Tag Archives: Matt Weiner

On Bad Men and Fearless Ladies – The Lazy Recapper Mini-Caps Mad Men’s “Mystery Date”

On July 13, 1966, a real-life Mad Man named Richard Speck raped and tortured nine student nurses, in the boarding house where they were living at the time.  Eight of them were killed.  Only one survived.  She did this, by miraculously managing to hide under a bed, undetected, while a horror movie unfolded inches away from where she lay . . .

It kind of makes you think twice about a childhood game, that revolves around opening the door to “sexy strangers.”  Don’t you think?

(Some doors are best left closed . . .)

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 The episode “Mystery Date” reflected on this real-life tragedy, and how it impacted the lives of the women and men, who lived during that time.  In a sense, the Speck murders functioned as the unofficial villain of this hour of television.  From Don Draper to young Sally, this week, all of the characters of Mad Men were forced to cope with issues of female violence, and what it means to feel “safe” in a world that is often terrifying . . .

Of course, since I’m a Lazy Recapper, I’m probably not going to address any of that stuff . . .

After all, it’s much more fun to talk about important things . . . like what the heck Stan Rizzo is wearing on his head!

“The Seven Dwarfs called, Stan.  Dopey really wants his hat back.”

Let’s review, shall we?

Don Draper’s bout with the flu this week on Mad Men taught me two things: (1) yes, hot people do, in fact, get sick, just like everybody else;

“I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather lately.  Perhaps it has something to do with this massive flood in my office.”

 . . . and (2) being sick can make you INSANE!

I mean, think about it . . . one minute, Don is defending his honor to his wife, when a former fling of his hits on him right in front of her, in an enclosed space.

(Love in an elevator . . . . living it up, when you’re going downnnnn.)

DON: “So, Wifey #2 . . . I guess this would probably be a bad time to ask for your thoughts on threesomes?”

The next minute, he’s STRANGLING HER TO DEATH, AND SHOVING HER CORPSE UNDER HIS BED!!!

Officially out of the running for Wife #3 . . . 

Wait . . . what’s that you say?  That Don’s seeming murder of Sexual Conquest 323 was just a Fever Dream, Symbolizing the Protagonist’s Subconscious Fear that his Slutty Past will Come Back to Haunt Him / Ruin his New Marriage?  And that his shoving her under the bed, reflected that same subconscious’ reaction to the Speck Murders, specifically, the hiding place of the lone female survivor?

Well, thank you, Dr. Freud.  I feel much better knowing that the man I have sex dreams about one of my favorite television characters isn’t an actual murderer of women.  Still . . .  having dreams like that is pretty f*&ked up, if you ask me.

Speaking of Bad Men, Joan FINALLY kicked to the curb her no good hubby, Dr. McRapeyPants, after he blatantly admitted that he would rather spend another year AT WAR, halfway across the world, and possibly DIE, than be with his wife and Roger’s lovechild their newborn baby son.

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 She also not-so-subtly called him out on that one terrible time, a few seasons back, during which he forced himself on her in Don Draper’s office, thereby incurring the wrath of Mad Men fans, like myself, for all eternity . . .

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We love you, Mama Joan!  You’re a FEARLESS, and just all-around awesome woman, who’s decades ahead of your time! But . . .  that still doesn’t make it OK for you to do this . . .

Hey Mommy Dearest, you are ONE TOSS AND TURN AWAY FROM SQUISHING YOUR BABY!  Get thee to a crib, GO!

Speaking of questionable parenting tactics, Grandma Francis found a fabulous way to get a stressed-out Sally to sleep, the night after the latter learned about the Speck murders . . . and by “fabulous” I mean “ridiculously inappropriate and more than a bit disturbing” . . . 

(WARNING: Here comes that “survivor under the bed” motif again!)

Fifteen years from now, when Sally’s a cast member on Celebrity Rehab, she will undoubtedly be telling Dr. Drew all about the time Grandma Harris slipped her some Seconals and let her pass out under the couch, while Granny sat above her holding a steak knife . . . 

On a much more positive note, Peggy Olson officially became my spirit animal, when she OWNED Roger Sterling, cleverly convincing the latter to give her $400 out of his own pocket, by simply uttering two words: “Dazzle Me.”

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Of course, this causes one to wonder just how much money Roger Sterling carries in his billfold.  And, perhaps more importantly, what’s he REALLY spending it on (aside from paying for the silence of his underlings, of course)?

