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Mad Men S3E12: The Grown-Ups

"Take a pill and lie down."

Show creator Matthew Weiner has often said in interviews that he was reluctant to take on the Kennedy assassination, arguably the seminal event of the sixties, because it had been explored to death in more films and television shows than you can count and he felt he couldn't bring anything new or fresh to the story. As the episodes piled up this season and those of us who obsess over this sort of thing took note of the dates, it became obvious that he had changed his mind and the event was going to be examined before the season ended. Unfortunately, after watching this episode, we have to say his initial instincts were correct. There was nothing particularly new or interesting in this version of the tale. Most dramatic explorations of the assassination from the view of the general public hit two major tropes: people watching TV in horror, and people reacting to the shock of the event by questioning their own lives. We got plenty of both last night and it made for what we would consider the most disappointing episode of the season.

Of course a disappointing episode of Mad Men is still better than 95% of what appears on television and there were plenty of interesting scenes and interactions plus one major shift in the plot at the very end. And to be fair, almost any episode was going to have a very hard time following last week's episode which, as we said, was probably the best in the entire series.

But let's talk about the assassination before we get into what we think was the major theme or motif running through the episode. Here's what we think they got right and what we think made perfect sense for the characters:

♦ Pete and Harry, having a whinefest (because let's face it: they are the two whiniest characters on a show full of them) about their careers, so caught up in their own drama that they don't even notice the flash on the television informing them of the assassination.

♦ Betty, after a year full of disappointments, finally has the emotional reaction she couldn't have when her own father died; she cried. And she spent the rest of the episode floundering around, looking for someone to explain it to her or at the very least validate what she was feeling. "What is going on?!" she cried out in anger, and the only answers she got back were "It's going to be okay. Everything's going to be alright," answers that she didn't believe and didn't want to hear.

♦ And what we thought was the best touch of all and handled with great subtlety, Carla, all barriers momentarily forgotten, slumps down on the couch next to her employer, takes one of her cigarettes and cries too for the man many African-Americans of the period considered their greatest hope.

♦ Sally and Bobby, too young to understand but nevertheless fascinated by what's playing out in front of them. Adults didn't cry in their world and suddenly all of them were doing so. We have a slight quibble with Sally's reaction, though. She's old enough and the show has demonstrated time and again, insightful enough, that we would have thought she'd demonstrate a more knowing reaction than that.

♦ And then there's Don, completely dissociated from his emotions and the emotions of others, advising Betty to lie down and medicate herself and chastising her for letting the kids watch the events unfold on television. Much like in Season 1 after her mother died, Don simply can't be there for Betty when she has emotional responses like this. Not because he doesn't want to - this episode made clear that he's tip-toeing around her and trying to be the best husband he can be after last week - but because he's spent his whole life hiding the truth and subsequently doesn't have the capability to show empathy or to be in touch with his own emotions.

♦ And the one bit that was truly eerie, original, and illustrative of the magnitude of the event: all of the phones in Sterling Cooper going silent as the phone company becomes overloaded with calls.

If you lived through these events or if you were the type of people (like us) who loved hearing the stories from people who did, you could probably come up with stories that were as interesting or moreso than the reactions we saw this episode. That's what made it somewhat disappointing. Clearly, they wanted to, but the show creators simply didn't bring anything new to the table and there were no real revelations to be had.

Now, having got the bitching out of the way, let's take a look at the real motif of the episode. With the nuptials of Margaret Sterling and her (we have to say, distractingly cute) fiance, the theme was couples: married, unmarried, used-to-be married, wanna-be married, and should-have-gotten married. Betty and Don, Betty and Henry, Roger and Mona, Roger and Jane, Roger and Joan, Peggy and Duck, and in a huge surprise to us, the couple that went from being our least favorite on the show (we once said they were horrible people and we'd never want to be stuck on an elevator with them) to becoming our new favorites: Pete and Trudy.

How did that happen? How did this whiny boychild and his spoiled rotten wife become the fabulous young couple whose every scene illustrates how good they are for each other and how sweet they are together? From the only-a-married-couple scene of Trudy leaning in to Pete and asking "Do I have bags?" to the two of them curled up on the couch and exploring their horror at the events on their TV, to her support of him after his career disappointment, they've become the new golden couple after the previous years' model (Don and Betty) has deteriorated to the point of no return.

The ending of last week's episode made it seem as if the crisis may have passed in the Draper marriage and that might have held true if the assassination hadn't happened. Unfortunately, Betty was at the end of her rope emotionally after the birth of a child she didn't particularly want, the death of her father, the revelation that her husband has been lying to her the entire time she's known him, and the confusion brought on by her feelings for Henry. It was all just too much for her and the assassination lit a match under her and set her off.

And maybe if she hadn't run into Henry at the wedding (We have to say, we loved her little smirk and "Of course" under her breath when he walked in), she wouldn't have come to the conclusion that she did. But sometimes life lays out your choices for you very clearly and Betty saw both her husband and the man she's most intrigued by standing side by side and looking at her with adoration and in that moment, it appears she made her decision. Actually, that's not true. Betty made her decision when Henry announced his intention to marry her. She'd never leave Don to be a single divorcee like Helen Bishop, but she'd do it to become another man's wife, like Happy Rockefeller.

So Betty wants out and we can't say we're surprised by that. When Betty announces the end of her feelings for Don he typically tries to play it down and doesn't display any emotion until he's alone. Do we feel sorry for him? Sure. A little. But take a second and run down all the shitty things he's done in his marriage over and over again and any sympathy we have gets watered down quite a bit. We feel bad for Don, but we can't say he doesn't deserve it.

On the one hand, we'd be sorry to see the Draper marriage end because a single Don doesn't sound all that interesting to us and a Betty married off to someone else would likely mean she's off the show for good. We know we complained that there was too much focus on their marriage this season, coming on the heels of last year's season-long examination of their marital troubles, but like it or not, they are the center of the show. Without the drama inherent in the perfect Drapers living the dream life and dying a little inside, we don't know what the purpose of the show would be.

But maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves. Maybe next episode they'll run back into each other's arms, just like they did at the end of last season. If that's the case, color us bored and disappointed. How many times are we supposed to see them almost break up and then come back together at the last minute?

In other news, Peggy is once again revealed to be a junior Don Draper. She's as dissociated and unempathetic as he is. Although we have to give her a lot of credit. So focused is she on her career and so good is she at it, that she had the presence of mind to realize that the upcoming shoot of their proposed Aquanet commercial - the one depicting two couples in a car with the top down - would be a disastrous idea in the wake of the assassination and like a good little soldier, was in the office all alone trying to figure out how to rework it and trying to avoid the emotion of the day. Once again the show examines how the major events of the day were repurposed (or in this case, avoided) in order to sell products.

But while she may be good at her job, she keeps demonstrating her lousy taste in men. Duck is so wrong for her it's not even funny and we have to echo her room mate's question: Why is she with him? Is she acting out a Don fantasy with a surrogate? Because she better realize soon that Duck is no Don. In fact, Duck is using her as a substitute for his alcohol addiction. He acts just like an addict when it comes to her: completely impulsive, focused solely on getting what he wants, acting like a big shot and doing what he has to to make sure he gets his fix. He knew if Peggy walked in and saw the news on the TV, his nooner would be over so, like the asshole he is, he kept that information from her until he got what he wanted out of her.

And then there's Roger, surprising himself with his somewhat emotional reaction to the assassination, demonstrating great affection and respect for his former wife, trying to be a good father to his daughter and possibly coming to the realization that his new wife is something of a mess and possibly more trouble than she's worth. We don't know what his thinking is regarding Joan, but we have to say we love those phone calls. Those two know each other on a level that no one else in their lives do and each phone call makes us wish more and more that they had both made different decisions.

Pictures courtesy of amctv.com

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Funny-- Don didn't find his way back to Suzanne's arms. Now why is that? Was that all about the spiky triangle dynamic? He deserves everything he gets--but for the sake of the show (and us, the children!) don't break up the Drapers!

And what about Sal? I want comeuppance.


My favorite moment: Paul Kinsey's low-key bitchy little "no" to Peggy's "can you give me a minute?"
Hee HEE!


It's interesting to see this episode after all the "will they?" or "won't they" discussion about whether the Kennedy assassination would be a part of this season. Honestly, I thought they did as well with it as maybe possible - from what I've heard from those folks who do remember this event, they captured very well the absolute stunned reaction that took place. And the use of the actual newscasts further added to the authenticity - but then, would we expect any differently from a show that has been so good about getting the details right?

For those of a younger generation, this episode showed how the Kennedy assassination was very much akin to what 9/11 was in more recent times - when people stopped what they were doing, in horror, trying to make sense of what just happened.

Perhaps in some ways, the show's creators knew that they'd have to do this event but just wanted to get through it. And then explore and see the ramifications with the different characters.

I do know that I can't wait to see what happens next week!

srq


it's so hard to not feel for don even though i know he's done some absolutely shitty things.

it's also hard for me to be totally sympathetic to betty. i don't entirely know why that is.

i loved that phone call with joan and roger. jane has not meant the end of those two, i'm sure of it.

as always, you two make me see things in the episodes in a different light.


With Pete wearing that black turtleneck and Trudy in cropped pants, plotting whether or not to leave Sterling Cooper so he could advance his career: they were like the mid-60s version of the MacBeths.

I loved when Joan said to Roger that the assassination was different because there was nothing to be funny about. It reminded me when he came in after the lawn mower incident and said "It's like Iwo Jima out there!"


The Drapers are done. Get over it.
The writers will show what divorced life with children was like in the 60s. It will be interesting and tense. Let the games begin.

Remember that Henry dude is a marketer of some sort. He may work for Sterling/Cooper next season as a consultant or maybe Rockefeller will hire S/C. Ya never know...

I watched this episode twice in a row, something I never do. I had no problems with it, although I was born well past 1963. Any insight into that time is fascinating to me compared with the space shuttle explosion in 1986 and with 9/11/01 both of which I lived through.

I agree, Pete and Trudy had no where to go but up.

I also, like memorexe, yearn for the return of Sal.

Great review TLo! I can't wait til I'm working again so I could put some $$$ in that tip jar of yours!

xoxox Abbey


It just hit me that Jane seems a LOT like Roger's old flame (the horny dog food woman with the ego problem). They look alike, but they also have a similarly petulant ME ME ME manner. Hm!

I died a little inside when it turned out that Peggy's been seeing Duck all this time. Your analysis of him is bang on the money.

And it's really weird that the only central characters I have any hope left for are Pete and Trudy. Actually that's not true; it's just that my hopes for Joan involve her husband getting a one-way ticket to Viet Nam, and that's not very nice even if he is a rapist.


An interesting little tidbit here: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/on-nov-23-1963-some-people-really-did-marry/?hp

Also, I loved the conversation between Mona and Roger with Mona translating everything Roger said for her daughter.


ONE more thing, what the heck did Mona say right after she informed Roger they needed a replacement wedding cake? I rewound that bit several times and turned up the volume on my TV. I beleive she said, "Hebes," in a low but seething tone which would be quite anti-semetic. Just when I start to like Mona she pulls this crap out of her stupid brain. And remember Roger had mentioned he got fed up with Mona when she became "judgemental". Hmmm...


Thanks boys, I've been eagerly waiting for you all day!

I think Roger's phone call was a callback to the Marilyn episode. Joan was in Roger's office lying down because she was so upset - Roger discovers her- and she explains to him how you can be affected by the death of someone you don't know.

Loved the "there's nothing funny about this," line immediately followed by drunken Jane's arm flopping over.

And loved Roger and Mona in every scene!


I, on the other hand, thought that the writers handled this very well, and MW notes, on the AMC website, that he went for at least one very different thing - the shooting of Oswald on live television. That, to me, was the clearest comparison to 9/11, very much like when the second plane hit. There was Betty, trying to digest this horror, when an even worse horror opens up, unexpectedly and shockingly. Her anguished "What is going ON?!" was as much about the disintegration of their marriage as the shooting of the shooter of the President.


Respectfully disagree, gentlemen - loved the ep.

I did not expect the writers to bring anything new to the Kennedy assassination, there's nothing more to add. I mean, how would you show 9/11 if you were doing a show about the early 21st Century? You would show how the event changed your worldview almost immediately. I loved how it cleanly bisected the motivations of people on the show - before assassination and post. I also liked how it neatly brought the reality of the 60's down on these people. Betty kept yelling "What is happening?!?" and everyone kept saying "It'll be ok" to her and themselves and it is not going to be ok.


I've been lurking for months on this blog, but can't resist posting. I knew as soon as the show ended that you two would be disappointed. It's interesting to read they whys and wherefors, too.
Carla smoking a cig was incredible, it spoke volumes. Also, Pete and Trudy seem to be heading towards Beatnikville! That'll be fun if so. I took Betty's "Of course" as a comment on him entering w/a tall, *brunette* young lady, not that he was a the wedding. He was there w/everything Betty is not.


That 1 call with Joan I think was wonderful and a great highlight. WE all know Joan is pretty fab but that call showed Joan is a rock and really a deep person. She really is the most grown-up person on the show.

Yes Duck is a shit and a user

I have the same ambivalence for Don and Betty. I think Betty should divorce Don but not marry Henry. I feel deep down there is still potnetial in Betty to be a strong, capable person who can tackle life. The last thing she's needs for her personal growth is another confining marraige.

Personally I think if she's forced to take care of herself she will be a lot happier and eventually be a better parent.

And I don't think Peggy is as far gone as Don-thank god. She still seems to want to mourn and she's moved by the tragedy but I can empathize with her reaction to her mother's grieving. She's not the self-illusisonist Don is-not yet at least.

Pete handled himself rather well. I dont blame him for being upset and wanting to quit. Being told you didn't get the job because you're not special enough would be very hard to take.

Frank


I also watched the show twice in a row and I never do it. I think the emotional impact of the assasination paired with Betty's decision made for a great show. I loved Roger's daughters little girls antics in the face of something real happening. Overall, I thought it was a great episode and I can't wait for next week's finale.


I really liked the wedding scene. Instead of the gay, lavish affair it was supposed to be, people did their best without trying to mask over the sobriety of the situation -- it just seemed honest. I also liked when Sally comforted her mother, poor kids, no one comforted them.


How hilarious and awesome was Mona this episode?
"Just because she's been to India doesn't mean she's not an idiot."

I hope the writers don't force a Joan/Roger reunion...one of the things I love about MM is that it refuses to do those tired "will they or won't they" sitcom plotlines.

-Alex


I uncharacteristically disagree, boys. I thought last night was a really good episode. I guess if you evaluate it based on it saying anything new about the Kennedy assassination, you won't really find it. But i thought you saw how the assassination rippled thru different folks lives and propelled the Draper marriage to the brink.

I didn't think Trudy and Pete's reaction was so great, self-serving. If he'd gotten the promotion, they would have been at the wedding. They weren't being noble. Yes they do love and support each other, but they are so noxious.

I too loved the moment with Carla on the couch.

I loved the phone calls with Joan and Roger which supports the idea that the love of his life he referred to last week was of course not the new wife, but Joan. I remembered Joan having to hide how distraught she was when roger had the heart attack.

I suspect the Draper marriage will teeter on the edge for a long time. I see that Weiner has shown how much is rotten there and how there is genuine caring, history, and children. Not easy in any decade to end that.

