some point, though, I do want to see a Mad Men Christmas. Can you imagine what that party would be like?

This might help you to imagine a Mad Men Xmas party (A holiday card commissioned by actor Rich Sommer depicting his fellow actors on AMC's "Mad Men" in 2007)

Paul Outlaw said...

Does anyone else think that the fainting couch will be gone, possibly by the next episode, and without an onscreen discussion? Betty is too tasteful not to see how tacky it looks in that room.

Hilton and Don banter about the Bible:
Genesis 7:23 - Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

Romans 7:23 - ...but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

Maura said...

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. :-)

I agree that Peggy needs more experience before she's put on an account this big, but I wouldn't say she expects anything. There's no sin in asking, only in asking at the wrong time.

To say she's uppity suggests that she needs to be put in her place. She has to be all business all the time; otherwise, the other hamsters will think she's flighty and emotional (because they're so mature all the time. All they need to entertain themselves is a can of Right Guard and a match). She has to be careful about everything she does.

Also, Joan wasn't interested in Peggy's job. She was working temporarily for Harry in the media dept. I don't think it ever occurred to her to ask to be considered for the job as a permanent position. They would have looked at her like she had lobsters coming out of her ears if she had. Joan's life world makes me if I think about it too long.

Verification: peress. Where Peggy hoped to go for the Hermes account.

KarenX said...

Regarding Betty's Education:

I think absolutely Anthropology fits/informs her character much better than a literature degree would. Literature is fanciful, but to talk about it, you talk about your reaction to it--even, to some extent, when you are studying it in the 1940s and 1950s under the strictures of the formal literary theories of the time. You learn about yourself when you learn about literature. Anthropology, however, gives you all this time to focus your energies and your thoughts on everyone in the world BUT yourself. You can graduate just as oblivious about your own character and motivations as you were when you started school.

Anonymous said...

Linda, thanks for the card link!

policomic said...

Since the question was raised and not, as far as I could see, answered, there absolutely was a draft during WWII, as well as during the Korean conflict of which Don/Dick is a veteran/deserter. Read more here:

Big Ted touched on this, but I saw an interesting portent of the coming "60s" (that is, what we usually think of as "the 60s") in the teacher's and the hitchhikers' hostility toward Don. The male hitchhiker's amusement at Don's being in advertising--as if that was all one needed to know about him--was just like the teacher's lumping Don in with the other fathers, with their sport shirts and philandering ways. The hitchhikers weren't just grifters; they had a sense that they were entitled to rob Don, drug him, and generally treat him with contempt, because they saw him as a bourgeois "pig"--even if that terminology was not yet being flung about with the abandon would be a few years later. The teacher's rejection of Don and his generational/class values was a bit more idealistic, but I saw it as the other side of the same coin. The "generation gap" that will erupt in a few years does not just arise out of a desire to evolve beyond the social strictures Don's generation of "grownups" uphold; there is real generational hostility brewing--not just idealism.

KMcKee said...

Can someone please remind me...are Bert & Roger related? How?

Nicole said...

I checked the NASA site for eclipse info, and according to them, it occurred on July 20, 1963. It was not a total eclipse for those in New York State, but only a partial one. Bearing that in mind, perhaps the changes that have occurred in the lives of the MM characters are only partially cataclysmic.

I thought Miss Farrell was having a relationship with Don in her head, because if we have seen all interactions between them, there is nothing to suggest that he has tried to hit on her. He is usually more obvious than that. She is also very emotionally immature, which is not something Don tends to be attracted too, besides, he has enough emotional immaturity to deal with having Betty as a wife.

berkowit28 said...

Maura - just in case you weren't joking, but just had trouble with the accent: Verification: Paris (France), home base of Hermes.

berkowit28 said...

I remember that eclipse in July, 1963. I was 15, it was the first one I remember. I was at a camp in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, near Montreal, about 400 miles due north of New York, so probably just about the same as there. It was, yes, partial, not complete eclipse, but was pretty good. Nevertheless, the fact that it wasn't complete made it easy to be tempted just to look at it as it happened. I did so for a few seconds. The next year I needed glasses (probably no connection, but - heh - who knows?)

Susan said...

Keeping awake, good comments on intelligence and the housewife of Betty Draper's era. My very intelligent late mother (who would have been 10 years older than Betty) used to say that intelligence was a curse in a way, that dumber people were happier because they were too dumb to know how bad their lives were.

Anonymous, good call that Don's contract was probably all ready to go, and Hilton was the excuse to have him sign it. Whereas Bert, Alice and Roger were okay with Don not having a contract, the Brits would not have been. They are much more by the book. No need to have Don under contract when he started out at Sterling Cooper; in fact, it would have been to SC's advantage NOT to have him under contract back then. But now a contract gives them much-needed protection.

Tamara, Betty no longer needs to patronize Roger Sterling, so she doesn't. Back when he came for dinner and was acting inappropriately, she had to be nice to him because (as she told Don) "He's your boss." Betty understands Roger has no power over Don anymore.

Tully Moxness said...

If we're on the biblical track, another interesting book 7 is Exodus. This is the book in which the plagues of Egypt begin. The first plague was poisoned water (the word reservoir is even mentioned). Another plague was that of darkness (thought by many to be an eclipse). Exodus 7:23 follows the refusal of Pharaoh to accept the poisoned water as the will of God: "And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also."

I don't think the talk of Silent Spring and saving the reservoir are coincidental. The plagues continue until chapter 12, at which time the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt occurs. This could very well be the episode in which JFK is assassinated, but this could bode poorly for the future of several first born sons - esp. Bobby Draper and poss. Roger Sterling (I'm not aware of any older Sterling brothers).

I haven't accounted for time in each episode - has anybody done a timeline for this season? It would be very interesting to see if each episode falls in a separate month up to this point.

God, I love this show!

Susan said...

KMcKee, I don't know for sure, but I don't believe Roger and Bert are blood relatives. IIRC, Roger's father and Bert founded Sterling Cooper. Last season when Bert's sister Alice came in for the board meeting, there was a reference to her being Roger's baby-sitter when he was younger. That might have implied to some that she was a relative of Roger's, but I don't think so.

dc said...

Excellent comments, everyone; thanks as always, Alan, for the great analysis.

I know Alan's blog has a "no politics" rule, but I think I can mention this in good faith (as it were):

It's fortuitous that this is the very week that I happened to come across a mention of Conrad Hilton in a book I was reading; he apparently figures in as connected to an influential circle of evangelical Christians (despite his Catholic faith). His Hilton hosted the first National Prayer Breakfast.

I mention all this only because what must have seemed like the heavy-handed reference to the Bible was probably par for the course for Connie: he sees an opportunity to bring Don into that informal network. I'm sure that Matt Weiner is aware of this connection, though I suspect we won't hear too much more about it.

Paul Outlaw said...

@ Tully:

Several episodes in Season 3 have taken place in July 1963.

Tully Moxness said...

One other interesting element in last nights show was discussion of Hermes (the scarf, the account). In addition to being messenger of the Gods, Hermes was the Greek god of travelers, of thieves (esp. road thieves), of runners, and tricksters. Miss Farrell is a runner, which was kind of an odd character point considering running was years away from being a mainstream activity. Duck sent a Hermes scarf to Peggy, which was a major tool in his seduction (yuck!). Don was robbed by the two hitchhikers. Interesting stuff!I think we can assume Duck's up to no good, even more than last season.

In case you're interested, here's a little more about Hermes:

Maura said...

Berkowitz said: Maura - just in case you weren't joking, but just had trouble with the accent: Verification: Paris (France), home base of Hermes.

Oh yeah, I knew that. (Note that I spelled it correctly.) I was just making a joke. But, thanks. It's entirely possible I wouldn't know that.

Anonymous said...

We also got a brief update on Ho-Ho's Jai Alai progress, Don suggested to the chipmonks to start with Miami, Pete mentions that Ho-Ho has already purchased land in Seattle, and Don asks wether they want take all of his money once or spread it out. Pete falls in line and agrees with whatever Don wants to do. I always like to get, however brief, the updates of the accounts they are working on.

Anonymous said...

Don wasn't sexist in dressing Peggy down, but he was being sexist by bringing up her gender in doing so: eg, his reference to having a job most men would feel lucky to have.

Scott Hollifield said...

@Imamarilyn: I think Betty was nice to Roger in that first season dinner scene for the reason you state, but also because she genuinely enjoyed the attention, being somewhat deprived of it otherwise. (It was Betty's seeming complicity towards Roger's advances that prompted Don to strongly chide her for making "a fool of [her]self" at dinner, similar to the words he said to Roger earlier this season.) Now that Betty's been on the recipient of such attention from other men, notably Arthur Case and Henry Francis, she's certainly not going to play that game with Roger anymore, if she even would at all after he made that execrable pass at her.

@Paul Outlaw: Only the last two episodes have taken place in July -- last week's "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" took place the week of July 4, and then of course this week's. I'll try to organize a rough timeline once I'm home from work and can review more information.

@Anon 4:24 09/28: I also liked the Jai Alai update (as well as Pete's discussion of the aerospace business, a callback to last season's "The Jet Set"). That Ho-Ho would try to expand his dream in Seattle of all places made me laugh pretty hard.

gc said...

The first rule of the Tourist Union's Hobo ethical code is "Decide your own life, don't let another person run or rule you."

Anonymous said...

Re: the story arc and being halfway through...this rambles a bit... bear with me if you want to...

I'm new to the blog & haven't read the Season One & Two posts (forgive me AS, but it would take a week, fascinating as they may be).

So -- has there been any commentary before on the similarities between the 9/11 WTC Falling Man video (for me personally, the most shocking image I have seen since the first time I saw pictures of WWII concentration camp atrocities) and the animated MM intro?

If there's one thing that makes me uneasy about MM, it's that intro. It took me years to work up the nerve to watch the WTC Falling Man video and weeks to stop seeing it as a mind movie. It shocked me to the core.

To compare the fall of Don Draper to whoever that poor man was in the 9/11 video wrong.

Maybe I'm way off base but it seems impossible that Weiner et al never saw or don't remember 9/11 Falling Man. And if they are "borrowing" that image -- why?

But anyway -- doesn't the series intro clearly summarize, in witty graphics, the gradual erasure and eventual complete fall of Corporate Man? His death, in fact?

So if that's true -- then Don is slowly going to come apart, week by week, season by season. Who will fall with him?

I wonder if Betty is (willfully or unconsciously) setting Henry up as a possible fallback if Don leaves or fails. I kind of liked him. He seemed like a guy on the make, but real about it. And unlike Don, he isn't hiding his hard-knocks background.

I think the chaise is Betty's way of reminding herself of her date (eg, Possible Exit Strategy).

darianna said...

i'm pleasantly surprised that none of you brilliant commenters (and alan) didn't mention don telling carlton that sally has a crush on her teacher! more foreshadowing of sally's possible gender identity... remember betty with "sally's taken to your tools like a little lesbian."

Commie Bastard said...

Note that Betty, the anthropology major-turned-housewife, often feels compelled to show she's just as smart as the professionals she meets.

There's another way to read that scene; that of the respectable, married woman trying to maintain some semblance of propriety - which, by the way, Betty stresses all throughout her interaction with Henry. "Small town," after all. "Like a skyscraper" neatly deflects the allusion of having people on top of oneself *a-hem* - and come on now, did you really think that her being visibly uncomfortable in the "old ad" moment was about intellectual one-upmanship when she has a philandering husband who happens to be one of the most infamous ad men on the avenue?

Julia said...

Several observations from a female in college in 1963:

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.

There were a lot of things that won you a deferment - being in college was one of them as well as being married, being a father, being in certain study paths. Your status was reviewed every year - so having many deferments doesn't mean anything. My husband had 9 and the Army took him in due time.

One by one these deferment categories were stripped away. After a few years you could be drafted if you were married but didn't have kids, then being in college didn't count and finally (for some) having kids didn't matter either.

I knew a very few deferment marriages - they didn't last - Cheney's did. Actually, people did marry very young in those days for normal reasons - at the point where people today "shack up", young people in those days married. It's only after "the pill" became truly ingrained and available to the unmarried that you might question why people married. Duh - they wanted to have sex on a regular basis in a real bed and not in the back seat of a car or in a cheap motel.