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French lessons, maybe? 

Peggy may have handled Roger Sterling, like a boss.  However, she was a bit less savvy with new co-worker Dawn.  Sure, things started off OK!  When the ambitious copywriter learned that Dawn had been forced to spend the night at the office, out of fear for her own safety, she gallantly invited the latter back to her home  so they could get wasted together for a few drinks and some Girl Time Bonding . . .

(By the way, Peggy’s becoming a bit of a lush.  Don’t you think?)

(Then again, I guess it takes one to know one . . . )

Of course, she then proceeded to make poor Dawn feel like a crook, when she very blatantly eyed her newly chock-full-of-cash purse, before leaving the latter to sleep on her couch for the night.  Oops!

Speaking of socially awkward . . . New Guy, Michael Ginsburg, is actually growing on me, ugly suit preferences and all . . .

“I’m sexy and I know it.” 

(Even though the way he painted the “Cinderella Meets Prince Charming” story as a thinly-veiled Date Rape Scenario, during a pitch meeting, means I’ll probably never watch Once Upon a Time the same way, ever again  .  . .)

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 And that was Mad Men in a Lazy Recapper’s nutshell!  What did YOU think of the episode?

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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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“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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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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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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A Lesson in Etiquette from the Cast of Mad Men and the Mister Men Series – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”

“A lesson in whhaaaat?  From the cast of whoooooo?  DON, this damn phone don’t work and neither do I!”

Whether we are still kids, or just kids at heart, there are times in all of our lives, when we could stand to be reminded of the importance of minding our proverbial “Ps and Qs.”  And in this most recent Mad Men episode, EVERYONE fell a bit short on the Etiquette Scale. 

Let’s revisit, shall we?

Lesson One:  When you have nothing nice to say, it’s best to say nothing at all . . .

In the opening moments of the episode, Don receives a phone call from the New York Times.  Apparently, one of Don’s competitors at another advertising company(Cutler, Gleason, and Chauough), has been talking smack about him. 

(Riiiiiight! Because THAT’S what top New York Times reporters cover on the front page of their paper, Word Wars between anonymous Ad men.) 

The reporter wonders whether Don has a response to his competitors’  snide remarks.  If Don was POLITE, he would simply say, “No Comment.”  However, because Don is . . .

 . . . he, instead replies, “Never heard of him.” 

Lesson 2 – Be flexible.  There is no shame in compromising to get the job done.

“Compromise is for pussies!”

Later, at a meeting of the SCDP partners, Pete mentions that he has scored a meeting with Honda, where SCDP will have the opportunity to pitch the well established Japanese corporation a campaign for their motorcycle account.

Rumor has it that Honda is dissatisfied with their current representation by Massive Ad Agency, Grey.  The “catch” is that each competing agency will get just $3,000 to create a mock pitch for Honda.  Most of the partners are THRILLED . . .

. . . but Roger is NOT!

A World War II vet, who lost a lot of friends to the Japanese war effort, Roger REFUSES to represent a Japanese company, no matter how lucrative such representation could potentially BE for SCDP.  This is because Roger is . . .

“Why don’t we just bring Doctor Lyle Evans in here?”  Roger quips.

“Huh?”

*         *         *           *

Please forgive me this slight departure from your regularly scheduled recap, while I wax poetic on Roger’s so-called “historical reference.”

Who the heck is Doctor Lyle Evans?  If you didn’t catch the reference, fear not, because the rest of the staff of SCDP didn’t either.  Seeing as I was still about two decades away from being born, back in 1965, I just shrugged the name off, assuming it referred to some villainous doc, who worked for the enemy back in World War II.  (I was never exactly what you would call a “History Buff,” anyway . . .

But, apparently, there was much more to it than that.  You see, the interesting thing about Dr. Lyle Evans, is that he DOES NOT EXIST! 

OK.  There’s probably SOMEONE out there named Dr. Lyle Evans, but he’s certainly not a historical figure.  Evidently, Matt Weiner dropped the name into the script to have a little fun with those crazy Mad Men fans who like to look up every single historical reference they hear on the show.  It WORKED!  Google and Twitter trends for the mysterious “Dr. Lyle Evans” went through the ROOF, Sunday night!

Tsk, tsk, Matt Weiner!

I hearby dub you . . .

We now return to our regularly scheduled recap . . .

*      *      *      *

Lesson 3 – Before making drastic changes to your appearance, always consult with your elders . . .

