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Mad Men S3E1: Out of Town

"I keep going places and ending up somewhere I've already been."

Ah, yes. THAT'S the Don Draper we've missed so much: the incredibly suave guy making obscure declarations that are nonetheless dripping with meaning and subtext. And of course, making them to a stewardess that he's going to wind up in bed with, albeit very briefly.

Last night's HIGHLY awaited season opener left us momentarily a little disappointed, we're ashamed to admit. Despite the fact that it moved briskly, gave us a peek at pretty much every major character, and set up the new status quo at Sterling Cooper, there was a bit of a "That's it?" when the credits rolled. Shameful of us, we know.

But in a strange way, it reinforces a big part of what makes the show so great, because to really enjoy Mad Men in a way that goes past "Look at all the clothes!" and "They're smoking!" (which, to our irritation seems to comprise 90% of the press about the show in the last month), you really have to shift your thinking regarding the medium of television and approach the show the way it needs to be approached. Things have more than one meaning; events move slowly; themes and motifs repeat themselves; and all of that requires something of a level of commitment from the audience, which is why the show is generally considered one of the best on television right now yet never manages to score in the ratings the way it should.

So, before we delve any deeper, let's look at the new status quo: It's spring 1963, about 6 months after the events of the Season 2 finale. Sterling Cooper is in the throes of a post-British invasion takeover orchestrated by Duck Phillips (who appears to be long gone). The air is heavy with change (as evidenced by Don's darker suits and less Brylcreem'd hair, as well as Pete's slightly longer and Joan's slightly bigger hairstyles) and the fear and suspicion that comes with it. Snooty British Financial Officer Lane Pryce (along with his equally snooty assistant, Mr. Hooker) is in charge and making the kinds of changes that always come when two large companies merge: people are getting fired and there's a feeling of doom hanging over the office.

Don and Betty are giving off the impression of connubial bliss and a newfound commitment to their marriage. "I just want everything to be perfect," says Betty, revealing that despite everything that happened last season, she's still (unfortunately) the same Betty. Roger has returned from his Greek honeymoon bearing gifts and Joan appears to have gone ahead with her Christmas wedding to her rapist husband and also appears to be leaving SC in the near future. Peggy is as ambitious as ever and can't get any respect from her new secretary, who ignores her on a regular basis, it seems. Pete, who we last saw drowning his sorrows and holding a rifle in his darkened office, is back to Pete form: insanely ambitious, wound way too tight, and attempting to be a man in the Don Draper mold but succeeding only in revealing what a child he really is. On the surface, his marriage seems to have stabilized, at least. Trudy is doing what childless women of her social class are expected to do: social climbing by entertaining a group of wealthy museum docents.

There. Is that everyone? Then let's begin.

We wondered how the writers were going to handle Don's commitment to making his marriage work. After all, a Don getting up in the middle of the night to make some warm milk for his pregnant wife might give us all a little of glow of contentment, but it hardly makes for an interesting character. And a Don whoring around the way he's done in the past would lose some of its enchantment for the viewer because falling back on old ways would be disappointing to see and a little boring to boot. The opening scene gave us everything we need to know about the new Don. He's committed to his family yet haunted by his own past still. The scenes of his past intruding on his modern life were masterfully shot and beautifully acted. We didn't think there was anything left to reveal about Don's past and truth be told, those little vignettes didn't reveal much, but we had to laugh a bit grimly at the revelation that he was literally named after his father's dick as an act of hateful defiance by his dying prostitute mother. That tells you an awful lot about him right there; born into a family of spite, shame and hatred, and named after the male sexual organ.

The company sends Don and Sal down to Baltimore to smooth over some business with London Fog. Like almost every other aspect of the show, even the clients the writers choose to focus on are heavy with meaning. Sterling Cooper is in the throes of a "London Fog" of its own as everyone is unsure of what's happening with the new Brits in charge. On the flight down, the adorable stewardess in her adorable uniform flirts her ass off in the presence of these two suave, good-looking men. After a highly flirtatious dinner with two stewardesses and the pilot, wherein Don and Sal both display the ease with which they can smoothly lie to people (a skill they've both honed to perfection out of necessity and for different reasons), they both score; Don with a flight attendant and Sal with a bellhop. Apparently, they both have a thing for uniforms.

We'll get to Sal in a minute, but we just want to point out a few things about Don's tryst interruptus. It was heartbreaking (and completely in character) to hear Don admit to this woman who didn't even know his name and would never see him again that it was his birthday. When she asked to see his driver's license and he said it wouldn't do her any good, we were reminded once again that Don's life is a lie. Dick Whitman's birthday is known to no one and celebrated by no one. That he is so ...amputated is the word that comes to mind, from his past is all the explanation one needs as to why he does the shitty things he does over and over again. "I keep going places and ending up somewhere I've already been."

