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Mad Men S3E3: My Old Kentucky Home


"You people. You think money's the answer to every problem."

There it is. The line - uttered by Betty's father - that encapsulates the entire theme of the episode. Each episode is like a puzzle. At first glance, it's hard to figure out, but once you get that corner piece, everything falls into place. It's about money, or more specifically, class status, because in America, the former determines the latter. Once you figure out the hook, you can see it played out over and over in every scene. The little subplot of Sally Draper stealing money out of Gene's money clip was pretty much a framing device for the whole episode.

As this episode demonstrated, you can change your social class with the acquisition of money, but you'll never fit in as well as the people who are born into their class. Or as Connie, the old guy that Don meets while fixing a couple of Old Fashioneds (because both men literally are a couple of old fashioneds) says, once you get inside that mansion, "It's different inside." They're both men who started off in the lower classes - some online speculation at Television Without Pity has it that Connie is Conrad Hilton - and Don once again relates a telling piece of his humble background to someone other than his wife, and both have found that life in the upper classes isn't what they thought it would be.

Roger and his new wife Jane are throwing a Kentucky Derby party at their country club and that brings everyone's anxiety about social status to the foreground. The creative team finds out that not only are they not invited to the party, which brings out their class envy and the inevitable comparing of bona fides ("I've been here 6 years longer than you," Sal retorts to Paul's whine about being excluded), they also have to work through the weekend to come up with ideas for the Bacardi account.

Jane stops by the office to flaunt her new clothes and her new status as Rogers' wife. Joan does a classic slow burn as Jane goes out of her way to treat her like a servant. Certainly, Joan must be looking at Jane and thinking about what she could have had in Roger, but from a viewer standpoint, Jane looks like a pretty tragic creature. Desperately unhappy and in over her head, she, much like Betty, drinks too much and eats too little.

We get a deeper look at Joan's own marriage as she and her rapist husband Greg prepare and host a dinner party for the Chief of Surgery at Greg's hospital. Again, class and social status hang over everything as Joan and Greg argue over who gets to sit where at the table depending upon their status and Joan quotes no less an authority on social mores than Emily Post to make her point. There are various "classes" of doctors and wives attending and the wives even take a moment in the kitchen to openly compare their status with each other. The Chief of Surgery's wife recalls with fondness the days when they had no money, like Joan and Greg. Joan gets two surprises this episode: one, that right now, Greg needs her more than she needs him and two, that he's not as good a doctor as she would have hoped and therefore, her plans of moving to Riverdale and leaving her job suddenly look a little less likely.

When the conversation inadvertently shifts to Greg's lacking skills as a surgeon, he forces his wife into the spotlight to save him. If there's one thing Joan can do, it's stand in the spotlight to divert attention to herself. Dutifully, she does so, albeit with visible unease. It's not so much that she minds putting on a show; it's that she's concerned that she has to put on a show to help her husband out. Whatever sadness and unease the scene held was partially overshadowed by the sheer incongruity of beautiful, voluptuous Joan standing up to play the accordion, an instrument that pretty much no one in present day considers sexy. Joan being Joan though, turned an instrument we all associate with Lawrence Welk polkas into the sexiest little musical number we could imagine.

Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Pete, said in a pre-season 3 promo on the AMC site that this season was going to feature way more singing and dancing. We thought at the time that he was just making a smartass crack because who would ever associate singing and dancing with Mad Men? Turns out, he wasn't joking. Last week had Peggy singing in front of her mirror and this week had no less than three singing numbers performed by Paul Kinsey, Joan, and Roger, plus a jaw-dropping dance routine performed by the ridiculous Pete and Trudy Campbell.

At Roger and Jane's party everyone's anxiety about their social standing is right under the surface. Don and Betty show up and the husbands and wives all make a beeline to them at once, eager to bask in their standing and be recognized. Pete and Trudy, because they're very at ease in this milieu ("With this set," brags Trudy to Betty, "one of my old beaux might appear!") do better than Harry Crane and his wife, who are visibly uncomfortable and by the end of the party, annoyed at being so bad at working the crowd.

Working the crowd certainly isn't a problem for the openly social climbing Campbells, as they take to the dance floor and quickly overtake it, forcing everyone else off with their energetic Charleston routine. And it is a routine. Only a childless couple would have had the time or even the inclination to rehearse their Charleston as these two so clearly did. That wasn't a spontaneous moment. We can imagine the two of them spending hours in their apartment going over it again and again to get it perfect. Pete was scanning the crowd the entire time, eager for approval.

Back at Sterling Cooper, the creative team is hard at not-work and even there the social strata are delineated. Paul went to Princeton, Smitty went to University of Michigan, and Peggy went to Miss Deaver's Secretarial School. But even Paul's relative superior standing is questioned and derided by his drug dealing college buddy who sneers that Paul was pure Joisey who only got into Princeton on a scholarship.

