Raise your hand if you saw that coming.
AAAIIIGHHH! Holy crap. So yeah, the British are coming, the British are coming, and they’re restructuring the Sterling-Coop hierarchy yet again. And then re-restructuring in light of unforeseeable gruesome but kind of hilarious events. Joan officially learns that her husband is not nearly as competent at his job as he’s led her to believe, on the exact day she’s scheduled to quit hers. And Don has gone five straight episodes now without having sex with some random person or other! This, in addition to his genuine concern for Sally and all-around awesomeness at pretty much everything, have tricked me into forgiving him for being a bastard, at least for the time being. And also, did I mention AAAAAIIIIGHHHH!!!!3.06 Guy Walks In To An Advertising Agency. It’s bedtime at the Draper house, but Thally is thcared of the dark, and Don tries to calm her down. He’s better at this than Betty is, probably just because he’s good at everything, but also because he doesn’t openly, actively resent her very existence. He tells her he’s home and nothing can hurt her, and if she cleans her room, she can have a night light. That’s a nice trick.
At Sterling Cooper the next morning, Moneypenny has called a meeting of the entire staff. Surprise! London calling! Three of the fanciest suits at Putnam, Powell and Lowe are stopping by tomorrow to have a look around and see if they’re getting their money’s worth. A handful of secretaries murmur amongst themselves, on account of tomorrow is Joan’s last day at S-C (!!!) and there was supposed to be a surprise party and cake and everything. It’s worth noting that Peggy was left out of the loop here, just like she’s never in the loop with her colleagues. Not one of the guys, no longer one of the girls; she’s excluded from pretty much everything. No worries, Peggy; to paraphrase Jack Donaghy, in five years they’ll all be working for you…or dead by your hand.
Bert, Roger and Don have a little sit-down in Cooper’s office to discuss this development, which Bert suspects is actually about Don – apparently they’ve been very interested in his work. “Ever since you swung your privates around in the boardroom with Duck last year,” Roger clarifies helpfully. Bert thinks they might want more direct access to his “particular American genius,” perhaps in the form of a dual position in New York and London. Don grins bemusedly, which is practically the equivalent of dancing a little jig for a normal person (or Pete Campbell). But more importantly, Bert says, Don and Roger need to kiss and make up already. The firm needs their Martin and Lewis rapport when they’re trying to impress people, so he sets up a barber’s appointment for them so they can work it out over a manly shave and proto-metrosexual manicure.
Ken makes a grand tardy entrance through the office on a big ole John Deere riding mower. My grandpa would be appalled at such irreverent use of such a beautiful machine. Might as well stomp all over the American flag while you’re at it, Kenny. Pete and Sal let him know he should probably get it out of there before tomorrow, on account of the British are coming. Ken is just excited he landed the account in time to show it off for the bigwigs.
“What’s that on your shirt? Have you been mutilating small animals again?”
Bobby and Sally interrupt Betty’s cat nap with baby Gene. “I’m bored,” Bobby complains, and in a nice one-two punch taken straight from the Big Book Of Actual Boomer Parent Things I Have Actually Heard Spoken Aloud For Reals, Betty tells him to “go bang your head against a wall,” followed by one of my personal favorites for its sheer nonsensicality, “only boring people are bored.” “Can I pet him?” Bobby asks, creepily. Why does he give me the heebie jeebies? I feel like somewhere in Alternate Universe 2009 there’s a Dateline jailhouse interview with Robert Draper wherein he describes his childhood and its possible role in the dozens of grisly ritualistic serial murders he perpetrated throughout the 80s. Quick, someone get Bobby a storyline before he starts setting fires and dissecting squirrels! For now, though, he sort of pats baby Gene’s blanket a little with genuine (if decidedly unnerving) affection, but Sally refuses Betty’s invitation to join them. She scowls stubbornly in the doorway.
