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a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



Also back when it was airing I remember being annoyed at what an awards darling the show seemed to be, but now I totally get it and it deserves every single thing it won.

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GoutPatrol
Oct 17, 2009

Coal Jobs for the Coal God


Escobarbarian posted:

By who? Itís great.

I remember reading a couple of listicle "best episodes of mad men ranked" lists around when the show was ending.

God Hole
Mar 2, 2016


if we're listing all-time great episodes, i think 'the crash' is certainly up there.

Gaius Marius
Oct 9, 2012


Every episode in season four.

awesmoe
Nov 30, 2005



Pillbug

Escobarbarian posted:

hmm, maybe we should not be having discussions about such major events given that the thread is for recaps by someone watching it all for the first time!
I totally agree in one sense, but...there's really interesting discussions to be had based on these episodes, contrasting characters' early portrayal against the later versions of their characters, themes as they show up for the first time, etc etc. All of that stuff gets jumpstarted by jerusalem's writeups, and it would be a real shame to have nowhere to discuss it. I don't really know what a good solution is (except jerusalem not reading the thread )

Jeep
Feb 20, 2013


Gaius Marius posted:

Every episode in season four and five.

I fixed it for you

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


I am being very careful about avoiding things behind spoiler tags!

Also I am currently writing up Marriage of Figaro, so that'll be up soon.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


awesmoe posted:

I totally agree in one sense, but...there's really interesting discussions to be had based on these episodes, contrasting characters' early portrayal against the later versions of their characters, themes as they show up for the first time, etc etc. All of that stuff gets jumpstarted by jerusalem's writeups, and it would be a real shame to have nowhere to discuss it. I don't really know what a good solution is (except jerusalem not reading the thread )

Just be reasonably rigorous about spoiler tags, I think.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Season 1, Episode 3 - Marriage of Figaro
Written by Tom Palmer, Directed by Ed Bianchi

Pete Campbell posted:

I just... felt this calm come over me.

A peculiar thing happens on a train. An overweight, middle-aged man named Larry Krisinki spots an old friend and joyfully greets him. At first the other man, Dick Whitman, doesn't seem to know him, seems confused and perturbed as to why he is being accosted by this stranger... but then he admits he remembers. He continues to stare as the man happily recounts joyful memories of their time in Army training before the Korean War, of memories of another old comrade-in-arms he recently saw. Larry is thrilled but in a rush as they've reached his stop, but insists they get together to catch up. He gives Dick his card - he works for IBM, still better known as International Business Mechanics - and leaves with a big smile on his face. Dick Whitman is left behind, looking more than perturbed, looking genuinely upset. He doesn't notice the ticket collector who clips his ticket and grins with pleasure at the advertisement in the magazine Whitman is reading. Instead he stares at nothing, pondering.

Why is this chance meeting peculiar? Because Dick Whitman is Don Draper. He never corrected Larry, he was careful to offer nothing more than generalities: he's married and works "upstate", and he didn't give his own card in response to Larry's. What is this? Who is Dick Whitman? Is Don Draper living under an assumed name? Is this why he won't tell anybody about his childhood? How does he have a purple heart with Don Draper's name on it if he is not Don Draper? What the hell is going on? And if he is living under an assumed name, how terrified must he be of exposure now at this chance meeting on a train?



While Don Draper is having his brush with the past, the future of Sterling Cooper are boarding the lift to their offices, discussing France now having access to nuclear weapons. This serious talk (which they're not treating seriously) is forgotten when then junior executives discover one of their own has returned: Pete Campbell is back. He shakes their hands and takes their ribald comments in good taste, but he doesn't rise to the bait when they push him for details of the honeymoon. Instead he leaves them slightly off-kilter by revealing that something in him changed during the wedding ceremony, he feels different now. Not too different though, at only the barest goading he does brag that they never got around to doing all the things his new wife wanted to do because they were too "busy".

That's not the level of detail they want though, nor do they want his facts about Niagara Falls. The various secretaries greet him as he walks by and he's pleased if a little surprised at how friendly everybody is being... till he opens the door to his office and discovers a Chinese Family inside eating a meal, a chicken perched on a chair, and they angrily demand he shut the door. Everybody erupts into laughter, his return was NOT a surprise and they've been looking forward to pranking him like this, and he takes it in good stride. Everybody applauds and he laughs with them, while Don Draper passes by heading straight for his office, in no mood to join in on the fun.

Peggy, a spring in her step with the return of Pete, happily takes Don's coat and hat and hangs them up for him (he literally walks past the coat-rack she puts them onto while following in his wake), then lets him know that Mr. Romano, Mr. Kinsey and Mr. Crane are here for their meeting. It's to discuss the Secor Laxative Account, something they've been putting off for too long because none of them can think up anything. That by itself is enough to put Don in a bad mood, not helped by his earlier encounter, and he is in no mood to celebrate the "Chinamen" prank or their bad constipation jokes.

He's even less impressed by them referencing the same Volkswagen ad he was focused on in his magazine, grunting that he hates the ad and he hates the car. Harry is not so sure though, remembering how well Think Small worked out for them the prior year. Don has to admit it must be getting results if they're doing the same thing, and even cracks a joke about the "Chinamen" when Roger Sterling pops in to join them before pointing out the ad to him. Secor Laxatives has been forgotten, it's all about Volkswagen now.

Outside, Pete approaches Peggy's desk and she smiles warmly at him. Smiling back, he notes he's back and then awkwardly decides how to approach what's next, and she waits with baited breath to hear what he has to say.... and he points out that he should have been included in the meeting happening in Don's office right now. Surprised and disappointed, she hides it well, stammering out that he wasn't on the list because she didn't know he would be back. He prepares to head inside and finally, belatedly, decides to acknowledge the elephant in the room, and it's far from whatever schoolgirl fantasy she had in her head. He brings up the night he came to her apartment and she happily agrees she was there, and then listens in despair as he reminds her he is married now and things are different. With a herculean effort she pretends compassion and understanding, smiling and assuring him that as far as she's concerned nothing happened. Pete of course is immediately satisfied with this response and takes it at face value, and heads in to join the others. Peggy is left behind, forced smile dropping, miserable at the realization that their one night stand was simply that.

Inside the office, they're still talking about Volkswagen and Pete joins in. He thinks the advertisement is brilliant, while the others critique it for being more about the ad than the product, or failing to have the selling points that American cars do, or disbelief that a Jewish man would be spearheading a campaign to help a product first invented by the Nazis. But Don raises a good point, especially considering the fact he already established he hates ad and product both: for the last 15 minutes, none of them have been able to talk about anything else but this magazine ad.... a magazine ad in Playboy magazine of all things. That clearly means something.



Don reminds them that once again they've put off doing anything about Secor Laxative, and Sterling immediately excuses himself: he does NOT want to be in a room when his employees are saying they haven't been doing their jobs. The others promise Don they'll have something for him at their next meeting and beat a hasty retreat, leaving behind Pete. He takes a moment before going to greet Don, telling him he missed him, which causes Don to quip it mustn't have been much of a honeymoon.

It's a hurtful comment, and uncalled for, and even Don seems to realize it. Putting on a smile, he apologizes and notes it was meant as a joke, and asks him how he is enjoying married life. That's Pete's favorite subject and he quickly forgets the insult to explain how his wife - Trudy - has surprised him with her wit, and how he finds himself looking forward to going home tonight. Don grunts as one of his cuff-links falls to his desk and distractedly says he looks forward to meeting Trudy, while simultaneously not looking or paying attention to Pete in a clear message of,"The meeting is over, go away." Pete takes the line as a chance though, suggesting they get together for dinner with their wives some night. Don's response is as non-committal as Dick Whitman's was to Larry Krisinki's.

Joan and Peggy head to the lunchroom, where Joan hands off from her purse a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover she had borrowed from another woman. They giggle over the infamous book, exciting Peggy who of course immediately wants to read it. Joan laughs that off, declaring it's a bit too much for a girl like her and showing her one of the "four letter words" that helped make it infamous. Peggy is a little frustrated at being treated like a wilting flower, and even more intent on reading it when the other women talk about how the book demonstrates how men think marriage is a joke. Thoughts of Pete and forbidden love must be flooding her brain as she takes the book, amusing Joan who is also quick to make her hide it away before they head in among the bigger crowd of workers... after all, it wouldn't do to attract the "wrong element".

Rachel Menken is escorted into a meeting room by Pete Campbell, where Don, Harry, Ken and George Pelham have been listening to a bad joke about golf, doctors and dead wives. They quickly cut that chatter when they see Rachel, standing to attention as Don greets her and assures her that they appreciate her business. That's what this meeting is about, a proper and actual approach to achieving the business changes she wants via their advertising know-how. That's why George Pelham is there, he's from research and has conducted a thorough investigation into the methods employed by the same high end department stores she wants to turn Menken's into.

She listens, impressed, as they offer statistics, systems, philosophies etc that she can emulate... but she also takes time to slide over Don's cuff-link when it slips loose again, exchanging a warm smile with him that Pete Campbell can't help but notice. Warming up, Ken excitedly details the notion behind headless mannequins, and Rachel takes it all in and again appears impressed... until she quietly folds up her copy of the research and reminds them that HER Department Store already has many of the features they're so excitedly telling her to adopt. They've provided her comprehensive research into her competitors, but have any of them even BEEN to her store?



Looking at schoolboys caught out by a schoolmaster, the chastened men struggle for excuses or cover-ups. "I was on my honeymoon" offers Pete lamely, while Ken mumbles that he's been a few times and Harry compliments her on such a lovely "old" store. Don, seeing the lay of the land, declares to Rachel that he guarantee nobody in this room other than her has ever set foot in Menken's, but he will correct this oversight himself personally this afternoon. Seemingly more amused than irritated at this lack of thoroughness from the agency (they did at least clearly put a tremendous amount of work into their research), she agrees she will see him then, and Don is quick to pull rank on Pete and walk Rachel out of the room himself... another thing Pete can't help but notice.

As Don walks her out, he admits without hesitation that he wasn't irritated at his juniors for lying, but for not being able to sufficiently cover it up. This makes her laugh, a genuine surprised laugh. She remarks that there is something about him that gives her confidence, and with false humility he plays this off as the timbre of his voice. He's not even shaken when the chicken from the prank of Pete comes strutting by, simply introducing it to her as their newest account executive and getting another laugh from her. She tells him she'll see him later in the afternoon, and his response would send even more alarm bells ringing if Pete heard it: "It's a date."

