Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mad Men, "Souvenir": La dolce vita

Spoilers for tonight's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I shoot a water balloon across the office...
"Of course. This never happened." -Joan
Joan's sentiment will be later echoed by Pete in his conversation with poor Gudrun the au pair, but nearly every scene in "Souvenirs" is one that one or both of its participants will try to disavow later. Everyone's playing a role, and while it may briefly be fun for some of them - particularly for Don and Betty on a short but sweet Rome getaway - in the end they have to ignore the fantasy and get back to the crummy reality of their lives.

Joan is composed enough to play the bored but happy housewife for Pete, but her face falls as soon as he's out of site. Pete tries playing carefree bachelor, then helpful neighbor, then sexual aggressor, but as soon as Trudy comes back from Rehobeth, he reverts to the scared, wounded, manipulative little boy we know he is. Sally plays at being a grown-up woman like her mom, but Bobby mocks her for it and the boy she kisses seems mostly confused. Henry Francis plays at being Betty's hero, and even gets a kiss out of it, but Betty makes it clear that that's all he'll get, telling Francine (in reference to the reservoir fight), "I'm done with that."

And for a couple of days in Rome, Don and Betty play at being a happy couple, and then attractive strangers having an international tryst. When they return home, Don is eager to keep playing - adopting new identities is his specialty, and seeing his wife doing it makes him more attracted to her than he's been since their first kiss days - but Betty for once is the more grounded and realistic one. She knows their marriage is still fundamentally broken - she was there for Don's temper tantrum last week, and for all the other problems they've suffered - and that her life will always be unsatisfying, but it's the marriage, and the life, she's stuck with. Their Italian getaway is a great story Don can tell, but it doesn't make their relationship any stronger than a week at Lake George did for Francine and Carlton.

When Henry shows up to (temporarily) save the day with the town council, he tells Betty and Francine that when you don't have power, the best move can be to delay - to put things off and hope the problem goes away on its own. With their role-playing in this episode, our characters are trying to do the same, but most of them realize there's a moment where the costume has to come off, and then the reality will be the same as it ever was.

But if most of the characters have to pretend by the end of the episode that their role-playing didn't happen, at least we get to witness the playing, whether it's sexy (Don and Betty) or creepy (Pete and Gudrun).

Now, I think we can all be in agreement that January Jones is a lovely woman, particularly in the Grace Kelly style the show puts her in. But everything in "Souvenir" - the costuming, hair, makeup and lighting (particularly in the Rome scenes) - seems designed to make her look extra-glamorous. And where Don seems doomed to be out-of-fashion with his Cary Grant look, Betty slides naturally into the '60s when she emerges from the Rome Hilton's salon with that amazing beehive, the dangly earrings, the dress and the blue eyeshadow.

I say this not to objectify one of the show's leads - though goodness knows, we could all spend a lot of time in these discussions drooling over Jones, or Jon Hamm, or Christina Hendricks, etc. - but to note that Matthew Weiner (who wrote the script with Lisa Albert), director Phil Abraham and the crew were making a concerted effort to augment Jones' natural beauty. They want to make absolutely clear how wasted Betty is (or, at least, how wasted she feels) as a housewife in Ossining. Here she is, this gorgeous creature who speaks fluent Italian, studied anthropology, and has the charisma on top of her looks to wrap men as powerful as Henry Francis, or as distant as her own husband, around her finger when she puts a mind to it, and she's suffocating in the life she has. Some of this is on her, and on her upbringing, but it's still hard to see how vibrant and happy she is in Rome, and how deflated she is back on Bullet Park Rd.

(Incidentally, when I was on Bill Simmons' podcast earlier this week, we talked about how different, if at all, "Mad Men" might be if it was on HBO, and we came to the agreement that the show doesn't need, and wouldn't use, nudity. And Don and Betty's drunken foreplay in their hotel room backed me up on that. It was a reminder of how powerful and erotic a scene can be even when the participants are (semi) clothed and the camera discreetly pans away before anything major happens. See also the famous love scene from "Out of Sight," though that one was spiced up by the non-sequential storytelling.)

"Souvenir," like last season's "The Inheritance," builds its two main stories around Betty and Pete, the show's two overgrown children. But where Betty's story here is a reminder of how strong and powerful she can be when she acts the grown-up, Pete's is a reminder of just how dangerous a boy in a man's suit can be.

Is what Pete does to Gudrun rape? It's more ambiguous than what Dr. Greg did to Joan - here, the pressure Pete was using was emotional, not physical, since he knew how much Gudrun feared losing her job - but whatever you want to label it, it was stomach-churning. (And made even worse by how Gudrun's boss treated it as an accepted thing that he objected to solely because it inconvenienced him.) And then it was sad to see how easily Pete was able to deflect his guilt for the thing - not the forcing, but the cheating - onto Trudy by telling her, "I don't want you to go away anymore without me."

Included in the stylistic template of "Mad Men" is a reluctance to use establishing shots. Though we occasionally see the outside of the Sterling Cooper building, most scenes don't get any kind of transitional image to tell you, "Okay, now we're moving from here to here" or "Okay, we're back here on the following morning." It's not always that noticeable because the show does such long scenes, but there were several sequences in "Souvenir" where we just followed either Betty or Pete throughout their day, bam-bam-bam - no establishing shots, no dissolves or other obvious transitions, just one quick cut after another of their frustrated, empty lives. But where Betty manages to be perfectly put-together even when she's bored, we see just how easily Pete lets himself unravel when Trudy's not around and he has nothing to do and no one to stroke his ego. He's drinking more, blacking out on the couch, looking at times like a cross between a little boy (particularly eating cereal on the couch as he watches "Davey & Goliath") and a feral animal.

I don't know that he sets out to take advantage of Gudrun. Again, Peter Campbell is in constant need of outside approval, and in the au pair he sees a chance to play the hero and be profusely thanked for it. But then the thanks come, and they're not enough, particularly when combined with still more booze. And so he goes back, wolf-ish, to get what he wants.

And then Trudy comes home, and Pete can't keep this indiscretion from her. But Trudy has clearly learned by now that the only way to thrive (or at least survive) in a marriage to Peter Campbell is to play the role of his ever-doting, supportive wife/mother/housekeeper. "You're my husband; I want what you want," she says, dismissing her desire for a child because she knows it upsets him. And the poor girl lets the schmuck off the hook. Like Betty, this isn't the life she wants, but the life she has. And by staying in it, she's enabling Pete to do what he wants, when he wants, because he can always cry for Trudy's forgiveness when he needs it.

We see in the vanity mirror scene(*) how much Sally is fascinated by and worshipful of her mother. Puberty is still a few years away, but she's starting to become interested in makeup, and boys, and playing House. She also possesses her daddy's temper, which she takes out on Bobby after he catches her K-I-S-S-I-N-G Francine's son, but what she really wants is to understand the power Betty so obviously holds over men.

(*) Interesting things tend to happen when "Mad Men" characters are in front of mirrors, don't they?

After briefly giving into her attraction to Henry Francis, Betty puts him out of her head, explaining her reasons to Sally (who thinks her mom is just talking in generalities), saying of first kisses, "It's where you go from being a stranger to knowing someone. And every kiss with them after that is a shadow of that kiss." Maybe she would feel differently about the idea if she was married to a man who actually loved her. But all she has is Don, who can only pretend to love her, and so of course every kiss now seems a shadow of their first.

I'll be curious to see over the season's remaining episodes if Betty is just done with Henry, or with adulterous flirtation in general. Has she decided the whole concept is pointless, or is she preparing to play the role of vulnerable, lovelorn woman to a series of men who can each provide a first kiss?

Some other thoughts on "Souvenirs":

• Last week I said I thought that Don, Betty and Peggy were the only characters to appear in every episode. Then we get an episode with no Peggy at all. Has this happened before and I'm misremembering?

• The August setting also makes it easy to save money by keeping several other regulars (Roger, Bert, Sal) off-camera, and it sets up Ken's hilariously crude line about SC upper management: "Cooper's in Montana, Sterling's in Jane, and Draper's on vacation."

• While Bonwit Teller, the department store where Pete exchanges the dress, has closed, the Gristedes grocery store chain (Pete had one of their bags when he found Gudrun trying to throw the dress down the trash chute) is still in business.

• It's funny: even though I knew Pete had gone to Bonwit Teller, when the camera pushed in on Pete's back, I thought for sure the woman coming to see him would be Rachel Mencken, and I was gobsmacked (as I'm sure I was supposed to be) when it turned out to be Joan. And note that poor Joan, even in depressing circumstances she'd rather her old co-workers not find out about, once again completely rocks any job put in front of her. Now, do you suppose Dr. Greg is actually exploring psychiatry, or is that just a specialty she pulled out of thin air when Pete unexpectedly asked a follow-up question? You could read the pause (and the catch in her voice) either as a lie, or as Joan once again coming to grips with her new situation.

• Also, while Betty temporarily goes with the beehive, we see Joan has let her hair down in the new job.

• I liked the contrast of Betty's goofy, endearing "We won!" dance in front of Don with her disdainful suggestion that they put the water tower up in Newburgh, since "it's already disgusting." She can be really warm, and then really cold, in short order.

• Francine's been largely absent this season, which is a shame if you (like me) are a fan of Anne Dudek, but we got a good concentrated dose of her in "Souvenir," as she shows herself to be both savvy and pushy about Betty's private business, and as she once again casually tosses off comments that were acceptable at the time but cringe-inducing now. ("The board is trying to Jap us with a sudden meeting.")

• I thought it was a nice touch that Don scribbled the flight information onto Betty's cold-call list. Not only have we seen Don frequently jots down thoughts on whatever piece of paper is handy (cocktail napkins, inter-office memos), but it's a reminder to Betty of how little he really values what she's doing. To Don, the list is just glorified note paper.

• A couple of other guest star notes: The mayor was played by Mark Metcalf, who's best known for one of two roles: fascist ROTC leader Niedermeyer in "Animal House," and The Master on the first season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Pete's neighbor Ed Lawrence, meanwhile, was serial guest star Ned Vaughn.

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

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

What did everybody else think?


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Anonymous said...

Pete and Trudy don't need air conditioning because their dinner conversations are more than frigid enough for the blistering autumn heat.

Cee said...

Every week I say "That was the best episode ever!" except this time I think I really mean it. The whole episode, especially the parts in Rome, felt like a Hitchcock movie - the shots, the angles, the colours. It didn't seem like a modern show pretending it's the 1960s. So props to the director for that.

January was a total knockout this episode, and it's a shame she didn't win an Emmy this year. I loved how Don thought a couple days away and some sex fixed their marriage, while Betty (usually the immature one) saw the reality of the situation. Men!

On a shallow note, the two of them pretending to be strangers, flirting, with January in that beehive? Smoking hot.

Don being romantic with his wife for once was an interesting contrast to Pete, who was trying to play the Don Draper role in this episode (sexually aggressive, unfaithful to his wife) with terrible results. And interesting the similarities between Trudy and Betty. Don sent Betty a fur coat to win her affections...Pete gave the au pair a dress. And Trudy is now pretending everything is fine, as Betty has done so often before.

evie said...

Of course it was rape, and I find it stunning that you asked the question. Perhaps the fact that the "owner" said he hadn't had to deal with tears like that for a month was a clue.

Is Mad Men trying to make us believe that every cad in the 60s was a rapist? Because that's what it feels like at the moment.

Note to Weiner: Stop with the men raping women. It's not fun to watch.

Suzanne said...

The scene in Rome between Betty and Don meeting for drinks was perfect. Smokin' hot.

Anonymous said...

Yes the Draper marriage is troubled but Betty's sudden moody sulleness for no reason makes me think she needs medication. Poor Don left wondering what the hell is wrong with her....priceless.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Pete will handle the push-pull of having some great gossip for the office - seeing Joan at Bonwit Tellers - versus the need to protect his own reasons for being there.

Anonymous said...

Just a general comment on the "next time" previews for this show: they're really the most random collection of brief outtakes I've ever seen in a preview sequence. It's impossible to tell anything at all from them. I guess that's the influence of spoiler-phobe Weiner?

alynch said...

and we came to the agreement that the show doesn't need, and wouldn't use, nudity. And Don and Betty's drunken foreplay in their hotel room backed me up on that. It was a reminder of how powerful and erotic a scene can be even when the participants are (semi) clothed and the camera discreetly pans away before anything major happens.

Eh, I'm not sure I buy that. You're going to have trouble convincing that that wide shot of Betty's dress falling down would've been less sexy if it resulted in full frontal nudity.

Zack Smith said...

January Jones was absolutely stunning in this episode -- and Christina Hendricks was also a wow.

Betty really could be a true Mrs. Don Draper. Obviously, Don can see her qualities of intelligence and adaptability, but how often is he going to use that in their suburban life, or even to help his job beyond a wife on his arm? And she can see that nothing is really going to give her an escape, even an affair.

Betty was a bit nicer to Sally after her little adventure. But it's a question mark as to whether she'll continue her adventure into Don-ville.

Pete, who seemed to have some incremental steps toward adulthood, devolved big time this episode. He wasn't violent with Gerdun, but she pretty much understood that he was going to keep bothering her if she didn't give in. That doesn't exactly make him Dr. Rapist, but it does make him a right sleeze, and it was pathetic even for him.

And the way he used it to bring Trudy in line was equally nasty. I honestly thought she would leave him, as Alison Brie's on COMMUNITY. But no, Trudy has to please her "Peter."

The rebuke from Gerdun's boss was hilarious, though. Also funny was how Pete tried to charm Gerdun with "beer? Schnappes?" Ah, Pete. King of the Sterotype police. And he's learning about black people by reading EBONY.

Poor Joan. I'm getting very tired of typing that.

The Gastrosexual said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr Whirly said...

Is that a pledge pin on your water tower? Thanks for a great analysis of a slow, perplexing and amazing episode. I really want Don and Betty to be happy but I know that he doesn't deserve it. January Jones was amazingly beautiful in this episode. When the Italians said that Don was ugly I thought, "and they don't even know what he's like on the inside."
Pete, you rotten bastard. I had really started to like him and now he just goes and does this. Sure seemed like he was forcing her to me. Did you see he was reading Ebony? He is staying on top of that burgeoning market.