Meanwhile, Peggy continues her journey away from her restrictive upbringing. Last week she sought out a one night stand and this week she uttered the destined-to-be-immortal line, "I'm Peggy Olson and I want to smoke marijuana." With all the social anxiety flying around this episode, it's notable that once again, Peggy is the only one doing fine. "I'm in a really good place," she announces with satisfaction to her co-workers, and later, to her new secretary re-affirms her feelings. "I'm not scared of any of this." If last week's fling was a little unclear, it should be clear by now that Peggy is the only person on the show who knows what she wants, knows what she's doing, and is happy both with the journey and the destination. Everyone else is struggling to determine who they are and what they want except for her.

Betty has another encounter outside another ladies room with a stranger that leads to thoughts of adultery. A man placing his hand on a very pregnant woman's stomach makes for a bizarre seduction scene, but Betty adores any kind of attention, no matter how inappropriate (like flirting and holding hands with a ten year old). Since the guy apparently knows Bert Cooper and works in the governor's office, count on him making another appearance.

It would be almost irresponsible to have a discussion about class and status in America in the 1960s and not bring race into it. Because this is Mad Men, it's done in oblique ways. One of the criticisms of the show from people who, frankly, don't get it, is that it deals with all the social changes of the time but glosses over the biggest social change of all, the civil rights movement. People who make that argument are not paying attention. This is a show set in a milieu almost exclusively populated by white middle to upper-middle class characters. Black people were for the most part, in the background. That's the whole point. If you pay attention, you can see that they're slowly working their way into the foreground. The Carla we saw last night was a lot less conciliatory than the Carla we were introduced to last season. She's taking no shit at all from Gene and snaps "I'm NOT Viola!" and an irritated "We don't all know each other" to the befuddled man. If that wasn't enough, then Roger yanks it to the foreground through his shocking (by modern standards) blackface routine to the crowd at his party. Most of the crowd laughs politely, but some of them, Don and Pete, most notably, uncomfortably wince through the scene.

Roger is a jackass. He always was a jackass, but as time progresses, he's become even more of one. He's a perfect example of the type of person who's going to be left behind by the changes to come. It seems like his relationship with Don is irretrievably broken as Don tells him that people don't think he's happy; they think he's a fool. That's probably true, but even Don has a moment while watching Roger and Jane dance. It seems that Don is realizing that Roger just might be happy after all and goes out into the darkness to find his petulant upper class wife to give her a kiss.


[Photos curtesy of amctv.com
]


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77 comments:

So just how much do we adore this frickin' show?!! I was a child of the upper middle class in the late 60's, and my soul is scourged again and again as those times are evoked with wincing accuracy. Ai yi yi!


I was surprised that there was no mention of Peggy's new secretery and the underlying fear the secreteries have of working with Peggy. It's clear that women in adminstrative positions were just as uncomfortable with working for other women, not just because they no longer felt like equals, but because they felt their successes were likely to be fleeting. Why else would this woman cancel plans to work on a weekend (and stay until dark)? She is fearful that Peggy will fail and thus, she will fail and be out of a job - or maybe she is trying to be extra supportive of Peggy as 'girl power'? Interesting... loved the Peggy as stoner scenes.


Notice also the three parties we saw:

- the upper class Derby Day, the kind of rich folk gathering few people ever see

- the pot roast and charades Middle Class of Joan's soiree

- and the low class Mary-Jane, lying-in-the-floor, hiding-from-the-man get-together of the Kinsey Crew

I also liked that Carla's prickly reaction to Gene wasn't just her being defensive about race- it was very much her being defensive about the children. She clearly knew what was up with Sally, and was not having any of Gene's bullying. There was an element of Carla letting Gene know that SHE was in charge when Betty was away.

Finally, we see an aspect of Don that I never noticed. In the past two seasons it's been Dirt-Poor Dick gaining power and influence and cash, and not looking back. He fits in with is new status, enjoys it, and wants more. But last night we saw that he actually resents to the people he's tried so hard to join, and always has.

I half-expected him and Connie to go take a leak in the trunk of someone's car.


This episode was the best of season three and really kicked things into motion. The exploration of class issues was so on the money that at times it was painful to watch. I really wish the writers would lay off the Trudy/baby thing a bit. I really think her presence on the show is expanding and would like to see more complex emotions from her.


My fashion review with a little bit of character assessment thrown in. [whine]BTW, I wish AMC would show more fashion-oriented photos, most of the photos in the gallery are from the shoulders up, and several of the episode's characters were left out. [/whine over]

Betty - Loved the hair, the dress was cute. A departure from the styling that we are used to with Betty, but that makes sense since she is pregnant and needs to buy new clothes, thus making Betty's pregnancy wardrobe more up-to-date than her regular wardrobe.

Joan - That accordion song was hawt! Joan's slip and curlers look was her best look of the episode, the black dress with red roses was alright. I am kinda surprised that we do not see more women in curlers, we seldom see Betty in the process of being Bettified.

Sally - The money in the sock brought back memories, do kids still do that? Cute sleepwear, including the ponytails.

Peggy and Olive - I liked Olive's look including the hair, kinda severe but interesting. Surprisingly, Peggy / Elizabeth Moss looks good in red - IIRC, she also wore red to an awards show. Peggy is getting creepier and creepier.

