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Mad Men S3E11: The Gypsy and the Hobo

"Don't change the name, don't change the product."
"Let it go, the name is done."



Unsurprisingly, we have much to say about last night's intense episode, but one thing's for sure: Jon Hamm locked up his Emmy nomination.

The theme was names and how names hide the truth. Only a show as brilliantly intricate as Mad Men could get away with the analogy that horsemeat=truth, but they pulled it off beautifully. There was definitely a lull in the midpoint of this season and we complained as much as anybody that the Draper marriage was becoming played out, but they needed to lay that groundwork for the emotional bomb drop that was to come. Whatever lull we were perceiving is long gone and we're left each week asking "Best episode of the season, or best EVER?"

But for really reals this time: we think this is the best episode ever. As in, in the history of the show. Full stop. Don and Betty sitting down to have that conversation is something that other writing teams would have at least saved for a season if not a series finale. There was this unreal, dreamlike feeling hanging over the whole thing of "I can't believe they're saying this." But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Betty is on her way to Philadelphia to settle her father's estate (but really, she's assessing her own financial affairs to see where she stands without Don) and she's taking the kids with her, possibly for the week. It's the week of Halloween 1963 and history with a capital H is waiting for them all, little more than 3 weeks in their future. She's still playing at the old Betty here; the child like Betty who pouts but doesn't confront. "You have no more money," she challenges Don, knowing damn well that he has a ton of it locked in his desk drawer. Because for Don, what's in that drawer is private, and because for Don, "private" is something so locked away that he never has to think about it ("It will shock you how much this never happened."), the stashed money never even enters his mind and he looks at Betty puzzled and unthreatened.

Back at SC, we get some very welcome business-based drama and the best storyline yet for Roger Sterling. An old flame and an old client come back into his life and gives us just a little more backstory on Roger, more than we were expecting, actually. He was a rich kid slumming it in Paris in the '30s, eating in cemetaries and dancing while people jumped out of windows. But Roger is in a far different place now and won't accept Annabelle's fantasy Casablanca version of the story. "That woman got on the plane with the man who was going to end World War II, not run her father's dog food company."

Annabelle is trying to salvage the good name of her father's dog food company, which has been hit with the bad publicity of having its main ingredient, horse meat, revealed to the public. "I've eaten it," says Don when she explores relativism in the context of animal flesh. And because of his dirt-poor background, we have no doubt that he has. But it's of a much larger theme. Annabelle is hung up on the power of her company's name and she refuses to change it. Don and Roger both attempt to get her to change her name, Don in particular by arguing that in essence names are meaningless. Don Draper is the name on the label of the can; Dick Whitman is the horse meat inside.

But all of this was really a masquerade for Annabelle to get back into Roger's life somehow. She was painfully humiliated both times she propositioned him. Turning her down while she was drunkenly throwing herself at him was one thing, but when she said to Roger the next day "You were the one," and he coldly answers, "You weren't." we winced. That's an ouchie. But you know? We had a newfound respect and affection for Roger this episode. He's been portrayed alternately as a douchebag and a joke for so long now, it was nice to get a little of the humanity behind the smirk. As cold as he was with Annabelle, he was also surprisingly tender with her. He told her what he needed to tell her, but he did it gently.

Meanwhile, we get a (also very welcome) peek into what's going on in Joan's life. One thing about Joan's marriage, it's not what we consider a happy one by any means, but like all the marriages on this show, you can sort of see how it works and functions. As they sit in their surprisingly fussy and feminine apartment, Joan (who, it can never be forgotten, was raped by her husband back when), is ever the dutiful, supportive wife, competently coaching her childish husband for an interview. Greg has never been anything but a series of red flags to the audience that he's not a good choice for Joan and his revelation of his family's history of mental illness was as big a red flag as we've gotten yet.

Having set up these two subplots, we were in perfect position for a long overdue Roger/Joan Pas de Deux, and we were treated to a great one. "You want to be on some people's minds." "Look at you, figuring things out for yourself."We, like so many fans of this show, foolishly try to predict what actions these characters will take next and what fates might befall them, but we forget that the writers of the show know these characters much better than we do. Having Joan call Roger to find her a job just made damn good sense all around. There's already been speculation online that when Roger turned down Annabelle, he was really thinking of Joan as The One, but honestly, we've watched it three times now and we don't get that impression at all. He feels great affection for Joan and probably, like she does, wonders what might have been, but for whatever reason, he seems particularly committed to Jane, whether from true love or because socially, he'd never get away with dumping or cheating on his young bride.

Back in Ossining, Don and Suzanne are living in their little over-the-garage fantasy, but Suzanne is entertaining more ambitious dreams of openly dating Don and even though she tries to cover it up with "Don, I swear I'm not talking about our future," that is EXACTLY what she's talking about. They both know it and they both know it's not going to happen that way. It's important to note how often the fact that Suzanne has been down this road before is mentioned. It'll come into play later.

Greg fucked up yet another job opportunity and Joan is treated to his anger. But even the supremely confident and in control Joan Holloway Harris has her breaking point and when Greg turned on her and snapped, "You don't know what it's like, to want something your whole life, to plan for it and count on it, and not get it," well. That was all she wrote for Mrs. Harris' patience and Dr. Harris was treated to a good dose of Joan fury. Rather than bore you with long-winded examinations (too late, we know), here's what we wrote in our notepad while watching the vase crack across Rapey's skull:

*GO JOANNIE!!*

Big letters, all caps, stars, exclamation points and underlining all included. It was a great moment for the character. We don't know what's going to happen in her future - Will whoever Roger called offer her a job? Will she go back to SC if it gets sold and the Brits pull out? Is Greg going to Vietnam? - but we know she handled the sudden shift in her status quo in perfect Joan Holloway manner. When he told her about joining the Army, you could see the gears in her head working overtime to process the information and come up with a suitable response.

Back in Philadelphia, Betty is dealing with her childish brother and her father's attorney, who unfortunately for her, can't look at her as a client and instead treats her like a daughter. "It's a lie so big, Milton," she pleads when he counsels her to stay in her literal sham of a marriage, but he can't even fathom a world where a woman has every right and reason to walk away from her husband.

Don, meanwhile, is planning a trip with his girlfriend. Nothing illustrates just how careless Don has become than the image of leaving his girlfriend parked in his car outside his house. We thought when he misplaced the key to his drawer he was slipping a bit, but this was a pretty reckless move even for him.

And just like that, he walked straight into his own personal horror film. The acting Hamm did in these scenes was off the chart, but that first look on his face when he realized his family was home, that was a look of pure terror. Then, when Betty looked him in the eye and said "You know I know what's in that drawer," everything went out of him. Don Draper evaporated in front of our eyes and for the first time ever, Betty Draper met Dick Whitman.

Seriously, we couldn't believe it was really happening. The stark lighting and the look of sheer fright on Don's suddenly old and haggard face, really did give it an almost dreamlike, almost horror movie feel to it. Are they really having this conversation? Are they really saying these lines we honestly didn't ever think these characters would ever say? "Is that you? Dick? Is that your name?" "Are you thinking of what to say or are you looking at that door?" "Where do you want me to start?"

And how amazing to see Don so completely defeated and flustered, all the swagger, all the weight of being Don Draper, suddenly gone, and he's fumbling on the floor for a dropped cigarette. Betty, for her part, handled the entire thing perfectly. She couldn't help but come from an emotional place and there were times where it sounded like her fury might overwhelm her ("You're a gifted storyteller."), but she didn't give an inch and she didn't allow herself to be derailed or confused or intimidated. She had the ultimate trump card - SHE KNOWS ALL ABOUT HIM - and that gave her all the power in the situation. She revealed both the silly, romanticized idea she had of Don ("All this time I thought you were some football hero who hated his father.") and the bluntly honest, brutally classist view she always secretly held of him ("I see how you are with money. You don't understand it."). She could have been vindictive and nasty to him (although she did manage to remind him that she knows just how much she can damage him: "Isn't that against the law?"), but instead, she just wanted to be let in. She just wanted to KNOW. Finally. All of it.

And so she pushed, mentioning Adam's name when we were sure Don was going to keep that part to himself. Again, we'll let our scribbled notes tell the tale more efficiently:

He told her EVERYTHING!
****DON CRIED!!!!****


Seriously, bitches. Don Draper cried. Big snotty tears too. And in front of Betty. That is fucking seismic.

And of course, hanging over these wonderfully tense scenes is the biggest tension of all: Don's girlfriend, who in the past has demonstrated a tendency to be a little blase about the boundaries, is sitting right outside in his car. It's a testament to the sad state of the Draper marriage that the girlfriend in the car is only incidental to the real issue of Don's identity. For us as the viewer, the bigger drama was going on in the house. There was definitely the fear that somehow Suzanne would be discovered and a precarious situation would explode into a hopeless one, but the groundwork had been laid that Suzanne knew her way around the block when it comes to affairs with married suburban fathers, and we were fairly sure she'd get the message and excuse herself from the scene as quietly as possible. After all, revealing the affair would have as much potential of destroying her life than of destroying his. When Don called her the next day to explain, she asked fearfully, "Do I have to worry about my job?" We forget how much she was risking in this affair. By the way, it's notable that even now, with everything that happened, Don wasn't completely writing off the affair yet. We're in a new era in the Draper marriage, but this show makes it clear again and again, that people don't really change.

At breakfast that morning, Sally notices something pass between her parents but she can't figure it out, we can't figure it out, and even Don can't figure it out. Where do they stand now? The only answer comes that night as the Draper family - full as it is with both hoboes and gypsies - goes trick or treating. "And who are you supposed to be?" asks Carlton jokingly to Don. But Don neither laughs nor looks away. Instead, we see his face close-up, older, and raw, a bit unsure of himself; a version of Don that is completely at odds with what we've seen before. They could quite literally go anywhere with this character right now and that makes for some intensely and unusally gripping television.

Plus? We are DYING for a Betty Draper/Anna Draper face to face. Oh writers, we know you've given us quite the dessert buffet with this episode and we should by all rights be too full to ask for anything more, but please don't make us wait until next year for that one!


[Pictures courtesy of amctv.com]



Post a comment
183 comments:

I am shocked that there aren't any comments yet!! It must be my lucky day...I think I'll buy a lottery ticket. Can't wait to read the commentary. I just read the first sentence and I agree; Jon Hamm deserves an Emmy.

Thanks TLo!!!!

PS. I'm definitely going as Betty Draper for Halloween. Anyone else?


Damn it, I was too long-winded. Congrats, Ed!!!


Confession: I don't even watch the show, but I click refresh constantly every Monday waiting for your recaps of the show because they're so insightful.

And after reading about this episode, I think it's finally time for me to go pick up the DVDs.


Don seems to be getting off a lot easier than Jay Gatsby did.


Bruce, Don Draper has the advantage over Gatsby; he's dealing with intelligent women.


Thank you, TLo!

*whew...now my Mad Men weekly ritual is complete.


i can't wait to see what MW has done in the last two episodes!


I just turned to my friends during the scene where Betty confronted him and said, "I am gonna jump out a fucking window" because I couldn't stand it. What a wonderfully great scene and what fantastic writing to just THROW it at us out of nowhere. This show is meant to be watched with other people, because you need to have someone to clutch.

BEST LINE and honestly, the one I thought should be the over-arching theme line -

"I can't turn it off. It's happening right now."

I know exactly how you feel, Peggy Olsen!


I have been waiting, literally, all morning/day for this recap...and I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. Thank you, TLo.

Hands down, this is the BEST show on TV.


This was extraordinary acting. I just was electrified throughout the hour. I could gush superlatives for quite some time.

And I didn't even see last week's episode owing to travel. But Jon Hamm's portrayal of Don Draper last night was phenomenal. As you noted, TLo, his face changed before our eyes during that confrontation. His cheeks grew sunken, his eyes clouded and his 5 o'clock shadow darker. It was astonishing.