Pete has heard enough though. On his way back to his office he's made a point of requesting Harry come with him. Harry thinks it is so they can revel in the fact that to achieve Rachel's goals they'll be working on her account for potentially up to a year, and raking in the cash all the while. That's not Pete's interest though, he wants to know if Harry noticed the obvious flirting going on between Don and Rachel?

If he thought he was being particularly perceptive, he wasn't. Yes Harry noticed, he figures everybody did, and what's the big deal if so? Pete admits that he's always heard the talk about Draper being a ladies man, but he's never seen that switch get flipped before and it legitimately surprised him. Harry, sucking a lollipop in an attempt to quit smoking, notes that some men want more than marriage provides, hell even he sometimes goes out looking. Not for "a bit on the side" he quickly assures Pete, more than he likes to enjoy the company of women every so often, though he admits he's never been good at flirting. But he's been happily married for two years now, and his wife remains enough for him. Pete, who until two weeks ago was considered overly sexually aggressive even for the horrifying standards of the time, calmly declares that he's exactly the same, and until today always thought Don was too. That makes Harry laugh, pointing out that none of them know anything about Don Draper, nobody from the office has ever successfully been able to get into his head.

Pete gets a reminder of just why he's so satisfied with his newly married life when his wife calls. She wants to know what he wants for dinner, and he is thrilled at having this question posed to him. He tells her, assures her he loves her, and this is the complete opposite of his smug near-contempt from the phonecall he had with her in the first episode. Hanging up, he declares with wonder that when he goes home tonight, his loving wife will have dinner waiting for him on the table. Harry agrees it's a wondrous thing, and the two men bask in the glow of newlywed bliss.

Don arrives at Menken's, and takes in a very upmarket store and a surprisingly dressed down Rachel Menken. She's dealing with one of her department managers over an issue with one of their younger salesgirls, and Don smirks that everybody hires young women because they cost almost nothing. Rachel isn't offended by this at all, she in fact seems to find it charming, and leads him through the lobby with a brief history lesson to explain how they managed to get such a prime location and building despite their inauspicious beginnings. They originally ran a small hosiery store on 7th Avenue, but the original owners of this building lost everything in the 1929 Crash and ended up selling the location dirt cheap to her father in 1932, and Menken's has held this high profile spot ever since.

The lobby is crowded, customers moving briskly through to each department and freely spending money. Don notes that this may be down to their Spring Sale, but even if it is that just further proves the danger of her strategy to "improve" the store: to get the customers she wants, she'll have to lose the customers she has. Raising prices will chase off the former but not necessarily bring in the latter, they have to find something that makes them willing to shop there in the first place, and makes no bones about the fact that figuring out what that is will NOT be easy.

They stop at a jewellery counter, where Rachel has a salesgirl called Carol bring out a tray of cuff-links, and picks out a pair of medieval knights for Don to replace his own loose cuff-links. He allows her to apply them, the brief physical contact clearly welcomed by both of them, as well as the somehow domestic intimacy of the act itself.



Moving on to the second paints a different picture of the store though. Downstairs was light, airy, open and busy. Upstairs is dark, quiet, subdued. A large woman is seated in a chair by a bed display showing a papa bear, mama bear and baby bear on different sized beds in front of a forest backdrop. Few enough people use this part of the store that the saleswoman has dozed off. Rachel admits she likes the quiet of the floor and seems almost motherly over the older woman sleeping in the chair. Don agrees the space has charm, but little appeal. It's too dark, too old-fashioned, and it makes the products they're selling seem old as well.

Rachel isn't done with the tour yet, though, and tells him it's time to see he favorite part. She leads him away, as the saleswoman belatedly jerks await and quickly gets to her feet to stand ready to be of service, well past the point it might have been useful.

Work is wrapping up at Sterling Cooper and Pete leaves his office to head home to that loving wife and delicious dinner. A group of executives and secretaries are all gathered together though, excitedly chatting and smoking. One secretary spots Pete and lets him know that they're going as a group to Lansky's, excited at the thrill of it all - it's Friday night, they're in Manhattan, young and about to go out on the town. Pete considers this for a moment, smiles in the knowledge of his superior evening of domestic bliss and wishes them all a good time, but he has plans. As he goes he pauses, spotting Peggy and smiling at her... and tells her that she looks nice. He walks away, and she watches him go, hungrily devouring the compliment.

What the hell was that? Pete's devotion to his wife is commendable even if it is largely down to the thrill of being newly married, and a smug belief that he's better morally than others is at least somewhat of a step up from the smug arrogance he displayed in the first episode that he was simply better than, period. But why stop and single out Peggy? Why tell her she looks nice after making it so clear earlier in the day that the ill-advised sex they had before his marriage was a one-off and nothing more could ever come of it? Does he have any idea of the impact this statement will have on her? Of course he doesn't, and even if somebody told him he'd probably declare that such thoughts never crossed his mind because of his utter devotion to his wife. But goddamn, Pete Campbell, even when you're trying to be good you're a piece of poo poo!

Rachel brings Don up to the roof of Menken's, displaying a fine view of Manhattan. But that's not why she loves being on the roof, it's for the dogs. In a cage waiting happily to see her are two German Shepherds named Carla and Leona, and their job is to be walked through the department store at night to sniff out anybody who might have tried to hide away in a nook or cranny somewhere. Don is as happy as anybody would be to see a couple of dogs, but also understandably nervous in case they view him as a threat. He gently reaches out for one to sniff his fingers through the chain-link fence, but they mostly just want to see her.

Rachel explains with nostalgic pleasure that when she was 9 she has her father's legal counsel add to the store's bylaws that every generation of Menken's dogs MUST be known as Carla and Leona. Don finds the story adorable, but also the idea that even at such a young age she was ordering men about. But it was also obviously a lonely childhood, the store was practically her home and her friends were the original Carla and Leona. "For a little girl, a dog can be all you need," she states, noting her mother died giving birth to her, and her sister was the only other company she had... and she far preferred the dogs.

Standing alone on the roof, a beautiful view of Manhattan behind them in the clear night sky, Don Draper reaches out and cups Rachel Menken's chin. "Don't tell me you were ever unloved," he states, and then leans in and kisses her. She returns it, and when they break away at last she is actually trembling, a mixture of passion and fright for what she just allowed herself to think and feel for perhaps the first time in her life... at which point Don destroys the memory forever. Thinking better of it only AFTER the kiss, he admits that he is married (he doesn't mention he has a mistress!) and her face falls. Kicking herself for her foolishness, she admits that she didn't ask because she didn't want to know, and chides herself for bringing him up to the roof and allowing something like this to happen in the first place.

What Don thought would happen next is unclear, but it certainly wasn't this. Getting her quivering under control, smoking a cigarette to calm her nerves, she fixes her face and becomes all business once more. Calmly she informs him that this is not something anybody can ever know... and that while the account will remain at Sterling Cooper, she doesn't want him running it anymore. Now it is HIS ego which is damaged, and she fixes him a stern glare and asks him a question he has probably never ever considered before, not for her and certainly not with Midge... why should SHE live some half-life running alongside his? She grunts she has some checks to sign and walks away, leaving him alone with the dogs. It's a first for him, he did the right thing (belatedly) and got chewed out rightfully for ever allowing the situation to happen in the first place. Unlike Peggy, she doesn't swallow her pride and do what she can to assuage the ego of the man who took advantage of her. She tells him straight to his face what a dipshit he is being and walks away with some level of dignity, and leaves Don for once feeling like the one who has been rejected,leaving no possible crack open that maybe there is still hope of something between them.



So Don collects his things and boards the train and to ride home to his beautiful wife and children. He's feeling utterly miserable, like the ground has fallen away beneath his feet, to the point he flinches when the ticket collector approaches to hand him the newspaper he dropped, almost as if he's expecting another Larry Krisinki. He hands over his ticket, lights a cigarette and tries to regain some sense of equilibrium. This morning he was Don Draper, confident and assured Creative Director of Sterling Cooper. Since then he's had his identity called into question, seen a successful advertising campaign he can't wrap his head around, failed to make progress on TWO clients and effectively gotten himself kicked off the latter, then raised and dashed the hopes of a bright, intelligent young woman who in turn put him in his place. It has NOT been a good day.

Saturday morning finds Don woken by his excited daughter Sally, thrilled that today is her birthday. He lifts her up and tickles her as she giggles wildly, reminding her that today isn't her birthday, just the party. For her it's all the same, today is HER big day and she can barely contain herself. Betty reminds him that the party is at 2pm and he needs to put the P L A Y H O U S E together, and he decides to joke to Sally that it will be difficult to put together a pony. She doesn't get the joke though, all she heard is pony, and she zooms out of the room in delight, crying out to her brother that she's getting a pony!

Betty is amused but still a little put out, there's a little girl who is fully expecting a pony now, but Don promises her all thought of that will disappear when she sees her playhouse. Betty leaves, and Don can't help but focus his attention on the cuff-links sitting on his bedside drawer... a fresh reminder of Rachel and the disaster of the previous evening.

Not long after he's out on the lawn, out of his regular suit and ready to just be a dad doing dad things on his little girl's birthday... though not without the aid for a beer from the fridge in the garage first. Then another one. And he continues to work, the playhouse slowly taking shape... at which point Sally and Bobby came racing outside super-excited to see the present she's not supposed to know she's getting yet. That's okay though, Don looks around to make sure Betty hasn't seen, then suggests his daughter go get daddy yet another beer, and off she races.

Inside, Francine the neighbor is helping Betty prepare snacks, complaining that due to her pregnancy cravings all she wants to eat right now is raw hamburger. Based on the numbers coming, Betty thinks they have enough, and runs through the guests... including Helen Bishop. Francine is shocked, she took her a pie purely as a neighborly duty but once she had the tray back she intended that to be the last time they ever had dealings. Betty though felt guilty when she met her while buying birthday balloons at the market and felt she had no choice but to invite her.

Francine remains dubious, hasn't she seen Helen.... walking? She... she walks! She goes out of her house and she just walks, and Francine doesn't like that!

In any case, Betty invited her and Helen said she would do her best to come and bring her son, though only if she could get a sitter for the baby. Francine expects she will, getting invited to a neighborhood birthday party will be a big deal for her as a divorcee. They stop talking to look out the window and admire Don working on the playhouse - he's such a great example of a father and husband, they adore him.