Paul, Jeff and Smitty - Their ensembles looked quite interesting in the pictures. The details of Paul's sweater, Jeff's plaid jacket and loosened tie, and Smitty's leather jacket and boots and ribbed socks were quite nice. Is it me or is Paul becoming likable, still a pompous ass, but likable?

Trudy and Pete - They are cuteness personified. I liked Trudy's hat and Pete's jacket had interesting details that did not show up on screen. Trudy and Pete's Charleston was the highlight of the episode for me.

Don and Connie - Don was his typical man in the the gray flannel suit perfection, for some reason Don carrying Betty's purse and wrap was a compelling visual. Connie's white jacket with a black accent was interesting - I can see why he was mistaken for a bartender or a member of The Temptations.

Harry and Jennifer - surprisingly my favorite fashion couple / group, with Paul, Jeff and Smitty being contenders. Jennifer rocks with her naked ambition.

Jane and Roger - The ensemble that she wore to the office was my favorite of the episode. I find Jane rather interesting, of course she is not a good girl, but a lot of her advancement is due to Roger having the hots for her. The couple looked good on the dance floor.
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Gotta give a shout out to Mona's outfit last week, she looked fab!


I was also thinking that pete and trudy probably learned all those dance steps when it was their turn to be a debutante and an escort. Then they probably practiced them before they got married, which was in the last few years. But you're probably right, they most likely practiced the dance. I thought they looked like Mary and George dancing over the pool in It's a Wonderful Life.

Conrad Hilton was born in San Antonio, New Mexico, so maybe that's right! Very interesting.

I thought for sure that Gene was going to beat Sally, but I guess he really didn't know what was up. I work with elderly people, and that deterioration is so sad. I think it's interesting that they made it a part of the show.


RE: Gene and Sally

he knew what was up. I just get the feeling he's more of an emotional bully than a physical one. And a complex character, who will not always behave in the most obvious way.

_____


I'm sure everyone has seen this, but I only just got hep:

http://madmenfootnotes.com/


I thought this was a fantastic, tension-filled episode. Between your analysis and that of the Sepinwall blog I have nothing to add. If the bar guy was indeed Conrad Hilton, I wonder if the writers had to get permission to use his name/persona from the actual Hiltons.


What I didn't understand:
I didn't understand Betty wanting to dance at the beginning and then later on begging off saying that Don likes to dance but she can't. I know that there is some double speak in there, I just didn't get it.

Paul comes from money, right?* I did not understand the scholarship to Princeton comment. Even if he is nouveau riche, I don't see why he would need a scholarship, oftentimes the nouveau riche can afford to pay an ivy league school's tuition better than the Brahmins. Does that mean that Paul has been inflating his pedigree and family bank account? Did his family cut him off?
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* Joan was the one who referred to him as rich, which I interpret to be pretty darn rich - not Trudy and Roger rich, but upper upper middle class, like where the Drapers are now or will be in a few years.


Wow - thanks so much for the very quick recap!

I always love your thoughts on Peggy and the other women of the show especially.

Keep these wonderful recaps coming!


Thanks again, Tom & Lorenzo for blogging this wonderful show.

I liked the way it showed that even unhappy couples have happy moments, or moments they will look back on as happy--Pete & Trudy dancing, Greg and Joan getting their house ready for the dinner, Jane and Roger and Don and Betty in their final clinches.

I think Peggy's secretary's approach was to mother the younger woman. It's something assistants often do, but Peggy has enough people in her life telling her how she should behave and she doesn't need it from her assistant.

I love the way Don is letting little bits of his life as Dick out to various strangers this season--telling the stewardess it's his birthday, or the man in the bar about valeting cars at the roadhouse.


I said it last week, and I'll say it again this morning: you are revolutionizing Monday mornings. Well, at least during the Mad Men season.

Mad Men is now a two-part experience. I watch the show and then I read your summary -- one isn't complete without the other. I couldn't agree with your insight one bit more.

My favorite lines from the evening? When Peggy said, "I'm so high." Again, her delivery is always flawless. And when Don said, "We don't think you're happy. We think you're foolish."

Thanks again!


C'est moi, c'est moi Lola

I have to say this is one of the most entertaining episodes in the past couple seasons.

I was watching with my sister, and when Greg asked Joan to 'play something' I joked that it would be an accordion. And holy crap, I was right! But Joanie did much better than expected.

And the face-off between Joan and Jane: priceless. I still have money on Joan and Roger having another go.

Trudy and Pete's dance routine: for sure it harks back to days at the debutante balls, and was hilarious at the same time. All I could think was, thank god the twist came along....

Joan is still my favorite, but Peggy's storyline is definitely holding my interest this season. Drinking, sleeping around, and now passing around a joint. Let's hope she doesn't drop some acid in the office water cooler! (I kid.)

I always love your write-ups, boys, and I hope you got some sleep this weekend! Thanks!


THANK you Alex! I had not seen the footnotes webpage. Awse.