I don't see Don as unempathetic, but more a highly traumatized man who has one play book to tragedies: continue and dont look back. A part of you will forget it and when that other part that can't forget surfaces, wait and you can push that under too. He has nothing to offer Betty in this moment, but he did sit with the kids on the couch and reassure them, but Betty needed something different that Don does not have.


I'm not a Betty groupie the way most everyone else is, so you may want to take that in mind when I say this, but the fact that she is only willing to leave this marriage only after she has another guy willing to catch her is sad and pathetic and slightly annoying. I feel horrible for her because of the secret Don kept from her, because of how he sleeps around, but I keep thinking back to the flashback episode from last season, when we saw the young and eager Don (when he told Anna he needed a divorce), who was so in love with Betty, I can't help but wonder if his wanting to live up to her expectations is also a huge part of who he became (or maybe what he perceived as her expectations?). Also, I can understand Don's reaction to letting the kids sit there and wallow in all that like Betty was doing. You don't hide what happened and you don't have to hide your emotions about it, but geez, Betty shuts down to her children, so absorbed in her own reaction that she has nothing to give to her children. Don may not have had the perfect reaction to her (everything will be okay and take a pill), but at least he answered the questions of his kids. And I give him credit for that.

Donna


the phones dying at SC sent shockwaves through me as I was reminded trying to call my parents at home while I was at college during 9/11. No calls would go through because the towers were flooded with similar calls.

I, too, was disappointed, but I think it was because last week's epi was so pitch perfect that anything following it would never compete.


Pete and the hot cocoa?! Now THAT was funny. A child asks for hot cocoa. And clearly, he asks for it often enough to know if it is made with water or milk.


Mona effin' rocks! She is my sartorial favorite, and I was disappointed that she did not break out the fabulosity this episode; in fact this episode was kinda disappointing on the fashion front.

I am kinda getting a kick out of Duck's horrible deed of the season; first Chauncey and now unplugging the TV.


I haven't had a chance to see the episode yet, but thought I'd add my two cents anyway!
I figure that I am the same age as Sally, in 3rd grade when Kennedy was assassinated. I remember the AV being turned on, and suddenly hearing Walter Cronkite's voice with the dreadful news. I immediately thought of Caroline Kennedy losing her father. I had always identified with her (people often told me I looked like her), and I also spent my summers on Cape Cod. My father had just left for Viet Nam, and so in a sense, I felt a real kinship with her loss.
The whole nation was numb, and even an 8 year old kid could figure that out!!


I was an 8th grader that fall, definitely alive and sentient enough to remember that terrible Friday through Monday, and yes, the recurrent exclamations were: "What is going on?!" and "What is happening?!"

I agree with CPT Doom that the show's focus on the Oswald murder on live television was shrewd; it underscores the 'loss of center,' 'destruction of the familiar' - which truly rocked the United States - that is echoed in the Drapers' lives, and, indeed, in the lives of the Sterling Cooper family of characters.

Upon reflection, a better episode than I was assuming last night.

All the best,

NDC


Cold. Gray. And out of focus. Just like the TVs in this episode. That's what I remember about the assassination. Parts of the U.S. were sunny, like in Dallas, but from Chicago to D.C., it was cold and gray. Whether it was intentional or not, the cold day and the hot day in the ad agency reflected that. One minute it's one way, but things can change that fast. Click. So....lots of switcheroos here.

I have always seen Betty as Don's "Jackie." She is the prize as far as the women go, and he wants her on his arm, by his side. It goes with his charade. I also think this is why Henry wants her. He is a politician and recognizes the value of having Betty by his side. Remember the Maidenform ad? Every man wants either Jackie or Marilyn. Some want them both.

I have also seen the little speech that Peggy gave Pete on the day he expressed his love for her-- "...a part of you...it's always there, and then one day it's just gone and you wonder if you'll ever get it back..." (paraphrasing, but you know which speech I mean) -- I have always seen that as one day coming out of Betty's lips. I have felt it happening to her. Finally, she has said it, basically, it just came out in her simple blunt statement.


Don and Peggy came into the office on Monday to run away from a world where "there wasn't room for anyone else to feel anything."

Peggy just wanted to grieve in peace, without her mother's histrionics. Don was grieving something else, altogether.

It was interesting that all of the TVs had annoying vertical lines. If only more people had been watching Admirals.

Betty watched NBC, while Sterling Cooper favored CBS. My mom, however, was watching ABC, confused about whether this was going to be the best episode of "Hawaian Eye" she ever saw or a nightmarish Special Report.

MW got one thing right about the Kennedy assasination. People sat in front of their TV for three days. Up until then, TV was a sometime companion. You watched the news, a few favorite shows, and turned it off for other activities. Nov. 22-24 was three continuous days of television viewing. The story kept unfolding as everyone struggled to piece it all together.

My mother always told me that while Kennedy's death was very sad, Oswald's shooting was sheer terror. She compared it to seeing Psycho at the movie theater. This was unbridled, unedited, terror burned right into the popular culture. Everyone experienced it simultaneously.

And finally, the whole Betty-Henry thing doesn't ring true for me. They don't know each other. Each is projecting a fantasy onto the other. I'm thinking the fantasy is due to come crashing down at some point.

And that's what leaves me coldest. Up until now, we know Don is unhappy and Betty is unsatisfied. But neither one of them are thinking about what their actions do to their children.

Which one of them will be the lion or lioness that protects their cubs? And when Sally, Bobby and Gene get married, will Don be respectfully toasting their mother despite whatever happens?


My cable went out between Margaret's tantrum and Duck and Peggy's nooner. When watching the car scene with Betty and Henry, I thought there must have been something between them that I'd missed during the outage. I just can't buy that two people who don't know each other and haven't even had that much to do with each other would be talking marriage. I'm all for Betty having an affair with him, but their situation doesn't seem realistic at this point. Plus, after all the great acting of the last few episodes, January Jones just fell flat again.


ETA to my previous post:
The women's clothes were meh, but the men's clothes and the women's hair were great.


Highlight:

Roger's nod to his ex "You're a lioness, thank you for not eating our cub".

He'd better not have another heart attack.

Speculation:

Betty marries Henry who gets an appointment in D.C.. Betty becomes a hard drinking Washington socialite a la Pat Nixon or Barbara Mitchell. That would be another show of course.

I wish by incredible accident, Betty finds herself on a career track of her own...


Another one disagreeing with you. I thought the episode was great. The first three scenes were about people acting like children (pete and the cocoa, Margaret and the wedding, finally an actual child, Eugene crying at night). Then Everyone Must Grow Up because childhood/innocence is over. Kennedy is dead. Before they can get a handle on his death, the possibility of a trial restoring the center is stolen as well with Oswald murdered on TV. Which, I imagine, in those innocent days, was horrific to witness.

Time to Grow Up kittens, everything is different. Cocoa made with water instead of milk. If only that was your biggest problem!


Just wanted to say that, while this episode may have been disappointing to people who grew up in the US, especially those who either witnessed these events firsthand or got firsthand accounts, to someone like myself, who did not grow up here, it was extremely revealing and informative. Sorry for the long sentence there.


Pete & Trudy = Wrong. Here, let me tell you why you're wrong. ;)

Pete is using the assassination as an EXCUSE. Oh look how shallow all the people I work with are. Oh that's why I didn't get the promotion, they are no talent hacks. They'll never understand how great and fabulous I am. Next thing you know he & Trudy will run off and join a commune.

And now Trudy who had always to some extent bought into his BS is truly on board and no longer even a tiny voice of reason. She could've gone Joan's route, but this week she proved she doesn't have it in her and never will.

They are both full of fail and I can't wait until Pete ends up in bed with Duck and goes down in flames.


C'est moi, c'est moi Lola

I can't say I was disappointed, because one off epi of Mad Men is better than 98% of what else in on tv, but I kind of liked that the writers hit the cultural landmark, and yet it wasn't THE THING that drove the episode.

And Betty's reaction to the shooting of Oswald was dead on, so to speak. 'What is going ON?!!" Welcome to the '60's Betty....

In fact, I liked that they decided to show both NBC and CBS footage. Whenever I see the CBS footage of Walter Cronkite announcing JFKs death, it makes me think of how close Uncle Walter came to sobbing on air.

The only thing that did not ring true for me was Henry's proposal. Oh Betty, out of the frying pan and potentially into the fire....

Mona had some great lines this episode. I loved it when she called her daughter's bluff about canceling the wedding.

I could go on and on, but I WAS happy to learn that Sal has not yet been replaced! Is there still hope for his return?

And Mad Men writers, please - no more Ducking in the afternoon! No more ducking - period! Seriously, when Peggy's roommate commented on the smell of his aftershave - it made ME want to puke!

Great wrap-up TLo! Thanks!


Count me in as another one who is respectfully mystified by your comment that the episode wasn't up to par because it didn't add anything new to the story of the JFK assassination. What was this episode supposed to add to a story that's been told repeatedly for nearly five decades, and examined in every which way via every which medium you care to name?

Unless one thinks the historiography is wrong (i.e., people didn't really act as shocked as we think, didn't really watch as much TV that weekend as we think), I'm not sure how the show's representation was supposed to "add" anything new to the historical record, or reflect the event in an unexpected way.

Another point: those of you who want Betty to strike out on her own and who can't believe Henry would propose marriage so soon need to remember the historical context of the show. Betty is doing the best she can considering the constrains under which she lives, and believe it or not, the marriage proposal is entirely fitting within that situation at that time.


S said...

Count me in as another one who is respectfully mystified by your comment that the episode wasn't up to par because it didn't add anything new to the story of the JFK assassination. What was this episode supposed to add to a story that's been told repeatedly for nearly five decades, and examined in every which way via every which medium you care to name?

Unless one thinks the historiography is wrong (i.e., people didn't really act as shocked as we think, didn't really watch as much TV that weekend as we think), I'm not sure how the show's representation was supposed to "add" anything new to the historical record, or reflect the event in an unexpected way.


Well count us in as mystified about the reaction some are having to this post. We said it was a disappointing episode, not a horrible one, and then spent the next thousand words pointing out all the things we liked about the episode.

As for why we found it disappointing, that's right in the first paragraph. Weiner always said he didn't want to tackle the subject because he didn't feel he could bring anything new to it. The fact that he DID tackle it, led us to think that he had found a way to do so. That's why we had that expectation.


This was my favorite episode yet.

Yo, Tom and Lorenzo, I was about Sally's age when this happened and this is the first time I've seen something that really captured the otherworldly shock of the assasination and then the shooting of Oswald on live TV. I thought the entire episode was brilliant.

I loved Mona with that comment, as Alex above mentioned: "Just because she's been to India doesn't mean she's not an idiot." The whole episode would have been worth watching just for that line.

Re: the love and marriage motif: life is messy and you hardly ever really get what you want. Everybody on the show is lonely and that's pretty much how it is in life and that's so hard to show on the teevee.

Still Peter and Trudy, for all their issues, are comfy together and that's a nice contrast; and just because their professional and personal distastes happen to jibe here doesn't mean the feelings aren't true.

Peggy and Don alone in the office during the funeral makes sense as they are the truest loners in the bunch. I don't think it shows a lack of feeling at all; Don has literally nowhere else to go at the moment and neither does Peggy. Just because they're not whiners doesn't mean they don't feel things.

Joan is completely awesome. And it's so nice to have someone to call who's on the same wavelength. Why is that so hard? might be the hanging question of the episode, and show.



Patty from Philly


I thought that they wove the death of JFK in with the "end of the world" theme rather well. We not only see the (probable) end of the Draper marriage but also the slow painful death of Sterling-Cooper, losing its creative edge.

Kennedy's assassination is often characterized as the end of our national innocence and we see the end of Betty's illusions about the man she thought she married.

I don't believe that the references to the Kennedy's & Camelot occurred until later, but that was still part of the feeling of loss among people at the time (I was 12). While we know now that JFK had some of the same habits as Don/Dick, the illusion at the time was different, as has been the public illusion of the Drapers, which looks like it's coming to an end.

As the assassinations (JFK & then Oswald) were pivotal events in our nation, they are clearly becoming pivotal events in the series, as the characters all stand on the brink of collapse & recreation. I can’t wait to see how the MM characters will reformulate their collapsing world.


Atlantaseabreeze

Once again-love the summary and everyone's comments! I have really enjoyed this season-much more going on than last season, which kind of "beat things to death" in my opinion. I was John Jr's age in 1963, so all I really remember is all the pictures of Jackie and the kids, and some book my Mom got called "The Torch has Passed" I thought Jacqueline looked like a princess! I thought another main theme of this episode was denial vs. recognition. It seemed like most of the men-(surprise Pete excluded!)were clinging to their own truths and denying the world crashing down around them. Interestingly enough, Don and Henry had basically the same response to Betty's reaction. I mean, she's just trading one facade for another!! (Singing in the Rain-make it all a fairy tale) She and Don have both contributed to the sham facade of their marriage-at least learn from your mistakes!
Loved Carla smoking on the couch-can't wait til she lowers the boom on betty with the bus strikes.
Loved Mona-she accomplishes a lot with small screen time.
Agree Pete and Trudy do seem like the one functioning couple-Shock!!
The dress Betts wore to the wedding- My Barbie had the exact same outfit!
Can't wait for the finale!


Don is a creep, and I don't blame Betty for being done with him, but I don't think for one second that Betty is in love with Henry. Henry is a respectable way out of an unhappy marriage, possible father figure/knight in shining armor. I think after a few years of being a mid level politician's wife Betty would be just as bored as she is now. The only difference I see is that Henry probably wouldn't cheat on her at every turn.

The Duck/Peggy booty call is just gross. I hope Peggy finds someone better soon.

My fav reaction was Carla's sitting down lighting a cigarette.


Jane's red suit with the cheetah trim and hat was to DIE FOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I have to agree with TLo that the assassination part of the episode fell a little short of my expectations, but I am grateful that MW erred on the side of restraint.

That being said, there were two moments that I really enjoyed:
1) The word "Bulletin" flashing up on the television next to the totally oblivious Pete and Harry. A shock went through my body and my boyfriend and I looked at each other and said, "This is it."

2) How surreal was it when Don was walking through the office with the phones ringing off the hook and not one person would turn around to answer his question? For once, no one gives a shit about Don Draper.


i dunno, i watched it and i thought that's it? meh.
then again, im not american and was light years away from being born when the event happened. also missed it in history class in college. but i remember the whole tv watching of 9/11 and 'what is happening' so i guess that's how it was for them too.

prediction : Betty leaves Don/Dick and screws him for all he's got b/c of his Don-Dick lies

Things get worse at SC after its sale, and Don devastated by his wife's exit, sleeps with peggy and/or jane in a fit of stupidity

Henry Francis bamboozles Betty and leaves her behind when he gets called to DC. Betty becomes a kept lady

Pete throws in with Duck and they both go down in blazes


Sal and Layne get it on.


-can't wait til she lowers the boom on betty with the bus strikes.

Could you elaborate what you mean by this? If you're referring to the Montgomery bus boycott, that was years before this season, in 1955. The civil rights movement is a year away from a major federal accomplishment: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and arguably in a whole new phase past the '50s local bus-integration push.


Donna, I had the same reaction to the Drapers.

I was fascinated by this episode. And I also watched it twice which I never do. And, like a lot of you, it reminded me of how I experienced 9/11.

God, Duck and Peggy. shudder. He is creepy. Peggy should take note that when they heard together about the assassination, he thought of phoning his kids and literally turned his back on her. Not a word to Peggy - as though they were not even in the same room, sharing the event.