Another observation is the use of "mature" and "immature" in the comments. In 1963's psychiatry books, it was "adjusted" vs "maladjusted". In other words, how were you adapted to the reality of your situation - that was the mark of an adult. Crabbing about the deal you were dealt was considered disordered. I still have the textbook that deals with "maladjusted" women who refuse to accept their role in life. It's not easy to buck being seen as a maladjusted woman - that's the bargain Peggy is making and the reasoning behind some of the comments directed her way. She is very brave and her missteps understandable - even her mentor gives her a hard time.

Only a few years after 1963, I was a student married to a med student and pregnant with a wanted child. I was working at the hospital where one of my jobs was drawing blood on the floors. Two guys were given the easiest floors, were paid an automatic 2 hours, and nobody kept track of their time cards. I led a delegation of 3 women who were all students married to students and we complained that we were only paid by the time clock at a lesser rate. The pathologist said these guys were dental students and needed the money more than we did. We countered that they both had cars and spent their money on partying and their parents were paying their tuition. Never mind, they were guys. End of story.

Under the then-current viewpoint, we were all maladjusted and had difficulty accepting our female role in life. Be kind to Betty and Peggy, I think Gloria Steinem would have understood them.

Unknown said...

@Anonymous 4:28pm

I don't think that the shows opening is an allusion to 9/11. Business men flinging themselves from skyscrapers has been part of the pop culture consciousness since the Great Depression at least. It is a striking image regardless of its 9/11 connection.

Unknown said...

Alan, big fan, first time commenting, my first introduction to your work came through your take on the ‘Kennedy and Heidi’ episode of The Sopranos (Tony in Vegas, Vegas is hell). I’ve read all your Sopranos, Wire and Mad Men pieces. But, this is the first time I was motivated to write in. Some things about the Dick/Don dichotomy seemed, from my p.o.v., to elude you in your review.

1) Part of Connie Hilton's frustration with Don is that he's Don. He got to hear a Dick story and see the self-made man, now he's got the cautious bureaucrat who wants to get paid. Slick and wary is not what caught Connie's eye, and as much fun as it is to hear Don point out the notion that mice and hotels shouldn't be linked, or his snide comment about families and bibles, Connie got to see a verbose and reminiscent reflective and now he's seeing the Don persona take over, creating some dissonance.

2) I also disagree about Don's handling of Peggy as 'cruel'. I think the reason she's staying (boning Duck instead of going to work for him, and I DO like your analysis of his older man appeal) is because he treated her in a direct and fatherly manner that she's never gotten in her female-dominated church-lovin' homelife where the male figure literally lies prostrate on the couch. Don is more like a coach, giving some much needed negative reinforcement to his star player. One thing sports greats have in common is they're never satisfied. Bill Belicheck lambasting his players even after a blowout win, for example, and concentrating on mistakes and missed opportunities. The key phrase in that conversation that made it not cruel -- though it was temper inspired and emotional, partly because Don 'cares' for Peggy but is frustrated when she doesn't do things the way he would in her shoes -- is "You're good but you can be better". He's coaching Peggy up and though initially taken aback, she will be better for it. Peggy's social climbing is Wharton, not Dresiser, post-Victorian, not Naturalistic. She ascends. There may be detours, but I do not predict an end where she's crushed by forces beyond her control. That's Joan's lot in life, unlucky to be born exactly one decade earlier than Ms. Olson.
Sean H (1)

Unknown said...

3) Cooper. I was disconcerted last season when they were going the Junior Soprano route with Bert and making his dementia his most notable trait, but I for one think he's the smartest and most well-rounded character, on a philosophical level, in the whole Man Men universe. His Rand-ian captain of industry combined with abstract Rothko-loving eccentric gives him a much more three-dimensional and rounded worldview. He only plays tough when he has to. He's willing to give Don a lot of leeway, but his nugget of wisdom last week to Roger about what an account man does, combined with his tack toward Don this week, shows that beneath the cloudymindedness of old age is a pristine wisdom far greater than anyone else we've seen in this world. Other characters only glimpse pieces of the big picture (Anna Draper in the Mountain King ep, Rachel on the roof, Midge's exposing Don to a bourgeoning subculture at the end of 'Babylon')

4)And maybe most important. Dick Whitman is not despicable, he values freedom -- far more than many of us in our current-day police state of docile two-party voters who stand in line like sheep taking their shoes off before they get on the plane. Fleeing from danger is often the best move. It's what a Darwinist would do. Assess situations, and when you meet a tougher opponent, retreat and recollect. I certainly don't hope that Don has killed off the Dick persona and I think, once again, most people are far too willing to compromise and sell themselves out for the thinnest of rewards (a loveless marriage with the likes of Betty, more and more housewife/whore in the Carmela Sopranos vein every day) rather than retain their autonomy and freedom. Life commitments and three-year commitments ARE a big deal, and it's refreshing to see Don be hesitant about signing a contract and only when he is forced into a corner and must admit the power structure inherent in his relationship with Cooper does he grudgingly sign the contract. There is also a purity and innocence to what I see as Dick's, not Don's, pining for yet another waifish brunette. I think this applies both to the schoolteacher and the self-proclaimed 19-year old, whose dance with Don/Dick precipitates the violence from her boyfriend.

One last note: Betty's water issues reminded me of Love Canal, something that would be on the mind of people in Upstate NY in the early 1960s, something I didn't notice mentioned elsewhere.

OK, that was long, but like I said, my first time.

Thanks for great reeading, Alan,

Sean H (2)

Farm Girl Pink... said...

Random observation:

Don Draper may have bedded many women all over NYC. But it seems that he does not touch the women that work in his office.

Maybe he lives by the rule of you don't sh*t where you eat.

Where as Roger does not live by that rule.

Ted Kerwin said...

So I searched for posts mentioning Money and did not see this question.

If Roger is correct Don earned $500,000 from the sale to the British. Now he is offered a contract with a signing bonus of $5,000 and a hefty raise. Which in retrospect is not that big of a deal to a guy who has $250,000 after taxes from a business deal.

Is this money what Don was referring to when he told Betty you will be taken care of? Do you think she was never informed how much Don earned from the sale?

Devin McCullen said...

There was a fair amount of complaining about the "little lesbian" line being anachronistic in the comments on that episode. But since Betty majored in anthropology, maybe it's not that surprising that she'd be more frank talking about it.

Although I'm not really sure what you'd be learning as an anthropology major at Bryn Mawr in the early 50s.

Scott Hollifield said...

@Sean: Excellent posts. I especially like your observation about how Connie was drawn to Don because of glimpsing his Dick-Whitman-like side, and is now slightly taken aback with that aspect of Don in retreat. That's why the introduction of Hilton into the main plotlines fascinates me, because he's had that tie to the world of Dick Whitman, but has abruptly placed himself inside Don's world, and can't be turned away like Adam was. Hilton is also portrayed as extremely crafty, and has made a very worthy foil for Don these last two episodes -- I hope he sticks around a while longer.

I've also been tempted to speak up in defense of Dick Whitman's self-remaking behavior, but couldn't quite put together the coherent argument to do so. Your paragraph about him dovetails nicely with my views. One can also see the pain and conflict behind Dick/Don's decisions, because I believe he is a good man at heart, and wants to be good to people -- but has yet to figure out how to do that without compromising his hobo code.

matty said...

are there going to be Duck and Peggy shippers now? or just fanfic porn?

Anonymous said...

Hautie, while he doesn't get involved with women who work for the firm, he's gotten involved with 2 clients, Bobbie from UTZ and Rachel from the department store. I'm trying to remember if the invovlement with Rachel caused any problems, but the involvement with Bobbie led to the separation from Betty

Anonymous said...

Re: the opening sequence, I don't see that as referring to the imgages of 9/11. Given our time period, that's the most closely associated imgage burned into our minds.

But I think Weiner's showing more that Don's in a free fall and all of the signs/billboards kind of set the tone for both his work and the era. He briefly rests on woman's foot from a stocking ad, which I think mirrors his attempts to slow the fall with affairs, but they don't.

Dr Linda said...

I always looked at the opening as sort of Hitchcock - North by Northwest & Vertigo openings - done by legendary graphics artists Saul Bass. If you do image search for the posters of both, you'll see a man falling like in Mad Men. Also North by Northwest film opening has these interesting lines running across the screen. If anyone has a link to any articles about the Mad Men opening inspirations, I'd love to read them!

Susan said...

Sean, that is an interesting observation about Conrad Hilton seeing one side of Don at the bar and then the other side. He did say when he was in Don's office that he was finding him hard to talk to (can't remember the exact line.)

I agree that Don was not being cruel with Peggy. He is her mentor. He knows she was right about Patio, but he has no need to admit that to her. They both know it and imo the looks they exchanged when the Pepsi people rejected the very commercial they insisted on having, said it all. I think her biggest hesitation at leaving Sterling Cooper is Don. She knows he is the best and that she still has much to learn. While it may be true that at least right away she would earn more at Grey, I doubt they have a Don who could teach her. In time, if she stays, Don will make sure Peggy gets a raise. Peggy wants to excel at her job, and while the Hermes scarf really impressed her, I believe she knows Don can help her soar professionally.

Susan said...

Anonymous, there was a conversation between Bert Cooper and Don, where Bert said Rachel's father (Abe Mencken, founder of the department store) called him. I don't recall the details, but Bert's tone was that Don should keep his personal life and business life separate.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone else has mentioned this, but it's a brief moment I found significant: when the kids came in for lunch, Sally immediately went to the sink and reminded Bobby to wash his hands too. It seemed like Sally working hard to please Betty, unlike previous episodes. Poor little girl.

maybe.sparrow said...

Sean, that is an interesting observation about Conrad Hilton seeing one side of Don at the bar and then the other side. He did say when he was in Don's office that he was finding him hard to talk to (can't remember the exact line.)

Along those same lines about Connie noticing the differences between Dick and Don: when Don asks Connie how he tracked him down, Connie says (paraphrasing), "I mentioned that I had a long chat with a handsome guy from Sterling Cooper, and your name never came up once. Apparently you don't have 'long chats' with anyone."

Connie's very perceptive, and I think he's got quite a read on Don already... it'll be interesting to see how their relationship changes as they continue to work together. Will Don let Connie see more of Dick (wait, that didn't come out right!), or will he shut that away and be all-Don-all-the-time? I think he'll be much more successful in dealing with Connie if he lets the mask drop once more... but can he risk that in his work life? It was safe when Connie was a random guy at the country club, but not so much now that they have business dealings and Connie "owns" him, to some extent.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wow. It hasn't even been 24 hours since the show finished airing, and we're already up to 242 comments.

Again, wow.

Hatfield said...

Yeah, wow indeed. It makes me feel better about humanity that a show this nuanced can become so popular.

Excellent Matthew Sweet reference Alan, if I'm not mistaken.

Dirtylaundry said...

Thank you for the Matthew Sweet "Looking at the Sun" quote in the headline. Your headlines are becoming as enjoyable as your recaps!

Anonymous said...

Upon 2nd viewing, I have some thoughts on why Don ripped so viciously into Peggy and why she reacted as she did...

Once again, Don catches a glimpse of his own flaws in Peggy, and is repulsed by what he sees. In this case, he sees clearly the misguided belief that one is 'special' and therefore entitled to buck the system.

His attack against Peggy is fueled by his own inability to continue bucking the system by not signing a contract- something expected of everyone else.

Having been told that he is NOT an exception to this rule- and therefore NOT special- he recoils at Peggy's presumption that she should skyrocket to success without earning it.

As Don unleashes his anger upon Peggy he seems to be saying, 'What makes you think you're special??' Feeling trapped and no longer valued by his mentors for what sets him apart, Don explicitly points out Peggy's own trappings and distinct lack of value to him.

Deeply wounded, Peggy goes out into the world and proves to herself that she still has value, is still special, and is still entitled to be favored by her mentors. She proves that she has options and isn't trapped by Don's limitations on her.

I love this freaking show.

Unknown said...

I was eating Chinese food while catching up with the comments and got a fortune I'd like to share with Peggy.

"You are capable, competent, creative, careful. Prove it."

Rick and Gary said...

Is Sterling Cooper really supposed to be between 47th and 48th?? The only way you see the spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Sterling's office is from 50th and 51st (where Helmsley's Palace is)

LA said...

