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Megan’s Milkshake Brings Don’s Boys to the Yard – A Recap of Mad Men’s Season 4 Finale “Tomorrowland”

MEGAN:  (reads inscription on ring) “I will love you always, Anna – ❤ Don.”  Who’s Anna?  I thought your first wife’s name was Betty?

DON: (blushes) It was.  But . . . umm . . .  Anna is . . .  a nickname I have for all my wives.  Yeah, that’s it!  A nickname!

MEGAN:  (scrunches face, in confusion) How many wives have you had?

DON:  You mean, so far?

Watching the Season 4 Finale of Mad Men taught me that I should really pay more attention to the predictions of my fellow Maddicts.  You guys really know your stuff!  Back from the beginning of the season, when Faye first said those fateful words to Don (“You will be married again, within a year.”), many of you presumed them to be prophetic.

 

“TO ME!  I meant you’d be married to ME!  Dammit Don!”

Some of you (Alchera :)), even correctly picked Megan as the lucky Bride-to-Be!  And as far as Joan, I would say that the majority of you suspected the moment we left her sitting in that abortion clinic, that she wasn’t going to go through with it.

 

“I’ll just tell Greg the stork brought it over.  He’s such a lousy doctor, he’ll never know the difference.”

Yep, Matt Weiner is going to have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool YOU guys!

“I’ll show them!  Next year, Creepy Glen is going to go postal, and shoot the ENTIRE CAST!  They’ll never see it coming . . .  My baby boy needs an Emmy!”

While I may not have been quite as prescient as other fans of this show, I have to say, I found this to be a pretty enjoyable hour.  After what had been a kind of dour second half of the season, “Tomorrowland” left our SCDPers on a high note, one that was, at least partially, hopeful and uplifting.  Plus, it was really nice to see Don happy, for a change — cannon-balling into a swimming pool, truly enjoying the company of his children, for a change, grinning and blushing like a lovesick teenager . . .

“I think I just peed . . . “

That being said, given recent events, I still kind of think he’s an idiot  . . .

Don Draper, here is a glimpse at your own, personal, Tomorrowland!

But enough of this “touchy feely” stuff!  Let’s get on with the recap!

“Then you are stuck trying to be a person, like the rest of us.”

We all should have known Faye was totally DUNZO, the minute she told a still half-asleep Don, who had a “sick feeling in his stomach” about his upcoming trip to California, that he should come clean to the rest of the world about being Dick Whitman.  After all, “Tricky Dick,” he may be, but “Honest Abe,” he’s most certainly not! 

“And then what happens?”  Don inquires of Faye, like a child seeking a bedtime story from his mother.

“Then you are stuck trying to be a person, like everyone else,” replies Faye matter-of-factly, as if making the decision to expose the Clark Kent behind your Superman is as easy as say . . . deciding to get married to the secretary you barely know.

“But Megan is my Lois Lane . . . well, technically Peggy, is my Lois Lane.  But Megan is my . . . what was the name of Clark Kent’s secretary, again?  Did he even have one?”

Faye’s faux pas aside, the not-long-for-this-world couple shared a sweet and emotional goodbye, that, in hindsight, did seem to have a bit of finality to it.  It was almost as if Don’s trip to “Tomorrowland” was his metaphorical journey to his own future, in which Faye, now inextricably linked to his past as Dick Whitman, was destined to take no part.

The Happiest Place on Earth?

“Don and I thought it would be best, if we approach from the rear.”

The sad part is, I didn’t even make that title to be funny.  Pete ACTUALLY said it!  You’ve just gotta love a heterosexual man, who’s not afraid of a little rear penetration . . .

Speaking of butts, Joan is working hers to the bone, having now been forced to assume mail clerk duties, as a result of SCDP’s drastically reduced staff.  When she arrives at Lane’s office, he has some good news to share with her.  And by “good news” I mean, news that could be “good” but actually ends up being kind of lame.  You see, the “good news” is that Joan has received a promotion, and, with it, a new fancy title:  Director of Agency Operating Relations, or something like that . . .

The not-so-good news is that, while the position does come with increased responsibilities, it comes with NO increased pay.

“Lane, darling.  Next time you are planning to screw me over, I’d prefer being approached from the rear . . .”

While Joan is busy running the entire company, more or less, for free, Don is over at the American Cancer Society, trying to save it from financial ruin, by pitching a “free”advertising campaign.  Given Don’s usual penchant for dishonesty, I found the unusually blunt approach he took with these, as Pete called them, “Fat Cats,” oddly refreshing.

“MEGAN!  Get me another cigarette, NOW!  My No Smoking campaign is on TV!”

After more or less admitting to the Executive Board that he IS, in fact, a smoker (most of the Board is too) and that he only wrote the article, in an attempt to save his agency, Don pitches yet another one of his brilliant campaign ideas.  This one features young kids spending time with their knocking-at-death’s door parents.  The campaign is intended to target teens, the largest demographic of NEW smokers.

“But [teens] hate their parents,” remarks the only female on the Board.

With parent’s like THESE, can you blame them?

Don explains that the commercials would not actually be about “the dying parents” but about the teens, themselves, who, he claims, are nostalgic for their lost childhood, and fear the future, which they automatically equate with death. 

In short, here we have a chain smoker, who is running away from his past, pitching an anti-smoking campaign that advocates  embracing the exact same thing he is fleeing.  Ironic, no?

Back at the office, Don’s new whore best friend, Pete, is just gushing over how great Don performed at the meeting.  And I have to say, it’s nice to see these two playing so nice, for a change.

It just goes to show ya, sometimes all it takes is some compromise and understanding and $50,000 to repair a long-lost friendship.

As it turns out, one of the “Fat Cats” on the American Cancer Society Board is also an Executive of Corning Glassware, as well as a good friend of Ken Cosgrove’s father-in-law.   So, Don and Co, request that Ken take the influential men golfing, in hopes of scaring up some new business.

“YAY!  I have more than one speaking line, this week!”

However, Ken, unlike say . . . everybody else in the office . . . is not one to mix business with family life.  Therefore, he absolutely refuses, to jeopardize his new marriage, for something as insignficant, in the scheme of things, as the possibility of a new account.  “Why can’t you just call Corning for a meeting?”  Ken inquires rationally.

“Don and I think would be best if we approach from the rear,” replies Pete.

“Did he just say what I THINK he said?”

Alas, Ken is more of a “frontal entry” guy, so he blows off his boss’ request.  “I’m going to service the 30 percent of this firm that are MY clients,” Ken concludes before storming off.

Wait a second . . . did he just say “service?” 😉

“Just because you’re sad, doesn’t mean everybody else has to be.”

“I’m BAAAAAACK!”

When Betty chased Creepy Glen into the woods last week, we just knew his temporary disappearance from the show was just too good to be true, right?  Just like the Big Bads in horror movies, Creepy Glen just HAD to come back  for his FINAL SCARE.  Except, this time, his doing so, royally screwed over the woman who quite possibly remains the most moral character on the show.  Carla!

“Now we can finally start discussing my spinoff, Mr. Weiner?”

Now, those of us, who’ve watched the show from the beginning, know that there are plenty of VERY good reasons why a mother would not want their daughter hanging out with a kid like Creepy Glen.  For starters, he’s “Creepy.”  He also invades and trashes peoples homes.  He also plies little girls with cigarettes and spiked Cokes.  Unfortunately, none of these VERY valid reasons are why BETTY doesn’t want Glen to see Sally.  No, her reasoning actually has more to do with . . . JEALOUSY.

It’s like the Evil Queen and Snow White all over again!  Betty just can’t stand having a man reject her for a younger model, even if that “man” is a Bad Seed 13-year old, and the “younger model” is her OWN significantly more age appropriate daughter.

“I’m the fairest one of all!”

So, anyway, Betty steps out of the house to get some groceries.  And, not a minute later, Creepy Glen, who has been watching the home for lord knows how long (See what I mean, about the “creepy?”), “casually” pops in to say goodbye to Sally, in anticipation of her upcoming move out of the neighborhood. 

Carla kindly dismisses him at first.  However, ultimately, the sweet housekeeper can’t deny her surrogate child One Last Goodbye with the Little Goober, who very well may be Sally’s only friend.  (Especially, if news got out around the playground about her unique brand of “slumber party entertainment,” which we witnessed a few weeks back.) 

OOPS!

And so, Carla lets the star-crossed pair rendezvous One Last Time.  How very Romeo & Juliet!

“assuming Romeo was MAJORLY Creepy . . .”

To my pleasant surprise (and possibly only because Matt Weiner does not allow his son to kiss girls yet), the final meeting between Sally and Glen is actually fairly chaste (handshakes and hugs were exchanged), and only slightly creepy.  (“I say goodbye to people all the time, says Glen.  “I’m good at it.”)

 

Sure, Glen.  This guy was good at “saying goodbye” to people too!   They just didn’t often get the chance to “say goobye” back. . .

And yet, despite all this, I couldn’t help but feel just the teensy weensiest bit bad for Creepy Glen, when, as he was leaving the Francis household, the Wicked Witch of West New York returned.  *cue The Wizard of Oz’s Flying Monkey Theme Song*

She starts screaming her head off in a way that NO WOMAN should scream at SOMEONE ELSE’S child.  (No matter HOW creepy he is.)  Feeling partly responsible for his presence in the household, Carla steps in and assumes some of the blame.  Betty briefly softens, long enough for Glen to earn a bit of my respect, for having the courage to utter two very important lines to the former love of his life.

(1) “Why do you hate me?” and

(2) “Just because you are sad, doesn’t mean everybody else has to be!”

(I can’t believe I just gave an “Oh Snap” to Creepy Glen . . .)

After Glen exits stage left hopefully for good, Betty turns around and FIRES CARLA!

The Wicked Wench didn’t even let the housekeeper, who RAISED her kids for 11 years, say goodbye to them!  Seriously, could this b*tch GET any more EVIL?  Oh . . . yeah . . . she CAN!  Betty even REFUSED TO WRITE THIS WOMAN A JOB RECOMMENDATION, despite the fact that this was obviously Carla’s ONLY source of employment for 11 YEARS! 

I don’t think I’ve had this much hate in my heart for a television character in a long time!  Perhaps, Betty’s old sad sack of a new husband said it best when he told this Sorry Excuse for a Human Being, “NOBODY is EVER on your side!” 

HEY BETTY!  Here’s looking at YOU, kid!

“We landed a new account!”

 Ken and Peggy!  Now here’s an unexpectedly fun duo, who I wouldn’t mind seeing on screen together more often.  (It’s kinda too bad he married Alex Mack.)

 It all began when Peggy’s new gal pal, Joyce, popped by her office with a “model friend” of hers, who was looking for work.  Apparently, the model, along with the advertising agency that hired her, had all been unceremoniously fired by a company named Topaz Pantyhose.  While Harry sees the model’s appearance in the office, as an opportunity to cheat on his wife AGAIN . . .

. . . Peggy forms an idea that will actually be GOOD for business. 

“Hey,” she thinks to herself.  “If Topaz is unhappy with their current representation, maybe they can be happy with SCDP!”

Despite the impending holiday (Thanksgiving, I presume?) Peggy, with the help of Account Man, Ken, wrangles a  last minute meeting with the company.  During this meeting, Peggy proceeds, as is becoming the usual, to knock the pitch out of the park — coming up with five possible advertising campaigns, seemingly out of mid air. 

And guess what?  This Dynamic Duo land the half-million dollar account by themselves — garnering SCDP the first new business it has gained since the loss of Lucky Strike!

You know what I wish?  I WISH that I had an animated GIF of Ken lifting Peggy up in the air and twirling her about, when the pair first found out they landed the account — because it was the CUTEST, MOST JOYOUS thing EVER!  Take THAT, Alex Mack!

Yet, unfortunately, I do not yet have such a GIF.  And so, I will highlight this joyous moment with another GIF, which features Pete doing the Happy Dance . . .

“I’ve got the rest of my life ahead of me.  And so do you!’

Just as Don’s lawyer is telling him that he should remarry, so that he can have turkey on the table at Thanksgiving, who should call Don at the office, but THIS Turkey.

She’s calling to tell him.  “Ooops, I fired our housekeeper of 11-years, two days before your big business trip / family vacation to Disneyland with the kids.  Too bad, so sad, for YOU!”

“You mean, I actually might have to change a DIAPER?  NOOOOOOOO!”

After trying not particularly hard to find a new “Father’s Helper” for Don to take on his trip with him, Megan announces that NO ONE is available on such short notice.  So, Don, ever the horny generous soul, offers to double Megan’s salary, provided that she come to Disneyland with him and screw his brains out care for the children while he is working.

And so, off head Don, Megan and the rest of the “fam” to see Mickey Mouse.

Now in California, Don comes home from a days work to find his now lobotomized unusually well-behaved Stepford children singing French songs with Snow White Megan.

Now, maybe I’m just a cynical and miserable person, but I found the whole scene a bit disturbing.  (Loved Megan’s dress though – So CUTE!)  Don, however, who’s used to coming home to the site of Betty screaming at the top of her lungs and performing evil pagan rituals on his children, ate it all up.  “You said you have no experience with kids.  Yet, I come home and you’re like Maria Von Trapp,” Don exclaims with amusement and intense passion.

“The hills are alive, with the sound of ME-GAN!”

The next day, Don and the children visit Anna Draper’s home, so that he can sign some documents relating to her will.  And, who should answer the door at Anna’s house but Stephanie . . . yet another WAY TOO YOUNG chick Don tried to hit on this season!

“The hills are alive, with the sound of Ste-phanie!”

When Don asks Stephanie if she is back at college, she replies that she is not.  “I have my whole life ahead of me,” she sing-songs.  “And so do you minus about twenty some-odd years.

Stephanie also takes the time to offer Don, Anna’s engagement ring from the REAL Don Draper.  “She wanted you to have this so that you can propose to your young nubile secretary, tomorrow morning.” Stephanie explains.

Don looks quizzically at the ring, before shoving it away in his pocket.  Meanwhile, Sally has noticed a very peculiar inscription on the wall of the house.  “Who’s Dick?”  She inquires innocently.

Kudos to Don for not peeing himself right there in Anna’s house.  “That’s me.  It’s a nickname I call myself sometimes.”

Way to GO DON!  Baby steps . . .

Having (sort of) freed himself of one of his many lies, and having received a bit of closure on the “Anna Chapter” of his life, a jubilant Don cannonballs into the hotel pool, while Megan and the kids look on with shock and Glee. 

“Pretty cool, Don!  But a belly flop would have been WAY COOLER!”

That night, Don stays home with the kids, while a hot-to-trot Megan goes out with her haughty-looking “French porn star actress friend.”  When the two stop by to say good night, Don looks at Megan like he wants to devour her whole.  Is it any wonder than, that a surprisingly shy and goofy Don, makes an excuse to pop by Megan’s room that night to go over “Disneyland plans?”

“Disneyland plans?  Is that what the Middle Aged Ad Execs are calling it nowadays?”

Before you know it, Don and Megan are out on the balcony, “looking at the stars.”  Then Megan starts talking about her “large but loveable” teeth, which Don takes as an open invitation to start cleaning them with his tongue.

DON:  My, what big incisors you have, Megan?

MEGAN:  The better to EAT YOU WITH!

Before you know it, Don and Megan are between the sheets, performing a Late Night in the Office, Part Deux.  And I’ve gotta say, in four seasons, I’ve NEVER seen Don so smitten!  “You don’t know anything about me,” muses Don, while thanking his lucky stars that this is, in fact, still the case.

