Did you know that in the 60s, childbirth turned you into an impossibly beautiful Disney princess? This show is so educational!
Well, it’s time! It’s time for the new Draper baby, it’s time for Sterling Coop to consider the crazy idea that black people also might want to buy things, and, according to Duck Phillips, it’s Peggy’s time to shine. If you are a female type person, you know that watching the women on this show is often squirmy; however, Betty’s childbirth experience is a whole new level of “There but for the grace of a few decades (and also the fact that I’ve never given birth) go I.” This is an absolutely fantastic episode for January Jones, who has surprised me from the start and hasn’t stopped yet. Duck tries to woo Pete and Peggy over to his new firm, and if Peggy’s “you have to pay me as much as that douche Paul Kinsey, it’s the law”/”Nope, sorry, here’s a drink” conversation with Don is any indication, she may be sorely tempted. Oh, and that stupid Maypole teacher flirts with Don again, and if they go there, I will be really annoyed. Don might be an unfaithful bastard, but he keeps that shit away from Ossining. Stick with what works, Don!3.05 The Fog. Here’s a good question to start off with: Don Draper in an old-school “writing surface with little pencil holding wedge is attached to a chair and the top opens so you can put stuff inside” school desk. Awesome thing, or AWESOMEST thing? How does he do that? He and Betty are meeting with Miss Maypole Dancey Aroundy Teacher to discuss Sally’s recent behavior. She’s been acting out lately – specifically, there was an incident at the water fountain which from the quick weird 2-second horror movie flashback we get of Sally wiping her face with it like war paint, involved blood. Sure, the girl in question is a confirmed “bruiser,” and obviously there’s a new baby coming, but this isn’t normal for Sally. Is anything going on at home? Betty, obviously reluctant to talk about it, says that her father passed away “last week. Week before. Two weeks now,” which is a really nice bit of dialogue, because yes, grief does that. You lose track. Anyway, Miss Maypole is really taken aback. Apparently Sally hasn’t mentioned this. Not mentioning things is, of course, a long and glorious Draper family tradition.
After confirming that this is Grampa Gene we’re talking about, Miss Maypole is obviously concerned, and politely wonders why they didn’t maybe send a note or something? Sally’s been asking about Medgar Evers’ murder and just generally being weird. Don and Betty both look incredibly uncomfortable, like this is literally the first time it’s ever even occurred to them that Sally’s grief, which she thpelled out pretty plainly last week, was even worth considering. After Betty goes to the ladies’ room, Miss Maypole and Don are left alone to have a little Moment. Ugh. She apologizes for upsetting Betty; it’s just that losing someone at that age can be really devastating, and some people don’t understand that. Don confesses that he does understand, and cartoon hearts begin floating out of poor Miss Maypole’s eyeballs. When Betty returns they all agree to just talk about it later, because you know, it can totally wait. Betty just wants to think about happy things so the baby can be born into the happy blissful not at all fucked up Draper family without any pesky concerns about her firstborn’s almost universally ignored pain. “It’s going to be a beautiful summer,” Miss Maypole assures her. I guess if Medgar Evers is already dead, it’s not that bad of a summer from here on out. They even get the I Have A Dream speech! Once we get around to winter, though, you’d be wise to hold on to your freaking fedoras, folks.
“So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how desperately I want Mr. Draper to personally and thoroughly address my Daddy Issues.”
Ha. At Sterling-Coop, Pryce is reading off an expenditure list, from the Out Of Town Baltimore trip, as it turns out. Don walks in late, and Pryce wonders why, if Don and Sal were on the same trip, Don put in for $70 and Sal for $82. I kind of wonder too! He was late to the London Fog meeting after all. Anyway, Pryce goes on to lament the exorbitant funds being spent on “pencils, pens, pads, paper and postage.” Don quickly realizes he has better things to do than listen to Pryce’s alliterative penny-pinching and just gets up and walks out. Awesome.