Not sure if I am ready to offer an opinion one way or the other on Don's dressing down of Peggy, but I do think she ended up in bed with Duck as a result of it.

Had Don not just chewed her out earlier that day, I think Duck's advances would have fallen flat. Hell, I don't even think Peggy would have personally returned the Hermes scarf.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is Sterling Cooper really supposed to be between 47th and 48th??

The building's address, shown at several points in the series (like the package Adam Whitman sends to Don) is 405 Madison Avenue, which is in that block.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Excellent Matthew Sweet reference Alan, if I'm not mistaken.

You (and DirtyLaundry) are correct. I'm a little disappointed it took that long, though it's a relatively obscure song (even within the confines of Sweet's seminal "Girlfriend" album).

Hatfield said...

Not to get too off-topic, but as good as that album is, the song that I always wanna hear, put on mixes, etc., is "Girlfriend," and I tend to forget the rest of it. The post title rattled around in my head for a day before I looked at my iPod today and it clicked.

On the Mad Men front, I had the same reaction as LA that Peggy was vulnerable when she went to Duck because Don was so harsh. I don't find the hookup icky (though not exactly hugely appealing either), but it seems like an odd development. And it undercuts Peggy upward momentum as a woman who is as skilled as a man, assuming she's doing it out of ambition or thankfulness.

Anonymous said...

Thx for pointing out about Vertigo & North by Northwest movie poster graphics. Those midcentury modern graphics certainly do echo in the MM credits sequence. It makes more sense that Weiner would use Hitchcock movies of the period for design ideas than a horrible real life video from 9/11.

Nonetheless, it can't be ignored that 9/11 Falling Man imagery and the MM title sequence share similarities. If by accident, that's very unfortunate. If not by accident -- then WTF?

Scott Hollifield said...

@Imamarilyn: Yes, that subtle first-season dressing down of Don by Bert was the direct fallout of Don's messy split with Rachel, and a good, rare example of when Don's personal life did indeed intrude upon his professional. Suddenly being confronted with the true face of Dick Whitman impelled Rachel to take a sudden three-month trip to Paris; it wasn't clear that old Abe Menken knew what was going on, but Bert was definitely able to read between the lines.

@Alan: I really should have gotten that lyric reference, and it did sound vaguely familiar, but I'm ashamed to say it's been years since I've listened to Girlfriend. A very pretty song, though.

@LA: I agree that Peggy rushing to Duck was partly a reaction to her chastisement by Don. This to me bookended the sequence two weeks ago where Peggy tentatively meets Duck for lunch, then unsuccessfully asks Don for the raise.

@Anon 8:20PM: What's unfortunate is the notion that 9/11 might have hijacked some otherwise very legitimate, very potent imagery. I think the similarity can, contrary to what you say, be successfully ignored. There's no doubt that 9/11 will forever change the way we think of skyscrapers and airplanes, but I don't think the visual of freefalling WTC victims has entered the public consciousness in quite the same way, and I'm certain that the designers of the Mad Men opener didn't intend it that way.

Julia said...

hmmm Vertigo is about Kim Novak posing as somebody she is not.

The graphic is of a man falling to his death and Jimmy Stewart didn't prevent it. Later he doesn't prevent the falling of a woman from the belltower of a mission church in California. Dead woman re-appears with her real name.


Mary McManus said...

I can't agree with those who think that Sally's having a crush on her teacher means she's a lesbian. The phrase "having a crush on" at that age means nothing more than really, really liking a person. I don't think it implies a sexual thing. And at Sally's age? Come on!

Unknown said...

Despite the Ms. Farrell's evident volatility, Don clearly noticed and approved of the affection she has for Sally. This was in stark contrast to the way Betty treated Sally for screaming over the Barbie.

Hilton's presence is reminding me faintly of George Hearst's appearance on Deadwood. It serves as a reminder that our heroes may be the biggest players on our stage, but they are not the masters of the universe.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "fainting couch", Betty placed it in front of the fireplace which the decorator had previously indicated was the heart of the home in the beginning of the episode. Now at the end of the episode, The fainting couch is now blocking the heart of the home similar to the eclipse situations.

Rich Tseng said...

Don doesn't have to stop at a liquor store to get booze in 1963. It's a slightly different time but in the 40s/50s, you read of Philip Marlowe getting bourbon from the drugstore.

To this day you can buy alcohol under 15% (wine, beer, coolers)at any convenience store in Quebec.

So hard beverages are probably also freely available for purchase in 1963 motel lobbies.

PanAm53 said...

I just got back from a trip to the Southwest, and full strength liquor is even nowadays sold at gas station convenience stores.

Anonymous said...

In the 1960s, Florida had drive-through liquor stores where they would hand the driver mixed drinks of any type as well as liquor by the bottle. Don't know about New York State but alcohol was easy to come by then.

Anonymous said...

personally, i find metaphor and allegory to be completely inconsequential and boring when it has nothing to do with thematics, such as this apparently 'excellent' discovery that ep. 6 can be correlated to the kennedy assassination. okay. and? i mean really who cares. the show is brilliant for its written and visual nuance, from which there is so much rich narrative and character elements to be touched upon. so don't beat yourself up over some reader's discovery of an allegory - it's not important. keep to things that can be pulled DIRECTLY from what you are WATCHING.

Monica said...

This show is like fine wine. It just gets better and better the more you watch it. Season 1 intrigued me at the time, but it's even more interesting now in retrospect.

For example -- I did a search and didn't see anyone mentioning this -- in the first season, when Don goes to Rachel's apartment after Roger has a coronary and tries to kiss her, Rachel is taken aback and asks him, "What is this, a solar eclipse? The end of the world? Just do whatever you want?" She uses those exact words.

Don's defense mechanism has always been the belief that life is essentially meaningless ("I'm living like there's no tomorrow, because there isn't one"). This pardons every wrong he's ever committed. This leaves those around him baffled, and it's how he maintains control.

I think that last night's episode is about us finally seeing that Don's world view is actually very limited and flimsy and weak. He's at the solar eclipse now, but nothing is right. Don doesn't have control. He is the one who's being controlled, by Conrad and by Bert. Betty also stood up to him more in this episode. And when he tries to flee from her very accurate comeback to his whiny and emotionally manipulative "I don't wanna contract, and oh btw, you're selfish for asking" speech, he goes for a joy ride and winds up bloodied and face down on the floor.

Notably, we see that Roger does not control him. Neither does Pete, Peggy or Duck. It's only people of more substance that are able to control him and affect him. And that includes Betty now, in a way. In this episode, I felt that Betty is beginning to have a more well-formed sense of self than Don. Betty at least isn't afraid to look into the sun. Whereas Don kind of ignores the eclipse and then... looks into it through sunglasses?

Also as a side note: I think Don and Betty are actually perfect for each other. Betty is the golden-haired, picture-perfect product of that era, and Don, in his belief that life is meaningless, is in a way its shadow. Both were empty shells when the show began.

Anyway, I don't know if this episode was intentionally meant to reference back to Rachel from Season 1, or vice versa. I just have so much respect for this show and love that it's so well done that a viewer can make these kinds of connections.

Rich Cain said...

Duck’s seduction of Peggy seemed like a pitch to a client. The phrase ‘go around’, for some reason, reminded me of Don’s famous Carousel pitch to Kodak.

A big reason why Don has always been temperamental and petulant is because nobody ever tells him no or puts him in his place. In this episode, Bert certainly put Don in his place and reminded him of who’s boss and that Don didn’t get where he is on his own nor can he get further by himself. And Don did the same thing to Peggy. And come to think of it, Connie also did the same thing to Don.

Cooper’s use of Don’s secret against him makes me wonder when Don will use Peggy’s secret against her. Maybe when she tells him she is moving to Grey? Don is showing some cruelty to Peggy to remind her of her place so I don’t think he’d be above a little emotional blackmail. He’s walked that line a couple times just falling short of outright reminding Peggy he knows her secret. So I don’t think it’s a stretch that he would use this tactic; possibly to keep her away from Duck if not to keep her at SC.

The teacher points out that Don is just like all the other dads including wearing the same shirt. Don signs the contract and is now not as free as he thought he was. Maybe Don realizes that Dick Whitman can be no more and that he is, in fact, Don Draper. The Don Draper that he has created; for better or for worse. That IS who he is now. The kids mugging Don in the ratty hotel symbolizes the death of Dick. Or maybe the murder of Dick by Don.

Kennedy allusion: Dick represents the symbolic Kennedy. In other words, innocence, hope for the future, indomitable spirit. Don, in contrast represents the cold, harsh realities of the world. And maybe Don has come to symbolize the cold, harsh world because Dick as Don has come to understand this is reality. So he has crafted his personality to reflect this. This Don is not the same Don that was selling cars. He’s much harder and cynical. He avoids getting hurt or surprised this way. It was only a matter of time before Don made the concession to sign the contract. If Hilton hadn’t come along, then something else would have prompted him to do so. Deep down he wants the tranquil family life that the Drapers seem to have from the outside. He wants that shelter from the cruel world. But Dick’s demons from the past have prevented him, to this point, from embracing what might seem to be the idyllic home life for which he and Betty have strived. I believe this is specifically why he won’t run away as Dick. And signing the contract, in his mind, is another nail in Dick’s grave and, in Don’s mind, act as an anchor when he inevitably gets the urge to run as Dick.

One aspect of this show that makes it so enjoyable is little details of action by characters. Examples: Betty half-heartedly jiggling Don’s desk with a quick look of exasperation on her face. Don’s secretary giving the ‘duh’ look as he tells her to hold his calls while he’s in with Connie. Roger’s and Pryce’s looks at Cooper as Cooper brands Connie eccentric.

To carry on with Stephen S Power’s point: maybe Betty has placed the fainting couch in front of the hearth so that when she occupies the fainting couch she will be the family’s focal point; or at least Don’s focal point.

M. Haubs said...

Along with a handful of commenters, I was wondering if there was actually concern about being sent to Vietnam in 1963, given that things didn't really ratchet up (from a U.S. perspective) until '64-65.

After a little Googling, I was amused by the piece of information I found which confirmed that the show's depiction was not premature:

"But by 1963, ferment in Vietnam was rising.... After transferring to the University of Wyoming at Laramie, [Dick Cheney] sought his second student deferment on July 23, 1963."

So, not only was it a fair depiction, but also Cheney sought a deferment the same day Don signed his contract!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that while I enjoy most of the music on the show, especially the opening sequence, I absolutely hate the "previously on mad men" music. It sounds like music from a crappy soap opera.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone see that there is a blood theme through out the season. I have to re-watch episode two and three, but I recall all the others having a visual effect of blood. After abigail miscarries (ep1), Granpa Gene's WWI helmet he tries to give Bobby (ep4), Granpa mopping up blood (ep5), Guy's foot (ep6), Don's face (ep7). I wonder if it is just a coincidence or the writers are trying to tell us something.

Julia said...

"But by 1963, ferment in Vietnam was rising.... After transferring to the University of Wyoming at Laramie, [Dick Cheney] sought his second student deferment on July 23, 1963."

Reality check: everybody in college got a deferment automatically. 7,000 guys at my university in 1963 (all of the males) got a deferment. Every year you returned a form to your local selective service board with info on your current situation. The local board gave automatic deferments for all kinds of reasons: college, marriage, children and having a job in some essential categories - including teachers. From 1948, this was the case for all men in peacetime as well as wartime, until the lottery system was devised in 1971. The draft was finally ended altogether in 1973.

There are several generations now who don't know how the Selective Service System worked. I had 4 brothers, classmates, boyfriends and a husband of draft age in the 60s - so it's burned in my brain.

Check it out for yourself - the System still exists. Be sure to click on how it has changed since the VietNam War.

Effects of Marriage and Fatherhood on draft status

Very interesting facts that relate to the MadMen era:

President Kennedy issued Executive Order 11098 on March 14, 1963, to expand entitlement to this paternity deferment. For a man to qualify for a III-A deferment as a "Kennedy father," there had to be a "bona fide family relationship in their home" between the father and child. The definition of a man's "child" in the regulations of the period included "a legitimate or illegitimate child from the date of its conception."

Another Kennedy action:

Executive Order 11119 (September 10, 1963) changed Selective Service System regulations. Married men without children were placed one step lower in the order of call than single men. The local boards were then required to select men for induction in the following order: delinquents, volunteers, and I-A single men (19-26, oldest first), before calling these "Kennedy husbands."

