“Hang on a sec, I can’t seem to find that rat’s ass I was going to give.”
We open this week with inarguably the most important addition to the cast this year: Mrs. Blankenship, whose comically inept performance at SCDP seems destined for wacky misunderstandings of Three’s Company proportions. The best part is that there’s no way in hell Joan didn’t know exactly what she was doing. Joan knows everything. Joan hires everybody. The presence of Mrs. Roper Blankenship is very decidedly Joan’s handiwork. Miss Allison yet, Don? A reporter for the Times calls Don in the middle of a Vicks cough drop meeting (go Pete!). He’s been interviewing Ted Chaough, whose name I had to look up, and who I’m pretty sure we’ve never heard of before. But he’s played by a “Hey! It’s That Guy!” I like, so it’s nice to see him employed. Anyway, apparently Ted has been picking up Don’s scraps – jai alai, and now Clearasil – and the reporter is calling for Don’s reaction to his quote: “When Don Draper looks in his rear view mirror, he sees me.” Don chooses the awesomest of all possible responses: “Never heard of him.”
At the partners’ meeting, Pete and Bert are arguing about the Civil Rights movement, as they’ve done before, but it’s 1965 now and shit is getting REAL. Don, astonishingly, is drinking a Coke. This makes me 1) want a real coke in a thick glass bottle, otherwise known as Coke How God Intended; and 2) wonder if I’ve literally ever seen Don drink anything that wasn’t liquor or coffee. Pete says that Secor Laxatives has finally agreed to a TV commercial, and Roger does not miss a single poop joke. This is why he makes the big bucks, people. And damn, Pete is just networking and schmoozing and dragging accounts in left and right – he got them a meeting with Honda! You know, the motorcycle guys! Lane’s all “woohoo!” with cartoon dollar signs in his eyes, but Roger angrily declares that they won’t be working with any damn Japs. Now, Roger is a WWII vet, I’m pretty sure the only one at SCDP (Don pussed out of fought bravely in Korea). So his issues, 20 years old and ridiculous though they may be, are understandable. At first. To a degree. But he’s really very bitter, and this is a huge account, and they can’t be too picky about clients at this point. He does not respond well when these things are pointed out to him. “Lucky Strike is great; meeting adjourned.” After he storms out, Pete, who has apparently been doing his research, tells everybody they should read The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (Ding! Episode title!), so Don tells everybody to read it or at least have it on their desks when the guys come for their meeting. Bert, lest we forget, is an honest to goodness take-your-shoes-off-at-the-door Hokusai-painting-owning Japanophile, so he should be a big help. I guess Roger never really did the math before now? I guess socks and proto-tentacle porn are entirely distinct entities from actual Japanese people as far as Roger is concerned.
Sally the future hippie is horrified by social injustice. Bobby the future serial killer is entirely unaffected by human tragedy.
How many times have we seen Sally watching something horrifying on television while no one else pays any attention at all? Fine, so maybe it’s just once or twice, but here it is again, Bobby scribbling obliviously while the television informs Sally of yet another horrifying Civil Rights death. Selma, I think. Poor Sally. Phoebe the across-the-hall nurse shows up to babysit while Don goes on his date at Benihana (I will not link to that Benny Lava YouTube video here, because it’s pointless: If you don’t know it, that’s fine; it’s totally irrelevant. And if you do know it, then like me, you haven’t gotten it out of your skull since the second Don said it. Possibly for days and days. Sorry about that). And really, Don? Really, you couldn’t have scheduled your date with Bethany – only the 3rd in 5 months, incidentally, so it’s not like you’re so close you can’t bear to be without her – you couldn’t have maybe done that on one of the many, many nights you don’t have the kids? Sally makes it clear that she doesn’t like it. “You don’t have to,” Don says. Yeah, quit cockblocking your dad, Sally. Wait, what? Anyway, Sally responds by sneaking off into the bathroom to chop up her hair. Nothing bad really, she looks pretty cute. But from Phoebe’s reaction you’d think she she tore it out by the fistful and carved a swastika into her forehead. “You have short hair and Daddy likes you,” Sally points out to Phoebe. Then, “Are you and Daddy doing It™?” Cause Sally already knows what It™ is. The man pees inside the woman, right? Indeed, Sally, that is my understanding. Anyway, Sally says she just wanted to look pretty. Because of course she did.