“I know you have a good heart . . . and that you are always trying to be better,” replies Megan. 

(Let’s pause, while I write this down .  . . you never know when a line like that will come in handy . . .)

After that, Don TOTALLY goes all GIRLY MAN on Megan, and starts gushing over how majorly hot he is for her.  It’s sweet — and yet seems SO out-of-place coming from Mr. SUPER Emotionally Repressed!

Who are YOU?  And what did you do with the REAL Dick Whitman Don Draper?

Typically the guy who’s constantly keeping women at a safe distance emotionally, even while they are close to him, sexually, Don shocks us all, by asking Megan, timidly, whether she will ever make love to him again, or whether this will be — like their first fling in the office — a two one-shot deal?

Secretary Megan is officially my NEW hero!

Now, we all know Megan’s been scoring HUGE on this trip.  (In more ways than one!)  However, Girlfriend doesn’t REALLY cinch the deal, until the next morning at breakfast.  And it all comes down to one word:  “Milkshake.”

Sorry . . . I just couldn’t resist.

When Sally and Bobby start fighting, at whatever fast food joint the family is dining at that morning, they accidentally spill milkshake all over the table and, consequently, Megan’s dress. 

Possibly suffering from PTSD-esque  flashbacks of Betty going apesh*t, every time someone dropped a speck a salt in her lap, Don starts flipping the eff out!  But milky-dress Megan, like Monica Lewinsky before her, remains completely calm about her now-white stained frock.  “It’s just a dress,” she says, cheerily, as she mops up the liquidy goo.

So, OF COURSE, Don HAD TO PROPOSE the next morning!

Wait . . .  what?? SERIOUSLY?  That’s a joke right?  He actually proposed?

Yup!

“I keep thinking about you.  I feel like myself whoever the eff that is when I’m with you.  I’m in love with you,” Don gushes, as he take Dead Anna’s engagement ring out of his pocket.

“Do you have any idea how many things had to happen for us to be here in this moment?”  He asks.

Megan, for her part, looks a bit taken aback, but ultimately, agrees to marry the Poor Lovesick Schlub.  Immediately, Megan picks up the phone and begins excitedly babbling in French to her mother (who lives somewhere in Canada), undoubtedly giving her the news that precisely every mom wants to hear. 

“RICH!  RICH! Your daughter is going to be RICH!”

“What do we do now?”  Megan inquires.

“I guess we tell everyone,” says Mr. Usually Super Secretive.

(Seriously, this chick has magical powers!)

See?  I told you.  She’s TOTALLY a vampire!

“That’s Bullsh*t!”

“Hey Joan!  Do you want to start the “Guess the Divorce Date” pool, or should I?”

Back at the office, everybody politely feigns excitement and positivity, upon hearing Don’s “excellent news.”  But it’s Roger who wins the Two-for-One Special, for having both of the best one-liners of the scene.  Here they are, in order:

1) “Who the hell is [Megan]?”

2) “Let’s have a toast.  Megan, can you get us some ice?  Just kidding.  See, Don, this is how you are SUPPOSED to act, when your colleague gets engaged!”

Dear, Sweet, Roger!  You’ve been a total loser, ALL SEASON!  But I still love you!

When Peggy and Ken arrive to announce THEIR good news, Peggy is blindsided by Don’s.  The poor girl looks positively crestfallen.  I suspect the reason for this is three-fold. 

(1)  Don’s unplanned announcement TOTALLY pissed on her Topaz party;

(2) through all that has happened, Peggy always looked up to Don.  Now, by shagging YET ANOTHER secretary, and marrying her in record time, Don has let Peggy down, AGAIN;

(3) (subconsciously) Peggy has always been a bit attracted to Don, and somewhere deep down, probably hoped they would eventually end up together.

To add insult to injury, Don pulls Peggy aside later, and “thanks her for her concern.”  He also tells her that “[Megan] reminds me of you.  She has the same spark that you do.  She’s just WAY HOTTER!  She admires you just as much as I do.”

Now, in all fairness, I know Don was trying to be nice here, but TALK ABOUT A SLAP IN THE FACE!  Damn!

“I SO need to get high right now!”

In one of my favorite scenes of the night, Peggy pops into Joan’s office for a Girly Gab and B*tch Session.

“I just saved this company!”  Peggy gripes.

“It happens all the time.   They are always in between marriages.  [Don will] probably make [Megan] a copywriter,” Joan replies

“I learned a long time ago, not to get my only satisfaction from this job,” adds Joan cooly.

“That’s BULLSH*T!”  Peggy yelps, as the two erupt into uproarious laughter, as, I suspect, did many of us back home.

I really do hope we get to see more Joan and Peggy Bonding Sessions next year.  Those two sure have come a LONG way in their relationship, since Season 1 . . .

Speaking of “coming a long way” . . .

“When are you going to tell them YOUR news?”

Through a VERY LONG DISTANCE (How much do you think THAT cost?) phone call to Greg in Vietnam, we learn that Joan has, in fact, kept Roger’s bastard child, and is trying to pass it off as Greg’s.  And while Dr. McRapey . . .

(who looks so sweet and adorable sometimes – especially in that uniform – I often have to remind myself why I’m supposed to hate him)

 . . .  does show some initial concern as to why his Should-Be-In-Her-Second-Trimester-Already wife is “not showing at all” in pictures, he quickly forgets all logical reasoning (not to mention everything he supposedly learned in Med School), when she informs him that her ALREADY MASSIVE BOOBIES, have, in fact gotten bigger.

Um . . . yeah . . . good luck out there, injured soldiers!

Two scenes I honestly cared very little about followed.  The first was Don’s dumping of an understandably bitter, Faye.  “I hope [Megan] knows you only like the beginnings of things,” she pouts. 

(How very true . . .) 

The second was Don’s reuniting with Betty in their now-empty old house — a scene which I would have found nostalgic and sweet, had I not spent an entire season coming to DESPISE BETTY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE!

In Betty defense, she was much more gracious, upon hearing news of Don’s impending nuptials to Megan, than Faye was.  Though, of course, given that she is married to Dull Henry, she really has no reason whatsover to weigh in on Don’s personal life.  Nonetheless, given the “come hither eyes” Betty was giving Don, throughout the scene, and her admission to him that “things aren’t perfect,” between her and Henry, I suspect we might find her divorced yet again, next season.

The final scene of the episode features a contemplative Don, spooning with a sleeping Megan in his dingy apartment, while staring up at the night sky into his  . . . Great Big Beautiful Tomorrowland?

So, there you have it folks, a poignant end, to a VERY poignant season of Mad Men.  What did you think?  Are you planning to enter Joan’s and Lane’s Guiess the Divorce Date pool?  Or do you think Don and Little Miss Sound of Music here are going to make it for the long haul?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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“Show me the MONEY!” – A Recap of Mad Men’s “Blowing Smoke”

LANE:    Don . . . about your . . . article in the Times.  I think we need to discuss some possible strategies for damage control.

DON:   Show me the money!  Show me the money!  SHOW ME THE MON-EYYYYYY!

LANE: *Stage whispers to Roger*  What’s he yammering on about?

ROGER:  Hell, if I know.  I don’t speak “Creative.”

DON:  Help me help you, Roger.  Help me help you.

PETE: *disgusted*  Don, are you DRUNK?

LANE:  I daresay he might be having a nervous breakdown.  Don, can you hear me?

DON:  You had me at hello?

ROGER:  If he goes nuts, I’m turning his office into a  massage parlor.

DON:  Come on guys!  Haven’t any of you ever seen Jerry Macguire?

LANE, PETE, ROGER: ???

They say mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery.  If that is, in fact, true, the folks who made Jerry Macguire must have been VERY flattered, after watching this week’s installment of Mad Men.

YEAH!  DON DRAPER IS THE MAN!  And Peggy Olson is a fellow Scientologist!

After all, if you recall, it was the titular Jerry Macguire who, after having a drunken career-altering epiphany, first wrote and published an “altruistic” manifesto on moral integrity and its relationship (or lack thereof) to marketing.  As a result of said manifesto, Jerry, like Don, found many of his colleagues questioning his sanity, his clients questioning his business acumen, and his competitors dancing on what they believed to be his gravesite.

Bob Sugar = Ted Chaough

Then again, Jerry Macguire was made in 1996, and Don Draper pulled his stunt in 1965.  So, who’s to say WHO is copying WHO?

For the most part, this penultimate episode of Season 4 of Mad Men consisted of two main plotlines.  We spent one half of the episode, watching SCDP fall apart, while Don went to increasingly desperate lengths to save it. 

And we spent the other half watching Matt Weiner’s spawn Glen  . . .

“Hi, I’m Chucky Glenny, WANNA PLAY?”

 . . . the creepiest kid on television today, channel all the creepy kids you’ve seen in horror movies for the past decade.  And this boy is FRIGHTENING with a capital “F.”  Forget that girl from The Ring.  How’d you like to have THIS KID crawl out of your television set?

“If I keep smiling like this, maybe he won’t chop me into little pieces and serve me to his dog . . .”

Oh, and we had some nice Neighborly Heroin Addicts thrown in for good measure . . .

No . . . not that kind of heroine . . .

That’s the one!

Let’s begin, shall we?

Smells Like Desperation . . .

“That’s not DESPERATION you smell.  I just tend not to shower after sex with random floozies . . .”

When the episode opens, Don is at the pitch meeting with Heinz . . .

 . . . which Faye scored for him the week prior.  Although Don handles the meeting with his trademark wit and charm, there is something a bit off about Don himself.  He’s talking a bit too loud, and too fast.  He’s jumpy, skittish, aggressive, and almost rudely insistent.  This alteration in demeanor is not lost on the client (who, by the way, gets major props from me for not even cracking a smile, while delivering his line about why commercials about BEANS shouldn’t be funny . . .).

“I bet I could get a f*ck from date with your mother now,” scoffs the arrogant bastard, noting Don’s desperation to get this account — which couldn’t have been any more apparent, if he came to the meeting wearing a red clown nose.

“Why are you looking at me like that?  Is there something on my face?”

After condescendingly telling Don to leave business relations to the “accounts men,” the prospective client tells Don that he will gladly meet with SCDP for a formal pitch in six months (IF the company is still around by then).  Sugar-coating aside, Don knows exactly what “See you in six months” is code for . . .

Dances with Creeps

“Do you like scary movies, Sally?  Are you even allowed to WATCH scary movies?  Because you are in one . . .RIGHT NOW.”

Back at the House-Formerly-Known-As-The-Drapers, Sally tries out her best Stepford Wife impression on Betty.

“When I grow up I want to have no earthly purpose but to please my husband . . . just like you!”

When Sally asked Betty if she could start eating her meals with Dull Henry, I honestly couldn’t tell if the tween had mastered the art of passive aggressiveness . . .

 . . . and was making a not-so-subtle comment about New Dad’s frequent absences from the family home, or if she had been lobotomized by Dr. Edna during therapy.

“It’s just a little snip.  I promise, you will barely feel a thing!”

Whichever it is, Betty is absolutely overjoyed by the “positive” change in her daughter’s behavior.

I am absolutely overjoyed by the positive change in my daughter’s behavior.”

But alas, all is not right in Sallyland.  Unbeknownst to Mommy Dearest, her darling daughter has forged an EVIL ALLIANCE .  . .

 .  . . with CREEPY GLEN!

First thing I wondered when I saw this image: Who the heck let this twerp on the football team?  Glen always struck me as more of the “mascot” type, or the Water Boy, or the kid who pees in the Gatorade. 

 And while, under normal circumstances, I hate to rank on a little kid, this little kid is plying Sally with cigarettes and spiked with Ruffies Coke.  He is also isolating the preteen from external influence, by telling the emotionally vulnerable girl he is smarter than her shrink.  As if that isn’t bad enough, he uses on her the “Everybody else hates me.  I have no one but you,” line, which just so happens to be the first sentence in the Psycho Stalker Killer Handbook.

From Psycho-Stalker to Psycho-logist

Fortunately, Sally has a more positive role model in her shrink Dr. Edna . . .

 . . . who kind of looks like Miss Garrett from The Facts of Life.

No wonder she’s so gosh darn likeable!

Miss Garrett Dr. Edna plays cards with Sally, and compliments her on her positive progress in learning to kiss her mom’s ass control her emotions.  She takes an interest in Sally’s schooling and social life, and wants to lessen her sessions so that she will have more time to spend with Creepy Glen her friends.  Most importantly, Dr. Edna tells Sally that she is proud of her, not once, but TWICE in a single session.

It is worth noting that this is more times than BETTY and DON have told Sally they are proud of her in FOUR SEASONS!

After Sally finishes her session, Betty enters Dr. Edna’s office to talk about herself ad nauseum and get free therapy discuss Sally’s progress.

When Dr. Edna discusses the possibility of reducing Sally’s sessions, Betty FREAKS OUT at the thought of not getting free therapy anymore halting Sally’s “excellent progress.”  Dr. Edna slyly reiterates that she is a child psychologist, and does not generally counsel adults.  Betty responds by sucking her thumb and wetting her diaper.  Dr. Edna agrees to resume therapy sessions with Betty to continue to discuss “Sally’s excellent progress.”

A Certain Kind of Girl . . .

“You’re a certain kind of girl, and tobacco is your ideal boyfriend,” says Faye’s despicable boss Dr. Atherton, about SCDP.

Translation: You (SCDP) are the nerd in the back of the classroom, with fish breath, parsley in your teeth, and elastic waist pants that go up to your tits.  Basically, no one in their right mind would want to have sex with you.  So, if you want to get laid,  you really should go for the dumb slutty boy, with loose morals, who smells like ash (Tobacco).

With Faye’s and Dr. Atherton’s help the firm gets an intervview with Phillip Morris for a new line of women’s cigarettes they plan to begin selling.  After thanking Faye profusely for getting him a date with the Class Whore, Don heads to the lobby where he encounters Old Flame, Midge.  Right away, I don’t trust Midge’s motivations.  Perhaps, this distrust has something to do with the fact that she’s a grown woman, dressed like an animated character from a series of children’s books I used to read .  . .

After confirming that Don is divorced and living in the village, Midge invites Don back to her place.  When he initially declines, she begs him to reconsider, giving off the same stench of desperation Don gave off in the episode’s first scene.  “But, I want you to meet my husband!”  She jabbers.

Ultimately, Don can’t resist Midge’s no longer existent charms.  After all, he is a certain kind of guy, and Midge is his ideal girlfriend (a.k.a. unrelentingly needy and majorly slutty).  When Don arrives at Midge’s and her “husband’s” (they are only married “for the bread”) hovel and apartment, he finds his ex-paramour’s “better half” to be even more persistent and grating than she is . . .

Mr. Midge aggressively pushes his and his wife’s ugly paintings on Don, not-so-subtly hints at Don’s massive dick wallet size, pawns some quick cash of Don, and heads out into the night.  Later, Midge admits that her meeting him in the lobby of his office was no coincidence.  She and her husband are heroine addicts.  They are low and cash, and need a fix.

Don, who only sympathizes with life-crippling addictions when they come out of a bottle, is totally turned off.

In fact, he is very eager to get back to his non-heroin addicted girlfriend, thank you very much.  And so, to solve this problem, Don decides to do what he does best.  Throw money at it.  He writes Midge a check for $300 for one of her ugly paintings.  But Little Miss Ingrate is apparently too strung out to walk across the street to a bank, so she asks for cash instead.  Don promptly rips up the check, and reduces the amount to $120.

“Do you think my work is any good?”  Midge asks.

