Isn’t this so much better than waking up in your giant comfy bed next to your impossibly beautiful wife?
Peggy, waking up in bed, and not alone, and not in a crappy foldout bed like some random co-ed she picked up at a bar! Betty, in repose, pretty as the Disney Princess in her crazy labor drug dreams and looking a little sexy and Feminine-Mystiquey to boot! Don, face down on some trashy carpet somewhere with a bloody nose! Before we know what’s going on, we know where everybody ends up, and we spend the entire episode wondering when Don’s going to get smacked, and who Peggy’s in the sack with, and why we should care about Betty looking pretty on a couch. It’s sort of gimmicky, but it’s also a pretty appropriate device for a series that’s so interested in how people become who they are. Think about Season 1 Peggy, all mousy and demure. Or Season 1 Betty, fragile, docile, vulnerable. And Season 1 Don, smooth and unflappable. How did Peggy turn into the kind of girl who wakes up next to the kind of guy who sleeps in a really nice bed? How is Betty so composed and confident? How is Don so um. Flappable? And who flapped him? 3.07 Seven Twenty Three. We go directly from Future Don waking up god knows where straight to the Draper household, where Dapper Don is donning his duds. I should mention that it took me like a season and a half to realize that “don” and “draper” are both words about wearing costumes, but I certainly thought of it when I saw this little opening montage of what is essentially still Dick Whitman putting on his Don Draper costume. Betty stops him on his way out the door to get his opinion on their newly decorated living room. “All you do at work all day is evaluate objects; I’d like the benefit of your eye.” Don looks around at the new furniture for a few seconds, says “Move the table and the lamp to the other end of the couch,” and kisses her on the cheek before heading out to work. “I think he’s right,” the decorator muses. Of course he is.
Roger follows Don into the elevator up to the office. “I watched the sunrise today.” He says. Don: “How was it?” Roger: “Average.” Ha! There’s a lot of humor in this exceptionally dark season of this generally dark show, but I think Roger makes me laugh out loud more than anybody else. Anyway, he was awake fretting about David Ogilvy‘s new book, Confessions of an Advertising Man. They want a blurb from Roger for the jacket, but Roger is worried the book will make everybody hate ad men even more than they already do. Roger is also hilariously bitter and jealous that Ogilvy got published. “I’ll send you a copy,” he mopes. “I don’t want you buying one.”
There’s a big crowd gathered at Don’s door, because guess who’s in their waiting for him, sitting in his chair even? Connie Hilton, that’s who. “Connie! What a great way to start the day,” Don sucks up, but the first thing out of Connie’s mouth is a jovial but condescending remark about Don’s tardiness. He also scolds Don for not having a Bible or family photos on his desk. “They’ll make you feel better about what you do,” Connie says, making Don sit on the wrong side of his own desk, which is the kind of dick move only zillionaires can pull off, especially on a guy like Don. “And start showing up on time.” Don: “Maybe I’m late cause I was spending time with my family reading the Bible.” Zing! Connie, who by this point is clearly an old weirdo, has a personal matter he wants to discuss with Don, an “involvement.” And damned if I know what the hell he’s talking about. Something about how his eye wanders, except he’s talking about Don, and his account with S-C, or something. The point is he wants Don to handle all of his NYC properties. Hooray! Pete and Harry and Kinsey grin nervously and watch Connie walk back out through the lobby like he’s a Jonas Brother.
“Squeee!!! ZOMG, you think he’ll sign my Waldorf-Astoria lunchbox???”
Betty is meeting with some of the Junior League, discussing their official opposition to a proposed water tank which will drain the Pleasantville reservoir and ruin their pretty upstate scenery. The Rockefellers own half the land around here, so they’re thinking they have to bypass local officials and go straight to the governor. “I might know someone in the governor’s office,” Betty says cautiously. “…with whom I had this weirdly sexual passing encounter while I was pregnant and he hit on me and I let him feel my belly,” she fails to add. Of course they’re excited, because Betty’s all gorgeous and charming and if she’s their way into the governor’s office then bonus!
At the office, the boys are discussing poor HoHo’s campaign, which is ongoing and ridiculous but also making them a metric shit-ton of money. They ask about Hilton but Don remains coy. Pete lags behind the rest and says he knows Roger will be the face of the Hilton account but he wouldn’t mind doing the legwork. Don asks him how it’s going with North American Aviation, and Pete says he thinks he’s convinced them they need to spend more if they want to get out of NASA and into the Pentagon, making jets for Vietnam. Don says to let him know when they start doing that, and then they can talk about Hilton. I should point out for future reference that this exchange is perfectly civil and no acrimony or ad hominem attacks are perpetrated.