So yes, Don went ahead with cheating on his wife again, but there was a difference this time. We don't buy this from our point of view, but from Don's point of view, he was being more respectful of Betty by choosing a stranger in another city that he would never see again. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that to Don, what he was doing didn't even constitute cheating in the strict sense. She'd never admit it, but we suspect a part of Betty would co-sign this point of view.

It's notable that Don made the one mistake he's never made before: he allowed evidence of his tryst to enter his home when he inadvertently left the stewardess's flight pin in his luggage. That's so far away from the Don we've come to know, that it forces a ton of questions about what's going on inside. Last season, Betty went through every drawer and every suit he owns and couldn't find any evidence of the man's infidelities, but he has one brief fling with a stranger and almost fucks the whole thing up by making a rookie mistake. And we got echoes of last season, when Sally said "I'll be quiet, Daddy," reminding him of his order to Bobbie Barrett to shut up. This time, Sally proudly wore the pin of the woman Don tried to fuck. Much like Bobby Draper unfairly serves as a stand-in for Don when Betty needs to vent her frustrations, Sally Draper serves as a stand-in for all the women Don has had. It's a little sick, but it's very real. Children are always doomed to take on roles in the psyches of their parents for which they are not suited and which they shouldn't have to bear.

Now let's talk Sal. If we can cheer on someone being unfaithful to their wife (which is almost a prerequisite for watching this show), then we cheered the loudest for poor repressed Sal when he unexpectedly got what he wanted more than anything in the world. Kudos must be paid to the writing staff for doing it in such a way that was perfectly in line both with Sal's character and with the times in which he lived. Gay sex was a quick and furtive thing carried out by strangers in those days more often than not. Sal would have never pursued an opportunity so one needed to literally be thrust upon him. We've said it before and we'll say it again: only a gay actor could pull off the emotions required here. Sal's complete disbelief at what was happening coupled with fear and an unleashed, breathless joy is something that most gay people can remember feeling at least once in their lives and Batt pulled it off beautifully. Another thing that needs to be pointed out was the hysterically funny gag of the exploding pen in Sal's pocket. Do we really need to point out the layers of meaning there?

As we saw last season with Peggy, Don deals best with someone when he knows they have a secret. In fact, Don is the best person to know when you have a secret. Don is made of secrets and lives a very lonely life because of it. When he encounters someone with a secret as great as his own, he can't help but respect that person for carrying it off as well as he does. He cemented a bond with Peggy that has benefited them both and now we're curious to see if such a bond will grow between him and Sal, now that he knows Sal's secret. He dealt with it in the best Don Draper manner. "Limit your exposure" was both a tag line, a form of acceptance (he is, after all, the ONLY person in Sal's milieu capable of accepting his secret) and a smart bit of advice on the same level as his "it will shock you how this never happened" plea to Peggy last season.

And Sal appears to have taken his advice, because back at the office, he seems completely comfortable in his own skin. Like Don, he didn't get to complete his tryst, but we speak from experience here that once you open that box, you can't shut it again no matter how much you may want to - and it doesn't look to us like Sal wants to. He'll either go ahead with an affair with the Belle Jolie guy or he'll wind up visiting some very interesting bars in the Village very soon. Count on it.

In other Sterling Cooper news, the new British overlords are content to have the staff engage in gladiatorial combat to get ahead. It speaks volumes of the differences between Pete and Ken's characters when you look at how they both reacted to the same news. Ken thinks it's a hoot and a half and absolutely refuses to lower himself to treachery in order to further himself. He'll blithely forge ahead, doing his job to the best of his ability and ignore management's attempts to get him to jump through hoops for them. Of course, Pete can't do that. Grimacing and huffing and puffing and all but stamping his little feet in rage, Pete is reacting to this maneuvering in the worst possible manner and he's going to shoot himself in the foot if he doesn't get it under control, Draper-style.

Of course, Pete has good reason to be filled with rage and we got the tiniest little glimpse why when he was going over his accounts list and noted with no small amount of anger that Peggy seemed to be handling most of them. He practically spit her name out. We're a little afraid for Peggy this season. Her rise was meteoric last season and ended with the kind of bombshell drop that can make an enemy for life. With Pete in a position of power over her and carrying around a tight little ball of resentment that he can't reveal, it's anyone's guess what he could do.

In a more general sense, the show is revealing itself to be firmly set in the '60s by now. Prior to this episode, the show was built around the idea that the '60s hadn't started yet for these people. With their own British Invasion in full swing, looser hair on the men and bigger hair on the women, the show finally has moved fully into the decade it represents. Expect to hear more (and more familiar) cultural references this season, as evidenced by the hysterically funny nickname "Moneypenny," for the officious, awful Mr. Hooker, who declared SC a "gynocracy" after having to deal with the formidable Joan Holloway, of whom there was far too little last night. Of course, any episode that doesn't have Joan modeling clothes, smoking, and saying bitchy things 40 minutes out of 60, is a show with too little Joan.