Smith was making goo-goo eyes at Peggy last night. Are we going to see something develop there?


Great recap TLo!

Just a small observation: In the comments after last week's recap, someone pointed out that there has been a "barefoot" theme this season (dancing around the maypole barefoot, barefoot in the kitchen, etc.). This week, at the end of the Derby Party, Jane Sterling was barefoot as she was trying to get some food from the buffet...


Loved this episode, my favorite so far this season. I was twelve during this time period and went to dancing classes. The Charleston was very popular and dressing as a flapper for Halloween was big.

Even though Al Jolson was a thirties star, he was very much known in the fifties and sixties. His Mammy routine was still imitated at talent shows before many Americans woke up as to how offensive blackface was.

Even though it was historically accurate,I did find the scene to be incredibly jarring. It's how I feel when I am watching Mickey Rooney merrily dancing and singing in blackface during the thirties. For me, it always puts a little shadow over the joy of Mickey's performance.

How far we have come in the area of racial sensitivities, but, unfortunately, we have many more miles more to go.


My drooling anticipation of each new episode of "Mad Men" is never completely satisfied until I get to read your recap Monday morning. Thanks as always for an insightful take on my favorite show.

I am always in awe of the down-to-the-last-detail perfectionism of character, time and place in this series. The smalltalk fading off screen between Betty and Trudie as they walked away from the crowd: "I grew up in a club just like this." "So did I..."; Jennifer's dejection at being upstaged on the dance floor by Pete and Trudie; the fear in Joan's eyes as she performed on the accordion and realizes that she might have backed the wrong horse...God I love this show!

Question for the faithful: Do you think Don's contempt for Roger is because Roger broke the cardinal rule of keeping the surface smooth, or is Don merely jealous of a man confident enough with himself and his place in the world that he feels free to make waves?


For me, the Charleston and the accordian solos were the evening's touchstones.

In the 20's the Charleston (and the Jazz that came with it)was a scandelous dance which was derrived directly from black sharecroppers who began moving to the city to find work. In order to make it respectable, people appropriated the footwork in an upright, ballroom position.

Pete and Trudy's routine required both people to bend their legs and reach their arms out. It was a theatrical version of the risque and "primative" moves commonly done by decendents of African slaves. The theater element makes it respectable. Everyone is skating on their own edge, as opposed to Roger, who just fell off completely.

The accordion was often a staple in lower class, ethnic families. The chief of surgery's wife remarks about how they used to sit around and play the piano. Many families who couldn't afford a piano had an accordion. So pulling that out instantly communicated Joan's status. She certainly made the most of it, however.

It is interesting to note that both the Charleston and the accordion were falling out of favor through the 50's and into the 60's. Both were holdbacks from the vaudville era--as were blackface performances.

If you were there at the time and had to pick which of the three groups (the Derby party, the dinner party or the stoner party) would be most relavent 5 years into the future, I bet you'd get it wrong. But then again, which of the three groups made the most productive use of their time?


What's amazing to me about your recaps aren't just the inobvious insights a lot of miss. It's also the more obvious ones many other reviewers overlook. 1 of the folks at Enetertainment Weekly just basically was perplexed about the point of this episode

You nailed it Peggy is the only one who's happy where she's at. Sure she's had her secrets and life will never be easy for her, but she is strong and will clearly pave the way for other women. I didn't mind the secretary. At least she gives a damn about Peggy and has her back, even if it's in a overly protective maternal way.

For me her state of happiness is likely tied to a lack delusion or illusion. When compared to everyone else, she's the only one not lying to herself and trying the least to create some surface illusion. I find it amusing to compare her to Paul. It's clear she doesn't care she wasn't invited to the party, she's starting to realize her own worth. She has so much more depth, talent and class than him. Note she was the only one to get inspired while stoned. Peggy is an invaluable asset to the company.

When I compare Peggy to the other women I feel very sadden. Poor Joan with that loser husband. Of course he's a loser not because he may not be the greatest surgeon in the world but becuase he's too macho and too pride to confide in Joan. Let's face it, Joan has what it takes to make a great wife and partner-a real wife. The wife of the chief of surgery was savvy enough to see it. The really annoying part, from the modern perspective, is Joan would likely have been happy to go through whatever hoops needed to charm the boss if that idiot just explained the situation and asked for her help. hey buddy your wife is the office manager for a major Ad firm. She gets office politics all too well.

And then there's Jane. I never thought I'd feel sorry for Jane. She will never be fully accepted and she is so desperately trying to fit in. I don't really see her any longer as just some golddigger. Sure Roger is happy-at the moment. But Don is right, he is being foolish. He married Jane simply as a way to fill the void in his life. What happens when the novelty wears off and she becomes less naive and morphs into another version of Betty? You know Roger will likey bail and not to try to make things work like Don is.

And Pete and Trudy. What a performance. Yes a performance. So calculated by the end of it I kind of shook my head and thought, "who are you fooling?". The dance number felt like a substitue for Pete not being allowed to pass out his card.