Did anybody go to marriage counseling in 1963? Because Don and Betty could stand to talk before they throw in the towel. They need to understand their own motivations.

From Betty's POV, I am wondering if her motivation for marrying Don was that he allowed her to rebel, marry outside her parents expectations (sorry if I am stating the obvious). When Don was an idealized "bad boy," he was mysterious and cool. Now, her parents are dead, she has three kids and a dog, and she finds out the truth of his past - he was just a dirt poor white trash liar all along.

Something that stood out to me, was the look that Don and Roger shared at the wedding. How did you interpret that? I thought it looked like Roger HATED to look stupid in Don's eyes, hosting an enormous fail of a wedding. And the look that passed between them was full of loathing.

I loved the phone call to Joan from Roger. Those two would be a couple more like our current conception of marriage. Truly good friends and also sexually attracted to each other.

Pete and Trudy are endlessly intriguing to me. But, all I will say is that she looked as cute as a button in that blue dress and matching shoes. And. later, Pete looked better than he ever has in his new mod turtleneck.


I was 10 years old when Kennedy was killed and I remember vividly the events as they unfolded. It was really the first time I can remember the TV being on constantly from early morning till late at night. Remember, these were the days when television was not broadcast 24/7. We lived in San Antonio, and Kennedy had just been in our city the day before he was killed in Dallas. This made the assassination seem even closer to home and somehow more personal. I'm sure our parents had the same feelings about when they heard about Pearl Harbor or the death of FDR, and I'm sure 9/11 conjures up the same feelings among the younger generation. Anyway, I just want to say that "Mad Men" really nailed it with regard to the Kennedy assassination. And I also want to comment on Jane's leopard-skin pillbox hat....loved it!


You guys nailed my two favorite moments in last night's show: The sudden silence of the SC phones and Carla sitting down on the couch next to Betty and lighting a cigarette (and I'm right there with you about Pete and Trudy too! How cool have they turned out to be??).

That said, I wasn't as disappointed as you were by last night's episode while agreeing with virtually everything you pointed out. Some random thoughts:

I am not convinced that Don and Betty's marriage is over, in fact I'd be very surprised if it were. Last night was the first time I saw that Henry is living in just as much of a dream world about Betty as she is about him. His white knight rescue fantasy after what amounted to knowing this woman through a couple of meetings, some phone calls and one kiss (a second after he announced his intentions) spoke volumes. Also, Betty is someone who wants what she wants when she wants it along with the best of them; she is not going to wait for Henry, who had already gone on record saying it wasn't going to happen immediately. I don't think it's going to happen at all.

I loved Roger and all his women in this episode - like his own personal "8-1/2." While I think he truly loves Jane he knows the only woman who has ever really understood him is Joan, and I love that he sought a real moment with her.

Poor Don - he is completely clueless and so cut off from his own emotions that he is at a complete loss when all the perfect suburban tropes he thought would save him proved insufficient to meet his wife's sudden emotional demands. Yes, Don's a heel, he's done bad things, but Don and Betty are equally guilty of emotional detatchment and withdrawal, Betty just has a better excuse these days to remain emotionally unavailable, entitled as she might be.


Many of the characters in this episode seem to be taking Joan's advice to Greg last week when he was whining about doing everything he was supposed to do and things not working out: "Maybe it's time to move on."

From what I can tell, the phrase "Who died and made us the grown ups?" is most appropriate to this season. All of a sudden, the children have to deal with reality, responsibility and the limits of your dreams and aspirations.

Remember Roger's mother's advice to Jane (whom she mistook for her granddaughter, Margret) "Enjoy the world as it is Margret. They'll change it and never give you a reason."


Perhaps b/c I have so rigorously avoided all baby boomer "I remember when"ing, I didn't find the day of the assassination too played out. I found it quite affecting, really, and it reminded me of 9/11, too. I thought the use of vintage footage was masterful. I was holding my breath waiting for Oswald to get shot.

This episode felt...homey? I can't find the word. It didn't feel as electric as last week, but it felt very real.

Just looking at the screen shots you have up--what I find so amazing about this show is that the stills look like period photographs, they're so spot on from blinds to costume to posture. I can't think of another show for which that was true.

It is killing me that there's only one more episode this season.


Yes, it was a comedown episode after last week, but at least this wasn't the season finale. Think of how many other shows would have tried to sign off for the season on such an emotional event.

I can't wait for next week. I'm also dreading the end of this season.


I agree last night’s ep explored heavily treaded ground, but i think the assassinations were a pivotal moment in the 60s. If the writers were to skim over them i think their very real characters would lose some of their vibrancy. Last night’s ep did a serviceable job, if not their usual stellar one.

That said, i think i’m most excited about Sal next week. One of the things i’ve LOVED this season is the quiet ‘creative vs. accounts’ undercurrent. It’s been loud in places, but it has been easy to overlook with all the other events that have occurred this season. For me Sal’s sacking is accounts biggest and most violent move affront to creative’s rise to power. You have to remember that the concept of a ‘creative team’ (art director and copywriters working in tandem) only began with Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1960 and the result was their historic VW Bug campaign. (Which we saw back in season 1, a portend of changes to come for all Mad Men) As amazing as their results were the idea that creatives could (let alone should) run the show was not quickly assimilated into the culture. That’s why for all of Don’s lacking outside of the office, his phenom ability inside the office makes him a hero for the creative there. That’s why i’m so excited to see how this amazing tv show, a example of what happens when you let the ‘creative be creative’, handles the conflict.

Oh and just because i love the to share the bluntness of it:

“They can’t do shit unless we make ads for them. We should be in charge.”

Lee Chow CCO of TBWA/Chiat/Day in the documentary Art&Copy (which if you’re interested in advertising you should definitely check out.)


I'm with you about Pete and Trudy, and I shocked myself. It has been a pleasure to watch childless Trudy make a leap from treating Pete as a substitute child, supporting and cajoling him into more adult behavior, to relating to her husband in this episode as a real partner and person to respect. She put in her time as a dutiful wife helping Pete to climb the SC ladder, but once the assassination cleared her mind, she totally came on board Team Pete, The Independent Years.


I thought both Don and Peggy wound up at Sterling Cooper that day because they had no where else to go, which I found rather sad.

And as much as I dislike Roger's whiny daughter (hey, beyotch, those are sapphire earings! take them and run), it would surely be horrible to see months of planning go down the drain, especially since she apparently wasn't doing much of anything else.

Trudy's going-to-the-wedding dress was fab. Betty's outfit looked like she felt: blah.

I was 11 years old in 1963, and I didn't really get what was going on. The adults were crying, the kids were let out of school early and mostly unsupervised, the TVs were on all the time -- it was kind of a macabre carnival. As I sit here, I can't remember if I saw the live broadcast of Oswald being shot or if I only think I did because the shooting was replayed so many times. My clearest memories are of watching the funeral procession; I was particularly fascinated the riderless horse,boots reversed in the stirrups of its saddle, that was led behind casket. It was a beautiful horse.

So God only knows what the Draper kids would have thought about the whole thing.


I was a little younger than Sally Draper the day President Kennedy was shot, and the episode had me spellbound. In a way it was like reliving the day through Sally's eyes, in both the things I remember and the things I didn't understand back then.

My third-grade classroom was the only room in the school with a TV, and half the teachers in the building were in our room, clustered around the TV. We kids were confused--the adults were too busy being horrified themselves to give much thought to us. (Betty's reaction when Don asked why the kids were watching TV rang so true - "What do you want me to do?") It wasn't until I got home from school that my mother explained that the President was dead.

One of my strongest memories is of seeing flags already at half mast during our bus trip home. In fact, I think I walked in the door and asked my mother why they were at half mast. Somehow, in spite of the TV blaring away in our classroom and the adults' bewildered horror, it was still unthinkable that the President had actually died. So I have to respectfully differ with TLo about Sally's portrayal--it felt right to me.


bitchybitchybitchy

Anonymous said:
I'm not a Betty groupie the way most everyone else is, so you may want to take that in mind when I say this, but the fact that she is only willing to leave this marriage only after she has another guy willing to catch her is sad and pathetic and slightly annoying.

It is sad, pathetic, and slightly annoying, but I think it's a realistic POV for a character in Betty's situation. Can she really envision any future for herself other than as wife of_____(fill in the blank)? Divorce in the 60's was harder to get and much more stigmatized than it is today. I remember my mother spelling the word divorce when discussing the breakup of a relative's marriage.

As for the JFK assassination, I remember sitting in history class in the eighth grade when our teacher left the room, came back visibly upset and announced that the president had been shot, and that school was dismissed. I cried as I walked home. what had happened was simply unimaginable to me.


I think you boys are wrong when you say there was nothing new about the assassination - I think the negative comments people were making at SC immediately after, which Pete relayed to Trudy, is something that is rarely featured.


Oh, and I forgot one of the best lines:

Peggy: what are YOU doing here?

Don: the bars were closed.


Count me as another one to respectfully disagree. I loved this episode and was very emotionally affected by it. I was surprised to find myself sobbing at JFK's passing like it was yesterday. I thought it was really well done and I'm glad Matt Weiner didn't just skim over it. I genuinely wanted to know how each character reacted and how this will play out for them in the future.


One theme I really saw at work here was that of the definitive birth of the fabled "generation gap" that everyone would be talking about in a few years. It's so striking how differently the reactions played out according to age. The older generation's view was most starkly expressed by the wedding guest: "A month after FDR died, we bombed Hiroshima. That's how we got over it." Then there was Henry, "We've lost a lot of presidents and we're still standing," and finally Don's, "Everything is going to be all right." On the youthful side, you have Jane, showing where her priorities were by wearing black to a wedding and staying in the kitchen during her husband's speech, Pete and Trudy, and Betty. None of them are buying that this is one more American hardship that must be withstood with stoicism. They have lost THEIR president, and they are heartbroken. When Pete says, "For a moment there, it looked like things were going to change. And now Johnson? Nobody voted for him," I could just see that image of wheeler-dealer Johnson taking that oath and how deflating that felt after that sense of youthful energy. Of course, we know that Pete didn't support Kennedy, was not even a Democrat, but it's still believable that he would be stung by the death of the youthful president, especially given his seething resentment towards both his familial and his workplace older generation. It was very telling how Trudy claimed solidarity with him in refusing both the inappropriateness of going to a wedding and of supporting the "system" that hadn't given him his due. All of a sudden, she has come around to his view that he shouldn't have to wait and kowtow to get what he deserves. She has passed judgment on his superiors based on what she sees as their heartless response to the tragedy. Although we know they are hardly going to be on the barricades in a few years, in a certain way they are beginning to identify themselves as part of their generation, not willing to go along with business as usual.

BTW, I too am around Sally's age. To me, the reactions were spot on, right down to my mother who also shouted out "WHAT IS GOING ON?" when Oswald was killed and the paralysis around the TV set. My father, on the other hand, marched in JFK's funeral, and when he came home it was the only time in my life I ever saw him cry until a decade later, when my parents divorced. He neither kept me from the TV nor told me that everything was going to be all right.


Re Betty/Don and Betty not wanting to leave without another man lined up first - this rings true to me because of the era. Women in those days (I was born in 1960) had it hard going out on their own. My own birth mother divorced my father in 1962 and was going to farm us kids out to relatives. My father had to fight like the dickens to keep us. It would be interesting if they tackle the topic of divorce and single parenthood in the early 60s. My adopted/stepmother's philosophy (she was born 1920) was "never leave a man unless you have another in the wings" - I grew up hearing that one. It's possible that a woman of Betty's era was mothered by the same philosophy.

I think the whole issue of lack of feeling or empathy isn't wholly because of each character's personality flaw as it is partly due to the era - again, that's how it was then. I had parents who didn't know how to be as empathetic or supportive in relationships as people are today, or as aware of their kids needs as people are today.

Just my $0.02

Love your recaps TLo.


I think you boys missed the point: of course there could be nothing new brought about by the Kennedy assassination, but that's no reason not to portray it - this show is, after all, about the characters and not the events and it was necessary to show how the characters reacted to the event, which I think they portrayed brilliantly.

I also disagree that the last episode was the best of the season - Don's relationship with Suzanne was a complete snoozer in my opinion. I mean, how many times can we see the two of them muttering to each other in bed. I was about ready to give the show up for dead if that kept up and I was glad to see it was over.

Last night's episode was, I think, the best of the season. We got to see much more of the peripheral characters which had been sadly lacking.

I suggest you watch it again from the point of view of the characters rather than the events.


Mary Ellen said When Pete says, "For a moment there, it looked like things were going to change. And now Johnson? Nobody voted for him," I could just see that image of wheeler-dealer Johnson taking that oath and how deflating that felt after that sense of youthful energy.

And yet the irony is that JFK accomplished very little, and LBJ a lot. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was due in large part to his ability to "wheel and deal", his uncanny understanding of the legislative process, and his strong personal commitment to civil rights. His presidency was marked by the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, unparalleled support for federal education funding, and the War on Poverty. His administration created the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been vilified (not unjustly) for his actions in regard to the Viet Nam war, but he was, domestically, one of the greatest presidents this country has ever had.


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Forgive me TLO, but today I will disagree and say it was one of the better ones.
The title "grown-ups" says it all. I was born after the Kennedy assassination, however, 9/11 is fresh in my memory, in all our memories, and I saw a strong correlation between the two.
These two tragic events in our history caused us to wake-up and grow up in all aspects our lives. The medium of preference being the television. Marriage, career, friends, whatever. Many people woke up out of their haze and basically said WTF am I doing?????
This episode did a fine job illustrating that in each relationship in this show, there is an adult and a child.

Pete and Trudy
TLo said

"How did that happen? How did this whiny boychild and his spoiled rotten wife become the fabulous young couple whose every scene illustrates how good they are for each other and how sweet they are together?"
It's obvious with Pete's whining about the hot cocoa and Trudy's constant reassurance and guidance who is the child and adult in this relationship.
Also, how fabulous was Trudy in her blue cashmere sweater???? With Pete in his turtleneck and Trudy snuggled up next to him on the couch. It just shows from their resting position to their clothes, how comfortable this couple is with each other. The birth of the baby boomers, the power working couple, the yuppies. This cemented the idea for me, that this couple does not need children. On the contrary, if a child was to be introduced, I think it would kill the marriage, Pete is too selfish to share Trudy.

Don and Betty
I am not going rehash what TLO always says about Betty's childish ways. Interestingly enough, Don was the adult in this episode. That is why I think he did not run to his fling. He took care of the kids, Betty and tried to keep everything together. Also wasn't that great when Sally put her arm around Betty???The older child comforting the younger child.

Peggy and Duck

Here Duck is the child, hiding all evidence of the tragedy to get what he wants, and Peggy being a female Don. Up to the point of not ignoring or shirking work responsibilities.

Mona and Margaret

No explanation here, just see the episode

Roger and Jane

Nice to get a peek at Roger's marriage. Up till now, the assumption has been made that it is a great marriage. However, like real life, the marriages of others are not what it seems. From Roger demanding she come into a room like a child, to Jane's suicidal tantrums, Roger is beginning to realize he really did marry a child bride. Also how old is she?!?!?! She stated in her drunken stupor she was old enough to vote for JFK

Roger and Joan

I loved this comparison, because they are both adults. And because of this fact, they have the second best relationship in this episode; sorry I have to give the top spot to Pete and Trudy. They spoke maybe 15 words to each other,but with those words, they comforted and consoled each other. It's the lack of what they said that spoke volumes.