Betty calls Henry Francis, the creepy pregnant feely uppy guy, but he’s unavailable, until two seconds later when he realizes it’s his magical knocked up fairy princess calling for him. (We now know the Drapers’ number: Wilson 48038! Quick, somebody call and warn them about JFK and Vietnam and disco and parachute pants!) There’s a hilarious bit familiar to everyone born before 1985 or so, where Betty wants to take the call in the office so she tells Bobby to hang up the kitchen phone, which he does before she actually picks up the extension, thereby hanging up on the guy. Remember that? Adorable. Anyway, she finally gets him on the phone in Don’s study. He asks about the baby (to which she sort of bats her eyelashes and says “you remembered!”) then agrees to meet with her about the reservoir since he’s from upstate and planning on heading out there this weekend anyway. The best part about this whole scene is the half-second Betty spends futilely yanking Don’s Secret Desk Drawer Of Super Secret Secrets on her way out, sort of absentmindedly, like it’s something she does as a matter of course whenever she’s in there. A nice reminder that she still doesn’t trust him entirely, and also that she has quite a few good reasons not to, including the handful of black and white photos he keeps in there to brood mysteriously over in the middle of the night from time to time.
One day he’ll forget to lock that drawer and Betty will be horrified to discover evidence of his affair with some hillbilly named Archie Whitman.
Peggy is opening a package when Pete barges in. “I can save you the trouble: It’s from him, and it’s expensive.” He plops down at her desk, grumpy and uninvited, in a way that suggests that this isn’t the first time he’s gone to Peggy with his fretful whining. Like Betty with Don’s desk, these characters are so well written that we can fill in blanks like that about what happens offscreen. Way to be awesome, show. Pete wants to know if she’s still considering Duck’s offer. She’s like “Oh heavens no…hey wow, a Hermes scarf!” (Pete: “Hermes. Nice.” Peggy: “I hope yours is a different color.” Heh.) She swears she’s not going anywhere, and also, wait, what was that you said about Hilton? Nobody ever tells Peggy anything. She just says she’s keeping the scarf, she’s not saying a word, and Pete can do whatever he wants. Pete, charmingly, thinks that Duck’s offer is about “hitting Don where it hurts;” i.e., that somehow losing Pete and Peggy to Duck would enrage Don personally because he loves them so much.
Roger, Pryce and Bert confront Don in Bert’s office about his secrecy re: Hilton. “I thought I’d let it be an incoming phone call and see who took credit for it.” Ha. Oh Don, you are so charming, I certainly hope you don’t do several things throughout this episode to remind me that you’re really kind of a Dick. (Pun, as always, intended.) So anyway, congratulations and all that, but it becomes clear that this meeting is about Don’s contract, the one that doesn’t exist, but which Connie’s attorneys are requiring as part of the deal. Don bristles immediately. Pryce explains that Connie wants a guarantee, and he can’t really blame him, and also, Jesus, look at this awesome contract, 3 years, healthy raise, $5k signing bonus, any jackass would sign the hell out of it, wtf? But Don gets bristlier. He tries the “I know Connie, he’ll like having something he can’t have” angle, but Bert calmly tells him this is how it has to be, for Connie AND for Sterling-Coop. Don is blindsided but says he’ll take it home and think about it over the weekend. That settled, Bert puts his socked feet on the table, leans back with his suspenders and his bow tie and his weird little Colonel Sanders goatee in his Japanese office with the Hokusai tentacle porn painting and says of Connie: “He’s a bit of an eccentric, isn’t he?”