Frank


Love the show, and got into a little debate off line about the use of "black face" while I know this show is set in 1963 and somethings are appropriate i.e. black maids, no black folks in the office etc I don't feel that it was really nessecary to have Roger Sterling in blackface this episode. The show is set in 1963 it's not shown in 1963! I know it was used to show how "out of touch" Roger is but it was a little too far for my taste!


Kasey, I think it was "necessary" to depict the blackface the same way it's necessary to show all the other ways these people are living in the past. It's certainly not meant to be taken as an endorsement. Quite the opposite. It's meant to show how bad the times were for anyone who wasn't white and male.


Last night was quite an interesting episode...I wish I could wrap my head around it, but with Sally reading "The Fall of the Roman Empire" to Gene, Roger singing in blackface, Joan playing the accordion and lip-syncing, and the first bit of blue humor in the show, I had a hard time concentrating.


Linda the Prof

You guys rock! I really appreciate your analysis. It's worthy of graduate study.


Did anyone else notice the drug dealer looked and sounded almost exactly like a young Tom Cruise circa Risky Business? I meant to check the credits to see if he was a relative (think Tom's real last name is Mapother).


I love the episode and I couldn't wait to read your post. So many thing I don't catch. Thanks, guys!


I didn't exactly enjoy Roger's performance either and questioned the necessity of using blackface to make their point. It certainly made my jaw drop for a moment, but the way I see it Roger's got tragedy written all over his character and he'll receive his comeuppance for this act as well as his choices both personally and professionally. I can't say if he's either smart enough or will ever even be enlightened enough to know how tragic his choices are or will be. Good episode though. Lot's to think about over the next week.

One other smaller observation and this may have already been mentioned, but I thought it ironic that Gene made his remark to Betty & Don about the importance of money to them all the while creating a tremendous fuss in the Draper household because of his missing five dollars. Love that Sally --- she steals, smokes, lies --- Mom thinks she's a lesbian... I can't wait to see her as a fully developed adult MM character.

Great re-cap, TLo!

- edina -


For me one of the best parts of the show was the lyrics to the song Joan sang in French (c'est magnifique), which starts out about how wonderful it is when love takes you by the arm, and the world is filled with luminous kisses and you give your heart with a bouquet of flowers, and make a marriage filled with love...
Seemed to be a melancholy choice on her part, given that her own "marriage of love" is slowly revealiing itself to be anything but...


Thank you, as always, for your much needed insights!

On Gene and Sally:

I think the scene at the end was a redeeming one for Gene. He's treated by everyone like a child with a temper, and often acts like one, but at the end I think he made the adult decision that Sally had learned her lesson and didn't need any further punishment. Of course, it's not accidental that she's reading him a book about lost decadence.


Wonderful posts, guys. I really love your take on the show.


The best part about Carla knowing about Sally's role in the missing $5 is how it is reminiscent of how African Americans were treated in America during the pre/post Civil War period as unimportant tools of commerce. But there she is clued in on the limitations, anxieties, flaws and joys (when they come) of the superior class. Watching and knowing and still getting up and breathing their truth.

Deepness.


I almost forgot....Betty's dress would have totally won last week's Project Runway pregnancy challenge as it successfully went from daytime to evening AND elicited a pass from a total stranger!


Loved the Charleston. After watching Peter and Trudy last night, I imagined how the two of them must have first learned the steps during their debut party days, then perfected the dance for their wedding reception, then pulled out the old routine for this garden party.

I agree with Frank that if Pete couldn't pass out his business card, the next best thing was to do a show-stopping dance number.

Pete reminds me of so many old-money people I know. The family fortune was lost or spent by their parents' generation, so they don't have any real money themselves, but they know how to do the Charleston and they know their way around a country club.

Roger is a mess. How many episodes will pass before it all comes tumbling down on him? I couldn't believe how he turned on Don when Jane was hanging on his waistband. This is the same Roger who was a guest in Don's home for dinner and hit on Betty when Don was out of the room. What a slimeball.

I am glad to see Gene taking an interest in his granddaughter by spending time reading together. Betty never seems to have a smile for that little girl, ever.

-Itsjustme


I'm curious about Betty saying, looking slightly puzzled, "She's not moving right now" when the older guy had his had on her abdomen. I know babies don't move around all the time in utero, but it seemed they (the writers) wanted us to know that the baby was inactive and caused Betty to pause.


I think the addition of Grampa Gene is great for the show, and I think he uttered one of the most prescient and important lines for the entire season last night to Sally, when Don told her it was time for bed. As she closed the book, Grampa Gene leans over and says:

"All hell breaks loose right after this."

Truer words were never spoken.


Sara - totally agree! Grandpa had the best lines last night.


Peggy is utterly fearless, which is part of what makes her so attractive. Everyone else has something to lose, but not Peg. She's been my fave from day one, because she dares.