Meanwhile, Don is impressed by the Hibachi guy but Bethany, AKA that preacher’s wife lady who totally did the aforementioned It™ with Jason Stackhouse last season, isn’t really into it. It’s not exactly a romantic date or anything. And hey, look who’s there! It’s Ted Chaogugughugh, who has apparently existed all this time and knows Don when he sees him. There are polite introductions, followed by Honda-related shit talk that makes Ted look like a douche and Don look like someone who thinks Ted is a douche. Don doesn’t participate in pissing contests, Teddy. Don asks Bethany to teach him how to use chopsticks. Because she is a blue-blooded well-educated world traveling blonde, which is how he likes his ladies when he’s not married. When he’s married to one of those blondes, he likes the dark-haired spitfire type. There are probably grad school papers on that very subject being written right now. When Don gets home, he is predictably assy about Sally’s stupid hair, and the “river of shit” he anticipates from Betty prompts him to fire Phoebe from the babysitting gig that should be completely unnecessary in the first place. So what, she’s supposed to follow her into the bathroom? Is that what Don thinks he would have done? On what planet is that less disturbing than an impromptu haircut?
“That’s MY haircut!” **smack**
And oh, look at this lovely scene of serene domesticity. Betty is napping on Henry’s lap, because she’s sooooo tired from all that cleaning and child-rearing she pays someone else to do, while Baby Gene plays on the floor with toys he’ll probably choke on, since they weren’t approved by the appropriate safety councils or whatever. Remember how we all used to die from literally everything because we didn’t have our knees padded and there weren’t any THIS IS NOT A TOY labels on plastic bags to stop us from thinking plastic bags were toys? Those were the days! Also: Fainting couch sighting! So Don gets home with her precious babies she missed so much that she has to slap Sally right in the face within 15 seconds, for the unforgiveable transgression of giving herself PRETTY MUCH THE EXACT SAME HAIRCUT AS BETTY HERSELF. For chrissakes. Don and Henry both yell at her about it, which I guess they deserve credit for. And speaking of giving credit, anybody who still isn’t convinced that January Jones has been fantastic in this role needs to watch these few seconds between *steely-eyed glare* and “Take off that hat,” and tell me she’s not fucking terrifying. (Then watch her later with Dr. Edna for comparison.) So wow, everybody’s really mad about this. Jeethe Louithe, Betty, it’s not like she was masturbating on a friend’s couch or anything. Ahem. She bitches at Don for his lackluster parenting skills, and he bitches right back. “I want him dead!” She shrieks after he’s gone. The only thing worse than a drama queen is a bitter divorced drama queen who openly resents her daughter’s very existence. And here’s the most surprising development of this whole divorce plot: Henry is the voice of reason. Henry and his stupid fucking sweaters I want to strangle him with? He’s the one who talks Betty down. He’s been through all this, of course – divorced with a daughter and all – so his advice is actually worth something. And Betty actually listens. Go figure.
The meeting with Honda is today, and Pete’s scurrying around the office debriefing everyone and removing the offensive chrysanthemums (those are death flowers). I am not going to link to “Little Honda” by the Beach Boys here, for the same Benny Lava reasons above. After much awkward bowing, the partners – with the noticeable absence of the “S” in SCDP – give the Honda guys an amusingly subtitled tour of the office (including the guests’ amazement that Joan’s center of gravity allows her to remain upright). “I hope no one took you to Benihana,” Joan says. Ha! David Ogilvy did, so that’s strike one for him. They sit down for a quick preliminary meeting. Which goes perfectly well and is ten seconds from being over when Roger crashes it spectacularly. Complete with Pearl Harbor AND Hiroshima jokes. And the phrase “Jap crap.” Stay classy, Sterling. The translator doesn’t bother relaying his witticisms, for now, but I imagine they’ll have this conversation in the cab to one of the steak restaurants Joan recommended. So SCDP is still technically in the running, and the rules are: Each firm gets $3000 to work on their presentations. No finished product, only pitches. Bert apologizes sincerely for Roger’s behavior. Pete prefers lies: “His wife is very sick. He’s been drinking a lot,” he says gravely. Heh.