Don and Roger are on their little man-date. (Ha, mandate, get it? Me neither.) Don is getting a real live wet shave from a real live barber wielding a real live straight razor. A lost art! Roger defends his manicure; after all, his dad was the manliest man that ever manned and he always had nice nails. “He had his fourth coronary behind the wheel,” Roger begins, which pretty much guarantees an awesome story. Anyway, apparently he ran into a tree and the windshield severed his arm, which they didn’t bother sewing back on since he was dead and all, so in the casket he had one perfectly manicured hand. “I don’t believe that story,” Don says plainly. “Fine, it was another car, not a tree,” Roger replies. **rimshot!** There’s your Martin & Lewis! “It’s my company; why should I be nervous?” Without hesitation Don answers: “Because you sold it.” Roger’s like, “oh, so that’s why you’re mad? You’re mad at me for getting you half a million dollars?” Whoa. The Internets tell me that in 1963, $500k would have gone about as far as $3.5million today. No wonder Don drove baby Gene home in that bitchin new Cadillac.
Joan tells Don’s secretary whose name I can never remember to call all the vendors and arrange for their deliveries to come in the morning, so the Brits can see lots of activity when they arrive. That’s so smart. Surely she can’t really go! We’ll all be lost without her. Moneypenny, whose dickitude has really blossomed since the announcement, joins the conversation to note that many of the ladies working out in the main office are rather plain-looking. “Well, we could hire some prostitutes!” Joan suggests brightly. “I hear your Prime Minister enjoys their company.” “Secretary of War,” he corrects her, and recommends that she not bring that up tomorrow. And in disproportionately bitchy retaliation he fake apologizes about upstaging her surprise party, which he’s sure she already knew about, so it’s not like he’s ruining the fun out of sheer petulant twattery or anything. Wanker. (Although actually, it is hard to imagine anything happening in that office without Joan knowing about it.) “I’m going home to make a celebratory dinner for my husband,” she announces, “and when you wake up in the middle of the night wondering what you forgot? Don’t call me.” Nice. I love her so much. Did you people see Christina Hendricks at the Emmys? Holy Christmas.
Betty’s drinking a glass of wine at the kitchen table when Don comes home, and she smiles a real smile when he leans down to kiss her. Sometimes more than others I believe them as a real couple, and this little scene works. Over a dinner of chicken salad on Ritz crackers, he tells her about the Brits; then, with un-Don-like coyness, asks her how she’d feel about living in London. “I could get a pram and a real nanny!” she gushes. He doesn’t elaborate, just smirks a little.
“I’m sorry, did you just say ‘Alabama’ with a straight face?”
And now the sadly familiar “Joan’s American dream of domestic bliss is stomped on and squished by reality while she somehow keeps it together” portion of our program. Her celebratory meal apparently over, she’s asleep on the couch when Dr. Asshat stumbles in drunk. This is not good, but we kind of already knew that. He plops down dejectedly next to her and says that not only did he fail to get the Chief Resident position, he was told that he has “no brains in his fingers” and will never work as a surgeon in New York. If you watch her face, you can actually see Joan’s heart break about six different times throughout this exchange. Joan, ever the problem solver, wants to understand (“So what happens? Did they fire you? Are you still a doctor?”) but Douchey Howser MD is tired of thinking about it and just wants to pass out. “I have another year of residency,” he announces, mustering some dicky authority amid the humiliation. “You’re not going to be able to quit your job.” When she tells him it’s too late for that, he says she’ll just have to get another one then. Joan somehow manages not to throw something very heavy at his dumb face. She approaches him gently and reminds him he’s still a doctor, and she married him for his heart, not his hands. Well, it certainly wasn’t for his brain. “Go lay down,” she tells him, “I’ll undress you,” and it’s an absolute travesty that the one person in the world who gets to hear that sentence from her is goddamn Tooly McRaperson. (I’m considering using it as my ringtone.) As she “closes” the light, she stares the Thousand Yard Stare Of Creeping Dread. Don, meanwhile, is just lying awake in the dark smiling blissfully at the ceiling, while Sally lies awake in the semi-dark staring warily at her new night light.
The next morning, everybody’s looking busy as Moneypenny introduces Joan to Guy MacKendrick, Harold Ford, and Saint John Powell, which is a weird name I didn’t know existed, and which they all pronounce sort of like Mr. Wu pronounced “Swedgin.” They head in to meet with Don, Roger and Bert, and I love that Bert doesn’t make any exceptions for them regarding his Japanese-inspired no-shoes policy. It’s nice to remember that any time some big serious discussion occurs in Bert’s office, everyone’s sitting around in their socks. Anyway, there is handshaking and whatnot, and when Don is told that the young dashing MacKendrick has been studying his work, he does that furrowed-brow “wtf?” bemused, vaguely suspicious grin thing. That thing is awesome. So they’re in there about 45 seconds total, just long enough for Moneypenny to tell them to meet everybody in the conference room for lunch. “Well that was strange,” Bert muses after they leave.