I enjoyed Pete and Trudy's dance and thought they seemed to really be enjoying themselves! Pete's a good dancer, who knew? I loved the revelation of people's hidden talents--Joan plays the accordion! Pete's an awesome dancer! Oh, and I have to differ with the assessment of Pete and Trudy as "social climbing". They don't have to social climb. They're there. That was kind of the point, they were perfectly comfortable in the setting. Now, Jane? Social climbing.

Joan enjoyed her time with Roger but never, ever would have married him. She would never place herself in the homewrecker role that Jane is in. She's too smart for that. Sadly, her doctor hubby is not the superstar she thought he was. That's not going to be good for Joan.


Amy -

Betty's comment about the baby not moving, coupled with her reference to the First Lady, made me wonder whether Betty goes through a stillbirth. The First Lady reference was to Jackie Kennedy who was pregnant with Patrick in 1963, but had a stillbirth I believe in September or sometime not too long before JFK was assassinated in November.


Roger is a mess. How many episodes will pass before it all comes tumbling down on him? I couldn't believe how he turned on Don when Jane was hanging on his waistband. This is the same Roger who was a guest in Don's home for dinner and hit on Betty when Don was out of the room. What a slimeball.

But that's WHY he made a fuss -- he knows what he himself is capable of, and judges Don by those standards. And he has no reason to think Jane is any angel of purity, either.

Yes, he is a slimeball, yet Roger's one of my favorite characters. They are really ratcheting up the suspense level on his story -- I almost can't watch for anticipating how loudly and terribly his world is going to come crashing down. I can't wait.


rainwood said, The First Lady reference was to Jackie Kennedy who was pregnant with Patrick in 1963, but had a stillbirth I believe in September

Not a stillbirth. Patrick was born prematurely and died a couple of days later.


Lilithcat -

You're right. He did die a few days later. So much pain and sorrow for Jackie in such a short period of time.


I can't help but compare your reviews to others, but I always end up thinking that yours is the most on point. I've watched all Matt's commentaries, and you certainly have a feel for his show!


You're right. Roger assumes Don is just as slimy as he is. Now his response makes sense to me.

I too have always enjoyed Roger's character. He is such a smart-ass, but he's smart. John Slattery played a similar role on Sex in the City, and I liked him then too. (The pee-ing politician, as I refer to him.)

It was a particularly tense episode last night, but my favorite of the season so far.

-Itsjustme


This show has some of the best and most subtle acting I've ever seen in a television show. Moments like when Don and Betty show up at the party and Trudy and Pete stand there while someone discusses Betty's pregnancy, and Trudy gives this oh-so uncomfortable and envious look at Betty's "condition." Really incredible.


amy -- i initially thought that betty said that the baby wasn't moving just to save face in that she allowed a stranger to touch her belly under the pretense of letting him feel the baby moving but rather like T&L said, just really relishing the attention.

i haven't watched the scene again, but i will to see if maybe it does foreshadow the death of the kennedy baby, like you all have said, since they did mention a pregnant first lady in this episode s well.


Your recaps and commentaries completely make my Mondays! I had to rush home from work since The Man blocks Blogger from site computers.

This episode actually made me gasp out loud a few times--and I am really starting to see Peggy as a Helen Gurley Brown.

Love the show, love the recaps MORE. Keep it up, T and Lo!


"I was surprised that there was no mention of Peggy's new secretery and the underlying fear the secreteries have of working with Peggy"

Olive the Secretary is a trainwreck waiting to happen.

She's clearly more desperate to please Peggy (the tea and coffee thing) than someone with her experience (uh... age...) should show. She seemed needy as hell.

It was pretty clear that she was "bactching" (or is she "spinstering" it) that saturday. Kids, gone, Hubby elsewhere. What to do? "Peggy's there. She 'needs' me. That'll give me some purpose!"


the calitexican said...
amy -- i initially thought that betty said that the baby wasn't moving just to save face in that she allowed a stranger to touch her belly under the pretense of letting him feel the baby moving but rather like T&L said, just really relishing the attention.

=========
I thought the total opposite. People were coming. She was expecting Trudy (?)to emerge from the bathroom at any moment. It was her way of saying, "No need to keep your hand there. Nothing's going to happen."


I thought Olive's story about where her son and husband were was complete fabrication... I bet we find that she IS a spinster, or lives alone... and the job is all she has, hence her fear of losing it.


i'm not dorothy gale

I have no idea how you are turning our these posts in near real time, boys, but we are just loving the care and attention you are giving to fashion and fables.

From Sally going bad seed on Gene's ass to Betty's bizarre flirtation, the episode begs scrutiny and interpretation. I think Don goes to Betty and embraces her at wood's end because he realizes HE could be found as big a fool as he views Roger. Roger, his old drinking and fooling-around buddy, is an embarassing buffoon with the blackface entertainment and drunk young wife. Don seemed shocked and couldn't wait to distance himself.
I think many of us have separated from a formerly close friend because we've grown beyond them.

Was Gene the model for Hank Hill's dad on "King of the Hill"? I keep waiting for him to talk about losing his shins in the war....