“You think Hiroshima jokes are funny? Wait till you see my blackface!”
He has been drinking a lot, but so has Don, and he’s managed to not make a total ass of himself in front of a $3 million account. Don barges into Roger’s office. “You don’t GET to kill this account,” he shouts. Roger responds with a kamikaze joke. Zing? He thinks that as long as his name is in the lobby he does get to kill it, as a matter of fact. Pete wins my heart all over again by pushing past Don and using a phrase that can almost certainly be found in roughly half of these recaps: “Christ on a cracker!” Hee! “Where do you get off?” He yells at Roger, a guy he was terrified of just a year or two ago. Pete tries to be reasonable by finally pointing out that these are not the same people who killed his friends, and it’s been 20 years, and the world has moved on. And now this: “You think I don’t know what you’re doing? You’re wrapping yourself in the flag to keep me from bringing in an account, because you know that every chip I make, we become less dependent on Lucky Strike, and therefore less dependent on you!” (STUDIO AUDIENCE: “Oooooooooh!”) I think it’s a little from Column A, a little from Column B, myself, and it touches enough of a nerve for Don to have to physically place himself between them when Roger lunges at the little whippersnapper. “The rest of us are trying to build something,” Pete grumbles on his way out, which is pretty much what Don told Bert when he was trying to get him on board with the new agency. Pete leaves in a huff, and Don lingers long enough to tell Roger the last thing he wants to hear (and pretty far down the list of things Don wants to say) about the little twerp: “He’s right.”
Sally is over at a friend’s house. Who is asleep. In the dark. This is a detail everyone leaves out later, so I want to go on record with it. Now, I’m sure we all have our own memories of when we first noticed “Hey! When I do this, something awesome happens!” but I don’t know what it says about Sally that the thing that prompts her to masturbate for the first time (or hundredth for all we know I guess) on someone else’s couch is apparently The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Her friend’s mom catches her in the act, and destroys the very last shred of hope for any normal sexual development by completely losing her shit. She drives Sally home in the middle of the night, because everybody knows that self-abuse, like The Gay, is as contagious as pinkeyed head lice with chicken pox. Betty is mortified. “That woman is going to tell everyone,” she laments later to Henry, because that’s the issue here, is Betty’s social standing. She snarls at Sally that you don’t do those things in private or in “public.” Dark living room! Not the mall! I’m just saying! Sally says she didn’t do anything, but Betty grabs her hands and snarls “Don’t lie to me, I’ll cut your fingers off!” Um, for your own good? It’ll hurt me more than it hurts you? Something like that? Holy fuck she’s scary. “What is wrong with her?” She asks Henry. Rhetorically, I presume. Henry suggests a psychiatrist. Betty’s had one weird experience with one of those in Season 1 so she’s hesitant but he convinces her. Seriously, Henry, stop being the most reasonable, least assy parent here, it’s weirding me out. By the way, speaking of things Betty’s had experience with in Season 1? A sexy, sexy washing machine. And visions of an air conditioner salesman (presumably not from U.N.C.L.E., but still). I’m just saying. And yes, a sleepover is definitely a weird place to decide to explore strange new worlds, but it’s not like she was performing for a crowd. And fuck you, Mad Men, for making me creep myself out about my favorite character on the show. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that her haircut is freaking adorable.