Mr. Dad-of-the-Year is onto at least his fourth beer and his bladder only has so much space. He heads inside to use the bathroom, and his need is great enough that he violates his wife's powder room to do it. Urinating into the toilet, he flushes and washes his hands, then remembers that every single towel in the room is designed purely to be seen and look pretty, not to actually have any function. This is his wife's domain and this party is spearheaded by her, in this rare instance he knows that SHE is in charge so he simply wipes his hands across his shirt instead.

Spotting him leaving the room, she chides him but he assures her he left the place spotless. He looks in the fridge, perhaps for another beer, but she reminds him the guests will be arriving soon and suggests he go take a shower. Francine offers to join him and they all laugh together, Betty included. After all, it's not like she did anything scandalous like take a walk.



The guests arrive as Betty prepares a jug of Mint Julep, bringing metal cups around for the guests including the very pregnant Francine who smokes and drinks alcohol without batting an eye. Children zoom around squealing and chasing each other, including one boy in leg braces and on crutches. Don, looking dapper though not as formal as his business-wear, exchanges a beer for a mint julep, but also offers Francine's wife Carlton the chance to get something a little stronger if he wants it. Francine is quick to answer on Calton's behalf, clearly having no desire for her husband to get drunker than necessary.

Henry Darling and his wife ask Don if he made a wonderful advert they saw on television recently, and he politely says he's not familiar with it. Betty, unable to stop moving and planning, goes to lay out the children's food, and Chet Wallace eagerly decides to tell a bad joke over his wife Nancy's protests. All the men laugh at a joke about how husbands hate their wives, apart from Henry Darling who puts a comforting arm around his wife - clearly the idea of "the old ball and chain" isn't something either of them find particularly amusing.

Carlton follows Don away from the group and makes a point of noting how nice the house and all his possessions are, declaring that the two of them clearly have it made in life. Don, who has everything and yet clearly lacks something and feels decidedly unhappy, takes a moment then forces a smile and agrees: yep, this is it, life is good.

The wives gather together in the dining room where they discuss little Kevin Farrelly, the boy on crutches. Like far too many he was a victim of polio and his mother Marilyn admits that though Kevin is determined she knows he is more than aware of his differences. But while her husband Jack is enraged any time somebody mentions the vaccine that was too late to spare his son, she takes a different view: he could have ended up in an iron lung, and what happened to their son will never happen to any other child, because the vaccine is there to stop the disease from spreading.

It's a lovely scene and Marilyn comes out of this scene shining. It's easy to forget that only 60 years ago, well within the lifetime of some of our parents or grandparents, polio was an epidemic running rampant and leaving people in terror. Today, thanks to the vaccine, it has all but been eradicated from the planet. Given the situation in the world today with COVID, it's nice to remember that these things do eventually become nothing but history.

Helen arrives with her son Glen, carrying a present in her arms and clearly nervous. She apologizes for coming in with apologies, explaining the sitter was late and half her things are still packed, so the only wrapping paper she had available for Christmas themed. Betty takes the gift, adorned in Santa Claus, and forces a smile while insisting every day should be Christmas. She leads Helen into the lounge where she introduces her to the gathered husbands, who are listening to a radio broadcast of The Marriage of Figaro (the title of this episode, more on that later) while, of course, drinking and smoking. All of them men say a friendly hello... very friendly in fact, Helen Bishop is divorced and attractive. Don takes Glen with him to get a sandwich and a BB Gun so he can join the others playing outside, and Betty leaves with Helen, leaving the husbands to share appreciative glances.

Betty stops Don on the way back, reminding him he needs to pick up the cake from Hightop but also requesting that he shoot film of the day. Don, who has been drinking all day, seems a little put-off by the order but she reminds him that he bought the camera specifically to record special days like this but always forgets to use it. Scolded and not feeling happy about it, but also not wanting an argument, he nods and trudges up the stairs to retrieve it.

Betty introduces Helen to the other wives, watched with great interest by Carlton from the lounge. He, Chet and Jack joke about the wives henpecking her to death then gossip about how her car - a Volkswagen, of course - won't help her find dates given there is no backseat. Jack jokes the last Volkswagen he saw he tossed a grenade into, and they all continue to laugh at their own wit.

In the kitchen, they're chatting about vacations over the Easter Break, and Francine declares that in Boca Raton mosquitoes aren't the only big noses you have to deal with. Betty knows enough to know that being so blatantly anti-Semitic is clearly wrong, but too timid to do more than to laugh and tell Francine not to say such things. Francine insists that there's nothing wrong with pointing out that they felt "outnumbered". She's not racist, you see, she just doesn't think it's possible to relax when around people of a different culture!

Talk turns to the seemingly safer subject of honeymoon locations, which turns out to be another landmine when Betty asks Helen where she went and then realizes this brings up the thorny subject of her divorce. Helen is fine with it, though, she got the trip of a lifetime to Paris and she wouldn't give up that memory for anything, even having been with Glen's father. The wives are torn, Paris IS a wonderful and romantic place to have gone and they enjoyed her joke about having forgotten her high school French... but also... she's divorced!?! Francine simply cannot help herself and ignores Betty's attempt to shift the chat to a trip to Italy she took, declaring that Paris is a great place to walk... just like Helen walks around the neighborhood now!

Helen is rightfully perplexed, especially when the others also note they've seen her walking and insist on knowing where she is going, what she is doing, WHY she is walking. It's no great mystery, Helen assures them, she just likes to walk, it helps clear her mind. Francine absorbs this, considers it, then simply asks,"....but where?", completely unable to fathom the idea of simply going for a walk. Or, more to the point, unable to believe a divorced woman could be going anywhere without some sort of ulterior motive or purpose in mind.



Don films the children racing around the house, Sally waving happily to him, Kevin bringing up the rear on his crutches. Helen pops in and sees the camera, immediately shielding her face in embarrassment and explaining she was just looking for Glen. Carlton quickly offers to show her where he just raced to and leaves the room with her, while Chet and Jack force smiles to wave to the camera, clearly uncomfortable being on film too. Don, his batteries nearly empty but doing his duty as requested, pauses to knock back yet another drink, having moved from beer to mint julep to scotch across the course of the day.

Alone at last with Helen, Carlton decides to play the white knight, explaining that he feels badly for her boy and he'd like to be there to provide a masculine role model in his life: to toss the ball around, maybe take him to the beach, that type of thing. Helen, obviously no fool, smiles broadly and agrees that would be nice, and then proceeds to detail exactly the fantasy scenario Carlton has been building in his own head: maybe she'd join them one day on the beach, and then they'd come home and put the kids to bed and it would just be the two of them, reminiscing fondly about the day and then maybe something happens. Carlton quickly declares that he never said or did anything inappropriate and he doesn't want her telling Francine that he did, while she hides her amusement at his crude efforts and agrees she must have misunderstood, while making it perfectly clear she understood perfectly.

The tension is broken when they realize Don has come around the corner down the hall and is now filming them, so they break into big wide smiles and wave happily. He crabs on past the corridor, clearly even his alcohol tolerance levels struggling now and starts to film Henry and Marilyn... until he sees something truly intimate and special caught on camera. Unknowingly echoing Don's moment on the rooftop with Rachel, Henry gently cups his wife's chin and lifts it, then kisses with her true love and passion undimmed by the years of their marriage. Don sees this through a lens, a vision of what he couldn't have with Rachel and seemingly does not believe he has with Betty. He stops filming, stops looking through the lens, staring with a mixture of longing, confusion and revulsion a the loving couple. Looking at what he isn't.

Out in the yard, he knocks back more scotch, listening to the kids playing house in the new playhouse... and it's not a flattering depiction of a married couple as they playact out arguments they've seen or heard their parents having: you dented the car, you can sleep on the couch, I don't like your tone etc. For them its play, for him it's a reminder of what he thinks are the realities of marriage. He's joined outside by Helen, who comments wryly that it's an "interesting" crowd inside. Staring at the children mirroring the lives of their parents, he comments back that it's the same crowd here.

Inside, the wives are gossiping about Helen's revelations to them that she... walks. They're incredibly catty, noting that Glen is too quiet and his clothes haven't been ironed, critiquing the Christmas wrapping paper, dismissing the idea that working a jewellery counter as a job surely isn't that demanding. Marilyn at least notes she once had a job in sales and it was no picnic. Glen pops in looking for Helen and Betty suggests he try the dining room, but then Marilyn spots her out the window and quietly motions to Betty to look. Outside, she sees that Helen is standing near Don. That's it, she's standing near him. Earlier she laughed off Francine offering to shower with him, but now seeing a divorced woman in physical proximity to her husband is enough to set alarm bells ringing.

She heads outside (Don and Helen aren't talking to each other or even looking in each other's direction) and asks Don to please head out to get the cake now. He sighs, then gets up and leaves without a word to either Helen or his wife.

Inside, Carlton's son Ernie comes racing after another kid in the hall and knocks over a glass, shattering it. Jack is standing nearby and immediately reaches out and hauls Ernie over, slapping him in the face. Carlton is immediately striding over and demanding to know what is going on, but not out of outrage over another man grabbing and slapping his child. He's come over to see what Ernie did to make that necessary, and agrees with Jack that he shouldn't have been running in the house, and demanding he apologize. In fact, he warns him he'll get another slap if he doesn't apologize. Jack speaks up now to assure Carlton that Ernie's been disciplined enough, now judgmentally but with a smile, saying they should go find his mother so SHE can clean this mess up.

Don, who straight up took his drink with him when he drove to Hightop to get the cake, is on his way back home. As he draws closer to his perfect house, however, where his daughter is enjoying a wonderful birthday party and lovely day she will never forget, he can't take the idea of returning. All day he's had to be the dad, the builder, the husband, the host, the cameraman, and he's had enough of playing all these different roles. He's exhausted, he's drunk, and he can't even give his wife and daughter one single day where he isn't the master of all he surveys. So he drives past the house, and he just keeps on driving.

It gets to be past 4pm and with no sign of Don, a worried Betty has called Hightop and learned he picked up the cake almost an hour earlier. She's worried he might have had an accident, but the men are under no illusions. Chet and Jack enter the room and Chet tells Nancy they're going, openly telling everybody including Betty that they'll be no cake and he can't be the only one who knows what is happening. Actually admiringly, he declares that Don Draper is a first class heel and he salutes him for it. Jack laughs, they think it's great comedy and an enviable act that a husband and father would just gently caress off and abandon his family for the day rather than spend any more time at his own daughter's birthday party.