Pete is in Kinsey’s office, going over his account list while Paul cleans his pipe and prattles on about Marxism. Paul is truly a pioneer in Hipster Douchebaggery. Replace “cleaning his pipe” with “hand-rolling American Spirit cigarettes” and “Marxism” with “the Pitchfork review for the new Arcade Fire album” and bam, you know like ten of those guys. Anyway, Pete is panicking because it’s looking like Ken got all the best accounts. Admiral Televisions is one of Pete’s good ones, but their sales are flat and he has no ideas. He notices that sales are going up in some cities though: they’re doing well in Atlanta, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit – “Great jazz cities!” Paul puts in. Pete realizes this must mean that, holy hell, these TVs are being purchased by Negroes! Harry and Ken walk in to make sure everyone knows that Lois got her scarf caught in the Xerox machine, and Harry starts looking at Pete’s numbers to see if he might be on to something. As Paul leaves to catch the Mets game with Ken (“What’s everybody doing tonight? Baby…married…Kinsey!”), he dismisses Pete’s concerns: “Admiral’s happy, we’re happy!” “But they’re NOT happy!” Pete protests hilariously. I love Pete so much. I think we’ve all been watching Vincent Kartheiser learn to act.
Pryce interrupts Don to passive aggressively drop off the minutes to the meeting he had to run out on. “You’re wasting paper,” Don deadpans, which is really funny. Don is funny! He does not hesitate to remind Pryce, “You came here because we do this better than you. Part of that is letting our Creatives be unproductive until they are.” “Pennies make pounds, and pounds make profits!” Pryce pontificates perfectly plainly, but ultimately concedes Don’s point, sort of. He declines the whiskey Don pours for him though. From the look on Don’s face as he hands it back unsipped, Pryce might as well have thrown the glass at the wall, punched him in the jaw and told him that suit makes his ass look fat.
Pete’s Uncle Herman is on the line, his secretary announces on the intercom, and Pete picks it up (“My Goodness! Is Aunt Alice alright?”) to find it’s actually Duck Phillips! We’ve all been wondering about Duck, haven’t we – after his little tantrum during the negotiations last season we figured he’d be gone, but we didn’t know where. Grey, it turns out. And he wants to take Pete to lunch. Pete is rather more loyal to Sterling-Coop than I would have thought, considering how annoyed he is with his weird “Head Of Accounts But Not Really” position, but he eventually agrees to meet.
That popping sound you hear is all the cartoon hearts bubbling out of Miss Maypole’s eyes as she makes this obviously completely professional and totally appropriate drunken phone call.
Don comes home to an apparently empty house and a ringing phone. He calls out for Betty, probably mostly to see why she isn’t answering the phone, but ultimately answers it himself. And it’s Miss Maypole, all pathetic and drunk and boundaryless. (I guess I can call her Miss Ferrell, now that she has a name.) She apologizes for being inappropriately sensitive to Sally’s grief, but her dad died when she was little and she may have overidentified a little. Don is smiling for real, which annoys me. You can’t keep it in your pants, but you can at least keep it out of the kid’s teacher, for heaven’s sake. He thanks her for the call and hangs up when he hears Betty calling for him, and finds Betty at the foot of the stairs: “It’s time to go.” Don is charmingly nervous and goes into full-on Responsible Family Man mode. She asks who it was on the phone. “No one,” Don lies for no discernible reason. Because Miss Ferrell really did embarrass herself and he’s being polite by not mentioning it? Because he doesn’t want to remind Betty of their weird morning meeting right when she’s about to have a baby? Because he plans on plowing her at a more convenient time in the future? It’s unclear.
And now we get to the hospital. Betty is shoved into a wheelchair, Don is told where the waiting room is, and from here on out neither of them has any real involvement in the process. As she’s wheeled down the hallway Betty sees a janitor who looks enough like Grampa Gene for her to yell out “Daddy!” Which is weird, because we haven’t even started with the drugs yet. The nurse asks if her water has broken yet, and Betty sort of exasperatedly says “My water never breaks. When will Dr. Alldrege be here?” She wants her own doctor, of course. The one she trusts, even though he’s kind of a dick. But nobody especially cares.
