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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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Swimming with Sharks – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Summer Man”

Anyone out there who thinks that the writers of Mad Men don’t care about their fans, clearly hasn’t watched the show’s last two episodes.  Last week, Matt Weiner & Co., showed their love, by offering up one of the best-written, most hilarious, and most poignant hours on television of all time.  This week, that same group of writers chose, as a framing device for their episode, the image of a half-naked Jon Hamm, swimming laps in a crystal clear pool.

It just doesn’t get much better than that, Folks! 

Tonight’s installment of Mad Men was, more or less, split into three distinct storylines: (1) Don Draper’s first brave steps in the Wonderful World of Relative Sobriety, and his attempts to “tame” the three blondes in his life;

(2) Betty’s temper tantrum, as a result of seeing Don out with another woman, who is basically her doppelganger (minus a few years);

(3) and Joan’s struggles with her her husband leaving for Vietnam, and with office bullying.

So, what are we waiting for?  Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Often-Unappreciated Art of Navel Gazing

Dear Diary,

Sometimes, I find it a curse to be so damn attractive.  For example, this morning I was two whole hours late for work — all because  I couldn’t stop staring at myself in the bathroom mirror.  And all those WOMEN!  And all that SEX!  A guy can only have so much sex!  You know, I’m not in my twenties anymore.  I often have nightmares that, one day, the darn thing will just shrivel up and fall off . . .

“When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him,” Don writes in the opening moments of the episode.

As he ruminates on the meaning of life, we are treated to alternating shots of our Sexy Scribe: alone in his apartment; swimming laps at the local pool (yay!); and taking a few moments to bask in the summer sun, on his way to work.

Given the vast amount of guffaws and snorts he and Peggy had at Roger’s expense last week, I would hate to think Don is hypocritcally self-indulgent enough to draft his own memoir.  (Although, admittedly, THAT would probably be a pretty juicy read.) 

No.  I actually think Don’s daily journal writings serve much the same purpose as his daily visits to the pool.  They are meant to re-instill in his life a certain amount of discipline, and to help him organize his recently liquor-clouded thoughts. 

 “They say, as soon as you have to cut down on your drinking, you have a drinking problem,” Don posits, via voiceover.

Admitting THAT to himself, must have been a real punch in the face . . .

Through Don’s narrative, we not only learn how flowery his writing can be, when he’s not pitching advertisements, we also learn that he never graduated high school.  While it is obvious that this is a source of embarrassment for Don, and yet another skeleton in his closet, upon learning this, I couldn’t help but once again be impressed by how far Don came in life, despite such vastly humble beginnings.  “Drinking Problem” or not, you can’t take that away from him.

But, alas, it is tough to be sober in an office full of drunks  — particularly when you have an enabling secretary, like Miss. Blankenship.

Since she has started working as Don’s secretary, regularly refreshing the Executive’s booze supply, is probably the ONLY task she HASN’T screwed up . . . unfortunately.

“I’m set!”  Don growls, as Miss Blankenship offers him what looks like the entire top shelf of the local sports bar, thereby threatening to erase ALL the progress Don exhibited during the aforementioned earlier scenes.

“You are . . . and then you’re NOT,” retorts Dame Edna, fresh off a cataract surgery, which, if it is at all possible, seems to have left her even blinder than before, despite her claims to the contrary.

“Bring that stuff back to the store, and get me some cigarettes,” demands Don.

Ahhh, spoken like a true AA member . . .

And yet, unlike the members of that organization, Don has NOT quick drinking cold turkey.  To do so at a place like SCDP would, at best raise eyebrows, and, at worst, isolate Don from his colleagues.  (Speaking of Outcasted Sober Dudes, where has Freddy Rumsen been lately?)

Singing karaoke at the local cabaret, perhaps?

Don’s daily battles against the All-Mighty Bottle were perhaps best exhibited in a scene where he, Peggy, Ken and Stan were ironing out a new pitch idea for Mountain Dew.  The world literally went silent for Don, as he stared at Peggy’s pouty lips.  In all my naivety, I initially wondered whether the Dapper Don had recently fallen for our Peppy Peggy, as a result of their intense bonding session last week . . .

 . . . but then, when he started eying Ken’s and Stan’s lips too (as well as the ice clinking against the inner rims of their scotch glasses), I knew I had been mistaken.

Meanwhile, Don learns that Baby Gene (Toddler Gene?)’s Second Birthday Party is the upcoming Sunday, and Papa D is not invited.  In fact, he has been explicitly dis-invited,  both by Betty . . .

My people are Nordic.

 and Betty’s new husband, the increasingly dour, Henry Francis.

My people are A**holes.

To Don’s credit, rather than stewing over this, he spends his evenings dating people who look suspiciously like Betty . . .

“Every time I go out with you, it feels like we are on a first date.”

“Which one are you again?”

To help refresh Don’s memory as to who she is, Bethany does something to Don in the backseat of the cab that I can’t really tell you about here.  This is a Family Blog, after all.  I CAN show you, however.

Just substitute the bottle for an overused part of Don’s anatomy . . .