The Gastrosexual said...

Excellent comments as usual, Alan; I enjoy reading your thoughts each week.

Has anyone else been eagerly waiting for a honeymoon with Don and Betty!?--and at the end of this episode I was glad to hear Betty verbalize what she's seemed to be emanating since the beginning of the season.

Nicole said...

For once I felt bad for Don. Normally he is the one cheating and here he is trying to be a good husband and Betty brushes him off post Rome. I don't think they will ever be able to fix their relationship, and I see them divorced by the end of this series. I do believe that Betty is done with Henry Francis, but there will be someone else down the line. She truly enjoyed playing with the Italian guys, and I wonder if she would have given Don the time of day had he not pretended to be someone else. (If only she knew he did that every day).

Pete was a pretty disgusting creep, but I think the writers cheated a bit but just leaving the scene with the au pair when they did. I am not saying that we needed to see violence, but it's almost as if they want to avoid the Dr Rapist moniker that has been attached to Joan's husband. With nothing definite being seen, there will be some people that will have an easier time brushing off the non consentual situation that Pete created and in a few episodes we will forget that he forced himself on the young au pair. Even Don has had his despicable acts kept on screen.

Anonymous said...

A pledge pin!?

Sorry, couldn't take the mayor seriously when he's played by Doug Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf).

Dan said...

anonymous 11:13, good point. Pete running into Joan in a situation where he will be unable to tell anybody about it would be something maddening to a gossip, but since Pete seemed to having no trouble keeping Don's secret once it wasn't able to advance his career, I guess Joan's is probably safe.

Jape77 said...

How much too did the scene of a drunk Peter pushing his way into the au pair's place remind you of the way he got into Peggy's place at the very beginning of the show? Only that time his frat boy charm actually worked, whereas this time it was creepy and pathetic. When it comes to women, he apparently only has one trick.

(How much also is his being 'upset' over seeing children not a reaction to his and Trudy' inability to have kids as it is a reminder of Peggy and their child.)

Lee said...

I disagree that Betty was being the grounded one when calling off the role playing. She was a petulent child in her reaction to Don's gift.

And while it would be role playing for Betty, it's not for Don. It's reality for him -- he's being Dick. It's a shame Betty couldn't find a way to be happy at home. Hopefully she will at some point in the series.

I don't agree that divorce is the answer. Betty and Don clearly love each other -- even if they aren't well matched.

One of the things I learned this episode is that it's not Don that makes Betty unhappy, it's being a housewife that does.

Maya said...

The whole point of Mad Men is voyeurism, and living up to an image which doesn't really exist. The use of mirrors promote that idea even more, as the characters are constantly looking from the outside in, and seeing themselves from the outside. Its even more prevalent when the director uses shot-reverse-shot formation.

I just thought this episode was very tight even compared to all the great ones we've had already. It really was a character study of all of them going on at once. It is kind of the opposite of what goes on when you go back to your parents as an adult for a visit for a few days, you revert back to your childhood personalities, as much as you try not to.

I think that the bandaids like going to Lake George, Rome or screwing the nanny across the hall, show that even when you are outside the box, the whole time the characters are just wanting to be back inside theirs.

Monica said...

"Again, Peter Campbell is in constant need of outside approval, and in the au pair he sees a chance to play the hero and be profusely thanked for it. But then the thanks come, and they're not enough, particularly when combined with still more booze. And so he goes back, wolf-ish, to get what he wants."

Actually, I viewed Pete going after the au pair as him wanting to relive what happened between him and Peggy. That scene when the au pair opens the door, and it's very late at night and she's wearing a robe and Pete is drunk -- almost looked exactly like the very first episode of Mad Men, when Pete goes to Peggy's apartment after getting drunk.

A similar thing happens with Don and Betty in the Rome Hilton. The shot when they get on the bed looked remarkably similar to Don's tryst with that girl in Los Angeles. It was the same hazy, 60s vibe.

I thought it was interesting that in Don and Betty's case, what happened was a happy thing and alleviated their pain, if only briefly. But what happened with Pete felt forced, like he was trying desperately to recreate how things began with Peggy, and it was a complete disaster.

After last week's Don-focused episode, we get a Betty/Pete episode where Don's motivations are completely on the periphery. Matthew Weiner definitely keeps us in the audience on our toes. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Anyone have any insight into the diesel/rubber smell when they checked into the Hilton?

Loretta said...

I might be reading too much into the scene with the au pair's boss, but I was wondering if he was the "boyfriend" she'd mentioned. Did anyone else wonder the same thing?

Fernando said...

Get analysis.

I loved the shot of Pete reading Ebony Magazine.

Mike said...

While there is no shortage of brilliant acting on MM, the young actress who plays Sally regularly delivers star turns that are every bit up to the mark set by Jon Hamm et al. She manages to convey elements of Betty Draper's influence while creating a persona that is individual and nuanced in its own right. Her body language and facial expressions are distinctive, subtle, and very appropriate to each scene. Brava!

Anonymous said...

I took the diesel/rubber smell comment to signal them being "ugly Americans" -- it smells funny here in Italy.

gma said...

About Don using Betty's call list for his "note" -- yes, Alan was right that he was in essence ignoring her work, but in the previous scene, when Betty is consulting the list at the table, he says something along the lines of "you should be paid for this (your work)."

Maybe Betty will burn her bra with Friedan, French and the others.

The Rome scenes were wonderful - especially the attention to Betty's hair, etc. The dress she wore in the end scenes looked like something she could have bought in Italy. As to the bedroom scenes , it struck me that Betty was finally being made love to like one of Don's conquests. But is/was Don changing? He went out to catch fireflies with the children, and he made sure to buy Betty the charm of the Colosseum. But when he gave it to Betty as a reminder of their trysts in Rome, she treated the gesture with a return to her signature coldness.

Did anyone else think that Pete, when he first saw Gudron in the back corridor, looked even more of a boy without his suit and tie?

Thanks for the critique, Alan!

Anonymous said...

Was there anything to the fact that Betty's kiss was while she was in the car and Sally's kiss on her neighbor was while they were pretending to be in the car? Just emulating what she thinks is grown up behavior or is there something else I can't pick up on?

Anonymous said...

@lactic, thanks for reminding me of that, I was wondering what the smell meant too. Maybe it was just Betty's way of showing disdain for the whole situation at first? A clue that Betty is sick (are there any illnesses that make you smell weird things)?

Maura said...

And then Trudy comes home, and Pete can't keep this indiscretion from her. But Trudy has clearly learned by now that the only way to thrive (or at least survive) in a marriage to Peter Campbell is to play the role of his ever-doting, supportive wife/mother/housekeeper. "You're my husband; I want what you want," she says, dismissing her desire for a child because she knows it upsets him. And the poor girl lets the schmuck off the hook. Like Betty, this isn't the life she wants, but the life she has. And by staying in it, she's enabling Pete to do what he wants, when he wants, because he can always cry for Trudy's forgiveness when he needs it.

Yes, Alan. I've been saying this forever. Their marriage isn't healthy. It survives because Trudy has figured out how to soothe Pete's monumentally sized ego. I was feeling bad for him for a moment, because he seemed to wracked with guilt. But then he turned it back on her - gave her the responsibility of keeping him in line - and I wanted to throttle him. Please note: I love Pete. But he deserved a good throttling.

I gasped when Betty walked into the restaurant to meet Don and Connie for dinner. She looked so fabulous *I* wanted to marry her.

KM said...

Was Francine hinting that Betty should use her charms on the governor's aide to save the reservoir again in the scene at the table?

Jimmy said...

I was also entertained and left wondering if Joan's psychiatry comment was tongue in cheek or true. It would be a legitimate avenue for Greg after his half-mentioned surgical goof, i.e. no touching people- nothing to mess up. But on the other hand, he's so messed up himself I'd hate to see how he'd handle a case like Betty's.

And maybe she's being sarcastic because he's doing something like spending 2 hours a day at his own psychiatry appointments trying to cope with himself.

cgeye said...

This is one of the few MM episodes where Betty is miles more beautiful than Don, merely because she's in a place where there is no limit to what she can wear and how she can act. She would be at home in the air, testing Mr. Hilton's hospitality worldwide -- but Don would be the one that would want her at home, being the image of the perfect mother she surely is not.

I remember last season, just after she got confirmation of la affaire Barrett, and she seemed to be a beauty permanently broken. For two seasons we saw her depressed over her mother's death, then over Don's infidelity. We really haven't seen her without the restraint of being Mrs. Don Draper, even during her brief photo stint when Don was being wooed. This is Betty powerful; this is Betty scary -- the woman used to fending off men (Italian wolves!) in at least three languages (English/Italian/French).

Don is an indecently-lucky man, and after this episode maybe some of the Betty-hate can be tempered by how we've seen just how much of herself she has to turn off, just to get through the day.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have any insight into the diesel/rubber smell when they checked into the Hilton?

Having lived in Rome which is still pretty much un-airconditioned, I can tell you that August is quite a fragrant month there. Diesel/rubber is not the worst smell you might find permeating even the upscale environment of a Hilton hotel.

Jack Nagel said...

I was positive that the person coming to see Pete was Rachel Mencken, too, Alan. And I was just as shocked that it was Joan.

It would be interesting if Joan was telling the truth about Greg taking up psychiatry -- as unstable as he can be.

Jay Castle said...

@ Monica: great catch on the parallels between Pete and the au pair and Pete and Peggy from the pilot: I saw that too.

@Zack Smith: yep, Pete's reading Ebony to gain an understanding of the souls of black folk. An excellent grace note / call back.

Mr Sepinwall, I agree that this show doesn't "need" nudity, but if it was on HBO, it would absolutely have it, if not with all the principal players, then certainly with Don's mistresses. One more reason to be thankful the show is on basic cable: not because I'm anti-nudity, but because the writers are forced to be circumspect in a way that they might not otherwise. If Mad Men was on HBO, it would be a somewhat different show, and not necessarily a better one.

Anonymous said...

Weiner has commented on the rape aspect before. He mentioned that he didn't condone it, but that is the way it was then and he found it repulsive. This was the behavior then and that date-rape was non-existent and raping your wife was a joke, it couldn't happen. Back then, he said they used to call it a "bad date". A lot of women then didn't think they could be raped, they just didn't see it as out of place. The fact that people are disturbed by it just proves how great the show is at making us question the status quo, something we should be doing even more of know given the economic situation this country is in.

Slight change of subject, is there underlying meaning to the fact that Pete can't have children yet chased after at an au pair?

BigTed said...

Were we supposed to make a connection between Henry Francis putting the moves on Betty and Pete putting the moves on Gudrun? In both cases, the men had done favors for the women, and seemed to expect sex as a "reward." And in both cases, the women seem to think they aren't in a position to say no, at least not firmly. (Betty stops things at a kiss, because th power differential between her and Henry is nowhere near as wide as it is between Gudrun and Pete.)

So often on this show, sex seems to be about power rather than enjoyment (including the power Betty had over the men in Italy). So it was nice to see Don and Betty actually enjoying sex for its own sake for once, at least for a brief time.

arrabbiata said...

regarding the diesel/rubber smell-

Some of the suggestions so far are interesting, (and on this show it seems like every line can have more than one meaning) but my assumption was more literal- big Italian cities, especially decades ago, had some significant auto pollution issues. About 30 years ago some family from over there came to the U.S. for a visit and we drove them down to DC for some touristy stuff. A traffic jam had us backed up in a big tunnel (Baltimore maybe?) and they were all surprised at how relatively fresh the air in there was, hardly any exhaust smell as compared to what they were used to.

DaveMB said...

Lee says that it is being a housewife, not Don, that is making Betty unhappy. What this episode showed is that she is trapped by her era just as first-wave feminism says. What is she supposed to do when home and family are not fulfilling to her. Devote herself to horse riding? The cute young guy at the club becomes a complication. Dabble in local politics? Her important political contact becomes a complication. In that era, with her looks and personality, I don't know where she's going to extend herself where she doesn't run into a man who's very quickly going to put her in the position of having an affair or quitting the vicinity. Or worse, as we are seeing that lots of respectable guys are rapists by the standards of our era. She's very good at being Don's glamourous wife in business situations, but he only needs a glamorous wife in business a small fraction of the time. She's screwed, which I guess is the essence of tragedy.

WV: "evertes" -- plural of the Spanish word for "female tennis star"

cgeye said...

And the summer teachers and au pairs... they're the ones available when the 'cats go away' aren't they?

Oh, and the diesel smell in Italy's just part of the serious smog problem they and other European cities had. If I recall correctly, the Roman ruins faced destruction at one time due to pollution....

Anonymous said...

And the summer teachers and au pairs... they're the ones available when the 'cats go away' aren't they?

Unless there's a sexy neighbor upstairs. Like Marilyn Monroe in Seven Year Itch. The film was made in 1955 (& the play was even earlier) so "boys being boys" during the long, hot summer when their women-folk were out of town was a well known story.

Except that what Pete did was not funny at all...

--not Bridget

JoeE said...

I'm not sure I'm ready to believe Pete was a rapist - he was a bit forceful, but the au pair didn't really do much to stop him. It was definitely sleazy, but not quite crossing over into rape. If the writers wanted us to believe he was a rapist I don't think they would have left so much ambiguity - they certainly didn't last year with Joan's rape.

The fact that the au pair was crying doesn't necessarily mean that she was raped - she could've just as easily felt guilty about cheating on her boyfriend. I imagine Weiner will comment on this at some point.

Anonymous said...

At the start of this season, the layoffs from the Brit purchase were mentioned as parallels to today's economy.

In the same way, I thought Joan's scene was even more poignant knowing how much more frequent such situations (encountering a friend or acquaintance forced to work below their abilities) are these days.

Jay Castle said...