Don’t worry, 1963, the real British Invasion is only a few months away and it’s way more entertaining than these guys.
They move on to Pryce’s office, where they tell him, essentially, “Hey, great job! We’re so proud of you we’re shipping you off to Bombay!” Nobody likes Pryce but he sort of won me over here, because oh my god, what a complete dick move. When they feign puzzlement at his less-than-enthusiastic response, he pathetically says that they just got settled, his kid just got into school, and they just grin right past it with “Don’t pout! One of your greatest qualities is that you always do what you’re told.” Ouch. Is this kind of smiley passive-aggressive backhanded compliment delivery a product of the UK or the ad business? I’m officially on your side, Pryce. That was humiliating and I hope that some grisly, horrible, but kind of hilarious accident befalls at least one of them before the end of the day.
After their light conference room lunch, Powell turns the floor over to the wunderkind, Guy MacKendrick, who places a single slide on the overhead projector that restructures Sterling Coop all over again. He gives props to Pryce, saying their loss is India’s gain, which is the first any of the S-C guys have heard about this, so they clap awkwardly and half-heartedly and wtf-ily. When the applause dies down, he assures them that there will be no further reduction in staff, to which only Harry applauds enthusiastically until he realizes no one else is clapping. Heh. Anyway, the new hierarchy has Guy MacKendrick as COO, above Don Draper, Creative Director, Harry as head of TV and media, and Ken and, “for the present,” Pete as Heads of Accounts. Don is visibly disappointed, which is a sentence I may never have typed before. Oh, and also, the “triumvirate” of Don, Guy and Bert leaves Roger out completely. They assure him it was an oversight, but what the hell? Guy assures everyone that not much has changed – he’s just there to facilitate communication. As Guy yammers, Ford grabs a pen and scribbles Roger’s name onto the flow chart by hand, which is kind of more pathetic than leaving him off. They head out to inform the troops, but Don, Bert, Pete, Roger and Harry lag behind. “What the hell just happened?” Harry asks “They reorganized us and you’re the only one who got a promotion.” Pete grumbles. Bert approaches Don, pats him on the back, and says, “I apologize for my wild imagination,” since it’s now clear that they’re not here to whisk Don away to a magical land of prams and nannies.
At the Draper house, it appears, for roughly 20 seconds, as though Betty is going to have a meaningful exchange with her daughter. But you know. Not really. She sits Sally down on her bed and hands her a box wrapped in newspaper and reads the card aloud: “‘To my big sister, the best in the world;’ and my goodness, it’s from baby Gene!” Well shit, if she wasn’t already afraid of the dark, I think maybe the notion of a preternaturally intelligent infant hiding things under her bed might do the trick. “Baby Gene can’t write,” Sally insists, but Betty tells her that babies get fairies to do stuff for them, duh, everybody knows that. Again, terrifying. That might keep me up tonight. She opens it. It’s a Barbie. See? Baby Gene just wants her to know he wants to be her friend. So that just fixes everything, right? Problem solved with material goods! “You’re very important to me too,” Betty says dutifully, and leaves Sally to glare suspiciously at her new supernaturally acquired leotarded magical Barbie.
“See? It’s fine! The baby isn’t your Grampa’s ghost, he’s just an eerily sentient telepath with a gang of fairies who follow him around doing his bidding!”
So the Brits are making the big announcement about the slight but significant changes. Before he addresses the future, though, the smarmy but frankly adorable new COO Guy MacKendrick wants to acknowledge its past – first with a perfunctory round of applause for poor Pryce, and then a toast to Joan, wishing her the best of luck in her greener pastures. At which point Joan breaks into actual honest to goodness sobs. MacKendrick, and everyone else I guess, chalks this up to womanly weepiness, and she pulls herself together enough to stare glassy-eyed at her “Bon Voyage Joan” cake. “This is completely unnecessary,” she says, and yeah, that might literally be true. The rest of the afternoon is declared a party worthy of Joan, and everybody dives into the booze and cake. Pete notes that people keep getting hired above them while they stay where they are. “One more promotion and we’ll be answering phones.”
