Mad Men: “The Grown Ups”

This episode begins with Pete asleep on the sofa in his office. Hildy, in a heavy coat and mittens, wakes him up with hot cocoa. It seems that the heat is off in the building. Pete complains that the cocoa is instant; Hildy says that it’s from the diner and asks how he can tell. He says that it’s made with water, not milk. Hildy also says that Lane wants to see him in his office. Pete, obviously annoyed by the lack of heat, apologizes to Hildy and says that the cocoa is helping.

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Inside Lane’s office, Pete gets the bad news: Ken Cosgrove is being made “senior vice president in charge of account services”, while Pete is being made “head of account management”. When Pete asks why the decision was made the way it was, Lane says that Pete has excelled at making the clients feel that their needs are being met, but that Ken makes them feel as if they have no needs. Lane says that they’ve upgraded his title so he won’t feel so bad. When Pete asks if Roger and Bert know about this, Lane says that it’s been done “under my authority”. Pete walks back to his office, dejected, and sees a carefree Ken helping an office girl with a space heater under her desk. Pete walks into his office, grabs his briefcase and walks out. When Hildy asks where he’s going, he says that he “doesn’t feel well”.

Down in the lobby, we see Peggy walking back from lunch with her roommate, Karen. Peggy says that she doesn’t understand why they should go to a lunch counter, when she could just eat at her desk. Karen says that they can get drinks at the lunch counter. Peggy says that she can drink at her desk and save $1.25. Karen apologizes for not being “as stimulating” a lunch companion as “Doug” (which Peggy corrects to “Duck”). Karen says that she doesn’t like his aftershave, because she can smell it after he leaves. Peggy asks what’s wrong with him, and Karen says that there’s nothing wrong with him, she’s just down on men right now. Peggy says that it’s good that Karen is “being picky finally” about her men. Karen laments than all the men around seem to be married; Peggy says that Duck isn’t married. Karen then asks why she’s with him then. The elevator doors finally open, and a dejected Pete walks out as Peggy and Karen part and Peggy begins the trip up to Sterling Cooper.

We next see Mona and Margaret looking at some jewelry that Jane has sent over. Mona is both appreciative (the piece was expensive) and dismissive (it came from Jane). However, when Margaret starts complaining about Jane’s attempts to befriend her, Mona sides with Jane. When Margaret says that Jane ruined her life, Mona picks a tissue from a box, hands it to her, and says that Roger had a part in it. She also says that Brooks is different from Roger. Margaret starts crying even harder, saying that she shouldn’t get married, and all the signs are pointing to that same conclusion. Margaret says that there won’t be a wedding if Jane comes. Mona says that she will be there, because she’s Roger’s wife and Roger has paid for the wedding. Margaret pouts, and Mona orders her to her room. Margaret is shocked, but Mona says that if she wants to act like a child, she will treat her like one. Margaret calls Roger and whines to him; he asks her to put Mona on the phone. Roger starts ranting about Margaret; Mona puts the phone down and tells Margaret that Roger will talk to Jane and “make” her behave. Roger says that He will cancel the wedding and take the deposits out of Margaret’s inheritance; Mona puts the phone down and asks her, point blank, if she wants to cancel the wedding. Margaret suddenly develops a backbone and says no. Mona tells her to eat something, as she’s not taking Margaret’s dress in again. Alone on the phone, Roger asks Mona if everything is OK. The two laugh and end the conversation.

Roger, who is home after a too-boozy lunch, hangs the phone up and calls out for Jane. He takes her to task for trying too hard with Margaret. Jane is defensive, as she’s only trying to win her over. She says that she’s trying to be the “good person”; Roger says that she’s not a good person because she didn’t listen to him and by doing so she upset Margaret. Jane then stares at Roger for several moments, then says that everything Roger does is “for her” (Margaret) and that she’s his wife. She then starts babbling like the teenage girl she really is, then stops off to the bathroom, where she locks herself in.