Felicity’s Keri Russell learned THIS lesson the hard way . . . So did Sally Draper.

OK.  I REALLY don’t like this Nurse Phoebe chick!  I didn’t like her when she was Reed on Grey’s Anatomy . . .

 . . . and I DON’T like her now!  Apparently, neither does Sally Draper.  Because when Nurse Phoebe was babysitting the little Drapers, over at Don’s house, while Don was out on a date, Sally did something to ensure that Phoebe would NEVER be invited back into Don’s apartment again!  She did THIS . . .

She then asked Phoebe whether she and Don were doing The Nasty together.   Well, if they WERE, they won’t be NOW! 

When Don got back from his Dull Ass Date with Boring Bethany at Benihana’s . . .

 . . . (where he learned that his advertising rivals from Cutler would be competing with SCDP for the Honda account), he fired Nurse Phoebe on the spot!

Lesson 4 – Use your words, not your fists, B*tch (especially on YOUR KIDS)!!!!

The SLAP heard round the world . . .

While Don blamed Nurse Phoebe for the whole “Sally Hair Fiasco,” Betty blamed EVERYBODY BUT HERSELF!  Poor, poor, Betty!  Apparently, the whole world is conspiring to make your life miserable.  Your daughter’s rebellious actions have nothing to do with her inner turmoil over her grandfather’s death or her parents’ divorce, they are all about YOU.  Everything is about YOU!  YOU, YOU, YOU!

“Me?  Ahhh, my favorite subject.”

Betty slaps Poor Troubled Sally so hard, it looks for a moment like her teeth might fall right out of her mouth!  And although Hen-pecked Henry and Disaffected Don look appalled by her behavior, both do astonishingly little to help the crying ten-year old, whose just been physically abused.  “Betty,” Henry whispers half-heartedly.

“Well, gosh, I’d love to help ya, Sally.  But I don’t wanna get beat up by a girl . . . AGAIN!”

Sally dashes to her room, and Don scampers out the door like a coward.  Then, Betty, clearly the wronged one, whines to Henry about how much she wants to MURDER Don!

WOAH!  Take it easy there . . .

Lesson 5 – Be respectful of that which makes others “different”

“I really don’t understand why people think I’m racist.  Can’t a guy wear a mud mask without ridicule?  I hear helps clean the pores!”

The time has come for the men of SCDP to hold their meeting with the good folks at Honda.  Preparations have been made.  “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” has been not read.  White flowers (which signify death in Japanese culture) have been hidden.  Gifts have been purchased, including expensive bottles of booze.  Old Fogey Roger has been sent off on a loooonnng lunch, and told precisely nada about what is set to occur.

Things go pretty well . . . at first.  Pleasantries are exchanged and translated.  Joan’s assets are admired.  “How does she not fall over?”  One of the business men inquires “cutely” in Japanese.

“Actually, sir, I fall over all the time.  That’s why I always try to have Japanese business men in front of me, to break my fall.”

But then Roger comes, and screws everything up.

Pissed that he’s been lied to, and that his opinion has been blatantly ignored by his colleagues, an uncharacteristically belligerant Roger starts hurling insults at the Japanese businessmen, left and right.  “They won’t know it’s over until we drop a bomb on them . . . twice,” jokes Roger, insensitively.

“We don’t want your JAP CRAP!”  He says later. 

Now, Roger, there’s no need to be . . .

After the meeting ends abruptly, Roger whines some more about the Japanese and World War II.  Don berates Roger for acting unprofessionally, and killing the Honda account, all for something that happened twenty years prior.  Pete takes the lecture session one step further, accusing Roger of being . . .

 . . . and sabotaging Pete’s ability to gain accounts, so that Roger can maintain financial supremacy over the company.  Roger tries to deck Pete, but Don intervenes. 

 Sure, Don!  NOW YOU INTERVENE!  What about when the recipient of the fist was your own DAUGHTER?   You weren’t so tough then, were you?

Lesson 6 – Keep your hands to yourself, but not IN yourself . . . At least, not when others might see you do it.

For actress Kiernan Shipka’s sake, I’m hoping she’s too young an actress to think to ask what her “motivation” is for scenes like this one.  I’m also hoping that when she’s a teenager, Kiernan’s friends never dig out DVDs of this episode for blackmail purposes . . .

Speaking of Miss Sally Draper, she’s up late at a sleepover party, watching what looks to be the LEAST sexy television show on the planet . . .