Lots more info at that site.

Julia said...

Cheney sought a deferment the same day Don signed his contract!

Cheney was informing the SS board of his change of address and transfer to a different college - as was required at the time. The deferment automatically came from his status as a college student - he didn't have to ask for one. The board would put him in the appropriate category based on the info provided.

Even if cheney didn't want a deferment, he would have had to send in the same information about change of address and college.
The date is probably near the time he was officially accepted as a transfer student by U of Wyoming. I believe there was a 30 day window to report such changes before you got into trouble for not keeping the board up to date - especially with an address where they could find you, if necessary.

kennyevil said...

Do you think there's any significance behind the fact that Don got a $5000 signing bonus, the same amount he paid Andy to leave?


Susan said...

Maura, thank you for pointing out that Rachel had mentioned an eclipse. Very cool! I recall Don saying once "the universe is indifferent," another statement about life being meaningless. In The Hobo Code we saw that the heartless Abigail Whitman was a very religious person. Her brand of religion did not involve embracing little Dick as her own and loving him. Perhaps this has something to do with Don's view.

Anonymous said...

Alan: "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?"

I managed tobacco accounts for national magazines in the '70's, '80's & '90s, and covered ad agencies like Sterling Cooper.

In 1963, over 50% of US population aged 18+ smoked more than one pack of cigarettes a day, and the majority of this smoked 2+. People also tend to start smoking at young ages and were also heavily targeted by tobacco companies. The population of about 190 million, as well as the fact that Lucky Strike was a top brand that needed to continually advertise nationally as well as in practically every media outlet, and that the primary revenue source for ad agencies in those days was media billings, it's likely that they would be the premier account of any agency that had it.

Not as many people travelled overnight in the early '60s, either for business or pleasure, and if they did so it was not at the frequency or distances we have become familiar with over the past 2 decades. So while Hilton Hotels does have tremendous potential not just for Sterling Cooper, but for its British parent co., American Tobacco/American Brands (they changed their name in the 80's as tobacco), the makers of Lucky Strike, had even greater potential nationally and internationally.

sara said...

Fantastic, edge of the seat episode in my book. I love the darkness and light of Don, and the other characters that came out during this week's show (hmmmm...eclipse?).

At the risk of sounding even more like a freshman english class (LOL), I'm wondering if anyone else noticed that the flash forward scenes (which don't bother me, in general, as a mechanism) all involved "arms" in some way -- and what that might mean. Betty had her arm over her eyes, Peggy's arm dropped from the bed toward the floor, and Don's arm was at a prominent angle. Could mean absolutely nothing other than just a "stylized" opening.

Love the blog, love the comments.

Jed said...

I think the line that will be in the previous episodes will be Peggy's line .... Something about Don against the world. I can't figure out what Don wants -- obviously he wants the family he never had but doesn't feel he can have because he isn't who he seems but in business what does he want? He obviosly isn't thinking of starting his own business as Hilton would have given him an opportunity which would make sense. He doesn't seem to want to be Pres of SC either otherwise -- he would push for this with Hilton -- Possibly it isn't that big an account but it seems to be. I don't understand the whole running away/freedom thing? I get how he wanted to get out of his situation/family but why does he still need to run now. It must have something about being in control since he had no control over his life before and this is his way of keeping. Ok -- I answered my own question --

I think Don is worried that he will end up like he accused Pete of stuck in a corner office with no one liking him. He doesn't have anyone except the 1st Mrs Draper and I think he has less so now that he doesn't have Roger and will always "fear? distrust? be cautious around?" Bert now that he played the we own you card! He really has no one. Its his own fault in a way, but he's really alone in a lot of respects which I don't think he wants but can't find a way out. As Connie states with the long conservation line, he doesn't open himself up so its Don against the world, but the world is getting harder to navigate because all of the old rules are getting challenged.

I don't think Don would use any infomation about Peggy to get her to stay. I can't even see him using a line liike Berts, "I know things about you" to make a point about her needing to decide for herself. He's not like her mother saying "the state of NY didn't think so" Its not his way, I can see Duck doing it. If he really thought Peggy should go elsewhere to get ahead, he would encourage her. If he thought it was a bad move, he would make it so she would stay or at least fight for her as her fought for Freddy (although he might not win).

I assume that Don still owns 6%, PPL only took a controlling interest, i.e. 51%, so would they have taken half of each of the partners stake in the company?

Oh well, back to work.

Anonymous said...

Julia -- think you are spot-on about Vertigo & Kim Novak (fake identity). Great insight/memory!

But as far as cultural symbols go -- ignorance is no excuse.

Meaning, just because MM art director etc were most likely referencing Vertigo imagery -- it works on so many levels for MM -- and didn't think of 9/11 Falling Man -- doesn't mean that other viewers won't [legitmately] see 9/11 instead, and wonder about it.

Paul Outlaw said...

I have the feeling that the next episode of Mad Men, "Souvenir," may top the previous two. I've been invited to attend a screening of the episode on Thursday evening (three days before the air date) at a movie theater in Beverly Hills. The screening and a reception following it at a local restaurant are designed to impress and butter up members of the various guilds so that we will vote for MM during the upcoming awards season. The episode must be a humdinger if they're putting it on a big screen in front of an invited industry audience. Needless to say, I'm going.

gc said...

Watch "Inside Mad Men" on

Weiner says the episode is about "impulse." Where do you see that?

I see a lack of impulse-control, in Don, in Peggy, and in the partners' reaction to Hilton.

Paul Outlaw said...

Weiner says the episode is about "impulse." Where do you see that?

Well, Don, Betty and Peggy all act on impulse, which leads to where we see them in the flash forwards: Don with a bloody face on the floor, Betty lying on a fainting couch that is totally out of place in her living room, and Peggy naked in a hotel bed with Duck.

I'm sure there are other examples...

dc said...


Cooper’s use of Don’s secret against him makes me wonder when Don will use Peggy’s secret against her. Maybe when she tells him she is moving to Grey? Don is showing some cruelty to Peggy to remind her of her place so I don’t think he’d be above a little emotional blackmail.

I was doubtful at this suggestion at first, but you may be right. Don's most powerful advice to Peggy came from his "Dick" side, ie., his adamant demand that she "move forward," turn her back on the past. This aspect of his "Dick" character is one of his more sympathetic traits, as it frequently leads him to be surprisingly progressive or socially tolerant: for example, he doesn't pass judgement on Sal for his same-sex encounter (though his advice to "limit your exposure" is admittedly not the stuff of Harvey Milk).

But what has just happened at the end of this episode is that, as Alan suggests, we are seeing an end to "Dick's" mobility, and perhaps to Don's "Dick" persona itself. With this crucial change, Don may feel embittered at others' mobility, their ability to achieve transformations no longer available to him -- and as a result, we may see an uglier side of Don take the fore: a Don willing to rat out a closeted colleague; a Don willing to blackmail Peggy with his knowledge of her secret pregnancy.

Julia said...

Just realized that either the hitchhikers were making things up or the writers made a mistake about getting out of the draft if you were married in July 1963. That category of deferment didn't happen until nearly 2 months later.

Executive Order 11119 (September 10, 1963) changed Selective Service System regulations. Married men without children were placed one step lower in the order of call than single men.

Lindsey said...

What they say is that "they are going to pass a law". It still works.

Susan said...

Blackmail. Does Bert Cooper in fact know a lot about Don? The comments that Bert was blackmailing Don or could blackmail him or was threatening to do so are interesting. In this episode I believe Bert asked "Would you agree I know something about you?" and on an earlier occasion he said something like, "Would you say I know a little about you?" I guess you could infer from that statement that Bert knows about Don being Dick Whitman. We know Pete told Bert that Don was really Dick Whitman and Bert replied, "Who cares?" It is possible that's ALL Bert knows.

Does Don know the reason why Peggy was in the hospital? We saw him visiting her there and he gave her some good advice, but did he actually know she had a baby and gave it up? Or did he just assume she was there for some mental issue? He told her to do whatever they said so she can get out. I don't think he was advising her to keep it a secret as much as he was telling her to forget about it and move forward. More people know about Peggy's baby than know Don's secret. Her mother, her sister, Father Gill, Pete, all know. Peggy, in fact, told Pete about it. Would it actually hurt Peggy professionally if more people knew about the baby? Peggy also has some potentially damaging information on Don, since she was the one who bailed him out of jail and gave Bobbie a place to stay. But Jimmy and Betty knew about the affair, and certainly everyone who knows Don knows he is a philanderer. There is nothing to blackmail Peggy about with regard to Duck. They are both unmarried people who had sex.

Blackmail is all well and good in soap operas, but I don't see it happening here. Mad Men avoids being a soap opera. In fact, Pete failed miserably in trying to blackmail Don and Bert gave Don permission to fire Pete after it happened.

Anonymous said...

The Matthew Sweet quote for the headline capped off a great post. Thanks Alan.

Alan said...

Eclipse symbolism leads us to consider relationship between character pairings in this episode. The most obvious is the relationship between Don Draper and Conrad Hilton. Don left the Waldorf-Astoria believing that he had defined their relationship and established the boundaries. Conrad Hilton left Sterling Cooper with all Don’s rules and boundaries in disarray. He literally invades Don’s space, sitting behind Don’s desk, questioning Don’s work ethic, his spiritual values and his priorities at home.

Every salesman wants clients to play by his rules. A client powerful enough to dictate their own terms and critique how you make decisions, even at the personal level, is one to be feared. Their relationship will change Don’s life in fundamental ways, Hilton remarks almost casually as he strides past Don towards the door. Don has been eclipsed by Connie, and that can’t be comfortable.

Similar things can be said of meetings between Don and Miss Farrell, Duck and Peggy, Henry and Betty. In each case one character is attracted or drawn into the orbit of someone more powerful than themselves. The teacher is drawn to Don, Peggy to Duck Phillips, and Betty to Henry Francis. In each case it’s safe to assume that these interactions will not end well.

Betty’s dream about her father Gene in “The Fog”, and Don’s dialogue with his father Archie in this episode reminds us of the undue influence deceased parents can have over their children.

Mat Weiner seems to enjoy the use of irony and reversals of fortune. Certainly Peggy’s tryst at the Pierre is in stark contrast to the image of Don alone on the floor, face-down at Knight’s Inn. The idea of Don being made to sign a contract and become Bert Cooper’s possession may be a play on the ‘Mark Your Man’ campaign in S1 that Peggy helped Don fashion for Belle Jolie. Did Don say that Peggy hadn’t done anything at Sterling-Cooper that he couldn’t live without?

Don being played by teenage hitch-hikers represents another kind of eclipse. Once Don possessed great physical stamina and an uncanny ability to handle his liquor, as Roger Sterling learned in “Red in the Face”. In S2 Don became unsteady behind the wheel and lost control of the car in “The New Girl”, the last time he had to fabricate an excuse for an injury. In this episode we see Don get rolled by a couple of teens just like a drunken recruit on his first weekend leave.

People have mentioned how Don once had the ability to slide in and out of Midge Daniel’s world. Tension existed between Don and her friends, but he could hold his own. That ability has been eclipsed.

Harry Crane once said, “Draper? Who knows anything about that guy? No one’s ever lifted that rock. He could be Batman for all we know.” Harry may not know it, but that’s no longer true. At one point in S2 episode, “For Those Who Think Young,” Pete remarks, "Nobody makes Draper do anything."

Not any more, man!

Unknown said...

To the spy comment, I think it has more to do with people recognizing Don as playing a role.

All three of the groups you mentioned that called him a spy were people that travel from place to place, much like a hobo. Whereas others unable to recognize Don, like the prison guard, were familymen, stuck in one place.

Susan said...

Alan, do you care to elaborate on how you feel these three pairings will end badly?

Anonymous said...

Whew, what thoughts!

- I hated everything in that living room, I LOVED the new fainting couch, but it was completely out of place in the rest of the room. Loved her blocking the hearth with it.

- Also loved the older JL lady appearing to know mr. Mayors Aide so well and insisting that Betty was exactly the right person for that job. Small town huh?

- Was Sterling drinking WATER when he confronted Don about not giving the contract to the lawyer or was it vodka????