Big Ted described another parallel that I just though of: Pete and Henry both adopted an attitude of "I saved the day for you ... don't I get a kiss?"

JenJen said...

I agree with what Cee wrote, above; the scenes in Rome were glorious and indeed looked like a film from that period. It was almost like Technicolor; I noticed this effect in the eclipse scene last week (or the week before) with Don and Sally's teacher. I don't recall the effect in previous seasons; it really grabs you when it's employed.

As far as Joan saying Greg was considering psychiatry, I thought she was indeed winging it, having already told a lie, and I actually laughed out loud when she blurted out "psychiatry!" I thought it's what first popped into her head when she thought of her husband.

Anonymous said...

I was interested in thoughts about Betty's motivation, after her kiss with Henry, to go to Rome in the first place. My impression was that she wanted to follow her temptation for infidelity but with her own husband - play out the fantasy with Don with no intention of repairing or putting effort into their marriage. I don't think she was disappointed upon their return - I think it was exactly what she expected.

g said...

Am I forgetting something? Why be shocked that it is not Rachel Menken when the salesperson goes looking for her supervisor? The store was Bonwit Teller, not Menkens. (was it me, or was the saleswoman's demeanor towards Pete not seemingly for an upscale, service department store? Shocking that it was Joan, tho -- and a Joan who has her hair down, and not "proper" or presented neatly.

We are all saying "poor Joan." Wonder what Matthew Weiner has "up his sleeve."

Jay Castle said...

Sorry, JoeE: non-consensual sex is rape, no matter how you parse it. I think one of the best and most difficult aspects of this show is that sympathetic characters do unconscionable things.

Anonymous said...

This is going to get me killed, but, sigh...the transactional nature over Pete and the au pair's relationship was established in their first conversation. It wasn't rape -- as you can see from the episode, she was just bummed when Pete fell away from his earlier gentlemanliness and followed the terms of their obvious deal.

Also, I'm all for La Dolce Vita, but the slobbering over January Jones in this review is a bit unseemly.

Joysong said...

"Like Betty, this isn't the life [Trudy] wants, but the life she has."

It may not be the life Trudy wants, but she's definitely not like Betty. Betty feels trapped: she has three children, she has no family to rely on, she's been out of work a long time, she's emotionally a child -- it would be impossibly difficult for her to strike out on her own if she left Don.

Trudy, on the other hand, has nothing holding her to Pete but her own choice. Her father would be glad to support her and/or find her a job. She's a relatively responsible adult, without any obvious mental or emotional challenges that would cripple her from supporting herself. She's no Joan, but she's no Betty, either.

Anonymous said...

I love coming to the Mad Men "Board" meeting after each episode.

Alan, fantastic review as always and deep, profound respect for running the best blog/board on the web as well as the all the great minds that post here.

I am in the camp that nudity is not needed for the show, while I do agree with the poster above that if they used it for mistresses/trysts and not for the regulars, it would be spicier. That being said, the scene with Jones and Hamm at the dinner as well as in the hotel room after were *smoldering*.

I actually was faked out by the Rome trip. I think I went for the bait, post Henry kiss, that Don was going to Rome and that would give Betty an opportunity to followup with Henry. I did not see it coming that she would go to Rome with Don. The subsequent scenes in Rome were spectacular and I love how the show always keeps you on your toes (while occasionally running a lawn mower across them).

I felt bad for Don/Dick getting the cold response to the charm. I felt like he was really trying.

One last time, I think January Jones nearly melted my screen when she came out for dinner. I liked how they also made her so likeable after all the petty Betty depictions of the previous episodes.

Thanks again to my fellow posters as I learn so much from their posts.

Stephen said...

Loved, loved, loved the al fresco dinner scene. Get Betty out of Ossining and she can really dazzle, in more ways than one.

The only thing that pulled me out of this episode was when Don and Betty walked into the Hilton lobby in Rome...and it was the lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The giveaway is all the names carved into the marble wall behind them, along with the double staircase and the gold mosaic columns. But it does have that gaudy look that screams 1960s classy.

Julia said...

Significant comment at the end by Betty to Sally:

Boys kiss you; you don't kiss boys.

Females - or nice ones, at least, were thought not to enjoy sex as much and it was considered unseemly to be the aggressor.

There were books out at the time for women on how to relax and surrender on your wedding night, no kidding. Girls spent so much of their time fighting off guys, that evidently some therapists thought it was difficult for "normal" women to go with the flow for awhile. Lots of women had no idea what a female climax was.

Yes, a "bad date" would be described as struggling with an octopus. Gentlemen would give it a shot but would back off if told "no"; the bad guys just kept at it.

I'm not so sure Pete "went all the way" with the au pair. Make-out sessions didn't always end up with intercourse.

The bit with the au pair reminded me of the situation with Roman Polanski. Young woman alone with an older man, nobody around to help, not wanting to cause a scene and wake up the kids, already feeling compromised with the dress problem. In addition, she's in a strange country. That's a pretty intimidting situation. Many states don't require a physical struggle any more for it to be rape - you can be forced by intimidation, too.

Pamela Jaye said...

Since it was mentioned, and I was thinking it too, and since I've always wondered -
maybe I'm a bit naive, but was that Peggy's first day at SC when Pete came to her door? I've always wondered why he came, and really why she let him in. She seemed like the "good little girl" type, but at the same time was going for birth control (I can't remember if that was Joan's doing or her own).
It just never made any sense to me.

Later on, after they'd worked together a bit, it made at least a bit more sense, but that first time... I just didn't understand it. (and did she live in Brooklyn? if so, that was a commute for Pete... who just happened to know just where she lived? I suppose he could have afforded a cab)

Joan... what can I say? I, too, wondered who we were about to see. Rachel didn't cross my mind, neither did Joan, but I knew something was coming.

And yes, it's nice to see Ann Dudek.

disappearing atlanta said...

I enjoyed all the Rome scenes. This "Souvenir" episode lacked any "wow" factor, to me, though and advanced the characters at the expense of the story.

Connie seems to be grooming Don to work with him, getting him used to a travel schedule (wake up call) and lifestyle. I doubt that the Rome trip was related to creative.
"Think bigger."

I feel as though there might have been some symbolism with the dress
being thrown away that I am missing. Jackie Kennedy? Absolution of guilt?

Loretta: maybe all the Lawrences' former nannies, except Gudrun, cried because she was the only one Mr. Lawrence DIDN'T mess with...

Julia said...

I actually liked Joan's hair. It looked more natural and she talked with a more natural voice.

Ronnie said...

Mark Metcalf also the Maestro on Seinfeld! And the father from Twisted Sister videos.

shawna said...

Not to sympathize with or minimize Pete's actions, but I do think there's some insight to be found in examining his (totally skewed) point of view. Pete is setting up/enacting a fantasy for himself. He's bored, lonely, sees a young European au pair in distress and plays the gallant gentleman to help her.

In his mind, I think she's more beautiful than she is (she had a very solid, everyday look about her, not quite the stuff of a romance novel), he's more smooth than he thinks (he was trying to be at that store, and Joan threw him for a loop). In his fantasy, she accepts his offer for drinks, and in her naive gratitude for his worldliness and chivalry they would have a lovely affair.

He was frustrated when it didn't work out as planned, and in a drunken state pursued it in a way that grosses us out today. He asks her to try on the dress, which in his mind is how it should have worked in the first place. In his time, I think men were raised to believe that it was a woman's job to say no, to be demure/shy/modest, to let a man pursue her. (I have to hope/believe that if she had really cried/said no repeatedly, Pete wouldn't have held her down and forced her.)

J said...

Extra incisive this week. Even if you'd stopped after the first four paragraphs! I do love how this show can feel slight over the first half of some episodes and so very heavy during their second half. Filling.

Manton said...

Re: smell. My non-literal idea is the basic Mad Men idea that things aren't always as the seem. Sure, the Drapers are in beautiful, romantic Rome, but the entire time, well, something stinks.

As for Pete, it's certainly rape. It wasn't the kind we're all used to (overtly physical in nature, like with Joan), but I don't believe that the au pair wanted to engage in such behavior, and it was forced upon her. If she had the power to say no and stop it, she would, but he held that over her. Her consent was an adjunct to fear.

Sigh. Maybe it's because Pete's my favorite character (not because I like him; especially with the au pair situation), but I do feel some sympathy for him at the end with Trudy. Personally, I think it took some maturity to fess up to it (he didn't when he "touched the face of God" with the teenage model in S2) and I read the final scene a bit differently.

It was more of a situation of not trusting himself. When he's offered a drink at the table, he quickly refuses, and he seems to genuinely not want to do anything again.

Maybe I'm just waiting for Pete to finally start growing up and I'm grasping at straws - Lord knows I've been wrong on this forum before. Either way, Vincent Kartheiser plays the hell out of the character. His face on Trudy's "tell me..." was incredible.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of (semi)nudity, I was surprised at the shot of Betty's middriff - what woman could possibly look that way 2 months after a non-cesarean delivery? Wouldn't have been so surprising on most other shows, but given the show's interest in realism and the exercise regimes popular in 1963 (not running)...

CarolMR said...

I agree with Julia: All the Roman Polanski raping a 13-year-old talk of the past week made the scene with Pete and the au pair even more cringe-worthy. Pete and the au pair were in the early 60s. Roman and the teenage girl happened in 1977. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anonymous said...

There has to be something beyond coincidence about how Betty described her father's car that she drove to the board meeting. We all know that black Lincoln's were not lucky in 1963.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 12:49 AM - I remember reading an article with January Jones saying that she had been asked to put on weight for the show, but she couldn't seem to gain any.

It was so great to see Joan again!

Lisa said...

I do wonder how Matt & Co. are going to get Joan back to Sterling Cooper. Will Pete make a snotty comment to someone about her that eventually gets back to Roger or Don? Will one of the higher-ups gripe about the collapse of the secretarial pool under Moneypenny and Pete, the total suck-up, reveal her whereabouts to save the day in his usual greasy fashion?

I don't expect this to happen, but it would be lovely if someone at Bonwit's would recognize Joan's skills as a miracle worker and promote her through management. Who knows, Joan could walk into an ad meeting at S-C as the client someday -- given the way "Mad Men" leaps through time, maybe that could come to pass. And then she could go back to bossing around Peggy....

Please, Matt! Give us back our Joan!

smarty said...

Could Betty's decision to accompany Don on the trip to Rome be a mirror of Pete's plea to Trudy to not leave him alone anymore? Does Betty, like Pete, not trust herself to be alone now that she's had a taste of flirtation, even though, for the moment, she has successfully fended it off? As she pointed out to Henry Francis previously, Ossining is a small town. She cannot allow herself an affair that close to home. In Rome, she can be anonymous, flirtatious, promiscuous with her husband by night and day. At home again, what does she have but a bauble to hang from her wrist?

Devin McCullen said...

Another JFK reference - both the chipmunks and Don talk disdainfully about Don having to travel to Dallas.

Numb and Number said...

My lowly, humble, and uninformed predictions:

In this or the next season Betty will go running for the shelter of her mother's little helpers, and in the next season Pete will die by other than a natural cause.

More common sense than a prediction: Joan will not join in with the bra burners.

Unknown said...

Did anyone notice that right after the first scene with the au pair (the one where the wine stain was revealed) the very next shot was Betty getting out of bed with a similarly covered stain on the right breast of her nightgown?

It was never called to or explained, so I'm wondering about its significance.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely believed that Joan was serious about her husband becoming a psychiatrist. I thought it was the writers, rather than Joan, trying to be tongue-in-cheek. What for a failed surgeon but psychiatry?

And Joan's dissolute face was something we've very rarely seen before.

Did anyone notice that the sirens in Rome seemed extremely prevalent?

Anonymous said...

The Don/Betty scenes were smokin' hot. January Jones has to be one of the most beautiful women on earth.

Great review, Alan. Though I disagree that Don doesn't love Betty. But whatever love Don and Betty have isn't going to be enough to save this marriage.

I wonder if the Draper marriage is going to end at the same time as the Kennedys?

Halli said...

I agree that Betty looked as good as she ever will with the hip 60s hairstyle and dresses. I mean, absolutely great! And I haven't had much use for Betty (her childishness has always driven me nuts), but she's coming into her own. Don'll lose her and the kids will end up messed up, guaranteed.

It certainly appears that Hermes has signed a product placement contract; note the Hermes display in the background at Bonwit Teller when Pete is waiting for Joan. Thanks to her, he has a better customer service experience than the infamous chip and dip fiasco from season 1. If only his creepy side didn't take over so much!

Wes covington said...

I'm assuming the hotel room in Rome was a set. The lobby of the Hilton was the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and the sidewalk cafe with the fountains by it are adjacent to that.

Whenever I walk into the Chandler, I always think "this place looks so 1960s."

Susan said...

"the republic of dresses" Hilarious. This was a great Pete episode. Yes, the scene with him at the door with the au pair reminded me of him at Peggy's door. Interesting to see that Trudy --at least for now-- is resigned to no children.

Betty"s hair was awesome! She seemed very worldly, educated, cultured and there is Dick Whitman next to her. I wonder if Don felt so out of his league with a woman like her. Everyone was lighting her cigarettes...a man at the airport, the guy hitting on her, then Don did it at home. Betty's trip to Rome did nothing to make her happy; it only emphasized her unhappiness and most likely reminded her
of the time she spent there when she was a model.

I was glad to see Joan! Gorgeous purple dress. There was a Hermes sign at the department store.

It was also nice to have more of Francine.

Men do mess around with nannies, so no reason imo to stop portraying reality.

Anonymous said...

Betty looked extremely hot in Rome. I would have liked to have been that cigarette too.
But I would never voice that thought, now or then.
Which is why I am not a Great Latin Lover.

Carlos Joaquin said...

Don is not pretending to love Betty.

He is trying to love her and she does not allow him to. She pushes him away every time he tries, going to catch fireflies, buying the colosseum reminder.

Stay here she says to Don the next morning in Rome. He has to get up for his meeting and she follows him into the shower. Then they arrive home and she hates everything.

You cannot please her with living a simple life.