The TV and us

They are on the verge of the TV revolution. Only Harry realizes it. The tv for some will become mom, dad, babysitter and teacher all rolled into one.

Finally Harry and Pete

That little conversation displayed the adult and child. Harry saw he had a dead-end job and created a new and promising position for himself. Researching what other firms had to offer. Pete like a child is not interested, and does not even want to try to explore new possibilities.

Whew!!! I am exhausted, TLO I am starting my TLounge orders early this week!


Sorry in the previous comment, I meant Jane was NOT old enough to vote for JFK


Loved last night's episode and felt they did an excellent job at showing a variety of character's reactions; young, old, male, female, varying ethnic and social classes, etc. react to the Kennedy assasination and the events that followed (I would've loved to have seen Sal & Suzanne, but that might have been asking too much). I wasn't yet born, but have heard many stories and retellings of events and last night cried. I think that it was a powerful episode that may not have brought anything new to the table, but didn't necessarily feel that it was necessary or even apporpriate to have done so. It was all about emotional impact. Viewers and fans merely wanted to see how MM characters' lives were impacted by these events. Period. The most compelling to me was Don's lack of reaction and Betty's horror and how it amplified her feelings regarding everything else that was going on in her life.

Count me in as one who does not trust or believe Henry's proclammation of wanting to marry Betty. Sure, she's "perfect" on paper and will look damn good in those issues of "Look" and "Life" magazines, but the man is not stupid or inexperienced. Afterall, isn't he the one who told Betty that she had to be the one to come to him and that he wouldn't have it any other way? He obviously has standards for his extramarital dalliances and doesn't seem the type to jump into marriage with a woman not yet divorced with three very young children. In short, great episode and definitely one of my season faves.

- edina -


I'm surprised Tom and Lorenzo didn't address this, but I thought it seemed pretty clear.. the question had been lingering since last week of to whom Roger referring to as "the one." And the assumption was Jane. But the fact that he called Joan and said she was the person he just had to talk to to cope with the JFK assassination, while his wife is passed out next to him, kind of provides an answer. I'm interested to see where that goes.. !


Betty:

Loved your post and genius observations.

- edina -


I haven't watched the episode yet (had to read your recap first!), but I have opinions.
First, I was 4 when Kennedy was assassinated, so my memories are vague, but I remember it being much like what was on the show. Many people were upset and confused. Others dealt by throwing themselves into their work because it was something they had control over during an uncontrollable situation. It sounds like this is what Don and Peggy were doing.
Secondly, back in the '60s, divorce was not very common and divorcees were generally frowned upon. The whole concept was viewed very negatively. It would probably not be very good for Henry's career to be involved with a divorced woman. Especially one with children. I remember the divorced woman on my street was the most gossiped about woman in the neighborhood when I was a kid during the '60s, even though it wasn't something she initiated - her husband left her for another woman. Henry will probably be advised to lose the divorcee, and then Betty will either go back to Don, or find some kind of backbone and take care of herself.


I was in first grade and home sick watching TV. I went in the kitchen to tell my mother who was on the phone with her mother. Mom didn't believe me and asked her mother to go turn on her TV. We waited. When her mother confirmed it, Mom burst into tears.

My father was career Army and we didn't know what was happening and what would happen.


One thing that got me was the knowing look the kids exchanged when Don was heading out. Sally, being the spokesperson for the Draper offspring, asks, but not the question they really want answered.

Don's reaction to Betty's "What is going on?" was the 1950s answer to the 1960s question. He's looked old and tired and harried all episode, and there, right there, you can see time slip right past him. I feel for him, in spite of everything, in spite of him having done this to himself. I have a tendency to feel for tragic characters who fuck themselves over as they fuck everyone else over.

However, I have difficulty feeling anything for Betty. Possibly because she'd rather have things decided for her (Don asks her if she would like to dance, her response, OF COURSE, is "I don't know," so he stands up and they dance; Henry takes the initiative and proposes) and she's an incredibly shitty mom. Really, it's the latter that gets to me the most. I wouldn't mind her dithering and self-centeredness if she could get off of her damned cushioned seat and be a mom for five minutes. Those kids are so, so lost.

And those kids are how we're always going to have Betty in the show, because they are Don Draper/Dick Whitman's kids, and he doesn't want to be like his father. I'm assuming this means he'll try to be in their lives, no matter what. Or, more likely, that he'll fight the divorce that will probably take up next season.


I thought tyhe Kennedy assassination was a very good way to illustrate character development and relationship development (or meltdown). How the characters reacted to what happened reflected their status, mentally, socially and at the office. The episode may not have brought anything new to the event, but the event brought the characters into stark contrast, like the light and color difference between Don and Henry (the light was hidden in a lampshade behind Don, colors more drab, while Henry was rosy lighting and rosier colors, even down to the flowers).

Betty's been questioning everything in her life now, and Don's old answers are exhausting her, just as what Sterling hears is disappointing him. No one in their circles is reacting as they feel they should. Interesting that Sterling, the man of mysogyny and blackface, would have this reaction, too.

One moment which perfectly described a relationship for me was how it was Sally who took on the adult role and comforted her greiving mother in front of the television while Bobby was left alone, wondering what the heck was going on. God, things are not going to go well for Bobby Draper, are they?


Oh, and fuck you, Duck, for UNPLUGGING the damned television when you know the president's been shot, and then, right when Peggy finds out the president 1) has been shot (and you knew about it) and 2) has died, you bail on her, mumbling something about needing to be with your kids. I have a feeling he's going to treat out Peggy like he did his dog. There she is, sitting there on the bed like a used sock, trying to process what she's just learned, and he abandons her and her mother's hyperdramatic response doesn't leave her enough space to deal with her own emotions. Even Don abandons her, leaving her to watch the funeral alone. I love you, Peggy, but even Kinsey would be a better bet than that piece of...work, Duck Phillips.


Pete's hot chocolate: if he'd gone into Lane's office with a cup of tea, he might've had the job.


And HOORAY for Don having an impossible time replacing the irreplacable Sal. HA!


(Sorry for the typos and taking over the damned thread.)


Anonymous: Secondly, back in the '60s, divorce was not very common and divorcees were generally frowned upon. The whole concept was viewed very negatively. It would probably not be very good for Henry's career to be involved with a divorced woman. Especially one with children.

Divorce did Nelson Rockefeller, Jr. no favors. His second wife, Happy (irony!) gave birth to his child shortly before the California primaries. The Republican nomination went to Goldwater.

Henry doesn't have a "political career" as someone running for office. He's an operative-- behind the scenes. I don't see where taking up with a divorcee would be particularly troublesome for him.

You know, we really don't have a key into Henry's motivations (other than physical attraction to Betty.) That's why this storyline is pretty hollow to me.


To me, the episode was about two things--

Where do you feel safe--who do you reach out to when the world gets scarey?

--For Duck it is his children--not Peggy lying in the bed
--For Roger, it is Joan
--For Pete and Trudy, ultimately it is one another
--The look on Don's face when he arrives home and hugs Betty is very different from her reaction--he is not her place of safety anymore.
--For Betty it's Henry--or at least the fantasy of him
--Ultimately for Peggy and Don, their place of safety is work--after they've tried some others that didn't work out. Interesting that Don didn't break down and go to Suzanne after the scene with Betty.

The other theme for me was how Don's modus operandi--deny, bury, keep moving forward--is becoming less and less functional
--"Bert Cooper still has a say"
--he thinks if the kids don't see what's on the tv, it won't be happening for them. When Sally asks what's happening after Oswald's shooting, he says "nothing.'
--he tells Betty to take a pill and lie down--then he does the same
-- he insists on going to the wedding
--he tells Betty not to say those things about the emptiness of their marriage--as if not said, they are not true.
-he puts on his suit, overcoat and fedora and goes to the office just like every other day--except it is dark and almost empty.


Peggy appears to me to have replaced her overbearing, domineering mother with

DUCK!

That's the only way I can rationalize this. Otherwise, they have no chemistry together and repulse me everytime I see them.


I was 9 when Kennedy was assassinated, and I thought the writers got much of it right. Certainly the shock of JFK's death, but also the huge impact of Jack Ruby's murder of Oswald. I wasn't old enough to have quite Betty's reaction, but I remember how shocked we were to see it happen live on TV. I did have Betty's exact reaction five years later when Martin Luther King then Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. It takes the second terrible event to really shake your emotional underpinnings. I did wonder what was happening to the country.

For me, it was a different experience than September 11th because these events were entirely internal. It was as if the country were imploding rather than being attacked by outsiders which made it even more unsettling.

What I thought MM got wrong was Don's chastising of Betty for letting the kids watch so much TV coverage. As a previous commenter said, we were all glued to the TV from the time we got home on that terrible Friday through the funeral on Monday. It was one of the first events I can remember that was all about moving images - the assassination itself, Jackie getting off the plane in her blood-stained suit, Oswald getting shot, then the funeral. It really showed the power of TV.

Kids weren't shielded from any of it. Like a previous commenter, we found out in our fourth grade class when the PA system came on to Walter Cronkite announcing that President Kennedy was dead. No introduction, no warning, just the announcement itself. I'll never forget that moment.


I don't know if it's fair to expect the writers to bring something new to the Kennedy assassination. Especially if we all know its been saturated. And I don't really see how they could get away without showing it, and it probably couldn't have been downplayed much more.

I think they handled it well - it was interesting, dramatic, fueled the plot and revealed character. The standard should be whether they relied on cliches or avoided them. I say they avoided them.


I lived through the Kennedy assassination. I was in a college microbiology lab when one of the professors ran in and said, "The president's been shot!" When I went out into the hall, everyone had come out of their classrooms and were standing around like statuary you'd see in the courtyard of Count Dracula. Horrified and unbelieving faces. I was also supposed to attend a friend's wedding later that day (oh YES!) and after the news I didn't even REMEMBER that there was going to be a wedding. I saw my friend much later and I actually couldn't remember why I wasn't there until she reminded me it was the day the President was shot. There really isn't much to say to those who are young enough that they have no memories of it. If you remember 9/11, you know the reaction.


Oooh! I loved the way Roger's daughter wore her veil! I wish I had seen that last month, might have done something different at my own wedding.

Also, I have the necklace Jane wore to the wedding. Haven't found what to wear it with yet


I was alive, but too young to have any memories of the assassination, so for me, it was actually a pretty interesting episode. My parents preserved stuff from the time, but didn't talk about it. The political event I really remember is Watergate, though earlier ones registered.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is that Barbet Shroeder, a pretty big name film director 20 years ago directed it. So someone who would have remembered the period, but wouldn't have been in the U.S. I thought it was an interesting choice. The entire episode was visually darker and more angular--Don in the bedroom is literally lost in the shadows. The whole episode was beautifully framed. I mean, somehow, you could see Don look sort of flat and callow next to Henry Francis when Betty is looking at them.

I found it a really disturbing episode on a visceral level. I'm not sure it quite works dramatically because the assassination itself is so overpowering. Though I thought Betty telling Don she didn't love him and his being unable to process it--his just issuing a flat, fake response--was devastating. You believed her because she was just sort of puzzled--the ups and downs of the relationship had just sort of emotionally worn her out.

Though, yes, I felt sorry for Don. Not that Betty's response was unjustified--it absolutely was. I think it's the tragic timing of it. Don finally comes clean. He's finally vulnerable and really himself--and *then* Betty rejects him. She loved the Don Draper persona, but not Dick Whitman. Ouch. Yes, he brought it on himself, but ouch. She sees the real man and isn't even angry with him anymore.

Re: Pete and Trudy. I think Pete's not going to the wedding was both the result of his rebuff at work, but also generational. Pete's been buying into and rebelling against his class and the previous generation from the get-go. At this point, I think we see him take sides (turtleneck and all) with the younger generation. He's the angry young man.

I'm with those who don't think Peggy lacks empathy. Her mother is a diva--and there is no room for Peggy at home or at her apartment. Peggy and Don are misfits. Peggy sleeps with Duck because Duck wants her enough to call her. No one else does.

And, oh, Mona--how I've missed you.

How long before Jane leaves Roger? There's no way she's going to get left out of the Youth Quake.


As someone whose own parents were barely old enough to remember the Kennedy assassination, I found this episode FASCINATING. It made it more real for me. Coincidentally, I'd just watched a documentary on the shootings of Kennedy and Oswald a few weeks ago, and was screaming at Harry and Pete to look at the tv when I recognized the footage of Walter Cronkite. It made it more real for me.

I'm actually all for Betty hooking up with the government guy, and I love that he called her on the "Romeo and Juliet" thing; when he said he'd marry her, I knew she was his. I do want to feel bad for Don, but at the same time he made his own bed. He'll lie in it with a bunch of meaningless flings. Don strikes me as the typical "bad boy" who wants to be saved but doesn't know how to save himself or how to even admit it.

I was a little surprised that the Draper kids weren't more emotional, although they certainly showed their fear in their eyes. I wouldn't be surprised if they inherited their father's gift of surpressing emotions. ;)

GAWD I LOVE THIS SHOW.


Could an ad agency as big as Sterling Cooper function without an art director?

I hope they don't leave us in the dark about Sal. I want to know where he is and what he is doing. I want things to work out for him . . . don't know how that would happen exactly. But, I would like both Sal and his wife to find happiness.

--------

I think both Jon Hamm & January Jones were amazing in last night's ep. Don's body language as walks into the bedroom, slumped and dejected, and the way January Jones stands as she cries, "What is happening?!" were really moving to me.


I too was Sally's age and felt stunned by the behavior of the adults around me, my teacher crying in front of us, and my parents glued to the TV night and day, my mother screaming in disbelief when Ruby shot Oswald in our very own living room. The tone was just about perfect.

Before Peggy mentioned her mom's reaction, I could almost hear the Hail Marys and wailing over the martyrdom of the beloved Roman Catholic president. That was right on the money, too.

Poor Betty. Everything is out of order, nothing has turned out the way it was supposed to, and now someone is inviting her to jump into another box for security -- maybe this time the formula will work. My advice to Betty: Honey, run like Hell!

I'm starting to like Roger, and absolutely love Joan! That guy needs a woman, not a girl and it's great to see him realizing it so thoroughly.

Where or where is my Sal?? If he is not back next week, I might cry real tears.


Favorite line: "The bars were closed."

- I loved what a sopping, petulant little puddle Roger and Mona's daughter is; such a gleeful portrayal of a twit. What fun! If you slapped her, you'd just end up with wet hands.

- Roger and Mona, seasoned ex's at this point, oddly respectful of one another despite everything. Wonderful to watch. I didn't catch the "hebes" comment - were the bakers Jewish? What's that got to do with the lack of cake? What, the baker was sitting shiva for the beloved goyische president? In any case, I'd imagine that a woman of her ethnicity and social class at that time would have been raised with genteel anti-semitism. Well, America was falling away from them even then. But these writers won't let a character be anything other than true to his or her time and type, so don't try to like them. Just enjoy them.

- That dumb hat Margaret is wearing in the scene in their apartment! Ha! She looked as twelve as she acted.

- There was one wedding guest the camera kept panning over who was dressed as a giant, disastrous cabbage. It provided a terrific humorous counterpoint without any words.

- The parking lot shot, of Henry's car pulling up to Betty's, was so well art-directed. White car pulling into field of grey and brown, from afar, looking for a moment like a detective drama trope. Great.