I don’t know, Sally.  These guys just don’t do it for me . . .

 . . . when she starts digging for gold underneath her nightgown. 

She doesn’t find any.

(OK.  I’m no Betty prude.  I get that kids Sally’s age experiment with their bodies.  I also get that it’s normal and natural for them to do that . . . hopefully, IN PRIVATE.  But I REALLY didn’t need to watch this, and would have preferred the producers opted not to show it.  It made me feel uncomfortable, and dirty, in a way that soap can’t wash . . .)

Apparently, Sally’s friend’s mom felt the same way, when she walked in on Sally’s “Gold Rush.”    After having a little freak out, the lady immediately drove Sally home, interrupting Betty and Henry’s own sex session, to inform them that their kid was a sexual deviant.  As per usual, Mommy Dearest makes this all about herself.  After threatening to chop Sally’s fingers off . . .

How pleasant!

 . . . Betty moans to Henry in bed about how UNPOPULAR Sally’s actions are going to make Betty with the other mothers.

“Now I’ll NEVER be prom queen!”

Concerned that Sally’s willingness to play fast and loose with her flower, might ultimately result in her becoming . . .

. . . Betty reluctantly considers Henry’s idea that Sally start seeing a therapist. 

“My daughter MUST be certifiably insane!  Where on Earth would she learn to pleasure herself on the couch?  Who DOES that?”

Ultimately, Betty suggests the therapy idea to Don, and he eventually agrees to it. 

Then, of course, when the therapist calls Don to confirm Sally’s appointment, the Lovely Miss Blankenship greets him, in his small office, with the paper thin walls . . .

 . . .  screeching, “DON, YOUR DAUGHTER’S PSYCHIATRIST IS ON THE PHONE!”

Oh, Miss Blankenship . . . You are most certainly . . .

How Don hasn’t fired you yet, is BEYOND ME!

Lesson 7 – Honesty is always the best policy . . . unless you’re in advertising.

Just when it seems as though all hope is lost for SCDP to win over the Honda campaign . . .

Don reconsiders his newfound knowledge of Japanese business, and comes up with an idea to sabotage his competitors, while, at the same time, potentially saving the account.

Recognizing that neither SCDP nor its main competitor, Cutler, have the funds necessary to produce a full advertising campaign for Honda, Don decides to make Cutler THINK that SCDP is breaking Honda’s rules and paying for a television campaign out-of-pocket.  The underlying assumption is that, by doing this, SCDP will goad Cutler into breaking the rules, thereby, shooting themselves in the foot.  Not to mention, potentially bankrupting themselves.  A few “clandestine” meetings, a fake filming session, and some carefully placed words later, the trap is set. 

 On the morning of the presentations, Cutler, as expected, goes forward with presenting Honda the television campaign, in violation of the prescribed rules for the advertising competition.  When Don enters the office, he expresses feigned outrage at Honda for entertaining such a blatant rule violation, and returns the $3,000, refusing to make any sort of presentation at all.  Interestingly enough, the Honda CEO likes Don’s attitude, he, himself, being somewhat of a  . . .

And so, even though Honda ends up keeping their motorcycle account with Grey.  They ultimately decide to throw SCDP a bone, by allowing the agency to represent their “small” car business.

Well, played, Don!  You . . .

The episode concludes with, among other things, Don sharing some Sake with the joyless Marketing Research Lady . . .

During this meeting, he learns that she is NOT married, and is only pretending to be, because, OF COURSE, once men learn Marketing Research Lady is single, they DEFINITELY won’t be able to control themselves around her. . .

I think we all know where THIS is heading . . .

Here we GO AGAIN!

Also, Betty speaks briefly with Sally’s new therapist, Dr. Edna  . . .

.  . . who seems pretty cool . . .

 Betty even agrees to visit the therapist, herself, a few times, in accordance with Sally’s “treatment.”

At the very end of the episode, Sally, accompanied by the Most Fabulous Housekeeper / Caretaker who ever lived, Carla . . .

 . . . heads off to visit Dr. Edna for the first time.  We’re rooting for you, Sally!  Because the world REALLY doesn’t need ANOTHER Betty Draper . . .

Well, that’s all I’ve got for this episode, folks!  Special thanks go out to Roger Hargreaves, and the spectacular Little Miss and Mister Men series, for helping me to illustrate this recap.

See you next week!

[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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