Chet and Nancy leave, but Helen does offer one possible solution, if not an ideal one: she has a Sara Lee cheesecake in her freezer at home. Francine, so quick to judge and belittle Helen behind her back, immediately asks if she can please get it, while Betty just silently pleads for anything she can put down for her daughter and friends to mark her birthday with in the traditional fashion.

Soon after, the remaining guests are gathered around singing,"She's a jolly good fellow!" to Sally, lead on by a drunken and boisterous Carlton. Sally and the kids, of course, have no concept that anything is wrong, there's a cake and treats and drinks and they're having a great time. Betty is burning with humiliation though as she struggles to cut through the still half-frozen cake and the thin, half-melted whipped cream atop it.

Don wakes in the dark, he'd fallen asleep (passed out?) in his car parked under a bridge in front of train tracks. He lights a cigarette and considers his situation, and it's hard to say whether he's thinking of just keeping on driving or just trying to figure out how to get away with this bullshit he just pulled.

His solution is a monstrous one. As Betty struggles to maintain her composure while doing the dishes in the finally quiet house, she hears barking and Sally's squeal of delight to see her father. She walks into the lounge and forcibly stifles whatever emotional reaction she had: probably equal parts fury and misery. Because Don has brought home a dog, remembering Rachel's words about how it was the best friend a little girl could have. Sally has no concept of the emotional manipulation at play here, how could she? All she knows is that today was a special day: all her friends came to visit, she got treats and a new playhouse, there was a cake, then her daddy brought home a doggy for her.

Betty can't cry, she can't scream, she can't rage and she certainly can't be the monster who tells her daughter,"No you can't have a dog." So she glares at her husband, those adoring looks she gave him all day that weren't enough for me replaced by cold fury. "I don't even know what to say," she whispers, and leaves the room. Don simply sits on the floor, still half-drunk, watching Sally and Bobby happily playing with the dog. Don grabs Sally and hauls her up to his lap, beaming at her and wishing her a happy birthday before giving her a kiss on the forehead. She wipes that off and goes straight back to hugging her dog, which she has decided to call Polly, safe and secure in the knowledge that she has the best daddy in the whole world.



This is the first episode not to have been written by Matthew Weiner, and it's the weakest of them. It's still a good and interesting watch, but there are structural issues that weren't present in the first two episodes. Written by Tom Palmer, who was co-executive producer for the first season and has a solid if unspectacular record as a writer, it captures the characters well but is guilty of dividing the story too firmly into largely distinct chunks. The removal of all the usual supporting characters and the Sterling Cooper backdrop in the back half of the episode also creates an odd feel... but maybe that's the point, it's uncomfortable being in Don Draper's family home for too extended a period of time, and Don certainly seems to feel that too.

The Marriage of Figaro and Lady Chatterley's Lover are both referenced in this story and it is interesting to consider the plot of both. Each, very broadly speaking, considers matters of infidelity and the value of marriage, which is reflected strongly in the plot. Pete's insistence that marriage has changed him; Harry's admission that he values spending time with women but would never consider cheating on his wife; Don's shameless flirting followed by an uncharacteristic bout of honesty followed by characteristic surprise that he's going to be rejected; Henry and Joyce's genuine love for each other; Helen as a woman confident in her own worth; Carlton as a lech; Don's frustration at having to put his own ego in check to do as his wife asks and put his daughter's needs first etc. It's an episode all about marriage, about happiness or the lack thereof in a relationship, of desiring somebody you can't be with but desperately want.

But the Marriage of Figaro also strongly features stolen or mistaken identity as a plot point, and that's where this episode probably most stands out. Because what the hell is this Dick Whitman business? There's something going on here, and I could speculate till the cows come home, but I imagine the answer will come at some point, and hopefully soon. Was he considering abandoning Donald Draper when he sat in the car watching that train going by in the night, off to some different location where he could become somebody else? (again?).

Regardless of if he's Don Draper or Dick Whitman or any other name though, Betty is his wife and Sally and Bobby are his children. That's something undeniable, something that cannot be discarded or set aside. It should be a source of great shame to Don that he failed to be there for them that day, and for the most petty and unworthy reasons. I'd like to think he's aware enough to feel shame (hence the dog), but I also strongly suspect that he's egotistical enough to blame Betty or have some excuse for why it's not his fault he couldn't man up for a single afternoon.

With the bribe to his daughter acting as a shield to blunt his wife's ability to call him out on his bullshit, he seems to consider his duty done. He leans back in his seat as the closing credits music sings,"Nothing more to do!" and closes his eyes. It's been a long day and it's finally over, and as mad as Betty might be at him, Don Draper knows he has "won".



Episode Index

Xander77
Apr 6, 2009

Fuck it then. For another pit sandwich and some 'tater salad, I'll post a few more.




God Hole posted:

the one moment that had me picking my jaw up off the floor was after don's picnic with his family, he grabs the blanket and whips ALL the garbage off it onto the ground, and then walks away. it was one of those moments where you were like "yeah, 60's" but there was something just so obscene about it.
I seem to recall a whole spate of articles revolving around "were the 60's really that bad?", with a focus on... anti-littering adverts and laws.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Season 1, Episode 4 - New Amsterdam
Written by Lisa Albert, Directed by Tim Hunter

Rachel Menken posted:

We both know how we'd like it to be.

In Pete Campbell's office, they're listening to a Bob Newhart comedy album with great delight, though Paul Kinsey admits he likes Lenny Bruce better. The party is broken up by Pete's secretary Hildy, who announces that Mrs. Campbell has arrived to see him. Pete seems surprised, while Harry compliments him on the smart decision to take his new bride out on a lunch date.

Outside, Pete greets his wife Trudy with a chaste kiss (played by Alison Brie) which gets the other executives to insist he show a little more passion for their benefit. It seems Trudy knows Ken, Paul and Harry, though she obviously knows Harry better than the others due to his status as a fellow married man, asking after his wife Jennifer. He admits to still being somewhat put out that she has continued her job at the telephone company rather than staying at home, but begs off when Trudy points out that getting her pregnant would quickly see her leaving the workforce.

The others leave the two alone, and Pete - pleasantly but with some apprehension - points out there was definitely not a lunch date scheduled for them today, and he can have Hildy show her his appointment book if she wants to claim he forgot. Now she seems a little upset, but more at the though that she has done something wrong. She thought it would be nice to surprise him and take him to see something together, she even called Hildy to make sure he was free... has she made a mistake? It's spoken genuinely, but it's a trap all the same: Pete isn't happy about this assumption she can just push herself into his working life, but he also can't say,"Yes, wanting to surprise me and spend time with me was a mistake!" So he apologizes, assures her spending lunch together will be a pleasure, and pulls on his coat to leave with her.

As they are about to walk out though, Don Draper and Peggy Olson are coming the other way, so he is quick to introduce his wife. Don is as charming as always, greeting Trudy and talking up Pete's importance and value to the firm. Peggy meanwhile takes in her "rival" for the first time, the woman who has the man she for some unfathomable reason has decided she wants for herself. Pete has the conscience to feel at least a little awkward at the two being so close together, and retreats to safer ground by insisting he is the one who is lucky to have Trudy and not the other way around. Don is just a little too quick to agree to that, and just a little too quick to agree to Trudy's insistence that she loves having Pete around more than the Sterling Cooper firm does. He and Peggy leave, and Trudy gushes over what a nice man that Don Draper is, nothing like she thought. Pete, of course, read between the lines, and leaves feeling snubbed and offended.



The surprise that Trudy wanted to show Pete is an apartment at 799 Park Avenue. 1500 square feet, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a terrace plus a maid's room (for a very small maid), and on the market for 32k though the realtor thinks they could get it for 30. Pete is amused but quick to remind her of mathematical reality (with a little condescending, paternalistic aside that she isn't good at it), he is paid a good salary for his position but it still only works out to $75 a week. If they were to get a mortgage, they'd still need a 10% deposit and that would be an entire year of his salary, which is money they simply don't have.

P.S - 30k in 1960 is the equivalent of 260k in 2020, but in 2020 the 2 bedroom apartments at 799 Park Avenue start at 2.5 million and quickly go up from there.

But Trudy is a woman who is used to getting her way. Not in a strident, tantrum throwing way, but in a sweet smile and gentle explanation way. Sure he only makes $3500 a year now, but that won't be forever, he'll be making more at Sterling Cooper soon she's sure. Besides, it's not like they would be taking this all on alone, they're a young couple in need of a little help is all, and there is help to be had from those who love them. Charmed by her obvious and complete faith in him, he allows himself to be convinced to consider taking on a monstrously expensive weight he cannot lift.

Don leaves a meeting in the Art Department where he has been watching a television commercial produced for the Menken account, and encounters Paul coming the other way, escorting Rachel Menken from their own meeting. It's an awkward moment for them all, including Paul who can clearly sense there is something going on here. Rachel compliments Paul on being the perfect choice to spearhead her account, and he takes the opportunity to get out of there, offering to "let" Don be the one to escort her from the building.

Left alone, Don for once seems awkward with his words. He asks how she is doing and her guard is immediately up, demanding to know what kind of question that is, what does he think he is doing? He apologizes, he doesn't want this tension to be present between them. She softens slightly at that, regretful as she notes that they both know how they would WANT it to be. But there's also a finality in her, she actually smirks as she turns down his offer for lunch together some day, there would be no conceivable reason for them to do that. The implication is clear, if they have no business reason to meet and no personal relationship to pursue, a lunch would only be inviting trouble and pain that neither wants. She leaves, and now Don finds himself in Pete's position: he's been spoken to politely and kindly, and left feeling wounded.

Early in the evening, Betty Draper is reading Sally and Bobby bedtime stories from Nursery Friends from France. Sally would like another story from the book but Betty, loving and kind but also firm, is having none of it and tells her that daddy will see her in the morning, giving her something to look forward to and encourage her to sleep.

She takes the dog, Polly, for a walk through the quiet suburban street before it gets too dark. Polly is eager but Betty finds herself and the pleasant neighborhood disturbed by an intruder. A man is standing on Helen Bishop's door, hammering on her door and demanding to be let inside. She tries to move on, but he spots her and calls out to her, not letting her get away with pretending not to see or hear him. He asks to use her phone, explaining that he is Helen's husband and is here to see his children, but she is pretending not to be home even though he just called a few minutes earlier from the gas station.