Trudy comes home to find Pete sitting at the table and mindlessly eating from a casserole dish. When asked why he’s home, Pete says that he got fired. Trudy asks him to explain, and so Pete tells her that Ken got the promotion to head of accounts and that he was given a nice title but little else. She asks if he lost his temper; Pete says that he didn’t. Trudy is pleased. She then asks if he knows if they really want him to stay. Pete says that he doesn’t. He then tells her to “stop it with the Ellery Queen”. He then says that he’s going to call Duck. Trudy advises him to wait, point out that if Sterling Cooper really wanted to get rid of Pete then would have just fired him. Pete says that Lane said he cares too much about his clients, and he laments how this could be a bad thing. Trudy hugs him, tells him that everything will be OK, then takes the casserole away from him.

Later that night, we see Betty alone in bed. She wakes up to the sound of Eugene crying. She goes to attend to him, only to find Don holding him in the rocking chair. “I though you’d left,” Betty says. “I’m here, ” Don says. She thanks him for looking after Eugene, to which Don says that he’s “done it before”. Betty then tells him to go back to bed. Don asks if she needs anything.

The next morning, we see Peggy and Paul in her office. Peggy takes drink of water, then complains that it’s now too hot in their offices. “You ask for heat, you get heat,” he muses. Peggy then gets a call from Duck, who invited her to a nearby hotel for a “rendezvous”. Peggy, trying to act as if this were a business call, declines. Duck says that it’s “been three weeks” and that room service has a Monte Cristo sandwich she’d like. When Peggy says that she already has lunch plans with Kurt and Smitty, Duck calls them a “couple of homos” and insists that she come. When she says that it’s short notice, Duck says “Come on, Creative… be creative!” and hangs up the phone. Peggy hangs up the phone and tells Paul that she has to go to the printer. “I know a nooner when I hear one”, he jokes. Peggy calls him disgusting.

Pete then walks in to Harry’s office. He sits down and says that the head of accounts job is “going to Kenny and his haircut”. Harry says that he’d heard that. Pete asks him if he can turn off the TV in his office; Harry says that he can’t – instead he gets up and changes the channel. Pete asks if Harry was consulted about the move; he says that he was, but only after the fact. Pete asks Harry what it means. Harry says that it’s not good. Pete says that there’s no future from her at Sterling Cooper. Pete then asks how Harry basically “created” his own job; Harry just said that he looked around and saw that other agencies had TV departments but Sterling Cooper didn’t. Pete says that there’s nothing like that in the accounts field.

Shortly after Harry changes the channel, a “special bulletin” appears on the TV, but Pete and Harry are so “into” their conversation that they don’t notice it.

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Meanwhile, Don walks into Lane’s office to lay into him about rejecting his replacement for Sal. Lane said that he’s just too expensive. Don complains that Sal is gone and that there’s no one in charge of the art department. Lane says that he hasn’t heard of any complaints from clients because of Sal’s absence. Don complains (loudly) about the heat in Lane’s office, then offers to walk him through a typical delivery schedule.

At the hotel, Duck watches Walter Cronkite deliver the news about the shooting of President Kennedy. Cronkite begins to say that Kennedy’s condition is unknown, but just at that moment, Peggy knocks on the door. Duck unplugs the TV to avoid the distraction. He opens the door and invites Peggy in… who immediately asks how much he’s been smoking in the room. He apologizes, and the two kiss.

Back in Lane’s office, Don continues to argue with Lane over the art director hire. To end the conversation, Lane picks up the phone and asks if Don wants to call Saint John Powell. Don looks at him, then says that Bert Cooper still has a say in the office. Don walks out, and Lane’s phone rings immediately. Judging from the look on Lane’s face, it’s big news.

Pete and Harry are still talking in his office when half the agency suddenly walks in. The two resent the intrusion… until Paul says that someone shot the president. Everyone looks at the TV in horror.