Betty really does look like she remembers her weird Disney labor hallucinations and is trying her best to replicate their wardrobe. She looks absolutely stunning. She walks into a pie shop to meet up with Henry, who is all alone, hope that’s okay! And hey, look at that, Betty’s imaginary friend couldn’t make it either, so they’ll just be discussing this entirely civic matter alone, with absolutely no weird creepy sexual tension at all, right? Sigh. I don’t like where this is headed, but I’m pretty sure it’s only because that guy specifically creeps me out. When Betty picked up Captain Awesome in that bar last season I was all “Go Betty! You get yours!” Anyway, Henry says the project is already underway, but they might not be too late to stop it, if Betty happens to know someone with clout, i.e., him. We find out he’s a lawyer but mostly does fundraising work for the governor, and hopes to be campaign manager next election. We also find out Betty was an anthropology major at Bryn Mawr, so write that down next to “Where did Peggy go to Secretarial School?” and “How much money did Don offer his long-lost brother to shut up and go away, thus breaking his heart and driving him to suicide?” on your Mad Men Trivia drinking game. (Here’s a simpler Mad Men drinking game: Every time someone takes a drink, take a drink. Please note that you will probably lose consciousness before the first commercial break, so be sure to set your DVR.) After pie, he confesses he can’t actually go out to the reservoir today. They’ll have to reschedule. He walks her outside and she looks up at the solar eclipse that’s apparently going down today, but he hurries to shield her precious delicate eyeballs from harm. She actually swoons a little at this gesture for some reason, and he points to a fainting couch in the antique shop next door. “That’s what you need,” he tells her, and she stands there staring at it long after he’s gone.
I guess he’s feeling her up one body part at a time, but “pregnant belly” to “eyeballs” seems like a weird progression.
Don is standing around with a bunch of other dads, helping their kids poke holes into cardboard boxes to view the eclipse. Miss Ferrell, she of the Maypole dancing and the inappropriate drunken phone calls, explains the camera obscura to the completely hilarious assembly of 9-year-olds with giant cardboard boxes over their heads. This provides the perfect romantic setting for a really weird exchange I’m still not sure I understand. Don is too cool for a cardboard box obviously, but Miss Ferrell tells him to make sure to catch a little of the eclipse, since it only happens once every ten years or so. Don asks how her summer is going, what I really thought was a perfectly normal small talk thing to say, but she sort of giggles and goes “Well why don’t you just come out and ask me if I want to be your next victim, teehee!” “I was just making conversation,” Don says, annoyed. “You can change it if you want to.” “You’re all the same – the drinking, the philandering…” I can’t even tell if that’s disapproval or flirting. It’s hard because this happens a lot, she says, to which Don replies, “Nothing is ‘happening,’” with his patented WTFace. Sally calls her over to watch the eclipse, and Don reaches into his pocket, puts on his sunglasses, and looks right up at it. Because yeah, bitches, Don Draper’s corneas don’t need your camera obscura! Don Draper looks at whatever Don Draper wants to look at! So there! Anyway, what? Is the flirting over? Was he just shot down or was she? Neither? Both? I’m confused.
Peggy calls Duck and tells him firmly that she appreciates the gift but she’s not leaving Sterling-Cooper and she’ll be sending it back. Duck tells her he’s been meeting with clients at the Pierre Hotel all day – why doesn’t she just stop by and return it in person? Oh dear lord no, I think to myself. Surely not. Surely this is some kind of wacky misdirection. Peggy just asks that he not contact her again and hangs up.
Roger invites himself into Don’s office and wants to know what the hell Don’s problem could possibly be with a short-term gazillion dollar contract – all it will do is pay him even more to do exactly what he already does, plus snag the greatest account ever. If he just gets over his manly loner bullshit, PPL will calm down, and once those three years are up he’ll probably have his name out front. “After mine. And Cooper probably.” Don says nothing throughout this, and Roger is freaking hilarious. “Well, I’ll let you get back to work,” he says, glancing at Don’s desk where he’s busy refilling his Zippo. Don just stares. “Grunt once for yes!” Nothing. Roger gives up. “The problem is I don’t know if you don’t want to do this here, or if you don’t want to do it at all.” He opens the door to leave, and there is poor Peggy, at the absolute worst possible time, yet again.
Oh Peggy. When will you learn to allow Don a 2-3 drink break between Roger’s exit and your entrance?
Peggy isn’t aware of what’s going on with Don’s contract, so she has no idea what she just interrupted. She never knows anything, because nobody tells her. So here she is, taking some initiative to inform herself. She heard about the Hilton account second hand, like she hears about everything, and she’d love to be on board. Which is pretty much the same conversation Pete had with Don earlier, right? Well, apparently not, because Don fucking explodes. He says he didn’t need to sign off on this art she brought in here; she was just using it as an excuse to ask for the account because “I never say no.” Peggy and I respond, together, “You say no all the time!” “You were my secretary.” he spits, and my favorite, “you have a job a lot of full grown men would kill for!” Arrgh. She’s asking for this just like she asked for that raise a couple weeks ago. Which they are legally obligated to give her, incidentally, so they’re lucky she’s asking and not suing, but Don is on a roll. The kicker is probably his assertion that “there’s not one thing you’ve done here that I couldn’t do without.” Ouch. Also, I call bullshit. Then, a little less harshly: “You’re good. Get better. Stop asking for things.” Peggy holds her own and manages not to cry, although Elisabeth Moss makes it very clear it’s taking everything she’s got to keep it together. Nice job, Elisabeth Moss.