He actually has the temerity to not only be surprised but offended when Betty rejects his request. More polite than he deserves, Betty explains that while she is sure he is who he claims to be, she also isn't about to let a strange man into her home. Turning around, she hurriedly walks Polly back the other way, Mr. Bishop staring after her in disbelief at how the world has gone topsy-turvy... women keep saying no to him! A man!



Later in the evening, the Drapers' doorbell rings. It's Helen, of course, and like her husband she doesn't let Betty pretend ignorance when she apologizes for the scene earlier. She doesn't have time for polite, pretended blindness to her humiliation, explaining that she saw Betty talking to her ex-husband outside the home while she was hiding away inside. She admits she ended up letting him inside after all, and goes so far as to say he isn't a bad man, almost apologetic that she created a scenario where Betty might have thought he was crazy.

Betty pours them both drinks and Helen tries to make light of the situation. He husband - Dan - never spent any time with the children while they were married, burying himself in his life insurance work, but now wants to see them all the time. She jokes that thanks to life insurance, if he does die she's set for life, but Betty doesn't see the humor in it.

Betty asks what happened and Helen seems keen to unload, explaining that all of Dan's various work and social engagements in the city during their marriage were cover for affairs. Betty, feeling intensely uncomfortable, explains she actually meant what happened TODAY when she let him into the house. Helen isn't embarrassed by what she's blurted out though, after all she knows all the neighborhood wives have been gossiping and eager to know. Betty assures her they haven't been speculating on anything, and the uncomfortable moment is thankfully ended by a DIFFERENT uncomfortable moment as Don comes walking in the door.

Clearly tired, he removes his hat and then takes in that his wife has company, Helen Bishop is in the lounge and they're drinking and smoking. He offers a quiet,"Hello" to Helen and a nod to his wife, then is straight up the stairs. Betty explains that he likes to be alone and have complete quiet straight after getting home, lovingly noting how hard he works (kind of like Dan supposedly way all those year?) and Helen sees that as her cue to leave, having left the sleeping kids alone in the house.

The awkwardness continues elsewhere though. Pete is visiting with his family, who are in the tail end of preparations to move to their summer home on Fishers Island. Pete and his father Andrew struggle through small talk regarding the family. His mother, Dorothy, is friendlier, saying how much she is hoping Pete and Trudy will be able to join them on the island during the summer. Pete promises they will try, though admits work may make that difficult, which fires up his father again.

Full of contempt for Pete's career, he declares you can't call what he does work, and it certainly isn't work for a "white man". He sees him at the club, in restaurants, and this is his "work"? Wining, dining and whoring? Dorothy winces at the last word, while Pete sighs and notes he simply will never be able to explain business to his father (one would assume Andrew's experience with "work" is sitting on Boards that never meet and owning a shitload of inherited stock), who clearly wanted his son to become a lawyer.

Trying to turn to more pleasant talk, as well as the real reason for his visit, he tells his pleased mother that he and Trudy have actually found an apartment they're considering buying. This even gets Andrew off his case for a moment as he and his wife mildly debate exactly what block of the city "falls off" from civilization. Dorothy insists that 83rd and Park is a fine area, and Pete agrees... which means it is also an expensive one. Which is why he and Trudy need help. He says the last firmly, staring right at his father and challenging him to disagree.

Disagree he does, though. Andrew Campbell simply considers for a moment and then declares with finality that they will not help him financially to buy an apartment for he and his new wife. Pete struggles to maintain his composure, asking why, and all he gets back from his father is that he doesn't think it is a good idea. Losing his cool a little now, Pete reminds him that he didn't seem to mind paying money to get Bud (a brother?) out of trouble when he hit a girl on a bike in Montauk, but helping his son make a down-payment on a home for his wife is a problem?

Dorothy, a fastidious woman, is straight out of the room at this unpleasant reminder of something she would clearly prefer to remain swept under the rug. That leaves Pete and his father alone, with Andrew complaining about Pete's lack of manners and dismissing his assurance he'd pay him back, saying it isn't about the money and know sit. Pete slams his glass down on the table (and not on the coaster Dorothy specifically went out of her way to place there) and demands to know why "you people" are always so reluctant to give him anything. Andrew, with the smug assurance of somebody who has had everything his way his entire life and somehow believes he deserves it, retorts that they gave him EVERYTHING... because they gave him his name. With a smirk, he asks his son what he has done with this "magnanimous" gift.



That night as Pete prepares for bed, Trudy asks how his visit went. Diplomatically he just mentions that they're hoping they will join them on Fishers Island during the summer, but Trudy just cuts right to the chase: will they help with buying the apartment. Desperate to save face, Pete claims he didn't actually ask, making up health problems for his father that made it unseemly to discuss finances. Trudy to her credit is immediately nothing but concerned, asking what is wrong with Andrew. "Nobody knows" Pete replies finally, as his loving wife kisses and comforts him and he ponders just how the hell he's going to make the money to get her the home she so desperately wants.

The next day he sees his opportunity. Attending a pitch by Don Draper to the owner of Bethlehem Steel, Walter Veith, Pete watches as Don and Salvatore unveil their campaign: Brought to you by Bethlehem Steel. It's a concept for major advertising campaigns in magazines and billboards, ads that highlight the great cities of America and reminds Americans that all these mighty places are built with Bethlehem Steel. Don does a hell of a job selling it, and Veith's immediate objection seems more aimed at the ads borrowing too heavily from WPA ads pre-World War II.

Don assures him these are simply prototypes and can be thrown away in a second (Salvatore swallows this insult uncomfortably), but Veith isn't done complaining. These are ads for cities, not for Bethlehem Steel.. if anything they simply make his company look like a middleman. Don, well practiced at selling his pitches (unless it's a woman disputing his creative ideas) isn't afraid to chide the client on this point, reminding him that steel may be a commodity but it is not something regular consumers have access to: they're selling the potential of Veith's product, the irreplaceable nature of it as a bedrock foundation of America. He even reminds him that 3 months ago they discussed the early genesis of this concept and Walter was highly enthusiastic about it. Except Don gets no help here, because Account Executive Pete has seen the writing on the wall and his own opportunity, and decides to plant himself firmly on Veith's side.

Without openly criticizing his Creative Director, Pete declares that if the client is unhappy then that puts an end to things, and the pitch has been rejected. Don is wide-eyed at this move but forced to stand and smile as Pete lays on his own oozing brand of charm to assure Walter they can have something new for him tomorrow, and it will be their pleasure to put him up at the St Regis for another night and find entertainment for him in the meantime. Veith puts himself across as all business, not interested in tickets to Bye bye, Birdie, but he is willing to give them the extra day.

Pete moves to escort him out but a smiling Don asks Salvatore to do it instead, noting he needs a quick word with Pete who immediately grasps the significance of this statement. Veith as least is nice enough to apologize for making GBS threads on their idea, claiming coming from a small town is maybe why he doesn't get it, and complimenting Salvatore on the prettiness of the pictures. Sal takes this graciously, assuring him it is no insult to be likened to the WPA, whose ads were so highly respected.... 20 years ago.

Left alone, Pete gets a dressing down from Don that he isn't willing to accept. He didn't help push Walter because Walter didn't like the pitch and that was it... he's clearly a guy who needs to see a couple of pitches before he'll accept anything. Don disagrees, he was leaning Walter in his direction and just needed help from Pete to get him over the line. Regardless of which was right, Pete's place wasn't to go against Don anyway. With obvious contempt, he reminds Pete to stay in his lane: his job is to entertain, to take the client out to have fun... he can leave the ideas to Don.

Already smarting from his father's rejection, Pete isn't going to take this from Don Draper. He insists that he has plenty of ideas, good ideas! Words spilling out of him in a heap, he undermines his own point as he brags how he used to carry around a notebook to keep up with all his good ideas, and takes credit for inventing direct marketing before admitting that it turned out it already existed... but he came up with it independent of that! All his life he has been an idea man, but then he came to Sterling Cooper and they told him not to think because he's a people person. Well nobody in his life had ever told him that before, and he's tired of being stuck in a role that he feels doesn't reflect who he is and what he is capable of. He storms out of the room, more a tantrum-prone child than a man standing up for himself. Don doesn't call after him or even really consider his complaints, he feels Pete did a more than adequate job of belittling himself just then... but he is stuck with the clean-up: now he has less than 24 hours to come up with an entirely new advertising campaign after 3 months of work was thrown in the trash.



At home that evening, Don lays on the couch looking through the rejected artwork, a legal notepad on his lap, trying to come up with ideas. Betty is cooking dinner when the phone rings, it's Helen who is making dinner herself and in a bit of a jam. It seems her sitter canceled, and she is meant to be working with the Kennedy Campaign tonight stuffing envelopes, would it be possible for Betty to come over to keep an eye on the children for a few hours. Betty is, quite understandably, surprised at this request, and sensing her hesitation Helen tells her not to worry, she shouldn't have asked. Feeling guilty though, Betty looks at her own children watching television and her husband firmly in place on the couch working and guesses that they could get by without her for a brief time. She says she'll get dinner on the table first and then come over, and a relieved Helen thanks her.

Shortly after she arrives at the Bishop home, where a dressed up Helen apologizes for the mess (the babysitter is ALSO a cleaner) and thanks Betty effusively for coming to her rescue. Glen is playing the piano, which impresses Betty, but Helen snaps at him to stop so he doesn't wake the baby. She reminds him who Betty is and warns him not to do any ironing, which surprises Betty until she explains she pays him 5 cents for each item ironed. As she checks her make-up, Betty can't help but notice how dressed up she is, considers the fact she is divorced, and asks if there will be a lot of men volunteering there too? Helen seems surprised at the thought, agreeing there will be some but noting it is mostly women, then grinning and asking if she's seen Kennedy. Betty can't help but smile herself and agree he is very handsome, but then quickly insists "we" haven't decided who to vote for yet. Helen promises to bring her back campaign literature, reminds Glen to go straight to bed after The Real McCoys and is out the door, leaving Betty alone in a strange house.

Pete and Trudy have dinner with Trudy's parents, and the contrast with his own couldn't be clearer. Tom Vogel is happy, inviting and extremely impressed by Pete's chosen profession, and doesn't dismiss Pete's assurance there is more to the work than martini lunches and getting to see beautiful models. Jeannie Vogel is delighted to hear from Trudy that Pete's Boss was so complimentary of him when he met Trudy, even if Pete awkwardly has to insist that Don isn't technically his Boss. When Trudy announces she has great news, Tom and Jeannie are even happier, clearly thinking it is a pregnancy, which makes a Trudy gasp (happily) before explaining it's not that.