- Pete's haggard, almost gaunt face after his disappointment.

- What's wrong with me that I don't mind Peggy's affair with Duck? How will it harm her? She's having fun. If it goes bad, it'll do so in an interesting way.

- Sally as observatory beacon, silently taking in *everything*. You can just see it all blipping and clicking along behind her eyes. When she blows up, it'll be big.

- Poor Bobby. He's not very bright, is he?

- And Carla, yes, yes yes! That moment of the cigarette, the dropped boundary...that was just great. These writers are so good at subtle, non-verbal indicators. They don't bludgeon you.

- Harry Crane can bite me, after his inept mismanagement of the Sal situation. Stop whining, you pomaded slab of tofu in spectacles.

- I think January Jones was great.

I was born well after that era. I can't imagine the experience of the assassination - I wonder what reactions would be now, or with the last president (or really, any of them since JFK)? We're so much more cynical now. Would we be as devastated? Okay, personally, if it were the current one, I'd lose it completely. But had it happened to the previous one, I'd be very upset and worried about the geopolitical impact, but it wouldn't feel personal. I wish I understood JFK and his era better, so I could understand why it hit people on such a visceral level.

And, pardon me if this is a dumb question, but was the reaction to Oswald's shooting mainly because it was such a shock to see violence on television at the time?


cont'.


I have a hard time equating this with the attacks of 9/11/01, though I do understand that there are some similarities. I guess it's just that, as a native New Yorker and the granddaughter of war refugees, the experience was something pretty specific - it was like an empathy bomb going off in my gut (I realize we all had different reactions to this; this was only mine). There was an immediate sense that thousands of people had just died in my city in that moment, and then an almost instant awareness that this was going to be very bad for a lot of people in other countries, and then a very visible number of grieving people who'd been directly affected. If you weren't actually here in NYC, it's hard to explain. And then there was the two months of burning smell, the Red Cross workers in my office corridors, my sudden inability to kill bugs and an equally intense desire to get to know more Muslim and Arab people (that caused a major career shift, actually). Sorry, this is a digression, but I think my point is that all these crises are different in their impact and meaning. But the similarities are there, too - the hushed gathering around the nearest tv or radio, the inability to shut off the news, the spectrum of reactions. Interesting.


i'm not dorothy gale

I was in a high school assembly when the announcement about the assasination was made. Fifteen hundred kids, and all you could hear was the strangled sobbing of the teachers. The fact that the television played a central role was absolutely real; in fact, this was the first time I could remember that people were addicted to what they were watching.

The Henry/Betty thing is nuts. The fact that the man acts like he's in some romance novel and promises to marry Betty without either of them, really, even knowing one another, tells me that he (as well as Betty) is emotionally immature. If this happens, those poor children.

I too share the love of the two women smoking as they watched the television. That was absolutely real. I remember hugging one of the black girls in school; in our grief, we were all one family.

More Joan, less Duck.


Oh, almost forgot! I'm an illustrator. When Don confronted Pryce about the lack of an art director, I was right there with him. How the hell can you have a freakin' art department without one? Art directors are SO important! Yes, often, management/producers don't like them, but that usually means they're doing their job. Amazing hubris and short-sightedness to think you can have an ad agency without one.


I was Sally's age when the assassination occurred. I was a 3rd grader left alone in a Lubbock motel room because my male parental unit, very much like Don, had to have my sisters and my female parental unit witness his life passages to validate them. Who leaves a very sick 3rd grader alone in a motel? Don and Bettes. "Stay here until Carla gets here!"
I had the TV on in the room, curtains closed, one lamp lit watching cartoons with a box of tissues and a box of crackers when the news switched on. "What is going on?" was exactly my question. I leaned over and threw up in a plastic trash container. I took a cracker out of the bag and tried to figure it out.
I knew about the War of the World radio mess because grownups talked about it, so I'm thinking it's a TV show but then suddenly there is Walter Cronkite and there was footage of Dallas and Henry Wade whom I had met a scant year earlier in that same Federal Building when someone I was with was arrested. (THAT is a whole 'nother story.)Screaming and yelling outside the motel room, silence, audible crying, bite the cracker.
Lee Harvey's murder was the first live murder on television. People were not getting live feeds of atrocities in Vietnam yet so the whole nation witnessing a real, live, murder was an extreme snuff film event akin to watching people jumping from the Towers before they put the tape delay on and edited that footage.
There was only the 3 TV stations and they were uninteruppted. For the first time in American history, everyone knew the same thing at the same time.
When I returned to school after the funeral one of the teachers was missing. She had been suspended for yelling joyously and cheering the assassination.
A month later I was with my grandmother in Handley, Texas, a small Fort Worth suburb. Her kitchen window looked out onto Roselawn Cemetery and every day I watched the changing of the guards at Oswald's gravesite struck by how odd it was that he seemed to have an honor guard just like the man he murdered.
There isn't a lot to add about that day for the writers because we did the same thing that day that we did on 9/11. We watched and we waited for information in collective stunned horror and disbelief


I was 8 years old and in the 3rd grade when Kennedy was shot. I can remember there was the strangest aura surrounding everything even though I didn't understand the ramifications or the national jolt the country felt. Our town felt quiet for some reason. The kids weren't out playing in the neighborhood and our TV was on morning to night for the first time in my life for days on end. No one tried to shield us children from what was being shown; I don't think it occurred to anyone. I remember the day of the funeral on TV, playing over and over and my mother was home that day from work and that felt strange in of itself. I don't remember my father being home. Seeing the flag draped coffin on the caisson being led by the riderless big black horse and the people (Jacquie and the Kennedy brothers) walking behind the procession has been forever imbedded in my memory.


I was in 7th grade and remember vividly spending the days indoors watching endless hours of television coverage of the shooting, Jackie in her bloody dress during Johnson's oath of office, the funeral procession, John John's salute, Jackie's black veil and the Oswald murder live on TV. I cried uncontrollably watching Mad Men last night but I don't think I cried at all when it actually happened. I don't know why because Kennedy was the handsome, smart, articulate hero of my childhood. Over the years we have found out that Kennedy wasn't who we thought he was much like Don Draper isn't the man he appears to be.


And, pardon me if this is a dumb question, but was the reaction to Oswald's shooting mainly because it was such a shock to see violence on television at the time?

You're kidding, right? The MAIN reason for the reaction was because everyone kept asking over and over again "why did he do it?". And now the question would never be answered.


Lots of people have said that watching MM has brought to the surface some long forgotten experience, or that seeing a radio or kitchen or dress or something on the set of MM has been evocative of their own childhood.

What really did that for me was in last night's episode - but it wasn't a blast from my childhood. When I saw Betty in the middle of the night, pulling up out of the fog of sleep at the sound of her crying baby, I had an intense flashback of being a new mom, waking up knowing I had to go nurse my baby and so tired to the bone I felt sick. Don't know why exactly, but boy, did that scene bring it all back.


Lots of people have said that watching MM has brought to the surface some long forgotten experience, or that seeing a radio or kitchen or dress or something on the set of MM has been evocative of their own childhood.

What really did that for me was in last night's episode - but it wasn't a blast from my childhood. When I saw Betty in the middle of the night, pulling up out of the fog of sleep at the sound of her crying baby, I had an intense flashback of being a new mom, waking up knowing I had to go nurse my baby and so tired to the bone I felt sick. Don't know why exactly, but boy, did that scene bring it all back.


No, I'm not kidding. I'm asking a genuine question. I wasn't there and I can't put myself in the mindset of the time. Are you telling me that that was all - now their questions would never be answered?


Good catch, Glammy.

I sat up straighter when I saw Barbet Shroeder ("Reversal of Fortune") credited as director at the beginning of the episode. That first shot of Pete curled on the sofa was a great visual for the grownup/child theme.

The shot of the now useless art for the Aqua Net campaign suggests that Sal is coming back.


Lots of people have said that watching MM has brought to the surface some long forgotten experience, or that seeing a radio or kitchen or dress or something on the set of MM has been evocative of their own childhood.

What really did that for me was in last night's episode - but it wasn't a blast from my childhood. When I saw Betty in the middle of the night, pulling up out of the fog of sleep at the sound of her crying baby, I had an intense flashback of being a new mom, waking up knowing I had to go nurse my baby and so tired to the bone I felt sick. Don't know why exactly, but boy, did that scene bring it all back.


More on Barbet Schroeder--he got his start with the new-wave French directors. So this episode kind of goes along with the movie genre/style thing that MM has been doing this season--from the musical numbers of the Sterling country club party to alienated new-wave of the last episode.

I have to say, while I was quite sure from the watching TV shot of the last trailer that the assassination would be this week, I've no idea where next week is going.


Wow, sorry about that.

My cat walked over me and my laptop and wham I (we) posted repeatedly!!

My bad.


I was in third grade too. One thing to remember was that it wasn't that long after the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was still very much the era of fallout shelters, air raid drills, and crouching under our desks (so we could, in George Carlin's words, kiss our asses good-bye). Any sense of instability got unimaginably magnified. I remember standing in the school yard waiting for the buses to go home, rumors flying that Johnson was dead as well, and a third grade companion saying, "If the president is dead and the vice president is dead, maybe the Russians will come and take over!" Then of course Oswald's Russian connection came into play. By the time of Oswald being shot, there really was this sense of my God, what next, the world is spinning out of control. And it seemed implausible from the get-go that Ruby, with his underworld connections, was merely acting on emotion. What was going on?


I was in a Catholic High School in Los Angeles, when Kennedy was shot. They put the radio on over the PA system into the classrooms and we all sat there stunned.
When Kennedy's death was announced, the nun teaching the class put her head down on her desk and sobbed. Nobody in the class knew what to do. Everyone was crying and in shock.
Finally everyone was told to go outside and we had Mass and then everyone was sent home.
Nobody was talking, there wasn't anyway to talk about it. It was too massive.
At home, we spent the weekend by the TV. It was odd to have round-the-clock programming. But there wasn't anything else to do. Restaurants closed, movie theaters closed, sporting events were canceled.
Monday everyone was off for the National Day of Mourning.
I remember being scared. The Cold War was still alive and well. Would Russia bomb us? Did they kill JFK? It was just a year since the Cuban Missle Crisis when we'd been at the brink of nuclear war (or it sure seemed that way).
It seemed like everyone's life got short that day, it became a time to do things now, don't wait.
That's what I saw in the episode.
The sense of peace, of days stretching out forever, died that day.


Betty -- The voting age was 21 in 1963, and Jane was 20 when she went to work at SC, so she would not have been able to vote for a president until 1964.

Leela -- It's hard to describe just how innocent so many of us were back then. To have our president assassinated was unthinkable. To watch his killer shot to death on live tv two days later was horrific. The tv shows of the era didn't show graphic violence (think "Gunsmoke" -- there was never any blood or writhing in pain).


TLo, I say this with all due respect. You're web site is therapy for supressed issues of the early 1960's. That's NOT a bad thing. Love u Guys and your Posters.....


What an interesting thread! I'm really fascinated reading about what all of the posters were doing when Kennedy was shot. It's a real glimpse back into that era. It's like opening a time capsule! Thanks for opening up the discussion, TLo!


I felt they relied on the news footage too much. Disappointed in that. Not sure how they could have been subtle about the Kennedy assassination though.


One of my favorite scenes from the episode was the wedding reception. Loved the juxtaposition of the event against the backdrop of the horror, fear and anxiety produced from the assasination. Roger's handling of the event was superb and fitting. I've hated Roger this season, but he's really endeared himself with the last two episodes. Excellent actor. The scene in the kitchen with Jane, SC staff and kitchen help was awesome. I agree that Jane & Roger's marriage has come to that of a father-daughter relationship and their future is definitely questionable.

Question: Margaret's behavior at the wedding reception was a bit of a surprise and confusing. Was she high on phenobarbitol, alcohol or love?

- edina -


Anon/Frank said:
"I think Betty should divorce Don but not marry Henry. I feel deep down there is still potnetial in Betty to be a strong, capable person who can tackle life. The last thing she's needs for her personal growth is another confining marraige."