Anonymous said...

As manager, do you think Joan really has the authority to give Pete a new dress?

Or do you think she was playing up her role and saving face (and thus, will actually pay for the dress out of her wages)?

Wes covington said...

I would assume that upscale stores with liberal return policies would allow an exchange so far from the time of purchase would allow you to exchange. It's probably only a manager who can authorize it. And then the store's upper management can check to see if someone is abusing the power.

Besides, if it was a dress from the previous season and boxed up, the store is happy to just get rid of some inventory.

AG said...

Another gorgeous episode, and I appreciate that the commercial breaks (as annoying as I understand them to be for the writers) were used to good effect once again, to contrast between Don and Betty's uber-cinematic tryst and Pete and Gundrun's... um, yeah, whatever we're calling that squick-inducing mess. Really well done.

Mauimom said...

Two comments that I haven't seen elsewhere: I nearly cracked up when Don & Betty entered their "fabulous" room at the Hilton [even though it's not a suite]. It's so "USA"!!! Y'know, so "American" -- so the neophyte tourists wouldn't feel out of it in a "real" European hotel room -- i.e., small, dark.

Second, Betty's Italian was impressive. Not just the speaking it, but the ability to act cool and "European" when the Italian stallions were coming on to her. On the whole, a lot of substance of Betty shown, although it continues to be overshadowed by her emotional immaturity.

I'm waiting for Sally to stab her brother with a knife or letter opener. Is this the "John Deere" that we're going to see later?

Finally, someone remarked above about Pete's discomfort in the elevator and suggested it was the result of the kids -- a reminder that he + Trudy don't have any. To me it seemed clear that the discomfort was the result of the au pair being there. Big duh.

BTW, loved the way the neighbor/boss of the au pair said in effect, "come off it, buddy. You know what I'm talking about."

Lola said...

the theme of "this never happened" definitely made the rounds in tonight's ep. Don once said, "this never happened. it will shock you how much it never happened," and in this episode, it seems he ends up on the receiving end of his own advice. we also hear this from Joan, when she tells Pete "this never happened" at the store. she's of course directly referring to the dress situation, but you know she's thinking about the embarrassment of being caught by a former co-worker at her new gig.

Midnight oil said...

The stained dress makes an appearance once again.SoOn addition we get the comments about Dallas and the black Lincoln. I wonder what else we're all missing that will sort of foreshadow the end-of-the-(world)season episode. Betty was gorgeous in this episode; I guess the writers are opening up her sophistication a little bit (anthropology major, Bryn Mawr, fluent Italian, community involvement and unrepentant, almost aristocratic beauty) to show why exactly she might be "slightly" dissatisfied with days upon days upon days of nothingness in Ossining, when her unfaithful husband is the one living the good life up in the city. Remember how excited she was about living in London? I know "poor Joan" has become a catch phrase here, but "poor Betty" is also rather appropriate at times. If I were her I'd simply go crazy from boredom.

Midnight oil said...

And one more thing - it was kind of funny (and probably unintended, though you never know) - but when Pete, Trudy, the au pair, and the children were in the elevator and Trudy asked "how is your summer going?", the au pair responded something to the effect of "it's been very hot." Another example of subtle "elevator" humor, reminiscent of the "this job has its ups and downs" comment from Hollis.

Anonymous said...

A brief historical note!

Trudy mentioned shopping at Butterfield Market. When I was a kid, 1963, we moved from Long Island to East 78th Street, just around the corner from Butterfield. My mom did all her grocery shopping there. She would call in an order every week from her list and they delivered it. Butterfield was a very old-fashioned ordinary grocer back then. I wonder if the Weiner crowd knows how down-scale Butterfield was in 1963, before it became the fancy specialty food shop of today. In 1963, Manhattan was just starting to enjoy a turn-around with moneyed people moving in instead of fleeing to the suburbs.

This is from someone who was there and remembers...

Boudica said...

I read some comments right after the show and then rewatched the Pete/Gudrun scene. She doesn't push him away or fight him. She actually puts her arm around him. I'm having a hard time calling it rape in my mind. Times have changed, but I think women gave in more because they thought it was expected of them. Pete is still a cad, of course.
I do think they went all the way, otherwise he wouldn't have been so guilty with Trudy.

Pete said...




my god, people, get a grip.

mad men watchers see rape in every scene of a sexual nature.

did peggy rape duck? after all, she was the one drinking.

did betty rape "awesome?" drink was involved there too.

if y'all cry "rape" too often, the word loses its meaning. take caution in your choice of words to describe the sexual encounters between consenting adults.

rape has a very specific meaning. make sure you know what you are talking about.

or not. and just scream RAPE! in every instance.

Anonymous said...

Here is Wikipedia's entry on Bonwit Teller.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with "Pete said..."

Women, it's a double-edged sword. If we want to be adults and equal and not patronized as less responsible for ourselves than men, we can't cry rape every time we get pressured or maneuvered into a dicey situation.

Men *were* more sexually aggressive in those days. Because they could be. Today's men are wimps by comparison. The young men today (excluding bona fide rapists) have bought into the notion that both parties must sign an Agreement of Intent before intimacy can proceed. Nice, but not sexy. JK, but seriously, women want to be out in the world, so we must learn how to handle ourselves! A few "bad dates" smarten you right up.

Anyway, it seems to break down by age. We older folks remember how it was. You young people will never understand because you weren't there. Someone else here noted that women had to become adept at fending off amorous advances, so much so that it was hard to relax on your wedding night. (That was actually before my time, which was the sexual revolution. Ah, sweet memories...)

Also wanted to say that I winced through Betty's dissertation to Sally on first kisses. Ick. And not appropriate. And not really good information.

Also, I thought that when Trudy was trying to console Pete by saying that she was ok with not having a child, he was thinking about the child he has somewhere, and was saddened by that. Pete's a jerk and a child, but I do like him for some reason. And I don't think he purposely conceived a plan to *force* Gudrun, but rather wanted to be the Knight in Shining Armor who got well thanked.

Also, if HBO ran the series, there would be nudity, yes, but no ads. Cripes I hate the ad breaks in this show!!! They are sooooo long and intrusive.

Alan Sepinwall said...

my god, people, get a grip.

Pete, cancel the attitude, right now. And that goes for anyone else getting huffy about the Rape/Not-Rape question. We can disagree without getting loud and indignant with each other. And anyone who can't, buh-bye.

Anonymous said...

Along with Don's trip to Dallas and Betty's black Lincoln, another thing that called to mind JFK was Betty's wearing a pink suit in two scenes - both before and after the trip to Rome.

Pete said...

Sorry, Alan.

You are right. I chose my words badly. If I could edit out my post I would.

Feel free to delete it.

KeepingAwake said...

I don't know if Pete was solely deflecting the blame for his actions onto Trudy when he said he didn't want her to leave without him again.

It was a pretty loaded line. He's too immature to outright apologize to her, and this is the best he can do towards that end. But he was also clearly adrift and had no clue what to do with himself without her there to provide structure. So his statement could also be viewed as an apology and as a recognition of the fact hat he's too immature to be left on his own.

Also, several people have mentioned that Betty had a Lincoln. I seem to recall Don calling Gene's car a Cadillac in previous episodes? Anybody know for sure?

Anonymous said...

DoubleLifeofaSalesman again, though I continue to be Anonymous for convenience's sake. Thoughts:

1. This was NOT of the "great" episodes -- but when you're talking about MM, that still leaves an episode I value very highly.

On impulse in August 2001, I went to see my sister in Baltimore -- and took her and a friend to a Sade concert. It was highly uncharacteristic of me, but I'm glad I did it, so I could have one final shining memory of the world before 9-11. "Souvenir" was a break from the usual action, but one which may grow inretrospect. "At least we had Rome," the Drapers can say -- although there's not much of Humphrey and Ingrid in Paris when they say that. Leave it do the Drapers to play around in Rome and still come home even more sour.

And, ahh, January in Rome -- January Jones, that is.

2. I was particular struck by the absence of Roger (who Don wants no contact with anyway) and Peggy. I see them as opposite ends of an odd spectrum. Peggy I respect, but never quite take to; Don's very first take on her "earnestness" instantly summed her up for me. Alternately, Roger is basically a jerk -- "Kentucky Home" made that abundantly clear -- but ya gotta love him. (In real life, Elisabeth Moss is in awe of pretty much anything John Slattery says.) Having neither of them left the episode to a kind of interesting limbo all its own.

3. I'm with Lisa above: more Joan! I don't care if all of Sterlin-Coo suddenly develops a Bonwit Teller fetish and shops there constantly from now on, we need her back hell or high water.

I found her scene ambiguous. Sure, she can be thinking at the end "My marriage is a lie" -- but she has no doubt figured out that Pete is lying blatantly, and she might just as easily be thinking "Oh gawd, now Pete's juggling some mistress, does this ever end!?"

4. Not everything is rape -- but it smacks of bullying. I used to think that the Voracious Rich Capitalist Fox Raiding the Poor Favor-Seeking Chick(en)s was some hackneyed literary device -- but to take MM at face value, this sort of "chivalry," so inverted as to be anything but chivalry, used to be the way of the world. It reminds me a little of a Wands Sykes set, in which once upon a time a man bought you a drink and then left you alone, but now he comes over and thinks he's the coolest of breezes, saying "Remember me? I bought you that drink!" Men left and right -- Henry, Pete, and Roger before -- are assuming women to be some kind of public property. It may be hard for us to understand today that THIS may very specifically have been what feminism reacted to.

5. Some contributors here have written of Don Draper, Champion of Freedom, but I'm not seeing it. The man thinks he can have it all, and that's an illusion. He's already learned that he can't juggle all the interesting mistresses he wants, and Bert Cooper's "Who's really signing?" was a wonderful wake-up call. Free? If he were free, he's be working on muslce cars in California. If he were free, he would not have married Betty -- since it was merely the IDEA of Betty he married anyway -- and would have been wide open to someone like Rachel Menken, who would be tough and feisty but worth it, someone who could actually force him to improve his character. (The most romantic thing I've ever seen him do is drunkenly offer the alias "Tilden Katz," Rachel's husband, plus you have to remember that Rachel is the only person on earth he ever told about his mother.) There's vestigial freedom and then there's real freedom. Don doesn't just deal in bull, he buys it.

6. I'm with Fernando -- my high point was watching Pete read Ebony.

I shall return.

LDP said...

The scene at the end, when Don is confused by Betty's reaction to his gift -- that was Don having a "what the hell have I done now?" moment that all men who have ever had a girlfriend or wife have experienced. It was a very true moment.

ChicaGo said...

For the first time, it's really clear that Betty is way out of Don's league. And was anyone jarred by the image of Betty on Don arriving in Rome dressed very much like Jackie and Jack upon their arrival in Dallas?

Lizbeth said...

I do love Mad Men...but...

I'm just not loving how they are handling Betty's post partum life. It has me scratching my head wondering if anyone on the writing staff as in fact ever given birth to a child. As Alan said last week, Eugene must be the best behaved baby in the world...and we barely ever see him.

For a show that loves authenticity, this seems to me the worst portrayal of new motherhood since Rachel gave birth on Friends. I'm sorry folks but new babies crimp your life. There's barely time to shower and eat let alone run after older men, make endless phone calls, attend town council meetings and fly off to Rome at a freaking moment's notice.

Yes, I understand the Drapers have Carla --but I thought we were led to believe Carla wasn't full-time. But someone other than Betty is obviously taking care of Eugene full-time because newborns are not part-time endeavors. Plus, they have been making a point of showing Betty running errands and cooking, not Carla. It' s as if Betty has become some superwoman after giving birth.

That being said, I find it hard to believe that Betty would have lost all the baby weight in 8 weeks, and a woman like Betty would be highly self-conscious even about five pounds which would all be on her belly. She might even take to wearing a girdle for the first time (eek).

And even though we know she looks beautiful, a woman like Betty would be rundown and look a bit haggard, and have a hard time believing she is pretty. There are also a ton of hormonal things going on post partum which Mad Men seems to have ignored completely.

And with the baby only being 2 months old, the Draper's night of sex in Rome could very well be their first sexual encounter post partum since the birth of Eugene. You would think Betty would feel insecure about getting naked in front of her husband (and she might even feel ugly).

Sorry, I just feel Mad Men missed an opportunity to touch on a lot of stuff that goes on post partum especially regarding how women feel about their bodies and their sexuality. Having a newborn is way more difficult than Mad Men makes it appear. And I can't believe they would use the baby like a mere prop the way a sitcom would. I thought the baby would at least complicate the Drapers life a little.

Anyway, I am just annoyed with this detail and how insignificantly the baby is being treated.

Anonymous said...

Poor Betty, going crazy with boredom in Ossining. Too bad Bobby didn't remind her that "only boring people are bored."

It was enough to make me miss the other Bobbie--Bobbie Barrett. She didn't go to Bryn Mawr--her education included learning to apply makeup to disguise bruises. But she grabbed what she wanted in life. None of that "do I dare to eat a peach" crap.


Chuchundra said...

Kinda funny to see people talking about how much nudity there would have been in this episode if it was an HBO show. On thing's for sure, if this was an HBO show they would have actually shot part of the episode in Rome, or at least faked it better.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Why be shocked that it is not Rachel Menken when the salesperson goes looking for her supervisor? The store was Bonwit Teller, not Menkens.

Because what other character from Mad Men do we know in the context of a department store? Obviously, she owns her own store and therefore wouldn't be working at Bonwit Teller, but at the same time, the shot is designed so that we're expecting a familiar face when Pete turns around, and instinctively, if not logically, the only face my brain could insert into that situation was Rachel's. We all assumed Joan would wind up at another ad agency (perhaps at Grey with Duck?); none of us could fathom she'd wind up ruling The Republic of Dresses.

Bia said...

"The whole episode, especially the parts in Rome, felt like a Hitchcock movie - the shots, the angles, the colours. It didn't seem like a modern show pretending it's the 1960s. So props to the director for that. "

Totally agree with this, it felt so natural and eerie in a way, like a long luxurious dream sequence. Jones really is a throwback to a time when actresses had a certain mysterious quality.