Don, returning from Lane’s office, hears dozens of phones ringing at once. He looks at the office and sees a lone secretary on the phone and the others gathered in a prayer circle. He asks what’s going on, but no one replies. Suddenly the phones stop ringing, and the secretary who had been on the phone starts pressing rapidly on the hook, indicating that her call had been disconnected.

At the Draper house, Betty watches the news and smokes. Word has reached the newscasters that Kennedy has died. Just at that moment, Carla walks in with the kids. She asks how Kennedy is, and Betty says that she just heard that he died. The two begin crying. Carla sits on the sofa next to Betty and lights up a cigarette. Sally walks up to Betty and puts her arm around her mother.

Back at the hotel, Peggy asks if Duck gave her a hickey. She hates hickeys. Duck says that he doesn’t think so. He gets up and plugs the TV back in. The two learn that Kennedy is dead. Duck says that he needs to call his kids.

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At the Sterling home, Margaret, in her wedding dress, watches TV and cries hysterically, saying that her wedding is ruined.

Later that evening, Don comes home. Sally and Bobby are alone in front of the TV, watching the news from Dallas. Don asks where Betty is; the kids say that she’s not feeling well. She then walks into the kitchen, crying. Don gives her a hug. He asks her why the kids are watching the news, and Betty asks what she’s supposed to do. Don tells her to take a pill and lie down, and that he’ll take care of the kids. Betty goes upstairs. Don tells the kids to turn the TV off and that he’ll make them some dinner. The kids don’t move. They sit and stare at the TV. Don walks over to them and takes a seat. Don tells them that everything will be OK, that we have a new president, and that everyone will be sad for a while. Bobby asks if they’re going to the funeral. Don, looking hurt by such an innocent question, grabs Bobby and puts him next to him on the sofa. Later that night, he walks into the bedroom and walks to Betty’s side of the bed. He takes one of her pills and goes to sleep.

It’s now Saturday. Don is busy getting ready for Margaret’s wedding, but Betty just sits watching the news in her housecoat with the kids. Don asks why she’s not getting ready, and Betty is incredulous that he’d want to go to the wedding. Watching the news, she notes aloud that Lee Harvey Oswald was only 24 years old. Don again prods Betty to get ready. She asks if he’s sure they’re still having the wedding. Don says that he’s not going to call Roger to ask, and that if it is called off, they’ll get dinner in town. Betty reluctantly goes to get ready, while Don tells the children to stay put until Carla comes.

Back in town, Pete watches TV as Trudy emerges, dressed for the wedding. Pete complains that Lyndon Johnson will be “more of the same”, and that, for a brief second, it seemed like everything might change. Trudy tells him to get his coat and scarf, and although it’s a long way away, she feels like walking there. Pete asks why they’re even going. Trudy says that it’s business, and that Pete should know that. Pete says that it would be one thing to simply go and pretend not to hate everyone there, but how is he supposed to go and pretend that the President of  the United States hasn’t just been murdered? Trudy says that they might cancel it, but that they have to show.

TRUDY: “Have you been drinking?”
PETE: “The whole country is drinking!”

Pete says that Roger won’t cancel the wedding because they’re all happy. He tells Trudy that she wouldn’t believe some of the things that were said yesterday. When Trudy asks for details, Pete only comes up with the lame “JFK made enemies” line, which Trudy nevertheless says is “awful”. Pete says that TV anchor Chet Huntley was talking about Jackie Kennedy and their children, while Harry Crane sat at his desk and did paperwork, trying to figure out how much money Sterling Cooper was losing by the networks not airing commercials. Pete says that he’s not going, and that Trudy can go and say he’s sick if it’s that important to her. She says that she won’t go, and takes her shoes off and snuggles with Pete on the sofa.