So that’s out of the way. Whew. Okay. “Any luck on that call to California?” Don asks Mrs. Kravitz Blankenship. Nope, still no answer, she says. Oh, I’m sure Anna’s just outside in the garden! For days and days. Mrs. Blankenship loudly announces “Mr. Peters and Pryce to see you,” and that’s such a wacky sitcommy thing to do but I totally believe her as a character anyway. Mr. Peters (giggle) is pleased to announce that the Honda folks for some reason want to see their presentation anyway, despite Roger’s best efforts. But Bert says that means nothing. They’re finished. Bert knows his shit here, it’s kind of awesome to watch him be really good at something since he’s usually just puttering around being weird. He thinks the Honda guys are expecting them to resign. “Did we get a gift? We should have gotten one yesterday.” Mrs. Blankenship is like “Oh, you want this package? Nobody told me I was supposed to give you your packages, sheesh, what am I, your secretary?” But it’s not from them. It’s a thoroughly lame joke (with a totally different Beach Boys reference!) from Ted Chaugughaogh. Well shit. So okay, Don figures, since they’ve already pissed them off, they might as well do something to stand out. A commercial! Lane points out that the rules say they can only have boards and copy. Don says pthhbbtt, but Bert reminds everybody that thinking outside the box and breaking the rules are pretty much the absolute least Japanese way to do things. Oh, and by the way, they cannot possibly afford a disposable commercial, not even close.
“Before you get all huffy with me, let me remind you that I am sitting right next to the drawer where you hid a shoebox full of your secret life for our entire marriage.”
Later, Don’s brushing up on the titular bedtime reading when Betty calls. (From his STUDY! Right next to the Secret Mysterious Drawer of Secret Mysteries! Ha!) Great news! Your little girl’s all grown up! She’s masturbating on couches at an 8th grade level! Betty is concerned, kind of. “Inconvenienced” would be more accurate. That’s something “fast” girls do! Don: “She’s TEN YEARS OLD!” Each spits angrily at the other for fucking up their kid. Don raises the decent point that Betty brought a new guy into her home, and her bed, pretty darn quickly, and that surely that’s confusing for Sally. Betty raises the equally valid point that at least it was one guy, and Don is kind of a whore who can’t be bothered to watch his own kids during their brief visits to his Fortress of Brownitude. “I’m married,” Betty says, like that settles the “who turned our 10-year-old into a dangerous and probably also bloodthirsty sexual deviant” argument for good. Don: “Jesus, do you ever hear yourself?” Hey, that’s what I was just thinking!
At the office, Peggy and Pete and Joan and Joey Sweatervest and Some Other Guy are standing around watching one of those wacky pecky drinky bird toys that helped Homer with his job when he was home on Fat Leave. They’re just all watching… and watching… and bursting into applause when it bends all the way over! I don’t know why Peggy’s dead-serious “Don’t touch it! I want to see how long it goes!” is hilarious, but it is. Don calls the important people into his office to read to them from the book: “A man is shamed by being openly ridiculed and rejected.” Everyone: “…?” Don sighs. It’s from the damn Japan book they’re all supposed to be reading, slackers. The point is, they can’t afford a commercial. Which means that Chaugugahugh, who’s as poor as they are, can’t either. But he’ll make a commercial if he thinks Don’s making one! Joan catches on quicker than the other two, and gets the ball rolling. Because if there’s a ball that needs rolling, I don’t think I have to tell you that Joan is your gal. She very innocently calls in Chaughughagh’s commercial director (who, once again, is not Sal) and is like oh dear, Clearasil doesn’t wrap for another couple days? Oh no! That’s an unfortunate turn of events I totally didn’t already know about! Oh, and here’s Don “accidentally” opening the door with a shiny new Honda motorcycle, asking where to put it. “You didn’t see that!” Joan winks at the director, who has assured her she can totally count on his discretion, and he’d love to do it but he’s just too busy. Aaaand cut to the same guy in a different turtleneck telling Chaugughagh “…but I’d much rather be doing your Honda commercial.” Hmm. Chaughggh is not so easily fooled though. He calls in Smitty (!!!) and asks if Don likes to play tricks. Smitty practically has cartoon hearts shooting out of his eyeballs when he tells him that yes, actually, he loves that crap, can’t get outside enough of the box for that guy! “He’s a genius,” he finishes dreamily, much to Chaughghgah’s annoyance.