and

Anon/Donna said:
"the fact that she[Betty]is only willing to leave this marriage only after she has another guy willing to catch her is sad and pathetic and slightly annoying."

````````````````````````````
I don't think Betty can be divorced and single (at least not happily/successfully) unless this were to become the Betty Draper show, in a more serious vein than the Mary Tyler Moore show, set more than a decade later. A viable life (in the social class she lives in) for a divorcee is just not imaginable, not quite yet.

Betty can not maintain her social life, her country club events, her community volunteerism as a single divorced woman, even if Don coughs up major alimony. Most of the couples they socialize with will drop her unless she is re-married, and even her all-female social avenues will wither (though one doesn't gather from the show she has a lot of female friends). All those women's organizations directories identified their members as "Mrs. Don Draper (Betty)" for a reason. Belonging/status derived from one's husband, and that continued in those circles for long after the mid-60's. If she came from the social elite and/or had real wealth at her disposal it might be different, but she and Don are the upwardly striving upper middle class. There is no model for her as a fulfilled career woman, not even as embattled a one as Peggy, once she's had children.

She was happy and possibly fulfilled in Italy, but it was as a cultured, sophisticated, decorative unencumbered woman - ultimately happy within her role as wife - not as a working woman or a single mother.

It is hard to imagine today how different her world would be, instantly, were she to be divorced and not remarry. I think not only would the character never give up her place in the world (by choosing to be single), but allowing her to do so would pull the balance of the series out of joint.


It was just SO right. I was not quite 15 when JFK was killed, and my first reaction to the news was "This is 1963. We don't shoot Presidents!" so when Betty said that almost word for word, I jumped. I think they caught the feeling of that weekend exactly right. NOBODY knew what to do--go to the wedding? stay home?--and I think one of the reasons all the networks stayed on the story all the time was because none of them wanted to be the first to be "entertaining" again.

And when Trudy said to Pete only minutes after urging him to stay with SC "You don't owe them a thing" I also thought of the Macbeths.

And I think Henry's physical posture as Betty drove away said volumes--he's not going to marry her, he just wants to lay her for the conquest.


I agree with your assessment TLo, 100%.

The last four or five episodes have been the VERY BEST EVER, and this one was just good. Which in TV-world is still great. It was interesting, historically accurate and did a fine job representing the various reactions and scenarios that were playing out over that fateful weekend.

What it didn't do, because it wasn't supposed to, was advance the story very much, or unveil too much new information about any of the characters. We saw glimpses here and there, but not the huge feasts of storyline we've been digesting each week for almost two months now.

I can't finish without commenting further on the clothes. LOVED Trudy in that gorgeous Royal? blue silk dress and then later in the cardigan of the same color. Betty's wedding outfit was a letdown, except for the white mink stole Don put over her shoulders as they were leaving. I giggled at Betty's floor-length brocade robe. Jane's red suit with the leopard trim was striking, but no better than Joan's almost identical suit in green last week.

My mother's going-away suit circa 1959 was dark green wool boucle with three-quarter-length sleeves, a leopard collar, and straight skirt. She wore it with a camel jewel-neck sweater, camel suede gloves, brown alligator pumps and a matching (faux) Kelly bag. I have it in my cedar closet. It's really something to see Jane and Joan wearing their own versions of it and realize that my now 77-year-old mom would have been their contemporary.

I've been called out here once already for comparing Betty to Grace Kelly, but damn if she didn't look like her when she was sitting at the steering wheel while talking to Henry.

--Itsjustme


For me, the whole episode was about the spoiled rich kids having to finally grow up a little, to face reality, come to grips with the fact the world does NOT revolve around them. And although Don has never been a spoiled rich brat, he does (often enough) behave as though he's entitled to certain perks in life (money/cachet from the job, women women women, dutiful wife, being able to toss about platitudes and be thought insightful or witty), he did suddenly find himself face-to-face with reality regarding his marriage.

The most surprising thing about the episode was the revelation that Peggy and Duck hadn't been a one time thing. For some reason, I hadn't envisioned Peggy continuing the liaison or even giving in to Duck's attentions. She seems so independent and focused, it doesn't quite make sense. on the other hand, she's smart enough to realize that she may need Duck in the future. What better way to keep that option open than by sleeping with him?

Roger and Joan, that does make so much sense, doesn't it? They're about as honest with each other as they could possibly be with anyone. Roger (the spoiled brat) reaching out to Joan (the grounding force he needs) after his nightmare of a trophy wife is passed out really speaks to the depth of their connection. I easily imagine them becoming an item once again.

SDMom


There were divorcees at the time, but it was quite uncommon to divorce with three young children. It was long, drawn-out and expensive.

Betty may not love Don--and I think she was being honest there--but I don't know that that means divorce at this juncture. I think it may mean divorce later on.

One thing we haven't seen is Betty having a full-blown affair and Don dealing with that. My guess is that's where the marriage is going to go for a while.

At this point, by telling Don she no longer loves him, Betty's kind of giving herself permission to fall in love with Henry Francis. (Though I also have doubts about how genuine the connection is. He's a little creepy.)

Not sure where Don will go. I think it would be kind of interesting if he *doesn't* fall apart, but moves forward somehow. He is a survivor, after all. He's definitely off his stride now, but I wonder if that's permanent?

One more thing about Barbet Schroeder--he makes documentaries. I think Weiner and Co. knew that they had a lot to deal with in this episode, so they brought in an expert. Even so, it's a hard episode to balance.


Gentlemen, I must respectfully disagree. Betty's repeated "I don't love you anymore"s to a stunned Don knocked me out. Come on!


Come on guys! This was the most cinematic episode of the series. Nothing new regarding the Kennedy assassination? We never saw these characters go through it? The pacing was languid and dreamlike -- perfect for such a social nightmare. THIS was hands down the best episode of the series. Everything has been flipped upside down. And the show opening with everyone freezing, then the overheated office as all hell breaks loose??? Genius.


Is everybody just reading the first paragraph and skipping the rest? Judging by the responses, it looks like it.


I thought Barbet Schroeder directed Single White Female.

Anyway I like Don and Betty together. I know Dons a cad but this is MELODRAMA WORLD and in this world he's my man. He's tortured, complex and antiheroish.. and I know he'll turn it around.


i was born in '75 and being quite a ways from this era, i love reading all of the posters' memories of these events. it's so interesting to see the differences in reactions and interpretations...getting a real personal take on everything that occurred.

thanks for sharing, everyone :)


So now you're all fond of nanny-raping Pete? Jeez... nice, guys.


Anonymous 7:17 PM wrote in response to Leela: "You're kidding, right? The MAIN reason for the reaction was because everyone kept asking over and over again "why did he do it?". And now the question would never be answered."

As others have stated, I think the huge visceral reaction was that no one had ever seen someone murdered on live television before. Here in 2009 we have lived in a media-saturated, desensitized age for so long it's hard to imagine how NEW this wall to wall TV news coverage was. And then to see the President's murderer shot before your eyes? It was huge.


Toodles - re: "Hebes"

You misheard. She made the comment about there being no cake, picked up her drink, and Roger said, "shit". She didn't say anything further.

Elizabeth said,
That said, i think i’m most excited about Sal next week.


Do you know something we don't know?


As others have said, I think the reaction to the Oswald shooting was exactly Betty's. "What is going ON?" The assassination itself was a huge shock, but the murder of the prime suspect while in custody made it feel like the world had gone mad.

I was 10 at the time. I remember feeling exactly the same way on 9/11, not when the first two planes hit in New York--that was the shock, but when the reports came in about the Pentagon and another plane down in PA.

Everything tilts and feels completely out of control--only in the case of the Kennedy assassination the second event came days not an hour later.


My absolute favorite line from this episode and possibly from this season:

Mona (about her daughter's future mother-in-law): "Just because she's been to India doesn't mean she's not an idiot."

I love these writers!


Weirdly enough, the thing which struck me most about this episode were the dyed-to-match sapphire satin pumps Trudy wears with the dress she intended for Margaret's wedding. There's so much reaction against matchy-matchy outfits lately that one forgets how remarkable that kind of strong color was in a single-note outfit like hers.

Contrast that with Peggy, who continues to dress like a school-girl; her white shirt and plaid skirt contrasts strongly with the marigold suit her roommate wears at their entrance. (What Peggy wears is very much what I was wearing that day, when the cold of the linoleum over concrete floor of the school hall soaked through my skirt and petticoat, as we sat in our emergency positions, back against the wall of the dark hallway, feet sticking straight out, waiting for word from someone to send us home early).


I literally was Sally Draper's age, and because of that, there couldn't be a better way (for me) to catalyze the end of "life as Betty knows it" than the Kennedy assassination. I can see how that might not evoke the same deep emotional reaction from people who weren't around back then. It's true: the only other event with the same impact wouldn't occur until September 2001.

We kids were surrounded by all the adults we knew suddenly grieving outwardly, looking lost. It was deeply troubling for us. I remember the broadcast of the funeral, too.

The deep unease and sense of disorientation actually stayed with me through this morning. This is one of the things I love about this show; I'm usually haunted by the story for days after each episode.

Side note: Having worked in advertising my entire career, I can't say enough about how insightful and faithful the scenes and dialog are in SC. More than once I've blurted out, "How the hell do they KNOW this??!"


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I disagree with your assessment of this episode. I thought it was one of the best of the series. And I liked how Weiner had used the assassination to develop some of the major characters.

JFK's assassination seemed to have a very interesting impact upon Betty and Pete in this episode. It seemed as if the event made them realize that they could not put up with the illusions in their life, anymore. Pete could not hide his disappointment and resentment that Ken had been chosen over him for Head of Accounts. And in his odd way, Pete has a talent for realizing that the world is changing. Perhaps he finally realize that he could no longer pretend that nothing has changed, despite losing the Head of Accounts position to Ken or of his growing disenchantment with Sterling Cooper. I suspect that part of this disenchantment was the firm's unwillingness to consider African-American as consumers they can target . . . and other ideas that the old-fashioned Sterling Cooper executives frowned upon.

As for Betty, I think the assassination made her realize that the world is changing and that it is useless to pretend otherwise. Which is why she had no qualms about Sally and Bobby watching the news about JFK's death. And I think the assassination also made her realize that she no longer has a marriage. Or perhaps she never had one. Like Pete, she can't continue adhering to the status quo. It's strange at how Don tries to shield everyone from the bad news . . . or pretend that everything is going to be okay. Betty realizes that it's not.

Ironically, I think that both Jane and Cooper suspects the same. Along with Betty, Pete, Trudy, Carla and Duck, they seemed to be the only ones impacted by the assassination. Which makes me wonder about the others, who try to pretend that their world will remain the same.


But while she may be good at her job, she keeps demonstrating her lousy taste in men. Duck is so wrong for her it's not even funny and we have to echo her room mate's question: Why is she with him? Is she acting out a Don fantasy with a surrogate? Because she better realize soon that Duck is no Don. In fact, Duck is using her as a substitute for his alcohol addiction. He acts just like an addict when it comes to her: completely impulsive, focused solely on getting what he wants, acting like a big shot and doing what he has to to make sure he gets his fix. He knew if Peggy walked in and saw the news on the TV, his nooner would be over so, like the asshole he is, he kept that information from her until he got what he wanted out of her.


She's hanging around Duck, because the man is obviously good in bed. And has it ever occurred to anyone that Peggy might be using Duck the same way? She had decided to sleep with him in the very episode in which Don had tore into her for asking to join the Hilton account. And sleeping with Duck just might be better than sneaking nips of booze in the privacy of one's office.


Lilithcat wrote:
Elizabeth said,
That said, i think i’m most excited about Sal next week.

Do you know something we don't know?


Nope. I’m just hopeful we’ll get more fulfillment on both the Sal personal life and as i wrote the ‘creative vs. accounts’ front that’s been going on this season.

Leela wrote:
How the hell can you have a freakin' art department without one? Art directors are SO important! [...] Amazing hubris and short-sightedness to think you can have an ad agency without one.

Well for the time it really wasn’t yet. The sixties were the beginning of advertising (the process side at least) as we know it today. That said, the firms that rose above were the one that realized the need for creative synergy (dear lord i hate that word) between accounts, art direction and copywriting. Prior to the 60s we got ads like this Van Heusen shirt ad and even better, the Marlboro Baby!

http://contexts.org/socimages/files/2008/10/1952_van_heusen_shirt_ad.jpg

http://www.craphound.com/images/marlboro20mummy.jpg


Although Mad Men in general and this episode in particular are about the grownups, I really identify with Sally and Bobby Draper. I was about their age in 1963, and what I remember most about JFK's assassination was my mother's sudden change from a parent to a frightening, crying, angry and unfathomable stranger. I remember begging my mother to turn off the TV, feeling as if I'd lost her to something beyond my comprehension. I worry about the Draper kids. The reason I remember my mother's shock and lack of concern for me so well is that it was the exception, not the rule. Not so for Sally and Bobby. Betty's self-absorption and almost complete lack of caring for or about her children is their status quo. I guess I'm partial to Don because he at least ekes out a few moments here and there for his kids. Betty frightens me. January Jones does a disturbingly good job of portraying a mother with no maternal instinct. Not the main theme of the show, but nonetheless painfully real. I'll miss this series terribly; it's upsetting but cathartic, and helps me see my childhood from my parents' point of view. It's also so incredibly beautiful to watch...


Elizabeth, thanks for posting those links. Wow.


i have a question - do we have any information about next season? like will they be jumping forward in time at all? or will they be picking up where this season leaves off?

im curious as hell about whats going to happen with these characters. and i almost want to jump ahead in time to see what changes.


There's a fundamental reason any single episode is going to disappoint in trying to convey the whole of the impact of JFK's assassination: that impact took hold over many, many years. These people on this program are just beginning to see it; it's the initial blast, but the shockwaves will continue well into the seventies.

One of the big themes of the sixties is the loss of respect for the authorities, and it begins here, with those hopeless, idiotic, antediluvian Dallas cops, who got nothing of interest from the only suspect, beat him up a little, and then let him get shot on live TV. That's not going to happen today, because the feds would be all over it in seconds, and they would have the competence to at least protect their suspect until he can be interviewed by someone with a three-digit IQ.

I don't believe in any conspiracy theories (although I've read close to a hundred books on the subject), but I do understand WHY people do. They want an explanation for the unexplainable. And when the established order of things throws up something so unexplainable, and botches the answer so badly, it destroys people's faith.

On the other hand, there were good demons as well as bad that escaped in the sixties, and the overpowering push for NEW and MODERN and EXCITING and YOUNG and SEXY that is about to wash over the USA like a tidal wave was enabled by this failure of authority too. It didn't start then, but JFK's assassination made the country hungry for it. I'm not just talking about Moptops, either; Pete's turtleneck tells you what's happening, and he's never heard of the Beatles.


Oh, and Betty and Henry? Give me a break. If Betty's going to find everlasting happiness, which I very much doubt, it's going to be with husband #3 or #4, not with that wet paper bag.


I was home from school for lunch when we heard the news. I remember my mom calling local members of the John Birch Society and saying "Are you happy now?" then hanging up. We lived in a small town in Texas at the time. The John Birch Society was a pretty big deal back then. RE: MM. There has been so much sadness threaded throughout three seasons of MM. This episode was a culmination of that sadness and loss. It felt weird because it was weird. Our fractured society had to move forward from this. Fracturing can be a good thing, though.


Betty, Betty, Betty, Henry may look distinguished with his silver hair, but I don't think he will be any better than Don.

Red Flags: he puts his hand on a expectant Betty's tummy even though he has just met her. Then wanting to bed her in his office even though he knows she's married. Doesn't it spell sleaze ball?

When Betty drove off to meet Henry, I wanted to jolt her to her senses and out of her dream that Henry is the fire escape route. If she goes with Henry, she would be back in square one - trophy wife, stuck at home with kids in the suburbs, feeling unfulfilled.

Don was shocked when Betty said she does not love him anymore. Didn't he see it coming? After all, he has let her down countless times. Perhaps he didn't realize that his arm candy has grown a backbone.

Bert Cooper. Now this is one successful man on MM who hasn't been shown philandering with women. Could he be a closeted gay? Maybe he will hook up with Sal and bring him back to SC....that's some drama I would like to savour.


Toodles re "hebes": I didn't hear anything like "hebes" from Mona's mouth. Sfter an awkward silence that followed Mona's new man's comment about executing Oswald and getting rid of Texas and the whole south, I thought Mona asked Margaret about "the sweetbreads" and Margaret responded "you were right, Mommy." Or did I imagine that?