[Photos courtesy of amctv.com]



For more insight into the world of Mad Men check out our fabulous pal Mo Ryan at the Chicago Tribune as well as the premiere fan site for all things Mad Men, Basket of Kisses.


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83 comments:

I can tell already the backdoor, Machiavellian British mindfuck of Sterling-Cooper is going to be favorite all-time subplot.


Excellent overview and insight as always. MM is back on the air and going full tilt. I am all the happier for it!


My money's on Sal and MoneyPenny hooking up in the future. His name is too perfect for that.

And Joan won't leave.


Seeing the scene with Sal in his hotel room was both elating and heart-wrenching. That scene really deifnes the time. I felt so bad for Sal wishing he got more than a couple kisses and a 10 second handjob

Poor stupid Pete. He's still such a child-needs a lot of growing up. His wife is a lot shrewder and smarter than I thought.

And I loved how Joan manuevered "Moneypenny". In a weird way he kind of reminds me of Pete. I love Joan likening him to a Doorman. I'd like Joan to knock him down another peg or 2 to remind him that she's not only a formidable person who should not be pissed off but someone who's earned that power she yields.

Frank


Amy Sez
You guys are mindreaders...I felt a little disappointed when it ended and had to reminded myself that this show is a slowly bubbling cauldron...

The way people treated kids back then was haunting. Why would the midwife give baby Dick to that family!!! And Betty is so mean to Bobby. Yikes!


Ah, beautiful. Thanks for the ever so prompt recap, you must have started it last night and got up early to finish. I too was a bit underwhelmed and couldn't quite put my finger on it. But it's a good reminder that the show is VERY nuanced and has a slower pace oftentimes than many dramas. I appreciate all over again the strict attention to the smallest details depicting the era. And the great art!

I almost choked watching the (to me) parody of the stewardesses of the time. While this captured the essence, it felt written as over the top and a bit throw-away. The scene existed only to show the men's skills at lying, and the more important reveal of Sal's secret, and thus a new bond between him and Don.


omg im so freaking happy that this show is back & i couldnt stop refreshing the blog to see your post about it XD

sal - woooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!! i am so happy for him - a boy touched his willy - finally! get his ass to the stonewall - pronto! this is going to be his season of fun. and thank god don's on his side. he couldnt have a better friend. except maybe the perma-hag peggy.

peggy - the flirty, unresponsive secretary is a bad sign. if your own underling doesnt take you seriously, youre in trouble. shes got a tough road ahead, but i dont expect her to crumble. instead, shell be in full office bitch mode by end of season.

don - ugh! his whole scene i just kept screaming - no! dont do it! but old habits die hard. and at least he didnt pursue it. she practically forced herself on him. still, no excuse. and if he doesnt care enough to get rid of the evidence, then his hearts just not in it.

joan - we need more joan! and they cannot let her leave the show! somethings gonna happen with her rapetastic husband. our joan cannot be happy.

sterling - he maybe celebrating his honeymoon now, but im predicting he will fall to his knees before he lets joan walk outta there.

ugh - i need another episode now! XD


Even if it was brief, Roger is also a great character, How he was putting Pete in his place " Not the Stoli" and his insincerity and timing when they fired Burt.

One thing I would like to get feedback on was the last few minutes of the show when Sally asked about her birth, and Don stumbled. It got me thinking, why did he stumble? Did he not remember her birth? Was he not there (maybe with some nurse in a closet) ? Or is Sally's really his child? Don is very quick with the lies and the stumbling caught me off guard


i think don's stumble about his daughters birth was his realization that he had been out cheating on his wife that night. he said it was the middle of the night & he had just gotten home from work.... LOL


Betty,

My guess is Sally asking him about her birth was like a splash of cold water in his face. He just gave her the wings from a slutty stewardess, after wanting to be a better husband and father.

It was a moment of self-awareness he doesn't have too often.


Last night was great - it was like seeing some old friends. There were a few minutes of happiness to see all the characters and then then slowly you remember how messed up these relationships really are.

I'm concerned for the character of Betty. She grew up so much last season, and I'd like to continue to see more maturity and awareness of Don's activities from her. When she saw the flight pin, she must have known...right?


THANK YOU! I always appreciate your unbelievably thoughtful analysis that helps me see things I missed. On my re-watch, I'm going to pay closer attention to those things that I needed TLo to point out to me.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!


Great episode! I don't think Joan will leave SC but I don't agree that she has a lot of power there. She couldn't keep her job in the TV department or keep Jane away from Roger Sterling. I noticed her relationship with Peggy seems better this season. They were gossiping in the lobby in one scene and they seem to have accepted each other's place in the SC universe.

I was yelling "you go Sal!" when he finally seemed to be getting some man love.

Blanche


I'm concerned for the character of Betty. She grew up so much last season, and I'd like to continue to see more maturity and awareness of Don's activities from her. When she saw the flight pin, she must have known...right?