In the waiting room, Medgar Evers’ memorial service is on TV. And like, some people complain (including myself sometimes) that these “Hey! It’s the 60s!” moments are too on-the-nose, but guess what, if you were in a waiting room the day of Medgar Evers’ memorial service, it would be on the damn TV, so get over it. Anyway, there’s only one other guy in the room with Don, a jittery first-time dad named Dennis who’s a guard at Sing Sing. Oh, also, the nurse is Lisa Simpson. I mean Yeardly Smith. Tomayto, tomahto. It’s a nice “nerd worlds collide!” bit of stunt casting. Dennis desperately asks for any news of his wife, who’s been up there for hours without a word. Lisa Simpson impatiently tells him she’s fine, the baby’s breech, they have to call a specialist, “didn’t someone get your permission?” Ha! His permission. Anyway, He breaks out his Johnny Walker Red. (Dennis: “I brought this cause I thought it would be a party in here.” Don: “It’s not, but I’ll have some!”) Don is downright embarrassed that it’s his third time and he’d never thought to bring a bottle. He pauses for a second, then gets that great for-reals smile he gets when he’s falling into Dick Whitman mode. “My daughter took forever,” he tells Dennis, and hey, look at that, he does know Sally’s birth story after all. Don confirms that the other one is a boy, and Dennis looks kind of wistful. “You throw the ball around?” he smiles. Don hesitates, but eventually says “not enough.” Which is the only possible correct answer, but he seems to believe it, at least at that moment.
“Hi, I’m Dennis, I’ll be your Complete Stranger You’re More Comfortable And Honest With Than Anyone You Actually Know for this episode!”
Betty is just standing around as the nurse tells her to get on the bed so she can get prepped, with a quick shave and an enema. And the fun’s only just begun!
As the Johnny Walker flows, Don and Dennis are sitting a little closer together and the conversation gets a little more intimate. Dennis says that he often thinks of all those guys at Sing Sing, even the ones who are monsters – at one point they were just little tiny babies like the ones they’re about to take home. “And every one of them blames their mom and dad.” “That’s a bullshit excuse,” Don says, and that’s Dick Whitman being defensive about the fact that he’s spent his entire life trying not to think about how fucked up his childhood was, and also Don Draper being defensive about how he completely failed to learn any lesson from that and how fucked up his own kids will probably be.
Betty, meanwhile, is being wheeled around and poked and it’s very much like one of those alien abduction stories where her body is just repeatedly violated in a more or less medical fashion but she is not really consulted about any of it. Betty asks again about her doctor, who the nurse cheerfully tells her is in the city, having his anniversary dinner, isn’t that nice? “Is he drinking? Cause my Aunt Emma, her doctor was drunk and he ruined her bladder.” Ha. But no, he’s not coming, so just some random guy she’s never even spoken to before will be the one yanking this person out of her vagina. “I don’t want another doctor, I want MY doctor,” Betty says in that petulant little girl manner she gets from time to time. And then the drugs kick in. “You’re at 5 centimeters,” the nurse tells her. “That’s halfway from here to the Hebrides and other mountain ranges, which we are currently studying in Chapter Twelve.” Whoa, that’s a nice little David Lynch moment. This whole episode is full of creepy moments like this, along with a few ominous portents and horror movie clichÃ©s for good measure, Anyway, Betty has time to protest “The Hebrides are islands” before she’s off to La-La land.
Turns out La La Land looks a lot like the Drapers’ neighborhood in Ossining. Betty’s all dressed up with her figure back, because what’s the point of a cool weird drug-induced dream/hallucination if you can’t look breathtakingly gorgeous while you’re walking on a treadmill in front of a green screen? Drug Trip Betty sees a caterpillar hanging from a tree and watches it in her hand for awhile before happily squeezing it. Again with the portent. I’m getting worried.
Back in the way less cool waiting room, the booze is catching up with Dennis. He suddenly remembers his wife screaming in pain on the way there, and tearily says, like he’s considering it for the first time, “That’s my girl in there. If something happens to her, I don’t know what I’d do.” Then, unaware he’s speaking directly to Don, adds “And then there’d be that baby. How could I ever love that baby?” Don doesn’t quite know what to say, but he knows “Well, I know my dad sure couldn’t!” is probably not the right answer. Instead, he puts his hand on Dennis’s shoulder, which is like a bear hug for Don. “Our worst fears lie in anticipation,” he says, quoting Sal quoting Balzac. “You so sure about that?” Dennis wonders. Don looks like he’s considering it for the first time.