I heard sweetbreads


I was a young secretary working in an office when this happened (University so no TV'S!!.... we didn't have liquor at work either!)... and how they did this show is exactly how it happened.... we heard by radio and everyone was just stunned, stopped working and just looked at each other in shock... no one talked for what seemed like a long time... not know what was happening and what to do... I remember the phones stopped ringing.... the University was closed down (if I recall correctly.... Penn State University) and we all went home and sat glued to our TV's for the next several days until after the funeral.... I just remember it as being the sadest time of my life... probably still is very high on the list!!....


Anonymous said...

So now you're all fond of nanny-raping Pete? Jeez... nice, guys.


You're right. They should save their love for philandering, lying Don, or post-psychotic break Peggy, or racist Joan, or bad mother Betty, or living a lie Sal, etc. ad nauseam. Because after all if you like a character that means you support everything that character ever does, right? Why, T Lo are supporting rape! How horrible! We should report them to the fiction police!


Margaret did ask if her guest had tried the 'sweetbreads', and after he murmured appreciatively, her daughter looked at Margaret and stated that she was right. Nobody used the word hebes. At the time, sweetbreads were seen as one of the foods that were de rigeur on the menus of upper class soirees~part of the Jackie/Paris/Couture/Old Money vibe set by the Kennedy presidency. Again, nice work by Matthew Weiner to include a specific item that linked back to the day's underlying tragedy.


Sorry, guys, meant to say 'Mona' asked her guest and blah blah blah. It is early here on the Left Coast and I should not have engaged my fingers as they are obviously not yet connected to my brain and went off on their own tangent this morning (sigh)..


Juanita's Journal:
"She's hanging around Duck, because the man is obviously good in bed. And has it ever occurred to anyone that Peggy might be using Duck the same way?"

I was going to post this exact same question. Peggy's a big girl and she likes sex, and she likes to keep it compartmentalized.


Elizabeth - That Marlboro Baby ad is priceless, thank you! And, incidentally, the guy who does Craphound is a pretty decent art director. I worked with him years ago in an alt-weekly context.

My grandfather was a commercial photographer in that time period (his career spanned the late 40's through the early 80's when he retired). I wish he were around to ask about this stuff, it'd be fun to hear him talk about it. Incredibly, the no-AD thing does occasionally happen today, though I can't speak to it in the ad biz. It happened in a place I used to work, the interactive department of a certain PBS flagship that shall remain nameless. I no longer worked there, but a friend there told me about it. Apparently the producers loved not having to deal with an art director. And of course the content really suffered.


Plus, Duck isn't a bad-looking guy -- and he's in great shape.


Oh I hate Betty. Hate her Hate her Hate her. She's such a spoiled brat. Three children and she still has the emotional maturity of an 11 year old. Her smirk when she heard that Steven was there with his daughter, her smugness when Steven said he wanted to marry her, her 'I kissed you. Nothing. I don't love you' scene with Don, her pouting in front of the kids.

Go ahead, Betty, leave him. BWAAA hahahahahaha, it would serve you right when Steven dumps you very shortly thereafter because of the political fallout of having split up a happy home.

Can you tell I hate her?


Forgot to mention one other thing:

I was 7 when JFK was shot. I am going to put my neck out a little: most of the posters who say they remember what happened around themselves don't really remember it; like me, you have seen the TV coverage so often, you've heard your parents tell the stories so often, it feels like you remember.

I suppose that's essentially the same thing. Memory is very tricky.


There's no "Steven" on the show. You are talking about Henry Francis.


while i also found henry francis's proposal rash, have we all forgotten that they traded correspondence for a short while? i remember betty pouring her heart out in a letter a few episodes ago.

i'm thinking of the role that e-mail played early in my own courtship, the intimacy it built. no?

--fulana de tal


I was alone in a motel room. Wonder who's memories I co-opted if they aren't my own?
ThatOtherRedhead


To the last person who commented, yeah, i really do remember it, as i commented yesterday.

i was nine, about sally's age maybe, and in 4th grade, and suddenly the pricipal came into class and spoke with the nun by the blackboard and then our class was ended early (a huge event) and we all walked single-file out the door of the school and down several blocks to the church, where we knelt and prayed with the rest of the school for what seemed like forever. we weren't really sure what was going on. i remember a few kids giggling out of nervousness or boredom and how the sound echoed in the church, which was freezing cold. then the pricipal, a scary mother superior, came in the church to tell us the president had died of his wounds. then we were all sent to the school buses to head home.

my dad had rented me a piano and that was a big deal in our working class neighborhood. it was delivered that day. i wasn't allowed to try it out. everyone was sitting in the living room, in front of our one tv, and crying. i went outside and the entire neighborhood was completely quiet. it was incredibly eerie. and i remember sitting there the next afternoon or so with my parents and sisters when we all saw basically a snuff film live, we saw oswald being shot to death on live tv. and then the funeral. i remember the whole thing.

i thought the atmosphere created in this episode was pitch-perfect. i remember acting just like sally, not saying anything at all and just feeling like i wanted to comfort the grown-ups.


ps maybe i kept misspelling "principal" because i am still scared of the image of that mother superior. she spoke to me once when i was in the 1st grade and i burst into tears. what a ninny i was! lol


Yes, Henry, not Steven. I wonder why I was fixed on Steven as a name? Thankfully all of the anonymous people are watching out for me!

I should have been more clear in my second post. I did intend to say that those of us who were kids at the time may not really remember, but etc etc. Someone who was an adult at the time is a different story, I think.

See, I told you I'd be sticking my neck out! Inspiring not discussion, of course, but snark.


yet another comment from the catholic 4th grader.

to answer the question someone had about why people were so very upset, i think the extra sadness had something to do with his movie-star image. even before we knew he was having an affair with Marilyn Monroe, John Kennedy had that celebrity aura about him, as did his wife and kids. after competent but dowdy eisenhower and his wife, all of a sudden we had a young, beautiful family with 2 little kids in the white house, and irish-catholic too, a huge barrier at the time, and so all of this had that sense of newness and excitement and inclusion and glamour that we are seeing today with our current president.

about those who brought up 9/11, not that comparisons are necessary, but for me, despite the absolute shock of kennedy's assasination, no shared public event has brought the shock and horror and grief that i felt on 9/11 and still do feel to some extent. for me, that will never go away.

anyway, i thought this episode was pitch-perfect in tone, as i wrote above, and feel this show deserves every single emmy it will most certainly get.

patty from philly


I had just turned 10 when Kennedy was assassinated and was out in the driveway playing with my friends. My Mom called me home to tell me what had happened. As a typical 10-year-old, I wanted to get back to playing with my friends. I think that's probably normal behavior for the age group. Sally is an unusual child who has to take care of her child-woman Mom.

But Betty and Don's attitude toward their children is very true to the time. Children were not the center of their parents' and adults' universes as they are today. They were very much to be seen and not heard. They were sent upstairs or out to play or to watch the one TV in the house when adults got together or wanted to talk. The best child was a quiet child, I recall. And parents didn't use events like this as a learning tool -- at least my parents didn't and they were pretty typical of the time.


I think one major difference between 9/11 and JFK's assassination was that on 9/11, there was a feeling of direct threat. I will not forget the very long walk home from the far west side to Brooklyn, over the 59th Street Bridge. In my memory there were official aircraft zooming overhead, and people hitching rides on the backs of trucks, which gave me a deeply disquieting feeling of connection to my grandparents in Poland in WW2. The anguish of knowing how many human beings had died and would died, and the utter uselessness of the attackers' motives (the ringleader was apparently a self-loathing closet case, the rest of them were a bunch of little baby-men), all compounded the heartbreak. And who knew if there was more to come? Later, the experience was fetishized by people who were not there to see it firsthand, and it is now impossible to convey the very raw feelings of the day, including the good ones - strange moments of community and connection (the only time a Hasidic man ever spoke to me! Poor guy needed to find his way home). The thing I will truly never forget, though, is that crap like that happens in other countries a lot more often.

As do assassinations of leaders.

What about the murder of Dr. King? Wasn't that also a collective experience of horror and pain? There were riots in some cities.


But while she may be good at her job, she keeps demonstrating her lousy taste in men. Duck is so wrong for her it's not even funny and we have to echo her room mate's question: Why is she with him? Is she acting out a Don fantasy with a surrogate?

Does that mean you think Peggy is interested in Don as more than a mentor? I just don't see it. This could be me living in denial because I don't want it to happen, but I don't think this has anything to do with Don.

It's easy to forget that Peggy is pretty young, and she's going to choose some men who aren't right for her. On the other hand, who's to say Duck isn't right for her at the moment? (At least, until the moment he unplugged the television so she wouldn't be distracted.) Peggy's an adventurer. Duck is/was, I think, one of her adventures. Considering the look on her face when he said he had to call his kids, I think that adventure might be over.

Anonymous @ 11/2/09 2:45 PM said:
I hope the writers don't force a Joan/Roger reunion...one of the things I love about MM is that it refuses to do those tired "will they or won't they" sitcom plotlines.

-Alex

You and me both, Alex. Joan and Roger care about and understand each other, and it seemed right that she's the person he called. But he is the wrong man for her. No doubt he could give her all the things she wants, but she knows how he is, and I can't see her trusting him any farther than she could throw him. They're each other's history. It should stay that way.

Glammy said: Though, yes, I felt sorry for Don. Not that Betty's response was unjustified--it absolutely was. I think it's the tragic timing of it. Don finally comes clean. He's finally vulnerable and really himself--and *then* Betty rejects him. She loved the Don Draper persona, but not Dick Whitman. Ouch. Yes, he brought it on himself, but ouch. She sees the real man and isn't even angry with him anymore.

I think you nailed it, Glammy. Don's biggest fear has come true - his real self is not lovable. He said last week "I was surprised you ever loved me." But to actually hear the words "I don't love you" crushed him. He wasn't dismissing Betty's feelings when he said she would feel differently in the morning. He just couldn't bring himself to face the truth.

And I want to hate Betty for breaking his heart, but I can't. He's been lying to her since the day they met, and he's been breaking her heart over and over for years. I'm not actually in the "he deserves it" camp, because I don't think this is about revenge for Betty. (And it shouldn't be.) It's about her finally opening up her eyes to what her marriage has been. I only hope they both come out of this in one piece.

---
As for the Kennedy assassination, I was in 2nd grade when it happened. I remember Sister Dierdre telling us the President was dead. I assume we were sent home from school, but I can't say for sure. Other than that, I don't have any memory of watching television for days, how I felt about Kennedy being shot, or how the adults around me behaved. It's odd that I don't remember anything, because my parents were huge Kennedy fans.


I don't agree that the affection between betty and her new guy is all that superficial. sometimes people do know right away, they fall in love just like that sometimes. right from their first meeting, harry or henry or whatever exuded a calm, warm, honest, take-charge attitude that betty responded to instinctively. when he said he'd like to take her to the movies, it was just that kind of unexpected but right thing to say, and this was her only smile of the episode, actually, maybe her first good smile in a few episodes. he pays attention to her in the right way.

i don't think don was cold when he told betts to take a pill and lie down. that is how he is used to dealing with her emotions, which, when they come out, are usually scary and negative. i would probably have told her to take a pill too! anyway, he took a pill himself so that is probably how they were used to dealing with things. i think with someone he was really trusting and getting along with (like what pete and trudy seem to have), he wouldn't have responded that way. as others said, it's terribly sad that he revealed himself only to be completely rejected.

i don't see the show ending just because the marriage seems to be over. the british invasion and birth control are on the horizon. things are about to change fast and i want to see him alive and happy in this new world. it seems that both betty and don can be happier with other people, and if that works for them, yay.


LILITHCAT:

Uh, I do not stand corrected because I watched that bit about 10 times. Her lips moved and she DID say something... I may watch the episode once again on Sunday before the final episode of the season and if you are correct I will concede...


And another thing...

Duck is HOT. There I said it... He's in great shape, has a sexxy tatt from the war... Mmmm, I wouldn't kick him out of bed.

Actually, when Peggy and Duck first hooked up I thought it was perfect. She's so mature sexually. She needed a man who was equally mature and perhaps could teach her a few things.

Is it casual sex for now? Yep. Could they eventually be serious? Yep.

Peggy needs to be with a MAN, enough of those boys like Pete!

Secretly, I hope she and Don eventually marry and create their own ad agency. Now THAT would be an awesome show!


Now THAT would be an awesome show!

Sounds like a sitcom.


I agree... I would not be the drama that MM is... Oh well... Just a random thought...


The intra-epsiode development of Pete -- starting the episode as a whiny, dependent, kid-like guy curled up on a couch and ending the episode as a turtleneck-wearing determined man -- is illustrative of the entire theme and story arc, for Pete specifically and for everyone generally.


Or, really, not everyone, but everyone who is going to be anyone in this brave new world.


Brave new world? Did you know that Aldous Huxley also died on 11-22-63, but it was of little notice due to the magnitude of events that day. He will have increased influence as the 60s progress & the doors of perception are opened.


I was 12 when JFK was shot. They got it -- that feeling that only if you stayed by the TV were you not alone, could you connect with everyone else who was going through it. They sent us home from school in the middle of the day and people in the streets were weeping. I thought Mad Men did it quite well indeed.


Here's the thought I had this morning: Betty needs a dentist. Not because there's anything wrong with her teeth, but because the man she needs is a pleasant, slightly wacky but down to earth professional who makes her laugh, treats her like a person instead of a princess, and who is into some offbeat hobby like mountain climbing or folk dancing. Maybe he studied anthropology too, and does forensic dentistry on the side, which he doesn't find morbid at all. And he's great with kids.


Three points after reading through comments:

One, I wasn't at all surprised by Betty telling Don she didn't love him anymore, and it wasn't because of the whole Henry ...thing. I figured that was coming as soon as she winced when Don told her he was the illegitimate child of a young prostitute who died during childbirth. That was practically the only time she showed any expression on her face at all while he confessed his true past. She could love the idea of Don Draper (that's all he ever was, really), but not the actuality of Dick Whitman. The idea's gone, and so is the love.

Two, I never heard the anti-Semitic epithet from Mona, but I did distinctly hear her mention sweetmeats. I remember this because sweetmeats gross me the hell out.

Finally, thank you, everyone, who has shared their experience of the day and days after the Kennedy assassination. My mother lived through it, but I wasn't born for ages after, and I've always had difficulty explaining to her how distant the event and the Kennedy era on the whole felt to me, especially compared to her clear memories of it all. It's strange to think how, some day, the events of 9/11/2001 will feel just as distant and historically dusty to my nephews' kids as the Kennedy assassination does to me.


Anne said...
Here's the thought I had this morning: Betty needs a dentist. Not because there's anything wrong with her teeth, but because the man she needs is a pleasant, slightly wacky but down to earth professional who makes her laugh, treats her like a person instead of a princess, and who is into some offbeat hobby like mountain climbing or folk dancing. Maybe he studied anthropology too, and does forensic dentistry on the side, which he doesn't find morbid at all. And he's great with kids.

11/3/09 5:15 PM


You've described my dentist. He sings while he inspects your teeth, too. Unfortunately, he's happily married and about 15 years too young for our Betty.


As well as JFK and Huxley, C. S. Lewis also died on November 22, 1963.


I guess I'm about a year older than Sally and I think the actress who plays her is doing an excellent job.

Miss Blende was talking about fractions when the phone buzzed. Usually it led to someone being sent to the office. This time was different, though. She visibly slumped and said "Oh my God". She stood there for a moment when I realized that she was crying. That was scary all by itself.

She pulled herself together and turned to face us. "Go home. Do NOT go playing. Go straight home." We all started chattering excitedly about getting an early day when she almost shouted "This is not funny! Go home!". She then sat down at her desk and covered her face with her hands. This was getting scary.

Everyone was running home and speculating on why we were sent home. It's interesting; nobody's Mom worked. Everyone would go home to a parent. Such a different time than today. When I got home, Mom was sitting in front of the TV with my very confused little brother and she clearly had been crying. "They've shot the President." she said. "He's been murdered."

My reaction was almost exactly the same as Sally's. I'd never seen adults (especially those as tough as Mom) crying before. But I'd already seen two. I sat down and watched the TV. I believe they were showing a live shot of the hospital he died in and someone was talking. I was in shock.

Now, you have to remember that Dad was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who HATED Jack Kennedy. So I really didn't know how to feel about the whole thing. Was this good or bad? Well, it had to be bad to shoot the President, right? But in my nine-year-old brain, I wasn't sure whether Dad would be happy about this event. So, I just bottled it up.