IMO, I think that Betty knows that Don probably slept with someone during his business trip, but as long as he continues to come home to her and provide for their children, then she can pretend that everything is "perfect" in her mind.

I find it funny, that with all the secrets and lies that have developed between Betty and Don throughout the years, they each live their lives with DENIAL as a motto/theme. In a way, they are a perfect match.


I was rooting for Sal to get together with that cute pilot from dinner. But maybe this means that he and Elliott can be together at last!


Loved the scenes with Joan and Moneypenny. She reminded me of a great gorgeous cat casually toying with a mouse until she gets bored or annoyed enough to gut him.


Being as I am about as deep as a puddle, used to simply enjoy Mad Men as a nice tv show and excellent eye candy. Then you started doing reviews. Now I watch the show with the eyes of a hawk and a little notebook so I can follow all the nuances and layers and see if I can find all the revelations you will be writing about in your reviews. I must say, I enjoy the show on a new and deeper level and I thank you both for it.

Thanks dolls,
The Glamorous Housewife


Wonderful write-up...was looking to the return of these nearly as much as the return of the show. And that's saying a ton!

I too was left a bit unfulfilled by the episode, but, as mentioned, this is just the first piece of what's going to be a very large puzzle. I remember feeling the same way about the Season 2 opener -- "There's no THERE there" -- and boy, was that a distant memory by ep. 13.


I think I should have used a better word than power to attach to Joan. Yes SC will never think of her as executive material but it has always struck me that they don't think of her as some office sexpot. Whatever relationships she has had with the men in her office and despite the Jane/Roger situation, it's clear when it comes to her job as office manager, Joan is extremely good and professional and the men know it. They know she will help keep the office run smoothly even when it comes to office politics

Moneypenny was clearly set up for a fall for assuming he's better than Joan and the rest of the secretaries because 1)he's a man and 2) since he answers to the CFO. After all he not much more than a glorified secretary himself. That kind of arrogance and disrepsect he displayed was begging for a smackdown. The sooner he gets it in his head Joan actually knows how to run the office and knows better what works than he does, the better off he will be.

Frank


I LOVE Your recaps. Thank you for posting this one so promptly...


A couple notes on the fantastic Sal storyline. I loved how they contrasted the Don/stewardess and the Sal/bellhop scenes. Whereas Don's tryst was almost robotic - and his line about "I'm married, you get lots of chances" so world-weary - Sal was in the throes of real ecstasy and fulfillment for the first time in his life. Just fantastic.

I also love how Matt Weiner hinted what was to come between Don and Sal on the flight down, when Sal mentioned he had never met a stewardess so "ready to go" (or was it "ready to play"?). The look on Don's face was "you haven't? What the hell is wrong with you?" and then contrast that to the look on his face when he saw Sal and the bellhop through the window. "Limit Your Exposure" - such a great tag line for the ad and a subtle head-nod to what happened the night before, but also a much more concrete message - "Next time, close the damn drapes."


The episode did feel like a lot of set up, set up, set up--establishing where each character is after our 6 month break.

So Don now knows Sal's secret. It is interesting to me that Don knows Peggy's "big" secret and the secret she is keeping for him, the car accident, etc., is so small compared to what's there. Same for Sal. It's asymetrical. The only one who has a sense of the enormity of Don's secret is Pete and it didn't get him very far.

Anyway, it's still the best thing on TV.


Wow wee. I grew up in the 60's-- later 60's. I remember going through my father's suitcase after he came home from a trip just to see what he brought me back. Always some little trinket, mostly because his trips for the union were taken on a very tight budget. Once, I got very excited seeing something shiny and inquired what it was. It was Hubert Humprhey's tie tack--his initials, "HHH." My father had complimented him on it and he gave it to him.

By the way, Betty knows. The airline wings they gave to kids were plastic clip-ons, not jewelery quality stick pins.

Anyway, my father's small jewelery box was filled with tie tacks, tie clips (preferred for nicer ties) and cuff links. Who wears those anymore?

And hard sided Samsonite luggage with the satin interior--and side pockets that always lost their elasticity after the fourth or fifth trip....

There's a commentator on Slate who loves Mad Men for its study on women's undergarments. I noted last night that the stewardess was wearing garters. In about a year or two, women start wearing hose. It will be interesting to see the transformation. Don will stop wearing a hat round about that time. So will the ladies. He mentioned hats last night. Let's hope he doesn't embark on a major hat-oriented ad campaign!


Great stuff TLo! I couldn't help but wonder at the product placement of Stolichnaya in 1963. Stoli, according to Wiki, was not imported until 1965 and even then it was a few places in Brooklyn. Hard to think it would have had that prestige in 1963. Then I saw the Stoli ads all *over* amctv.com. Ah ha! Well, the show is dimly connected to advertising, even if we don't see a lot of work going on.:-)


I'm surprised no one has mentioned Betty's comment about Sally handling the hammer "like a little lesbian." I can't decide whether I find the comment humorous and shocking or yet another appalling example of Betty's lack of parenting skills. Perhaps both. Surprisingly - and thanks to Matt's writing and January's acting - as monstrous as Betty is with her children, I still feel great sympathy for the character.