Melissa said...

cgeye said: Don is an indecently-lucky man, and after this episode maybe some of the Betty-hate can be tempered by how we've seen just how much of herself she has to turn off, just to get through the day.



I noted how put together and beautiful Betty looked in her home life and the absence of the baby and got irritated myself. Very, very unrealistic.

Another unrealistic note: the first thing a husband wants to do when checking into a hotel room, sans kids, is have sex. I don't care how tired or jet lagged he is. There would be napping, for sure, but post-coital. Of course, it wouldn't be as sexy as post pretend pick up sex, but it's much more true to life. I'm guessing that isn't a generational thing. ;)

There are parallels to Betty and Trudy and the lives they have. I see these paths diverging in the future, with Trudy staying the traditional course and Betty embracing feminism. Trudy is discontent with Pete's behavior but doesn't seem to dislike her life. Betty is discontented with everything.

Melissa said...

cgeye said: Don is an indecently-lucky man, and after this episode maybe some of the Betty-hate can be tempered by how we've seen just how much of herself she has to turn off, just to get through the day.



I noted how put together and beautiful Betty looked in her home life and the absence of the baby and got irritated myself. Very, very unrealistic.

Another unrealistic note: the first thing a husband wants to do when checking into a hotel room, sans kids, is have sex. I don't care how tired or jet lagged he is. There would be napping, for sure, but post-coital. Of course, it wouldn't be as sexy as post pretend pick up sex, but it's much more true to life. I'm guessing that isn't a generational thing. ;)

There are parallels to Betty and Trudy and the lives they have. I see these paths diverging in the future, with Trudy staying the traditional course and Betty embracing feminism. Trudy is discontent with Pete's behavior but doesn't seem to dislike her life. Betty is discontented with everything.

Maura said...

midnight oil said: Betty was gorgeous in this episode; I guess the writers are opening up her sophistication a little bit (anthropology major, Bryn Mawr, fluent Italian, community involvement and unrepentant, almost aristocratic beauty) to show why exactly she might be "slightly" dissatisfied with days upon days upon days of nothingness in Ossining, when her unfaithful husband is the one living the good life up in the city. Remember how excited she was about living in London? I know "poor Joan" has become a catch phrase here, but "poor Betty" is also rather appropriate at times. If I were her I'd simply go crazy from boredom.

I think "poor Betty" every week. She gets a bad rap because her unhappiness comes out as anger, but I would much rather see her pissed off than mopey and depressed. A poster on TWoP mentioned the movie "Diary of a Mad Housewife". Although there are differences between Betty and Carrie Snodgrass' character, I think Mad Housewife is an apt description of of Betty (which you would expect on a show called Mad Men).

Betty is not a nice person, but that doesn't make her a bad person. Nor, in my view, is she a child; certainly not any more than a lot of other housewives at the time. Her psychiatrist is the person who said she's like a child, and I don't put much stock in anything he had to say. I think she's in shock because the story she was sold turned out not to be true, and now she sees no way out. Poor Betty indeed.

Anonymous said...

Betty just gushed happiness when she worked on the water issue, making the cold calls, and attending the meetings. You could tell she loved Rome and would fit in there instantly. Then she comes home and with nothing else on her calendar it was back to being "just a housewife".

The put down to Don at the end was sharp when talking about the gift he gave her when said it would remind her of the one time they went to Rome....

Unknown said...

I disagree that HBO would of taken filming to Rome. The storyline that they did not leave the hotel room was the point. Betty was almost proud they did not see any sights, and did not want to meet Conrad for breakfast. Staying in the hotel 'playing happy marriage' was more attractive.
After reading the Vanity Fair article discussing the airplane scenes of previous episodes, I was suprised we did not see them on the plane. That appears to be a more convincing cost saver, especially with Bettys line "I just want to get on the plane."

KeepingAwake said...

I do agree that the show itself is far better for the lack of nudity. Not only is it a lot more interesting and nuanced, it's in keeping with the times portrayed.

Normally I would worry that a show like this on HBO or Showtime would have been pushed to include a great deal of nudity and more graphic violence, but I think Weiner would have stood his ground. He's had a vision for this show for so long that I don't think he'd have bowed to network pressure that would move him off course. This show is so incredibly nuanced and subtle (and occasionally, ambiguous) that I don't see Weiner letting anyone force him to change those core aspects.

Julia said...

I found the book which I referenced earlier in this thread.

The Power of Sexual Surrender by Dr. Marie Robinson.

Here's a link to the 1962 paperback edition which is an update from the hardback edition of 1959.

The only customer review is precious - it says the book can help unhappy women adjust their attitude. The guy must have had a wife like Betty. And the review is from 2001!

And in 1962 there was also, I kid you not, Sexual Surrender in Women - a Penetrating Inquiry into Frigidity, its Causes The only copy is available at $110.

Lots of women had these books. Our Bodies, Our Selves was about a decade or so in the future.

marianne said...

The smell:

The Rome (Cavalieri) Hilton is on a hill overlooking Rome, you can see the view from their window in the scene where Betty looks out the window. So I doubt city smells would have reached them. (In ancient Rome wealthy Romans had villas in the hills around Rome to escape city life.) Besides, Don and Betty were standing IN the lobby when they noticed the smells. I thought they were smelling the brand new carpets and furniture of the newly established and (as someone pointed out) very American-looking hotel. Maybe an ironic joke about the new Hilton "empire" taking root in the city of the venerable Roman empire?

The couch:

I thought it was interesting that Betty had her talk about kisses with Sally on the very couch (the Victorian fainting couch) where she had been having fantasies about Henry Francis in last week's flashforward scenes.

Outland Institute said...

I seem to be on the outer on this, BUT - I found this episode (and the last) to be quite dull. And it was only this week that I realised I'm losing interest in the same way I lost interest in Six Feet Under in season 3 - we're so removed from the workplace elements that it's starting to feel like a soap opera to me. Admittedly, a beautifully done, extremely well-acted soap, but still a soap. How long has it been since we've seen an advertising-related storyline? Or a use of the product to bring attention/contrast to the emotions of the characters? Was it the Bye Bye Birdie ad some six weeks ago?

I don't find Betty and Don's relationship that interesting, to be honest, and I feel like we've been going over the same ground with them for some time. (I also find Don and Betty more interesting when they're not together).

a reference said...

Do you remember when Sally was reading The Fall of the Roman Empire. Now they are in Rome…

I love how Betty looks at the Henry couch and then wants to talk to Sally about kissing.

I love January Jones…she really makes me want to glam it up!! Finally fashion inspiration from Hollywood that isn’t from a trashy urchin.

Unknown said...

Maybe part of our attraction to January Jones (every week she seems to get more and more beautiful) is because of the lack of nudity. If it was on HBO and included nudity I certainly wouldn't turn my head but maybe there is something to be said for discretion.

As for slimy Pete - I'm with those that are a little hesitant to call it rape and for the same reasons written before. Pete does worm his way into her room (though he never forces) and when they start kissing she - it seems to me- does "kiss back" and does put her arm around him. If I remember right her right hand even grabs his arm and pulls him in.

Sonia said...

Niedermayer!!!!!!!!! Is that a pledge pin on your beehive? LOL

I believe absolutely that what Peter did to Gudrun was rape. She knew he wouldn't go away and she was petrified of losing her job. Also, I thought she said her name was Gertrude (obviously I was wrong), which is Peter's wife's name.

January Jones was STUNNING, and I loved Connie's greeting when he finally met her, "You are an indecently lucky man." And I loved their little role playing at the bar.

I also loved how confident Betty was in this episode -- there is so much more to her than meets the eye...the college education (Bryn Mawr? I think she said that last week...or I missed it earlier), anthropology, speaks Italian, effortlessly charming,'s no wonder she hates Ossining and the suburbian life of the 60's.

Dr Greg as a Psychiatrist -- that's going to be's possible he might be worse at psychiatry than at surgery.

I echo the "poor Joan" statement.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I thought it was interesting that Betty had her talk about kisses with Sally on the very couch (the Victorian fainting couch) where she had been having fantasies about Henry Francis in last week's flashforward scenes.

And, of course, it only occurs to her to have the talk with Sally after she's looked at that couch and thought of Henry.

tgd4 said...

I always enjoy reading Alan's summary & the blogger's comments after seeing the latest MM episode - it feels like lit. class!

It's been alluded to, but not directly stated -For the 1st time, while in Rome, Betty was in charge & Don was meekly following her lead. To anyone who has ever been in a foreign country without speaking the language - it is a humbling experience. We have always seen Don on U.S. turf (except in 'Nam) in situations of his making, where Dick's alter ego -Don can shine. Given Don's upbringing, his lack of travel experience must make him feel extremely ignorant & insecure. (It seems impossible that he could maintain the charming, entitled, Don persona rather than lapsing into the "rube" Dick,in such circumstances.) I'm sure this trip to Rome provided him with a clear reminder of why he married Betty in the first place -he needs her social standing & skills to pull off his Dick to Don transformation. Betty was clearly in charge during this trip -from her fluent Italian to her knowledge of the perks a Hilton Hotel offers -the beauty salon -to her transformation from a pretty NY housewife to a chic european beauty, Betty made up for Don's deficits. Even on the phone with Connie Hilton, Betty was clearly calling the shots. I'm sure the temporary shift in marital power provided by the Roman weekend must have reinforced Betty's depression at coming home. Except now, after this trip, both she & Don know how much of her intellect & skills are being wasted at home. Another elephant to add to the room!

Re: Pete's scene with Gudrun: It was evident that Gudrun did not know what was coming by her naive response to Pete, "I'll go and put on the dress." This showed she bought his line that he deserved to see her in it after getting her a replacement dress. Most au pairs were very young -17 or 18. Therefore, I think she was clearly a young scared girl who found herself suddenly shut in a bedroom with a strange man late at night (not to mention with young children sleeping nearby). This seems an unlikely scenario for consensual sex.

I loved the fact that Pete was sitting on the couch watching "Davey & Goliath" which was part of the Saturday morning cartoon lineup. Only this particular show was an evangelical series created by the Lutheran Church in which each episode had Davey wrestle through some moral challenge with the help of his "conscience," aka his dog Goliath. This deftly underlined the daily moral struggles little-boy Pete finds himself in -unfortunately, he lacks the input of a Goliath!

2 more quick points: I love how Joan skillfully let Pete know exactly who had the power in their Bonwit situation by saying, "Oh, I can't see Trudy in a size 10," as she looked over the dress. Therefore Pete has more at stake than she if he blabs about her new job back at Sterl-Coop.

Re: Pete's comment to Trudy about "never leaving him home alone again." I disagree with the person who said it was his way of apologizing. I think this was more of Pete's skillful manipulation - he was placing the responsibility for his infidelities onto Trudy -he implied it was her fault this time, & would be in the future, if she leaves him in a position in which he "needs" to assuage his loneliness in the arms of another woman. So smarmy!

KeepingAwake said...

@tgd4-Disagreement is what makes these blogs interesting!

Pete's certainly capable of pure smarminess.

But the show went out of it's way to show both how guilty Pete felt that Trudy saw immediately that he'd cheated and at how cowed he felt when the Au Pair's employer chastised him. And, as you so rightly point out, that Joan also immediately realized there was another woman involved in this scenario.

To me, all that time showing Pete looking chastened, humiliated and a bit frightened is what makes his declaration to Trudy that he doesn't want to be left alone again something of an apology and a recognition that he's not capable of mature behavior when left to his own devices.

That's my take on it-YMMV,

g said...

Alan -- I think that the shock is that it is Joan at Bonwit's. Real surprise.

Thanks for the explanation of your take.

Bobman said...

It's funny that Mark Metcalf has such an iconic role as Neidermeyer and yet all I can think of when I see him is The Maestro playing pool with Kramer and George's father.

Julia said...

Men left and right -- Henry, Pete, and Roger before -- are assuming women to be some kind of public property

More like placing the responsibility on the woman to fight off the guy. That was universal thinking - boys will be boys and all that.

Sombody mentioned that Betty might have resorted to wearing a girdle for awhile after having the baby.
All women wore girdles back then. Even if you were skinny, it was easier to hook your nylons to the girdle than to wear a more uncomfortable garter belt.

I googled and saw that pantyhose was invented in 1959, but did not become inexpensive enough for the general market until the 60s and really came into fashion with the mini-skirt (which would have exposed regular stockings).

Jiggly rear ends and breasts were considered uncouth. Underwear for women really were "foundation garments" upon which you layered your clothing.

AnnaN said...

I wasn't that surprised to see Joan at the department store. She was so ashamed of her husband's failure that she was unable to withdraw her resignation at SC even though they would have taken her back in a heartbeat. It would not make sense for her to find work in a different ad agency; that's a tiny world in Manhattan and everyone would know about it.

Count me in with those who don't think Pete’s actions constituted rape. Rape is brutal - sex is taken by force and one is not given a chance as to whether it happens. Gudrun was a victim of blackmail and the payment was sex. There was a point where the au pair could have chosen losing her job over being pressured by Pete. It still makes him a repugnant character and all the more so when he blames Trudy for his behavior ("if you hadn't left, I wouldn't have been a jackass!").

I have known quite a few women who have kids and get over the haggardness of the first few weeks easily. Given Betty's situation of having even a part-time nanny would be relieve a huge burden as it would afford her a chance to catch up on sleep during the day or handle chores.

I disagree that Don doesn't really love Betty. He has ceased being the controlling husband he was when Betty tried to get back into modeling and he shot her down from behind the scenes. And as for Betty's irritation with Don at the end of the episode, I think that's summed up in that she had just received news that her hard work on the reservoir was going to be reversed. She also learned that her best friend is no better than anyone else who believes that the only contribution Betty can make to society is to use her sexuality to affect change. That hurts. And when Don tries to be all kissy-face, pressy-bod immediately after and also gives her a charm that is a reminder of their freshly sexual getaway, it just reinforces that and she snaps back. And Don get caught in the blastwave.