Poor Betty is physically fighting nurses away now, completely freaking out, saying she wants to go home. “Where’s Don?” she cries, sort of endearingly. He’s in the waiting room, duh, but Trippy Betty says bullshit, he’s never where you expect him to be. “Have you seen him?” she asks the room. “Have you been with him???” Doc orders more Demerol. As she slips away again, she says “I’m just a housewife. Why are you doing this to me?”
Poor makeup department. Making January Jones look terrible is probably the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do, and this was as close as they could get.
Lisa Simpson shakes Dennis awake to tell him he has a little boy, and his wife is fine. He’s relieved and overjoyed. “You’re alright, Don,” he tells him. “I know yours is gonna be alright too.” Except then he says “You’re an honest guy. Believe me, I’m an expert.” Hmm. Not so comforting now. Anyway, Dennis is in full-on weepy drunk new daddy mode. “Why do they put up with us?” he wonders, about the poor women having babies yanked out of them. “We don’t deserve it.” He then declares this is a fresh start. “I don’t know who’s up there,” he says, presumably referring to some deity or other and not just the second floor, “so I’m saying this to you.” Don looks like he remembers when he said that, for the first kid and probably again with the second and then again when he got kicked out of the house, and who knows how many times in between.
Real Betty is ready to deliver. This time Trippy Dream Betty is pregnant, in her hospital gown, walking through the same hallway she was wheeled down earlier. But then she’s in her kitchen, watching Gene mop up like she thought she saw earlier. This whole scene should probably be transcribed word for word, because in a dream sequence you can make everything all metaphoriffic, even more than Mad Men usually does. He’s mopping up blood, which could be terrifying but is probably just Betty’s brain processing one of those parts of childbirth that involves blood. Apparently there is often a lot of it. “Am I dying?” she asks him, and he tells her to ask her mother, who is sitting at the table with a bloody Medgar Evers. Ruth tells Betty to “close your mouth; you’ll catch flies,” which my grandmother totally used to say. “I left my lunchpail on the bus, and I’m having a baby,” Betty confesses in my favorite line of the night. Her mom responds by showing Betty the bloody cloth she’s been holding against Medgar Evers’ wound. “You see what happens to people who speak up?” Whoa. Grampa Gene tells her to be happy with what she has. “You’re a housecat: You’re very important, and you have little to do.” It’s actually really nice to see Grampa Gene! I miss him too. On that note, the house fades, replaced by the same big fluorescent lights she’s been staring at this whole time. She opens her eyes to find herself sitting upright, holding a baby. Ta Da! The miracle of childbirth. “She’s beautiful,” Betty slurs happily. Don, who’s standing at the foot of the bed, smiles “It’s a boy.” Will it ever mean anything that Betty was so sure the whole time it was a girl? Who knows? She says his name is Gene. “We don’t have to decide that right now,” Don says, instead of saying “like hell it is!” which is clearly what he wants to say.
WHAT SECRET LOVE CHILD????!!”
Peggy is sipping a Bloody Mary at lunch with…DUCK! And he’s not even going after her separately; apparently this is Pete’s Duck lunch too. “What is she doing here?” Pete sneers. Duck assures him he knows what he’s doing. Duck, incidentally, is rockin’ a turquoise turtleneck. Smooth! They all sit down and stare at Duck like “well?” until he says “I woke up one day and had a revelation: You two have a secret relationship.” **crickets** Well, yeah, but it’s kind of a long story. Anyway, when Pete says that’s ridiculous, Duck says “come on, the way you handled that Freddy Rumsen thing so she could move up?” Peggy tells Duck that’s not how it happened, but Duck just says he knows what he saw, and that kind of focused ambition is rare in advertising. At this point of course Pete has no problem taking the credit. Duck wants to bring them both to Grey. Pete declares they aren’t going anywhere, but Peggy asks “do we have to go together?” which gets a nice hilarious “say whaaa?” look from Pete. Duck says Pete’s a risk taker and Sterling Coop will never reward that. Pete gets up to leave. “Don’t be a baby,” Duck says, “you should be taking meetings like this twice a week.” “If you want to woo me, buy me my own lunch!” Spoken like a real baby. Duck tells Peggy she should strike while the iron is hot – no mortgage, no family, it’s her time now. She already kind of knows this but it’s nice to hear it out loud from someone else. Even if that someone is wearing a turquoise turtleneck. And is named “Duck.”