Don is hanging back, watching the party, when his secretary tells him that Conrad Hilton (!!!) is on the phone for him. Don doesn’t have the internet like we do, so he hasn’t put two and two together regarding the anonymous bar conversation at Roger’s party, and is completely baffled. Connie’s secretary asks when Don is free to talk, and Don says “how about now?” because Don is awesome like that. He leaves the party behind and heads to the Presidential suite at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Poor Roger is commiserating with Bert. “My name’s on the building and I wasn’t even on the chart!” Well, technically, it’s your dad’s name, but point taken. He complains that he’s being punished for making his job look too easy. Bert eats some pudding, because he’s an old man, and that’s what old men do. They eat pudding. “We took their money; we have to do what they say,” Bert summarizes. That’s pretty much the size of it, Coop, but just you wait till they come after your pudding.
So hey, it’s one of those big fat office-wide drunk-at-work parties! We haven’t seen one of those in awhile. Smitty (and Kurt! There’s Kurt! I thought we’d lost him.) gives us some good old-fashioned heavy-with-portent ironic foreshadowing, scoffing that Vietnam is nothing to be afraid of, they’re hardly drafting anybody and the ones who enlist are having a grand old time. Peggy pulls Joan aside for a personal farewell (not that kind!) but their heart-to-heart is interrupted by the tractor vrooming its way around the office again. What was that quote about theater…if you have a piece of heavy gardening machinery in the first act, it better go off in the third? Anyway, Smitty’s driving it around, then poor hapless (and also drunk) Lois ends up at the wheel. “I’m really happy that you got what you wanted” Peggy yells sincerely at Joan over the noise. And also, in case they don’t see each other again, “I just have to say…” “AAAIIIIGHHHHHHH!” That second part is the sound a Guy makes when he Walks Into An Ad Agency and a drunken klutzy secretary runs over his foot with heavy machinery designed to shred things to bits with its large rotating blades. Before we really see what’s happening, Kinsey, Harry and Ken are in the middle of a jovial conversation when they are abruptly and thoroughly splattered with blood and gore and bits of fabric, and Lois, for good measure, crashes the thing straight through the glass wall of someone’s office.
It’s always funny till someone gets hurt, Lois. And then sometimes it’s still kind of funny afterwards.
So yeah, that happened. Holy crap. I mean, it’s almost cartoonishly out of place but I guess it fits with the whole “everybody’s having fun and then something terrible blindsides everybody and harshes their buzz” vibe this season. This series, really. Also, I’m sure there’s some significance to the fact that these guys were dismissing Vietnam as a harmless little conflict just prior to the unexpected gore. Anyway, Jesus tits, poor charming Guy is howling in terror and pain and everybody’s sort of frozen till Joan steps up. Of course she does. Again, surely there’s some significance to the fact that it’s Joan who is most competent in a medical emergency, the day after her doctor husband confesses he’s terrible at what he does. Or not. The point is, Joan is awesome at everything, and holy fucknuts that guy’s FOOT just got MULCHED! When Peggy gets a closer look she faints, and why am I so touched and thrilled that it’s Pete who catches her? Those two have some unfinished business, sure, but I didn’t expect to find that 2-second scene so adorable. Also, did I mention there’s a Guy lying on the floor of the Advertising Agency whose foot has been shredded into really gross sticky bloody lawn clippings? Holy crap.
Don, of course, is off on his secret meeting with a famous zillionaire so he misses all the fun. He’s shown into the Presidential suite and introduces himself, but Connie tells him they’ve met before. And Don gets it, and he’s amused. He’s also ashamed he didn’t make the connection sooner, which is probably an in-joke for all of us internet dorks who don’t have anything better to do than make exactly those connections. Don wonders how Connie found him, and he says he called around telling people he had a long chat with a handsome fellow from Sterling Cooper, “and your name never came up.” Heh. Connie shows Don some Hilton ads featuring what looks like Jerry the cartoon mouse and asks what he thinks. Don is not too starstruck to respond that what he thinks is that Connie wouldn’t be living in the Presidential suite if he worked for free. What a total badass. Eventually Don looks them over and just says “I don’t think anybody wants to think about a mouse in a hotel.” And that’s that. “So what do you want?” Connie asks, and Don says he’d love a chance at his business. “Okay,” Connie says. “But the next time someone like me asks you a question like that, think bigger.” Don responds with a little story about snakes who go for days and days without eating, so that once they catch something, they’re so hungry they suffocate themselves. “One opportunity at a time.” Connie doesn’t get to continue the conversation, since Don has to run off to see a Guy about a foot.