This is just the best show I've ever seen on television.

All the best,

NDC


It's amazing how every phrase, every image has subtle meaning. The kids' hobo and gypsy costumes, the horsemeat and dog food, the debate over the company's name. Finally, the song over the credits: Where is love? That's from the 1968 musical "Oliver" based on Dicken's novel about the orphan Oliver Twist who joins a gang of thieves and his surprise identity. How does Matt Weiner and his staff craft these scripts?


What a great episode - a few things:

1) what was it that Joan counted on and missed - a great career at Sterling Cooper or a great marriage that she could stop working for?

2) How great was Peggy's line, "I can't stop it, it's happening right now!" (or something like that)

3) The dog food's name is poisoned, just like Don Draper's name is now poisoned.... a lot of symbolism going on in this episode... couldn't quite figure out who was the hobo and who was the gypsy? Or are they both DD?


parisiennelauren

And my Joan Hollow-een costume just added a vase. Thank you, as always. I've never commented before but I'm an avid follower. I could not wait for this post. Last night knocked me off my block, and I couldn't have been more grateful. I feel like Betty and Joan just single handedly started women's lib.


oh, what an amazing episode - this is the first time in all mad men history that i actually got choked up while watching it. so much to talk about I don't even know where to start.

So the gypsy and the hobo - well Don's obviously the hobo, and I think both Betty and Suzanne are the gypsies because they both looked into their crystal balls and saw Don for who he really was - remember Suzanne's "I see a man who's not happy". Don's a hobo, always was, always will be, and he can't hide anymore. Betty, the one person who was never supposed to know, knows - I hope in the end it will only bring them closer.

Another reviewer mentioned that the reason Roger provided the B-storyline in this episode is that Roger is the man Don always wishes he could be - happy, confident, able to have his cake and eat it too. You have to admit, for all his faults, the man does look happy in this episode so much so that he even turned down his old flame to stay faithful to Jane. It provided a nice contrast of a man who everyone makes fun of, but who is happy and has his life together, compared to the man who everyone wants to be, seeing his life fall apart around him.

Another tidbit from another reviewer - did anyone catch the similarities of how Don acted when Betty confronted him compared with the scene of Anna confronting him in the car dealership flashback?

Amazing acting by Hamm and Jones - I loved Betty's facial expressions during the bedroom scene - anger to frustration to pity to love... I don't even have the words.

More things I liked:
"the big companies are all rushing" - "well I won't brag about how big I am"

Don lighting a cigarette after the lung cancer reference

Joan and that vase - ABOUT DAMN TIME!!! - can't wait till that jerk gets killed in Vietnam

Betty telling Don to not even think about looking at that door in the kitchen to escape after she confronts him

and of course, Don's phone call to Suzanne in the end. Betty knows, and Suzanne has no idea - and Don's gonna keep it that way. That's what I mean when I say this will only bring Betty and Don closer. She saw him break down, and she forgave him (at least IMO she did), no other woman in Don's life ever has. And then Suzanne asks him how he's doing. And Don replies that no one has asked him that in a long time. And then Suzanne asks if she's in trouble with her job. so much for caring how Don is doing... all tying in perfectly to "where is love" on the credits

perfect episode - just perfect...


I agree, T&L - best episode EVER!!

I need to watch it again to process it all, and I always like to do that after I've read your commentary, so thank you as always for posting it so quickly.

In watching the "behind the Scenes" clip on AMC's website, Jon Hamm spoke about the reasons Don is attracted to Suzanne, and he emphasized her "warmth." That nailed it for me. Betty is always so cold ("My people are Nordic.") to Don, to the children, to everyone. When Suzanne consolingly touched Betty's arm during the parent/teacher conference, I gasped aloud. One doesn't just touch Betty Draper!

But in last night's episode, Betty actually extended a consoling hand to Don when he told her about Adam. Just . . . beautiful. For the first time, I was rooting for Betty last night.

EMMY awards to Jon Hamm and January Jones!!!!!


Shockingly good. Jon Hamm's acting job was stunning. He can telegraph so much with his facial expressions alone. January Jones was amazing, as well. I love the way she uses diction, sometimes slurring a little, other times, crisply enunciating. it increases the impact of her words.

A little visual thing I loved: Betty slipping the key ring off of Don's limp hand, an echo of removing a wedding band.

Does anyone else think that Joan's the one who'd ace the psychiatry gig? Is there any profession that woman wouldn't excel in?

For those who would like to relive Joan's moment of release, you may do so here:
http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2009/10/mad_men_animated_gif_part_ii_j.html

My thoughts on that: 1) Wish she'd knocked the guy unconscious, and not just stung him a little, and 2) What happened in that gap between the smash and the apology from him the next day? Could it be that he actually has some functioning feelings for her beyond selfishness?

Also, she's not really pleased that he's joined the army, is she? And, isn't the army really not that great pay, even for a doctor? I must be wrong about that.


By the way.... apropos of details - the styling of Milton, the attorney, brought back the eyeglasses, cuts of jackets and haircuts of that time so perfectly. My dad, not an attorney tho' a member of another learned profession, from that era in my elementary school days, was absolutely conjured up in my imagination. It really was a jolt.

All the best once more,

NDC


Jon Hamm is so fucking amazing. I literally said that aloud as I watched last night.

But my biggest reaction was when Joan clocked Dr Rapist. I threw my hands in the air and screamed, "YES! YES! I hope that's only the beginning, douchebag!"

I was alone, FTR, which tells you how how worked up I was. Such an amazing show. I am so relieved they didn't leave Don/Dick's "reveal" until the last episode of the season.


Absolutely the best ever.

Having been in one of those "no, we talk about this NOW" situations - they handled the whole thing with Betty and the box just brilliantly.

And I cheered out loud when Joan whacked her stupid husband in the back of the head. Here, honey - have another vase, I brought plenty.


This comment has been removed by the author.

You forgot to talk about how much this episode reveals what a bum deal women were getting! Betty can only divorce Don if she can prove adultery, and regardless he can get everything!? Joan can make more money at a department store than as Queen of the secretaries!? Roger's ex-flame basically left him for this other guy because she didn't want her father's company ultimately to leave the family!?
Plus I think it was also mentioned that Roger was like...BOXING in Paris? I may have imagined this.
Other than that IT WAS AWESOME AND I TOTALLY AGREE.


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I loved your write-up. The words "...for the first time ever, Betty Draper met Dick Whitman" gave me shivers as much as watching the episode last night.

No idea where the Joan storyline is going. Not the faintest clue. Also, where is Sal? I think they are saving his storyline for the season-ending cliff-hanger.


I just gotta repeat myself - they (the writers, January Jones, and Jon Hamm) all did an AMAZING job on this one. The confrontation scene, the way Betty reacts to Don/Dick's obvious emotional overload, just..oh, just everything. Beautiful.


Yes, I really could use an episode-length flashback of Roger and Annabel in Paris...so romantic.

My husband brought up that this season has been setting Betty up to have a choice. She now knows that other men are still interested in her, that she's capable of a different life. Now she can choose whether to keep Don, rather than just being trapped in it. Even though she kind of is.


http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2009/10/mad_men_animated_gif_part_ii_j.html

Hope that link works! It's Joan Joan Joan.

It occurs to me that they're setting up Dr. Rapey McRaperson to be the next Frank Burns. Haw!


Atlantaseabreeze

Thank you for the synopsis-great as usual!! I so look forward to them! Small bragging and point- I knew Greg would end up in the army(thought maybe Joan would sign him up) Watch him pull a deerhunter, and "disappear" re-identify over there! I too couldn't believe how Betty kept her shit together confronting Don, and how Don actually told her the truth!! I think the relief of unburdening himself, and the horror of Adam's wasted suicide just because he didn't have the guts before were brilliantly acted by Jon Hamm. I LOVE this season!! Just need me some Sal update. Do you think they'll actually approach JFK Assassination or just sign off right before and let us see all the repercussions next season?


Fabulous. Not only one of the best episodes, but one of your best reviews.


parisiennelauren said: I feel like Betty and Joan just single handedly started women's lib.

Very astute comment. Couldn't agree more.


Tour of the Mad Men set:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/10/26/mad.men.set/index.html


I yelped a little bit when "Where is love?" started playing over the closing credits because I thought it was written after the date of the show. Turns out it had been running in London since 1960, and had opened on Broadway in ... you guessed it ... 1963. So that was a very timely and thoughtful -- and appropriate -- song to play at that moment.

Can't wait to see what they're cooking up next. This episode was completely brilliant.


So transfixed was I during the Don/Betty confrontation I literally left clenchmarks on my husband's shoulder. So transfixed was he that he didn't even notice. Afterwards I kept musing "but I figured they'd wait at least a YEAR for this!" while rewinding to that same spot where we see Don's face literally evaporate before our eyes. Hamm's finest hour in a lot of fine hours, and Jones was equally superb. Ditto for the writing.

Some very clever soothsayer commented on this blog many episodes ago predicting that Greg "Rapey" Harris could very well end up a medic in the army. I don't recall who it was, but ku-DOS! You nailed it. I know our Joanie will look ravishing in widow's weeds.

As for "this season" vs. "ever" debate, my vote's with the latter. Best.Episode.Ever.


I was totally appalled by Joan's violence and I'm confused by the fact you are celebrating it. Relationship violence is always wrong, period.

If the series had been different and Joan had hit her fiance in the head with a vase episodes ago and he had never hurt her up to that point, then when he raped her in anger and frustration as a result, I assume that you would support him? Gross.


Last night knocked me on my ass. Seismic. Betty's unmasking of Don/Dick was more engrossing and thrilling than any murder, or car chase, or medical or legal life or death situation that passes for drama on other TV.

I'll join the chorus of kudos for the writers and for Hamm and Jones. Step aside Brian Cranston, Hamm's getting the Emmy next year.

The Roger story was also brilliant and fraught with wistful memory, truth-telling and barely conatined sexuality. Big shout out to the still-beautiful Mary Page Keller who I just adored in the 80's sitcom "Duet." She walked in like a series regular and played with Roger & Bert like she'd already been on many episodes. I thought Roger was going to go for it...I was ready to jump her and I'm gay.

Sad that the season is wrapping up in two more episodes, but also not sure that I could take much more of this intense drama. I'm guessing something HUGE will happen with Peggy next week or in the finale.


There is tons to say about this episode - lots to think about.

Once again, I am in awe of you Tom & Lorenzo for processing this so quickly and intelligently.

The first thing I thought about when Joan's husband announces that he's joined the army as a surgeon is, FRANK BURNS! Aaaaargh. I feel sorry for any wounded devil that gets tossed into his incompetent surgical hands.

And the worst of it is that he might NOT die. He might come home with PTSD.

But, yeah, my jaw was dropped. I loved this episode.


Yes the intensity level of this episode was amazing. All I could think of is good for Betty, good for Joan!

Ultimately I think Betty will be better for knowing the truth and deciding to confront Don. I think this goes back to Gene's comment about how her mom demeaned her and he in turn coddled her. This is the first time Betty channels a strength she's always had but was never given a chance to use. No matter what she decided I think she has it in her to survive and maybe grow.

I actually thought Roger was thinking Joan as "the one". But then again he can think better of Joan for no other reason that she didn't drop Roger for the rapist. The woman wants something for herself and the things she wants out of life Roger really isn't the right person to get them for her. I think deep down they both know that. He can maintain a good relationship with Joan becuase it's Joan.

Frank


Great, great analysis, Tlo. ( Dick Whitman in the can, Don Draper on the label. )It really was astounding to watch Don morph into Dick, becoming "more Dick" as he walked from the office to the kitchen to the bedroom. Then to see the process reversed the next morning -- Dick wakes up alone in bed, Don walks out the front door.