“Does it matter,” inquires Don, as he stalks out of the stinky apartment.

“I went to a crack den for $120, and all I got was this lousy painting.”

“If you don’t like what they are saying about you, change the conversation.”

As it turns out, the Phillip Morris meeting ends up being nothing more than a ploy orchestrated by the company to score a meeting with a bigger advertising agency.

Now the executives at SCDP are forced to make some tough decisions.  In order to keep the firm afloat for another six months, they must reduce their staff by half.  Additionally, the main partners must each fork over $100, 000, with Pete and Lane forking over $50,000.  (No small potatos!  Especially not in 1965.)  The increasingly loveable Pete balks at the amount, and not because he’s being a cheap prick either, he REALLY DOESN’T HAVE IT.

On the sly, Pete attempts to secure a loan from the bank, but doesn’t think to leave them with his work number.  So, when the Poor Schmo comes home his Brand New Mother of a Newborn wife thinks they are getting a house, and she’s thrilled.

But Trudy’s mood quickly sours when she learns what Pete is REALLY using the money for.  She equates SCDP to the Titanic (and not because it’s VERY large, and has people of Leo DiCaprio-caliber attractiveness working for it, either).

“I’m the king of the WORLD!  Wait . . . what’s that big block of ice doing up there?  Is that part of the tour?”

Throwing back in Pete’s face that very same patronizing and condescending tone he has used with her on so many occasions, Trudy scolds, “You are forbidden to give any more money to that company!  And don’t think of asking my father for money, either!”

Pete’s manhood . . .

Back at the office, the tables have turned as well.  Don is asking Peggy for advice on what do to with his failing company.

Peggy smartly quotes Don’s own words back to him saying, “If you don’t like what they are saying about you, change the conversation.”

This little pep talk gives Don and . . .

He goes home to his apartment and immediately begins to write.  The next day, there is a full page article in the New York Times entitled “Why I am Quitting Tobacco.”  The article decries tobacco as a product that doesn’t NEED advertising, because all its clients are already addicts.  Oh, yeah, and smoking kills you too.  (Never mind that Don is SMOKING A CIGARETTE while he writes this . . . )

“OK, cigarette.  You and I are SO OVER!  But how would you feel about a nice goodbye screw?”

Don concludes the missive by announcing that SCDP will no longer take tobacco clients.  He then proceeds to list all the other agencies that WILL.

The article, understandably causes a firestorm, with most of the office looking at Don like he just killed their puppies (except, of course, for the ones that want to f*ck him).

Oh, and Roger’s not mad either.  He’s just happy there’s someone at the firm now that people think is a bigger screw up then him.

“You know, Don.  You should really try to be more politically correct, when making public statements.”

While Don is arguing with his colleagues about the merits of his “conversation changing” article, which he tauts as a “firm advertisement,” he receives a phone call from . . . Bobby Kennedy?

OK . . . now I was still a couple decades shy of being born when the Kennedy’s were in office, and I could tell that wasn’t Bobby Kennedy on the phone!  That was the WORST IMPERSONATION of a politician I have EVER HEARD!  And yet, Don, never a big one on humility fell for it hook line and sinker.  The call ended up being a prank one, made by Season 4’s apparent Super Villain, the EVIL Ted Chaough . . .

Once Don hangs up the phone, Bert Cooper throws a TOTAL TEMPER TANTRUM, calling Don impatient, childish, and not cut out for the partnership.  He then QUITS THE FIRM!

And, just in case you weren’t sure whether Old Bertie was SERIOUS about this, he asks Megan FOR HIS SHOES!

OK.  Now, I know he never has many lines, but I really can’t imagine this show without Bert Cooper and his shoes!  Then again, I couldn’t imagine this show without SAL either, and look what they did to him!

Bert Cooper, you will most certainly be missed!

To add injury to insult, Lane lays a pretty heavy guilt trip on Don, telling him that he moved his entire family back to the States, so that he could continue working at the firm (undoubtedly dumping his Poor Playboy Bunny girlfriend in the process).

“LOVE HURTS!”

Fortunately, for Don, SOME support comes his way, in the way of Megan . . .

 . . . who, channeling Rene Zellwegger in Jerry Macguire tells Don how much she would like to have a second go around with his Mr. Winky admires what he did.  Sure, she understands that this was all about not looking as though SCDP was “dumped” by Big Tobacco, but it was still brave, and sparked a conversation.  Megan . . . now THAT’S a girl who really knows how to grease a wheel . . .

Though not quite as effusive as Megan, Peggy .  . .

 . . . offers Don a sweet smile, and jokingly says that “she thought he didn’t go for such shenanigans.”  (Then again . . . she was probably just happy she wasn’t part of the half of the staff that got canned.)

Later, the third lady in Don’s life, Faye comes to tell him that her company has resigned its representation of SCDP, because tobacco is her “ideal kind of boyfriend.”  Speaking of ideal boyfriends, she still wants to bone Don on a regular basis.  And without work between them, it will be much easier to do so.

“Or will it?”

Caught in the Act

Back in the less interesting plotline Salllyland, Sally was trying to sneak off with Creepy Glen when Betty caught her and told her he was BAD NEWS.

“Is this just because I watched you take a whiz and asked for a lock of your hair to use in a human sacrifice ritual?”

At dinner that night, Betty announces to Henry that she is FINALLY ready to move out of Don’s old house.  Henry is overjoyed!

“I am overjoyed!”

But Sally is NOT.  In fact, she runs off crying, clutching that piece of twine Glen gave her when he vandalized her house a few weeks back.  Ladies and gentleman, it’s official.  Sally has VERY BAD TASTE IN MEN!

“I’ve Gotta Go Learn a Bunch of People’s Names Before I Fire Them.”

Apparently, this guy’s name was “Bill.” 

Was that in poor taste?

At YET ANOTHER staff meeting, the SCDP exec board (sans Cooper) learn that Don’s little stunt earned them the right to do a pro bono anti-smoking campaign for the American Cancer Society.  “Don saved the company, now let’s go and fire half of it,” Pete says snidely, as the meeting adjourns.

However, a few moments later, when Pete finds out from Lane that Don forked over Pete’s $50,000 share to the company, so Pete’s wife wouldn’t chop his balls off, he is forced to eat those nasty words.

Outside the office, Pete raises his glass to Don in silent acknowledgement that they have now both covered one anothers’ asses within the past few episodes . . .

This mildly happy moment is contrasted with the firing of half of SCDP’s staff, most notably the heretofore anonymous, “Bill,” and Little Danny . . .

We barely knew ye!

All in all, it was a pretty doleful episode.  Smart . . . but doleful.  I really hate seeing my Maddies so unhappy.  Here’s hoping things perk up a bit in next week’s Season Finale!  🙂

[www.juliekushner.com]

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“You’re no bunny, until some bunny loves you!” – A Recap of Mad Men’s “Hands and Knees”

“She stole my heart, and all I got was this RIDICULOUS HAT!”

If last week’s episode was about “The Beautiful Girls,” who define themselves by their relationships with men, then this week’s episode was about “The Beautiful Men” (some more beautiful than others) who lean on women, and need them for personal validation.

You GO girls!

Oh, and I almost forgot.  This was also the episode where all the main characters’ lives went down the toilet.

Let’s bring on the carnage.  Shall we?

Meet the Parents

For those of you who have seen the film Meet the Parents, Lane Pryce’s dad, makes Jack Byrne (the Robert DeNiro character) . . .

 . . . look like Mickey Mouse.

Speaking of Mickey Mouse, poor Lane had just purchased a stuffed version of America’s favorite cartoon character, as a present for his son, who was set to visit the U.S. that weekend.

But then he learned that his son wasn’t coming.

In his son’s place was Darth Vader his father .  . .

. . . who had flown across the pond, to take Lane home, so that he could “fix his marriage.”  Never mind the fact that Lane’s shrew of a wife  . . .

 .  . . LEFT HIM, not the other way around!  Taking his disappointment over his son’s failure to visit in stride, Lane commandeers his only best friend from work, Don, to come to dinner with him and his father.  Wanting to impress his dad, Lane arranges for the group to have dinner at the classiest restaurant in New York City . . .

Unfortunately, Hooters is closed.  So, Lane settles on the next best thing . . .

Apparently, Lane is a VERY GOOD customer at THIS restaurant.  They’ve even given him a V.I.P. pass.  (I guess that’s what happens when you are, in the words of Don’s lawyer, “schtupping the help.”)

When Lane introduces his father to Toni, one of the waitresses at the club, Mr. Freeze the old bugger is mildly polite, but clearly unimpressed.  Later, based on a conversation between Lane and Toni, we learn that the pair are actually in love.  Toni refers to Lane as “dashing.”  He refers to her as his “Chocolate Bunny” — a nickname that I would find mildly offensive, but Toni didn’t seem to mind.

Lane plans to tell his father the “good news,” before the latter returns to Great Britain.

The following night, Lane invites both Toni and his father to his apartment, and makes the appropriate introductions.  An awkward moment arises, when Lane invites the two to dinner, and his father declines.  Toni then quietly excuses herself, leaving Lane alone with Lord Voldemort his father.  Papa Pryce congratulates Lane on falling in love again, by giving him a friendly pat on the head . . . which would be nice . . . if he wasn’t using his own rather large wooden cane to do the patting . . .

Next thing we know, Lane is ON THE FLOOR, WRITHING IN PAIN!

And when he tries to get up, Lane’s father STEPS ON HIS HAND!

“Put your home in order, either here or there.  You cannot live in between,” seethes Lex Luthor Lane’s father, as he stalks out of the apartment building, slamming the door behind him.

Dr. Evil is impressed.

At the conclusion of the episode, an emotionally and literally, beaten down, Lane informs the rest of the partners at SCDP that he is taking a leave of absence for a month.  He then stalks out, before his colleagues have a chance to protest.

A Bun-ny in the Oven

If I’ve learned anything from watching television dramas, it’s that women ONLY get pregnant when they DON’T WANT TO BE.  Nevermind that Joan and Greg have been screwing like bunnies for months, prior to his deployment — trying to make babies together, to no avail.  All it takes is one post-mugging shag, up against a dirty piss – covered wall in a dark alley, for Roger’s Super Sperm to fertilize Joan’s curvaceous egg.

SCORE!  Take THAT Dr. McRapey!

Ever the gentleman, upon hearing the news, Roger replies with a host of sweet and wonderful words that every woman in this situation wants to hear. 

Here are a few of Roger’s most sincere offers of support and encouragement (Forgive me, if I have to paraphrase a few of them.):

“Are you sure it’s mine?”

“These things happen.”

“Maybe, I’m in love with you?”

“Oh no, I don’t want to raise it!”

“Hey, soldiers knock up their ladies all the time when they are on military leave.  Maybe no one will notice”

“Greg might DIE in Vietnam, anyway.”

“At least let me drive you there [to the abortion clinic].”

Roger Sterling – The Don Juan of Madison Avenue

Words of wisdom aside, the Gallant Roger does have enough sense to accompany Joan to HIS doctor.  (She can’t go to HER gyno, because HE has already given her other abortions and he’s a pervy asshole.)

“AGAIN, Town Strumpet?”

Like a disappointed parent, Roger’s doctor gives him a verbal smackdown for being so “irresponsible.”  (Imagine what this guy would say, if he found out the unwanted child was conceived in a dark alley!)  However, Doctor McJudgy eventually gets off his high horse, long enough to refer to Joan to a well-reputed abortion clinic.

At the abortion clinic, Joan encounters a rather young-looking mother, and her disturbingly young-looking child.

Is that really what 17-year old girls looked like in the mid-60’s?  Because, to me, the girl in this picture looks like she’d be more at home at a Justin Bieber concert, than at her senior prom.

When the child is called inside, her mother breaks down in tears, admitting to Joan that she herself was a mother at just 15, and doesn’t regret it.  And yet, it is still very hard to watch her daughter suffer through this at such a young age.  Ever the picture of poise and decorum, Joan offers words of support to the young mother — commenting on her daughter’s beauty, and telling her that everything will be all right.  The young mother (who is probably fairly close to Joan’s age) feels such a kinship with the SCDP office manager, that she asks Joan how old HER DAUGHTER is  . . .

Ummmm . . .

Without missing a beat, Joan replies, “15.”

The next day, Joan tells Roger that “everything is fine.”  “We have avoided tragedy” and “life goes on.” 

So, of course, we are to assume that Joan’s had the abortion.  But has she, really?

Un-Lucky Strike

Unfortunately for Roger, a prospective bastard bun in Joan’s oven is the LEAST of his problems.  At a dinner meeting with Lucky Strike Scion and MAJOR DICKWAD, Lee Garner, Jr., Roger hears news that, at BEST will make him completely insignificant to SCDP, and at WORST will bankrupt the ENTIRE company.  Lee informs Roger that Lucky Strike, which, last we heard, accounts for over 50% of SCDP’s business, and is Roger’s ONLY major contribution to the company, is pulling out and pursuing greener pastures.

“We’re dead.  You know that,” Roger explains morosely.

Roger begs Lee to reconsider, calling upon the D-bag’s supposed “loyalty” to the firm, after 30 years of representation.  But Lee is unmoved.  “It’s over,” he tells Roger repeatedly.

Roger loses his cool, banging the table with his fist, and knocking glasses over in his wake.  Once he sees that this is a lost cause, Roger ultimately gets Lee to agree to postpone going public with the move for 30 days.  Roger hopes this will give the company time to “get its affairs in order.”  And, maybe, Roger can snag a few new clients, before he has to break the news to the rest of the firm.

Later, we see Roger on the phone with old friends, calling in favors, and hoping something will pan out.  The problem is, Roger isn’t getting any younger, and a lot of his old advertising contacts are now six-feet under.

Roger’s Social Network

At the end of the episode, at a partner’s meeting, Joan asks Roger to provide an update as to the status of Lucky Strike.  In response, he laughs bitterly, and gives the thumbs up sign.

In the words of Don Draper, Roger’s totally “TOASTED.”

Don on the Run

All things considered, Don starts off this episode doing quite well.  He has formed what appears to be a healthy relationship with Faye . . .

He’s cut down on his drinking.  And he’s taking some significant steps toward being a better father to his children.  Don even gets an approving smile from the eternally “Nordic” Betty, when he calls the Francis home, to inform Sally that he has scored her tickets to the Beatles Concert at Shea Stadium.

Instantly forgetting all of her daddy-fueled angst and abandonment issues of the past week, Sally squeals with joy.  It is touching, but loud and extremely annoying, at the same time.  No wonder Don wants to wear earplugs at the concert!

Welcome to the world of fangirling, Sally.  You are officially one of US now!

At the office, Don and the rest of the partners meet with North American Aviation, who inform SCDP that it is getting into military defense.  As a result, the airline will be increasing its advertising budget to $4 million.

The problem, of course, is that, while the aviation company wants SCDP to create an advertising campaign that mentions its defense efforts, it WON’T allow SCDP to view anything about what those efforts actually entail, because all of that information is government classified.

In the next scene, federal agents accost Betty in her home, and interrogate her about her ex- husband, who they claim has applied for security clearance with the Department of Defense.

“So, Don is a Top Ad Exec AND a federal agent?  I smell increased alimony payments!”

Most notably, the Feds ask Betty, if she has “any reason to believe that Don isn’t who he says he is?”

After almost an hour of relentless interrogation, a stricken Betty calls Don at the office, to tell him what has occurred.

Don, who had no recollection whatsoever of applying for any sort of security clearance, immediately takes on the visage of a horror movie victim — specifically, those kids who get calls from the Ghostface Killer in the Scream movies.