Before Pete can stop her, she is telling them all about the apartment he can't afford. He tries to explain it is out of their price range but they're all already talking past him: it's 30k, it's got two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a terrace, it's in a great part of town etc. To his relief, Tom suddenly grunts that he's not sure about all this... before bursting out laughing, his daughter shining with gratitude at the realization he is going to help them with the down-payment. Pete, desperate for some measure of control, tries to talk him around but finds himself caught between his desire to assert his own will on proceedings and avoid offending his in-laws and upsetting his wife.

Things are made even harder for him when Tom, as different from his father as could be, declares that he is making an investment in Pete because he believes in him, believes in the good husband and provider he will prove to be for Trudy, and has no doubt that Pete will be a wealthy man in his own right soon enough. It is the kind of positive reinforcement his father has never given him, and coupled with his wife's yearning look, he has no choice but to swallow his pride and silently accept the offer.



On the taxi-ride home after dinner, Trudy lays her head on his shoulder, contented beyond her wildest dreams. She knew her parents would help, and she's surprised when she realizes Pete is upset with her, even more-so when he complains he doesn't know what accepting this money from her father is going to mean about his relationship with him, and whether they'll truly be able to consider the place truly theirs. She laughs that off, her parents aren't like that, and it makes her father feel good to help them which is all that should matter. Bitterly he complains that it was different taking money from his parents because that is HIS money, or will be eventually. But he can't deny her turning her own logic against him: so then she was just taking money that would eventually be hers, too. The important thing is they got what they wanted: the apartment. "You always get what you want, don't you?" he pouts, and again she completely undercuts him when she reminds him that what she wanted was him.

He wants to stay angry with her but he can't, but just when it seems they might have reached an equilibrium, she asks the driver to take them up Park along their way. Grumpily he reminds her that while she's going home, he has to go meet an important client to entertain him ahead of their meeting tomorrow. She ignores his protests though, shushing him with a laugh that this won't take long. Once again he finds his thoughts and feelings secondary, rejected by a loved one who simply thinks they know what is best for him better than he knows himself. The only difference is, his father does it callously while his wife does it out of love.

Betty sits on the opposite end of the couch to a pajama-wearing Glen watching The Real McCoys. He keeps casting little looks her way as she smokes, and she excuses herself to use the bathroom. Once inside, she can't help but have a little peek in spite of her insistence she wasn't one of the gossips about Helen's divorcee life. She looks through the bathroom drawers, spotting that Betty has a case for birth control pills. Finally she uses the toilet, pulling down her panties and settling down on the seat... at which point she sees a shadow at the door and a turning knob. She calls out that she's inside, but the door opens and Glen is just standing there, staring at her without saying a thing as she yells at him to close the door. Getting to her feet and awkwardly waddling over, she closes the door on him, demanding to know what is wrong with him.

Back in the lounge, Glen continues to blank-faced watch the television. Betty returns, furious, and shuts it off. She wants an apology from him, but he just stares at the ground. Sitting down next to him, she makes him look at her and angrily reminds him the bathroom is a private place and is wrong to enter it when somebody else is inside. She makes him apologize and finally he stammers out the words, wiping a tear from her eye. When she tells him it is okay now, he latches onto her with a hug like a lamprey, surprising but also pleasing her as she sees it purely as a desire for maternal affection. She hugs him back and tells him she isn't angry anymore, but is taken aback when he sits back, stares up at her wide-eyed and declares,"... you're pretty."



Probably no stranger to love-struck looks from the opposite gender, this is still a new one for Betty who isn't quite sure how to respond to a literal child telling her how beautiful she is. She thanks him, tells him he is sweet, and is quick to remind him when he asks how old she is that she is the same age as his mother, a reminder that he should be thinking of her the same way as his mother. She can't help but enjoy the fact she's actually younger than Helen though when Glen tells her she is 32, while Betty herself is 28. He seems confused at the thought of her and his mother being the same though, pointing out that Betty has beautiful hair and looks like a princess. Again, Betty is flattered if a little weirded out, and then things go into overdrive as he asks her if he can have some: he wants a lock of her hair.

She says no, of course, but he is insistent, he just wants a little piece, she won't even miss it! Against her better judgement she decides this creepy request is harmless, takes some scissors from the ironing board and cuts a tiny lock of hair away. She hands it to him and he cups it in his hands with wonder, and is quick to rush straight upstairs to his room when she tells him it is bedtime. She settles on the couch, seemingly satisfied that she has defused a weird situation, when she may in fact have just handed that boy a match to light the roll of dynamite he's got wrapped around his body.

Pete arrives at the bar where two women are waiting. Collecting them, he joins Walter Veith and Ken Cosgrove, all of them pretending to believe the fiction that they're his cousins who he invited along with him for drinks. Walter greets them, taking particular note of the blond calling him "The Man of Steel", but also grunts to Pete as he greets him that "Cousin Wendy" was supposed to be a redhead. No no, Pete assures him smoothly, that's "Cousin Doris" who was unfortunately engaged this evening. Walter grins, he will "make do" with this branch of the family.

They all settle in for drinks, Pete ordering a bottle of champagne and another round of the drinks everybody already has - Pete may not have money of his own, but he has a Sterling Cooper expense account for "entertaining" clients to keep them happy and spending money of their own at the firm: like he told his father, it's all business, albeit one he'll never understand. He can't help himself though, Don's dressing down, the dinner with Trudy's parents, Trudy taking the lead in their relationship (on the matter of the apartment at least) and his own parents disdain.... he has to prove himself a man of his own worth. So he tells a distracted Walter that he's been thinking about the advertising campaign, and he's come up with "The Backbone of America" which he thinks is a real winner. Walter scoffs, he can't believe it... did Don put him up to this? Pete is confused, Walter complaining that he's here to enjoy himself, not be pitched too, and it's wrong of Don to have forced Pete to do this. He tells him to get off the clock (entertaining Walter is literally his job) and goes back to "seducing" Wendy with what he thinks are smooth lines. All the time, Pete stews in his own juices, having been given another fresh reminder that all he is, is a conduit for other people's plans.



Helen returns home where Betty has been reading a Life World Library book on Italy. She lies and tells Helen that everything was nice and quiet and there was no drama like a little boy bursting in on her in the toilet or demanding a lock of her hair. Helen gives her a Kennedy pamphlet as promised, and thanks her again for coming through and promises to return the favor some day. Betty assures her it was no problem and is out the door.

She returns home where Don is asleep in bed, notepad on his lap having worked his entire evening away. The best he could come up with was a deviation of the original "Brought to you by..." idea, using the same imagery but now calling each city "Oh little town of Bethlehem". Salvatore has rushed out the art and is clearly not happy about it, while Don struggles to sell this warmed over idea that Walter already rejected. To the surprise of all though, Walter compliments Don on doing such a great job of selling an idea he clearly isn't behind, and tells him to run with the other idea instead. What other idea? Why the one he forced poor little Pete Campbell to ambush him with last night of course! The Backbone of America idea!

Salvatore has no idea what they're talking about and neither does Don, but when Walter notes that what really impressed him was that Don's enthusiasm got him to put Pete to pitch it to him over drinks, Don is quick to agree and take the credit. But he also stares a hole through Pete, who can't control the sloppy smile on his face as he takes notes while reveling in the confirmation of what he has always believed: he has good ideas!

The meeting over, they bid Walter a fond farewell as he shakes Pete's hand warmly and admits that New York is starting to grow on him. With him gone though, the shield between Pete and Don is also absent. Don offers an acid-tipped "Nice work" and Pete completely fails to read the room, smugly reminding him that he told him he had good ideas. "Enjoy it," agrees Don, and Pete stumbles again by deciding to get angry himself, reminding Don that it was his good idea but that Don got the compliment for it. That's enough for Don, who might have possibly been able to get over the humiliation if Pete had been apologetic or at least bothered to offer an explanation for overstepping his bounds as an Account Executive. He didn't though, so Don takes a puff of his cigarette, looks through his files, then calmly tells Pete to go get a cardboard box and pack his things into it. He walks out of the room, and a delighted Salvatore drinks in the dawning horror on Pete's face, gleefully telling him he chose the wrong time to buy an apartment.



In a daze, Pete staggers back to his office where Ken and Harry are enjoying listening to Bob Newhart again. He screams at them to get out, and tosses the album out after them. The secretaries, including Hildy, take note of the tantrum, but don't think much of it, just simply go back to their work.

Meanwhile, Don hasn't exactly overstepped his own authority, but he knows this decision can't go through purely on his say-so. Luckily he has an excellent working relationship with Roger Sterling, and when he storms into his office and tells him Pete finishes TODAY and explains that while Don himself was working through the night to fix a pitch that Pete helped sabotage, Pete himself was pitching to a client over drinks... and to make matters worse, Pete was pitching his own copy, not anything approved by the agency. That is more than enough for Roger, who snarls out a,"That little poo poo." He is completely onboard with Don: Pete Campbell has to go.

In what will soon NOT be his office, Pete pours a large drink and knocks it back. Seating on the couch, he fights the tears welling in his eyes, the realization that he has failed, that his father was right and he has botched everything that his family's name opened a door for him. He has failed his wife, who loves and trusts him implicitly but also has wants he was already struggling to fulfill. He is a failure.

Feeling less like a failure is Betty Draper, who attends another private and confidential therapy session with a therapist who will be sharing every word she says with her husband at Don's convenience. She talks about Helen's situation, about her poor boy who is clearly in need of a more present mother, about the clear pity she feels for Helen... though she doesn't speak of or is perhaps unaware of the sense of superiority that she feels as a result of this pity.

Roger is a named partner of Sterling Cooper, and in almost every situation what he says, goes. There is however one final hurdle to be cleared before Pete's firing can be finalized: Bertram Cooper. The senior partner has a large office decorated with Japanese art, and not only does he only wear socks in this room, but both Roger and Don have had to remove their own before entering. There is a wonderful, unspoken moment before they enter that must be commented on: Sterling stands roughly Don's height, but when they remove their shoes he suddenly drops a good inch or two. He enters first, and for just the slightest moment Don hesitates, looking down at the shoes, aware for the first time that Sterling wears lifts.