- I have to give Peggy more credit than most are giving. I actually liked Ducks seduction because so few males actually ARE direct and able to talk in such blatant but not corny ways to women about sex. Peggy is more than just a sum of reactions to everything going on. I agree there's a lot of POTENTIAL for problems here, but I'm going to wait and see if anything ACTUALLY goes wrong. We all know how easy it is to have affairs in the business world (who in the dang show hasn't cheated? Something neither Duck nor Peggy have done), it would be a shame if Peggy were the first one to experience serious negative career problems because of it.

*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.*

Wouldn't someone like that be MORE concerned about how things appeared? It's also a quick easy test to see if Don's someone he could trust about NOT being a very family godly man himself.


gc said...

EmeraldLiz said Conrad Hilton was a skirt-chaser.

Don and I were both a little confused about his problem statement: "You're a married man, so you'll have to use your imagination. But, um, I have this Involvement. I can't say it's perfect, but my needs are being met. I have significant needs, Don. Catch my drift? So what do I do when my eye starts to wander?"

At first I thought he was confessing something. Was it meant to be purely allegorical? I think he also was identifying with Don as he perceives him as a philanderer, too.

Anonymous said...

I agree with those who find Don faultless in his interactions with the teacher. Even when he's not trying to wander, it falls in his lap....

But, I think the core of his conflict with Roger is that the latter misunderstood Don's advice and ended his marriage; Don chose his marriage, yet Roger has invaded that sanctum for his own narrow pursuits - that's a violation; the very guy who was born to everything that Don Whitman has had to change personae in order to pursue is disrespecting it all.

Betty looked at the sun, and became faint; she seemed to get the brush off in her weak attempt to pursue an affair. Don looked at the sun (at the end of his "brush off" of the teacher) and didn't blink.

Don's assumption of another man's name has allowed him to pursue this life that would have been impossible, but his fundamental questions are still about personal integrity. Ironically, he's faced with those questions with a fundamentally "false" identidy.

happyfeet said...

Even better than last week. I felt emotionally shaken up after this. This was book-ended by the total wrong-footing of Connie showing Don to be so small, and Cooper taking away all the control and making Don do something he didn't want to do. I felt angry and disgusted with Dick's pathetic emergence and lashing out. It's hard to see someone so put-together unravel. I felt just as unsettled as the last time he almost fled (when he asked Rachel to leave with him). Also - big episode for women taking powerful decisions - I felt indignance for Betty and Peggy and pride in Betty actually for asserting herself and going after what she wants and Miss Farrell in calling Don out for being a cliche.


@KcM and AnnieT - I don't think we're supposed to hate Betty. How can you hate any character on this show? I'm not sure she's there for us to empathise with Don as I don't think this programme is all about the deification of Don (this episode more than proves that).

The beauty of it is the many sides we see of each and the depth and characterisation. I feel pity, frustration, pride, sadness for Betty but not hate. It's been said many times before that while undoubtedly her actions are partly down to her personality, she is not isolated from her time, her place and her upbringing and I can't hate her for that.

Betty purchased that couch, placed it in a prominent position that overwhelmed the whole living room and then lay there in the afternoon rubbing her thighs in a contemplative fashion. Every time she sees that, lies on it, she can think of their afternoon and what it represents. It must give her a feeling of independence, power or control; her own secrets.


happyfeet said...


@imamarilyn - This episode made me reevaluate my defence of Don 'treating women with a bit of respect' last week; his comments to Peggy were really ugly, and very difficult for me to hear. Are they his true feelings about her and working women in general or just because he wanted to lash out? I can't say they are completely manufactured. That's sad - but yes, Don seems a misogynist like the rest. It felt an even deeper betrayal because of their shared knowledge of each other. I agree with BigTed's analysis on this.

@Scott Hollifield and Whiskey: I think Don's comments cannot be levelled as fair criticism as Peggy is no more grasping than the other chipmunks, has achieved promotion based on merit and against all odds including connections, education and fundamentally her gender. As others have pointed out, Peggy has some great ideas and they get shot down - she works hard and is innovative. Don/Dick is too self-obsessed to notice this.

@Maura: the content of his chew-out belied the misogynistic element - about most 'grown men' would love her position, and that she was his secretary.

I was really hoping Peggy was going to shout back at him - but she didn't. Watching her bite back the tears and meekly apologise and basically run out of there was hard to watch. It angered me that he got away with making her feel inferior - he basically sent her straight into the bed of a man who boosted her flagging self-esteem at just the right time as LA said.

@laurav: it's an interesting point about looking at sex discrimination through modern eyes. Just because it happened doesn't make it any less uncomfortable to see.

@Flynn: hello! welcome to the board - isn't it great?! I think it's great that people do look at the show through todays eyes as what this period drama does best is hold up a mirror to ourselves in that way. The emotions evoked in us whilst watching what goes on can provide insight into the frustrations of the time. Human responses about justice and freedom don't change; but society's impositions do.

As for Peggy and Duck - I wasn't completely disgusted about it and in fact was a bit thrilled for Peggy. I agree with belinda, Schticky Fingers, laurav, AnnaN, Trilby and several others. There's something about seeing her with a MAN and not a boy. How she deals with this will be interesting, and may not prove to be a huge mistake (as EmeraldLiz says). In general she asserts herself well - see how she is with Pete now as opposed to the easily flattered innocent at the beginning of Season 1, seduced by him. I'd like to see her play the game - I felt like seeing this as another step on her journey of sexual freedom, and on the way to being the tough hard-nosed businesswoman she'll become. They are both unattached yes, and both career-oriented. He does not make her ambition seem like a weakness and perhaps this is the older man she needs as a mentor at this time in her career. Peggy needs to know she's worth something and it isn't wrong for her to demand that.

happyfeet said...


@Melissa: yes! Can people make it clear to me too the reasons why Miss Farrell might be unhinged/crazy...? Perhaps a little free with her thought and emotions for the time but still...

@Maura - I really did get a sense that he was coming on to her in his way. She hasn't pegged him wrong has she? We, the viewers, already know he's attracted to her, it isn't unreasonable to suggest she's twigged onto this too.

@Coleman - the exchange you quote is Don starting a conversation about the fact that she's still around. Perhaps she has jumped to a conclusion - but it does happen to be the right one. If she does have guys crack onto her a lot, then she may be paranoid about it. This would explain her reaction but doesn't make her crazy. I'm not saying she's rejecting him, but she is certainly challenging him. She's oddly direct, for the time, and for the fact she doesn't really know Don but we already know she's very free with her opinions as she showed in the first parent-teacher meeting. I agree as I've previously posted 2 episodes ago - it will not end well (but then nothing does on this show).

@Anon 11.31am/sept28: I think her interactions are consistent. Don opens up a path of intimacy through shared bereavement. That's an in. His not shutting down their phone conversation until Betty interrupted also shows some more intimacy. Further he initiates conversation with her. I imagine she would feel able to speak her mind.

I loved one of the anon comments which read: "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."

@Scott Hollifield: I agree about the flash-forward at the start - ramped up the tension and set things a little off-kilter right from the start.

@Dave: yes I agree completely with what you wrote about Don being called out on each aspect of his facade by different characters. It is also intriguing to consider what really is Duck up to? We know he's always cooking something up.

@Belinda: I am starting to really pay attention to Pete - he speaks an awful lot of sense - who would've thought that 3 years ago!

@Whiskey: I think Don didn't seem as handsome this week because of how weakened and repulsive Dick's actions were at times.

@Faire: I agree Don/Dick might unravel. It is a significant loss of his clear coping strategy/get out clause for a damaged man. His whole life will change as a result. The death of Dick Whitman - but who is Don Draper?

Phew - sorry for the long post, but as usual it's at least Wednesday before I get through all the posts!

Scott Hollifield said...

@EmeraldLiz (as Anon?): That was definitely vodka Roger was drinking; we see him pour it from a red-labelled bottle of Stolichnaya in that same scene (no doubt from the same stash he acquired a few episodes ago which he wouldn't let Pete drink from).

@Graydon: Hilton was deliberately using an adultery metaphor to allude to his situation with his own ad people, from whom he was considering straying in wooing Don. We can speculate as to why he chose to phrase it like that. He prefaced it by saying "You're a married man, so you'll have to use your imagination" -- at face value implying that he didn't think Don would philander, but Connie is too wily to leap to such a misguided assumption.

@Anon 5:42PM: I actually don't think Don was entirely faultless in his talk with Miss Farrell. He was only making small talk, true, but Don doesn't waste words, and he doesn't make small talk unless there's a point behind it, so I think his innocent words about vacations and August plans were intended to open the door to making some kind of connection with this woman, and she saw right through it (if while tactlessly surging ahead with an outright accusation).

@happyfeet: I agree its hard to see Don unravel -- that's the key marker to one of this show's true styles of dramatic beat. Not only did we see him come apart when pleading Rachel to run away with him, we also saw him lose control in his first scene with Rachel way back in the pilot when he threw a hissy in the conference room at her and declared, "I'm not going to let a woman talk to me this way". Hard to take, but impossible to take your eyes away from. I also will have to agree to disagree with you about Don's fairness with Peggy. He's not been too self-obsessed to notice that Peggy has great ideas -- he knows that is true. (He even says, "You're good. Get better." which is as much of an admission of such.) What he's taking her to task for is assuming that she can simply get whatever she decides she wants by asking for it. That's not how Don got to where he is. Also, re: your point about Pete speaking sense compared to 3 years ago -- Pete has always been shown to be a bit ahead of the advertising curve even in the first season. He agreed with Dr. Greta Gutman's research about smokers having a (commercially exploitable) death wish (even while Sal -- Sal of all people -- was scoffing at the idea that "people are living one way, and secretly thinking the exact opposite"), and Pete also was the only one who thought that Volkswagon's trend-setting "Lemon" ad was "brilliant".

Susan said...

Happy Feet, I still believe Don respects Peggy. He was treating her like a man and not treadung lightly because she is a woman. Another poster suggested he reprimanded her just like he had Pete earlier. He and Joan are the only women Don respects.

stubbins said...

Has anyone noticed that this is the first season in which anything Don Draper has either achieved or failed has had NOTHING to do with any creative ideas, gestures or direction he’s initiated?

Draper’s place at SC was his creative vision. The first reference to that all year was Betty’s comment this episode about how people pay him to look at and evaluate things.

So far this year his seeming advice to Sal has been his own lousy new ethos — don’t expose yourself.

Yet without his creative focus, even passion, Draper is exposed in naked and wounded ways.

I wonder if Draper feels that with the acquisition he no longer worked in the world he once knew as Sterling Cooper’s. All he attended to was account executive work with Duck-like indifference to creative product.

Hilton was attracted to shared elements of identity with Draper, not his creative power.

Which is probably why he brought his the Country Mouse campaign — isn’t that the joke of who they had each been but no longer were?

Not even with MSG did Don make a creative presentation. He just discussed an abstract “philosophy of change”.

It seems it’s not only Roger Sterling who has lost all notion of what his purpose at SC was or is.

Has Draper turly given up on advertisting aside from AE work and building billables.

As I remember things... only Rachel received as little work and as much cynicism as Don now brings to his creative direction.

Don... your Kodak carousel moments were all about genuine arrival in life... for your clients... for consumers... and even more notably for you.

Everything since your CA trip have been nihilistic escape runs.

arrabbiata said...

I seem to have a different take on the "His Master's Voice" reaction than I've seen here. It is possible that part of it was that Betty was feeling a bit insulted by the suggestion that she wasn't familiar with it. The logo and slogan was used for decades by RCA, a major electronics and recording company, including on plenty of products during her lifetime. She may have also been familiar with it from the landmark RCA building in Camden, NJ, just a stone's throw from her Philadelphia days. It would be shocking if she wasn't familiar with it.

Some have suggested that the reference to advertising in general reminded Betty of her husband, but I thought the key was the nature of the specific ad/logo. (Alan linked to it up in his original post, for anyone not familiar with it) Dogs are a common symbol of fidelity, including marital, in art (the common dog name Fido, Latin for "I trust", comes from the same root as far as I know). The use of the original painting in the logo was always a reference to the faithfulness of the recorded sound, and in the age of hi-fi records (in Betty's time) Nipper the dog could be seen as a specific reference to the "fidelity" part of high fidelity. So as I watched the scene unfold, my first thought was that the line reminded her of the infidelity she seems headed toward, not to mention her previous time in the bar, and her husband's assumed wandering. That's what I thought I saw on her face.