About Suzanne: I changed my opinion on her during this episode. Note that when Don called her the morning after, instead of being angry, she simply asked "Are you okay?" Maybe she really does love the shmuck.


ps - My darlin' Ed doesn't watch the show and heads to bed to leave me to watch solo each week. During all the commercial breaks, I found myself walking to the kitchen or laundry room saying to no one in particular things like, "This is the best show ever. I love this. Oh my god. Holy crap." etc.


I doubled over laughing when Dr. Harris, beaming with self-congratulation, announced that he had joined the army. But afterward, with some reflection, I was kicking myself for not seeing that coming. How completely in-character that was. Trust me, as someone who's been-there-done-that, he's EXACTLY the sort who'd join up.

Joan as an Army Wife: God, those other wives have no idea what they're in for.

Just, y'know, let him get a quickie divorce from 'Nam so we can get our Joan Halloway back. (Killed in 'Nam? Too easy, won't happen. Killed in training? Sure!)


Hey, Leela, jinx! : )

We must have been writing at the same time - but I need more coffee!

One difference, between Frank Burns and McRapey is that (if I remember right) Burns had a rich wife who was his meal ticket. Joan isn't rich - but she is like a mother to him in some ways. Maybe, more like she's the grown-up in their marriage.

How typical of Greg to sort of "run off and join the circus, guess I'll go eat worms."


This episode was off the charts phenomenal. Jon Hamm and January Jones were absolutely amazing in the scenes dealing with Don/Dick's past. No shouting, no histrionics...so much was revealed with just a look or facial expression. Prior to this, my favorite episode was "The Hobo Code", now this one has topped that one. Interesting that both episodes have "hobo" in the title. I'm already dreading the end of the season....what will I do?


Best line: "Look at you, figuring things out for yourself."

Although it's minor, I was struck by how easily Joan seemed to make the call to Roger after struggling with the shame of needing a job earlier. Couldn't she have done this weeks ago?

I'm still focused on how fully Don revealed the truth to Betty, including about his brother. All while we (viewers) freaked about whether or not Miss Farrell would come inside the house. For a second in the kitchen, I thought maybe she was listening at the door.

I don't buy that Betty now has the upper hand forever more, however. Don is still Don. He's going to regroup.

I admit I'm surprised by how well Suzanne took the news. I thought she'd end up being a stalker. It could still happen, but I guess she's more well-adjusted than I gave her credit for a few episodes back.

Joan getting a divorce is much easier than for Betty. She doesn't have kids and she does have workplace skills. But I doubt she'll go that route. It was actually a clever idea for him to get surgical skills in the Army, but I see a death next season. Fewer people came back from Vietnam without limbs than they do today -- they just died in the 60s.

This is such an amazing season, I can't believe there are only two episodes left. At this rate, the Kennedy assassination just may be anti-climactic.


When Betty confronted Don all I could think was DA-YUM! In a weird way that lawyer did Betty a favor. If she could have simply divorced Don she may never have confronted him.

Is it wrong that I was dumb rapist hubby to go to Vietnam and get killed? The other possibility is he goes to Vietnam and get injured or traumatized and that family history of mental illness kicks in and Joanie is stuck with him.

Loved Peggy's line regarding the dog food test group when Don commands she turn it off, "I can't turn it off. It's happening right now." Not sure why but it brought to mind Don's advice to Peggy in season 2, "This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened."


Although it's minor, I was struck by how easily Joan seemed to make the call to Roger after struggling with the shame of needing a job earlier. Couldn't she have done this weeks ago?

Joan is very much of a do whatcha gotta do (and look damn fine while doing it) kind of person. I think she realized that she was going to have to take the reins on this one. Which fed into her frustration when Dr. Rapey sat there whining about how she couldn't understand because she'd never had hopes and dreams, blah dee bloop.

Dude, you ARE her hopes and dreams, you useless sack of shit! And you sit there, whining about how life is so hard, while your wife makes the hard decisions, like calling her former boss to ask for his help, and entertaining your colleagues because you're an idiot and just generally putting up with you.

Violence is not the answer, but dude...yes, he deserved that vase to the head - if nothing else, maybe it'll be a wake up call that he married an actual PERSON and not a doll.


Don and Betty were always hermetically-sealed archetypes of their own (and society's) making. Betty yearns to be "seen," but is perpetually trapped in her Perfect Mid Century Affluent Homemaker!role and is miserable. Don is equally trapped his Ideal Mid-Century Successful Man! mold and finds release only in a series of women who are not his wife, Betty with her fantastical flirtations - the sad irony being that the upkeep of these facades requires not letting on to your spouse that they are, in fact, facades.

It is therefore with just the slightest glimmer of optimism (just a sliver, mind you!) that now that Betty knows the truth perhaps it can usher in a new sort of honest intimacy and understanding between Don and Betty. Remember, on a very deep level these two are dazzled by each other, or at least were. It might be interesting for these characters to see what can happen when they lay all that molded plastic aside and deal with one another as they really are. Betty is quite splended, and Don is quite loving. It could be an interesting combination.


Best.Episode.Evah.

And whoever said January Jones can't act, fuck 'em. She was fucking great. Jon will get the Emmy, but she deserves one, no different than Carmella Soprano ...

The show might be about the husband, but the wife helps carry the show.

And Mr. Hamm was fuckin fantastic ... the look on his face, when he walks in the door and his daughter says hello. Not a word uttered and he's a friggen deer in the headlights, about to get run over by a pink cadillac driven by Betty.

Not only that, she looks great in those stirrup pants ...

And Joan, YEA!!! I'm sure we all would be handing her more vases to throw at the lug ...

And Roger, YEA!!! And I loved Mary Page Keller as Annabelle ... If only we could have flashbacks of Roger and Annabelle in Paris ...

Also BEST.WRITING.EVAH. This episode deserves MANY emmys. Let's hope the Academy is watching and taking notes like TLO.

Just sayin


For me, the point at which I was sure Betty would finally confront Don was when Milton asked her if she was afraid of him. And Betty realizes she isn't afraid. She brushes off Don's pathetic excuses--I came all the way home to feed the dog, my office is private--and lets him know she has his number. Brilliant.

I wonder if Betty will get the marriage annulled (or threaten to). For divorce in NY in 1963 you had to prove adultery, but grounds for annulment included fraud.


Ok, at the very end, when Don wakes up and sees the suitcases sitting there - are those from when they showed up the night before and they just didn't get unpacked? Are they packed for the rest of the family to leave? Or...is that the whole point, that he doesn't know and is left wondering?

I think I just answered my own question - carry on.


Mad Men is always better than about 90% of what's on TV, but last night was a standout. Hamm, Jones, and Hendricks in particular. Some stellar writing, acting, and directing. I often find it hard to sympathize with Don and Betty, but I was in tears last night when they were talking in the bedroom. And good for Betty and Joan for their retaliations! Totally worth breaking that vase. ;-) And the symbolism of the Halloween costumes that the kids wore. Brilliant, just brilliant.

Re: Mona B's comment about the helplessness of women, this was another big theme for me. And she expressed it so well that I really have nothing to add. :-)

Re: Leela's asking why Joan would be upset that her husband joined the army...... While I'm sure the first reaction was pure shock, I can imagine that subsequent thoughts were, "Who is this pathetic thing I have married?", "He could get killed", and "If we're moving around every year, there goes the possibility of me having a career." Considering that no one in 1963 thought the Vietnam war would last as long as it did, I was thinking that the final thought was her predominant one. A beautifully multi-layered performance by Hendricks.

Wish that Sal, Peggy, and Joan could branch out and create their own firm!


I read somewhere that Matthew Weiner said that he would've never done Mad Men if he hadn't been able to get Jon Hamm to star in it. Hamm's always been great, as has January Jones, but last night the two of them were absolutely stellar! I don't know how much those two get paid for this, but Hamm and Jones are worth every penny!

And like you, I cheered out loud when Joan gave Dr. Rapist what he had coming to him! Can't say what will happen to Joan, but I'll keep rooting for her. She's always been a favorite of mine -


My predictions have been nearly all wrong, mind you, but I predict the seasons ends just before the JFK assassination. MM always surprises, and so I say they'll go for a non-obvious ending. But based on my prediction track record, I'm probably wrong. Btw, here's a cute if heartbreaking photo taken on October 31, 1963. We never do know what the future holds.


i'm not dorothy gale

We almost didn't BREATHE through the entire Betty/Don dialogue. You're right...it was seismic. And lurking was the fear that girlfriend would come knocking at the door. Thank you, writers, for sparing us that. I remarked that Don was in such total shock that he likely forgot the world outside the front door, so focused was he on the great "unmasking".

No tricks this week, just a treat.


I love that you watch Mad Men with notepads and pencils. : )


Michele said:
Wish that Sal, Peggy, and Joan could branch out and create their own firm!


Yeah! With their own show, too! Didn't you think last night's episode went by too fast?


This episode was so good I sat and watched it a second time just to take it all in. And of course couldn't wait to read what this blog had to say!

BTW, if any of you need a Mad Men flavor fix, watch the movie "Far from Heaven" Beautifully set in the Mad Men era, the characters could easily have been the Draper's neighbors. I apologize if that has been mentioned here already.

Thanks again for a wonderful blog.


I see McRapey being killed by his own troops.


I think Betty showed remarkable restraint waiting to confront Don and it was worth it. She had processed the information contained in the box and she was prepared -- armed for battle, poised, unflinching, and resolute. She stood toe-to-toe with the Great Don Draper and looked him coolly in the eye as if to say, "Look, Dick, I want the truth and I want it now. Don't let this pretty face fool you, a bitch will cut a motherf*cker. You know it, and I know it." And looking at her, he knew she wasn't to be trifled with any longer.

Funny, during her arguments with Don she often stands up for herself more so than one would expect. At times she seems like a child but at other times, she seems fearless (perhaps not unlike a child). Confidence born from wealth and an elemental sense of entitlement, no doubt. Either way, go on witcho bad self, Betty!


all right,all right, ALL RIGHT ALLREADY!
I'll watch the damned show.

It had better be THIS fucking fantastic.


Thank you, TLo, for these episode reviews. I missed the first 2 seasons so your critique really helps to flesh out the characters and explains some of the motivations behind what is currently transpiring on the show.

Question, if anyone wants to answer: Why did Joan marry her husband? I realize he was studying to be a surgeon, but couldn't he be a general practitioner and make a good living back in the 60's? I know women's options back then were a lot more limited, but Joan is not only very attractive, but also smart, aware, and seemingly confident. Was she drawn in by the MD, or does she really love this guy? I can't help but feel that she adopted a son more than she married a man. Unless this guy is Jekyll and Hyde, I don't understand how Joan ever walked down the aisle with him.

I must say this show is fabulous and I will be getting previous seasons out of the library so I can catch up on the storyline.

Thanks, guys!
PollyGlot


To S at 4:01 -

Well, that brought the hint of tears to someone who remembers November '63 very well.

By the way, cpny, on the occasions when I've been asked for family law advice (which is not my specialty), I always the woman whether she is in fear for her safety. The subtext is spousal violence, and that was what I assumed was implied when Milton, the attorney, asked whether Betty was afraid.

Your interpretation, though, is a nice insight and different read of the lines.

All the best,

NDC


I'm still trying to figure out how Suzanne could, on the spur of the moment, decide to go off with Don for a few days in the middle of the week, during school. (Hallowe'en was on a Thursday in 1963.) It's odd, too, that Betty would yank the kids out of school; that's not something parents normally did back then. (Unless, of course, she was thinking about not coming back.)


I was struck by the scene near the end of the episode where Don wakes up in his sunny bedroom. He has obviously overslept, and has clearly enjoyed a restorative good night's sleep. In a previous episode, he wasn't sleeping, except at (the distractingly named) Suzanne Farrell's home. By letting go of his secrets, was his mind able to truly and deeply sleep?