C'est moi, c'est moi Lola

Thanks for the recap TLo.

All during the exchanges with Moneypenny and Joan, all I could say was the maxim learned from Jane last season: "Don't fuck with Joan!"

I didn't miss the exploded pen when Sal got it on. I had to giggle at how he abandoned himself completely to the bellboy, and yet was so cold to the Belle Jolie guy in Season 1.

And it's good to see Pete back to his dickish self. I was worried there between seasons.

I'll love to see what else happens this year!


Hands up. Who didn't think twice and went right from the premiere into the rebroadcast at 11 PM?

I think I caught all the little nuances on the first go-round and still had to watch a second time.

Don peeling the skin off the warm milk? Brilliant.

Pete's corny dance of glee when he thinks he's the sole Head of Accounts? Perfection.


I was almost as excited to see this post as I was to see the episode last night! I have an appreciation for the '60s, though I wasn't alive, so I always like getting the insight from those who know more about the era than me. I was hoping you'd bring up Betty's "taking to the tools like a little lesbian" comment. It seemed out-of-place to me, as if stereotypes should not evolved that far (universal closeting means that jokes are cruder and certainly not made by suburban housewives), but I don't really know.


Oh boy was I cheering when Sal and the bellhop kissed! Good for him!

So sorry to see Joan's still with the rapist. Maybe he'll meet an untimely end and she'll have to stay at SC? Fingers crossed...

It was an interesting choice to start this season in spring of '63. Does that mean we might get a "where were you" JFK assassination episode for the finale? I'm not sure if I like that or not.

While I wanted more at the end of this episode, Mad Men always leaves me wanting more. Compared to previous season premieres I think quite a lot actually "happened" this episode. We got a Don flashback, Pete & Cosgrove drama, new characters, and Sal finally getting some from the right gender. I'm so glad this show is finally back, and that your write-ups are, too!


I have been checking all morning for your post. I agree with Glamours Housewife, I watch it so differently now. I rarely watch things twice but I can't wait to watch it again and see more. I loved last night's episode. All the ups and down emotionally, there aren't that many shows that you watch with your heart too.


Like Amanda, I was abit surprised by Betty's Lesbian statement regarding Sally. It did seem out of place to me on first thought.

But then I thought, "It's 1963. The Kinsey Report came out in the late 40's and there was followup in the 50's. The Children's Hour was out in the movies 2 years earlier (hell, the play was on Broadway in the 30's!). While it might not have been a topic of polite conversation, Lesbianism also was not completely unkown to adults.

So, it was jarring, but on reflection not completely out of place.


Peaches-what a great metaphor for Joan, she IS like a great, gorgeous cat.

I would love to believe that the writers only chose London Fog for the symbolism, but I know that it's most likely product placement as well, whether or not we see an ad following (i.e., the Heineken ads...)


I literally cheered out loud when Sal finally got his - and then cried out loud in pain when the fire alarm went off. BOO. More sex for Sal!

As silly as it may sound, I'm so insecure that I'm not smart enough for this blog, so when I read your Mad Men recaps, I go, "Oh good, I caught that, too" and feel smarter. ;p


Dear Lord, how could I forgotten to mention Betty's Lesbian comment. I was shocked. I would not expect someone like her to utter such a word even in private to Don-much less in be in her vocabulary. I would expect it more from someone like Bobbie from last year to utter it.

But thinking about thae fact Don did not even flinch when she said it may have been a minor foreshadowing to the Sal-Don scene in the airplane

BTW I agree with Bert. London Fog is a great name for a product. So what if it plays up on a stereotype, the imagery and connotations it evokes is a great piece of marketing.

Frank


Roger and Joan both "tied the knot". Could they have secretly married each other? I was just thinking about that scene between Roger and Joan last season where he tells her that she was the "best piece of ass" he has ever had and he doesn't care who knows it. Maybe I am just hoping that Dr. McRapist is not going to show up again.


portsmouthliz

To Anonymous 1:27 -- I think Roger brought the Stoli back from his honeymoon. If Wiki is correct that it wasn't imported before 1965 and then only to a few stores, that would explain why it had prestige (if only to him, i.e. "not the Stoli.)

(I'm getting this from the New York Times piece on the historical accuracy of alcohol in Mad Men at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/12/dining/12don.html?_r=1&scp=7&sq=mad%20men&st=cse)


As always, phenomenal recap. I need a little help, though. Was the client who got the prostitute pregnant Don's (Dick's) father? The midwife delivered both babies, a stillborn girl to Don's stepmother and then a boy to the prostitute. So then the midwife brought the baby boy to Don's parent's house for them to raise . . . right?

Thanks!