I kept waiting for a green light off in the distance. This episode just screamed Gatsby to me.


omg i cheered for peggy's pot smoking the same way i did for sal's sexual discovery. it was such a surprise & it made me so proud of her for being open minded & assertive. it seemed like this was a continuation for her of trying on other people's vices. this time though it seemed a better fit & she forced the guys to see her as more of an equal or even partner in crime. by the end even smitty was in awe of how she was able to take the experience & find inspiration that would get her to nail all 5 new campaigns, while the boys lay comotose and useless on the floor.

i love that she got herself a new secretary & immediately told her to forget everything lola said. also love that she got someone that would be there to work for her rather than ignore her & flirt with the boys. (more peggy assertiveness :D) and definitely i think olive reacted in a very motherly kind of way. olive wants peggy to succeed. women olvie's age were well aware of how few options they had at peggy's age & to see peggy making such strides, it's no wonder she was protective & worried she might lose it all. i think peggy's found a solid supporter in olive & they could be a formidable team in some ways.


suzq: or that could be the excitement of getting caught much like actually committing adultery.

jse91: i thought so as well. they certainly contain many of the same social commentaries.


I disagree with your statement that black people were "in the background" in the 1960s.
They weren't. They were in the living room on the TV News every night.
Images of Selma, Birmingham, Orel Faurbus in Little Rock are burned into my mind. It was very much a part of the times no matter where you were. As well as Vietnam, the early years.
That's one thing that really bugs me about the show. They don't show the importance of TV news and the newspapers. How you got in the 1960s information was very, very different from today.
Every day, you watched Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley. Dinner was planned for before or after, because if you missed it, that was it. There was no rebroadcast.
You got updates the next day from the newspaper.
Most offices had a TV or radio so they could listen to JFK's press conferences. He had a press conference several times a month at 4 p.m. so they could make the evening paper's deadline.
Nixon stopped them and had his press secretary give the briefing and that's continued.
TV was still new then and having one, particularly a color set, was a big deal and status symbol.


just a note after reading a few comments - i dont think olive is worried about losing her job. she's not likely to be fired, just moved to another desk. she was worried peggy would lose her job.

i grew up around a lot of women olive's age & they all told me endless stories about how they had no options growing up, were allowed minimal schooling & had to marry young. i cant tell you how many times they told me to go to college, get a good job, make my own life & not get bogged down by some man.

olive wants peggy to do all the things she never got to do. that's why she was so freaked out that she could get in trouble, or distracted, and lose it all.


Nice summary. And beautiful theme! I was actually expecting that theme long back but I'm glad they brought it up [and gave some hints to it as well :P]

Pete and Trudy's dance...dear God I think I watched it three times over and over. The first time I as like "Whaa?" Bejesus..

I noticed how the black people came to the foreground as well! But very slowly of course which adds a nice touch. As well as a quotes about the end of the world gave a good foreshadowing for the episodes to come.


Loving these recaps. I don't think Gene is at all as "out of it" as he's been portrayed. He's wiley and a bully, but he knew exactly who took his cash and he didn't let it go because he knew it needed dealing with. He was rightfully angry at Don and Bette for just shoving money at him to mollify him vs. trying to get to the bottom of it. He knew it wasn't Carla (or he would have accused her). He knows, somewhere deep down, that Sally needs attention - not coddling, but real supportive attention. So, he's spending time with her and expects that she's capable of reading a big, serious book to him. Maybe he sees that Betty didn't get the right kind of attention growing up and she's clearly unhappy, so he's trying to make sure that Sally doesn't end up the same way.


I'm a fan of TWOP's recaps but I will always come here for Mad Men. I like that it's balanced with what happened in the show and what you have to think about it what happened. 100% A+!

(If someone decided to start writing True Blood recaps I wouldn't be too against that either since the person who does that on TWOP is a bit too... much. Yes, much.)


I'm a 38-year-old African American woman and I was actually surprised at my reaction to Roger's minstrel show. I always thought maybe I was too young to be genuinely appalled at seeing a white person in blackface. There is SO MUCH to be offended about nowadays (plus all the opportunities for "faux outrage") that cheap minstrelsy has always seemed pretty mild to me by comparison. Still, that scene was very unsettling - it was hard to watch (did he really say something about shoe polish?). Maybe I was freaked out because almost everyone at the party was perfectly comfortable with it. There was no irony, it was real entertainment. A legitimate "showcase performance" at an upscale party. Made me really think of all the bullshit my mother and father must have gone through - indignities great and small that I will never truly understand because I'm... still... "too young". I guess I have them and their generation to thank that I have the luxury of being "shocked" by a television program.

Man, I love this show.


HellsKitchenDude

Fantastic post, guys!


Did doctors not make very much money in the 60s? I found the home dynamic of Joan and her doctor sort of surprising. Did I just watch it wrong, or was it implied that currently Joan is the main breadwinner in the family?


I'm seeing Gene as more emotionally blackmailing Sally, like this is between us, I won't tell on you. He raised Betty after all.


Jasper--if being a doctor in the 60s is anything like being a doctor, now, then the first few years as a resident you don't make much money. That, coupled with school debt makes marrying a doctor a long-term investment. Joan is obviously wondering if it's going to pay off.