“So hey, funny story: You know more about my past than my wife does!”
At the office, Harry is freaking out about the potential fallout from all this. He’s afraid they’ll all get blamed for Smitty’s poor judgment in letting Lois drive the thing, but Roger shows up to put it all into perspective. “It’s like Iwo Jima out there!” he says, and we see through the frosted glass that the blood is being squeegeed off the other side. “He might lose his foot,” Paul says gravely. “Right when he got it in the door!” Roger quips, breaking the tension and making me laugh out loud. Ken offers to take full responsibility, but Roger just blows it off: “Believe me, somewhere in this business this has happened before.”
Don arrives at the hospital while Joan is getting herself a drink from a completely awesome Dr. Pepper machine. He sees her dress, stained with blood, and says “My God!” “I know,” she replies, “it’s ruined.” Ha! She fills him in: Guy is okay, but they couldn’t save the foot. Don sits next to her to wait for Powell and Ford to arrive, and I didn’t know how badly I wanted a Joan-Don scene until this very moment. I mean, setting aside the fact that they’re two of the awesomest characters ever created, they’re both so impossibly attractive they could just sit in silence and I’d be glued to the screen. But they have a nice easy rapport I’d forgotten about. “I bet he felt great when he woke up this morning,” Joan says. “But that’s life: One minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary is driving over your foot with a lawn mower.” Don laughs, for real, and seriously, how many times have we ever seen him genuinely tickled?
“What say we just sit here being beautiful for a few minutes?”
The Brits arrive and thank Joan for her quick thinking, which may have saved his life “…such as it is.” Powell adds. They all start going on about how great he was, past tense, and say, with no irony at all, “the doctors say he’ll never golf again.” Now they have to re-evaluate their entire strategy, and Pryce will retain his position. “You should go home to that lucky husband,” Don tells Joan when the Brits leave, and I like how nobody really even knows who he is or calls him by name, all they know is that he comes home to Joan every night. She kisses him on the cheek and for all he knows it’s the last he’ll see of her.
Don comes home, presumably very late, and finds that Sally’s creepy magic Barbie has been tossed out the window into the hedges. He picks it up and sits it neatly on her shelf, which is a cute Daddy gesture. Ten seconds later she wakes up screaming, because oh my god, that evil fairy Barbie can move of its own volition and will terrorize her no matter how many times she tries to get rid of it! She’s really terrified and Don cradles her in his arms and comforts her, but Betty’s just annoyed that she woke up the baby. Finally, finally, he asks her what’s going on. She says it’s Grampa Gene – he’s not supposed to be here anymore. When Don tells her he isn’t, she says “he’s called Gene, he sleeps in his room, he looks just like him!” Aha. Don tells Betty that this has to stop, and that Sally’s not jealous, she’s scared. And it’s all because of that name. Betty snipes that Don’s always hated the name and now he’s bringing her into this. “That’s ridiculous, ” Don says, and then, incredibly, wait for it: “Let’s talk about Sally.” That of course is an absurd notion to Betty, whose assessment is “She’s a child. She’ll get over it.” Sally hears them arguing and shuffles in to apologize for waking the baby. “That’s okay, honey.” Betty says, invoking the Draper Family Motto: “Everything’s fine.”
“Say, isn’t there another one of you kids? You know, the creepy one.”
Don takes Sally down the hall to Grampa/Baby Gene’s room. He sits in the rocking chair with both of them in his arms. “See? He’s your new brother, and he’s just a baby. We don’t know who he is yet or who he’s going to be.” Don, who as we know has some pretty strong feelings about blank slates and the nature of identity, adds, “And that is a wonderful thing.”
Next week: Who the hell knows? I remember hating the Buffy and Veronica Mars promos, because they always seemed like they were cobbled together by poorly trained monkeys who’d never seen the show. With this, though, I think they do it on purpose. You can watch a scene from the next episode on amctv.com, but you can’t watch a trailer as far as I can tell, so I suspect the completely random snippets are deliberately chosen to fuck with us. The very last shot is of someone face down on the floor in an office though, so what the hell is that about?