“To be continued,” coos Bethany lasciviously, as she crawls over Don to get out of the cab.  (Good lord!  I hope she didn’t leave any “unfinished business” behind!)

Sexually satisfied, but clearly unimpressed, Don writes in his diary, “I bet she spent all night coming up with that line.”

Then, just to show he’s a “true gentleman” with “no ill intentions” he finishes off the entry with a wishful thinking passage about Bethany’s bunkmates at the Barbizon hotel “touching themselves to sleep.”

Yeah . . . you stay classy, Don Draper!

Also touching herself to sleep, while dreaming of Don is THIS LADY . . .

. . . who I’ve referred to only as “Marketing Research Lady” since this season began; because, honestly, she never seemed all that important.  However, now that she has officially become Don’s Next Conquest, the character will hereinafter be referred to by her REAL name, Faye.  Don and Faye are working on something together in the office (But I don’t know what, because I’m still not 100% clear as to what exactly it is this woman DOES), when he suggests they relocate to a restaurant somewhere nearby.

Having struck out quite a few times with Faye in the past, Don knew he had the Green Light this time, because he overheard Faye breaking up with her boyfriend because . .  . she doesn’t cook.

(Hey Don!  I don’t cook either.  Would you like to go out with ME? :))

“Just so we’re clear here.  You are asking me out to dinner?”  Faye inquires, in a thick New Jersey Mob Princess accent that would make Carmela Soprano proud.

“Oh Donny!  This one’s a REAL KEEP-AH!”

Don admits that, yes, he is asking her out on a date.   So, Faye suggests something a bit more formal, and non-work related.  That night, the pair go out someplace fancy.  And I’ve gotta say, if Don’s and Bethany’s dates always seem like first, Don’s and Faye’s first date seemed much more like a THIRD, if you know what I mean. 😉  The two engaged in genuinely intelligent conversation, both revealing bits of their personal lives to one another.  Don even discussed his guilt over not being able to attend Baby Gene’s birthday.

In the taxi on the way home,  like Bethany, Faye also started getting VERY friendly with our Don Juan Draper.

Well . .  . maybe not THAT friendly.

Unlike Bethany, however, Faye doesn’t seem to be the “To Be Continued” type.  Instead, she immediately asks Don where his apartment is . . .

And he DENIES HER!

Remember, this is a man who, last week, probably wouldn’t have denied sex to a Friendly Armadillo . . .

Don tells Faye that he’s going to just walk her to her door.  “Because that’s all I can do right now.  I’m not ready to say Good Night, yet.”

Awwww!  Look who’s being a Real Gentleman for a change!  YOU GO DON!

These actually belong to Faye . . .

In yet another mature moment for the episode, Don cathartically tosses away the items he had in storage in Betty’s garage . . .

 . . . and attends Baby Gene’s Birthday Party!

That’s a WHOLE LOTTA self improvement, for a guy who, just last week, was puking on himself, and losing fist fights to Duck Phillips!

Baby Betty Needs a Bottle

“But Dad HENRRRRYYYYY!  You said we could go to the CANDY STORE after dinner.  I WANT CANNNNNNDDDDY!”

The Honeymoon Period is SO over, at the Francis / Draper residence!  This fact becomes more than evident, when Henry takes Betty to a business dinner with an important political consultant, and the group has a run-in with Don and Bethany . . .

AWKWARD!

Betty basically flips out.  She’s uncommonly icy (even for HER) to Henry’s important dinner guest, drinks gimlets like a fish throughout the meal, and then rushes off to hide in a bathroom stall, until the meal is over.  In the car on the way home, Henry spanks Betty and sends her to Time Out accuses her of being a child, a wino, and a drunk, who is not over her first marriage.  (Awww, how sweet!) 

The next morning, a very hungover and bleary-eyed Betty apologizes profusely for her bad behavior.  Henry accepts the gesture, but still seems kind of pissed.

And yet, Daddy Hubby looks on with pride, as Betty gallantly hands Baby Gene over to Don at the tot’s birthday party, a moderately believable plastic smile pasted on her face the whole time.  When Henry asks her if she is OK with Don’s presence, she replies in the affirmative.  “We have EVERYTHING!”

But do they, REALLY?

The VERY Brief Rise and Fall of Joey Baird

It looks like we’ll have to wait until they put you on another TV show, before I get to see you shirtless again.  Dammit,  Matt Long!  Why did your character have to be such a DOUCHE!

*Winks and waves at Shirtless Joey*  “CALL ME!”

*Squeals with joy at the news that SCDP now has a vacancy in its Art Department*

When the episode opens, Ken, Stan, Joey, and this random no-named new guy, who seems to have magically appeared during this episode, and yet everybody on the show acts like he’s been there the whole time . . .

“Who the heck are you?”

 . . . are loudly bucking the office vending machine, which somehow ate Joey’s watch.  “I feel like I’m Margaret Mead,” jokes Peggy, as she observes the male species in its natural habitat, hunting for a Rolex.

Then Joan, who I normally adore, but, in this episode, at least, was somewhat of a, to use her own words, “humorless b*tch” (not that she didn’t deserve to be, under the circumstances), storms outside to yell at the boys to keep it down.