“Do you like scary court martials?”

Immediately, Don wonders whether Betty sold him out the G-men.  “I didn’t tell them anything,” insists Betty curtly, expressing a fear that her phone is now being tapped.

Recognizing the danger of talking to his ex-wife on a public phone line, under the circumstances, Don quickly thanks Betty, and hangs up the phone.  He then asks his new secretary Megan what the HECK is going on . . .

Poor Megan!  She was just trying to help!  Pete had sent over the clearance application papers from the Department of Defense.  The papers requested some personal information, such as the party requesting clearance’s name, birthdate, social security number, etc.  Taking initiative, Megan completed the form, using Don’s employment records, and gave the form to Don, so that he could sign it (but not READ it, of course, because “Reading is Hard.”).  Upon receiving his signature on the document, Megan then immediately shipped it out to the Department of Defense, without Don even knowing what it was he signed.

Oops!

I bet Don is missing Miss Blankenship a WHOLE BUNCH right now!

Miss Blankenship would NEVER have completed forms for Don, without getting his approval first . . . because that would involve her actually DOING WORK.  (R.I.P. Miss B!)

Megan is extremely apologetic.  But apologies aren’t going to bring back those forms, which include a host of fake information about “Don Draper.”

Next, Don confronts Pete, who, as we know, is VERY aware of Don’s “mistaken identity” (He had even blackmailed the poor guy about it, a few seasons back.)  Initially, Pete balks at Don’s discomfort, believing that Don brought all this on himself.  But Don levels with Pete, telling him this could cause the agency, MAJOR problems, if the information was leaked.  Pete agrees to speak to his friend at the Department of Defense, to find out what information they have on Dick Whitman Don Draper.

Later in the elevator (where all the BEST Mad Men meetings take place), Don tells Pete to drop the North American Aviation account, and Pete basically tells him to, “Go f*ck himself.” 

“I don’t have to live with this sh*t over my head,” he remarks angrily.

Pete then reminds Don that, while he was gallivanting around L.A., Pete nailed down this account, and brought it from “just cocktails” to $4 million in advertising revenue.

I gotta say, Don . . . the Little Weiner has a point . . .

That night, Pete, looking absolutely ADORABLE in his Big Kid Footie Pajamas, cuddles on the couch with his VERY pregnant wife, Trudie, who’s nighty, though stylish, admittedly does very odd things to her third trimester figure.  So much so, that when I saw her, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this . . .

Seriously, who dresses these two?  Willy Wonka?

“Those Campbells look good enough to eat!”

“How is it that some people just walk through life, dragging their lies with them destroying everything they touch?  No one knows except the honest people, who have to pick up the pieces,” whines Pete to Trudy, as he mulls over the firestorm that Don’s secret will undoubtedly cause for the firm, and him, personally.

(Now, Pete.  You know that I love you, dearly.  And I have many wonderful words to describe you.  Unfortunately, “honest” is not one of them, Mr. Blackmailing Adulterer.)

Trudie begs Pete to unburden himself to her, regarding what is causing him so much stress, but he stays mum on the subject.  Across town, Betty is also keeping Don’s secret from new hubby, Henry Francis . . .

.  . . who can’t understand, for the life of him, why anyone would be anything other than overjoyed to be interrogated at length by FBI agents.  (It’s so much FUN!)

Back at the office, a frantic Don calls his lawyer, and asks that a trust be set up in his children’s name immediately.  This way, they will be taken care of “should anything happen to him.”  Don’s lawyer doesn’t like the idea of Don “running scared.” And yet, the attorney seems more concerned about whether Don is “New Secretary, Megan.” 

(It’s always good to have those priorities in order!)

By the time Faye visits Don in his office, he looks genuinely ill.

And, for a woman who claims not to be maternal, Faye sure takes on the Mommy role here!  She first feels Don’s head for a fever.  She then immediately takes him back to his apartment for a nap and diaper change.  In the hallway of Don’s apartment, two men dressed like Feds inquire as to the address of Don’s neighbors.  Don’s hands begin to shake, as he dashes into the house and rips off his shirt.  “I think I am having a heart attack,” Don wheezes.

Once Faye has assured Don that he is not, in fact, suffering from a heart attack (only a panic attack), the Dapper Draper responds by, yakking in the sink. 

And that, my friends, would be “Barf in Front of a Lady” #2 for Don this Season . . .

One more of those, and he will win a free bottle of toilet bowl cleaner from  Hurlers R’ Us!

Faye then takes an exhausted Don to bed . . .

There, to absolutely EVERYBODY’S surprise, Don, claiming that he is “tired of running,” confesses to Faye his whole sordid Dick Whitman tale.  And, you’ve really gotta hand it to Faye, because she seems totally cool with it.  “I’m glad you told me,” she says softly, before cuddling up with him in bed.

The pair are startled the next morning by a knock at the door.  It’s Pete.

“Well, good morning, colleagues that are obviously screwing one another!  Would you care for a jelly donut?”

After a humiliated Faye skulks out the apartment, Pete informs Don that his name HAS been flagged by the government.  However, if SCDP drops North American Aviation as a client, all investigations into the firm’s personal files will be dropped.  Don tells Pete that they are going to have to drop the account, and the latter storms out in a huff.

The next morning, during a partner’s meeting, a remarkably noble Pete takes FULL responsibility for losing the North American Aviation account, claiming it is the result of his having insulted one of the chairmen, by leaving his name off a document.  Knowing that without Lucky Strike AND North American Aviation SCDP is TOASTED, Self-Righteous Hypocrite Roger reams Pete a new one, for not being more politically correct, when dealing with his clients . . .

Well isn’t THIS the pot calling kettle, Blackface.

 Don makes a half-hearted attempt to stick up for Pete, but doesn’t do nearly enough to help the guy who has totally taken a fall for him, in my opinion. 

Superman, he AIN’T!

As if to further prove his douchebag tendencies, the end of the episode finds Don avoiding the loyal and faithful Faye . . . 

 . . . in favor of ogling the sweet and slightly naive, Megan. 

That final shot of Don admiring his secretary’s “fine form” reminded me quite a bit, of the way he leered at Sally Draper’s teacher, last season. 

And we all know how THAT turned out . . .

Poor Faye!  She thought that having Don confide in her would bring their romantic relationship to a new level of intimacy.  But Don has never wanted his lovers to KNOW the REAL him.  He’d much prefer that Dick Whitman stay dead and buried, FOREVER. 

Faye doesn’t know it, but she may have just become the new Anna Draper.  Could Megan be the next Betty?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Women are like soup? – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Beautiful Girls”

Before we begin our regularly scheduled recap, I feel that it would be appropriate for all of us to pay our last respects to a very special woman.  She was a secretary (ahem, Executive Secretary – Thank you, Joan!), who in a very short amount of time, became an integral part of our Mad Men family.  With her cutting-one liners, and a sharp fashion sense that would inspire women (and men) for generations to come . . .

 . . . Miss Blankenship was always the Life of the Party.  ( I mean this was a woman who could HOLD her liquor . . . literally.)

However, because my own words will surely be inadquate to  express the true wonder that was Miss Blankenship, I have decided to let the SCDP staff eulogize her instead.  What follows is a portrait of the woman, in their words . . .

“She was born in a barn.  And died on the 37th floor of a New York skyscraper.  She was an astronaut.”  – Bert Cooper

“She went away . . . for awhile.” – Megan, Don’s new secretary

“I’d ask my secretary to do it, but she’s dead.” – Don Draper

“She died the way she lived.  Surrounded by the people she answered phones for.” –  Roger Sterling

“Hey, my mother made that! – Roger Sterling, again (regarding the blanket currently covering Miss Blankenship’s corpse).

Ahhhh, Miss Blankenship!  Always bringing the funny . . . even in death.  We’ll miss you, Girlfriend!

We now return to our regularly scheduled recap . . .

Sex Sells, and Don Draper Smells (like sex)

So, remember last week, when Don and Faye were in the cab following their first date, and Don turned Faye down for sex because he “wasn’t ready yet?”  Yeah . . . that didn’t last long.

The episode opens to lovely rhythmic sounds of SCDP’s favorite (and by “favorite” I mean “only”) Marketing Research Lady, Faye Miller, getting her hump on with the Dapper Don Draper.  Because this is AMC and NOT HBO, we didn’t actually get to see them do it.  (Although, honestly, I kind of WISH they DID show it.  Because it would have been a fabulous way to get the image of Steve Buscemi boning that slutty girl from Boardwalk Empire, during the previous hour, out of my head . . .  You guys saw that too, right?)

Don Draper

NOT Don Draper

Anyway, unfortunate PG-13 rating aside, we did get to watch a sweaty Don and Faye share a little post-coital pillow talk the morning afternoon after.  (Yes, these two took a LONG LUNCH together.)  The pair discuss their remaining appointments for the day.  For a change, it is Don who is more open about his upcoming afternoon, while Faye is more coy.  (Market Researchers have Confidentiality Agreements, perhaps?)  Faye gently asks Don whether she can shower first.  Don agrees to it, but only because HE’S NOT SHOWERING AT ALL!

Note:  I had some really solid sex smell jokes (most involving fish and cheese) to insert here.  But I think including them would be a serious betrayal to my fellow ladies.  Plus, I imagine you could figure them out . . .

Not only is Dirty Don totally cool with going to the office smelling like a Marketing Research Lady, he’s also surprisingly copacetic with Faye staying in his apartment, after he’s left for work.  He even LEAVES HER HIS KEY!

Wow, now that’s trust!  Guess this means he left his Big Ole’ Box of Secrets over at Betty’s house . . .

When Faye expresses the same surprise as the audience about Don’s unusually permissive behavior, Don replies lasciviously, “I’m taking all the interesting stuff with me.”  (He then seductively zips his fly over his sex-drenched undies .  . .)

“All the Interesting Stuff”

Rubbing Joan the RIGHT way . . .

Admittedly, the usually poised, polite, and utterly controlled Joan has been a bit prickly and excitable of late.  So, when she snapped at Roger’s typically adorable attempts at not-so-harmless flirtation, I didn’t really think much of it at first.  But Roger, who apparently didn’t watch last week’s episode of Mad Men (because he wasn’t in it AT ALL), was taken aback and a little hurt by Joan’s rebuff of his advances. 

Roger quickly consulted his secretary for guidance.  She informed him of something that all Mad Men fans knew was coming, we just weren’t sure when, or how it would be brought about.  Of course, Joan’s husband Greg will be shipped off to Vietnam immediately after basic training. 

He will not return home in between.  He will not pass Go.  And he will not collect $200.  Joan, who was just getting used to the idea of having him away for a few weeks, understandably takes the news badly.

Feeling guilty for his insensitivity, Roger hires a troop of pretty ladies with heavy Eastern European accents (all of whom he has probably banged at one time or another) to come to Joan’s house and give her a massage, manicure, and pedicure.  When she approaches his office the next day to thank him, Roger cleverly replies, “I knew I was rubbing you the wrong way.   So, I thought I would have someone rub you the right way.”

(OK.  That line was a little creepy.  But the gesture was definitely sweet.  And the whole thing was so VERY Roger Sterling.)

“Oh, yeah!  I’m the MAN!  You TOTALLY want to rub me now, don’t you?”

And yet, Roger screws things up AGAIN when he immediately asks Joan out, making the latter feel like the whole “massage thing” was just a ploy to get her back into bed with him (which, let’s face it — it probably was).

Lick me Peggy, one more time!

While Roger’s come-ons to Joan may have been a bit crude, they were NOTHING compared to the ones Joyce tried on Peggy.  Face-licking?  Seriously, Joyce?  Who taught you that was an appropriate way to romance a straight lady?  Fido?

When we first see Peggy, Joyce has stopped by her office unannounced, AGAIN (What’s the matter, Joyce?  Isn’t there a phone on your desk, amidst all those Naked Lady Pics that you were carrying around, when we first met you?)  “Peggy, your boyfriend is here,” snorts Art Director, Stan. 

(You know, I hate to say it, because he’s SUCH a MAJOR TOOL.  And he’s DEFINITELY no SAL ROMANO!  But, this guy is starting to grow on me.  I think its because of the adorable little crush he’s developed on Peggy, ever since he saw her nude, and got a b*ner from it.  Sure, he has no shot in heck of ever getting anywhere with her.  Yet, it’s still oddly endearing.  Stan is like the little boy in first grade, who pulls the little girl’s pig tails, and throws paper airplanes at her, because he can’t think of any other way to let her know he likes her.)

When both Peggy and Joyce seem unamused or affected by Stan’s mildly humorous lesbian jokes, he changes tactics.  “You [Joyce] can NEVER do for a girl [Peggy] what a guy [me – Stan] can do,” Stan insists.  (Awww, way too obvious, kiddo!)

Joyce responds by licking Peggy’s face (which is TOTALLY something that any guy – and any K-9 — can DO, by the way, not that they would all want to).  The whole exchange was admittedly pretty funny.  But what really made the scene, for me, was Stan’s facial expression, as he watched Joyce orally remove the blush from Peggy’s cheek . .  .

Ummm . . . yeah, Peggy.  If you want your face licked, than Stan probaby isn’t your guy.  Peggy and Joyce, ultimately, make plans to meet for drinks.  They then leave Stan alone to LICK his wounds, and his . .  .

Honest Abe strikes out . . .

It seems that Stan isn’t the only one having a difficult time getting inside the Peggy Olson Pantalones.  Peggy’s new suitor, Abe, though he got off to a promising start, isn’t fairing much better.  Apparently, Joyce, despite obviously being just as in love with Peggy as Stan, had a fairly altruistic reason for inviting Peggy out for drinks.  The whole outing was just a ruse to reunite Peggy with her cute makeout buddy from a few episodes back, Abe.

The date starts pleasantly enough.  However, when Abe starts moving the discussion over to the Civil Rights movement and the evil of corporations, the typically well-spoken Peggy, suddenly, finds herself at a loss for words.  Apparently, Peggy only watches the news on television to see the commercials, and only reads newspapers for the advertisements.  She simply had no idea that one of the companies SCDP worked for, Fillmore Motors, refuses to hire black people.

The discussion quickly morphs into a heated debate about corporate responsibility versus personal and ethical responsibility.  Peggy wisely analogizes the Civil Rights movement with the then-fledgling Women’s Rights movement.  She argues about how difficult it is for women like Peggy to break through the corporate glass ceiling.  And yet, she did it.  She, therefore, wonders, why other oppressed minorities can’t work to do the same thing.  Abe discounts the analogy offhand, mocking the absurdity of a “Women’s Rights March.”  This offends Peggy, and causes her to promptly excuse herself from the bar.

And yet, Abe is not one to go down without a fight.  He arrives at Peggy’s office the next day, unannounced.  (AGAIN?  Seriously, what is with these new hippies?)

But Abe has not come empty handed.  Apparently, he has written a poem to Peggy, and he would like her to read it immediately, while he waits in the office for her reply.  Intrigued by the gesture, Peggy dashes off to read the poem, which she secretly hopes will go something like this:

Roses are red,

violets are blue,

Civil Rights are sexy,

but not as HOT as YOU!

Unfortunately, Abe’s doesn’t say that at all.

And, while we don’t get to read it, we are led to believe that it makes some sort of comparison between SCDP and Nazis?  “If anybody saw this [poem], I could get fired!”  Peggy exclaims, ripping it to pieces right in front of the Poor Sap, before storming off AGAIN!

TWO!