We’re then taken to the wedding reception, where it appears than less than half the guests have shown up. Don and Betty engage in some small talk with Jennifer Crane about the phone system being overloaded during the assassination. The bandleader interrupts by saying that the maître d’ has reorganized the seating due to the sparse attendance. He then begins reading off a needlessly complex system where people who were at odd numbered tables should move up to certain tables, while people at even numbered tables should also move. Roger walks up, asks for the microphone and simply tells everyone to move wherever they feel like. He also tells the guests to have both the meat and fish entrees, as there is now plenty to go around. Roger then walks over to the couple’s table and tells Mona that the problem has been solved. Mona says that she just found out that the cake won’t be delivered. Roger swears, grabs Mona’s drink and downs it, then wanders off.

We then see Betty, who’s noticing that Henry Francis has just entered the room. Betty gets a tiny smile on her face, which changes to worry when he walks up to a young, leggy brunette, who kisses him on the cheeks. She watches the couple approach the bride and groom, then lets out a silent sigh of relief when the woman refers to Henry as “Daddy”. Henry (in my opinion, kind of stupidly) says that he “heard the church was packed”, only to be corrected by Margaret, who says that most of them were mourning the president and not there for the wedding. She then tells Henry to sit anywhere he’d like.

Roger, who has been looking for Jane, finds her in the kitchen of the banquet hall. She, along with Harry, Bert, Ken and others, are watching Lee Harvey Oswald talk to reporters on TV. Jane asks how anyone would know what a monster would look like; Harry says that the Times reported that Oswald lived in Russia. Roger walks up and asks Jane what she’s doing. He then snaps his fingers and tells a member of staff to go buy a cake. Roger asks Jane to come out for his toast. She says that she’s heard it a million times and that the president has been murdered. Besides, she adds, there’s no one  at their table. Roger angrily says that he consolidated the tables. Getting no response from Jane, Roger asks Bert to look after her. A couple of moments pass, and Ken says that they should get back to the party. Only Ken and Harry leave the TV, however.

Roger then gives his toast, which is short, sweet and appropriate given the situation. The bandleader then asks Roger and Margaret to have the first dance. Given the sparse attendance and the informality of the event, he also invites anyone else who wants to dance to join in. Don asks Betty if she wants to dance. She says that she doesn’t know, but goes along with Don after he stands up and puts his hand out. Betty is distant with Don, so he tells her that everything will be fine. “How do you know that?” she asks him. He leans in and kisses her. Betty then looks over at Henry, dancing with his daughter. She asks him why he keeps staring at Betty, but he tries to act like he isn’t by looking around at other people.

A little while later, we see Betty returning from the bathroom just before they leave the wedding. Don and Henry are standing right next to each other, but Don’s back is to Henry, so he doesn’t see him. Betty obviously sees the two of them, next to each other:

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We then see Roger carrying a very drunk Jane over his shoulder. He throws her into bed while she drunkenly laments the loss of such a “handsome” president. He takes off her shoes, then loosens his tie. He asks her if she wants him to “cut her out of that dress”, but she is already snoring. Roger then (loudly) tells her that he’s making a phone call. He picks up the receiver and calls Joan at home. The two talk about the assassination, and Roger mentions that Margaret got married that day. He tells Joan that it was a disaster. He then says he can’t believe how quiet it is in New York. Joan disagrees: Greg is working the late shift at the hospital, and he called her to say that people are still getting sick and into car accidents. Roger says that he’s glad that Greg is working because he had to talk to her. He then says that no one is talking about the assassination the “right way”. Joan says the he really is upset about the assassination. Roger, in disbelief, asks what that’s all about. She says it’s because there’s nothing funny about the situation. He then tells her to “hang in there, Red”, and wishes her good night. There is a telling pause as they tell each other bye.

The next morning, Sunday November 24, 1963, Betty watches TV as Lee Harvey Oswald is taken in handcuffs to the Dallas County Jail. Don pours a drink in the kitchen. As Oswald makes his way through the parking garage, a man walks up and shoots him. Betty screams, and Don comes running in to see what has happened. Betty explains, but Don just can’t grasp it. He goes to hug her, but she tells him not to touch her and runs off. Sally, standing in the doorway while all this went down, asks what happened. Don tells her “nothing”, then tells her to go upstairs.