When Dad got home, he was clearly upset. I didn't want embarrass myself, so I didn't ask him how he felt. But watching him and Mom interact, he was clearly sad about what had happened, so this was something that transcended politics.

Oswald's capture didn't really seem to help. It was hard to believe that this one guy could change everything so much. His shooting led my folks to believe there was some sort of conspiracy to cover up something evil. I don't know that Dad ever believed there wasn't some kind of conspiracy involved.

By the way, don't impose twenty-first century morality on the early sixties. They were fifty years ago and EVERYTHING is different. Divorce was a stigma, especially for women. I don't know that New York was a community property state; there was a chance that Betty would come out of it with nothing. And as the attorney warned her, Don could get everything, including the kids. Divorce was something that would change her and her kids' lives forever.


Great blog, great posts all. One way or another, this episode got us going. A few comments:

Divorce was very rare in 1963 and, as someone posted, women did not fare well in the outcome. I can remember my best friend’s parents divorcing (I was in grade school) and it was *quite* the scandal. And, to SusanID who suggested Don and Betty go to a marriage counselor, that, too, was “just not done” in the 60’s. If anyone did get therapy it was done very surreptitiously and certainly not talked about. It was a source of embarrassment that you needed help to handle your problems.

Toodles, I played that scene over several time and Mona did not say “hebes.” However, Roger DID say, under his breath, “Shit.”

I was born the same year as Sally. I have very clear memories of the Kennedy assassination, from hearing the news from my bus driver as we were just being dismissed from school to sitting in my room and crying because, even though I did not understand much of what was going on, I sure did know that our president had been shot and people around me were in a state. These are not images from TV. I imagine those who were 7-8-9 years old on 9/11/01 will have very clear memories of that moment as well. (BTW, I live in NYC and still can't talk about 9/11 without crying. Perhaps those who were adults on 11/22/63 felt the same way and being too young to fully understand was a blessing.)

Henry and Betty? Not working for me. They hardly know each other, he’s too smarmy and, as an aside, did they have to cast an actress to play his daughter who made him look like a shrimp?

Betty’s look WAS based on Grace Kelly. I heard an interview with the wardrobe person from the show who said so.

And finally, how gorgeous was Trudy in that blue dress? She’s never looked better and I even saw shades of Elizabeth Taylor.


I so enjoy watching the train wreck that is Jane. She would be over-the-edge annoying if it weren't for the fact that she can't put on a pretty dress and be around adults without getting completely trashed. Too entertaining to hate!

My favourite part was Roger's phone call to Joan. I hope there's more of that in future episodes.

Thanks for the recaps. :)


About those phone calls between Roger and Joan, I have two men in my life with whom I began a relationship more than 25 years ago who call me often. While the fire burned hot, it burned out and we moved on but the friendships never waned. We have seen each other through marriages, divorces, children, deaths. We are refuge and comfort for each other. Safe, loving havens. Friends with different, though somehow better, benefits. I guess we are kind of like old married people.


i loved this episode. it so completely sucked me in that when i came up for air after i was done watching it i was honestly surprised that they weren't talking about the assassination when i turned on npr....


Only Mad Men would get the detail of someone reflexively turning the channel from Walter Cronkite -- now so revered and whose tearing-up assassination coverage is now emblematic of the whole day -- to the Huntley-Brinkley Report, at the time more popular, now largely forgotten (at least by anyone younger than 50).

Kind of brilliant, as brilliant as Pete and Harry not noticing the first bulletin of the biggest story of the decade.


Just because I'm obsessive: of course, since it was the middle of the day, it wasn't the Huntley-Brinkley Report per se, but it was Huntley and Brinkley on NBC, doing the breaking-news coverage. I know you get the point.


I've been a lurker for a while, but I just had to offer a few comments on this episode.

My heart was in my throat when "the bulletin" first appeared on the TV, interrupting the soap opera. I shouted, "Holy shit, this is IT."

I was three years old when Kennedy was shot. My only memory is very vivid. My mother and grandmother were in the kitchen, listening to the radio, and crying. I had never seen them cry - or any grown-up cry. When I asked what was wrong, they told me that the President was dead. I had the very uneasy feeling that the grown-up world was falling apart. I was scared.

My favorite thought I had when watching the episode? Thinking about what the characters would say in ten or twenty years when they were asked where they were when Kennedy was shot. What will Peggy and Duck say?


I hate serial posting, so sorry in advance. But I want to say that there's some fascinating stuff on YouTube re: 11/22/63, including about 80 uncut minutes of the first reports on CBS. (What MM didn't show you is that after the first bulletin, CBS cut back to a dog-food commerical!) Also, this is pretty amazing: exactly how various media, many of them local, first broke the news.


As an Aussie who hasn't seen a lot of the assassination footage, but has a bit of an obsession with all things Jackie O, I enjoyed the ep. I teared up at the scene of all the office staff gathered around the tv. And I gasped at Betty's response to Lee Harvey Oswald's shooting too.

My favourite moments were Joan's phone call; it spoke volumes about Rodger's love for her. AND Duck pulling the cord on the news. What a lowlife!

Can MW maintain this level of writing? I hope he has at least one more season in him!


Another little detail about changing channels from Cronkite to Huntley Brinkley:

Those were the days of bad TV reception, and certain channels had better reception than others depending on where you were. The screen was scrolling and zipzagging badly while it was tuned on CBS - you can see it while the soap opera is on and then when the news bulletin comes on. So they automatically change it to NBC, where the reception was better. Just another little detail MW got right.

TV reception dictated a lot of our viewing preferences back then.


I'm a bit perplexed by those commenting that Duck "isn't right for" Peggy, as if she were hoping to end up with him. Peggy is a single working woman in 1963 who, like most pioneers, is following her instinct and desires and making it up as she goes along. She is clearly a woman who enjoys her career and enjoys sex, but has no desire to marry - so she has a lover. Duck is the perfect partner for this phase of her life. The sex seems good, she isn't particularly emotionally attached to him - it's a win/win for her. Remeber, "Sex and the Single Girl" was published in 1962 and blew the lid off the fantasy that the only women having sex were married women, or women who wished they were.


I'm way late on this but in regards to Betty possibly getting a divorce after Henry tells her he wants to marry her, doesn't anyone remember the divorcee that moved in down the street and Betty's reaction to her (besides that weird relationship with the woman's son)? She was nice to her face but catty as hell behind her back just because the woman was divorced and had to work. Betty's only friend in the neighborhood (I can't remember her name) joined in the cattiness all the time. Betty could be the biggest idiot in the world and still know that the same would happen to her as soon as she divorced. At least divorcing and then running into Henry's arms might be somewhat more "respectable" according to 1960s standards.


I heard incorrectly! :-) And I am glad. I am not going to even play that episode a 3rd time. I don't know what was wrong with my hearing... Hope I don't need a hearing aid...

However, I asked my mother about that line. She doesn't watch the show but she was alive and well, married with two children (my sisters) in 1963. I told her I was horrified by what I thought I had heard Mona say (my estimation of Mona just went up a thousand fold). My mother told me that people said things like that all the time in the 60s (think Archie Bunker). Unfortunately, it was very prevalent. Sad...

Even though I heard wrong, it got an interesting discussion going with my mother. She told me it was easy to realize who was racist back then and who was not.


Ditto on the shaky TV reception. During my childhood in the 50s-early 60s we mainly watched NBC because it came in clearly. CBS had a lot of snow, and we couldn't see ABC at all. And we lived just across the river in NJ!


To the anonymous who asked if people are only reading the first paragraph of Tlo's post, the answer is apparently yes.

EHR said...

I'm way late on this but in regards to Betty possibly getting a divorce after Henry tells her he wants to marry her, doesn't anyone remember the divorcee that moved in down the street and Betty's reaction to her (besides that weird relationship with the woman's son)? She was nice to her face but catty as hell behind her back just because the woman was divorced and had to work. Betty's only friend in the neighborhood (I can't remember her name) joined in the cattiness all the time. Betty could be the biggest idiot in the world and still know that the same would happen to her as soon as she divorced. At least divorcing and then running into Henry's arms might be somewhat more "respectable" according to 1960s standards.


T Lo:

She'd never leave Don to be a single divorcee like Helen Bishop, but she'd do it to become another man's wife, like Happy Rockefeller.


Thank you for another thoughtful post. I really enjoy this blog, reading it helps me get through the week waiting for another Mad Men episode!

I thought the episode was nicely done, especially knowing that nothing could really measure up to last week's climactic show. I really liked the moments leading up to assassination -- speculating on what day of the week it was when Margaret was having her first meltdown, realizing that Pete was in Harry's office just after lunch. I turned to my husband and said, "it happened during As the World Turns!" and then the news flash came up. Like everyone else, I loved the moment when the phones stopped ringing, that was so well done!

I am sad about Don and Betty -- I so much want to see them be good to each other. Don and Betty are like JFK and Jackie -- young, beautiful, successful, with young children... having the story of their marriage's end coincide with the end of Camelot is nicely done.


Nicely done everyone. Only one thing to sort of add: I still really can't like Betty. I sympathize a bit -- she's been trained only to be a particularly lovely ornament -- but she is such an icy cold mother and person. The only heat she's ever shown is in trying to manipulate people and then, finally, chewing up Don. Henry Francis is a fantasy, as she is for him.

I can't help noticing that Betty's father was the only person to treat her children with affection and respect (other than Carla, of course).


I don't believe we know enough about Henry and his makeup. I think Henry sees Betty as this wonderful prize that he wants, akin to a beautiful doll to place on the mantel for all to see. Call it a trophy wife, if you will. I also think he's romantic enough to sweep Betty off her pedestal and lift her up to a cloud, at least momentarily.

Regarding the comments made about not leaving your man until you have another one in the wings: I have seen this happen several times during my life; I know many women now who as soon as they break up with their mate or significant other, they are immediately on the prowl for the next one. For some people, it has nothing to do with love; it is the nature of the beast. I do not for one minute believe Betty is in love with Henry; she is planning her future.

I was 5 years old when JFK was assassinated. It was my aunt's 35th birthday and my mother and sister and I were at my grandparents' home. My sister and cousins and I were rushed to the front porch without coats (where it was freezing-ass cold), slamming the door on us while my mother, aunt and grandmother started bawling in the living room. Talk about confused little kids. What seemed like hours later, one of the adults (I cannot remember which one) finally remembered we were out in the cold and let us in to the house, and we were told that the President was dead. Even though I was 5, I was shocked to the core because I knew how much my parents loved JFK--my father was a career Marine and JFK had visited Cherry Point and my father took me to the airfield to see him. Watching my family moving around like zombies for the next several days was when I realized, even at that age, that there was a certain amount of innocence lost.

Shari


I was in 9th grade in gym class. We had just changed into our gym uniforms (ugh) and my friend and I ran outside to the field where class was going to be that day. We were first out and were sitting on the steps tieing our sneakers and listening to my transitor radio before the gym teacher and rest of the class came out. We both hear the announcement that JFK had been shot and we were dumbstruck. We listened to more to make sure we were hearing correctly since it seemed so unreal. We walked back inside and told the rest of the class what was going on. We all hudled around the radio for the rest of the class. The rest of the school day the radio news was broadcast over the school intercom and people spoke in hushed tones. One of the most unreal events of my life. I lived in NJ. My parents packed up us 3 kids and we left in the middle of the night on Sunday/Monday so that we would be in DC early Monday to sit on the curb in front of the Mayfair Hotel and watch the funeral procession.


My parents packed up us 3 kids and we left in the middle of the night on Sunday/Monday so that we would be in DC early Monday to sit on the curb in front of the Mayfair Hotel and watch the funeral procession.

11/4/09 12:55 PM


Wow. This is so cool. However, you were sitting in front of the MAYFLOWER hotel, less than a block away from St. Matthew's. I hope you were bundled up!


To elaborate on something already suggested: "Dick Whitman" is as fantasy-based for Betty as was "Don Draper," but he's a negative fantasy. You could watch in the last episode and this one the power shift in their relationship. Part of it's the fact of his lying, but I also think the class disparity suddenly becomes clear and concrete to her. She realizes she's married "poor white trash," and I think maybe her icy distance is classism as well as very legitimate rage. She's treating him like he's the gardener. By contrast, Henry is "her people." Just a thought...


I don't think it's Dick Whitman that's pissing Betty off so much. I think it's the lies. Wouldn't that make you angry, too? I think it's not so much about him presenting himself as higher class than he was. I think it's about him presenting himself as someone else, period. I bet Dick Whitman could actually have charmed young Betty if he'd been honest.


Leela,

I don't think so. Poor is one thing, trash is another. Betty has always been very judgmental of people who fall outside her milieu. To be poor is one thing--lots of people of good family were poor during the Depression--but illegitimate son of a whore is something else.

Don's background is the opposite of respectable--and Betty, even now, is very class-conscious and all about respectability--though she has shown a real knack for slumming.

Hmmmm, given that weakness for bad boys and Betty's own inner bad girl, we may not have seen the last of Don and Betty yet.


The class analysis is overstated, I think. She realized he was from humble beginnings already, that, as her dad said, "he didn't have people." I think it's the lying, not the realization he was once poor, which I don't think would be a big shock to her.


What I don't get about Betty is that gesture of comfort, her hand stroking/patting Don's back, as he cries telling her about his half brother's suicide. She is so stingy with physical affection that it couldn't be insignificant. Could it?

But, her telling Don that she didn't love him anymore shocked me almost as much as Don telling her he was Dick. And I wonder - in real life - could a marriage come back after one partner says bluntly, "I don't love you anymore."?


But Betty's a snob--you see it over and over with her. She's insular. It's not that Don was poor, but that Don was trash--he's vulgar--and Betty doesn't like vulgar--that was in her antisemitic remark in Season 2 and her comment about how they can just move the water tower to a poor area this season. Don's background isn't just poor, it's coarse--and that's different.

Betty's an odd character--she does have some warmth, but she's not that empathic. I think she connected with Don over Adam's death because she's enough of a mother to be curious and interested in the picture of the other little boy. She can understand it well enough to feel something.


I've been lurking, but thought I'd comment.

I've watched MM with fascination, since my parents are Pete's age. (To my surprise, they don't like the show.) I can envision my father, fresh out of college, without the 'credibility' of having served in WWII or Korea, trying to claw up the ladder. My mother, who graduated phi beta kappa, was nonetheless relegated to becoming a teacher, a nurse or a secretary. (She was an executive secretary for a large corporation.) I can imagine her being chased around the desk, and I'm sure she was no stranger to a martini at lunch! She was single until 1965, and although in her late twenties, thought that she was an 'old maid' since she hadn't gotten married right out of college.

Betty is just a pot ready to boil over. Those who criticize January Jones' performance fail to appreciate her understated style. She expresses the tension of unhappy homemakers of that era. (Read: 'mother's little helper'.) It is palpable! Can you blame the 'boomers for the free-love '70s reaction?

And I agree completely with last week's comments about Hamm. One can literally see the transformation between Dick and Don, with just a shrug or a pained look. Excellent!

Here's a study in contrasts:

My husband, who was 14 at the time of JFK's assassination, tells me that in his class, the teacher got a call on the phone from the principal's office, turned to the class and said, "The President has been shot. Go home."

My mom tells me that when she rode home on the bus, everybody just sat there, in shocked silence.

But my dad, who didn't like Kennedy, took his then-girlfriend to the beach, since everyone was sent home from work!

I thought it was appropriate that MM did not show the actual assassination (which all of us have seen enough for it to lack much impact), but rather to focus on footage of the news reports, and on the character reactions.

I don't think JFK's assassination is akin to 9-11 or any space shuttle disaster (and I'm young enough to REMEMBER the '70s, so I wasn't a 'participant'). But if you want this episode to have more impact, watch it again, but imagine if Obama were assassinated. I found the episode almost too difficult to watch, since I was envisioning the grief I would feel, were we to lose our current, young, great hope. The similarities between the '60s and the present are too uncanny for words. We again live in times where tensions among the lines of race and social class are rising. Heaven help us were the nut-jobs out there to have their way!


It is interesting that this episode did not follow the assassination aftermath through to its (partial) resolution. There was something very cathartic about watching the funeral procession with the riderless horse and the family walking behind the casket and then the lighting of the eternal flame and John-John's final salute to his dad. You've heard it said before but Jackie's strength and dignity throughout these events helped to give us all the strength to go on after such unimaginable tragedy.


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