And yet, despite outward appearances to the contrary, there is evidence, during the second half of the episode, that would seem to suggest that Abe HAD changed Peggy’s mind about Civil Rights, Politics, and the ways in which the two sometimes conflict with the corporate world.  Well . . . if not changed her mind per se, at least opened it to new possibilities.  

This becomes evident when the SCDP crew is trying to come up with a song to play in the background of a Fillmore Motors TV and radio commercial, and Peggy dryly suggests a song by Harry Bellefonte.  When she is promptly shut down by her colleagues, Peggy innocently inquires, “Why are we working for a client that refuses to hire [black people]?”

To this, Don replies, “Our job is to sell our client’s products, not to make them like [black people.]”

When Peggy’s coworkers tease her about this, Peggy storms out of the office, for about the 80th time this season . . .

When Faye met Sally . . .

Don is at a client meeting with Fillmore Motors (they of the Racist Hiring Practices), when he gently interrupted by Receptionist -Soon-to-Be Don’s-New-Secretary Megan, who informs Don that his daughter is at the office .  . . along with some random elderly looking woman, who wears a very large hat, which, to me, looks a bit like this:

Apparently Random Elderly Woman in Hat found Sally hiding from the conductor on her train.  “I wanted to see you, but I didn’t have enough money,” Sally says sheepishly.

The admission causes Don’s face to look like this:

Things get even worse, when Random Elderly Woman gets a little bee in her bonnet (no pun intended), about what crappy parents Betty and Don are. She lets Don know her feeling in no uncertain terms, when Don tries to pay her for her time and trouble.  After Random Elderly Woman in Hat leaves, Don calls Betty .  . .

Oddly enough, this screencap DID NOT come from this episode.  Apparently, Betty spends a lot of time on this show on the phone (usually with Don), looking severely pissed off.

When Don tells Betty that she should come pick up her daughter, who was wandering the NYC train system alone, Betty . . . couldn’t give two cr*ps.

In fact, she refuses to pick up Sally until the following day.  “You think it’s so much fun to be her parent, you do it,” she yells

(Golly gee!  What a nice thing to say about your kid!  I’m so glad Sally has two parents that really value the time they spend with her.)

Don gives Miss Blankenship three instructions before heading back to his meeting: (1) watch Sally; (2) answer the phones; and (3) don’t say anything.  She does only one of those things.  And, considering that she died right around the time Betty called (Apparently, that shrew’s voice could kill ANYONE), you can probably guess which of the three tasks Miss Blankenship was able to follow.  When Peggy tries to talk to Miss Blankenship, the poor old lady KEELS OVER, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER!

Peggy screams, and Don is interrupted from his meeting once again.  He walks into this scene:

Sally is tucked safely in Don’s office at the time, and sees nothing.  This is good, because if any child can’t handle witnessing more traumatic moments, it’s Sally!  As is common during situations like this (and they happen quite often among the SCDP folks) .  . .

Joan offers to take care of the situation — contacting the coroner, having a blanket in Roger’s office (“My mother MADE me THAT!”) draped over Miss Blankenship’s lifeless body, and sneaking the corpse out the back of the office, so that the sight of her won’t disturb the client meeting already in progress.  (Unfortunately, Don and Faye get ringside seats to the whole thing from where they are seated in the conference room .  . . and so do we.)

After the seemingly interminable meeting, a frantic Don asks Faye to take Sally back to Don’s apartment and watch her until he arrives home.  “Me?”  Faye asks incredulously.

“Well, I would ask my secretary to do it, but she’s DEAD!”  Don replies, matter-of-factly.

(Good ole Don — always bringing the funny, even in times of crisis.)

“What do I tell her I am?”  Faye inquires.

“You are Faye,” Don answers exasperatedy, wondering for a second, whether he should have picked a SMARTER girlfriend, like Bethany, or Doris the Waitress, or that prostitute that liked to slap his face during sex.  (Hey, it worked in Pretty Woman!)

To further prove her intelligence, just moments after Don introduces Faye to Sally by name, Faye tells Sally, in a ridiculously childish voice, through which each word is painstakingly enunciated, “Hello . . .  my . . . name . . . is . . . Faye.”

But, this is what Sally heard . . .

. . . and rightly so!

Yet, surprisingly, things go pretty A-OK for Sally and Faye back at Don’s apartment.  In fact, when Don comes back, Sally is in a pretty jubilant mood, considering all that happened.  After Faye leaves, the pair order pizza. 

“Are you going to marry, Faye?”  Sally asks inquisitively, between bites of pizza.

NO DON!  If you know what’s good for you, you will stay single for a LONG, LONG, TIME . . . or at least until after that long stint in rehab.

Don says, “No.”

To Don’s surprise (and mine), when Don asks Sally in turn if she likes Faye, Sally says, “Yes!” (apparently, ANYONE would be a better mother than Betty . . . even this monkey)

That night before going to bed, Sally asks if she and her brothers can come live with Don.  “I’ll be really good.  I will take care of my brothers,” Sally pleads.

Don, who is watching his sex life go out the window, remains calm on the outside, but inside he is pooping a brick.  “Good night, Sally,” he says ignoring her.

He can’t get out of that bedroom fast enough . . .

Midnight Mugging in NYC – The ULTIMATE Aphrodisiac

Back at the office, Roger and Joan are still very freaked out by the untimely death of Miss Blankenship.  “She died like she lived, surrounded by the people she answered phones for,” mused Roger.  “I DO NOT want to die in this office.  I almost did.  TWICE.”

Roger begs Joan to go out for coffee with him, for the third time in this episode.  Except, this time, Joan finally agrees.

The married couple (as in both are married, just not to eachother) have a great time on their date, reminiscing about the past.  “Everytime, I think back, all the good stuff was with you,” Roger insists.

On the walk home, Joan notes how much the neighborhood has changed.  And, as if to prove that point, Joan and Roger are held at gunpoint and mugged.  Fortunately for Joan, Roger doesn’t try to play vigilante or hero.  He calmly hands over his own wallet and watch, as well as, upon request, Joan’s purse.  The mugger’s request for Joan’s wedding ring elicits tears from her, but she ultimately complies.  Then, thankfully, the mugger leaves.

Relieved, terrified, and wrapped up in the emotional roller coaster of the past few days, Roger and Joan embrace.  And then they do more than embrace . . .

When Roger begins to pull away, Joan whispers, “Don’t stop,” and so he doesn’t . . .

(Now, while it was nice to see these two crazy kids doing it again, I couldn’t help but notice they were SCREWING IN A DIRTY DARK ALLEY KNOWN TO BE FREQUENTED BY MUGGERS WITH GUNS . . . just saying.)

The following morning, Bert struggles to write Miss Blankenship’s obituary.  He doesn’t want Don to do it, because Don is kind of an asshole didn’t know Miss Blankenship very well.  “She was born in a barn, and died on the 37th floor of a New York skyscraper.  She was an astronaut,” offers Bert morosely.

Joan is called in to finish the job, and does so with an appropriate, if rather impersonal, obituary statement.  But before she can leave, Roger corners her.  “I feel something for you,” Roger proclaims.  “Tell me that you don’t feel it too.”

“I’m not sorry for what we did,” replies Joan.  “But I’m married, and so are you.”

Not that insignificant details such as these have stopped Roger before . . .

Nothing says loving like rum in your French Toast . . .

The next morning, Don awakens to the less than familiar sound of puttering in the kitchen.  Apparently, Sally has decided to cook Daddy breakfast.  Doing a disturbingly accurate impersonation of Betty at her most seductively kittenish, Sally struts into the living room of Don’s apartment carrying two trays.  “I hope you like French Toast,” she offers.

Don DOES like French toast.  Except this French Toast tastes funny.  “What’s in this?”  Don asks.

“Poison Miss Butterworth’s” Sally replies.

“Show it to me.”

Sally gets the bottle from the cabinet.  It looks like this . . .

“That’s rum.  Learn to read labels,” Don says gruffly, as he continues to eat.

“Does it taste bad?”  Sally inquires nervously.

“Not really,” answers the ALCOHOLIC.

Using her best Betty-pout, Sally commandeers Don into a morning at the zoo.   “You finish eating.  I’ll get ready,” she instructs.

The father / daughter pair have a great morning — such a great morning, in fact, that when it comes time for Betty to pick Sally up at the office, she doesn’t want to go home.  “I want to stay with you.  I hate it there [at Evil Betty’s House].”

When Don tries to reason with Sally, she throws a tantrum.  So, Don requests Faye’s help once again.  This time it doesn’t go so well.  Sally lashes out at Faye, and dashes off screaming down the hall.  Sally then trips and falls on her face, in front of the entire secretarial pool.  Fortunately, the surprisingly maternal Megan is there to save the day.

Megan gives Sally a sweet hug.  “I fall down all the time,” Megan offers gently, comforting the young girl, like a natural mother would.

When Betty arrives at the office, Sally obediently takes her hand, “Goodbye, Daddy,” she says solemnly, as if it will be the last time she will ever see him.

Back in Don’s office, Faye is PISSED at Don for putting her in the situation he did with Sally.  “I’m not good with kids.  I’ve made that sacrifice in my life.  I don’t consider it a failure,” insists Faye.

Fortunately, for Faye, neither does Don consider it a failure.  (After all, clearly he’s not good with kids, either.)  The two end the episode in a sweet embrace.

Chicken Soup for Peggy’s soul

“I don’t know what the heck that girl is talking about!”

Back in Peggy’s office, Joyce has returned to get the details on Peggy’s argument with Abe.  “Men think that they are like soup . . .” Joyce offers randomly, upong getting the 411.

“Women are expected to be the pots.”

“Abe is a good soup.  But I think women can be soup too,” concludes Joyce.

Ummm yeah.  All I got out of that, Joyce, was “Peggy, I want to sleep with you.”

Joyce asks Peggy out for more face licking drinks again, but Peggy declines.

“Are you angry or lovesick,” Joyce wonders.

“I don’t know,” says Peggy, before seeing Joyce out.

Peggy then heads to the elevator herself, where she converges upon two other women, Faye and Joan.  These three very different women, are obviously headed in three very different directions.  The question is:  Where are they going?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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For a Good Time, Call . . . – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Suitcase”

 

Coincidentally, both the best . . . and the worst nights of your life tend to be the ones that end like this . . .

Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men reminded me of one of those long crazy Friday nights during college.  The ones that seem to go on forever, traversing across varying locations, moods, and states of inebriation, all the while, becoming increasingly more bizarre as the hours wear on.  Nights like these will ALWAYS bring you closer to the people with whom you spent them — even if you can’t remember everything that happened, and some of the stuff you do remember, you wish you could forget . . .

Unfortunately, for Don, WE will remember EVERYTHING he did last night.  We even have the incriminating pics and GIFS to prove it.

Don’t worry, Don.  At least you didn’t hook up with Miss Blankenship!

“HEY!  It was just that one time!  Why are you cutting my balls off  . . . again!”

So, without further adieu, let’s relive the wildest and craziest, yet most heart-warming, night in Mad Men history!

Tuesday Night’s All Right for Fighting

Note:  This poster is from the FIRST Liston / Clay fight, which took place in 1964.  The rematch referred to in this episode, occurred on May 25, 1965, which, I guess, makes Peggy a Gemini . . .

When the episode opens, Harry is doling out tickets to his fellow ad men, so that they all can watch the Liston / Clay fight, which will be streaming live from a movie theater.  (Pretty high tech for 1965 – no?)

Typical Guy Banter abounds.  The men insult one another’s masculinity (or lack thereof), excessive frugality, and religious affiliations.  They then start arguing over who will win the big fight and placing bets.

Then Don shows up at the office two hours late for a meeting.  He is clad in his sexy bowler hat, but is looking slightly less than sexy, with his rheumy bloodshot eyes, cradled by both dark circles and bags the size of Samsonite suitcases.

Jerky “I can’t work naked in front of Peggy, without getting a hard on” Stan tries to kiss Don’s butt, by making some lame comment on how “Sonny Liston would be a great ad man.”

Uhhh . . . Stan?  You’ve got a little something on your nose.

To which, Don replies, “Clearly, he’d be a better one than YOU Yes, he would.  I’ll put my money on Clay.”

(Sidenote:  It’s interesting how, Don put money on Cassius Clay in the office pool.  Yet, he derided Clay’s arrogance, during his evening with Peggy, AND claimed to have LOST money, when Clay knocked out Liston.  Coincidence?  Or was Don so drunk, he simply forgot who he put money on?)

Don then calls the guys and Peggy into his office, so they can pitch him their proposed television advertisement for the Samsonite account.  In my opinion, the gang puts on a pretty good show.  The pitch is a football-themed celebrity endorsement, starring Joe Namath (Who knew he’d been playing for that long? Not me . . .).  The concept was that a Samsonite suitcase was so strong that Namath’s “wimpy girlfriend” (Peggy) could protect him from being tackled, using the suitcase alone as a shield.  But the best part of the pitch, in my opinion, was New Guy Joey, who does a pretty adorable Namath impersonation.

Unfortunately, he was fully clothed, at the time.

Sadly, Don does not have the same soft spot for Joey Baird that I have.  He despises the pitch.  And, after letting the guys off with a slap on the wrist, he REALLY gives it to Peggy.  “I’m so glad you are at a place in your career, where you feel comfortable failing,” he remarks cuttingly, with the officious air of an impossible-to-please father, who asks his daughter, who just got a 98% on an exam, where the other two points went.

Duck, Duck, Goose-d!

Duck Phillips:  The best man to bone, during a presidential assassination.

A miserable Peggy, who’s pretty much having the worst birthday morning EVER, arrives back at her desk, to find flowers and a gift from a guy who’s name, appropriately, rhymes with F&*k.

“I’m going to give you a go around, like you’ve never had.  Quack!  Quack!”

At least SOMEONE has remembered her birthday!  Peggy calls Duck to thank him for the flowers.  He then tells her that just CAN’T WAIT for her to open his AWESOME birthday gift.  She does so, while he’s on the phone with her.  And it’s . . . wait for it . . . a . . . business card.

That was LAME, DUCK!  Get it . . . “lame duck” . . . because his name  . . . nevermind.

Apparently, Duck has “big plans” to go all Jerry Maguire on the advertising world.  And he wants Peggy to leave HER job, so that she can play the Renee Zellwegger part.

“You complete me, Peggy Olson.  I’m starting my own company!  Who’s coming with me, aside from this fish?”

However, since Peggy’s no dummy, she sees right through Duck’s “marvelous offer.”  “You got fired . . . and you’ve obviously been drinking,” she replies matter-of factly, politely blowing off his claims of love, and his intense “need to see” her.

Well, played Peggy.  Why spend your night with an Ugly Duck-ling, when you can have a Swan?

 OK . . . it’s an alcoholic, and, sometimes, VERY mean, Swan . . . but it’s a Swan, nonetheless.

The Art of the Backhanded Compliment

In the bathroom, Peggy encounters two women, both of whom, in their own “really nice” way, make her feel like total crap.  The first is receptionist, Megan . . .

. . . who’s prissiness, intelligence, and ability to make “kindly” cutting remarks, make her the quintessential Joan 2.0.  When Peggy tells Megan her age, Megan replies in a manner that deftly straddles the line between jealous, uninterested, and vaguely patronizing, “Well, aren’t you doing well for yourself,” she coos.

Worse, is Pete’s wife,Trudie . . .