Later we see Don napping on the sofa. Betty wakes him, saying that she wants to take a drive somewhere. Don offers to go with her, but she says that she wants to go alone to clear her head. Don looks hurt.

We then see Henry Francis pull up into a deserted parking lot next to Betty’s Lincoln. He gets in her car. Betty tells him that she’s glad he would see her. Henry asks where Don thinks she is. Betty says that she doesn’t care. She says that she couldn’t be in her house because Don’s been lying to her for years. She says she was glad to see him at the wedding yesterday, and that she didn’t know he would be there. She then mentions Derby Day – when they first met – and says that that day seems like a hundred years ago. She then talks about seeing Oswald shot on TV. She asks Henry what’s happening, and he says that everything will be OK. She says that she wishes she could believe him, but she’s having trouble believing anything right now. Henry asks if she’s thought that there might be “another way” to live. Betty says that she has three children. Henry says that he’ll know more when the campaign starts to shake out, but that he would leave it immediately for her. Betty says that she doesn’t want him to do that. Henry then says that he wants to marry her. Betty says that she doesn’t know what to say. Henry says that if he would search her heart, she’d know that he’d make her happy. The two then kiss. Betty says that she has to go. Henry says that he wishes he could take her to the movies right then, because some theatre is showing her favorite film: Singin’ in the Rain.

At Pete and Trudy’s apartment, Pete rails against the whole system. He notes that there was little security when Oswald was escorted out of the building. “Why even have a trial?” he asks. “Just throw him over to the mob.” Trudy tells him that he’s not going in to work on Monday; Pete agrees, as it is a national day of mourning. She then says that he is going in on Tuesday. But she then says that Sterling Cooper doesn’t care about Pete. When Pete asks her to clarify, Trudy says that he did everything Sterling Cooper asked of him, and that he doesn’t owe them anything. She then says that he should start gathering his clients, and that they’ll follow him anywhere he goes.

Meanwhile, Don is at home, watching the news and sipping on a drink. Betty comes home. He says that Francine has the kids. Betty says that she doesn’t know where to begin. Don asks what she means, and she says

“I want to scream at you for ruining all this. Then you try to fix it and there’s no point. There’s no point, Don.”

Don, thinking that this is mostly because of the assassination, says that she’s just upset and the the feeling will pass. She looks at him and says

“I don’t love you. I kissed you yesterday. I didn’t feel a thing.”

Wow. Don says that she’ll feel better in the morning. Betty says that Don’s not even hearing her. He says that she’s right.

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“I don’t love you anymore.”

We then see Don, alone in their bedroom. He sits in a chair and stares at the floor.

The next morning, Don walks into the kitchen as Betty is finishing making breakfast. He kisses the kids, who notice that their parents don’t interact at all. Not a single word.

At the office, Don sees that Peggy is the only other employee there. He asks what she’s doing, and she says “Aqua-Net”. He looks at the storyboard she’s working on, then asks what else she has. She asks what he’s doing there; he says he’s there because the bars are closed. Peggy says that Karen invited half the building to her apartment for they could watch TV and write condolence letters to Jackie Kennedy. She then says that she went to her sister’s house, but her mother was crying and praying so much there there “wasn’t room” for anyone else to feel anything.

She then says that the funeral has already started, and she asks Don if it’s OK for her to watch it in Bert Cooper’s office. He gives her his permission, but declines to join her. Instead he walks into his office and pours a drink.

NOTES

– Did you catch the rifle in Pete’s office? It’s there when he’s taking the first sips of cocoa.

– It seems that drinks have always been expensive in New York: Karen’s $1.25 lunch drink would cost $8.70 in 2008 dollars.