Thanks, ItsJustMe for bringing that up. I was confused by those scenes too. Does that mean that Don's/Dick's father wasn't aware that D/D was his birth son? Or is that something we don't know yet?

And, how would D/D know the exact background of his birth? I mean, he was an infant. He could not possibly know the exact circumstances, unless Mr. Whitman knew that the prostitute died, why the name "Dick" was chosen, that the midwife supported both women, etc.

Or, was D/D just imaging how he came into the world based on rumors?


@Carlanoodle: I read an interview with Matthew Weiner and apparently Dick's birth was widely gossiped about, so all the information he needed was readily available.

I think it was here?

http://sepinwall.blogspot.com/2009/08/mad-men-talking-out-of-town-with.html

Although it might've been in an earlier one...


"Widely gosspiped about" Nelly, it's no surprise that Dick/Don would grow up to be man of few words with so many secrets and a padlock on his true emotions/self. I think I would too if I grew up where EVERYONE knew of parts of my past I wasn't proud of.

Thanks for the link!


@Mary I love Sepinwall! I found him searching out stuff on my other favorite tv show, Freaks & Geeks, and think his reviews are some of the best out there! TLO and Sepinwall are the place to go!

Love this review guys! I am so happy to have this show back. Even if we felt like "that was it" at the end, I am happy that this season premier moved faster and got to the good stuff quickly. I felt so bad for Sal when his moment was rudely interrupted, but I do think that a Pandora's Box of sorts has been opened and he will definitely be experiencing some type of growth and self discovery this season that he has tucked away so well in the past. I'm going to watch it again today and really soak it in!

How about that painting in Cooper's office "Dream of the Fisherman's Wife"?


"I've been married a long time. You get lots of chances." How cynical is that? I think Don may have patted down some of his loose threads but he's still just a puff of wind away from coming completely completely undone. Given MM's rather canonical approach to Sixties history, I think that puff of wind is going to come from the direction of Dallas in November.

I'm not old enough to remember when Stoli was extremely hard to find, and thus a very prestigious product. Remember, it wasn't just Russian then, but Soviet. And there were no ranks and ranks of Polish, Swedish, and French vodkas in the liquor stores then; ANY vodka was still pretty rare (the Screwdriver hadn't been invented yet, which is what set it off in the popular imagination), and most liquor stores would have had just one, Smirnoff's.

Now, of course, Stoli's isn't even considered a prestige product anymore. Maybe they're using the MM ad campaign to get some of that glamor back.


suzq said...

Wow wee. I grew up in the 60's-- later 60's. I remember going through my father's suitcase after he came home from a trip just to see what he brought me back.



Ha! Me too. So glad the show and Tlo recaps are back. Great job guys, as usual.


Hmm, it just occurred to me that in Britain, "1963" doesn't just mean "Dallas", it also means the Profumo Affair (in which, among other things, a Cabinet minister was caught sleeping with a prostitute who was also sleeping with a Soviet diplomat). We've got an office full of Brits here. I wonder if there's fallout from that? It's such a juicy story.


Carlanoodle said...
Thanks, ItsJustMe for bringing that up. I was confused by those scenes too. Does that mean that Don's/Dick's father wasn't aware that D/D was his birth son? Or is that something we don't know yet?

=================
Actually, Don/Dick was born in Kenya and shipped over to Hawaii, which was not yet a state. So he's going to have a spot of trouble when he finds himself on Nixon's short list for Vice President in Season 7. ;)


Can I confirm a universal NAY to Trudy's hat?


Also you gotta hand it to the bellboy acting on what he was reading on the gaydar. Poor Sal doesn't seem to have one fitted...yet.


C'est moi, c'est moi Lola

For all you vodka lovers out there:

You have to remember that Pepsi Co. gained the western import and marketing rights to Stoli in exchange for Pepsi being exported to the USSR in 1972. It was a barter deal, and I suspect Stoli was not available in the US until then.

Whether or not you consider this a fair trade is up for debate.

Anyway, by the time the Soviet Union fell, Pepsi had pissed away all its market share. Coca-Cola is now the capitalist elixir of life in the former Soviet Union....


Also what more proof that Pete is a man-child than his cringe-worthy 'happy dance' in his office after he's informed of his promotion? What a self-absorbed creep.


shinything
8/17/09 3:55 PM Can I confirm a universal NAY to Trudy's hat?

Alas...not according to John Swansburg at Slate.com

http://www.slate.com/id/2225274/entry/2225498/


I remember flying as a child in 1967, I think it was on TWA, and the wings I got were metal with a pin on the back. I shouldn't call them "wings," however; my pin had only one wing, whereas the stewardesses' and pilots' pins had two.


Amanda said...
I was hoping you'd bring up Betty's "taking to the tools like a little lesbian" comment. It seemed out-of-place to me, as if stereotypes should not evolved that far (universal closeting means that jokes are cruder and certainly not made by suburban housewives), but I don't really know.