 . . . who is SO pregnant with Pete’s baby, she’s about ready to pop.  (Look familiar, Peggy?)  After remarking on how “witty” Peggy is, Trudi tries to “comfort Peggy” with a not-so-subtle jibe at her rapid approach toward spinsterhood.  “26 is still very young,” she offers “sweetly.”  (You know, that’s the thing about Trudi . . . I always want to hate her.  But I really believe that she thinks she’s being nice, in this situation.)

Meanwhile, Don blows off Roger, who is being faced with a forced evening of sobriety . . .

 . . . when he is tasked with watching the fight, alongside a client, who just so happens to be a recent graduate of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Don opts instead to stay in the office and work on ideas for Samsonite account.  He’s also hoping to avoid making a phone call that he KNOWS will bring him bad news . . .

If you recall from a few episodes back, Anna Draper  . . .

 . . . the only woman who ever seemed to truly love Don, warts and all, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  And so, when Don receives an urgent phone call from Anna’s niece, he knows the worst has occurred.  Yet, he can’t bring himself to return her call, just yet, because doing so would make the loss real.

But if Don’s working late, to avoid his problems, he’ll be damned if Peggy isn’t working with him . . .

Short Fuses and Broken Engagements

Peggy is about to head out of the office for an “oh so romantic” night out with her, about-as-exciting-as-a-root-canal boyfriend, Mark, when Don calls her into his office, to discuss the Samsonite account.

After taking a big fat dump on all of her ideas, Don, once again, treats Peggy like a child, forcing her to bring her artwork into the office, so they can go over it together.  “We’ll do this RIGHT NOW!”  He scolds.

Assuming the petulant teen role, Peggy rolls her eyes, and mumbles under her breath, causing Don to yell that classic parental unit phrase, “What did YOU SAY?”

I half expected him to add the also ever popular:  “Don’t you dare talk back to me!  I do too much for you to be treated like this.  Do you want to be grounded?”

But he didn’t . . .

“If Daddy wasn’t always ignoring me, so that he could drink and screw secretaries, he’d probably say those things to ME too . . .”

Peggy’s spanking is briefly interrupted, by a series of phone calls from, Wet Blanket “Yes, I AM that Important” Mark, who keeps wondering why she is so late for dinner.

As it turns out, Mark is not alone.  After all, his idea of a romantic dinner, apparently, involves having a lively party, filled with wild and crazy guests . . .

Don’t you wish you were there?

To be honest, I’m not quite sure WHY Mark thought it was a good idea to invite Peggy’s ENTIRE family, who she despises, to her private birthday dinner.  He said it had something to do with her always wanting to be surprised.  But I don’t really buy it.  Here’s hoping he wasn’t planning on proposing . . . because that would be all kinds of pathetic .  . . and, yet, would fit his character completely.

Anyway, so, Peggy keeps blowing off dinner, to continue being spanked by Don.  So, Mark is hurt, not to mention, completely humiliated, in front of Peggy’s parents.

“I haven’t been THIS embarrassed, since I had to wear those ridiculous glasses on Lost.”

Eventually, Peggy’s MOTHER picks up the phone, and tells her she should feel lucky that a “catch” like Mark is interested in her at all.  Mark takes back the phone and agrees with Peggy’s mother.  Then he sort of / kind of dumps Peggy.

Peggy returns to Don’s office, so that he can yell at her some more.  When she accuses him of never thanking her for her good work, Don basically tells Peggy that she should be happy she even HAS a job.  Peggy finally breaks down.  She rushes off to the bathroom, where she bursts into tears.

The whole thing was so heartbreaking, and awful, I almost didn’t want to watch the rest of the episode.  But, BOY, am I glad I did!  Because THIS was when things got FUN!

The Life and Times of Roger Sterling / The Lack of Balls of Bertram Cooper . . .

 .  . . and the sexy lady behind it ALL!

Ever since the ridiculously incompetent Miss Blankenship replaced Allison as Don’s secretary, I spent a lot of time asking myself two questions: (1) Why doesn’t Don FIRE her, already?; and (2) How the heck did she even GET this job?

Both of those questions were answered tonight.

Early on in the episode, Peggy actually read my mind, and ASKED Don question 1, regarding Miss Blankenship.  To this, he replied, “Joan knew exactly what I needed, and she gave it to me.”

AHA!  Don accepts Miss Blankenship as his punishment for crossing the line with Allison!  She’s also the ONE woman in the entire office, Don would NEVER sleep with.  It makes a lot more sense now . . .

But the answer to question 2 is a bit more interesting, especially since, the way Don found the answer, helped him to smooth things over with Peggy . . .

Peggy was busy stewing in her office, when Don called her back to his.  “NO!”  She yelled out, poutily, at first. 

And yet, a perpetual glutton for punishment, back to Don’s office, Peggy went.  There, she found Don listening to Roger’s dictation of his memoirs.  Clearly, the writers were holding out on us, with the memoir excerpts they provided last week.  If you recall, these included tittilating tidbits like Roger’s favorite flavor of ice cream, and why he didn’t like Laurel and Hardy.  But this NEW stuff was JUICY!

“Don’t worry, Mr. Cooper.  Your secrets are safe with ME!”

According to Roger, Bert (1) was jealous of Sterling due to his “youth;” (2) did the horizontal mambo with Miss Blankenship on multiple occasions; and (3) LITERALLY has NO BALLS!

The heretofore morose Don can barely keep the sh*t-eating grin off his face, as he listens to Roger drunkenly detail his coworker’s deepest darkest secrets.  Peggy, to her credit, feigns some disapproval at her boss’ unusually gossipy behavior.  Yet, even she can’t help but laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.  It’s the first nice moment these two have had with one another the entire episode.   Then, it gets interrupted by an intruder . . .

“MOUSE!”  Peggy cries, before hopping up on the office chair, like a TOTAL girl.

Don, being the “man,” gets on all fours, in hopes of trapping the critter in his SAMSONITE suitcase, but, fails.  Peggy helps him to his feet (sweet moment #2), and Don sheepishly invites her out to a birthday dinner at the local diner.

A Date with Don Draper

At the diner, Peggy and Don converse with the ease of old lovers.  Yet, they share with one another the type of quirky minute details about themselves, typically associated with first dates.  Don briefly discusses his time as a soldier in World War II (without revealing his Dick Whitman woes, of course).  Peggy explains she has never been on a plane, both express a desire to go to Greece.  Bboth admit that they each tragically lost their fathers at an early age, and were forced to watch them die.  Despite the serious nature of some of these conversations, the mood was light, and both characters seemed completely at ease with one another.

This girly gabfest continued at a local bar, with the Liston / Clay fight blaring on the radio, in the background.

At the bar, Don and Peggy discuss Peggy’s insecurities about her personal appearance.  She admits that everyone at work assumes that Peggy slept with Don to get her job.  But, at the same time, can’t imagine why Don would ever engage himself romantically with someone like Peggy.  Apparently, Peggy’s mother assumes Don is the one who knocked her up, because HE is the only one who visited her at the hospital.  (Interesting!) 

Don also inquires after the father of Peggy’s child, but she wisely does not reveal it.  Additionally, Peggy makes some offhand remarks regarding Don’s tendency to sleep with his OTHER secretaries (read: NOT Peggy).  To these insinuations, Don replies nonchalantly with a “these things happen” sort of statement.

After the Liston / Clay fight, Peggy and Don head back to the offices of SCDP.

It’s Potty Time!

Throughout the course of the evening, we have watched Don transition from angry belligerent drunk, to funny drunk, to sweet “I love you, man” drunk.  But by the time Peggy and Don return to their offices, Don has reached Drunk Defcon 5.  “I think I’m going to be sick,” mumbles Don, as he lurches into Peggy, her arm wrapped around his shoulder, as she tries desperately to keep him from belly flopping onto the floor.

Suddenly, the dynamic between these two has shifted.  Throughout the early portion of the evening, Peggy was the petulant child, and Don was the alternatingly stern, and concerned, father.  For the remainder of the episode, Peggy will be the mother, and Don the child. 

After a few moments of deliberation over which stall to use, Peggy ultimately takes Don to the men’s room, where he rushes to the toilet, and begins to vomit uncontrollably. 

The sound is truly nauseating, as it echos throughout the white bathroom, which is completely pristine and spotless, save for a single line of grafitti.  “For a good time, call Caroline.”  (That Caroline must be a pretty busy lady, if she’s servicing THIS entire office, of horny men!)

To Peggy’s credit, she barely even crinkles her nose — no small feat, as the smell must be AWFUL!  She instead waits patiently for the retching sounds to cease, offering Don a glass of water that he refuses.  It is then that she sees a stranger lurking in the hallways . . .

It’s DUCK!  And he’s WASTED too!  When Peggy finds him, he’s got his pants around his ankles, and is farting . . . like . . . really . . . LOUD!

“I’m taking a dump in Don’s office,” explains Duck, as if defecating on a corporate executive’s leather couch is the most natural thing in the world to do on a Tuesday night.

“This is Roger’s office,” Peggy explains, without nearly as much irony or humor, as you would expect, in such a situation.  (Clearly, she’s seen EVERTHING now!  Nothing will shock this girl, anymore.)

Peggy tries to get Duck to leave, but he keeps babbling about how much he LOVES her, and why won’t she return his calls, and blah, blah, blah. 

(Oh, yeah!  This one’s a keeper, Peggy.  You sure know how to pick ’em!)

Don returns from vomiting, and is shocked to find his nemesis manhandling his daughter lover best friend protege.

“You have no business being here,” slurs Don, undoubtedly assuming that this was the man who knocked up Peggy.

Baby Duck

Then, Duck, automatically assuming Peggy is SLEEPING with Don, calls Peggy a whore.

“Oh no, he didn’t!”

Then, came the BEST PART OF THE EPISODE!  Don protects Peggy’s honor, by PUNCHING DUCK IN THE FACE  . . .

. . .  or at least trying to.  Then  . . . the two roll on the floor fighting like a bunch of schoolboys . . . only much older, and WAY more liquored up . . .

Unfortunately for Don, Duck has WAY more experience being an alcoholic than him, and therefore, has a slightly higher liquor tolerance.  He ultimately gets the best of Don (or, perhaps, Don was simply overpowered by the rank smell of Duck’s earlier farts).  Don, eventually, cries “uncle,” and Duck lets him go.

The End of Innocence

Once Peggy has shipped Duck off to the Drunk Tank, she returns to Don’s office, and the first thing he wants is another drink.  SERIOUSLY, Don?  This is getting a little ridiculous.  Get thee to rehab, go!

Peggy reluctantly pours Don a drink.  However, in the time it takes her to cross the room to give it to him, he nearly passes out.  Continuing to play the maternal role, Peggy allows Don to put his head in her lap, and she rubs his head until he falls asleep.  Awwwww!

That night, Don dreams of a youthful Anna, waving at him cheerfully, as she heads away to heaven, carrying a Samsonite suitcase, of course!

The following morning, a very hungover Don, finally gets the courage to call Stephanie in L.A., who informs him, just as he suspected all along, that Anna has died.  Peggy wakes up just as the phone conversation is concluding.  Her and Don lock eyes, and he immediately bursts into tears.

It is the most vulnerable we have seen Don Draper, since the show began, and it is heart-wrenching.  Peggy’s eyes well up, as she experiences her boss’ agony right along with him.  “What happened?”  She asks.

“Someone very close to me has died.”

“Who was it?”  She asks, cautiously approaching him.

“She was the only person who really knew me,” Don replies morosely.

“That’s not true,” whispers Peggy, as she gently rubs his back.

A Brand New Day

A few hours later, a bedraggled Peggy visits a newly freshened up Don in his office.  Undoubtedly, she is expecting him to pretend the previous night did not happen, as he has done with Peggy so many times in the past.  But now, as the two look over new advertising concepts, Don reaches out and grabs Peggy’s hand.  The gesture almost exactly mimicks the rebuffed attempt at affection Peggy made toward Don in the Pilot episode. 

This time, however, Peggy takes Don’s hand in return.  The act is a mutual acknowledgment of what these two have experienced together, as well as the evolution of their personal and professional relationship.

You know, I have to say, this was one of my favorite Mad Men episodes of all time.  I have no doubt that both Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm will choose scenes from this episode to include in their 2011 Emmy consideration reel.  “The Suitcase” had a little bit of everything: humor, poignance, character development, twists, major reveals, and a whole lotta potty.  What more could a fan ask for? 

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Detox: The Cure for the Common Don? – A Recap of Mad Men’s “Waldorf Stories”

I’m Dick Whitman Don Draper.  And who the hell are YOU . . . Girl I Just Screwed?”

Remember the good ole’ days, when Don Draper was suave, debonair, good at his job . . . and knew how to hold his liquor?

Well, this season, it seems as though that idealized version of Don is making significantly less appearances, and his alter ego, Drunk and Damaged Don, is coming out to play much more often . . .

And yet, up until this point in the series, Don’s excessive “lubrication,” poor choices, and numerous sexual partners, never really impacted his ability to run his business.  Sure, he may have lost a secretary here and there . . .

 . . . but his clients were always well served.   And, when push came to shove, he got the job done.  That all changed this week.  Suddenly, the adjective accompanying the phrase “functioning alcoholic” no longer seems to apply to our favorite Ad Man. 

It all started with an ultra uncomfortable job interview (well . . . maybe TWO interviews, but we will get to the second one a little later) . . .

Nepotism:  The Cure for the Common Unemployment

“I’m a 24-year old kid, who really wants to break into the advertising business,” insists Desperate Danny, as he tries to tap dance his way into the hearts of a blank-faced Don, and puckery lemon-faced, Peggy.

(OK, Dude, first  of all, NO 24-year olds think of themselves as “kids.”  In fact, only 56-year olds think of 24-year olds that way.)

“I think I just pooped my pants.”

Oh, Danny Boy then whips out his “portfolio,” which consists of about 10 different iterations of the same lame catchphrase “A Cure for the Common [insert noun].”  As if that wasn’t bad enough, he also includes advertisements he had absolutely nothing to do with creating, but that he finds “inspiring.”  Don and Peggy are just about to slap Danny Boy down, with the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” line, when he throws out the “Family Card.”  Apparently, Danny is the cousin of Roger Sterling’s new wife, the Not-So-Sweet Baby Jane.

“Oh Jane!  You rarely appear in episodes, anymore.  And yet you still effectively manage to ruin things for everybody.”

After Danny Boy leaves, Don and Peggy can’t help but have a little fun at his expense.  “I don’t mean to jump on his grave or anything, but that guy is NOT 24.  I’m 25,” Peggy proclaims triumphantly, while sticking her tongue out and blowing a raspberry at the recently departed fibber.  (Pssst . . . the actor who plays Danny Boy is 36.)

Don later confronts Roger about Danny Boy’s incompetency.  The latter eagerly joins in the “Danny-bashing” fun.  “I told him to be himself.  I guess that was kind of mean of me,” scoffs Roger, snickering like a school boy who just put a “Kick Me” sign on the school nerd’s back.

And yet, Roger still insists that Don hire Danny, if only so that Roger’s wife won’t chop Roger’s balls off (not that this hasn’t happened already.)

Roger’s balls

Fortunately for Don and Roger, the question of Danny Boy’s future employment status at SCDP is going to have to wait to be answered.  It’s Clio Awards time in Mad Men land!  And the firm’s controversial Glo Coat commercial has been nominated for an award.

Liquor and Joan Holloway Harris: Cures for the Common Male Insecurity

The Clio Awards are just getting underway at the Waldorf Astoria, and all the key players are there (except for Peggy, who we will get to later.)  After trading barbs with a few rivals (including that dimwitted loser, Chaough, from last week’s episode), and knocking back MORE than a few drinks, the SCDP-ians settle in for the ceremonies.  Right from the start, they are treated to the cringe-worthy slurred rant of a not-so-newly Off-the-Wagon Drunk Duck . . .