Inside the room, Roger takes a moment to bow slightly before a shrine(?), noting a picture of himself as a child on the older Cooper's knee. The meeting is not unexpected, they called ahead to let him know it was regarding Pete Campbell, and he's all ears. They explain the situation, the untenable breach of protocol, and remind a doubtful Cooper that there can be no disagreement here, there are some rules that aren't broken. Cooper, however, reminds them that this is true only when there aren't other rules that also have to be taken into account.



Because Andrew Campbell wasn't wrong. Pete Campbell works at Sterling Cooper not because he's a people person or he has ideas, but because he's a Campbell. His mother is Dorothy Dykeman-Campbell, and her family owned giant swathes of Manhattan back when it was New Amsterdam (hence the episode title). They don't own those giant swathes any more because they sold up in a panic back in the 1929 crash, but they're still an enormously wealthy family with a name that opens all kinds of doors. Cooper doesn't particularly care for Pete or have any concern for if he stays or goes... but what he does feel concern about is Dorothy Dykeman-Campbell summering at Fishers Island with the other powerful dynasties and complaining about Sterling Cooper. What he cares about is that Pete working for him opens doors to High Society that benefit Sterling Cooper immensely, and those same doors being closed will hurt it even more.

Don is horrified of course, because even if Pete himself is not the reason why, this means that they value a talentless (to his mind) junior accounting executive over their own Creative Director. Cooper is amused at the notion, pointing out that there is a Pete Campbell at every large business firm in America, the sons of dynasties who use their names to keep their children engaged or feeling valued. Don complains they should get one of the other ones then, but Cooper knows he already has him, especially with Roger having clearly jumped immediately to Cooper's side when he grasped the significance of the situation. Now its just about sweetening the medicine being forced down Don's throat.

Together they tag team him, reminding Don that there can be no doubt of the high esteem both Roger and he have for him... but that they're also both aware that unlike Pete he is an adult. They know he will get over this, he has the maturity and self-esteem to swallow his pride and accept he cannot be rid of Pete Campbell, and that Sterling Cooper will continue to make sure Don is amply compensated for the trouble. Don swallows it, forcing himself to thank Cooper for the lesson, and he and Roger leave as Cooper returns to his desk and the important work he was doing before they arrived... cleaning his nails and whistling This Old Man.

Pete has gathered his things in a cardboard box, a sad reminder of the ease with which an entire career can be consolidated into a single small space. Laying on the couch, half drunk, he leaps to his feet as Roger Sterling bursts in followed by Don Draper. His lifts restored, Sterling looks down on Pete figuratively and literally as he snarls at him that he wants him to know that he was fired, that he personally wanted him gone and they even took it to Cooper who wanted him gone as well.... but then Don Draper spoke on his behalf. Pete is stunned, as is Don who at least has the sense to hide it. Sterling rants that Pete is from a generation who went to college instead of serving in the army, but he has to accept that Don is his commanding officer and do exactly what he tells him. He has to always remember that his continued employment is only at Don Draper's largess.



Stammering, in disbelief, too shocked (and drunk) to stop and think for a second that it was Don who wanted him fired in the first place, Pete can only gasp out thanks to both Roger and Don for the second chance, promising Don he won't let him down. Roger is disgusted by that too, telling him this is never something you say out loud. With that out of the way he leaves, Don leaving and taking a moment to fix Pete with a pointed,"You loving idiot" look before going. He swallowed a bitter pill at Roger and Cooper's request, and now Roger has made up for it by selling Pete on the lie that it was Don who saved him. It's a clever bit of management, not only is Pete grateful to Don, he's in utter fear of Sterling. Plus Don himself will be grateful to Sterling for not forcing him to swallow his pride and tell Pete he got to stay. It's a win-win for everybody, even Pete who collapses back onto his couch once they are gone. He's gone from the highest highs to the lowest lows in a couple of hours, and now somehow he's been pulled back from the brink to be satisfied and grateful for being back in the position he initially wanted so badly to get out of.

Now THAT is how you sell something!

With humiliation avoided narrowly, Don and Roger retire to Don's office for a drink and to calm their nerves. Don's nerves at least, Roger complains that Don's generation (The Silent Generation) drink for all the wrong reasons: to calm nerves or deal with problems. His generation (The Greatest Generation) drink because it's good, because they deserve it, and because it's what men do! He thinks Don's generation are too caught up in their feelings, in doom and gloom and licking imaginary wounds. He also, however, admits that every generation probably thinks the next are the worst, and that you could probably go back to Biblical times and find adults complaining about kids these days.

Theirs is an amicable, friendly relationship with mutual respect, but Don - perhaps still smarting a little despite his gratitude for Sterling's cover - makes a dangerous move by commenting that he isn't as content to be powerless as Sterling is. Roger lets that sink in for a moment and then asks a dangerous question back,"Pardon?", daring Don to repeat himself. It's a clear reference to Cooper as senior partner running the entire show, of how quickly Roger capitulated when Cooper declared Pete Campbell was to stay.

Don is smart enough to realize his mistake and not repeat himself, and Roger lets it slide, though not without a warning: it is pointless to try and compete with Pete. Don thinks the idea he is competing with that little twerp is ridiculous, but Roger notes he didn't mean with Pete on a personal level, but for the world. He doesn't elaborate, but the meaning seems clear: Pete has his whole life in front of him still. In his mid-twenties, a college education, newly married, an apartment in a nice part of town, the senior partner of the firm looking out for him. Don Draper has been master of his world for so long that seeing a younger man who will one day have it all instead can't help but rankle, or at the very least remind him that his own prime is no longer ahead of him.



Pete and Trudy are looking about the apartment with the realtor when Trudy's parents arrive, joined by Mrs. Clifford Lyman. The latter lives in the building too and is a member of the Co-Op board, and this neighborly greeting is also a chance for her to take their measure and decide if the board will allow them to purchase. Pete shakes Tom's hand and thanks him again for helping make the down payment possible, and Tom again warns him that this is not something he needs to keep thanking him for.

Trudy greets Mrs. Lyman and Pete comes over to say hello too, and she admits sheepishly that she's intrigued by the story Trudy's mother told her about Pete's Great-Great-Grandfather... did he really farm with Isaac Roosevelt? A little unsettled, he keeps his smile on and agrees this was true, but Jeannie wants to keep pushing: it was Nicholas Dykeman, right? Indeed, agrees Trudy, who even knows exactly where Nicholas is buried. Lyman is thrilled, noting that she can't wait to tell her husband that a Dykeman will be living in the building. Pete lets it wash over him, yet another reminder that these doors open to him because of his family and nothing else. Tom's money let them make the down-payment, but it is his family name that makes the co-op board so eager to welcome them, and probably what helped drop the price from 32k to 30k in the first place.

Trudy giggles and asks him to tell the story of his Great-Great Aunt getting into a fight with a British soldier and a Hessian. Only willing to capitulate so far, Pete forces himself to be all smiles as he sweetly insists she tell the story because she does it so much better than him. Trudy needs no further prompting, launching into the tale for the fascinated social climbers who put so much status in his family's name.

As they walk together to run through the story, Pete walks to the window and stares back at the group, feeling as much an outsider here in his new home with his wife and in-laws as he ever has at Sterling Cooper or with his own family. He looks out the window over the beautiful view of Manhattan, a man in an admirable position of status and influence and feeling like he has earned none of it. It is a remarkable achievement of this remarkable episode - so much better than the previous - that somehow a character as disgusting as Pete Campbell has come across as... well, not sympathetic perhaps, but understandable. He is still an arrogant, smug prick with severe woman issues but in less than 3 episodes I have gone from detesting him to, well, pitying him.



With his upbringing, his family, and a city and society willing to excuse any mistake he made... is it any surprise he turned out the way he did?

Episode Index

Jerusalem fucked around with this message at 12:36 on Oct 4, 2020

GoutPatrol
Oct 17, 2009

Coal Jobs for the Coal God


Man I forgot how creepy Glen was. The cherry on top of that being played by Matthew Weiner's kid. Just a charisma black hole whenever he shows up.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


The look on Betty's face when he asks for the lock of hair is amazing, you can practically hear the alarm bells ringing wildly in her head. I had no idea that was Weiner's kid, that must be a mindfuck - "Hey son, I need somebody to play a creepy kid and I immediately thought of you!"

Yoshi Wins
Jul 14, 2013


I like Glen and I like the way Weinerís kid plays him. Though I do think itís weird that Weiner cast his son for that role.

Escobarbarian
Jun 18, 2004




Grimey Drawer

Ugh these reviews are so good!! Pete is such a great character and his rant in this episode is hilarious.

JethroMcB
Jan 23, 2004

We're normal now.
We love your family.


"Direct marketing? I came up with that!

Turns out it already existed... But I arrived at it independently!"


The first great Pete Campbell tantrum

Escobarbarian
Jun 18, 2004




Grimey Drawer

Him saying nobody ever told him heís good with people before is such an amazing self-own too

lurker2006
Jul 30, 2019


Yoshi Wins posted:

I like Glen and I like the way Weinerís kid plays him. Though I do think itís weird that Weiner cast his son for that role.
He was ok at the level of a 7-10 year old but he was not up to the task of playing a high-schooler.

Yoshi Wins
Jul 14, 2013


Escobarbarian posted:

Him saying nobody ever told him heís good with people before is such an amazing self-own too

Great moment! Itís the first time on the show that I feel sympathy for Pete. He knows everyone thinks heís a weasel and now if he wants a really successful career, he has to network for a living.

Of course, itís a bit generous to be sympathetic to him for this. His name resulted in him being handed a job with a great career track. Thatís more than most people get. If he doesnít like it, he can quit and get an entry level creative job with some small firm that doesnít know his connections. But obviously he wonít do that, since his entitlement is such a powerful driving force for him. This may not be the job he thinks he wants, but itís the highest status job that someone would hand him, so here he is.

I still feel a bit bad for him when he says that line, though, because itís just sad for any person to feel like no one likes them on a personal level. Thatís why Donís monologue in the pilot about how no one will like Pete cuts him deeply. He knows that Don has him pegged.

Xealot
Nov 25, 2002

Showdown in the Galaxy Era.



Yoshi Wins posted:

I still feel a bit bad for him when he says that line, though, because itís just sad for any person to feel like no one likes them on a personal level. Thatís why Donís monologue in the pilot about how no one will like Pete cuts him deeply. He knows that Don has him pegged.