8/17/09 1:36 PM

====================
I was born the month after JFK's assasination. I didn't hear the word "lesbian" until I was 13 years old.
==================
On another note, I thought that Peggy calling Hooker, "Moneypenny" was an interesting way of immasculating him.


Ellen M--

You are correct. I looked some up on eBay and they were metal through the 1970's. Betty still would have known, however, since they usually said "Junior Pilot" or "Junior Stewardess" on them.

Some actual stewardess pins had single wings--depended on the airline. UAL had one. Pan Am had two.


Regarding Betty's use of the word "lesbian," while it may have seemed shocking to some of us, it's not as if the word didn't exist in 1963. If anything, it was one of those words in the process of moving from the periphery of conversation to the mainstream. As Bill rightly pointed out, The Children's Hour had been released 2 years earlier.

You have to remember that the show isn't just about the 1960's; it's about these particular people in the 1960s and the show does a very good job of presenting a wide range of backgrounds and social classes. Betty is a college-educated woman who, for all her childishness, comes from a very sophisticated background. Not only is she old-school WASP money, but she lived in New York and even Europe as a model. It's not the kind of word she'd bring up in polite conversation, but to her husband, in private? It seemed pretty natural to us, especially with Betty's penchant for making disparaging remarks about her children and also being terribly hung up on what constitutes proper behavior for a little girl.


Bryan Batt discusses that scene.

RE: Betty's use of the word lesbian.

I was 15 in 1963 (that goes no further!!!!!), and it was no surprise to me to hear her use that word.


I didn't like that Don basically made the stewardess strip for him, but I think it's in keeping with distancing himself from the act.


I thought when Don said "It's my birthday," it was a cheesy line (one beneath his dignity, actually) to get the stewardess into bed. I couldn't figure out why he had to resort to that. I never thought it was his actual birthday!

love your blog -- it always brightens my day!


Sal.....the Belle Jolie guy....OMG, please, Nooooooo! That BJ guy is so disgusting. (BJ -- did I really say that?)


I assumed Roger got the Stoli (and the Cuban cigars) on his honeymoon in Greece.


My mother is a contemporary of Betty's and she certainly would have used the word lesbian in a private conversation with her husband in 1963. (Though she has told me she didn't know what a lesbian was until she got to college.) Fortunately she wouldn't have used the word in the same context as Betty, since my mother took shop instead of home ec in high school and was pretty handy with tools herself.


TLO,

I just finished reading your interview with Christina Hendricks. How did I miss that?

How much of yourself is in Joan?

Every actor interprets what they read through the things they know, but I would say Joan is more a combination of the lines that are on the page and people I’ve observed over my life. People say all the time, “Oh, this role is perfect for you; as if it was written for you.” And I’m like, “Wait a minute!” (Laughs) I don’t know how I feel about that comment. I think I’m quite different from her, but I think I’ve learned a lot from her — especially how to dress.



She is FABULOUS, isn't she?


Loved the recap. Brilliant analyses and so well written. The exploding pen. Heh. Several people bemoaned the fire alarm's cutting Sal's first gay sexual encounter short, but you could tell he didn't have another five seconds in him. The alarm was a bit of a blessing.

As for "lesbian" -- I note the stage adaptation of "Auntie Mame" written in 1957 (and set in 1929):
Mame: "...Now, read me the words you didn't understand." ...
Young Patrick: "Narciss-iss-istic. Lys-iss-istrata. Lesbian. Son-of-a--"
Mame: "My, my, what an eager little mind. You won't need some of these words for months and months."


I thought the Sal/bellhop scene was great, but I also think that will be the last of Sal exploring his homosexuality for a very long while, if ever on MM. I think he knows that if word got out, he'd be finished and I also think he knows his secret is relatively safe with Don.

Sal is too high up on the feeding chain to risk his position/reputation for a quick turn. In fact, after this he is likely going to bury himself further in the closet and don't be surprised if Kitty finds herself in the family way in short order.

Sal will stick his nose out of the closet again, eventually...but not for a while.

(Trust me, I know that of which I speak)


I think that Don being a little fuzzy about Sally's birth is not too unusual. I think the pleasure of watching your offspring shoot out your spouse's woo woo was not done until the 70's. Don probably spent the day each chd was born hanging out and waiting in a place NOT near the birthing


i'm not dorothy gale

I couldn't wait to read you, and your summary was excellent.

The spilled milk at the outset, though, reminded me of "don't cry over spilled milk" - what's done is done, and let's move on. That seemed to set the theme for the program whether it was Don's infidelity, Betty's hope for perfection even in the face of knowing her husband is a chaser, the British invasion of SC, Sal's secret life revealed.

The acting was exemplary, particularly with "Sal" and petulant "Pete". The hour sped by. Is it Sunday yet?


I was left more than a little curious about what happened to Ducky; I would assume he had a dust-up with Don that resulted in a rather epic implosion, but I'm sure we'll see that in a flashback moment somewhere in this season.