Sorry, wrong picture . . . I meant THIS Drunk Duck . . .

As the Duckman is carted off to the drunk tank, an already two sheets to the wind (on his way to three), Roger chuckles, “I really miss working with that guy.”

“I can’t believe that ‘sleeping with an alchy reject’ is what I was doing, when Kennedy was assassinated.  What the heck am I going to tell my children when they ask me that question?”

“I always knew that guy was bad news.  Glad I got out when I could!”

Officiating the event, was the actor, John Aniston . . .

 . . . who you might remember as ANOTHER Famous Aniston’s father . . .

 . . . or, for those of you who have ever watched Soap Operas like Days of Our Lives, as the nefarious Victor Kiriakis.

When it comes time to announce the award in the category of “cleaning products, waxes, and floor polish,” both Don and Roger instinctively grab Joan’s hand from under the table, and squeeze it tightly.  The moment is a very sweet one, and, at the same time, extremely telling, regarding the ever-evolving relationships between these three characters.  (Personally, I think it would have been really funny, if, when searching for Joan’s hand beneath the table, Roger’s fingers accidentally found Don’s  . . . but that’s just me.)

The winner is announced, and . . . SURPRISE . . . it’s SCDP!

An uncharacteristically jubilant Don practically leaps up from the table, and plants a big wet smooch on Joan’s lips.  (Bet no one saw that coming!)

The kiss had the potential to be steamy.  And it probably would have been, if Don wasn’t already so inebriated, and Joan wasn’t so completely taken aback by it.  Don then rushes the stage, to retrieve his award from Papa Aniston.  Suddenly, it’s as though no one else in the firm played any part at all in his win —  not Peggy, not Roger, not Pete, and not Lane.  Suddenly, it’s all Don, all the time  . . .

“I feel pretty!  Oh so, pretty!  I feel, pretty, and witty, and GAY!”

But Don’s One Man Party is interrupted, when SCDP’s receptionist, Megan, arrives to tell the group that their client, Life Cereal, has arrived at the office, and is ready to hear their pitch.  Talk about bad timing!

Yet, Don, fresh off HIS win, and high on “life” (among other things), feels more than prepared to give his pitch.  So, off the crew heads, back to the SCDP offices, with the stink of liquor and cigars trailing after them like a pair of obedient puppies . . .

Inebriation:  The Cure for The Common Self-Awareness

Once the crew has taken a ridiculous “Victory Lap” around the conference table, which reminded me of a poorly conceived game of “Duck, Duck, Goose . . .” (I think Don was actually skipping during it.), Don heads to the podium, and begins his pitch.  Considering, how drunk we all know Don to  be at this point, things actually don’t start off half bad.  Sure, Don almost pukes a few times, while delivering his pitch . . .

It wouldn’t be the first time, someone from that office blew chunks in public at work . . .

. . . but the idea itself is well conceived, and Don gets the desired point across. 

The concept is “Eat Life By the Bowlful.”  The artwork appeals to kids, who like to consume large adult-sized portions, and the phrasing appeals to mothers’ nostalgia for their lost youth.  If only the client bought into it, Don would have been in the clear.  But the client thinks the concept is too “smart” for his target audience, and wants the message dumbed down a bit.  That is when things start to go VERY badly, very fast .  . .

To Don’s credit, he DOESEN’T scream at the clients for not digging his idea, as he had with those prude swimsuit designers earlier in the season.  He’s in WAY too good a mood for that.  Instead, he starts belligerently spouting out one bad catch phrase after another, despite his colleagues repeated suggestions that he hold off until he is “feeling better.”  The scene is very hard to watch.  In it, the usually Dapper Don quickly starts reminding you of that senile grandparent, who keeps relaying the same dull and incoherent story about his dentures, over and over again, at family functions.

“I thought they were ice cubes!  Can you believe it?”

The rest of the SCDP-ians nod politely at Doddering Don,  hoping, that if they say nothing, maybe he will tire out and shut up soon (or, maybe, take a nap).  So, you can imagine everyone’s surprise when the client actually LIKES one of Don’s terrible ideas.  And the “winning” catchphrase is . . . you guessed it, “Life:  The Cure for the Common Breakfast.”

“WOO HOO!  Barely out of Depends diapers, and I am already an ADVERTISING GENIUS!”

After the meeting, Peggy tries to warn Don that he’s just infringed on Oh, Danny Boy’s copyright, but Don blows her off.  He has MORE DRINKING TO DO!

Faye (A.K.A Annoying Marketing Research Lady):  The Cure for the Common Over-Inflated Male Ego

If you’ve read my Mad Men recaps before, you know that I haven’t exactly been the biggest fan of “Faye.”  On the contrary, I have always found her to be cold, conniving, phony, and, frankly, uninteresting.  But, I have to say, she really won me over this week, by putting Drunken Don in his place, and not falling for his crap. 

At the Clio Awards After Party, Don stumbles over to Faye, while she’s talking to another man.  He interrupts the two, by telling Faye, “Mother is calling.” 

(Really, Don?  Mother?  Is that supposed to be a turn on for a woman?  You pretending to be her BROTHER?  THAT’S what’s going to get them to jump into bed with you — Incest Fantasies?   Boy, are you off your game tonight, Honey!)

Faye politely congratulates Don on his win.  He (unconvincingly) downplays it, arguing that his work is of the same caliber, whether he wins or not.  Yet, judging by Don’s behavior since Season 1, we know this is not at all true.  Here is a man who is ALWAYS desperate to win, at all costs.  Ever the shrink, Faye attempts to psychoanalyze the enebriated Don, by cajoling him into a “Who’s Don Draper?”  Q and A session.

Don has no clue who the heck he is.  All he knows is that Faye “smells good.”  He starts nuzzling her hair with his Alcoholic’s Red Nose.  And while, a weaker woman would have succumbed instantly, rationalizing that a Drunk Don is better than No Don AT ALL, Faye is not that woman.  “I think you are confusing a lot of things right now.   I am very happy for you, Don,” she says, before walking away.

Sorry, Don!  It looks like Roger isn’t the only one wearing these today . . .

Fortunately, for Don, he doesn’t have to wear “Something Blue” for very long.  An enterprising young ad girl swoops in for the kill, just moments after Faye leaves Don in the lurch.  Almost instantly, the two are back in Don’s apartment, on his VERY lived in sheets (For these women’s sake, I hope he washes them DAILY . . . yet, somehow, I doubt it).  Ad Girl attempts to seduce Don by humming the Star Spangled Banner while . . . licking his “lollipop.”  Patriotic Sex as a seduction tool?  That’s almost as bad as brother / sister sex.  These two are perfect for one another . . .

Drunken Blackouts:  The Cure for the Common Humiliation Over All the Dumb Things You Did Last Night . . .

In the next scene, Don wakes up to an angry call from his ex-wife.  Betty claims he is two hours late in picking up his children.  “But I thought that was Sunday?”  The Hungover Don mutters, glancing nervously to his right, to see a woman in his bed who is decidedly NOT the patriotic lollipop licker, from the prior scene.

“It IS SUNDAY!”  Betty seethes, unwittingly showing Don, (who WE last saw on Friday), that he has precisely NO memory of the last 24-hours of his life.

Now THAT is a SERIOUS BLACKOUT!

Don hustles Betty off the phone, and, more or less kicks to the curb his new bedtime companion — a waitress named “Doris” who keeps referrring to him as “Dick” (as in Whitman?), and mentions his “sister” coming to visit him at the diner where the pair met . . .

Uh Oh!  What did Don say to his fake sis THIS time?

After a much needed quick shower, Don settles in on his couch for some more sleep, when Peggy comes barging into his apartment, authoritatively telling him to “fix” his Danny Boy-sized blunder regarding the Life Cereal campaign. 

Don is forced to spend the next day cleaning up after himself.  It turns out, in all the drunken sexual excitement of the last few days, Don has actually misplaced his Clio award.  He instructs his ridiculous secretary, Miss Blankenship, to locate it for him . . .

“I’m sorry, I use the office phone exclusively to call the Psychic Friends Network.  No Clio for you!”

“What’s the award for?”  Miss Blankenship asks, dumbfounded.

“Best Actress,” remarks Don.

As it turns out, ROGER has the award . . . which I don’t think was an accident (more on that later.)  In order to get the award back, Roger wants Don to  say that he couldn’t have won it without Roger.  Don manages to not quite say that, but get the award back anyway.  Well played, Don.  If only you were this wily during the REST of this episode . . .

Due to his snafu regarding the Life campaign, Don also finds himself forced to hire the most likely completely incompetent Danny Boy to work for SCDP.  Peggy finds out, and is less than pleased . . .

“Well, he may not be the AGE of a kid, but he sure is the SIZE of one . . .”

Nudity: The Cure for the Common Chauvinist Pig

Speaking of Peggy, she is having some work problems of her own, this week.  Not only is she experiencing some MAJOR sour grapes, over Don’s pretty much ignoring the part she played in the Glo Coat campaign, she is also being forced to spend a weekend creating an advertising campaign for Vicks cough drops with loathsome new art director, Stan Rizzo, a man who never met an ass he wouldn’t grab, or an intelligent female he didn’t despise.

Is it just me, or does this guy kind of look like a meatier version of Nathan Fillion?

Seriously, SCDP?  THIS is the guy you got to replace Sal!  Not only was Sal extremely talented, he also got along swimmingly with Peggy . . .

 . . . and he LOVED women!

OK . . . maybe he didn’t LOVE women, but he certainly respected them, and enjoyed their company.

Anyway, Don tells Peggy she has to work with Chauvenist Piggy Rizzo.  He even drunkenly suggests the two work out their differences together over the weekend in a hotel room . . . charged to the client, of course.  Piggy Rizzo is so clearly intimidated by Peggy’s intelligence and career success   . . .

(All women should be at home, barefoot and pregnant, with your babies, right Stan?)

Baby Chauvenist Rizzos

 .  . . that he can’t get any work done at all.  So, instead, he spends his time throwing pencils at the wall, reading Playboy magazine (for inspiration) and hurling insults left and right at Peggy for her appearance, lifestyle, and personality.  Tired of Rizzo’s constant references to nudity and “liberation,” Peggy calls his bluff, by stripping naked in front of him, and challenging him to do the same.  “You’re lazy and have no ideas,” Peggy explains matter-of-factly.  “I can work like this.  Let’s get liberated.”

Within moments, Peggy and Rizzo are both nude and sitting at the hotel table (Ick, I bet Room Service NEVER washes those chair cushions!)  Smirking, Peggy plugs Rizzo for ideas regarding cough drops.  The problem is that Rizzo can’t stop ogling Peggy’s breasts.  “Ummm . . . I’m thinking,” he snaps.

“Really?  About what?”  Peggy inquires, peeking under the table, at the happy little puppy that has just come out to play . . .

“Maybe I should dip that THING in some ink and write with it,” offers Peggy  . . .

Hey boys!  Does Peggy strike you as one of those girls who chews on her pens?

Ultimately, an unhappy Stan Rizzo, and his happy hot dog, both have to admit defeat, and get dressed again.  He bestows upon Peggy the award for being the “smuggest b*tch in the world.”  Coming from such a PIG, I’d take THAT as a compliment . . .

Marking Your Territory:  The Cure for the Common Ken

“I’m baaack!”

Peggy wasn’t the only SCDP-ian coping with personnel issues this week, Pete Campbell was also bearing the brunt of unwelcome hires.  After his last appearance on the show, and his public admission that he was “unhappy” at his current advertising firm, it should have surprised precisely no one that Ken Cosgrove wanted to return “home” so to speak — and by “home” I mean SCDP.

I, for one, am thrilled.  I have always LOVED the not-so-friendly rivalry between Ken and Pete, and the way they act as perfect foils for one another, both in terms of their business tactics and in their personal relationships.  Unfortunately, Pete doesn’t feel the same way I do . . .

“I’ll take him out during a fluke shooting accident.  Nobody will suspect a thing.  Just like they never found out that I rigged that lawnmower, last season . .”

Pete’s first move is to whine to Lane about not being consulted about Ken’s hiring, and to complain that Lane must “hate him,” if he could even THINK to do this.  But Lane doesn’t budge.  Instead, he argues that Ken will bring a lot of accounts and cash to the firm.  He also strokes Pete’s ego, by telling him that Roger Sterling is “a child” and that Pete should have competent help in running SCDP, which he now does (at least according to Lane) virtually, by himself.  Lane concludes by praising Pete on his pragmatism, and saying, “I’ve always been very fond of you.  And it pains me to hear you think differently.” 

Well played, Lane!

“Come here, Petey Petey!  I’ve got a nice juicy steak for you!”

Won over, Pete reluctantly agrees to meet with Ken and “allow” him to join SCDP. 

But that doesn’t mean he’s going down without a fight — at least, not without marking his territory, first.

Pete puts the clearly less-innocent-than-he-seems Ken in his place, by telling him, in no uncertain terms, that things have changed.  No longer are the two men equals.  Now PETE is in charge, and Ken works for HIM!  Be afraid, Cosgrove.  Be VERY afraid . . .

Flashbacks:  The Cure for the Common Writer’s Block

And finally, we are back to Roger, who is “busy” writing his personal memoirs, regarding his life as an Ad Man, which so far seem to include important “business” tidbits, such as why Roger prefers chocolate ice cream to vanilla, and whether or not he approves of the comedic stylings of Laurel and Hardy.  This massive case of writer’s block, coupled with Don’s recent success, cause Roger to morosely question his self worth.  “They don’t give awards for what I do,” complains Roger.

“And what is that?”  Joan inquires slyly, always quick to call Roger out on his sh*t.

“Finding guys like him,” Roger replies, pointing at Don.

Suddenly, we are flashed back about five years prior.  Don is working at a fur coat store, and Roger is buying a mink for a VERY special mistress. 

While Don waits on Roger, Roger spies an interesting fur advertisement on the wall, starring an even more interesting model . . .

It’s a good thing Betty has that fur coat.  I hear her people are Nordic.

Roger inquires after the advertisement, and Don proudly admits that he created it himself.  In just these few short statements, we can see how different Don was back then — surprisingly chipper, eager to please, and desperately hungry for success.  In essence, he was the male version of Season 1’s Peggy Olson, only a bit more worldly,  and socially graceful.

Roger hands Don his business card, ostensibly to provide Don with mailing information for the mink.  But Don immediately jumps on this as a business opportunity, slipping his advertising portfolio in the mink box, and doggedly pursuing Roger in the lobby of the offices of Sterling & Cooper each day, until Roger FINALLY agrees to let Don take him out for drinks.  At the bar, Don gets Roger so wasted, that he needs to be helped into a cab. 

The next day, Don meets Roger at the elevator again.  “What are you doing here?”  Roger asks, still nursing a hangover.

“You hired me.  Last night.  You said, ‘welcome aboard.'”

Grudgingly, Roger allows Don into the elevator with him, just as Don would allow Danny Boy into the offices of SCDP just five years later, both as the result of a drunken mistake.  Then again, with Don, who knows?  It’s possible that Roger never hired him at all.  After all, Don made up an entire new identity for himself, couldn’t he have faked a hiring too?

So, does Roger really have a “talent” for finding “talent,” or does “talent,” like Don Draper, simply keep on finding him?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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DUCK Don! – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Rejected”

 

When someone throws a ceramic paperweight at your head, that’s probably a good sign the relationship is over . . .