Anonymous 4:44:

"Why did Joan marry her husband? ... I know women's options back then were a lot more limited, but Joan is not only very attractive, but also smart, aware, and seemingly confident."

Joan is also over 30. Her options were more limited than most women's were for the under-30 set. Keep doing what Joan does, and she'll wind up being ... Peggy Olsen's secretary; not the role, but the woman: spent and out-of-touch.


Poodles wrote: "BTW, if any of you need a Mad Men flavor fix, watch the movie "Far from Heaven" Beautifully set in the Mad Men era, the characters could easily have been the Draper's neighbors..."

It is a wonderful movie but it's actually set in the 1950's and is a terrific homage to the fabulous director Douglas Sirk, he of the seriously classic 50's melodramas like "Magnificent Obsession" and "Imitation of Life."


lithcat wrote: "I'm still trying to figure out how Suzanne could, on the spur of the moment, decide to go off with Don for a few days in the middle of the week, during school. (Hallowe'en was on a Thursday in 1963.)"

She probably did what most people do who want to ditch work and do something else: She called in sick.


I think that Joan's look of happiness & relief when Dr Hubby announced that he had joined the army was, in fact, happiness that he had actually "solved" a problem on his own and that she had a husband again who, while not the strongest of characters, was acting more like the "man of the family" instead of a whiny loser. She wants her marriage to work.

I felt fear with the first scene showing Betty closing the suitcase wearing a purple coat. You guys now have me worried whenever anyone on the show wears purple!

Loved the whiny brother trying to open the locked door. "Betts, that's not fair." Ha!

During the confession, I just wanted to reach out and hold Don. So satisfying when Betty rubbed his shoulder. And later when she offered to make him breakfast and gave him the rest of her sandwich. (I'm a romantic. I'll take what I can get!)

ANYTHING Peggy says is a keeper!

And, finally. I think the teacher could disappear from the show just as easily as Midge, Rachel, and Bobbi. All were important to D/D at one point and all have been replaceable. He's now got a whole new dynamic at home to adjust to. I can't wait!!

PS- One week ago, I had never seen MM. I found a Chinese website that didn't restrict viewing time and watched all 36 previous hours (with Chinese subtitles!) in practically one sitting!! I'm definitely hooked!


S 4:01 - thank you for posting the link to that amazing photograph! I got chills.


Betty and Don have always seemed more alike than different to me, and last night's revelations and confrontation seemed to have set them on a new path in their marriage. It seemed to me that Betty was often remote and 'cold' because she could feel intuitively that Don was hiding something from her, maintaining an aura of constant emotional distance with her and the children. Her demeanor almost always mirrored his demeanor. Once he broke down and he let her see his pain, she could be warm, soft and kind to him in response.

Offering him food, giving him the rest of her food (a sign of affection) and her gentle tone of voice when Don entered the kitchen in the aftermath of the previous evenings revelations indicated to me that he had set both of them free to be who they really are. I think she finally realized that what she loved about him most was the part of him that she had only intuited but hadn't even met until the night before~the lost, gravely wounded boy with the prostitute mother, seeking redemption. Now the Draper's may one day be able to find true intimacy with each other, something that would have never happened had Betty not stood her ground and forced Don to look into that sad box once more.
Thanks for sharing your powerful and remarkable insights with all of us, TLo. I always feel like we watched it together, and that is a great vibe to have on a Monday...


I stood suspended over my chair with a mug full of hot chocolate, gaping at the tv while Betty called Don out over the drawer. (I missed Suzanne in the car until my second viewing!) Jon Hamm locked up the Emmy with that one facial expression - eyes wide, cheeks sunken - he looked positively terrified, and we've never EVER seen that from him. Astounding. I adored Betty through the entire episode and loved when she snapped "You don't get to ask questions." How about the moment in the kitchen the next morning when she asked "Do you want something?" and Don (timidly!) asked "Are you going to have something?" all while Sally is watching them, clearly aware that something is up.

I won't even get into Roger and Joan except to say I was so thrilled to see them both featured, finally! I could go on and on about this episode. I wasn't expecting it all to go down so soon. What on earth do they have in store for us next??


I agree that this was possibly the best episode ever.

The cherry on top was the use of "Where is Love" from Oliver for the closing credits. That is the song I always say my dog is singing when he's sitting at the window waiting for us to come home.


SO good to get home and read your comments on the show last night! Brilliant, as usual.

I think that Roger cannot afford to acknowledge to himself that his second marriage was a mistake--much less acknowledge it to someone else. For this "great love" of his, he has alienated his children, earned the loathing of his ex-wife, and (as Don was good enough to tell him) become a joke to his colleagues. He can't just walk away from it--that would take some humility, and that isn't going to happen.

Or not now, anyway.

-Dana


Thank you TLo. This was the best episode ever. It's kinda become beside the point Jon Hamm is so fuckin' handsome, the man can act. He so inhabits Don/Dick in a way I can't recall another actor doing so commandingly-poignantly. I started to watch the the rerun but decided to let in settle in with the image of Don's face on the porch at the first Halloween stop.


I kept thinking, bunny boiler is STILL in the car!

Pure genius acting moments- Don fumbling the cigarette, completely WIZARD Mad Men moment, and the look on Joan's face at the end of the episode when rapey husband told her he joined the army. The woman spoke a whole monologue with that face.


Did I miss something? Is there a prize for being first commenter now?

Can't wait to see what happens with these two crazies, Don and Betty, now that Betty holds the upper hand. Like, forever.


Re: The speculation about whether S3 will end with or without reaching the Kennedy assassination (11/22/63):

If you watch the "Inside Mad Men" videos on the AMC website for at least the last two episodes, you will notice that January Jones and John Slattery are clearly dressed for a wedding -- Slattery is wearing a tux with boutonniere, ala father of the bride. Margaret's wedding invitation was for 11/23/63, so I do think we'll be seeing it this season.


This was, by far, my favorite episode ever. One thing that struck me was when Don was sitting, broken, in the kitchen as Betty fixed him him drink, was how much he resembled Abe Lincoln. I don't know if that was intentional - any correlation w/ JFK? - or if it was just a coincidence, but that was exactly where my mind went. I've watched the episode twice already and want to go back for a third.


Propers to the closing shots of Sally and Bobby on that front porch, with Betty and Don in the darkness right behind them. There is something so satisfying about archetypally resonant images, knowingly presented with full artistry and artisanship.


I only started watching this season, and I missed the first couple episodes, but this acting/writing was fan-fucking-tastic! That episode was a meal!

Jon Hamm definitely deserves a nomination for an Emmy, but my hear will always belong to the show that's on right after, "Breaking Bad." Bryan Cranston can do no wrong.


S 4:01 Thanks for that link. It makes my heart sink.


Michelle - Slight correction there, I didn't ask why Joan was upset. I asked if Joan really could be as pleased she was acting about his joining the army. I don't buy it, for many reasons.

SusanID - If only The Good Doctor was as good a figure of fun as Frank Burns.


Someone upthread ask how becoming an Army doc would be an improvement for reg. I think it's more a pride thing. He may not make as much as a regular MD or a Psychiatrist, but he gets to say he's an MD and he enters in as an officer and gets to be called war hero. Truth is he likely swallowed the "Be all you can be" line the recruitment office fed him. I can just see Greg landing in Vietnam acting like Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin saying this isn't the Army he signed up for.


I don't think that there is any conventional happily ever after for any of these characters. There never is in the "Mad Men" world. The truth is out in the Draper marriage, but that doesn't mean reconciliation. First of all, Betty is not a warm woman. Forgiveness after such a feeling of betrayal will not come easily to her, if at all. Depending on how much the writers would like to keep her dedicated to the ideal of domesticity, no matter how much it crushes her, she will do her own best to keep her marriage together.

Betty is much like Joan in that way. Both see that they have limited options, so both invest themselves in the most acceptable role for respectable women, and both cannot divest themselves from that role. They've given up too much for it already. I don't think either will ever leave their husbands.

Also, fundamentally, Betty and Don fell in love with the image that they had of one another when both were much younger and all fresh and excited about life and love and trying on new identities (Don more than Betty, obviously). The middle class life that they have been living for a decade was designed to ensure that they both became alienated from one another. This all means that their marriage is a ultimately a bad match -- like most on the show. Their story will probably be more about the ways that they negotiate that bad match -- those moments when you can see how it functions, or not -- rather than of one leaving the other for any reason.

I imagine that Roger and Jane are, in some ways, very similar to Don and Betty when they first met and married. Jane is, of course, simply young and carefree. Roger himself is going through the stereotypical mid-life crisis after having had a heart attack, but he is also more jaded than mature in regard to romantic relationships. The chance to feel like he did with Annabelle back in the day, with a woman who was as young as Annabelle was back in the day must be intoxicating for him and makes him able to resist more easily the drunken, sad, widowed Annabelle, who is going through her own crisis.

I wouldn't be surprised if the end of next week's episode was the JFK assasination, if it is even mentioned. It could very well fall between next week and the week after, with no real need to directly portray it since that is such well-trod and cliched territory. They may just jump to the fallout from it, as with Marilyn Monroe's death. The fallout, in this case, would be all of the upheavals at SC and in everyone's lives. The build up has been happening all season.


Lilithcat said, "I'm still trying to figure out how Suzanne could, on the spur of the moment, decide to go off with Don for a few days in the middle of the week, during school." I've been wondering about that myself. I don't think it was as easy calling in sick back in those days, and in some cases a school teach had to find her own substitute.


I love that plot points that in lesser shows would be glossed over because, really, everyone who watches such shows is used to such relatively little gaps in logic (how did Suzanne call in sick?, what part of October is it if the leaves are that orange outside the train window?) are with MM treated as valid grounds for discussion. That shows just how GOOD this program is.


Oh, jeez. TLo have "FIRST!" nerds here, too? They're everywhere. Quoting a line from the show, just to claim "firsties" is so lame.

NOT FIRST!


The AMC Mad Men site shows a still from next weeks episode, which appears as if Don and Betty are sitting at a wedding. Could next weeks episode actually be Roger's daughter's wedding? Wasn't that the day after Kennedy's assisination? Could it be possible they will adress it this season?


To Lilithcat and Judy:

Since the kids were free to go to Philadelphia with Betty, it may have been school fall break.


I only started watching midway through this season based on TLo's recommendation - wow! am so glad I did - last night was unbelievably well done. I now get why Jon Hamm and Mad Men get all the buzz they do! January Jones was equally superb in her taunt depiction of Betty Draper getting to the bottom of what was in that drawer and what it meant. One could just see the steel in her spine as she got the answers out of Don.

There was just SO much to this episode that one could comment on! Now I can't wait to see what next week's gonna bring us!

srq


i literally punched the air in celebration when dr. rapeface said he joined the army - cant wait for his ass to get a one-way ticket to 'nam...

don & betty - im still in shock. and yes, the whole time i kept screaming - 'the whore is in the car!' if only betty had seen her, she could have gotten the proof she needed for a divorce. but im thinking the writers dont want it to go that way, at least not yet.

betty has been struggling to find some kind of freedom & sanity since the show started. this was her first real grab at it. i cant wait to see what the writers do with her character.

looks like next week SC could find out they're being sold again. i have no idea whats going to happen anymore! XD


There were all sorts of great moments in this episode, but when Betty leaves to check on the baby and Don picks up his box and leaves the room, that was some amazing piece of physical acting. His back was as expressive of misery as his face had been, and his gait was that of an old, broken man.


If Betty is going to want to get that divorce, she is gonna need a new lawyer. The advice that the man gave her was so limited, and really sowed what he thought about females in general. The point that really showed it was when he stated that the advice that he gave Betty was "the same thing that he tells his daughter".


This comment has been removed by the author.

two observations not mentioned (I don't think)
After saying he doesn't want to be a psychiatrist, and then gets hit with a vase, he screams 'what are you insane?' at Joannie.