Of course I may be seeing things past what was intended, but you have to work hard to come up with new stuff to talk about as we head toward 300 comments. Hard to believe that a few seasons ago these posts only brought a few dozen comments.

Alan said...

@Imamarilyn -- You asked why I thought each of these pairings would end badly. Each one appears to be based on impulse, as Mat Wiener suggests, or simple happenstance. That's usually not a good start.

Don's relationship with Conrad Hilton might work if Connie was content to treat Don as a peer. He's clearly intending to be the dominant partner. Hilton needs Don's services much less than Don needs the Hilton account. Connie could walk away at any time with no impact on his business, but loss of this account would reflect badly on Don at SC.

I can't forsee anything good that could possibly come of Don and Miss Farrell, Peggy and Duck Phillips, or Betty and Henry Francis. The potential for damage to one or both partners in these meetings is significant. Pairings (I can't use the word 'couples' because Don and Conrad Hilton are not romantically involved) based on equality, mutual respect and common interest can work. I don't see these factors at work here.

@HautieTx -- You should be aware that in 1953 Conrad Hilton initiated the first National Prayer Breakfast, insisting that Billy Graham be involved.

Anonymous said...

regarding Peggy and Don: Don abhore it when people are handed opportunity (Pete and Sterling), so Peggy asking for opportunity would bother him. He did not give Pete one until HE felt Pete was ready (Jet Set), rather than all the other times Pete had asked.

re: Don and Rachel - wasn't the consewuence that they lost that account to Grey?

Susan said...

Anonymous, yes that does bother Don when people ask for an opportunity. I never put that together. You are right that Sterling Cooper lost Mencken to Grey. Don and Bobbie were in a restaurant and Rachel and her new husband walked by their table. Don asked Rachel how things were at Grey, "are they still taking credit for everything we did?"

Julia said...

Lindsey said:

What they say is that "they are going to pass a law". It still works.

You'd be right except that they didn't pass a law - the president signed an executive order. I guess Kennedy might have said he was thinking about doing it and rumors were floating. I remember lots of rumors about the draft and the direction the Viet Nam war would take - people were so nervous about being sent there (either themselves or loved ones) it was a main topic of conversation.

Marshall Steinbaum said...

I just wanted to add that I thought having Dick's father drinking moonshine direct from a jug was a false note. The man is convincing enough as the abusive, hick father lurking behind the suave ad man; showing him actually drinking moonshine from a jug is just cartoonish.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification on the vodka, I was a bit startled.

It would be amusing for Don to get irked at Peggy or others for directly asking for opportunities they feel they have earned when Don didn't do anything to earn the Hilton at all except be Don/Dick. Knowing how hard it is for Don to ASK someone for something, he probably gets uncomfortable and overreacts when he has to be a part of anything resembling that insecurity.


Alan said...

@Marshall -- Here's why the image of Archie and his jug is important in the Knights Inn scene. Don has gone to extraordinary lengths to remove himself from his father, the Whitman family and everything it represents. There's no chance he'll ever appear at a Whitman family reunion.

In this scene Don (or Dick) enjoys a bit of vulgar country humor with his father. Sipping on a jug of moonshine, Archie gets down to the business of defining who (or what) his son really is. The acorn didn't drop far from the tree.

Thus far no one has ventured far into the mind-altering state produced by Phenobarbital and Don's customary drinking habits. Quoting from the following --
"Barbiturates have an additive, synergistic effect with alcohol and can induce fatal physiological consequences by alcohol poisoning."

Sounds a lot like the effects of good ole mountain dew, doesn't it? There's a reason people who know something about this stuff call it 'bust-head'. The jug may look like something from a cartoon, but it's just another route people take to escape boredom or pain.

Archie's jug is just another reminder from Don's father --"You may drive a Cadillac and live in a fancy house, but down inside, you're not any different and certainly not any better than me."

marianne said...

On Don's creativity:
It will be interesting to see, as others have suggested, whether Don will lose his creative abilities at work now that he's bound by a contract at work and bound at home by his decision to be a faithful husband and good father. Will he be just another guy in a grey suit (that was a really striking image of grey suits in the elevator) because of all the new constraints on him this season? Did his creativity (the carousel moment, for example) depend on being able to be free of all constraints? Don has been coming and going from work at all hours till now - it didn't bode well for him that Hilton was displeased that he wasn't at his desk first thing in the morning. Sort of the opposite of Peggy, come to think of it, who is shedding restraint right and left (sex, pot smoking, her own apartment) and presumably finding herself as a result of her freedoms.

Maura said...

Would it actually hurt Peggy professionally if more people knew about the baby?

I think it could hurt her in every aspect of her life if it were common knowledge. Having a baby out of wedlock was scandalous enough. Giving it away was even worse. There are many reasons adoptions were, and often still are, wrapped in secrecy. Placing a child for adoption is still looked down upon by lots of people. (Although I'm not sure where they think all those adopted babies come from. Cabbage patches, maybe.)

@Maura: the content of his chew-out belied the misogynistic element - about most 'grown men' would love her position, and that she was his secretary.

I don't think it belies or supports it. I don't think he's a misogynist. I wouldn't even call Don a sexist. If he were, he wouldn't have helped Peggy move up. If anything, he's a misanthrope.

I would suggest that any man who started in the mail room and worked his way up would get the same treatment from Don if he asked for a job he wasn't ready for.

I was also commenting specifically on the use of the word "misogyny". It's a strong word that's starting to lose its meaning (hatred and mistrust of women), and is flung at any man who has a bad moment. I think it's way off being part of a description of what Don is.

@Maura - I really did get a sense that he was coming on to her in his way. She hasn't pegged him wrong has she? We, the viewers, already know he's attracted to her, it isn't unreasonable to suggest she's twigged onto this too.

Do we all know he's attracted to her? I think Don's interactions with Miss Farrell can be read in more than one way. He's fascinated and confused by her, but, to me, his face read "WTF" when she confronted him. She might have twigged on to something, but she might have also misread it. I totally understand why she assumes what she does, considering she's had to deal with the likes of Carlton.

I'm not making excuses for Don, and I don't think he's above getting involved with his daughter's favorite teacher, no matter how inappropriate it is. This is just how I see his behavior in these particular circumstances. I long ago stopped speculating on what might happen, because MW always goes in a direction that surprises the hell out of me. So, it's not that I'm absolutely sure he's not going to get involved with her. It's just that I don't think it's a given, because nothing is a given on this show.

So, I disagree with you on a few things, happy feet. But, excellent thoughts on your part. You've sussed out some great stuff.

Anonymous said...

While I love these darker episodes that feature Don dealing with his past, it makes me treasure the bits of humor throughout Mad Men even more. Not just the broad wacky stuff (jai alai, foot manglement, peggy getting high, et al) but the witty back-and-forth as well.

The entire Pete/Peggy scene was delightful. When Pete barges in to complain about Duck's gift, Peggy mumbles about how she's going to fire her secretary for letting him in! Then when he dismisses the Hermes scarf, she quips that she hopes his is a different color and wonders who helped Duck write his pithy message on the gift card. Fun. They spend the rest of the scene talking past each other like an old screwball Katherine Hepburn movie from the 1930's or something.

"We got Hilton?"
"He wrote a book?"


I also loved the 'Betty on the phone in the kitchen' thing when Bobby hangs up the phone too fast.


It's pitch-perfect. By the way, I also think Betty always checks that drawer reflexively, just in case Don has left it open. Somehow, I think she'd be relieved if she found that stuff rather than proof of yet another affair.

And add me to those who think that teacher is Glenn Close crazy!

Anonymous said...

In reading comments about the parents' (Don and Betty) relationships to the kids, I have to say that both January and Johnn do an amazing job working with the you actors on the show, as neither have had children.

Cinemania said...

Regarding the sea of grey suits, could they have been influenced by this iconic wardrobe choice:

It is one of the most famous suits of all time, no?

marianne said...

Ah, the ever suave and charming Cary Grant.
I was thinking of "The Man in a Grey Flannel Suit."

Anonymous said...

The NASA website allows you to look up the exact local circumstances for any place during any eclipse on a Google Map, so I looked up Ossining (using the station as a central point):

In Ossining, the eclipse started at 4:40pm, reached a maximum magnitude of 89.4% total at 5:48pm and ended at 6:49pm (all times EDT)

timmyhawken said...

concerning Don and Miss Farrell:

Miss Farrell's 180 on Don did seem weird, but after that drunk dial she did maybe she felt embarassed and wanted to set a boundary with Don. I really don't think that Don was coming on to her at all. While he certainly was amused by the drunk dial, I don't think that he has the hots for her like some others have speculated. The scene that other speculated on that I just didn't see the same way was where Don first saw Miss Farrell (dancing with the children) Some saw Don finguring the grass as being some sort of sexual thing, but I think he just in a deep state of relaxation. If you recall from the episode 1 of the this season, Don describes a scene to Betty to help her sleep about being on a beach, listening to the ocean, and a feeling the sand in her hand. in my mind, I think Don was on that beach in that moment and Miss Farrell wasn't very significant. I do agree with another poster that she could go Glenn Close on Don, but I doubt MM would do that, this show never does what I expect to happen, I love it!

Susan said...

IMO Don is attracted to Miss Farrell. To me, him stroking the grass during the Maypole dance indicated that. And she is attracted to him. She was just playing with him during the eclipse, telling him all the dads are like that, she gets it all the time. I believe this season he is making more of an effort to behave himself, but it won't last. I don't see her as crazy or disturbed. Certainly unconventional and a little kooky, but not crazy. But as another poster pointed out, Mad Men often leads us in one direction and then things end up another way. I certainly never would have guessed in a million years that Duck and Peggy would have sex.

Jessamyn said...

One of the other things about the Peggy/Pete scene was that when it was over, I said, "Wow. They actually had a real conversation about what was going on. That never happens on this show!" Of course, it was broken up into fragments, but apparently one of the things about Peggy telling Pete the truth last season is that now they can speak the truth to each other. Unlike practically every other character, they can cut through the crap when they need to, instead of dancing around making oblique references. (And as others have said, presumably Duck's doing that about sex was a big part of his attraction for Peggy.) The exotic appeal of truth!

Jed said...

Miss Farrell is crazy if she has an affair with Don unless they both keep it way under wraps, but then what's the point. She has as much, if not more to loose if the affair becomes known. Sure it would hurt Betty and Don (although probably not Don so much -- boys will be boys). It would hurt Betty in the affair being known but Carlton cheated and by the looks of it most every other husband has, so its bad but not the end of the world, the biggest complaint it that it took place at home rather than at work.

The teacher on the other hand would be history....

Hopefully, the though of what would happen to Sally will keep this from happening but as Don seems to be self-destructing, who knows....

Susan said...

Don would not be the first dad Miss Farrell has done. Both would know how to be discreet.

Good observation about honesty between Pete and Peggy. Yes, Duck being direct appealed to Peggy. Peggy is learning to be very honest and direct. (Not a socially acceptable quality for women of that day!) Once you start doing that, you have a great appreciation for people who do that. I disagree with those who have said Don reprimanding Peggy had driven her to Duck.

Julia said...

Maura said:
Having a baby out of wedlock was scandalous enough. Giving it away was even worse.

In the early 60s I knew 2 women who kept their babies. Both married the father a year or so later - they were considered extremely brave. In both cases, it had to do with father not wanting to lose funding for college. One guy's parents said they would cut him off if he married her and the other guy was on a basketball scholarship at a Catholic university - he would lose the scholarship if he fessed up to a child and got married. All other pregnant women I knew in 1963 got married ASAP or gave the child away. It was unheard-of to keep a child and it was considered sensible to give it up for adoption. Nobody would have known about the pregnancy if you played it right. I don't think Peggy's mom and sister ever knew.

Carlton said he saw Ms Farrel in the mornings while running, but etiquette required that they not speak. But he got awfully antsy and wanted to leave. Ms Farrel seemed upset about more than fathers coming on to her.

I wonder if something is going on between her and Carlton and he dumped on her or doesn't want to be around her in public in case somebody catches on. That makes more sense than her being indignant about generic men who wear the same shirts.

Julia said...

Should have also said that the phrase was "giving up" the baby, not "giving away" the baby. It was considered selfless and in the baby's best interests to release the baby to an adoption agency.