Poor Don!  He seemed to be the only character not having much fun in this episode.  Then again, his secretary  his f*ck buddy Allison probably wasn’t having all that much fun either . . .

And yet, what could be more fun than throwing a hard round object at your (sort-of-but-not-really) ex-boyfriend’s head?  I mean, the way I see it, Don got off easy.  After all, Allison could have had access to a John Deere tractor . . .

 . . . and that would have made things considerably . . . messier.

But before I get started on this recap, a tribute must be paid.  Did you know that John Slattery, the guy who plays Roger Sterling, directed this episode?

Pretty impressive, right?  Here’s to you, Roger  John, for a job VERY well done!

Let’s begin, shall we?

What the world needs now is more little Campbells . . .

If the kiddies ask, tell them that this is what the act of procreation looks like . . .

“That looks fun, Mommy!  I want to procreate RIGHT NOW!”

When we first see Pete, he is dealing with some bad news.  You see, Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce has recently landed the lucrative Ponds Face Cream account.

Unfortunately, the acquisition conflicts with the company’s, slightly less lucrative, Clearasil account, a company which just so happens to be headed up by Pete’s father-in-law.

Therefore, it is up to Pete to effectively dump his wife’s Daddy, on the company’s behalf.

So, Pete meets his stepdad at a bar — undoubtedly, hoping to soften the blow a bit, by getting his Pops all liquored up, before he delivers the bad news.

“How dry I am!  How wet I’ll be, if I don’t find . .  . the bathroom key!”

But Pops already knows what Pete has to tell him, or at least he thinks he does.  Not realizing that his daughter hasn’t told Pete yet, Trudy’s dad accidentally spills the beans that Trudy is pregnant.  Pete is THRILLED!

This has NEVER HAPPENED TO HIM BEFORE . . .

 . . .  well . . . it’s never happened before, on purpose.

In fact, Pete is so overwhelmed by the good news, that he completely forgets to tell his stepdad about the BAD NEWS.  At home, Pete and Trudy rejoice over the upcoming new addition to their happy family. 

This pair is so genuinely sweet, and the warmth and chemistry between them so intense, that it almost makes me feel guilty about secretly rooting for a Pete and Peggy repeat hookup in the future . . .

. . . ALMOST!

Ever the ideal housewife, Trudy isn’t even mad, when she finds out about Pete having to dump representation of her father’s company.  In fact, she offers to drop the axe on her Dad, HERSELF! 

Woah, talk about whipped!  Pete must be a STALLION in the sack, to merit this kind of selfless behavior, on the part of his wife.  Then again, maybe he just has a really big . . . GUN.

Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove: Reunited and it feels so good!

“Hey, Pete!  Mr. Rogers called.  He would really like his  sweater back . . .”

Good news notwithstanding, Pete had another problem to cope with this week.  Namely, his frenemy / former nemesis, Ken Cosgrove, was getting married to some filthy rich trust fund baby, and wanted to meet Pete for lunch.

Remember when Pete punched Ken in the face, because Ken had called the secretly pregnant Peggy, fat?  Good times . . .

At the lunch, after a few moments of awkward silence, Pete and Ken air out their respective beefs with one another.  Ken calls Pete out for talking smack about him behind his back — a charge which Pete vehemently denies, despite it obviously being TRUE!

“Now Ken, you know I would never say anything to your face, that I wouldn’t say behind your back.”

As for Pete, he finally rids himself of the nagging notion that Ken is a better person and account manager than he (which he totally is, by the way!).  He does this by shamelessly bragging about his being able to become a Dad before Ken does.

“You can’t have one yet!  Nah-nah, nah-nah, nah, nah!”

Later, Ken expresses his frustration with his new advertising firm.  (Apparently, he left the former Sterling Cooper, shortly after Don & Co. defected).  Specifically, Ken gripes about his firm’s representation of only Mountain Dew, as opposed to ALL Coca Cola products.  “What’s the point of having pieces, if you can’t have the whole pie?”  Ken argues, more or less.

“See what I just did there?  That’s called Business Strategy . . . and I’m GOOD at it!  This is why you have to have me back on the show working for Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce . . . I’m also kind of hot . . .”

Ken’s rant gives Pete an idea . . .

That night, at dinner with his step-parents, Pete corners Trudy’s dad and more or less bullies him into giving Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce the opportunity to represent ALL of Vicks Chemical (except for Clearasil, of course).  The new account will be worth $6 million to the company (quite a bit of cash, by 1965 standards).

 “Every time you try to offer me something, I lose more and more respect for you,” begins Pete,  who is always a real “PRO,” when it comes to buttering up a prospective client.

“You’re also ugly, stupid, and smell bad.  So, pay me NOW, Daddy-O!”

Poor Trudy’s dad!  Still warm from the glow of impending grandfatherhood, he is shocked, and a little hurt, by his son-in-law’s callousness in handling the situation.  “Are you mad at me?”  He asks, adorably, like a toddler who’s just been put in Time Out by his parents.

Yet, only moments later, things begin to come clear, for the Patriarch of Vicks Chemicals. . .

“You’re a real son-of-a-b&tch, you know that?” Trudy’s father posits bitterly about his son-in-law.

A photograph of Pete’s mom . . . the B*TCH.

Peggy Olson: Party Girl Extraordinaire?

We always had HIGH hopes for you, girlfriend!

While Pete was busy making babies, making amends, screwing over his stepdad, and doing other Boring Adult Stuff, the formerly Square Peggy was FINALLY learning to act her age . . . twenty-something!

It all started, when she met an enterprising young art editor from Life magazine, named Joyce, while riding the elevator to work.

Joyce (who had enterprising business woman / hippy dippy, feminist lesbian written all over her, from the moment she stepped on screen) titillates Peggy with some decidedly risque nude model pictures that her magazine had recently rejected.  Appreciative of Peggy’s wit and moxie (and wanting badly to get inside the Olson pantalones), Joyce invites the young copy editor to an art exhibit / party at an abandoned sweat shop in the village.

At the party, the typically socially awkward Peggy does surprisingly well!  Like a true Party Pro, our girl mingles effortlessly with the artsy-fartsy crowd, smokes some grass, graciously deflects insults about her “working for the man” and “not being a real writer,” just because she’s in advertising.  She also pretends to enjoy a lame and pompous installation art video that looked suspiciously similar to the “brainwashing video” the Others used on Lost.

F.Y.I, that’s Peggy’s loser boyfriend, Mark, or, as he was known on Lost, Dead Karl . . .

PEGGY:  “I don’t know what it is about this film, but I suddenly have this overwhelming urge to fly Oceanic Flight 815.” 

JOYCE:  “Is this a 60’s flashback we’re in now, or just Purgatory?”

Peggy even deftly avoids an awkward moment when Joyce, not surprisingly, tries to plant a big wet one on her lips.  “I have a lame and annoying boyfriend,” explains Peggy politely.

“He doesn’t own your vagina,” replies Joyce.

“Yeah, but he’s renting it,” retorts Peggy.  Touche!

(OK.  So, when did this stop being an episode of Mad Men, and start being a reenactment of The Vagina Monologues?)

Eventually, the party gets raided by the police, and everyone has to dash .  . .

During the escape, Peggy has a close encounter and locks lips with this cute artsy activist who, maddeningly enough, was not credited on the IMDB page for this episode.  (Neither was “Joyce,” actually.  Weird.)  However, he KIND of looked like Theo Alexander, who played Talbot on True Blood. Therefore, to represent this guy, I’m going to use THEO’s picture, instead . . .

This is just to give you an idea about how much HOTTER Artsy Activist Guy was than Peggy’s Lame-o Current Boyriend . . .  It’s also because I’m still mad that they killed off Talbot on True Blood . . .

You Stay Classy, Peggy Olson . . .

Now, I know you’re not real used to the late night party scene, yet, Peggy.  But, just so you know, banging your head against your desk?  Not a great cure for a hangover . . .

The next day, while Peggy is working on a new advertising campaign, one of the office secretaries  hands her THIS card to sign . . .

And it is by reading this card, that Peggy first learns that Pete and Trudy are having a baby, which, unlike Peggy’s illegitimate child with Pete, the couple will KEEP and RAISE.  Poor Peggy is ambushed.  Fighting back tears, she quietly excuses herself from the room, heads to her office, and closes the door. 

Peggy then attempts to forget this whole thing ever happened.  (“It will amaze you how much it never happened,” said Don last season. — LIAR!)  She does this, by wisely trying to knock the newfound information out of her brain, by ramming said brain into her wooden desk.  When this doesn’t work, Peggy does the mature thing, and congratulates Pete, in person, on the upcoming new addition to his family.  Well done, Peggy!  Cheers to you!

Near the end of the episode, Peggy heads out to lunch with Joyce and her new artsy friends, while Pete prepares for a business lunch with the principals of Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce, his stepfather, and other executives from Vicks Chemical.  On the way out of the office toward their increasingly divergent futures, the erstwhile couple share a look that is equal parts approval, respect, admiration, and wistfulness for a shared moment in time that has passed . . . at least for now.

Another One Bites the Dust . . .

Goodbye Allison!  We will surely miss you.  But fear not about your future . . .

I hear THIS GUY is hiring.  He can sympathize with what you endured.

And your “virtue” is most certainly safe with him.

Poor Don couldn’t keep a secretary, if she was attached to his belt buckle . . . and most of them are!

Let’s see . . . Don’s past secretaries:  Peggy moved on to bigger and better things, Jane moved on to Roger’s bigger and better pants, Lois was a moron, and Allison . . . well that’s a whole other story entirely . . .

It all started when Market Research Lady . . .

Does anyone else find this shrew as annoying and unlikeable as I do?

 . . . decided to conduct a focus group, using Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce’s most youthful secretaries, to determine an appropriate advertising campaign for Ponds Face Cream.  (Ummmm yeah . . . a bunch of attractive single white women of the SAME age, who live in the SAME city, and work in the SAME office . . . in advertising . . . as secretaries . . . now THAT’S a “diverse and representative” sample of the nation’s shoppers, if I ever saw one.)

 “I could have chosen a more appropriate sample for this group . . . and I’m a monkey.”

Not only does Market Research Lady do a TERRIBLE job chosing a sample to test her product (which the girls NEVER actually test, by the way), she also does a TERRIBLE job ascertaining their feelings about beauty.  This is probably because, in her attempt to be, “just one of the girls,” Market Research Lady comes across as so patronizing, arrogant, and phony, that she makes me want to VOMIT . . .

My sentiments exactly!

Within moments, Market Research Lady’s horridness has infected the secretaries.  One of them is bawling her eyes out about how she feels that her boyfriend rejected her, because she wasn’t pretty enough.  Watching from a nearby “observation room” (a.k.a. Joan’s office) the SCDP execs are uncomfortable, yet oddly captivated, by the soap opera unfolding in front of themthat is except for Peggy, who has begun absentmindedly trying on Market Research Lady’s wedding ring (Now, who in their right mind would MARRY Market Research Lady?); and Don, who is WATCHING Peggy try on the wedding ring, with a smugly paternal look on his face.

“Aha!  I KNEW IT!  I CAUGHT YOU!  You wanna get married, you wanna get married . . . you wanna get . . .”

“Shut the f*ck up, Alchy!”

Meanwhile, the other secretary’s cryfest has started to remind Allison of her little “encounter” with Big Don’s Big Dong, and her waterworks start flowing too! 

(Market Research Lady takes all this crying to mean that young women of the 60’s could care less about beauty regimens, unless they think it will help them land a husband.  She therefore suggests, much as Freddy Rumsen did two weeks ago, that the Ponds campaign be based around marriage proposals.  Don thinks THAT idea is a bunch of old-fashioned, uncreative, Bull Crap, and so do I!)

When an anguished Allison rushes out of the focus group, Peggy, ever the “Fixer Uppper,” offers to go after Allison, and see what’s up.

Initially, when Peggy thinks Allison is just crying over how incredibly LAME the focus group was, she is remarkably sensitive.  “People cry at these things all the time!  I’ve seen GROWN MEN cry at them . . .”

 . . . and whiny twenty-somethings playing teenagers.

However, when Peggy learns that (1) the REAL reason Allison is crying is because she has slept with Don; and (2) Allison believes PEGGY had once done the same thing  (Peggy actually DID try to seduce Don in the pilot episode, but he rejected her.), Peggy is significantly less sympathetic.  “Your problem is NOT my problem,” seethes Peggy at a bawling Allison, horrified by the notion that people at the office assume she has slept her way to the top.  “And, honestly, I think you should just get over it,” concludes Peggy, with all the coolness and sensitivity of a porcupine in 95-degree weather.

An X-ray of Peggy Olson’s heart  . . .

(We can almost hear Don’s words echoing in Peggy’s head, as she berates Poor Allison. — “It will amaze you how much it never happened.”)

So, PETE she forgives without question, but ALLISON gets relentlessly chewed out and crapped on?  What kind of “feminist” logic is that exactly, Peggy?

Later, when Don goes to check on Allison, she closes the door to his office, and confronts him about their indiscretion, forcing Don to acknowledge its existence, for the first time.  Allison then calmly explains that she has found another job opportunity, and would like for Don to write her a recommendation letter.  Don agrees to do so, but deflects any personal responsibility for the document, suggesting that Allison write it herself, and he can just sign it.

Now, personally, I would JUMP at this opportunity.  After all, Don Draper may be “Mr. Creativity” when it comes to advertising, but, lets face it, he’s a total ZERO when it comes to emotionally connecting with other human beings.  People like that make TERRIBLE recommendation letter writers.  This way, Allison has the executive of a company right where she needs him to be.

He is obviously feeling guilty about his past actions, and, therefore, highly willing to agree to anything she wants him to put in that letter.  The possibilities are ENDLESS.  Here’s just one example . . .

To whom it may concern:

Allison is the best secretary on the face of the Earth . . . no .  . . the GALAXY!  She is a genius, unbelievably talented, hard-working, dedicated, and drop-dead  gorgeous!  In fact, I am wholly convinced she is descended from gods.   She is also an absolute lioness in the sack.  Hire her, or I will hunt you down and kill you.

                                                                                        Very truly yours,

                                                                                        Don Draper, Executive

                                                                                   Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Price

Allison, however, took complete offense to the fact that her boss, a man she once admired, slept with, and obviously still had feelings for, couldn’t be bothered to come up with a single original word about her merits as a secretary.  Furious, Allison lifts up a paperweight from Don’s table and thrusts it against the wall, shattering a glass picture frame, in the process . . .

Strike three, you’re out!

Of course, Don copes with Allison’s outburst and subsequent departure the same way he copes with everything else, by getting sh*tfaced . . .

Be careful how much you drink, Don!  Little Sister is watching . . .

To Don’s credit, he is not a total heartless pig.  And, despite Allison’s destruction of his office, he STILL feels bad about what he did to her.  In fact, Don even expresses a willingness to have Allison come back and work for him, until Joan silently convinces him that this would send a “bad message” to the rest of the company about what happened between them.  Later that night, in his lonely apartment, Don starts to type up an apology letter to Allison, but, ultimately, loses his nerve . . .

Never one to be accused of not having a sense of humor, Joan has an ingenious idea of who to hire as Don’s umpteenth secretary . . .

It’s DAME EDNA!

OK .  . . It’s not. But she TOTALLY looks like Dame Edna, doesn’t she?

And she’s a TERRIBLE secretary too — with all the class and customer service skills of a wet dishrag!

(I’m still not entirely certain that Don WON’T try to sleep with her, anyway . . .)

[www.juliekushner.com]

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