What is up with the sewing machine on the kitchen table? I know Don said they couldn't buy the plastic junk at Woolworths (did they have them that far back?) but am I supposed to believe supermom Betty Draper sewed Halloween costumes?
So, I decided it must also be a symbol...can Betty put this thing back together...ripped out at the seams...patchworked life...a stitch in time...I could go on and on.


The family lawyer actually gave Betty good advice. In the early '60s, a husband or wife had to prove adultery to get a divorce. "No fault" divorce hadn't been invented yet. That started in the 1970s.
Divorce would give her a social stigma that I doubt she would be willing to live with. "Nice" women didn't get divorced. Period.
On the other hand, she wouldn't have to worry about working. Don/Dick would be paying her alimony probably for the rest of her life, plus generous child support. Leaving him broke.
They're both trapped in the marriage by society and money. If Don leaves to be with Suzanne, she'd probably lose her job.
Life was very different in the early 1960s particularly when it came to views of marriage.


Am i wrong for getting off on how Allison is the best secretary EVER?


Thanks for the great post, guys!


Best episode EVER!


Ellemenna p, Did they have Woolworth's "that far back?" (Founded 1878).

If you meant cheap wear-once plastic Halloween costumes, they had those, too; they were at the end of the candy aisle in the grocery store as long ago as I can remember (mid-late 1950s). Of course Betty would make her kids' Halloween costumes; I'm just surprised Sally hadn't sewed hers, as I started doing when I was eight or nine. Women sewed in those days. There was a lot of competitiveness when it came to things like Halloween costumes and children's parties. My mother once made a whole zoo of 3-D stand up cookies for my school birthday party.


Were hobo costumes popular at the time?


I think Roger is still in love with Joan. Don't you think? Great recap, Tlo, as always.


I remember being a gypsy one Halloween, in a costume my mother made, so that part rang true. It was made out of this cheap stiff cotton that was sold to make costumes.
Hobos were popular and easy. Red Skelton and his Freddy the Freeloader character were on TV then.


My father dressed up as a character from "Hallelujah, I'm A Bum" as a kid, a few years before this episode was set.


One bit of continuity: Joan gets Oliver tickets for the visiting PPL bigwigs in the "Guy walks into an advertising agency" episode. Clearly it's a big hit in fall 1963 New York.


I agree with previous poster that 'of course' we should not cheer Joan's violent vase incident. But, but, but it is just so satisfying because this bully buffoon husband of hers got away with date rape.

Surprising how firm and steely Betty was in the confrontation with Don. Almost how she acts with the kids, but not as cold. Each episode I've found her more and more unlikeable and yet - the sun comes up in the Draper house on Halloween morning and I'm rooting for them! Must be because of the touchy feely talk-it-out baggage of my own generation...


Wonderful recap, as per usual (and one of the largest reasons I continue to watch Mad Men). However, one small(ish) point of contention I had with the blog today...

TLo wrote: "Greg has never been anything but a series of red flags to the audience that he's not a good choice for Joan and his revelation of his family's history of mental illness was as big a red flag as we've gotten yet"

-I don't agree with the mental illness part of the analysis. Many people have a family history of mental illness (or mental illness themselves), and to me this isn't necessarily a "red flag" that the person wouldn't be a suitable romantic choice. That said, I agree that there are numerous other reasons why Greg clearly isn't a great match for Joan.


My mom sewed Halloween costumes for us in the early '60s. She would set up her machine at night and put it away before breakfast, just like Betty did.

My dad, however, took the bunch of us out at night and my mom stayed home with the baby to give away the candy. Don't tell me the Drapers didn't have their lights on for the other kids in the neighborhood. Would MW really have the whole family out trick-or-treating together just so the guy down the street could ask D/D "who are you supposed to be?" in front of Betty. It's a great line, but isn't it a bit contrived? Am I way off base?

Couldn't believe how D/D tried to steamroll Betty, refusing to the very end to open his desk drawer. She was incredible. I was cheering her on.

Susan may gracefully fade into the background, based on her experience with married men, but that nutty brother of hers is coming back at some point to make life miserable for D/D. He will be a complicating factor, perhaps next season.

Loved Annabelle's Chanel or faux-Chanel black and white suite. With coordinating bib necklace.

I was briefly happy when Joan broke the vase on Greg's head, but I really thought it would escalate into serious violence, based on his history. I was surprised he didn't go after her.

One last thing -- that baby seat, (or pumpkin seat,) that baby Gene was sitting in was completely accurate. I remember my youngest brother sitting on the kitchen counter in the exact same thing.

--Itsjustme


Joan's lost the moral high ground when she engaged in spousal abuse. I guess I had her on a pedestal but now she's down with the the rest of the dopey human characters on that show.

I'm really sad about that (and really *really* sad that commentators seem to skim by it like it was deserved or OK). Hitting him on the back of the head could have killed him. So, no. Just because it happened in this situation and we don't like the character doesn't make what she did right, legal or moral in 1963 or now. I don't consider it a joke. Just like when he raped Joan, it wasn't right or moral in 1963 (although I think in common law, you literally couldn't rape your own wife).

In a funny way, I want to think the writers dropped that into the episode to set off just this kind of reaction to subtly say, "see? You [the viewer] *still* probably react like anyone in the early '60's would to this action. 'He *deserved it*', 'he got what was coming to him', 'it's kind of a joke and I clapped when it happened.' How far *have* we come, really?"

Hitting him, though, *was* a criminal act as well and I find what she did was shocking. Not in a dramatic way or a 'whoa, go Joanie!' way but a sad way.

In that moment, she really sealed her fate with me; she's not some forward-thinking, enlightened woman. She's totally enmeshed in her era's mores, morals and ethics. She still has a long, looooong way to go and I'm afraid it may be farther than I thought :::sigh:::.

As for Betty and DickDon. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.


Apparently (since no one else has mentioned it), I'm the only one who thought the absolute best moment of the show was when Betty told Don, "I see how you are about money. You don't understand it." In two lines, the writers COMPLETELY summed up these characters and the class separation that will always nag at them. Don wanted to be what he thought Betty thought he was; Betty saw through him in an instant. I thought it was effing amazing--right up there with Peggy telling Pete she'd had his baby.
Kudos on every facet of last night's episode, tied for 1st place as my favorite. Hamm and Jones gave the single best performances I've ever seen in episodic television.


So glad you guys led with Jon Hamm's acting--that was a really remarkable sustained portrayal of someone just emotional imploding. Not at all that easy to do. And I was pulled in there with him--and the essential tragedy of the character. There was a rawness to it and it made you believe Betty's reactions in turn--she's furious with him, wants her revenge, but the guy's such a wreck that her better impulses come through despite herself.

I enjoyed the Joan and Roger storylines, but the Don/Betty one was so powerful that the others were a little off to the side--breaks from the intensity of that confrontation.

It was interesting to me that where Betty made an emotional connection was with the picture of Adam--where was the little boy? She has a sort of empathy for lost boys--Glen and her unwanted baby with whom she seems to be a pretty affectionate mother.

Now that the perfection of the Don-and-Betty caketoppers have cracked, it is a big question of whether the two have it in them to be real partners. He's still very, very damaged and she's still not a particularly warm person. I think she's starting to grow up a bit, but a grown-up Betty may well be one who leaves Don behind--and with good reason.

As for the assassination--I think it will be next week. I think that's why the Drapers are all watching TV in that one preview shot.

And I'll bet the season ends with the Sterling wedding and its aftermath.


Thanks TLo for the fantastic recap! I agree with everything said about how last night's show was an incredible episode. I may be wrong, but I thought I heard Dick/Don lie while he was confessing to Betty last night. He indicated that "they" made a mistake regarding his identity as "Don Draper" after the accident in Korea. As I recall, Don knowingly took on the identity of "Don Draper" after the real "Don Draper" was killed in action. Was that a lie told to his wife while he was the most authentic he's ever been?


"Don and Betty sitting down to have that conversation is something that other writing teams would have at least saved for a season if not a series finale."

and this is just one of the many reasons why Mad Men is the best show on television...
because the story is more important than the cheap thrill of betty confronting don with the box and making everyone wait to see what happens next season...
holy crap this was a great episode...

can't believe there are only two more episodes in the season...

also, i work at a vintage store, and this year everyone wants to be betty and don, but nobody wants to be Joan...
i don't get it...
then again, there is only one Joan holloway...


It was a great episode. I am overwhelmed by Joan though. I wish I knew how to make animated gifs. I'd love one of Joan clocking her rapist d-bag husband over the head over and over again. That was the best!

Oh, NO WAY! Nevermind...I just read all the comments, and it's been done already. LOL. Thanks!


We aren't meant to read and watch fiction with an eye to behavior we do and don't approve of. I can't remember who said this - Mamet? Some writer - "They're characters, not people". Attaching our own values to characters as though they're people we might actually know does not enhance your experience of the story. Especially if those characters exist in a different time. Yes, Joan is a product of her time. And, frankly, while I'm sure none of us approve of actual spousal abuse (a term I am sure did not exist back then, at least not in most circles), it's very satisfying to see a rapist get a vase smashed over his disgusting head by the woman he raped. Even if she won't consciously acknowledge that she was violated, she knows it and it's in her body. These truths exist on a level separate from ideas of right and wrong - they are storytelling truths.

That said, it's interesting to watch M*A*S*H from the perspective of 2009 (to give another example of storytelling from an earlier time). There's so much raw sexual harrassment played for comedy, and I'm not even talking about Hawkeye, who's actually the least offensive, because his urges are usually played with the joke on him. There's one scene where a visiting doctor practically rapes Houlihan, and it's totally played for slapstick. The way Mad Men handles these matters is quite different. We are definitely intended to see it from a historical perspective. But never forget that it is fiction, that these are characters, not people, and that the story is the most important thing. What would X character do? That is the question that needs answering when creating a story.


At last, a chance for real intimacy between Don and Betty. They might be able to pull that marriage out of the hat after all.

Roger emerged as more admirable a man than Don in this one, a real flip-flop. Sure he married a teenager, but at least he's loyal to her.

Yep, the BEST of the BEST. My mouth hung open the last half hour.

What a show!


Anonymous said...

Joan's lost the moral high ground when she engaged in spousal abuse. I guess I had her on a pedestal but now she's down with the the rest of the dopey human characters on that show.

I'm really sad about that (and really *really* sad that commentators seem to skim by it like it was deserved or OK). Hitting him on the back of the head could have killed him.


What nonsense. He jumped right out of the chair, annoyed with her after she did it. Obviously, it wasn't a heavy emough vase or a heavy enough blow to cause any real damage.

If she clocked him with a blunt instrument and he was bleeding and on the floor you might have a point.


best. episode. ever.

Suzanne bugs me. haha! I know that's not the last we see of her.

Really great post, I really enjoy reading your blog!


Leela typed...
We aren't meant to read and watch fiction with an eye to behavior we do and don't approve of. I can't remember who said this - Mamet? Some writer - "They're characters, not people".

Then why all the angst about Joan being raped in the first place? I highly doubt in 1963 that behavior would have been considered as appalling as the commentators here have made it - or out of character for either Joanie or Greg. I just don't think Joan, the character, even really reacted like it was rape (a violation, maybe, but rape?) or that the episode had lasting consequences for the character. And yet, the commentator thread was all a'twitter about what happened and Greg's actions are mentioned every single thread when he pops up in an episode. So we *do* read and watch this stuff with an eye to behavior we do or don't approve of (I think).

And, frankly, while I'm sure none of us approve of actual spousal abuse (a term I am sure did not exist back then, at least not in most circles), it's very satisfying to see a rapist get a vase smashed over his disgusting head by the woman he raped.

See, I don't get that. Either you *approve* of actual spousal abuse or you don't. Feeling very satisfied at someone, even a character that you don't like, getting hit over the head without warning signs... during something that doesn't have anything to do with the original rape... shouldn't be lauded as 'Go, Joanie!'. It's still spousal abuse and, I thought, surprising. And I can't help but think the writers specifically wrote that in to be startling in it's timing.