Van Cleef & Arpels is a French jewelry company opened in Paris in 1896 by Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. The company opened its first boutique in the United States in 1942 on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. The company is famous for its “mystery setting”, where no visible “claws” are used to hold the precious gemstones in place. The company’s current and former clients are totally “A-list”: the Duchess of Windsor, Queen Nazli and King Farouk of Egypt, Baron James de Rothschild, Baron Guy de Rothschild, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Liz Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Kristin Scott Thomas, Julia Roberts, Uma Thurman, Diane Kruger, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Coppola, Maria Callas, Annie Lennox, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Barbara Hutton and Jacqueline Kennedy.

– It’s a wedding tradition that the bride wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, and Jane’s jewelry gift tries to cover both the “new” and “blue” bases. This tradition comes from England, where the entire phrase is “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe”. Since sixpence were not minted until 1551, we can assume that the saying is no older than that, although some believe that the “sixpence in her shoe” is an older Scottish custom where the groom put a silver coin in his left shoe for good luck. Although the entire practice is a silly superstition, there’s a kind of logic to it: “something old” denotes a connection to the past, while “something new” looks ahead to the future; “something blue” relates to blue being the color of weddings. “Something borrowed” is a bit more complicated. Some say that you’re supposed to borrow something from a happily married woman, in hopes that their happiness will “spill over” into your own marriage; others think it’s a way to show affection to the borrower. In both cases, the act of borrowing is also supposed to symbolize that you can rely on family and friends for support.

“Bride burning” exists in India and Pakistan, and elsewhere in small numbers in southern Asia, although it’s a bit more complicated than Margaret says. Like most crimes, it’s all about money. The groom’s family will ask for money from the bride’s family (commonly called a dowry), then later ask for more money. If the bride’s family doesn’t come through with the cash, the bride is typically doused in kerosene and set alight. Despite the fact that the Indian government passed the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961 and added bride burning to the definition of domestic violence in 1986, bride burning is actually increasing, rather than declining. In 1995, Time magazine reported that bride burning accounted for around 400 deaths per year in the 1980s; that number leaped to 5,800 a year by the mid 1990s.

– On the phone with Mona, Roger uses the word “copacetic”, which was coined in 1919, although the “golden age” of that particular word would not come for several years.

Ellery Queen was a fictional detective, as well as the pseudonym for the authors who created him. In 1928, two authors – Daniel Nathan (writing under the name Frederic Dannay) and Manford Emanuel Lepofsky (writing under the name Manfred Bennington Lee) – created the character for a fiction contest for McClure’s Magazine. They won the contest, but before their work could be published, McClure’s was sold and the new owners chose another entry as the winner. The authors took their novel to another publisher, and their first book – The Roman Hat Mystery – was published in 1929. The two spent the next 40 years writing mysteries for Queen, who went on to become one of the most famous detectives in American literary history. Many critics believe that Ellery Queen is second to only Edgar Allen Poe in the history of American detective literature. Many movies, radio shows and television programs were based on Queen’s work, either as Ellery Queen “branded” tales, or using only the stories themselves.

– The Elysee Hotel is a real hotel in New York City. Located at 60 E 54th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues, it really is just around the corner from Sterling Cooper.

– A Monte Cristo sandwich is typically made of turkey, ham and Swiss cheese. The sandwich is usually assembled, then dipped in an egg\milk mixture and pan fried. It is then typically dusted with powdered sugar, and fruit preserves (typically raspberry), honey mustard or maple syrup is served on the side. It is a variation on the classic French Croque-monsieur sandwich.

– It’s interesting that Hildy changed the channel from CBS (and Walter Cronkite) to NBC (and the combo of David Brinkley and Chet Huntley). Although Cronkite’s delivery of the news of Kennedy’s shooting has been seared into the national consciousness thanks to a million documentaries and movies, Brinkley and Huntley actually had better ratings in those days.

– Social mores went out the window when Carla sat down next to Betty and lit up her cigarette. Given the disaster, it’s understandable, but it was still a big deal.

– I like how Sally was right there to give comfort to her mother… who has always done such a horrible job giving comfort to her. Nice touch, Matt Weiner!