I would have no trouble seeing Betty step into the feminist movement but if it's one thing Mad Men has shown me it’s that characters make choices and act in ways which are believable but not predictable.

Anonymous said...

A lot of random points:

I loved the Roman hotel room. It was gorgeous. And the blue accent wall (surrounded by cream) reminded me of the Draper's blue headboard (in a cream room).

Also, I don't think Sally & Betty were sitting on the fainting couch during their talk. They were in the same room. But Betty had just taken a look at the thing (which still doesn't work in that room at all) and then sat in the old sofa facing it.

I don't know if its the writing or direction or performance, but I don't get "smart" with Betty. I see eductated, but I don't see intelligence. She never seems to think; she seems completely intellectually absent. The other characters think or ponder. (Roger pretends not to, but there's still a thought process going on up there. Pete, the other child, has an immature analytical process. Even the minor character and other trapped-in-her-place housewife Francine seems contemplative at times) I never see Betty think.

I thought it was hilarous that she never took a lighter out in Rome, she'd pull out a cigarette and a random passerby would run up to make sure she could fill her lungs with nicotene as quickly as possible. In America, she at least had to make eye contact first.

Liam said...

I thought this episode had scenes inspired by Edith Wharton. The issue of how otherwise respectable women can get compromised by being beholden to men of greater power is right out of Wharton. But also the scene where Betty beholds that fainting lounge, and it inspires a very Whartonesque teaching moment with Sally (and it's not clear whether Betty is trying to remind herself more than she is trying to teach Sally).

Scott J. said...

I did not take Pete's "I don't want you to go away anymore" as a tactic to shift blame onto Trudy. He was truly ashamed of what he'd done, and I think he realized that he's a better person with Trudy around. We've seen that throughout this season, and it's why he's come off much more likable until now. Perhaps it's unfair to lay the burden on her to keep him in line, but it largely depends on what Trudy is getting out of the marriage at the same time. I mean, there's not much romance to be found between these two, so the best we can hope for is a mutually beneficial symbiosis.

Blair Waldorf said...

Betty in Italy deserves her props. She was crazy hot, especially speaking Italian and fending off suitors. But let's not overlook Don in a tight white t-shirt in Ossining. Yum.

I'm so glad Betty finally got to show off some charm. I know she is a repressed, miserable housewife but I have been getting bored with her character. Everytime she tells the kids to go watch TV, I sigh and wonder if the writers are getting lazy with her. It was nice to see other sides of her and to remember that she is interesting.

Love the shout out for Out of Sight. That is my favorite love scene of any movie ever.

Anonymous said...

So w/the stained dress someone's going to die this season I think and I'm putting my money on Betty.

I think she's approaching the edge and might attempt suicide, at the very least. She just wants something that she isn't going to get in her marriage and her life: which the baby locks her into. She has a history on the show of mental issues and as her father told her she's been sheltered and hasn't had to fight for what she wants.

Maybe it'll be someone else; but I just feel like the show is setting us up for a major death.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, Betty sees the fainting couch in the living room, then calls Sally, and they sit down on the modern couch to talk. This is more of a sign that the fainting couch is for fantasy, not reality, and Betty's talking to Sally about reality [or Betty's version of reality].

Anonymous said...

Re: the sirens in Rome, I also found them very prevalent. Every time Don and Betty would fall into each other's arms, you would hear a faint siren in the background. A reminder of imminent catastrophe?

Anonymous said...

What's with Betty's "I missed *you*" to baby Gene? Are we going to get anything interesting out of Betty's strange relationship to this particular child?

srpad said...

Somethng that I haven't seen mentioned: what struck me with the Betty/Sally mirror scene was how Betty seemd to completely ignore Sally. You would think a Mother would smile at her daughter or pat her on the head or something but it like two strangers sharing a mirror in a restaurant ladies' room.

Mauimom said...

Re Lizbeth @ 8:50 am.

I totally agree with you about the portrayal of the "reality" of life with a newborn. [Plus two other kids!!!]

The only thing I can figure is that Betty is bottle feeding, so she can shove the feeding chores off onto others. [I'd be careful about allowing Angry Sally that duty.]

Most of us who've had babies in the last 20 years are so accustomed to the trials of breast-feeding that it's hard to imagine a situation in which you're not on-call 24-7. But I guess it could happen. [That doesn't take care of losing those pounds, though.]

And a propos of nothing: how did folks like Pete taking off his shirt and showing some skin [before he turned into a letch]? Vincent K. [the actor who plays him] is a good looking guy in real life. [I've seen clips of him out of character on a couple of interview shows.] I could do with more of this.

Anonymous said...

Re: The diesel/rubber smell. The landlord's wife of our office building went to Italy. Shortly thereafter, all the halls, lobby, elevator floors were covered with a black rubber material that she said was "all over Italy--the airport, the stores, etc." It smelled like an automotive supply store. This was in the 70's. Don't know if that would apply here, but that's what came to my mind when that comment was made.

marb said...

Don and Betty in Rome reminded me of President Kennedy's famous quote during a 1961 presidential visit to France: "I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris." Betty was absolutely in her element there--including being fluent in Italian--while Don was merely the man who accompanied Betty to Rome.

Andrew said...

I'm pretty sure the au pair's name was Gertrude not "Gudrun." Was this really that incomprehensible cause Cynthia Little got the name wrong too.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Check the end credits, Andrew. It's Gudrun.

Lilithcat said...

Bonwit's was in a beautiful art deco jewel box of a building. I loved going there. Donald Trump tore it town to build the Trump Tower. I've had no use for him ever since.

meopta said...

I think the rape discussion here might be even more interesting than the writer's intent for the scene. It shows how permissible forced sex still is. I come down on the side of "Yes, Pete raped Gundrun" As Betty said, "When you have no power, you delay" Gudrun has no power - she's afraid of being sent back, she is a female in a world where the male right to sex is a given and the female's right to decline must be defended and clarified. Did she make a choice between being sent back and exposing her use of the dress, vs the drunken aggressor in front of her? Probably. Doesn't make him right. He knew she wasn't interested. He knew he could make her. That's rape enough for me. As far as grabbing his arm - that could be for balance, or to try and move him off her - when she turns notice she's off balance and he has her neck firmly in his grip. She doesn't have a lot of room to maneuver and she's terrified of waking the family.

Re the 'stain' on Betty's nightgown - that's part of the pattern, there's the same pattern farther down the nightgown. I don't know that it was meant to mirror it, it looked like coincidence to me.

I was glad to see that Betty got a chance to breathe and buy some new clothing, but I have to defend her here. Rome put her back in herself long enough to remind her of the reasons she chose Don (and she did choose him - waking him and going to Rome with him was a clear statement that she wanted Don - not another affair). That carried over into their return. For the first time in a long time she opens up to Don and tries to express that she is miserable in their life. Don responds by presenting her with a bauble, and ornament for the ornament in his life. He's dumbfounded at her anger over the gift because the woman in his head would be delighted. But the woman Betty is has just asked him to hear her, to see her dissatisfaction, and he's refused her. He sees her frustration as vacation let down and not as complete despair. My sympathy for Betty went up during this episode. The flat cold affect of everyday Betty is much more understandable after seeing a happy Betty with a Don that treats her as a person instead of an accessory. In Rome, he tells a client no. At home, it's back to the sidelines.

EC said...

Funny, other than the Colosseum, Betty comes home with one other souvenir, the bright Pucci print dress that she wears around the house on the first day back. The Pucci definitely makes her a duck out of water in Ossining (and it was by far my favorite Betty outfit of the episode).

kna said...

I don't really see how what Pete did could not be considered rape. She was clearly uncomfortable with the situation from the moment Pete found her with the dress, and she was, as another poster mentioned, a scared girl, afraid of losing her job, who naively hoped trying on the dress for him would make him leave her alone. He had all the power; she had none.

I would like to hope that the reason there's even a question is because we are attached to the character of Pete (weirdo and creep that he is -- he's *our* creepy weirdo). But unforunately some of the comments make me question that. Exactly how much resistance was she supposed to put up? Men were just more aggressive? Please, give me a break.

What bothers me about Weiner's commentary on the AMC site is that he makes this about Pete and Trudy (which is what Pete does too), while the real victim is not Trudy, but the girl he raped. Weiner does talk about Pete's sense of entitlement, though, which is key. He thinks he can or should have whatever he wants.

kna said...

I should have read meopta's post before posting -- I agree entirely! Perfect discussion of power and consent.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan, hi everyone. I'm a first-time poster, and I usually don't have anything new to say, but I have to pose a question this week:

I'm from Newburgh--Is anyone else on this blog? To my knowledge, Newburgh was quite different in the 1960's than it is now--the city began to decline in the 1970's-1980's.

Can anyone else comment on whether Betty's "it's already disgusting" was true in the 60's?

CarolMR said...

Did anyone else notice the baby bottle sterlizer on the kitchen counter of the Draper home? I haven't seen one of those since my sister was born in 1960.

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

Joan wasn't making up psychiatry as a new path for Greg, she was embarrassed by it. It would have been seen as a step down from surgery, even though she was trying to position it as cutting edge (no pun intended).

Wes covington said...

I have never taken off a buttoned shirt like Pete did in this episode. And I've never even considered that a way to do it. How do you do it without ripping it?

(Well, Pete can>)

Jennifer said...

I think the closed-captioning said the au pair's name was Gertrude.

So, the babysitter's name is Gertrude, and your wife's name is.... Trudy....

Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable critique and comments!

Heheh, Newburgh is still disgusting.

I cringe more at thoughts of Pearl Harbor losses, than a comment alluding to Kamikazes. :-o

I'll tell ya, I think a trip to Rome like that with a spouse would put a new kick in the relationship for me for a while if there was trouble there previously. And I agree, Don made a really nice attempt in trying to extend the vacation fun onto the homefront. He seemed to be attempting to keep the afterglow burning.

It seemed to me as well like Pete was living out his version of the movie "Seven Year Itch" where all the wives went away for the summer and left the working hubs at home to slug it out in the NYC heat.

Any time now I'm expecting Don to ask Betty what the heck is wrong, and Betty will retort with Laura Petrie's, "Well if you don't know, I'm certainly not going to tell you!" :-)

Haha, good one Not Bridget, about how only boring people are bored! Betty should follow her own cold advice.


Unknown said...

One of the things that stood out to me was the disparity between the hallway/corridor of Pete's apartment building and the interior of the apartment. The hallway seemed dirty and dingy while the inside looks nice and put together. Just struck me as odd. Kind of the reverse of Pete and Trudy's marriage (or other relationships on the show).

Anoel said...

My favorite part were the shadows in the hotel room with Don and Betty kissing. In the end, the fake roles are still just a shadow, the love is still not real. This show is ridiculously beautiful.

Julia said...

I think the dingy, dirty hallway was in the basement of the apartment building. The German girl was trying to stuff the dress into an incinerator - these were always in a basement.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think the closed-captioning said the au pair's name was Gertrude.

Even if it did, closed-captioning often includes major errors. The episode's closing credits refer to her as Gudrun - which surprised me, since I, like many of you, heard it as "Gertrude" when she introduced herself. But if you go back and listen, knowing the actual name, it's very clearly Gudrun.

Anonymous said...

Just read your post about Newburgh Anon after I finished my post. I lived near Newburgh up until a fews years ago. I also was under the impression from locals that it was a much better place to live than it is now, before its decline at the time you mentioned. Although to an snooty upperclass wife in Ossining, it still may have been a step down from the Oss or Manhattan areas.


Anonymous said...

The AMC website lists the au pair's name as Gudrun also -

Stephen S Power said...

There are two Petes: hair slicked back and hair flopped down. The former goes to the office, but it was the latter who was watching Davey & Goliath and who later bulled his way into Gudrun's room.

Never was the man's role to light a woman's cigarette so on display than in this episode. And to think that forty years earlier it would have been scandalous for a woman to smoke in public. At this point it's not only assumed but there's an etiquette surrounding it. Of course this morning I was walking behind a woman smoking a cigarette and couldn't think of the last time I'd seen a person of either gender smoking.

Donna S said...

I haven't seen any comment on this observation. When Don walked away from Betty in the lobby of the hotel after arriving in Rome, she looked towards the grand staircase and there appeared to be a "focus" on a gray haired man walking down the stairs. Reminiscent of Henry Francis? If so, did that impact her forthcoming behavior while in Rome?

TC said...

My first thought on the gray-haired man on the stairs was that it was Connie. But he seemed sort of stooped over and much older, which I don't remember Connie being.

Dana C Constance said...

Has anyone given thought to a hidden paralell to Don Draper signing his freedom away with Sterling Cooper and Matt Weiner and his recent past contract issues at AMC? I know it is a bit of a stretch but Conrad Hilton and his business could represent the extra commercials AMC has put upon MM each episode.
While I have not heard or read a thing about Matt being disgruntled with the network, the way he operated from season to season is reminiscent of Don not working with a contract in the past.

That said, if Don's lovely trip to Rome with stunning Betty (his Emmy personified) served as a honeymoon to his new contract, then Matt is probably happy with his current status.

Paul Outlaw said...

Re: Gudrun

As a German speaker, I heard Gudrun--it's a common German name. If her name had actually been Gertrude, she probably would have pronounced it the German way: "Gair-troo-duh."

PS. I attended a screening of the episode last Thursday in a movie theater. Very odd watching MM on a big screen with more than a hundred other people in the room. The episode was preceeded by an extremely long "previously on" season recap that included scenes with characters (like Peggy and Sal) who did not appear in the episode. The episode (especially Betty) looked great on the large screen and it worked as a kind of "stand-alone" episode for the casual viewers I spoke to afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Can't help but think that is was the Dick Whitman - kid from the country who bought that charm for Betty's bracelet. It's also logical that Conrad Hilton encouraged his choice of gift and help with the purchase, since his roots are similar to Don/Dick's.

Which is why Betty's ridiculing of the gift is exceedingly cruel.

That was one sad scene.