Even if she won't consciously acknowledge that she was violated, she knows it and it's in her body. These truths exist on a level separate from ideas of right and wrong - they are storytelling truths.

Then I posit that possibility the storytelling truth the writers were going for was to show something so shocking that watchers may possibly react as either a character or reader may have in the story's time period or as a modern watcher of the show.

We are definitely intended to see it from a historical perspective. But never forget that it is fiction, that these are characters, not people, and that the story is the most important thing. What would X character do? That is the question that needs answering when creating a story.

I agree. Wholeheartedly. In fact, I don't like when stories selectively glide over history simply to make characters more genial or modern or... something. Which is why I was *so* disappointed in Joan's reactions. Because *I* lulled myself into believing that somehow her character was going to the THE ONE THAT GOT IT (meaning, violence is violence, regardless of who does it - as well as a whole other bunch of lefty liberal-ish modern social work/legal theories and ideas). And, obviously, she didn't. But, then again, reading some of the comments, neither do some here.

I think it's a testament to the the writers that they're developed a character who some viewers may have given too much credit for and now have to reevaluate that same character.

But the commentators in these threads aren't characters, they're people. And some of them seem very glib about what the character did so I'm not sure what maybeMamet would have said about this. It's just... disappointing a bit. Not polarizing but jarring. Which is highlighted by the good writing of Mad Men.

But, oh, yeah... about *M*A*S*H*. Yikes. I always wondered if some cringe-worthy things (like the blatant sexual harrassment) is even *more* cringe-worthy now or less depending on whether the characters were in a comedy or drama. I mean, comedy you're suppose to laugh during the original run and, hopefully in the future. The *M*A*S*H* writing does that but then you gotta accept some uncomfortable things between the giggles. I find that harder to do in comedy than in drama.


A great episode of a great series. I'm about the same age as the Sally character, so it all rings true.

Don clearly forgot or at least put his half-brother out of his mind and that's why it hit him so hard when Betty confronted him.

There was no Fall break back then. Easter Vacation, Christmas Vacation and Summer vacation which always ended on the Tuesday following Labor Day, my least favorite holiday.

I think it's likely this season will end on the day of the assassination. They won't do anything graphic, just show the realization by the characters of what has happened. I grew up in California. I remember the class phone buzzed and Miss Blende picking it up. She went white and began to cry. She turned away from the class, hung up, pulled it together and turned around. She told us to go home. Not to go play, just go straight home. She then sat down at her desk and looked as if the world had just ended. Scary for a 9 year old.

When I got home, Mom was in front of the TV crying. And Mom never cried. The impact of that moment on adults was different from anything else in my experience at the time. 9/11 times a hundred.

Divorce was a stigma. The woman was always treated as a failure or worse. Sorry, that's the way it was...

I was always a Hobo on Halloween because all Mom and Dad needed to buy was a plastic crushed top hat...

Finally, remember the last episode of Season 1 and the rifle? Betty is actually nuts. She just never shows it.

Maybe my favorite series ever. BTW, rumors are that AMC is starting to screw around with them financially. They've never actually had a hit; their model is to spend money to get a series going, then to cut out the guts and coast for a couple of seasons before the gig dies. They've never had a real hit before. I hope they don't screw it up...


I thought it was interesting that everything single thing that Don/Dick told Betty was something that the audience already well knew -- but it was MESMERIZING to hear it all again, under these circumstances!!

Great, great episode and great post TLo - I love getting your Monday morning views!

5&10


Anonymous said...
What nonsense. He jumped right out of the chair, annoyed with her after she did it. Obviously, it wasn't a heavy emough vase or a heavy enough blow to cause any real damage.

You don't know that before it happened, while it happened or right after it happened. He sure as hell didn't know that, either. And it was still violence. Just like what he did to her was still rape (as far as I'm concerned).

Dissecting *how* violent the violence was seems kind of pointless to me. It was violent. It was abuse. End of story.


Anonymous said...

You don't know that before it happened, while it happened or right after it happened. He sure as hell didn't know that, either. And it was still violence. Just like what he did to her was still rape (as far as I'm concerned).


What are you talking about? We saw him leap right out of the chair right after she hit him. We know right after it happened that she didn't harm him significantly.

And you've got your head up your ass if you think you can reasonably compare an act of rape, one that the character is not likely to ever forget, to an outburst that was over as soon as it began with no one hurt.

Dissecting *how* violent the violence was seems kind of pointless to me. It was violent. It was abuse. End of story.

Of course it seems pointless to you. Your point evaporates under any scrutiny. This did not qualify as spousal abuse and it's not in way comparable to her rape.


Tom said: I thought I heard Dick/Don lie . . .He indicated that "they" made a mistake regarding his identity as "Don Draper" after the accident . . .

My memory might be muddled, but I remember it this way: He woke up in the hospital in Korea, and the hospital staff was calling him Don Draper. So, he went with it.


I'm surprised at all of these rape and violence comments. Things were very different well into the seventies. Actions that would clearly be classified as sexual harrassment or worse now were "cherchez la femme" in those days.

My first marriage was based on what would now be considered heavy-duty sexual harrassment. But at the time, that was considered pursuit by both parties. You CANNOT impose twenty-first century morality on the sixties and seventies.

A wife hitting her wayword spouse with a vase? The only thing that rang false about it was the level of violence. It would have been something heavy enough to knock him out. If Dad had pulled that crap, Mom would have hammered him with a rolling pin. I'm not joking. And the cops would have thought it funny that Dad couldn't "control his woman".

The sixties were fifty years ago. Things were very different. Mores were entirely different. Be shocked if ANY of this happened today. But it's set in a time where men could divorce their wives and keep the children. Where you could drive drunk and the cops would escort you home. Where you could beat your wife and the cops would advise the wife to try harder to make their husbands happy. A world where women had four choices in a career; nurse, teacher, secretary, or whore.

The times were different. They're better now. Celebrate that, lighten up and enjoy the show...


Our queen Joannie has never lost her composure. Not even after being raped -- she just fixed her hair and suppressed her shock and horror because she was powerless. We were all hurt by that act against our rock-solid goddess.

I think what is troubling in a way (with the vase) is that she lost her composure. Since she is always a rock, when she lost control I was taken by surprise and was afraid for the aftermath, that Dr. McRapist would retaliate.

To state that violence is not the answer is stating the obvious, unless maybe it's in self-defense -- and that little fucker Greg seems to be killing her day by day. The violence that came from her was so out of character that we should really just look at where the hell it was coming from -- I totally blame Greggers, it's clear the act was completely precipitated by his systematic physical and emotional abuse. And yet, you can bet that the person/character of Joannie was not happy with her loss of control. I don't think any of us are cheering on the act of injuring a person's head, we are cheering on the self-defense-cum-grab-a-vase-and-save-yourself act that finally proves Joannie will not ever allow herself to become an enabler. Yeah, it sucks that she had to do that, but she would NEVER have done that before having to slowly suffocate her total being day after day for leech-boy.

What I think is messed up is that he says he's gonna keep buying her vases. yay. he is the source of her violence and he will keep feeding it with ammunition/vases because it makes her lose control. he's so scary! damn. maybe that should be everyone's halloween costume--downright horrifying!


parisiennelauren

Elise 8:36 said that Greg's family history wouldn't necessarily lead to mental illness. While that may be true, the family history combined with being a rapist does equal mental illness. Just a friendly word from your local clinical psychology graduate student.

Also, yes, violence is violence - but as someone referred to a mother using a rolling pin, it IS self-defense, albeit quite delayed. Recovery from rape is an unpredictable pathway and though I abhor violence of any kind, I am not in a position to judge the character or anyone who's been in her position.


Did Anabelle remind anyone else of Anne Bancroft in The Graduate (which was filmed a mere three years later, in '66-early '67)? To me she totally had that vibe, down to the eyebrows and leopard-patterned coat.

''9/11 times a hundred.''

That is really quite hyperbolic. They were both incredibly shocking events. Let's leave at that.


Carol in LA said:

To Lilithcat and Judy:

Since the kids were free to go to Philadelphia with Betty, it may have been school fall break.


That's what I find so odd. I was in public school during that time, and there wasn't any such thing as a "school fall break", other than a long weekend at Thanksgiving.


The different reactions to the rape and the violence are pretty easy to understand when you consider that our reaction to fictional things is all about what we fantasize doing, not necessarily what we would want to do in real life. No one here (thank god!) would fantasize about raping Joan, while obviously lots of us would fantasize about hitting our own rapist.

And there is a big step between fantasy and reality in most people's minds.


Margaret's wedding is scheduled for 11/23, the day after the JFK assassination. For people who remember that event and how people reacted, would people have gone through with a wedding the next day, or would it have been postponed?


@Anonymous
10/26/09 8:58 PM

Lighten up. It's just fiction.


EHR said...
The different reactions to the rape and the violence are pretty easy to understand when you consider that our reaction to fictional things is all about what we fantasize doing, not necessarily what we would want to do in real life. No one here (thank god!) would fantasize about raping Joan, while obviously lots of us would fantasize about hitting our own rapist.

I wonder if the writers sit down and think these things out; what actions the characters will do that will elicit 'fantasy' on the part of the viewer and which actions will the characters do specifically within the realm of the character itself - even if such an action may be honest to the character and time period and wrenching to the viewer (see maybeMamet's paraphrase further up the thread).

Honestly... I wonder. The insights of some commentators and reviewers cover such large swathes of plot and characters that I can't imagine that the actual writers take *everything* into consideration and yet so many of the insights seem so often so reasonable and plausible.

It just makes me awe (verb?) the show more.

But it does come back, again, whether the the writers adhere to the idea that they write the characters in such as way that they live in their own plot bubble or if the writers poke the viewers periodically into fantasizing about outcomes. Not 'wondering about' or 'looking ahead to potential outcomes' but fantasizing.

Sometimes I feel the writers are devious in their motives, sometimes brilliant in their characterizations, sometimes sublime in their plot development.

I like that in any series.


My jaw dropped and I gasped several times during this episode. I wasn't prepared for the confrontation between Betty and Don, but I'm so glad it came when it did. I'm also tickled that Joan threw that vase.

I can't even put together my thoughts or the words to due this episode justice. Kudos to you two for being able to do so.


Penny Sycamore

Margaret's wedding is scheduled for 11/23, the day after the JFK assassination. For people who remember that event and how people reacted, would people have gone through with a wedding the next day, or would it have been postponed?

I remember the day JFK was shot quite well. Most likely the wedding would have been postponed or at most been done in a very low-key manner. That's what proper etiquette required. You just didn't throw big celebrations when you were in mourning. And the whole country was in mourning. Even the people who didn't like President Kennedy were shocked.


You all keep talking about Joan and Sterling and whatever else, but that crazy bitch IS STILL IN THE CAR!!!


Tom
10/26/09 9:14 PM
As I recall, Don knowingly took on the identity of "Don Draper" after the real "Don Draper" was killed in action. Was that a lie told to his wife while he was the most authentic he's ever been?



You recall correctly. In the flashback he is shown intentionally switching dog tags. Funny, he can't quite come clean to Betty.

eh hmm. I realized while re-watching the episode (it's as good the second time thru) that by the standards of Sterling and Cooper, Roger should sack himself. He fired Sal for not sleeping with a truly horrid client. Now he won't sleep with the horsemeat heiress?!!! Off with his head! : )


Oh. my. God, y'all.

TLo: I can't thank you two enough for bringing this show to my attention. I'm so hooked now it's frightening.

Loved the ep. I can't add anything to what you've said about Don and Betty -- that was just INCREDIBLE.