– Duck apparently has a Marine Corps tattoo.

– I’m not 100% certain of this, but I’m pretty sure that the man giving the speech on TV at Pete and Trudy’s is West Berlin mayor Willy Brandt. Brandt was mayor of the city from 1957 – 1966, and was in office when the Berlin Wall went up, and during Kennedy’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. Because West Berlin could be considered “ground zero” of the Cold War, Brandt’s otherwise simple status as mayor made him an international figure. Upon hearing of Kennedy’s death, Brandt, who once called Kennedy the “best friend Berliners ever had”, asked West Berliners to put candles in their windows, and publicly said that “a flame went out for all those who had hoped for a just peace and a better life”.

– On a related note, I’d like to thank my parents for paying for such an esoteric college education that I actually knew who Willy Brandt was. Who said political science degrees are useless?

– If you’ll remember, Jennifer Crane works for the phone company. There were, in fact, severe outages of the phone system shortly after news of the assassination hit the news wires. Read this article for more.

– Isn’t Henry some kind of PR person for Governor Rockefeller? WHY would he say something so stupid as “heard the church was packed” to Brooks and Margaret?

– What have I been saying all this time about Roger and Joan? Huh? Huh? All that talk from Annabelle about Roger being “the One” and Roger telling her that she wasn’t “the One” for him… and now he’s calling Joan just because. Uh-huh. I’ll take my $5 now, thank you.

– Betty and Henry meet in the parking lot behind “White Plains Shoe Repair”. White Plains is only around 20 minutes away from Ossining.

– What in the HELL are Betty and Henry up to? Have they been talking on the phone or exchanging letters all this time? The last we saw Henry, Betty was throwing a lockbox at him and turning down his advances… and now they’re talking about getting married? Huh? I’m not the only one who thinks this is crazy, right?

– Note that Pete was wearing a turtleneck when he decided to turn his back on Sterling Cooper. Note that Duck was also wearing a turtleneck back when he invited Peggy and Pete to lunch to try and get them to join Grey’s.

– As Don watches TV while Betty is meeting Henry, David Brinkley calls the house at Arlington National Cemetery the “Robert E. Lee Mansion”. It’s actually called the “Custis-Lee Mansion”, after George Washington Parke Custis, who began construction of the house in 1802. His father, John Parke Custis, was the stepson of George Washington, and he had purchased the land back in 1781. Parke Custis left the house – then known as “Arlington House” to Lee, his son-in-law, in his will. After Lee resigned from the US Army and joined the Army of Northern Virginia, the US government seized the land and used it to bury the Union war dead. There are now over 300,000 people buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

– The song that closed the episode was “The End of the World” by Skeeter Davis. It peaked in March, 1963 ending up at #2 two on the Billboard pop chart, #2 on the Billboard country chart, #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and #4 on the Billboard rhythm and blues chart. Davis was one of the few white women to ever have a top 10 song on the R&B charts, and she is still the only woman to have a top 10 single on four different charts at once. The lyrics (and how appropriate they are) are as follows:

Why does the sun go on shining
Why does the sea rush to shore
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
‘Cause you don’t love me any more

Why do the birds go on singing
Why do the stars glow above
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when I lost your love

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything’s the same as it was
I can’t understand, no, I can’t understand
How life goes on the way it does

Why does my heart go on beating
Why do these eyes of mine cry
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when you said goodbye

MY THOUGHTS

Let me go ahead and get this out of the way: I’m not sure I liked how they handled the JFK assassination.

First, they lied to us. After the season 2 finale, Matthew Weiner said that the assassination was “well-trod ground”, and that he wouldn’t do anything with it. People surmised that season three would end before the assassination, and season four would pick up after it. But low and behold, there it is. I’m not going to complain too loudly, but it still felt like a bait and switch.