Roger, meanwhile, calls the Draper home, where he knows Don isn’t, and pretends to ask for him, when he really just wants to pester Betty into pestering Don into signing. Betty is first and foremost annoyed that she’s hearing about this from freaking Roger and not Don, but she knows enough to call Roger out on this completely tacky subterfuge and hang up on him. Betty wins.
Peggy knocks on the door of room 600 at the Pierre. Oh dear. Surely not. Duck answers the door, and hey, surprise, all his meetings are over, so it’s just the two of them in a big hotel suite. He pours her a drink (he’s still on the wagon apparently) and bluntly starts naming accounts: Hermes, Macy’s, Revlon. “You need someone in a skirt,” Peggy finishes. “Copy Chief?” She asks. Duck can’t make any promises but he knows it’ll be better money. “I can’t,” she says, still loyal despite her smackdown. “Okay,” Duck tells her, “but just so you know, that’s what opportunity looks like.” They shake on it and oh no here it comes. Duck is sorry he won’t be seeing her every day. He’s thinking about all the times he just passed her by, how could he not notice her? Oh my god, that wasn’t misdirection at all! That bed she wakes up in is in the next room! “What do you want from me?” she asks him. “I want to take you into that bedroom, undress you with my teeth, and give you a go-around like you’ve never had.” And while my first thought is definitely “iiiiiwww!,” my second thought is “it’s about damn time.” I mean, we know she’s had drunken sex with Pete, or at least sex with drunken Pete, which can’t have been all that exciting. Then there was “I don’t have any condoms so we’ll have to do Other Stuff on my sofabed” guy a few weeks ago, and as far as we know, that’s it. So you know what? Peggy deserves a good go-around, and if Duck’s the guy who can give it to her, then so be it. We’re all grossed out, but Peggy certainly isn’t. She’s not being naÃ¯ve, she’s not being seduced, she’s not even sleeping her way to the top – she’s already got the job if she wants it, he’s been begging her for weeks. She just needs to get laid, bless her heart, so although I find her taste questionable, good on her.
“Baby, I’m gonna make you quack like you’ve never quacked before.”
Don is getting more and more rattled as the episode goes on. He comes home to Betty’s news that Roger called about the contract, and Betty is furious that she had to learn about it from Roger instead of Don. He says it doesn’t concern her; she’s taken care of. But Betty wants to know why he won’t sign it. He lectures her like he lectured Peggy: “Let me explain something to you about business, since as usual you’re turning this into something about you.” Yikes. I mean, sort of true, but damn, it’s your job, she’s your wife, sheesh. “No contract means I have all the power. They want me, but they can’t have me.” “You’re right,” she replies coldly. “Why would I think that has anything to do with me?” Ding! Don would do best to remember that this is the same Betty who was one unplanned pregnancy away from kicking his unavailable free-as-a-bird ass to the curb a few months ago. She will always be able to play that card, Don, it’s the price you pay for getting some on the side. “What’s the matter? You don’t know where you’re going to be in three years?” Oooh. Don storms off like a petulant teenager.
He takes his shiny new Cadillac on one of his late night “I’m going to go drink and pout until something happens to prove to myself that I’m in charge of my own life or whatever” escapades. He swerves around with his hands in proper position on the steering wheel: Ten O’Clock and Glass Of Whiskey O’Clock. He picks up a couple of hitchhikers trying to get to Niagara Falls to get married, because they’re not drafting married men yet and he’s not smart enough to go to college. And suddenly, an idea: Mr. Joan, AKA Dr. Asshat McRaperton, has no career as a surgeon in New York, so he enlists, hoping to prove to himself and the world that he is a good doctor. He becomes a heroic combat surgeon, saving countless lives before sacrificing his own. He dies a hero, and Joan is free! I feel guilty rooting for a fake person to die in a real war, but he’d be redeeming himself! Right? Are you listening, writers? Anyway, Don agrees to take them to the nearest motel, but not before the girl hands him a couple of “reds” – AKA Phenobarbital, AKA what killed Marilyn Monroe – which he downs with his drink.