Am I just crazy, or does anyone else have a vague remembrance of there being a history of inappropriate contact between Betty and Gene? For some reason, I have this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that he is going to do something to Sally . . . Anyone, anyone?


another laura

I may be mis-remembering something, but I think the Don flashbacks occur in Kentucky, don't they? Watching Don's reaction to Roger's horrendous "My Old Kentucky Home" made me think of that and add yet another layer to the Mad Men mythology.


Alex - thanks for the link to Mad Men footnotes!

This episode is one of my all time favorites. It has kind of a grotesque Diane Arbus quality to it.


I found the most important line of the episode to be Betty's father telling his granddaughter (while reading The decline and fall of the Roman Empire) that pretty soon everything was going to go to hell.

All the story lines ended with the surface appearance of happiness, which is shocking for this show. It just made it more obvious that pretty soon everything is going to go to hell.


Linensn'Things

Fantastic review, guys. I enjoy these posts so much. I wish I had something clever to add to them.


I love the recaps! It's funny, I've read a few recaps now and everyone points to a different theme for this episode. This show has so many layers and speaks to people in so many different ways, I just love it.

Anonymous was wondering about inappropriate contact with Grandpa, and so was I. He did grab Betty (her boob, I think) last season, thinking it was his wife. I wonder if there was more to it than that, though. It's been more than once that she didn't get along with him when they were younger. Maybe she was abused? I agree with Montserrat that Gramps is emotionally blackmailing Sally.

Race stuck out to me as a big theme in this episode. The way the maid reacted to the money being missing - she knew who'd be the first one blamed. I wonder if the police car in the previews has anything to do with her getting blamed for something Sally does.


I think Betty's father did say or do something inappropriate to Betty last season, but I thought it was attributed to his dementia.

It's not uncommon for patients with Alzheimers (or the like) to express romantic love to their children. They get confused; they know they love the person in front of them, they just forget what kind of love it is and sometimes say inappropriate things.

This happened to me with my dad, who was a total gentleman throughout his life. The worst bad word he ever called someone was a
"pineapple." If he called you that he was really mad!


I also think that a major theme was Don's comment that he was "at work, masquerading as a party". All of these plot lines were also about the obligations of being social. That "play" was a form of work for all involved in different ways, was clear.


Okay, the first time I saw the episode, the scene where Peggy just dismisses the other creative guys reminded me of something. I just watched it again and realized it reminds me of the scene in "The Last Seduction" (please, please, I hope you have seen it . . . if you haven't STOP READING and go out and rent it and watch it and enjoy the sheer joy and wonderful pleasure of watching Linda Fiorentino in the penultimate femme fatale role that should have at least gotten her an oscar nomination). LF plays a richly diabolical, smart character who knows what she wants and needs and also knows how to get to it. I think Peggy is figuring out what she wants and figuring out how to get to it and it is a pleasure and a joy to watch her as well.

Anyway, Peggy's dismissal of the creatives once she gets the inspiration she was looking for reminds me of the scene in "The Last Seduction" where Linda Fiorentino has hooked her heels in the fence and she has ridden Peter Berg hard, totally draining him, and when he asks her what he is to her and she bluntly answers "You're the designated F***." Peggy used nicer words, but her attitude was the same — "I got what I needed so you are no longer required."

God, I love this show. And I love this blog.

- Donna in Seattle


I was struck by the parallels with the tie-in to this week's product and theme (Bacardi Beach). Alcohol ads usually try to idealize social situations, and we had 3 depictions of such a situation that were anything but the romanticized images we typical of ad campaigns. In the end only Peggy came up with the notion that some folks would simply prefer to create their own beach alone and with a cold one in hand.


Jane was really being a catty when she asked Jane, 'where are you livng now" and after Joan replied, Jane said 'I get a nose bleed if I have to go above 86 street.
She was letting Joan know, she was living with the well to do and that she was above Joan economically.

In other words, I married better tha you married.

Joan is going to get her back for all her manuvering and little diggs. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Jane won't kow what hit her.

Wonder why Tom Cruise showed up as the drug peddler? Ha!!!!


I have to differ with the assessment of Pete and Trudy as "social climbing". They don't have to social climb. They're there. That was kind of the point, they were perfectly comfortable in the setting. Now, Jane? Social climbing.

Jane is social-climbing a little, but really, she's so young and naive she doesn't know what she's doing. And Pete and Trudy? They are DESPERATE. Pete's starting to feel it, but they're still a desperate couple. That dance was almost as painful to watch as the blackface.

Re: Gene and Sally. I grew up in a household like this, where nothing was ever said out loud, but plenty was said with tone of voice and body language. That was such a perfect scene. Gene didn't need to punish her; she was punishing herself plenty. And he's giving her what is probably a fantastic life lesson, far over her head but totally appropriate in the
circumstances: The Rise and Fall, indeed.


I didn't see the drug pusher as Tom Cruise. He was Ricky Nelson.





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