As you may remember, there was not the government financial help there is now for single mothers - not to mention the health care and food stamps and formula. All that is in the future.

Ciji said...

I don't think Connie Hilton wanted Don under contract THAT bad. That contract was something Sterling Cooper (and maybe London) really wanted: Hilton was an excuse.

Susan said...

Julia, yes, Carlton and Miss Farrell. Totally possible. BTW, I greatly appreciate your first hand memories of the early 1960's. It adds much to the discussion.

Brandon said...

The Dallas Hilton, the first high rise hotel constructed by Conrad Hilton, is located at the corner of Main St. and S. Harwood St. in downtown, only eight blocks from Dealey Plaza and nine from the book depository. I'm just saying.

Maura said...

Julia said: In the early 60s I knew 2 women who kept their babies. Both married the father a year or so later - they were considered extremely brave. In both cases, it had to do with father not wanting to lose funding for college. One guy's parents said they would cut him off if he married her and the other guy was on a basketball scholarship at a Catholic university - he would lose the scholarship if he fessed up to a child and got married. All other pregnant women I knew in 1963 got married ASAP or gave the child away. It was unheard-of to keep a child and it was considered sensible to give it up for adoption. Nobody would have known about the pregnancy if you played it right. I don't think Peggy's mom and sister ever knew.

I think the important part is "Nobody would have known about the pregnancy if you played it right." Yes, a lot of women did it, but it wasn't something you talked about. Let's not forget that a lot of girls went off "to visit their aunts" for several months.

It seems to me that Peggy's mother and sister knew all about what happened. That's what the animosity between Peggy and Anita was about in season 2.

Should have also said that the phrase was "giving up" the baby, not "giving away" the baby.

Is there a difference? I know a lot about this subject, and I've always considered the two terms interchangeable.

Anonymous said...

Another fine outing for the bathos of the rich and self-absorbed. "Poor Sally." How rich. She might grow up to have a complex or (gasp) rebel against her "horrible" conditions or something equally devastating.

So much was possible in a series centered aroung a critical industry at a momentous time in the development of consumer-driven modern capitalism -- and there is plenty of evidence Weiner is aware of this momentousness given the occasional line that you hoped would lead somewhere (e.g., "they hate creatives") that ends up to be merely throwaway. I would like to get my hopes up that DD's "subconscious" recognition of the nature of his industry (cultivating manure ... that will with the "Creative Revolution" and the co-opting of "hip" fertilize consumption-driven capitalism) and the reference to Oglivy (bastion of the "scientific," creatives-hating advertising that the Creative Revolution overcame for a while) heralds a more serious approach to important issues, but I doubt it. Weiner seems incapable of staying away from TV's popular-culture obsession with the angst of the wealthy and near wealthy.

JoeInVegas said...


I don't see that at all. I think Sally's "crush" is just a reflection for the attention from a motherly figure that she does not get at home.

Anonymous said...

RE: Duck's seduction prowess: I didn't know if I was grossed out or turned on. It's such a fine line for me....

dari said...

accidentally posted this on the dexter comments... junior varsity commenter over here...

@ mary mcmanus

sally is what, 9 or 10? i know a few gay/lesbian friends who distinctly remember having crushes on only members of the same sex as early as kindergarten. regardless, im not saying this means shes a lesbian, but i think we can agree that no word is spared on this show. sally's positive relationship with the teacher, a nurturing mother figure, is another reason don should stay away (but wont) foiling sally's pretty poisonous relationship with betty nicely, drawing don in in a way he might be able to justify to himself as wholesome. also i didnt read teach's lines to don as her being crazy--- just a pre-emptive strike, far more forthcoming than female objects of lust where allowed to be in '63 but a defence mechanism that i know i and my contemporaries use when being chatted up under thin veil of niceties.

Julia said...

Thanks. I try to only talk about the old days when it's really pertinent.

"Giving away' a child seems more cold than "giving up" a child which has the flavor of sacrifice for the child's sake. "Giving away" is what you would say about somebody else if you disaproved.

Julia said...

I'm going to mention again the famous scene with George in "A Hard Days' Night" which was released in 1964 to unexpected rapturous reviews but was only planned in the fall of 1963 as a simple marketing tool to sell records to teen-agers.

Here's what a very astute guy said about the scene recently:
There’s George, who accidentally wanders off and gets scooped by a marketing professional of some sort—one whose finger is so on the pulse of teenage culture that he doesn’t recognize a Beatle when he sees one. One of the most celebrated scenes in the film, for George Harrison’s naturalism as much as anything else, it’s also one of the most overtly satirical. And it’s completely hilarious for the way George roundly, and innocently, denounces the profession of marketing products to teenagers. (He’s written off as merely a troublemaker, though.)


It reminds me of Pete wanting to market to Negroes. Soon somebody in the firm is going to recognize that '60s teenagers have disposable income and go after them. Maybe the Beatles' movie will clue them in.

Here's a YouTube of the scene - starting at about 4:15 :

helga said...

I didn’t mind the flash forwards at all. I thought it gave the whole episode the feel of a hangover; you start out feeling lousy and confused with little information and a vague sense of dread, before slowly piecing together the series of events that got you there (which of course you initiated).

Loved Don’s tirade against Peggy, thought he was 100% spot on although sadly it could’ve been effective without being delivered so angrily. I’m already tired of her over-used & gimmicky “woman’s point of view” line.

An upthread poster wrote: “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?)”
-I think it also shows the attitude of complete ownership that some wealthy individuals assume toward those in their employ. Control indeed. Bert asked Don when he was planning on telling them about the Hilton prospect; I think that Don was being cautious and instinctive about him personally becoming a plaything of the rich. I feel for the character in not wanting him to have signed the contract, but believe/hope he’ll be clever enough to find a way to use this new arrangement to his advantage somehow. Don just hasn’t “used all the tools in his toolbox” yet. He needs to start improvising anyway, as this ep shows how his old tricks are not paying off the way they used to. Going hobo, stonewalling at work, smooth pick-up lines, etc. That being said, I like the way he embodied all of the romance of the mad men era at the series’ start but now is becoming an example of absorption/anonymity/ownership by the encroaching corporate machine.

I know I’m coming to this thread late as usual so I may re-post this question after another episode, but when someone wrote a couple weeks back of D.W.’s switching identities to get out of fulfilling his “contract” with the army, I got to wondering;. is that the main reason he did what he did, or was it (as I’d assumed up until now) a tactic to sever his ties to Dick’s rotten, burdensome family? Though definitely guilty of a crime, I’d thought he wasn’t technically a deserter because of getting discharged for his own actual bodily injuries, but perhaps he was let out earlier based on the real D.D.’s longer and more distinguished record of service. Anyway I’m just wondering about the motive behind it; escape from the war or escape from the family?

helga said...

And loved the portrayal of Archie Whitman! Chilling.

helga said...

And another thing about that tongue-lashing Don gave Peggy; didn't Duck basically have to tell her the same thing, albeit in a kinder way (maybe after they've gotten to know you better or you've been there a while or something like that), when she asked if she could be taken on at Grey as head of copywriting (can't recall the title)? There she goes again, asking for a larger responsibility than she's demonstrated an ability for.

Maura said...

Julia said: "Giving away' a child seems more cold than "giving up" a child which has the flavor of sacrifice for the child's sake. "Giving away" is what you would say about somebody else if you disaproved.

I can see that. I think it's just semantics, and I've never found "giving away" to be judgmental. But that's just my opinion. I can't speak for an entire group of people.

Julia, I think I might have sounded testy in my last post. An now I kind of want to kick my own ass. I apologize.

Colt said...

Has anyone thought about Hilton, being symbolic of Vietnam as in the Hanoi Hilton?

Anonymous said...

The end of this episode makes me think back to Pete's attempted "outing" of Don to Cooper back in Season 1. Cooper, speaking with Don afterwards, said something to the effect of, "You can fire him, Don, but one never knows how loyalty is born". Looking back, I think he was saying the same thing to Don, as in, "Now that I know this about you, I could fire you, but I won't, and maybe you'll be loyal to me as a result." The scene at the end of this episode was Cooper calling in that card. Awesome.

Julia said...


I didn't think you were being testy. After your comment, I looked at my post again and realized I had actually used both phrases myself. That made me think a little harder about what phrase we really did use back then and why.

MM and this blog are really interesting to me - they make me see with fresh eyes exactly what has changed, for good and ill, since the early 60s.

The leaving trash at the picnic really struck home. I remember people throwing fast food containers, napins, cigarette butts and all kinds of stuff out the window while driving. Lady Bird Johnson's "highway beautification" campaign really made a difference. It's heartening to see that public assumptions and behavior can improve.

And it's really startling to see how harsh parents could sometimes seem in the era before "nurturing" became the ideal. In the MM era parents worried about spoiling kids, but grandparents were allowed to be softer.

Susan said...

I don't think Don assumed his new identity to get out of the military. It just happened to him and I think he welcomed the chance to have a new life. As abusive as his parenrs were, he wanted to put that all behind him. People of that generation tend to be secretive anyway; things happen and they move on and never talk about it again. It was not something he planned. The opportunity presented itself and he seized it. Anna Draper was fine with what he did, and if anyone should have objected, it would have been her.

Peggy is extremely ambitious and I was thrilled to see her ask to be on Hilton and ask Duck for copy chief. She previously had been valued for her woman's point of view, so of course she would bring that up. She is 23 and has a lot to learn about framing requests/demands/wishes.

Anonymous said...

I love you guys :) You either watch MM, remember MM and GET MM, or you die. I've only seen maybe 6 or so comments that were repeats or "dude we totally went over that already" this week. SIX out of over THREE HUNDRED! WOW!

And Brandon- a fact well worth knowing, now I have to have THAT in my head the rest of the season, even if nothing comes of it.

Thanks Alan, you rock!


Colt said...

Has anyone else thought about the symbolism of that Hilton played with Vietnam and the "Hanoi Hilton."

I also wonder if the Hilton is not a perfect symbol for Don's "hobo" lifestyle. Hotels are a great spot for anonymity especially during they days of signing the register under and assume name.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen any mention of Betty's startling, drill-sergeant-worthy call of "Lunch!" to the kids. Fits perfectly with her deplorable parenting approach, but still made me laugh.

Lois Strikes Back said...

Upon seeing the business-shark side of Bertram Cooper, I now wonder if he didn't set Don up to be disappointed in the last episode. Remember, it was Cooper who filled Don's head with dreams of London, then only half-heartedly apologized for his "imagination" once Guy's position was announced. Also, Cooper didn't seem at all surprised by the new British layout, only that Roger was left off the transparency. I wouldn't have suspected Cooper of such malfeasance until this contract move.

Lois Strikes Back said...

Sesame Street takes on Mad Men!

You're welcome.

P.S. Good lord, I hope you're not letting your little ones watch Mad Men!!!

Anonymous said...

Isn't Peggy's sister raising Peggy's baby and calling it hers? Be pretty hard for Peggy's Mom & Sis not to know who gave birth to the baby, then.

Dick was injured in the same attack in which Don was killed. And maybe Dick would have been discharged or assigned to duties outside of combat for a while anyway, but remember -- he pissed his pants during the shelling. He DID not like being shot at.

Didn't the real Don Draper tell Dick that he was about to go home? I think Dick took over Don's identity to get the hell out of combat, and the Army, as fast as he could. The Army sends cannon fodder back into battle as soon as it heals. Dick knew that.

Rob Biesenbach said...

While we're on the subject, I have a question about Don's background. We've seen glimpses of his childhood, we saw his battlefield conversion from Dick to Don. We saw his early career as a car salesman, his outing by the real Draper's wife and his subsequent relationship/friendship with her.

Have we ever seen or heard how exactly he went from car salesman to Madison Avenue? And his climb up the ladder there? I don't recall it, and I've watched every episode at least twice. Does anybody know? Maybe this period of his life will be covered in future flashbacks?

berkowit28 said...

@Danger Boy:

No, we've never been told. He was doing some sort of PR work for the company Betty was modeling for (where they met). But we don't know how Don got from car salesman to PR in the fashion industry, nor from there to Sterling Cooper. It would be nice to see those steps in flashback sometime.