Secondly, I just don’t… especially like how it was handled. Contrast this episode with the season 2 finale, “Meditations in an Emergency”. The Cuban Missile Crisis played a big role in that episode, and it seemed like everyone had their radio on, and we were getting bits and pieces of it as it happened. People walked in to Sterling Cooper with wild rumors heard on the street. People were afraid for their lives, and we really felt that tension. Maybe it’s because the JFK assassination really is well-trod material, but I just felt no connection with any of the characters. I give Weiner points for not having a syrupy montage or anything like that. I thought he handled the time when American shut down rather well, without throwing it in our faces… but still, I felt emotionally unattached, which is the opposite of how I felt in “Emergency”.

On a quick philosophical note, many say that the assassination of JFK was the “end of innocence”, when the carefree 1950s and early 60s gave way to the upheaval and churn that led to the decade we call the “1960s”. Will Mad Men follow that path? All along I’ve said that the show is a metaphor for America itself… yet I wonder how far Matthew Wiener will actually push the show in practice – which, in the grand tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, was never really that innocent to begin with.

So… yeah… what about Betty and Henry. Can someone explain this to me? We all know that Henry wants her (badly), and we know that she wants him, but considers an affair to be “tawdry” (which is kind of rich coming from someone who slept with a complete stranger in the back room of a bar, but I digress). Have they been exchanging letters? Talking on the phone? Is Betty really that unhappy that she’d drag her own name through the mud for someone she hardly knows? And, as Milton pointed out in Philadelphia, women seeking divorce at that time were screwed. Is she ready to give up the kids, the house, the cars, the lifestyle… for someone she’s spent a grand total of 4 hours with?

And how about Don? I never thought I’d say this but… poor guy. He’s been such a manwhore all these years, but after he finally spilled his guts to Betty, he finally realizes that he loves her… and now she’s leaving him. My mind almost cannot process this information. We saw him cheat on Betty with Midge, Rachel, Bobbie and now Suzanne, but now he only wants Betty. And yet, although he was the cheater, now that he’s turned Suzanne away and revealed his innermost secrets to his wife… she stomps on his heart. How bizarre life can be sometimes.

On a pragmatic note, though, what’s he complaining about, really? I get that he’s on an emotional roller coaster now, but imagine his future. He has a giant chunk of cash, and a house in a desirable suburb that he can sell. He can get an apartment in the city, put the kids in a nice school, and have a nanny take care of them.. and he can sleep with any woman he wants. But Don, being a complicated guy, probably doesn’t want that now.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

I wonder what the season finale will be like for Don. The guide on my DVR says that Don is going to have a meeting with Conrad Hilton. Will Hilton offer him a job, perhaps an international one? Will he have an ever bigger paycheck waved in his face? If so, how will this affect his feelings towards Betty? Lord knows I love me some Betty Draper, but the two of them haven’t had sexual chemistry in  years. Will Don love her so much if Hilton comes calling with a six-figure paycheck?

*** END SPOILERS ***

And how about Pete and Peggy? I really think that Pete’s ready to ditch Sterling Cooper. He has such a sense of entitlement that he feels screwed over by the agency, that he “deserved” the job. I can see him running to Duck with open arms. Peggy, on the other hand, is a mystery. Yes, she’s sleeping with him… but does she want to work for him? I think Peggy is still happy overall at Sterling Cooper, and if only she got a raise she’d stay just to learn from Don.

I loved the telephones ringing at Sterling Cooper after the assassination. They were the modern equivalent of church bells, don’t you think?

How interesting that Margaret was such a baby for most of this episode, then was positively serene at the wedding.

Did anyone get a “Jackie\Marilyn” vibe when Betty walked out of the bathroom and saw Don and Henry standing there? I know I did.

Season 2: “You will not be alone for long, but I will be alone forever.”

Roger should have gotten a dog, not Jane. The dog would require less maintenance, and is probably smarter and more mature, too.

I wanted to say something deep and profound about this episode, but the inkwell is dry. So I’ll just say this: I’m really looking forward to – yet dreading – next week. Season 3 can’t really be almost over, can it?

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