“Yes, MOM!”  Joey yells out after her.

Enraged at the part-timer’s sheer disrespect, Joan calls Joey into her office to let him know that she “has a problem with him now.”

“What do you do all day, besides walking aroun this office, like you’re trying to get raped?”  Joey inquires.

Oh, he did NOT just say that!  WHO says stuff like that?  What were you, raised in a BARN?

When Don asks Joan to switch Joey over to full time so that he can put in some extra hours on an important account, Joan bristles at the thought of seeing that goat chew cud around the office Monday through Friday.  So, she stretches the truth a little bit.  “I’m not sure he’s the right fit.  I’ve been hearing complaints.”

“From who?”  Peggy inquires, having at least started the season being fairly tight with Joey Goat.  (Remember the whole John / Marsha bit, from Episode 1?)

“OK.  Let’s hear one dirty story,” suggests Don, gamely.

But Joan refuses to reveal a “dirty story” about Joey Goat, and Peggy becomes suspicious.  Later, she pulls Joey away from a Casting Couch session with Harry . . .

“Oh Joey!  You’re so handsome.  Do exactly as I say, and I can make you the next Jed Clampett . . . *points to autographed picture on his desk*

“He can play my pet goat!”

 . . . and warns him to lay off Joan, who clearly has it in for him now. 

“Listen, every office has a Joan.  My MOTHER was a Joan.  She even even wore a pen around her neck, so everyone would stare at her tits,” Joey retorts

(WOAHHH, Nelly!  Oedipal Complex much, kiddo?  The only time you should be staring so intently at your mother’s rack is when your breast-feeding.  After that, it’s just icky!)

But office Bully Goats are the least of Joan’s problems.  At home, she is faced with the lingering threat of her husband dying in the Vietnam war.  In a feeble attempt to be helpful, Dr. Greg suggests that Joan won’t even miss him while he’s gone, because she will be so busy hanging out with “all her friends at work.”

(No wonder you were such a bad surgeon, Dr. Greg.  Your timing SUCKS!)

Joan, of course, bawls at this comment, thus closing off any chance Dr. Greg ever had of getting laid that night.

Lots of these going around tonight . . .

The next day, Joey Goat and his Goat Posse . . .

. . . are targeting Joan once again.  But this time, they use artwork . . .

. . . specifically, “artwork” which suggests that Joan is doing THIS  . . .

 . . . to Lane . . .

“Oh my!  Who knew my Beefsteak Belt Buckle would be put to use again so soon!”

Peggy is in Joan’s office, when the picture is discovered.  So, she is understandably horrified, on Joan’s behalf.

But Joan just calmly walks outside and tells the artists, more or less, that she doesn’t like them, and hopes they all die in Vietnam.

“So . . . in other words . . . you DON’T wanna sleep with us?”

Peggy, in a rare attempt at sisterly solidarity, approaches Don about Joey’s bad behavior toward Joan.  While Don agrees the cartoon is reprehensible, he encourages Peggy to handle the matter on her own, so as to gain the respect of her peers.  Peggy pulls Joey Goat aside and insists that he apologize to Joan.  “That’s what I hate about working with women.  They have no sense of humor,” remarks the Tool.

Unable to reason with the bastard, Peggy fires his ass.  Off walks Joey Goat into the sunset, teeny tiny tail between his legs.  “Party’s over, boys,” he brays to his entourage, fielding one last invite for “drinks etc.” from Harry, before shutting the door on SCDP for good.

“That was Baaaaaaaaaaad!”

In the elevator on the way out of work, Peggy encounters Joans, and eagerly gives her the good news, about how she single-handedly sent Joey Goat to the Glue Factory.

But Joan is unimpressed.

“I defended you,” Peggy pouts.

Joan claims she was handling the matter in her own way, by meeting with the client at issue, and quietly having Joey taken off the account.  “It’s the same result,” Peggy mumbles. 

“All you’ve done is prove to them that I’m a meaningless secretary, and you are just another humorless bitch.  Have a nice weekend, Peggy.”

That couldn’t have felt good . . .

While Joan’s prophecy is quite possibly true, her nastiness to the woman who could have one day become the lonely office manager’s ONE female friend in the office seemed unnecessarily harsh.  It couldn’t have been easy for Peggy, who has always wanted desperately to be “one of the boys” to fire a former friend, and risk being ostracized by her co-workers, as a result. 

This elevator exchange further delineates the different paths these two women chose, in creating their futures: Joan representing the more traditional early 1960’s woman, both cunning and overtly feminine; and Peggy representing the New Feminist, independent and career-oriented.

So, what did you think of “The Summer Man?”  Do you believe Don will stick to his strict regimen of swimming, writing and drinking in moderation?  Is Faye a Keep-ah?  How long do you give Betty before she’s embroiled in a second divorce?  Can Joan and Peggy ever truly become friends, despite their differences?  Would you ever watch a television show produced by Harry Crane and starring Joey Goat? 

[www.juliekushner.com]

 

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