What follows is the sort of caper that reminds me of the Season 3 finale. Peggy makes sure she is seen ducking into a studio with a Honda, successfully freaking out Chaughgh’s PeteQuivalent. Joey SweaterVest stops him at the door. “Closed set! Sorry!” Meanwhile, Peggy scoots her little Honda around an empty white stage. Ha.
“My advice as a professional is to continue marrying attractive, well-educated blondes.”
You know, for a consultant, Faye Miller sure has been spending a lot of time over at SCDP. She’s in the office kitchen, shoes kicked off, cleaning up after a lunch with the Samsonite folks. Don’s trying to open Chagughguh’s taunting bottle of sake. Oh, no! Don Draper just got a free bottle of liquor! You sure showed him, Chaughgh! “It’s like a coconut,” he grumbles. She speaks for the rest of us when she says “I don’t know how people drink the way you do around here. I’d fall asleep.” It’s the first sake for both of them, so he pours them each a glass while they chat. Don fails to see the irony when he responds to Faye’s “You’d be surprised what people will say to an interested stranger,” with “Why does everybody need to talk about everything?” Then proceeds to talk about everything. During the course of this conversation we discover a verrry interesting bit of trivia about Dr. Miller: Her wedding ring is a prop, so the jackasses in suits she works with don’t spend all of their time hitting on her. Hey, Joan should try that! Oh, right. And look at that, Don knows how many kids he has and can even rattle their ages off with little effort. She says it must be hard to be apart from them. “I don’t see them enough,” he tells her. “And when I do, I don’t know what to do. And when I drop them off, I’m relieved. And then I miss them.” Well, that about sums it up, and it’s also the saddest thing I’ve heard Don say in a long time. “It is not going well,” he understates. He tells her that Betty wants Sally to see a psychiatrist, and when she sees that he’s uncomfortable with that prospect, she tells him, off the record, “if you love her and she knows it, she’ll be fine.” Here’s hoping.
And here’s Betty, at her first meeting with Dr. Edna, whose boobs I’ve seen. Neat – that’s two True Blood alums and two Desperate Housewives alums. (Would be three if we knew what the hell happened to Duck Phillips. Am I missing anyone?) Betty says she knows her remarriage was quick, “but I felt like children have no sense of time.” Ha. How astute. Anyway, she wanted a father in the home, and Henry’s really taken to them and blah blah. Dr. Edna wants to meet Sally, and also talk to Don. “I doubt you’ll ever meet him,” Betty snaps. “That’s his level of interest.” Betty at least has the presence of mind to notice that while the divorce is probably to blame for most of Sally’s weirdness, the thing that started it was Grampa Gene’s death. You mean that devastating loss of pretty much the only family member that paid any attention to her? Which her parents completely glossed over and then yelled at her when she poured her broken little heart out at them? Who knew that would set her off? Kids! Amirite? But a little bit of the old timid Season 1 Betty starts to leak out as she talks about her dad. Now, normally I’d be the first person to declare “Gene was a pervert! That explains everything!” But apparently Matt Weiner is on record (somewhere I can’t find) emphatically denying that, which comforts me. And Betty’s just spilling her guts unprovoked all over the place, going from Dad’s death to Mom’s, which is ostensibly what sent her to her Season 1 therapist in the first place. And by “therapist” I mean “outdated Freudian psychoanalyst hack asshole saying literally nothing while she talks, then telling her husband everything she said.” Dr. Edna is very very different. And here goes Betty, on to her brother and his illicit “nudist magazine” which her mother freaked out about. “What about you?” Edna wonders. “I was private and mostly outgrew it,” Betty says coolly, and damn, between Dr. Edna and Dr. Faye there’s a whole lot of gutspilling going on this week. “I feel like Sally did this to punish me somehow,” Betty says, because really, what could happen in Betty’s world that isn’t entirely about Betty? Granted, I think Sally’s fuckedupitude is attributable largely to Betty, but only because Betty is a horrible, horrible person. She’s not punishing Betty, she just has serious boundary issues because no one’s ever paid any attention to her. And don’t think Edna doesn’t notice that Betty could use some help of her own. She suggests that they meet once a month or so. You know, to talk about Sally’s progress. “Will you tell me what she talks about in here?” “No,” Edna says firmly. “And the other way around as well.” She thinks they should start at 4 days a week. Cha ching, Dr. Edna! She goes off to get her calendar and leaves Betty alone in this room very obviously designed for children. Betty sees a dollhouse with two parents and three kids and smiles really big, because hey, she’s been playing house too! For like 12 years.