And for me, the most perfect moment was when Roger entered the firing meeting late and asked what he missed. Positively delicious.

And Joan...she's a pinup girl for everyone. Guys, girls, gays, she's got it covered. Girl's got some fantastic presence, that's for sure.


I thougt the season started off quite well. Of course it seemed a little "is that all there is" because we've been without it for so long. Once you let it start sinking in, though, you get that feeling there was so, so much more happening than what you think you saw.

I was thrilled to have that almost-hour back.


Am I the only one ecstatic about Jared Harris being cast as the Brit money man?!? LOVE HIM!!


I loved the exchange with moneypenny and joan...about how he was his bosses "right hand." and that he wasn't just some "typist". and Joan was all, bitch...if you had done your job, that pissed off fired dude wouldn't be wrecking havoc in the office right now. God, that was delicious.


TLo, I love and adore you, but I have to take issue with your remark that "only a gay actor" could have accurately portrayed the emotion required in the Sal/bellhop scene. Couldn't it simply be the case that Batt's a GREAT actor, regardless of his sexuality?


Re: Anonymous -Dear Lord, how could I forgotten to mention Betty's Lesbian comment. I was shocked. I would not expect someone like her to utter such a word even in private to Don-much less in be in her vocabulary. I would expect it more from someone like Bobbie from last year to utter it.


I was not shocked at all about Betty's comment, in fact I thought that was her character. She is always hard on Sally because it seems Sally did not turn out exactly like her. During the first two seasons she always said how Sally eats too much and how fat she was. Sally even practices ballet, probably more a suggestion from Betty b/c Sally does not have enough grace. During the opening scenes when Betty believes the baby is a girl, I think it's because she is hoping this baby will be more like her, and it's hard to say this, and not such a dissappoinment Sally is.


To add just a small observation to TLo's terrific post...

Weiner's script got everything so right with the boy's trip to Baltimore.

The references to the city in the 1960's - Friendship Airport; Haussner's restaurant; the Belvedere Hotel - all now renamed or long gone, show Weiner's brilliance as a writer.

I love this show.


Another Suburban Mom said...
I think that Don being a little fuzzy about Sally's birth is not too unusual. I think the pleasure of watching your offspring shoot out your spouse's woo woo was not done until the 70's. Don probably spent the day each chd was born hanging out and waiting in a place NOT near the birthing

8/17/09 8:12 PM

============
Typical 60's birth:

My dad was at work when I was born. My mother was under the effects of propofol while the doctors pulled me out. More modern than pushing, y'know. Dad popped in for a bit to take a look at me, went home for a bite to eat and went to the bowling alley. It was his league's bowling night and they were in the midst of the holiday tournament. He won a Christmas turkey that year.

So there was no story for either of them to tell me, except for the part that when my mom came to, she argued with the guy who came into her room to fix the radiator. She wasn't making any sense and the nurses had to come in to restrain her. Having gone through the act, fully conscious, myself, Her story was far more interesting.


I felt the same way after this episode: "That was it?"

But then Other Eric started listing all the things that happened and I realized that it was a pretty full episode. I guess any episode of this show is going to feel too short.


I must've missed something - when did Joan get married? Are we just guessing it because Christmas passed and that's when it was supposed to be?


I thought Don was going to turn the story of the daughter's birth into a London Fog ad.


I was thrown by the dialogue in the show - it didn't seem as true to the era as in previous seasons. When the stewardess said "Hoot and a half", it threw me. That seems like a fairly recent addition to the lexicon - maybe the 80s. There were a few others as well.


I just read about your blog and tuned into read your recap -
WOW! Incredible insight and writing. Thoroughly enjoyed and will make me sharper for the next episode.


Slow and plodding first Mad Men, Season 3. So disappointed. Oh, well. It's still stylish, smart, and unpredictable.


Great episode, great analysis, thanks guys.


a little late to the punch here, but the AMC website has great special features -- including a discussion of the TWA wings and other props here: http://www.amctv.com/videos/mad-men/?bcpid=8803972001&bclid=29713005001&bctid=33345776001


I love the show and thought this episode was boring.

I found the airline stewardess sequence to be over the top. She would have been the anomaly in those days.


I did think the lesbian comment and Don's reaction to it was off the mark. He by nature is conservative. Yes he screws around but that was the conservative mentality of the time. He is not a sophisticate or particularly liberal he is a pretender going for respectability and power.

It is just TV and generally a great show.


as the original summary states, there are repetitions and allusions in the script that make for a very textured show.

for example, Sal saying that he had flown some and that the stewardess was the most game he'd ever seen. Don's response, "Really?" was priceless

one reason Sal said that was to appear to be "one of the guys," yet Don is such womanizer that for him, the stewardess's action was just another day at the office. He almost looked at Sal with true disbelief.

and then we get the big reveal later in the show. this is good stuff.





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