“The cool thing about me is that my head is so far up my ass I don’t have any room for bigotry! There’s Pete, and then there’s this insignificant faceless population of not-Pete, and I am indifferent to all of you equally!”
In the elevator, Pete looks over at Hollis, the elevator guy, and asks him what kind of TV he has. Because he’s black, you see, and Pete figures he must know why all black people everywhere buy their TVs. No, I mean, I ended up with a different impression of this scene than some people I know, but the point is, Hollis has an RCA. Pete: “Why did you get it?” Hollis: “To watch TV.” Heh. He doesn’t know why an RCA, specifically. He doesn’t really see a difference and he doesn’t watch it much anyway, they have bigger things to worry about, and no, he doesn’t know what kinds of TVs his fellow Negroes buy. Hollis is obviously getting annoyed at this stupid little man, but also I think he’s just trying to keep up the necessary professional relationship. (“It’s just the two of us!” Pete says. “Just Hollis and-” “…Mister Campbell” Hollis finishes for him.) See, here’s how I read this: Pete is so self-absorbed he doesn’t really have room for contempt for other races. He isn’t a bigot, he’s just a rich kid with his head up his ass, which means he doesn’t really bother making that distinction with the kind of contempt or distaste that other white men do. He’s just doing market research and can’t imagine why he’s not getting any valuable information. “It’s my job,” Pete apologizes. “Every job has its ups and downs,” Hollis replies, deadpan, and it took till the second viewing for me to get that. Hollis is punny! Pete smiles and says “You don’t watch baseball? I don’t believe you.” Hollis concedes the point with what I thought was a real smile. You are free to disagree.
Don herds the kids outside Betty’s hospital room and points upwards. Betty stands in the window, hair all pretty and brushed, and holds baby Gene up for them to see. Everybody just waves silently and smiles and that’s that. Later that night Don’s in the kitchen cooking – I don’t know, some kind of hash I guess? Meat and eggs. Sally wanders in all sleepyheaded, and he offers to share his “snack.” She sits at the counter and they have an actual conversation. It’s so sad how heartwarming it is to see one guy have five minutes of meaningful interaction with his daughter. Also, Don can do that thing where you crack an egg with one hand. Of course he can. He can probably light a match with his teeth if necessary.”Is the baby going to live in Grampa Gene’s room?” “It’s not Grampa Gene’s room,” Don replies. “It’s the baby’s room.” Well, okay, sheesh, you could have just said yes. “I thought it was going to be a girl,” Sally says. “Well I thought you were going to be a boy. Not all surprises are bad.” Sally beams at this. “It’s going to be okay,” Don assures her. She says that’s what Miss Ferrell says, and Don says it must be true then. They sit together at the kitchen counter eating their midnight snack and it’s adorable.
“So, one or two of these daddy-daughter bonding moments per season is plenty, right?”
And now this scene, which I don’t really get: Don’s walking down the hospital hallway with his bouquet of blue flowers for Betty. Coming down the other way is Dennis, pushing his wife in a wheelchair. Don tries a warm smile, but Dennis won’t even meet his eyes. So what’s up with that? Well, there’s no baby in her arms, so you could assume something awful happened that he doesn’t want to talk about, but they don’t look especially distraught. I think it’s just that Don saw him at his most vulnerable and he’s embarrassed, and now that the danger has passed and the whiskey has worn off, he doesn’t want to be reminded of his heartfelt promises to be a better man.