Yeah, you feel bad for him in the moment, but then he continues choosing to be terrible and selfish. It makes sense that Don would have such an instant dislike of him, because he's the antithesis of Don: a talentless social climber who leans on his name to achieve everything. For better or worse, Don is the epitome of a "bootstraps" success story. Meanwhile, Pete was born into everything and does nothing but complain about how he deserves more. That must be so repellant to someone like Don.

Pete's extreme fragility makes his relationship with Peggy make so much sense, though. Because she's the only person naive enough to actually be impressed by him. I think it's true that everyone who matters at Sterling-Cooper sees right through Pete...they tolerate him at best but nobody particularly likes him. But then there's Peggy, this rube from Brooklyn who's actually taken-in by his pretensions of status or importance. The scene where he waxes poetic about his romantic fantasy of killing a deer for his frontier wife is so cringy, and the fact it turns Peggy on is ludicrous. But it also makes the later scene - where Peggy tells him, "I had your baby, and I gave it away" - so effective. Eventually, even she comes to see him for what he actually is, which is equal parts devastating for Pete and intensely cathartic for Peggy.

I guess I'm kind of a sadist when it comes to Pete Campbell, though. A lot of my favorite moments involve him having a bad time. Perhaps my favorite episode of the show in general is S5E05 "Signal 30," a flawless takedown of the paper-thin masculine insecurity that defines every single problem Pete Campbell has. It's just a rock-solid episode.

banned from Starbucks
Jul 18, 2004






How does Pete only make $75 a week when the dumpy guy makes $200 and ken makes $300? Arent they all the same position? Is it just because he's there for his name and they feel like they can take advantage of him without him knowing better?

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Escobarbarian posted:

Him saying nobody ever told him heís good with people before is such an amazing self-own too

I love how he seems to think he's really given it to Don with that line too. He walks so angrily but triumphantly out the door, you can tell he's thinking,"Man I was really impressive in there!"

Hamm's acting during the scene where Cooper and Sterling force him to swallow his pride is so good too. He's far more adult than Pete but you can see how devastated he is trying not to feel when he says,"He means more to the Agency than I do." Like, it really hurts him to think that Pete might be considered more valuable than he is.

JethroMcB
Jan 23, 2004

We're normal now.
We love your family.


I hate that this thread is going to become 50% spoiler tags, but relish the ability to talk about the show. A conundrum.

Escobarbarian posted:

Him saying nobody ever told him he’s good with people before is such an amazing self-own too

See, I think that's Pete's first real moment of self-awareness. He knows who he is, he knows his role in the company. He's willing to admit it to Don, but only in an effort to get under his skin.

Xealot posted:

I guess I'm kind of a sadist when it comes to Pete Campbell, though. A lot of my favorite moments involve him having a bad time. Perhaps my favorite episode of the show in general is S5E05 "Signal 30," a flawless takedown of the paper-thin masculine insecurity that defines every single problem Pete Campbell has. It's just a rock-solid episode.

Signal 30 is fantastic; it sets the tone that makes the "Some...temporary bandage on a permanent wound." monologue at the end of the season such a revelation. He's not just a grimy little pimp, but a grimy little pimp with real and believable motivations as to why he's so terrible.

Escobarbarian
Jun 18, 2004




Grimey Drawer

Season 5 is probably my favourite season tbh, just barely edging out 4.

God Hole
Mar 2, 2016


so, just to be clear, jerusalem reads all these and is doing a blind watch

as a thread will we also be nominating x season as the best one, and y as the worst? and casually describing a character's entire arc in a single sentence? should we consider spoiler tagging those too?

Escobarbarian
Jun 18, 2004




Grimey Drawer

Funnily enough if I was gonna get into my proper season rankings I was gonna spoiler tag it but I donít think just saying ďI personally like this one the mostĒ counts!

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Knowing that as good as the show gets, I can look forward to season 4 and 5 being even better is a-ok by me

God Hole
Mar 2, 2016


Escobarbarian posted:

Funnily enough if I was gonna get into my proper season rankings I was gonna spoiler tag it but I donít think just saying ďI personally like this one the mostĒ counts!

the ranking of the seasons is a beloved tradition of all tviv threads

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Also I had no goddamn idea that Alison Brie was in this show! For like the first half of New Amsterdam I kept thinking,"She looks really familiar, but I can't remember her name because I keep thinking of Alison Brie instead" until finally I looked it up and welp, it's Alison Brie!

Escobarbarian
Jun 18, 2004




Grimey Drawer

Yep!! When Community started she was ďPeteís wife from Mad MenĒ to me

Xealot
Nov 25, 2002

Showdown in the Galaxy Era.



Jerusalem posted:

Knowing that as good as the show gets, I can look forward to season 4 and 5 being even better is a-ok by me

Season 5 is my favorite, but honestly this is one of very few shows that I think is great the whole time. There are seasons I like more, but there are none I dislike.

And from my perspective, it has one of the best and most satisfying series finales Iíve ever seen. If youíre concerned it spirals out or loses the thread from earlier seasons, it doesnít.

GoutPatrol
Oct 17, 2009

Coal Jobs for the Coal God


Escobarbarian posted:

Season 5 is probably my favourite season tbh, just barely edging out 4.

4 is my favorite.

I tend to think of this show in 3 arcs. Seasons 1-3 the show feels more like the 50s to me, and it kinda fits with the idea that "the 60s don't really start until Kennedy dies." 4-6 are like the 60s, through the Summer of Love and when the protests all get going. Season 7 is like the beginning of the 70s - after the 60s burnout and the start of something new, even if it still technically starts in the late 60s

Escobarbarian
Jun 18, 2004




Grimey Drawer

GoutPatrol posted:

4 is my favorite.

I tend to think of this show in 3 arcs. Seasons 1-3 the show feels more like the 50s to me, and it kinda fits with the idea that "the 60s don't really start until Kennedy dies." 4-6 are like the 60s, through the Summer of Love and when the protests all get going. Season 7 is like the beginning of the 70s - after the 60s burnout and the start of something new, even if it still technically starts in the late 60s

Totally agreed with this. I also think (Jerusalem donít read this seriously!) that 2 and 3 are probably the weakest seasons - theyíre still great, especially 2, but I definitely had somewhat of a sense of it treading water. Then the s3 finale comes and gives the show a huge kick in the rear end and those changes really propel it to all-timer status for me. 6 also has a repetition feel at times but the difference is that itís 100% intentional in that case imo

Forktoss
Feb 13, 2012

I'm OK, you're so-so

I'm so glad you're doing this, Jerusalem! I'm fresh off my second or third rewatch, so it's going to be really interesting reading you go through it blind with the whole arc of the thing still pretty clear in my memory. Your Sopranos writeups were top-notch and so far these have been just as good, great work.

Jerusalem posted:

Also I had no goddamn idea that Alison Brie was in this show! For like the first half of New Amsterdam I kept thinking,"She looks really familiar, but I can't remember her name because I keep thinking of Alison Brie instead" until finally I looked it up and welp, it's Alison Brie!

It's so weird, when we started our latest watchthrough my girlfriend said "I didn't remember Pete's wife was also the woman in GLOW" and I was like "No it's not, the one in GLOW is Alison Brie and this is... also Alison Brie."

Escobarbarian posted:

Totally agreed with this. I also think (Jerusalem don’t read this seriously!) that 2 and 3 are probably the weakest seasons - they’re still great, especially 2, but I definitely had somewhat of a sense of it treading water. Then the s3 finale comes and gives the show a huge kick in the rear end and those changes really propel it to all-timer status for me. 6 also has a repetition feel at times but the difference is that it’s 100% intentional in that case imo

This is exactly how I've always seen it as well. Seasons 1-3 feel almost like one big season that's starting to get the slightest bit stale towards the end, and then the changeover to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce gives it a massive jolt of energy that carries it pretty much all the way to Season 7.

BrotherJayne
Nov 27, 2019

Cum Catapultae Proscriptae Erunt Tum Soli Proscripti Catapultas Habebunt


OH gently caress YESSSSSS

Azhais
Feb 5, 2007


Switchblade Switcharoo

Mad Men is one of those odd shows where I watched it every week as it came out, liked it, but other than one pitch at the end of season one I neither remember anything about it nor have any desire to rewatch it.

Mostly watching this thread to see what Jerusalem has to say about the aforementioned scene.

Ainsley McTree
Feb 19, 2004




Same, yeah; I watched this show pretty religiously when it was on, but at this point I couldn't really recall the arc of any single season, it just feels like one long show to me. I tried to do a rewatch at one point but kind of lost steam early in season one. Fortunately, Jerusalem's recaps are thorough and insightful enough that following the thread will scratch the itch!

Shageletic
Jul 25, 2007






Gaius Marius posted:

drat I was planning on watching along, but I'm already half way through season 2. Having the discipline to only watch an episode at a time is something I clearly lack.

Hobo code was pretty goodI was really surprised how much of the things that happened in season six and seven were set up by the first season.

You wanna get more into this, of course with spoilers.

lurker2006
Jul 30, 2019


Ainsley McTree posted:

Same, yeah; I watched this show pretty religiously when it was on, but at this point I couldn't really recall the arc of any single season, it just feels like one long show to me. I tried to do a rewatch at one point but kind of lost steam early in season one. Fortunately, Jerusalem's recaps are thorough and insightful enough that following the thread will scratch the itch!

I remember a lot of the side character stuff losing me completely around the time Peggy got a beatnik boyfriend, just felt like an obligation they were carrying before they could get back to the Don A plot at a certain point.

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Yoshi Wins
Jul 14, 2013


I've rewatched Mad Men more times than I can count, and I think season 1, which I liked a lot on my first viewing, isn't so great to rewatch. There are a few reasons for this.
-As the show goes on, the complexities of the relationships between the characters deepen, which makes later seasons more rewarding to rewatch as you pick up on subtleties in interactions that you missed before.
-Season 1 is partially built around the mystery of "Who is Don Draper?", and naturally those parts aren't as engaging on a rewatch,
-and Some of the characters, while deeply flawed in every season, are in my opinion bigger assholes in season 1. I find Don and Joan more sympathetic in the other seasons. Pete remains a jerk, but at least he starts working hard in later seasons. I find them a bit too hard to get invested in, on a rewatch. Also, the show gets MUCH, MUCH FUNNIER. There are simply a lot more jokes written into the scripts in later seasons, and the laughs are excellent. The show misses the comic relief when it's largely absent from season 1.

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