I think the bigger gap, and what's really, really odd and unexplained, is how come no one except Anna Draper ever went looking for (the real) Don Draper. It doesn't make sense. The real Don Draper would have known dozens of people well, most of all his own family (parents), also college friends and other close friends. Don Draper was never reported missing or dead. Wouldn't someone other than his wife look for him, especially his parents?

Also, having gone to university and moving in those circles, it seems really odd that in - what - 12-15 years? - he has *never* run into anyone who knew the real Don Draper. No alumni queries, or anything? In the very first couple of shows in season 1, he ran into someone who had known Dick Whitman in the army (on the train). You'd think that at one of these country clubs, he'd be introduced as Don Draper to someone who suddenly got very puzzled. Sure, he could explain he was a different Don Draper, but still... I also find it interesting that Betty never nags him about his missing past - she's given up I suppose. Her father never gave up.

Scott Hollifield said...

@Anon [11:01pm 10/11]: I think this has been debated in past threads, but I believe the second season finale clarified that Peggy gave away her baby, and that the one Peggy's sister Anita is raising is indeed Anita's own (which squares with Anita being pregnant when she came to visit Peggy in the hospital).

Anonymous said...

Peggy has learned the way to the top is to sleep her way there. The men use their weapons, she uses hers. All's fair in love and war.

Scott Hollifield said...

I would dispute that since Peggy was offered a chance to join with Duck and she refused it, before he made his sexual overture. She's clearly sleeping with him for other reasons.

Jessamyn said...

To Lois Strikes Back: Thank you for the Sesame Street link! The opener (pratfall rather than existential freefall) and the closer ("Good work, sycophants!") are the best parts. Ah, Sesame Street. It's that crazy mix of earnestness and cynicism that make it eternal.

As to Mad Men, I was thinking about Bert Cooper's previous "You never know where loyalty is born" comment and his actions here...I think one of the things Sterling Cooper has (wisely) valued about Don is his loyalty, and it's the reason they were willing to let him ride without a contract as long as they did. In fact, Bert would have known that letting Don stay contract-free probably helped a lot in building that loyalty.

However, they only like it when it's in their favor. Remember how annoyed they were when Don's loyalty manifested for others, such as Freddy Rumsen or the Mohawk account? And now that it's getting less clear whom Don should be to be loyal to - the Brits? Sterling Cooper but not the Brits? - they figure it's not enough.

I do think that one of the things contributing to Don's disintegration over the last few episodes is this loss of targets for loyalty. Don needs a "work family" to invest his emotional and physical effort into, but the one he had has undergone divorce and remarriage (literally with Roger and his wives, figuratively with Roger and Don, AND the sale of the firm to the Brits) and the "children" have been acting up (Duck, to a lesser extent Peggy, etc.), or thrown out of the house (Freddy, all those firings after the merger), or running away from home (Joan - and though he doesn't know it, Peggy and Pete were thinking about it).

Susan said...

I agree, Scott, Peggy is not "sleeping her way to the top." In fact, Peggy has never had sex (that we as the viewers know of) with anyone who could advance her career. One of the her best lines, however, was when someone asked her how she got her office and she replied something like, "I'm sleeping with Don and it's really working out." Awesome.

Anonymous said...

Great discussion! Many have judged the opening shots - of Peggy in bed with an unknown man, Betty preoccupied and laid back in a flowered dress, Don face down at the motel - as failed teasers or "flashforward" scenes. But aren't they more ambiguous than "flashforward" implies? In the past, Peggy had a significant one night stand, Betty has daydreamed about a romantic tryst, and Don has awoken bloodied in an anonymous room. We could even say that each of these postures are indicative of these three characters. In other words, at the opening, the scenes are unclear about whether they are the past or the future. As they get picked up during the episode, we come to see them as embedded in the present period and narrative arc, and the ambiguity gradually fades, but the point is that the openers were an interesting device that refer both backwards and forewards in an intriguing way that thematizes Don, Betty, and Peggy's return to particular crossroads even with the passage of time. I like the formal innovation and experimentation that Season 3 has included.

jenae said...

Though I've never been very interested in Duck, I was very struck by the unexpected sexual encounter between Peggy and Duck.

Peggy isn't a glamour girl like so many of the key women in the show. She's not a Helen of Troy classical beauty (Betty and Jane both fit this category) not an eye-popping sexpot like Joan and to some extent Jane also (though Jane's less a sex pot as her once bodacious bod gets thinner and more lithe). Though less conventionally beautiful, both Bobby and Rachel have their allure down cold. (Bobby is what I think was Adelaid Stevenson was referring to when he said, "A beauty is a woman you notice; a charmer is a woman who notices you": Betty's a beauty; Bobby's a charmer.) Rachel is an exotic, offbeat beauty with an heiress’s confidence and an entire department store as her closet, and she uses it adroitly.

Peggy is attractive in a low-key way. Sometimes quite pretty, sometimes a bit plain. And of course she had the devastating period of being the butt of everyone's jokes and Joan's intrusive advice when she was over-weight / pregnant.

But when he got closer, Duck realized she a desirable woman. And lying in bed, she seemed like a modern woman: not someone who puts everything into being beautiful or sexy, but a multi-faceted, ambitious woman who is also a sexual being, though she usually doesn't emphasize or broadcast that aspect of herself. And though Alan is probably right that Duck won't be good for Peggy (I hadn't thought that far but see the truth in that) it was exciting to see them have what felt like a very sexy and erotic and even amiable and intimate adult encounter.

Speaking of Duck, I missed the first time around and only caught later on DVD the scene where he abandons his dog, because he wants to have no accusing eyes on him (really his own conscience, of course) while he deliberates over whether to give in to his urge to drink. I kinda go into denial that he ever did that and then I remember. Stunningly awful.

I think that even as Cooper was strong-arming Don, he was also winking at him, reminding him that if he ever wants to break this contract, all he has to do is abandon his assumed identity. We saw Don introduce himself as Dick in California to the mechanics, so we know it's an option he's toyed with, to leave Betty and the kids and go back to being Dick. (Probably there'd be an envelope in the mail with money for the kids, as he told Rachel as an afterthought when he wanted to run away then.)

Another good episode, my misgivings about this season--new less vivid Brit characters bringing in a numbing corporate vibe and other concerns--have pretty much vanished.

jenae said...

Someone asked what do we know about Peggy's father: all I know if that he died, as she told Roger in the elevator. Somehow i imagine she was young when he died? maybe others have already provided better answers...

Re; childhood trauma, remembering the way peggy went so painfully blank when Pete said 'i don't like you thins way" I'd say she has her fair share of ancient wounds, and pete in his petulance stabbed her right in the heart of them. don got close when he chewed her out so ruthlessly, but the cut didn't go as deep as that terrible moment with pete. What an actress Moss is!!

Anonymous said...

Imamarilyn: Don did make the conscious choice to become Don Draper - he took his dog tags off and put them on Don Draper, and took DD's off (they were gooey with the burnt skin) and put them around his neck. When he woke up in the hospital, he didn't correct the army officials when they called him DD.

Some have asked how he could have led the life of another man for 12-15 years without running into anyone that knew DD? DD lived in California, and Americans weren't as transient coast to coast in the 1960's. So when Dick moved to New York as Don, he would have been quite anonymous.

Susan said...

Yes, Anon, it was a conscious decision. But not planned or calculated. IMO the opportunity presented itself and Dick seized it. His parents (Abigail especially) had instilled such a sense of self-loathing in Dick that he welcomed the chance to be someone else.

Jenae, great ideas about Peggy and Duck. We are seeing a metamorphisis of Peggy as the seasons go on. Duck said he never really saw her and that is the kind of woman she is. One notices Betty and Joan, and a woman like Peggy kind of sneaks up on you. I love the way Peggy carries herself, perfect posture, head up. Women who are not conventionally beautiful or charming cultivate their brains. Today young girls are encouraged to be smart. Back in Peggy's day, not so much. Betty and Joan are both very intelligent, but because they are beautiful their brains have sort of taken a back seat.

Unknown said...

I think the scene where Don checks his wallet and only has $1 in it could lead to identification problems for Don/Dick.

Don may not have any other ID to reassert his identity as Don Draper.

Just something I though about when I saw the empty wallet and then the whole "who is really signing this contract anyway."

querida said...

Did a pretty thorough search and find, and I don't think this has been said before.

To elaborate upon what Alan said, about Roger sticking his nose where it didn't belong one too many times: recall last season, when the competing company was trying to woo Don. The main reason he stayed at Sterling-Cooper was because he hated feeling powerless--power which his contract dictates he must literally sign away--but he glossed it over by saying that he liked the way Sterling-Cooper conducted business, referring to his ire at the opposition attempting to use his wife's modeling career as leverage. In this episode especially, Don's almost obsessive maintenance of the status quo cannot be quite reconciled with his need to have the possibility of change (running away). That is, until one considers Don's need for control. He welcomes the most basic idea of change but does not really want his picturesque life to be shaken up, his lack of appreciation notwithstanding, and thus rejects the true, devastating idea of change, as exerted by others. He allowed Betty's father to stay in an earlier episode, for example, but with the clear understanding that the arrangement would be quite temporary. And again, in this arrangement, he had all the power: he named all the terms. Being stripped of any power makes Dick antsy, not disappear completely, as Alan speculated. Dick uses this anger to lash out as Don, blaming Betty (as she is a physical representation of his responsibilities) and Roger (who, unwittingly, was echoing the efforts of the competing company by going behind Don's back). Reined in, Don acclimates himself to new and troubling circumstances, but does so grudgingly. He'll commit to at least three years of marriage to Betty, but he won't do it happily. This also could alleviate some guilt for him if he and the teacher are to pursue an extramarital affair at a later date. He'll commit to Sterling-Cooper but he does it almost out of spite, severing his already fragile relationship with Roger completely. Thus, I must disagree with Alan's supposition that signing the contract, in effect banishing Dick Whitman, will somehow make Don a better person. Don is, pardon the pun, a dick. He can be a cruel, mean-spirited person. The idea of escape is a constant comfort to him. Recall how he waxed poetic about running away with Ms Menken in the first season; it was pure fantasy, but it helped him feel more in control of the situation. If you back a man into a corner and cut off any means of escape, he's not going to be happy and he's certainly not going thank you for it.

Of course, this is all belated speculation, as I have yet to watch Episode 8. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I had a moment of serendipity and thought I would mention it. The day I watched the Seven Twenty Three episode I also watched a French film from 1963 called The Fire Within. It's about a 'cured' alcoholic that has lost the will to live. He has decided to kill himself on July 23 (7-23). It is written in marker on his mirror. d

Anonymous said...

Rewatching this show has been so amazing. Having the episodes to view closer together, and with perspective on where it's headed. Appreciating the actors for executing their arcs so well.

I've posted a few comments as I make it through, spoiler-free. Perhaps Alan no longer monitors them, but so far as I've noticed, none have been approved.

But I do want to say something about the "His Master's Voice" reference: yes, I think it jerked her out of her reverie because (a) it's advertising (Don), but also (b) it's about ownership (Don/family), and perhaps more than anything, (c) it's a *very* old campaign. It started in 1899, which I think she realized at this very moment, Henry may have been alive (if very young) to witness firsthand.

Here's what I think she's thinking:

"Oh right, I should be ashamed of this moment. Besides, am I sure I want to be hanging out with this old guy? I'm a hot educated model who's married to James Freaking Bond, and had my one and only affair with Captain Awesome! This guy learned to drive on a Tin Lizzie, and could probably be my dad, whom I just lost, who was losing his mind because (in Betty-think) oldness is ugly! Did I leave the gas on at home? I should probably be going. But... Don's bugging the crap out of me, so whatever. Maybe I should just sleep with this guy on a fainting couch I've yet to meet instead."


D. Watts said...

This episode should have been called "Sunrise, Sunset".

Connie: Things are gonna change with me in your life.

They sure do. New suns (Connie, Henry, Duck) are exhibiting their gravitational pull, affecting everyone in their orbit (Don on Connie: We run in the same circles)

Connie is an eccentric says Burt. Funny, yes..but look up eccentric. Humor me.

For fun: 7/23 began the new year for the Egyptians as Sirius, a sun much more powerful than ours,shone peaked in the morning, igniting our "dog days of summer".

Jed said...

Pretty sure she knew "his master's voice"...and I think it upset her because she thought of her dad (his being dead and all) and/or Don...another master. We all serve somebody.

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