You know, when Joan was coaching her hateful husband before his interview, I couldn't help thinking that she'd make a much better psychiatrist than he would. Isn't that always the way with Joanie? Whatever the men around her can do, she can do better (and with more style), yet there she is playing the supporting role again, and being so graceful about it too. But that vase-cracking -- oh, that was beautiful. I cheered.

I think I'm in love with Joan Holloway. Does it show?

Can't wait to see what happens next!!!


I love all the Mad Men GIFs floating around the internet. Here's Joan's moment:

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2009/10/mad_men_animated_gif_part_ii_j.html


Why did Suzanne say "Believe it or not they love me in Little Italy"? Because she's a hippie type? Anyway I love this show and don't want it to end but also want to see Don and Betty happy. I've heard that the Mexican telenovelas end unlike American soap operas, which go and on. sometimes it's nice to have some resolution sooner than later.


>>Why did Suzanne say "Believe it or not they love me in Little Italy"? Because she's a hippie type?

I thought it was because she is attractive, friendly and flirty, and looks vaguely Italian.


Does anyone know the name of the actress that played Annabelle? She looks so familiar and I thought she acted the hell out of her role.


"Does anyone know the name of the actress that played Annabelle? "

Her name is Mary Page Keller. I agree she was stellar. Looking over her IMDB page, she's been working since the 80s, but nothing stands out as breakout. Lots of guests spots on TV.


"Relationship violence is wrong, period." Yeah, most of us know that. Thanks for the PSA.

Personally, I think Greg DESERVED a little violence after RAPING Joan last year.

---

I really want Suzanne GONE and forgotten. She is NOT the Jane for Don. Remember: as soon as Roger slept with/fell in love with Jane he dumped Mona. Don doesn't want Suzanne! He's in self-desctructive mode allllll the way baby...


"Her name is Mary Page Keller. I agree she was stellar. Looking over her IMDB page, she's been working since the 80s, but nothing stands out as breakout. Lots of guests spots on TV."

Thanks so much for this info! This is going to sound totally crazy, but after checking her IMDB profile, I actually remember her from the Perry Mason TV movie she did in 1991. I was a weird kid and liked that kind of stuff. :)


When I was a kid, we always got a four-day weekend in October. I think the real purpose was for a teacher's convention but we always thought it was so we could attend the State Fair.


Did your parents go around with you when you went trick or treating?

My husband and I were trick or treaters in the mid to late 60's and early 70's and our parents never came along. It was something kids did on their own.

Our kids have never gone out alone. And we don't ever see kids going around without an adult.

I was wondering as I watched Don and Betty taking their kids trick or treating - Was that a regional thing? Or because they were in a (relatively) high population area (as opposed to rural, mid-west or western area)?


I was wondering as I watched Don and Betty taking their kids trick or treating

I figured it was only because of the age of the children that D & B went with them. Sally is only 8, after all. Well, come to think of it, at age 8 in 1979 I went alone, but only with a friend and his older brother. It seems reasonable that they wouldn't let their 8-year-old girl go alone and be responsible for her little brother. But a few years older, yes, they would have gone alone at that age, though probably in packs.


Gah, what a nonsensical paragraph I just wrote. For "alone" substitute "without parents."


funny girl said...
PS. I'm definitely going as Betty Draper for Halloween. Anyone else?



I was thinking of being nakie Marge Simpson.


The entire Draper family went trick or treating simply as a dramatic device, so that they could be shown all together. If Ossining was anything like my NJ suburb, the kids would have gone out on their own after school, because in the 60s there were always women at home in the afternoons, which means someone would be there to hand out the treats. Only teenagers went out at night. It would have looked much too weird to us to today if the kids had gone trick or treating by themselves.


That was an great episode. Both Jon and January were amazing.

My jaw hit the floor when Roger said, "You weren't."

And Joan hitting her husband over the head with a vase was totally unexpected and yet completely believable. I want Joan to go back to work!


Joan hitting Greg with the vase served a number of dramatic purposes. For one, obviously, it was catharsis, which was necessary for the characters. On a symbolic level, breaking a vessel broke the tension/stasis in their lives.

And, it was the effect after the cause. So, yes, we apply our disapproval to the rape, from our longer historical perspective where we know that it is rape, even though Joan doesn't, or at least won't/can't name it. And maybe there's something wrong with us for cheering her on. But, she didn't perpetrate that act of violence out of nowhere. Whether or not we "approve" of it is irrelevant. It serves an important purpose in the story of this uncomfortable marriage.

I will tell you that acts of violence perpetrated against rapists in the real world garner little sympathy. I'm just stating a fact.

And, I'm still trying to figure out if Joan is genuinely pleased that Greg joined the army, or if she's faking it. I think whoever pointed out that she might simply have been glad to see him take some initiative was right. I think she wants to make it work. I sense honesty eventually working its way to the surface...this marriage won't last. But what do I know. These writers are much smarter than I am.

On reflection, I don't think Mamet said that thing about characters, not people. We can't remember who said it. But it's helpful when writing a story, because you run the risk of writing a pretty dull story if you try to write characters who only do the Right Things.


Has Joan lost weight? She'll still curvy and gorgeous as ever but she looks a little more slender in this episode. Maybe it was the dress.


It needs to be pointed out that a wife hitting her husband with a vase is a trope; it's a Jiggs and Maggie thing, a screw-ball comedy thing, and was not unknown in TV- both sit-coms and episodic drama- in that era, although it's usually coded as working class or crazy. There's a large number of Boomers in therapy to this day because of exposure to violence between their parents on a level which was supported by the popular media.

Joan has immolated herself on the alter of this marriage; she is faced, in that moment, with the realization that the man she married in search of her perfect life is, in a word, stupid. He doesn't understand her, but more importantly, he doesn't understand Joan's basic laws of being a grown-up: suck it up and deal, do what it takes, rise to the occassion.

I think, when she's reacting to his announcement about joining the army, her first thought is that he's put himself beyond her coaching. The expressions which cross Christina Hendrickson's face say that she is unsure if he can succeed at what he's taken on but, finally, relieved that it's no longer something she has to do.


Re: Trick or treating: I grew up in Westchester (in the town next to Ossining, actually) in the '70s. We went out on Halloween night and yes, an adult went with us, when we were Sally's age. Okay, that was about 10 years later than the date of the episode, I can't imagine that things were that different. Nothing seemed unusual about that scene. We knew everyone in the neighborhood, but still, we didn't go out at night without parents, not at that age.


I trick-or-treated in the 1960s. Yes, we did it at night and when we were young a parent was with us. When we were older we did go in groups, but there was a parent around.

Eventually, as a teenager, I escorted my sister around.

Now we take our 8-year-old out with or without a friend. So, the only thing that read as really off to me about the trick-or-treating thing is that Don was in a full suit. But that was a symbolism thing.

Re: Joan--I'm wondering if she's gonna have a kid and then hubby gets sent to Vietnam.

It is interesting that Roger did go out of his way to help Joan--particularly after being shown to have zero interest in even having Annabelle's business.

I am looking forward to seeing Margaret's wedding and Jane and Mona together in the same frame.

I keep thinking of how Roger wanted Mona after his heart attack in the first season. It really seemed like he had some sort of bond with her--I don't know that I've ever quite bought Rogers dismissal of his marriage with Mona.


I think it's ironic that the first good thing we've ever seen Roger do--be faithful to his wife--is actually a pretty dumb move on his part. Not only is the lovely Annabelle more age appropriate, but bedding her would be a good business move. SC would get her business, and if/when SC gets sold and Roger gets the shaft, he'd have a sugar mama to keep him in the style to which he's accustomed. Win/Win.


Re: Roger, Annabelle and Jane - Did anyone else notice that Jane seems a younger version of Annabelle and wonder (with benefit of some backstory) if perhaps Roger's sudden obsession/focus on Jane last season now makes sense?

(PS - I haven't had time to read all of the comments so apologies if this is a repeat.)


Long Island, NY in the 60's:

Kids went trick-or-treating in groups with siblings and friends, without parents, at dusk or in early evenings.

Different times, less concern over safety and creeps. Lots of people gave out loose candy in little paper envelopes instead of factory packaging. Kids made chalk markings on sidewalk in front of houses that were giving out less desireable goodies like--god forbid--fresh apples.


Devoured the post, then aaall of the comments. TLo, you've acquired a remarkably savvy and articulate audience. Almost every post enhanced my understanding of the ep.

And for the record, I'm anxious on Don's behalf. When TLo said that his awards dinner last ep was his pinnacle, it struck a chord. Some seem to view this watershed moment in the Draper marriage with hope... but it feels more like a setup for a long slow fall to me. I hope I'm wrong.


I WANT MORE PETE!!!!!!!!


I finally got to see the show last night...wow o wow!! Betty was amazing. Especially liked when she asked about Adam... lovely scene!!
There were several personal memories for me in this episode. My father headed off to Viet Nam in October of 1963 so believe you me, Greg's mention of Viet Nam resonated for me. Keep in mind, if he becomes a surgeon in a field MASH unit the finesse and skills needed in a Manhattan hospital is not necessary... they just needed to patch up those poor boys and send 'em back to Walter Reed. I would presume that his surgical skills will be more than adequate.
But I think the real reason the writers even brought in Viet Nam is a quick and easy way to get rid of Greg. Me thinks he will be smelling napalm in the morning!!


Late to the commenting game this week, but

HOLY CRAPOLY! I watched this over again immediately after the first time. Cried both times for Don. And cheered for Joan (violence is not the answer but it got his attention, didn't it?).

Two of my favorite bits of the unraveling of DD: 1) he didn't tell her the whole truth (i.e., that he switched dog tags with DD) and 2) Betty's obviously thinking she was going to get a "I was married before" story and was going to have one of your basic hissyfits, and then watching her face, as he tells her [most] of his backstory - it was pretty priceless.

How long will it take to really sink in to Betty's consciousness? Will she have some pity? Will she expose Don? I don't know, but those poor kids are in for a roller coaster ride. I keep saying: those poor kids, those poor kids.


So much for Don/Dick's infatuation with Suzanne (or vice versa). Don hooking up with another woman is getting a little old. I'm glad I don't have to suffer through another scene of them acting lovey dovey.

When Don/Dick called Suzanne the day after and said he couldn't see her, not now. I thought shouldn't he say "never"? Isn't he in enough trouble already?

But I'm still rooting for the Draper marriage to be remade into something better now that the truth is out.

Loved it when Betty made him confess with such composure and nerves of steel. Best episode ever.


What an incredible episode! I couldn't wait to dash over to this site to read the review. The hair on the back of my neck was standing on end for most of the hour. I agree that it is the best episode thus far in the series, and I thank Matt Wiener for not making us wait for these incredible denouements.

As for Joan and the vase? Brava! Getting whacked on the back of the head for being a whining baby-man was really nothing in comparison to him raping her on the floor of her boss' office. I hope they don't continue to take Joan down this dark path though. I fear that her story line will become even more troubling.


Just caught up. Man, this was a great ep. Comment on the attorney TLo -- he did, first, provide her with the standard legal advice of the time. She would need to prove adultery (nice feint of hers on whether she could do that, by the way), and even then, because he had all the money, he might end up with the kids. Yet another way in which the 60s sucked. Only after that legal advice did he tell her at least to try again. As if she were his daughter. Before that, he was actually pretty professional.

Love the Halloween meme here, everyone pretending to be something they are not. Don, of course, Betty playing at happy, the kids dressed up. And Joanie, of course, pretending that everything is aok even while she prepares to take the next step. Go Joanie!

Agreed that Roger finally appears human, and actually ethical, here.

Gotta say I have a soft spot for Suzanne. She's not rich enough to be a trophy (a la Betty), doesn't have a job where she runs into single men, and she is one of the rare actual humans in the show. She is warm, she cares about children, she's emotive, supportive of a brother with a physical issue, eschews ignorance and correctly id's that Don is an unhappy man, whether she is around or not. I don't get the haters. She should have been more circumspect, but, you know, I don't see her as as much of a stalker as others here.