Those reds kick in big time once they’ve checked into Bedbug-Astoria motel. Don dances with the girl for awhile but eventually he can barely sit up straight. The ghost of Archie Whitman sits in the corner of the room, gleefully calling Don out on all of his bullshit. Don’s a bum. He can’t believe Conrad Hilton would be taken so easily. “What do you do? What do you make? You grow bullshit!” Heh. Don’s fading in and out, but not fast enough for the drifters. The guy delivers a vicious blow to the back of don’s skull, sending him face forward into the carpet. For the second week in a row I will quote Jack Donaghy: “Never go with a hippie to a second location.”
Face it, Don: There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to stop passing out in motels in front of teenagers and start nodding off in recliners in front of baseball games.
Don wakes up to find his wallet empty with a note from the grifter kids saying they left him his car, which was nice of them. He stares at his busted up nose in the mirror, hopefully realizing that he is officially becoming that creepy guy who’s way too old to be hanging out at the frat party. He wanted to recapture that Bohemian rhapsody he found in California in The Jet Set, but nope, this was pretty much the opposite of that, and those kids think you’re a loser, and now you have to go into work with one of those little nose band-aids on your face. How’s that for some jet set fun, eh Don? How’s that “can’t tie me down” thing working for you this morning?
Peggy wakes up next to Duck and is not nearly as grossed out as we are. In fact, once Duck assures her that housekeeping won’t interrupt, she’s ready to start the day with another round of Fuck A Duck. I’m so sorry. I really tried to make it through without saying that, but there was just no avoiding it.
Betty’s matronly decorator is scowling in dismay at the antique fainting couch Betty has plunked right in front of the fireplace. “If you want to keep it, please don’t tell anyone I did this.” This is the real conflict with Betty – she wants to be taken care of, like daddy’s little girl, or like a fragile Victorian lady. But she also resents the role of wife and mother that comes with the territory. Being coddled is still important to her, enough to arrange her entire living room around a giant metaphor.
And now for this week’s Unnecessary Screencap That Serves No Purpose Except Being Beautiful.
Bert’s waiting for Don in his office, and for the second time in just a few days, some rich old weirdo Don can’t tell to fuck off has plopped himself in Don’s chair. Bert of course is there to persuade him to consider the contract situation. “Sacajawea carried a baby on her back all the way to the Pacific Ocean,” Bert says. “Somewhere, that baby thinks he discovered America.” In other words: Yes, you’re great, but you didn’t get where you are without us, so do us this favor, which really isn’t asking a lot. Don says nothing, but he looks more intimidated than I’ve seen him in a long time, and it doesn’t help that he’s all bleary-eyed and bandaged. I think a nose bandage is the human equivalent of those cones the vet makes dogs wear. There’s just no way to pull that off, no matter how cool you are. Bert hands over the contract, puts it on the desk with a pen, and says, “Would you say I know something about you, Don?” DUN! Oh, how awesome, I’d completely forgotten that Bert knows all about Dick Whitman! Quite an ace in the hole, Cooper, you crazy old man! Nice job! Don goes from intimidated to terrified. He picks up the pen. “After all,” Bert says, “Who’s really signing it anyway?” Now that is double awesome, because he’s reminding Don that while his secret identity is shameful enough for blackmail, it’s also pretty convenient if he ever wants to get out of the contract – Dick Whitman never signed a thing. Don signs, but not before saying “I don’t want any more contact with Roger Sterling.” Whoa, they really did break up! Sad. Also, how’s that going to work, exactly? Anyway, this is officially one of my favorite conversations ever. We’re so used to Bert the kooky old shoeless gnome that we forget he’s got his name on the door for a reason.
Oh, Don. We love you, but I think we all agree you needed to be taken down a peg or two.
Betty is lying on her new fainting couch – the same shot from the beginning of the episode. Don comes in, stops long enough to say “I signed it,” and goes upstairs without another word. Cue “Sixteen Tons.”
So hey, you think we’ll ever hear from Sal again? That was six episodes ago! And whither Joan? I know it’s a big cast, but there are a lot of stories running around and I hope we get at least a little resolution. Ken vs Pete? Sal vs bellboy fantasies? Joan vs her entire life? Inquiring minds want to know.