Anonymous said...

Watching Betty look at the fainting couch I thought she was thinking: "Why the hell did I get that!"

Nat said...

Regarding the rubber and gas smell. I think it has to do with the F1 race at the circuit in Monza "Gran Premio d'Italia". It would take place on the 8th September, so maybe the people were going crazy for their race cars.

Sammy said...

I thought Pete's plea for Trudy to not leave him alone any more was an admission, not a shirking of guilt. Pete's not saying "It's your fault since you left me alone," he's saying "I go lonely and crazy without you and I don't that to happen again." Trudy's always felt it unnatural that he doesn't vacation with her – she likes to think of them as a real "team" – which is why she warms at Pete's statement.

On another note, did anyone else notice how much more respect Pete's secretary was showing him as compared to the past two seasons? I wonder how much of this has to do with Pete's greater maturity and professionalism and how much has to do with his prospective status as Head of Accounts.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Gudrun had to let Pete into the apartment anymore than Peggy did back in the day. Sure it was icky but we don't know what happened between Gudrun and Pete.

As for her crying, she cried over the dress. As viewers we do know what Greg did to Joan and much more about Joan's character. I agree with an earlier commentator that I dislike this trend in the show. Non or not fully consensual sex makes for terrible viewing and discordant in such a shallow show. I'm disturbed that it hasn't been dealt with in Joan's storyline. It's not the kind of thing one should just tack on to a show about advertising.

As for Betty, I'm not ready to make a turn around on her. It's hard to suddenly see hidden depths in her, after two seasons of vacantness. It's like their rewriting her.

brainylagirl said...

Alan cites "La Dolce Vita" in the title of his review, but I was thinking more Antonioni -- even using the grand Dorothy Chandler Pavillion main atrium lobby (home of LA Opera) as a nice architectual substitute for the interior estab. shot of the Hilton in Rome (also, at night, for the exterior scenes w/ the beehive and the dress). In other words, there was some channeling of Monica Vitti and Marcello Mastroianni going on by Betty and Don. We know that Don's certainly seen the movies (back on his old lunch hour movie breaks at the art house theatre) - maybe he orchestrated the little role-play that way.

Betty's take on a first kiss was so sad. That's not my experience with first kisses / relationships - where kisses get better and better infused by more closeness and history together, but then, as Alan points out, Betty's relationship with Don probably has something to do with that. What a thing to say to a young girl, just trying to get her sexual bearings in the world, though. Poor little Sally Draper. She's going to have a helluva time with relationships as she gets older, you can just tell.

Anonymous said...

*Of course it was rape, and I find it stunning that you asked the question.*

Because if he didn’t ask it, someone else would (based on previous weeks heated debates on the topic) and he’d have to answer then. So instead, he pre-empted by asking and then answering.

The issue is we really have to ASSUME Pete raped her. We don’t actually see what he did the way we did with the doctor, but I think we can assume with the tears and Pete’s lack of imagination, it was probably just straight rape.
And yes, more so rape than Joan/Doctor because at least they had enjoyed it before and shared a mutual sex bond together, they had somewhat of a partnership together. Pete was simply manipulative and used his status for a one time, use her and then throw her out time. She is scared, has no power, and would be fired (and possibly deported) if she said anything or made a fuss. That’s NOT free consent. Therefore, it’s rape. I admit stun that people think if it doesn’t leave bruises then it was automatically free consent. When Don engages in a one night stand, it’s with someone who also wants that one night stand.

*I wonder how Pete will handle the push-pull of having some great gossip for the office - seeing Joan at Bonwit Tellers - versus the need to protect his own reasons for being there.*

I think Pete will be mum unless a situation provokes it or it comes spilling out of his head when he feels the need to pull a trump card.

*You're going to have trouble convincing that that wide shot of Betty's dress falling down would've been less sexy if it resulted in full frontal nudity.*

Not me! Loved the undergarments. Part of the fun of sex to me is getting through all the layers and snaps and it’s only been in the last few decades those things have become choices rather than necessities.

*the very next shot was Betty getting out of bed with a similarly covered stain on the right breast of her nightgown?*

I thought the color was a decoration on the nightie

I’m surprise people expected Rachel- she’s the LAST person I’d expect working the floor. Not only is it a different store, the person who decides which PR firm to hire does not handle exchanging dresses.

I ADORED all the vintage NYC references of course, as well as Don and Betty switching places in bed!

I like how they are showing Betty post-birth. I think it shows just how little she is involved with the baby’s life except when it can switch on to her happy fantasy time, as well I really do think a lot of post-baby “stuff” is a modern day creation, not a necessity of motherhood.


shara says said...

I don't have a lot to add to the discussion - just that Joan's expectation was that she would be getting "bon bons" but what she got was Bonwit Teller.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I’m surprise people expected Rachel- she’s the LAST person I’d expect working the floor. Not only is it a different store, the person who decides which PR firm to hire does not handle exchanging dresses.

I wasn't expecting Rachel to be overseeing the dress exchange. But in that brief moment before the camera revealed Joan, I thought perhaps Rachel was just walking the floors of a store and saw someone she remembered from her days as a Sterling Cooper client.

Again, it's not a rational, logical thought - just an (incorrect) intuitive leap created by the situation.

Hatfield said...

Man, Alan is taking a lot of heat for thinking Rachel, but can you ever really blame a guy for wanting Maggie Siff to pop up in front of him? I figured it would be Joan because the previouslies had highlighted her conversation with Greg about needing to find another job. And was it just me, or did she look even better than when in the office?

As for Pete, he pulled a slimy move, but I didn't read his "You have to take me with you" line to Trudy as guilting her; the look in his eyes was much more sad and fearful and shamed. Vincent Kartheiser was aces in this episode, and I don't even like Pete.

LA said...

I have never taken off a buttoned shirt like Pete did in this episode.

I noticed that, too, and it just spoke volumes to me of Pete's utter lack of patience. It was a great character moment for him.

In general, this was a fairly dull episode for me as I prefer episodes that focus on the goings-on of Sterling Cooper rather than Don's home life. The highlight was seeing Joan.

And with regard to Joan, I DO think Greg is going into psychiatry. It's not something she would brag about. In terms of the hierarchy of medicine, it's one of the lowest paying specialties a doctor can have, and certainly several rungs down the "prestige ladder" from being a cardiothoracic surgeon. But we know Greg has no "intelligence in his hands" (paraphrasing, forgot the exact terrific quote). And having such a dysfunctional human being becoming a mental health professional is fraught with Weiner irony.

Joan at Bonwit's is actually kind of perfect. She obviously started as a manager, and I think retail is a field where Joan's talents may actually be rewarded very quickly. I spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how they were going to keep her in the story. I figured she'd have an affair with someone at Sterling Cooper, but now I think she might instead turn up as a SC client.

LA said...

Of course, another option to keep Joan in the story is that she suffers the humiliation of having to wait on Jane Sterling, who of course will run home to Roger, "guess who waited on my at Bonwit's today," and Roger will start shopping there...

Anonymous said...

Pete's hallway looked crummier than you'd expect because that was the back hallway where you took your garbage out. You'd have a door in your kitchen (or kitchenette) leading out there. That was an incinerator chute that Gurtrude or Gudrun was trying to stuff the dress into. And I think you could see the back stairs, too. The front entrance hallway would be nicer, I'm sure, where the elevators let you off.

Russell Lucas said...

Funny that the Italian men who try to pick up Betty insult Don as being old and ugly. The "ugly" bit is maybe self-consciously ironic, given that if People magazine's readership watched Mad Men in larger numbers, I presume that Hamm would win their annual award, and his looks have already been lampooned on Tina Fey's new show and old show. The "old" slam is a bit more inscrutable; sure, Betty is younger than Don, but the disparity isn't all that wide, and not as transparently apparent as the age difference between Betty and Francis, for example. Still, it echoes Betty's odd response when she learned Don had been with Bobbi: "But she's so *old.*"

7s Tim said...

I, too, saw the scene of Pete breaking down in front of Trudy as his being torn apart with guilt, which then leads me to read the dinner scene as him acknowledging his weakness to his wife, even if he doesn't exactly apologize or beg forgiveness. I don't see him in that scene to be manipulative, just quietly honest, and greatly ashamed.

Also, on the rape thing: there was no indication that there was physical force, and the neighbor was more concerned, ultimately, about having to get a new girl and dealing with his wife not liking her. So the manipulation was more of circumstance and emotion.
I don't think that Pete was trying to force himself on the girl (although his judgement was clearly impared by the drinky), and as he kissed her, she seemed to embrace him, and even stepped towards him, all before Pete then put him arm around her. She was as in the moment with that kiss as Pete. There would have been many factors at play for her: fear of losing her job; gratitude for having her job saved; young foreigner against what, to her, appears to be an influential man; perhaps attraction to Pete; she could be as cabin feverish as Betty stuck in that house all day.
Was Pete manipulative? Yes, very. Do I think he would have seen his advances as an attack? No. Not even by our modern standards of such things. He was aggressive, but she seemed to react to being pursued.

Also, I seem to be in the minority as regards Betty's "first kiss" advice. Thought her urging her young daughter to slow down and treat the first kiss as special was sound parenting, if somewhat romanticized. And her knowing smile in reaction to Sally's "I already did it. It's over." was the most sympathetic she's been as a mother to Sally all season. Too bad her next scene with Don saw her being cold and distant.

Also, the montage of Pete drinking in between the gift of the dress and his eventual return had a shot of him in silhouette that reminded me of the opening credits.

Anonymous said...

Burning rubber smell.... often signals a brain tumor?

Anonymous said...

The part that stood out the most to me was the scene where pretended to not know and then hit on Betty. (Just like in the movie When a Man Loves a Woman with Meg Ryan). I thought Don might explode when we walked in on Betty talking to the two men hitting on her. Think how he reacted when Betty invited the door-to-door salesman into her home. Instead he coolly walks to the next table to play along.

In general, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I got lost in Betty's transformation so I didn't think anything was lost at the expense of advancing the storyline.

Hatfield said...

I think Pete's removal of his shirt without unbuttoning it was because he was drunk after going out with the other office boys.

I also liked Betty's talk with Sally, and until she was strangely standoffish in that last scene with Don I was saying how much she had grown since late in last season.

The line from the Italian guy about finding happiness in Betty's mouth (paraphrasing there) was almost as overtly sexual as Ken saying that Sterling was "in Jane." Between that and Duck's explicit description of what he wanted to do to Peggy, is the show hinting at the sexual revolution that's on the horizon?

(My girlfriend is half Italian, and when those two guys were hitting on Betty she nodded knowlingly, leading me to declare Italy off limits).

Sarabelle said...

I agree that each episode is its own jewel. I loved this episode mostly because I didn't feel like I was watching an episode of Mad Men. Specifically the "Betty developments" of this episode. It was mentioned briefly earlier --- Don seemed to be changing a bit..running out to catch fireflies, seeing him only in his home environment was interesting (even though he was "working" in Rome, I never got that sense of Don, the ad man at work). I was very intrigued in Betty and her increase in power and confidence and Don's attraction to it. For the first time I could see what attracted Don to Betty. I don't feel like we've gotten a real glimpse of how/why they got together. I thought it was interesting when Betty allowed the PR guy to kiss her...I got the sense that Betty thinks this whole "cheating" business is too easy...almost boring. The flirting scene in Rome was HOT. I agree with an earlier post about how Betty's "worldliness" makes Dick transform into Don. I loved that Betty knew that $2 was a lot of money for the bellhop and Don had no clue. Her speaking Italian so fluently, her understanding of the culture. It would have been so easy to have this episode set in Paris but it was much more interesting being set in Rome. This episode made January/Betty shine in so many ways. I left this episode having a much greater understanding of her character, something it seems other viewers have been seeking as well.

Anonymous said...

One of the main themes is the statement "when you dont have power delay." Don is powerless now in his relation with Hilton, Betty feels powerless as a bored housewife, the au pair is concerned if she does not give in to Pete she will lose her job. It was also about putting oneself in situations were one is allowing another to have power. Hilton has power over Don who is at his beck and call. Pete has power over the au pair because she allows him to do this favor for her. When you dont have power delay could be referring to how those with less power are just maintaining the status quo for now until htye have an option.

Susan said...

Melissa, the first thing a husband wants to do in a hotel room is have sex? You obviously have never met my ex-husband. What is unrealistic to you was my reality.

Mauimom, the nurse in delivery asked Betty if she was going to breast feed and she said no. Baby Gene would never rule the Draper household, given it was 1963 and given the fact that Betty is not a child-centric kind of mom. Also during that time you put the baby to bed and allowed him to cry himself to sleep. And there's Carla. I find Betty's postpartum life totally in keeping with the times and with Betty herself. (I am glad to see she has affection for the baby. Didn't expect that.)

I don't think Trudy knows Pete was cheating on her with the au pair. It was significant that she agreed to not go away without him anymore, given the fact that at the Cuban Missile Crisis she went to her parents' and Pete stayed in Manhattan, and she had mentioned in another episode her parents wanted them to visit at their summer place. Pete wouldn't leave work. As Maura pointed out, Trudy has learned how to handle/enable her husband by agreeing with him and indulging him.

Julia said...

And was it just me, or did she look even better than when in the office?

Not just you. I thought Joan looked lots better.

Coming from an extended family of doctors, I don't get why everybody thinks it's shameful to not be a surgeon. Of course, surgeons think that because of surgery's supposed drama, but the internists sometimes kid that surgeons are the blue collar workers in medicine. Surgeons (the specialists) may make the most money, but that's because insurance pays more for surgery and procedures - so radiologists make lots of money, too.

The best/smartest people don't always go into the most high-paying jobs. Some medical residents without any discernible diagnostic or people skills might be steered toward surgery or radiology without much patient contact. It works both ways.

The other insiders' joke is that med students with what we would call issues today are often the most likely to go into psychiatry to figure out their own bugaboos. But, truthfully, psychiatry around MM times was just getting to where it could help some people. Lots of interest in the connections between mental disorders and the brain. Thorazine and librium and other newish drugs were beginning to do incredible things for people who were formerly locked up.