Can't wait for next week. (Oh, and yes, Jon and JanJao finally brought it. I think they've both grown in skill tremendously on the show. Yeah!)


Count me among those that thought Suzanne might end up being (or becoming) a bit unhinged. I felt really bad about my assumption when I saw how she handled the break up though. I'm not sure why I suspected that her earnestness belied a bit of Teh Crazy. I've probably seen too many bad movies.


I keep saying: those poor kids, those poor kids.

If you think about the era in which the kids will go through high school -- Sally graduating in '73, Bobby in about '76, Gene in '81 -- it was an era of a lot in which a lot of lost and drifting children from strange and hypocritical homes tried to find their way in a brave new world for which their childhoods wholly unprepared them (even more so than older adults). See Dazed and Confused and imagine Bobby as, say, Slater.


TLo wrote: "It's a testament to the sad state of the Draper marriage that the girlfriend in the car is only incidental to the real issue of Don's identity."

I've been thinking about how, rather than being incidental, the girlfriend in the car is central to Don's identity. He may have finally and fully revealed his family history to his wife, but he's also a philanderer through and through. His reasons for cheating may be related to the fallout from assuming another man's identity, but it's who he is now, and that very salient aspect of his character is not going to magically evaporate just because he came clean about Dick and Adam. And Betty is bound to find out, especially since he's been so self-destructively sloppy about it all lately.

So where will this new sense of intimacy and possibility between the Drapers be then? The girlfriend in the car represented a truth that actually would hurt Betty to learn, and the other, steel-toed shoe that is yet to drop.

- eliza


Yes, bring back Anna Draper!!


The impact of that moment on adults was different from anything else in my experience at the time. 9/11 times a hundred.

That was your experience. Perhaps you live in Peoria, IL, where 9/11 had no impact whatsoever. Globally, the Kennedy Assassination pales in comparison.

And just imagine the kids in New Jersey waiting for parents who never came to pick them up from school. Imagine the impact of that.

Getting back to the show. At the end of the show, when Don comes home, he picks up the pictures, holds them, as if wondering what to do with them, and puts them on the dresser.

I'm thinking that if this whole case rests on paper evidence, the easiest thing to do is to destroy the evidence.

It's a chess match--game on. Betty makes a move and Don counters. He's cornered and even though he's told her his truth (not the whole truth, of course) she needs the paperwork to prove it. If Don makes it disappear, Betty has nothing.


I'm sure everyone is done reading comments BUT...when the dog food company-Caldecott(?) is "re-invented" great product, new name as Don suggested...will it be Kal-Kan???

MOST amazing episode ever


To state that violence is not the answer is stating the obvious, unless maybe it's in self-defense -- and that little fucker Greg seems to be killing her day by day. The violence that came from her was so out of character that we should really just look at where the hell it was coming from -- I totally blame Greggers, it's clear the act was completely precipitated by his systematic physical and emotional abuse.



Greg is to blame for Joan hitting him on the head with a vase? To me, that's like saying Joan's sexual past is to blame for Greg raping her.


The Rush Blog said...

Greg is to blame for Joan hitting him on the head with a vase? To me, that's like saying Joan's sexual past is to blame for Greg raping her.


An act of rape that later leads to retaliatory violence is analagous to being sexually active leading to a rape? That is COMPLETELY fucked up. Worse than that, it's sickening.


I find it interesting that so many are drumming up excuses for Joan's act of violence against Greg.

Joan really has no excuse, no more than Greg did for his attack upon her, last season. Both actions were acts of violence perpetrated by the couple's emotions. Greg had felt threatened by Joan's sexual history and potential lack of control and raped her. Joan felt frustrated and angered by Greg's inability to become a professional success and his selfish whining and bashed him over the head with a vase. Both were wrong.

Yet, because Joan is a)very popular with fans, b) a woman, and c) had been attacked first; many fans have been condoning her actions, while continuing to condemn Greg's. I get the sense that many fans are taking an "eye for an eye" attitude toward Joan's attack, as retaliation for what Greg had done to her.

Frankly, I think Joan should have broken her engagement with Greg after he had raped her in "The Mountain King". She really had no excuse for failing to do this. She was not married to Greg. Another nine months or so would pass before she finally left Sterling Cooper. She was a 31 year-old woman at the time. Granted, society may have deemed her an "old maid", but she certainly had no problems with living with that stigma before 1962. Greg had not been the first man to propose marriage to her. And even at 31 years, she was still young and beautiful enough to attract another man. Look at Duck Phillips' ex-wife. She managed to find another man and she must have been in her 40s at the time of their divorce.

I hate to say this, but Joan blew her chance at a better life or a better husband, when she went ahead and married Greg following the rape. Joan is supposed to be this smart and savy woman. And yet, she could not see that Greg might not be the right man for her, after he had raped her? Was she that bent upon getting a successful husband that she failed to realize there was something wrong with him?

Joan really had no obligation to marry him, after what he had done to her. And hitting him over the head with a vase out of anger and frustration was not going to change anything.


An act of rape that later leads to retaliatory violence is analagous to being sexually active leading to a rape? That is COMPLETELY fucked up. Worse than that, it's sickening.


Both are acts of violence. And to condemn one and condone the other, instead of condemning both acts are sickening to me.


The Rush Blog said...

Both are acts of violence. And to condemn one and condone the other, instead of condemning both acts are sickening to me.


Wow. You're nuts. She hit him over the head with a vase, an act that resulted in absolutely no physical damage on his part. To compare that to a rape? Get your priorities in order, lady. That's just sick.


Joan is a character, not a person. She is behaving in ways that serve the story, hold symbolic value, and move the action along. Reacting to her, or to anyone else, as though they are friends of ours we are disappointed with seems silly, and a bit impoverished. I'm reminded of someone I was talking to recently who was upset by how racist and sexist Mad Men is. Um...it's about those things. It isn't written from those points of view.

Characters are meant to be flawed, not perfect. Greg is a narcissistic child-man. Pete Campbell is that, as well, but with the added sheen of aristocracy. And so on. One thing I learned, as I tried to improve my own storytelling skills (and am still learning, very much on the bottom of that curve) is that emotionally whole people make very boring characters. Emotional cripples make the best ones.

Caveat: their damage has to be interesting - this is why "Sex And The City" characters, while emotionally crippled, are so flat, and characters on "Mad Men" so fascinating.


If characters are meant to be flawed, why is it that many fans are reluctant to admit that certain characters like Joan are flawed? Why not discuss Joan's flaws and mistakes, instead of pretending that she doesn't have any?


And why is it that some fans can go into deep discussion about the flaws of characters like Betty and Pete? Yet when faced with a discussion about Joan's character, they either pretend she doesn't really have any flaws or give an excuse like:

"Joan is a character, not a person. She is behaving in ways that serve the story, hold symbolic value, and move the action along. Reacting to her, or to anyone else, as though they are friends of ours we are disappointed with seems silly, and a bit impoverished."

Why not simply acknowledge the character's flaws and discuss them . . . honestly?

"To compare that to a rape? Get your priorities in order, lady. That's just sick."


My priorities are in order.


The Rush Blog said...

If characters are meant to be flawed, why is it that many fans are reluctant to admit that certain characters like Joan are flawed? Why not discuss Joan's flaws and mistakes, instead of pretending that she doesn't have any?


Back when you were posting as Juanita's Journal, you did the same thing: went off about the "many fans" who are not responding the way you would like them to. You were asked who here has done that and you responded that you were referring to many fans over at TWOP. I'll repeat what was said to you then: take it directly to those people if you want to argue about it.

And why is it that some fans can go into deep discussion about the flaws of characters like Betty and Pete? Yet when faced with a discussion about Joan's character, they either pretend she doesn't really have any flaws or give an excuse like:

"Joan is a character, not a person. She is behaving in ways that serve the story, hold symbolic value, and move the action along. Reacting to her, or to anyone else, as though they are friends of ours we are disappointed with seems silly, and a bit impoverished."

Why not simply acknowledge the character's flaws and discuss them . . . honestly?


Once again, we don't know who these "many fans" are that act like Joan is perfect. You are arguing a straw man.

Joan has been called a bitch and a racist by fans and critics. She has been criticized for sleeping with a married man and for not understanding that a woman can want more than marriage. It so happens that she gets less criticism than characters like Pete and Betty because (and we would have thought this was obvious) she's in far fewer scenes than they are.

Additionally, Joan, while flawed (like every other character in the show), is quite obviously meant to be one of the characters the audience cheers for. She tends to get the upper hand in almost every situation, she's sassy, she's sexy, she looks great, and she gets the best lines. In other words, Joan is DESIGNED to be more likable than characters like Pete or Betty or Don. She has also, similar to the character of Sal, a character that has more problems than triumphs in her character arc. Fans tend to sympathize with her not because they think she's perfect, but because they are having an emotional reaction, just as the writers intended.

My priorities are in order.

Honestly? It doesn't look that way to us. We've been to both your blogs. We've seen the posts you've written where you've admitted that you find it difficult to discuss this show with people who don't see it the same way you do. You admitted that such discussions make you angry. Well here's some advice: step away. Because when your anger and inability to deal with differing opinions causes you to argue that a smashed vase is equivalent to a rape, you've lost all perspective.

People cheered when Joan smashed the vase over Greg's head not because they love domestic violence (even in as mild a form as this) and not because they think Joan is perfect. They cheered because they were experiencing one of the oldest concepts in western literature: catharsis. Drama is not real life and the audience is not required to try characters in a court of law or treat every character equally. The audience reaction to Joan's actions was a purely emotional one, as art demands. You tend to argue as if these people are real, as if each one must be subject to the exact same rules and criteria. It simply doesn't work that way and until you understand that, you're going to continue to come away from these conversations angry and frustrated.


ps - forgot to mention: i love love love this blog, and can barely wait to scurry over here after watching these shows. y'all are smart, funny, and cool like fonzi. or rather, like tim gunn. stay classy, TLo.

-eliza


(((scream))) WHY did tivo not record this episode??? Thanks for the wonderful recap. I can always count on you guys.


Wow TLo. Nicely dispatched.


I know this is way delayed, but I just had a chance to catch up on the show. I haven't read everyone's replies, so someone may have said this already. Anyway, I don't think Don is "slipping" so much as that he doesn't care anymore. I feel like when people are slipping, they are passively looking for a way out. It is rather difficult to confront Betty about their marriage and go forth with 1) making it better or 2) getting a divorce. Getting "caught" is just an easier way for someone to come out. This is Don Draper we're talking about here. Like Betty said, this desk has been in the house the whole time, she could've had a lock smith in there anytime. If Don really wanted to hid, he could've gotten a box at the bank that only he had access to, but instead he choose to have all his secrets locked up inside the house, like he said, that he shares with Betty. Don want to be caught, he wanted Betty to know the day he met her, the day he married her, and every day following that. But at the same time, it's not an easy story to break to anyone.

He's not getting sloppy with his love affair either. He is dissatisfied with his marriage, he wants out of that too. Before Betty confronted him, he thought he was safe. Now he knows he is not. This doesn't change the fact he wants out. He just wants to do it on his terms and not Betty's. He knows that Betty sort of have him by his balls because she knows of him leaving the military.

In the end, it's not because people don't change. It's the situation has not really changed. Betty is still Betty, Don is still Don, life is still that unhappy life.


This was the best television I have seen in years. I'm posting six months after everyone else, but I had to add my comments. Usually I have the TV on while doing other things, but I was riveted to the screen. When Don walked into that house and Sally was there, my heart stopped. And all the time I was watching those wonderful scenes, I kept thinking there's a woman outside in your car. There is a woman outside in your car!

And still after all that, the schmuck didn't end the relationship with Suzanne. What is going on in his head? And what kind of woman finds herself crouching down in a married man's car outside of his house?





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