“I am totally winning this one-man pissing contest!”
Don’s waiting outside, alone, to meet with the Honda guys. Chaughgh smarms out all “Hey, nice folder! Too bad your commercial was fake, cause I just ROCKED THEIR WORLD!” Don just refuses to engage with him at all. He keeps calling him “Donnie” to annoy him, and Don just couldn’t give less of a shit.
But are you ready for the Don Draper bitchslap of Awesome? Cause here it comes. Don walks into their meeting and calmly gives the Honda guys their rulebook back. He knows that Chaughghaugh just came in here with a finished product, which was expressly forbidden. They didn’t honor their own rules, so he’s withdrawing. Somebody’s been doing his bedtime reading! He writes them a check – a personal check even – refunding their $3000. “Thank you for thinking of us.” And he’s outta there. Damn, Draper.
Roger is still moping. Joan wants to know what to do about the Lucky Strike announcer, who has a severe case of chest congestion. Can’t get enough of the ironic lung cancer foreshadowing, can they? Roger’s like “Fine! Why don’t you get Pete to fix it if you all love him so much!!!” Then he kicks a can down the sidewalk, staring at his shoelaces and muttering. Not really, but you know what I mean. Luckily, Joan is the only person in the world who can get through Roger’s thick white silvery mane. He starts telling another nightmarishly sad WWII story but Joan interrupts him. “I don’t want to hear it. My husband’s going to be in uniform any day now.” Ah, Roger says, but what happens when some future Pete Campbell goes to some Vietnamese doctor instead of him? “Since when is forgiveness a better quality than loyalty?” Joan reminds him: “You fought to make the world a safer place. And you won. And now it is.” Ironic Vietnam foreshadowing is another favorite of theirs. “You think so?” He asks. “I have to,” she replies simply.
What exactly are you implying, Lengthy Shot Of Joan And Roger Separated By A Building-Sized Obstacle?
“GOOD AFTERNOON, YOUR DAUGHTER’S PSYCHOLOGIST CALLED!” Mrs. Garrett Blankenship tells Don as he returns from the Honda meeting. Mrs. Blankenship needs her own laugh track to follow her around the building. But really, everybody’s so goddamn serious and beautiful and poised all the time, I have no problem with throwing in a completely uncouth, unattractive player into the mix just for novelty’s sake. Mr. Peters and Mr. Pryce burst in to congratulate him, sort of. They didn’t get Honda, but only because it turns out they weren’t going to leave Gray in the first place. But out of the three auditions, Don won. They’re first in line for their new product: A car Lane calls “a motorcycle with doors.” And also windows, so you can see your brain spatter against it when it crashes. Pete: “They’re working on it!”
In Dr. Edna’s waiting room, Sally waits, with her adorable haircut and her adorable red tights. Sitting next to her is her mother, who is unemployed and therefore has all the time in the world to show her concern for her firstborn by accompanying her to…Oh no wait, she’s with the goddamn housekeeper. The AWESOME housekeeper, but still. For fucksakes, Betty, what the hell kind of pressing business could you possibly have? It’s probably for the best, especially considering that Carla was the one who (presumably) took care of Sally while her mom was doing her 6-week divorce residence at some tacky resort in Reno with that guy she barely knew. At Christmas. Betty failed to mention that part of the divorce, didn’t she? When Dr. Edna calls Sally’s name, Carla looks at her with what appears to be actual compassion and concern. So yeah, I guess on second thought, good call, Betty.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just send Sally home with Carla?
Coming up next week: Dramatic music accompanying a series of 2-3 second snippets of out-of-context footage! I can’t wait!