People on this thread may be mostly familiar with psychiatrists who only have the time to prescribe medications with counselors and therapists doing most of the work with patients. Don't forget psychoanalysis was very influential in the educated population - it resulted in the more sensitive parenting and Oprafied outlook we have today.

Lindsey said...

I was never on the 'Betty's a cold-hearted woman and a horrible mother" train. I think she was always a victim of her environment. She's wasted in the life she lives. She might even resent the kids a little, but it would take a bigger person than Betty can be to not resent them. She loves them but is not a natural-born nurturer. I think this episode and the one before it showed that she could have had a more interesting life than being a housewife. Now Betty thinks she's trapped.

I think nudity wouldn't be natural in an environment like the one Mad Men creates. Maybe in a few seasons when we get to free love.

Nicole said...

It concerns me that several comments say that it is not rape because there was no physical force or that she looked like she liked it. As mentioned by other commenters, Gudrun was a young girl in a foreign land and Pete barges into the apartment under a false pretense and it does not look like she has any other choice but to do as he wants. He has the power in this situation and she does not. Of course because we know Pete, we want to try to find an excuse for him and think that he is not that despicable, but if there was any ambiguity about the scene, I think hearing that she was crying the next day confirms it. This wasn't a date gone bad or a girl wanting it rough and changing her mind later on. It was a strange guy pushing his way into a young girl's apartment and then forcing himself on her. If we had read a news report with these same facts, more people would be calling it rape.

I don't think Pete is a serial rapist, but I do think that he is still mentally a child and believes that he is entitled to take anything he wants. As others have said, he even looks more child-like in the scenes where he interacts with Gudrun.

And ambiguous or not, I think there have been enough rape scenes in this series. We get it, women were treated like crap in the 1960s. It's getting close to what BSG ended up doing by having almost every female character under the threat of rape at some point or another.

Lindsey said...

I think the Pete/au pair scene works whether they had sex or not. I'm sure the writers left it open-ended like that on purpose.

Anonymous said...

In high school my son took his shirts off the way Pete did. Not button-down, long-sleeved shirts, but still...just the writers reinforcing Pete's alcohol-induced post-adolescence.

All this talk of foreshadowing JFK's trip to Dallas has me wondering about Don getting shot in a season-ending cliffhanger. Ugh.

Very astute comment upthread about Betty's return to frosty in response to Don's failure to hear her cry for true acknowledgement. I was hating her until I considered that. Rome wasn't built in a day, pun notwithstanding--if the two of them will make inroads and work out their issues in a mature manner, it'll take both of them to capitalize on each small success. Something they never seem to do in synch.

About the rape thing--it *was* rape, but the 60s were a primitive time and it wouldn't have been defined as such back then (look at the trouble we're having with it 40 years later). I'm reminded of the 1960 film, Where the Boys Are, in which Yvette Mimieux's carefree, boy-crazy character bites off more than she can chew (sorry) at the hands of a few "fun guys" in Ft. Lauderdale. She's shown as wounded, disheveled and disoriented following her offscreen encounter but there's no talk of pressing charges. The subtext is that, "that kind of girl" got what she deserved. Gudrun may have been naive or foolish to depend on the kindness of a stranger; unfortunately Pete's sense of entitlement made it impossible for her to have the outcome she might have hoped for.

Yalla said...

I seem to be pretty much alone in thinking that Betty's hair was ridiculous. I actually laughed out loud.

I also was shocked that Betty wasn't wearing a girdle. My mom always used to tell me that "ladies wear girdles." She only stopped wearing one a couple of years ago!

Susan said...

Yalla, yeah, Betty's hair was ridiculous for 2009 but awesome for 1963! I was facinated with the beehives the women had when I was a little girl. That and the beautiful jewelry and make up and OMG! Betty was totally working it.

KeepingAwake said...

@Yalla-Re the girdle.

We've certainly seen many women in the show wear them, including Betty.

We've previously only seen Betty without one when she was trying to seduce Don.

I think we were supposed to notice she wasn't wearing one, as it fit her entire mood in Rome. Free, powerful, enjoying herself and the sway she holds over men, and in stark contrast to Betty in Ossining.

CarolMR said...

Nicole, yes, women were treated like crap in the 60s. But in many ways they still are as far as what men think they are entitled to sexually.

christy said...

The rape discussion this week is even more interesting than last week!

One interesting thing is that last week (or was it the week before?), at least one commenter was arguing that what happened to Joan wasn't rape because she didn't appear traumatized by it. This week, all we really have is the set-up and the aftermath, not the act itself, to go on. One of the few facts we have is that the au pair was traumatized. She cried all day. She told her employers what happened.

Kissing back on a first kiss (hey! Tie-in to Betty's speech to Sally?) is not consent to penetrative sex. And I won't consider "that's just what men did back then" as a reason not to call it rape or any other term. But what happened after the kiss is unknown to us. Best case scenario is that Pete used his power over her to coerce her into making out with him. Worst case is that he did physically force her to have sex while she audibly and physically protested. And there's a whole range of things in between that could have happened, which is where the "reality" of it probably fell.

I like how Pandagon described it in their review. Anything in the range I described above "fits into the sexual assault rainbow."

And I don't think that Mad Men has overused the rape thing at all. RAINN tells us that today, 1 in 6 women experience a rape or attempted rape. And that the rate of sexual assault has gone down drastically in the past few years. On Mad Men, we've met--oh, who knows--somewhere between a dozen and two dozen women? We've seen Joan get raped, we know *some* kind of coercion happened between Pete and the au pair, and then we have Don grabbing Bobbie and the scene from early in the series where some of the office boys chase down a secretary and force her dress up. The four scenarios are so, so different that we end up having these discussions, sometimes arguments, about how to refer to them and how bad they really were and so on. But that's how it happens in real life, too. Every instance of sexual assault is different and complicated. I think Mad Men does a great job showing how it happens, how often it happens, and how incredibly confusing it can be.

7s Tim said...

I like how they left that scene open to interpretation. "That scene", naturally, being whatever happened between Pete and Gudrun during the commercial break. I think that was intentional. I think it is purposely ambiguous. Some people see this as Pete the man-child wreaking havoc with no consideration for his actions. Some see it as Pete willfully dominating a woman he sees as weaker, taking what he wants and only later having to deal with the repercussions-- more because of his lack of tack and planning than for any perceived wrong-doing according to the social standards of the time. I take it more as a situation where Pete meandered into a damaging situation (I took Gudrun's crying and her employer's intervention with Pete more to be out of regret on her part, and social awkwardness on the neighbor's), getting himself in trouble and seeing no way out. I see it as shining more light into the aspect of Pete that he is his own worst enemy. This is a thread that has gone through the whole series-- the actions of others cause us damage, but far less than the damage our own actions cause.

And Betty was both gorgeous and ridiculous. See? You can have things both ways.

Julia said...

Betty's hairdo: Breakfast at Tiffany's - movie 1961

If Betty was a high fashion model she would be vary used to having a look of hauteur and boredom. Besides not being happy, it was the "look" and still is for the high level model.

Turns out that Princess Grace (nee Kelly)made a visit to her home town, Philadelphia, in May of 1963. Here's what Time magazine had to say about it.

Blonde, beautiful, and serenely inaccessible to all but her oldest friends, Princess Grace of Monaco, 33, made the oh-so official visits to Philadelphia landmarks, her visit back home climaxed by a gala Crystal Ball, where she greeted 600 elite guests, among them Contralto Marian Anderson. Though honored by the sponsoring Fashion Group of Philadelphia, the Princess bypassed local couturiers for a deep blue organza gown by Balenciaga.

I'll bet Betty read that and might have fantacized about being Grace or Audrey. Both of them were revered in the fashion world of the 60s.

Anonymous said...

Although I stayed focused on the episode, it did not grip me as all prior episodes have -- the first time since becoming an MM viewer that I had no trouble falling asleep by 11:05. Usually I toss & turn as I process the episode. There didn't seem to be much to process this week.

Felt I'd "been here done this" with the Pete sub-plot. We already knew he's immature, capable of nasty bullying, and has a weird relationship with his wife. Did we learn anything new about him? I didn't think so.

Re:rape -- if you subscribe to the point of view that rape is more about power than sex, then yes, it was rape. A grown man taking advantage of a teenage au pair? Sounds like sex with a house slave to me.

Loved Betty turning the sophistication tables on Don. Felt her pain at having Rome -- and all "Rome" implies -- turned into a stupid gold charm. I even thought Don sort of got it, too.

And yes, poor Joan.

MichelleS said...

Re: the diesel smell - funny how just as they were saying that, if I remember correctly, they both lit up a cigarette, which doesn't smell that much better than diesel!

As for Betty being a hands-off Mom w/Eugene, my mother, who gave birth to my brothers in 1960 & 1962, said she always left them with their maid while she and her friends got all dolled-up and went shopping. My parents went out with friends *after* a party while the maids cleaned up and took care of the kids. They were fed formula, so she wasn't tied down to a breastfeeding schedule. I'm always fascinated by her stories from those times, so different from being a mom these days! She never hesitates to tell me how "good" she had it as she watches me slave away with my two young boys!

Anonymous said...

I laughed at Betty's hair too Yalla. It wasn't quite what the chic (read expensive salon) beehive of that time should look like, in that it was too far forward on her head, and too flat vertically. So it looked kind of silly compared to a couture beehive that would be shown in Vogue for instance. Her's looked like a 'doo from "Hairspray", heheh. But it's all good. :-)


Anonymous said...

Two things:

Newburgh - My grandparents lived in Orange County, and my family lived there in 67 when my father was in VietNam. We got our school clothes at Robert Hall and traveled into Newburgh often. In 1967, the main drag in Newburgh looked like it was all over, closed storefronts, vacant lots and the only theatre was a porno, so, yes, it was degrading in '63. Its much better now.

2. This may be the first time in 25 years, I have heard the phrase "frigidity" in terms of female sexual response, right here in these comments. My, how times have changed, the sexual revolutionistas won.


Susan said...

Julia, thank you for the reminder that Audrey Hepburn had a very similar hairstyle.

Mauimom, it was actually Trudy who interpreted Pete's demeanor to mean he felt gulty they didn't have children.

tgd4 said...

To KeepingAwake: I wholeheartedly agree, "disagreement is what makes these blogs interesting!" When I disagree with other posts -it is only with the utmost respect.

This may be a shot in the dark, but.... does the "stained dress" make anyone else think of a far more recent historical event -the Clinton/Lewinsky debacle??? Just wondering!

Anonymous said...

Wow! So many revealing moments! Well, maybe there was something new revealed in this week's succession of tableaux vivants highlighted as usual by pretentious look-at-me shots. "Glacial" comes to mind but with global warming glaciers have social import thus an inappropriate adjective for this show.

Excuse me now while I move deliberately from my desk and languorously make my way home to contemplate the symbolism of going to Rome and discover the meaning of life in the sound of a filling glass. If only it were more of a gluck-gluck-gluck than a trinkle-trinkle-trinkle then I would understand. Then I would understand.

Hatfield said...

Haha, that's two weeks in a row someone has shown up to mock the show (and by extension, I suppose, those of us who watch it), but I just can't be offended when it's that funny.

My question is, did that Anonymous take the time to read through all the comments to make sure no one had poked similar fun earlier?

Yet another anonymous said...

What's so special about this show is that the more I see the inner workings of each character - indeed, the more ugly details of petulance or dishonesty or insecurity - at the end of the day, I like these 'people' a lot.

Sure, they are flawed, sometimes really flawed, but with only a few exceptions, I feel for them, even as I deplore some of their actions.

That is great writing, and even better acting. And this show just gets better and better.

Another thing: as much as I want to know what is going to happen next, I so enjoy where we are now. Very Zen.

Yet another anonymous said...

Hee! I had the comment box on for the last half hour in between doing things and writing my thoughts, and only after posting, I realize that what I found Zen was glacial to my other anonymous compatriot.

I can appreciate that, and it's really odd, because I think in any other show, I'd hate it, but for some reason, not with Mad Men.

And another vote for a very smokin' Don and Bets.

Unknown said...

I want to chime in with those who are horrified that people are excusing Pete from rape here. I mean, yes she didn't say "no." But people are saying they have to believe Peter is better than that, or not that sleazy, or this, or that... whether you want to call it "official rape" or not (and it was unconsentual sex, so it pretty much was)--Pete put that girl in a TERRIFYING situation. As a woman, I'd say his actions would be possibly worse to experience than what happened with Joan.

1st, he forced his way into the apartment after she'd already turned him away. She didn't want to let him in, but she was obviously worried that he'd make a fuss and he didn't seem to be going away. Also, like someone said, she's what, 18? 17? Naive.

2nd, he went into her room and then CLOSED THE DOOR BEHIND HER when she made a move to leave. Then he CORNERED HER against the door. When you're a young girl all alone in a foreign country and some strange man insisted on coming into your room, closing the door, and cornering you like that, what you are is SCARED. And in her case, she knew he held a secret over her head, and she "owed" him, and she was already frightened of losing the job, so... at that point, you let him kiss you because what else is there to to?

If I were her, I'd be terrified that if I said "no," given how little he seemed to heed her rejection previously, he would hurt me and then I'd be both raped and beaten, or who knows what else. If you're a girl and alone, you may well fear getting killed by a drunk aggressive stranger.

She didn't not protest because she really "wasn't that against it," she kept quiet because she was too scared to say anything.

Julia said...

Think of all the movies with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, not to mention Rhett Butler taking Scarlett up to the bedroom against her will. What do you see the next day in the movie? A grinning female. We have come a long, long way.

There's a reason in most societies that a woman needs a strong man to protect her from other men. Our society in 2009 is a new thing the history of the world. And it seems that people like Roman Polanski think the it's still the old rules for guys like him.

I'm surprised the German girl was brave enough to tell what happened and risk Pete ratting her out about the dress. And further surprised that her employers believed her and did something about it.

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