So now Pete and Harry are having their meeting with the Admiral guys. They start off by laughing about Burt Peterson’s dramatic exit. You know, when they fired him to go home unemployed to his kids and dying-of-cancer wife. Hahahaha hilarious. So Pete has this completely awesome strategy. He tells them that after extensive research, it looks like Negroes are buying their TVs! They’re like, yeah, we know. Pete is only momentarily taken aback but continues. Turns out black folks totally have their own magazines and everything, where ad space costs a fraction of what it does in real white people magazines! They look at him like he’s just suggested they advertise in Serial Killer Digest or Amputee Fetishist Weekly. He also suggests they do an “integrated” commercial. (“I don’t think that’s legal” one of them says, and Pete’s “Of course it’s legal!” momentary lapse of kissassitude makes me love him even more.) They don’t want to be associated with Negroes, for heaven’s sake. And who’s to say they’re not buying Admirals because they think white people want them? That of course makes no sense at all, but it ends the conversation anyway.
I’m always glad when we get a Peggy/Don scene. Don’s napping in his office when Peggy stops by. She has a present for the baby, looks around at all the other baby things, and says this must be old hat for Don by now, all of which marks the second instance of “What secret baby?” awkwardness of the episode. Basically, Peggy wants a raise. She does better work than Kinsey and is paid less, and she doesn’t know if he read in the papers, but they passed a law where they have to pay her as much as a man for the same work. Don doesn’t bullshit with Peggy, he just tells her now isn’t the time. Pryce is fussing over paper clip budgets, and the higher-ups won’t agree to a raise no matter what. “It’s going to be fine, Peggy,” he tells her, but she’s sort of defeated and sad. She wants what he has. “You have everything,” she says sadly. “And so much of it.” Don thinks for a moment and agrees that’s probably true.
“So by ‘It’s not going to happen/I’m fighting for paperclips/It’s not a good time’ you mean ‘I’ll get back to you’?”
Pete sees her leaving Don’s office and angrily confronts her about it. “Did you tell Don about Duck?” Instead of telling the truth, which would shut him up, she just says it’s none of his business. Pete says it’s fine for her – if they know she’s shopping around they’ll just want her more – but he’s already sort of redundant. She says it’s her decision whether she tells Don or not, and he sort of sadly reminds her “Your decisions affect me.” Secret Baby Awkwardness #3! And his day isn’t over. He’s called in to meet with Roger, Pryce and Bert, and is greeted when he walks in by Roger’s “Well if it isn’t Martin Luther King! I should dropkick you off the roof!” I’m betting this is not the first time Roger has expressed this particular urge. “Admiral has no desire to become a colored TV company,” Bert says. “But they are!” Pete protests, holding his ground. Why would they say no to more money? “Do you know how many hand jobs I’m going to have to give?” Roger yells, putting it in accounting terms. “Am I being taken off the account?” Roger: “I’m going to have to pretend I had you killed!” Pete is just as angry, because his job is to figure out how to sell his clients’ stuff, and he’s getting lectured for doing just that. “Are we done with the flogging?” Pryce asks. “It’s never as good as you think it’s gonna be,” Roger grumbles. Now that we know how Roger and Bert feel, Pryce tells everybody he thinks Pete’s on to something. Not Admiral, but there’s money to be made in the Negro market and they should be looking into it. “There’s definitely something going on,” he understates.
Having an unwanted baby is a proven cure for an unhappy marriage. Oh, wait, no, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of that.
Don brings Betty home, Eugene Scott Draper (it’s official) cradled in her arms in the front seat of course. Francine (you know, the neighbor, Wilson’s dead girlfriend from House), who’s been watching the kids, takes baby Gene while Betty greets them. Sally has a sweet little bouquet of white flowers for her and says “I mithed you THO MUCH!” and gets a dutiful kiss on the top of the head. “Hi Baby. I’m your brother Bobby,” Bobby the Cardboard Cutout says cutely. “How was it?” Francine asks. “You know,” Betty smiles. “It was all a fog.” She says Betty’s making a mistake not forcing Carla to stay, but Betty says she can manage, especially since Carla has her own family to get back to, which seems like an uncharacteristically charitable thing to do. Nice. Also, Don offers to fix her something to eat, and that’s the kind of thing that makes you forget that he was just in bed with some random stewardess a few weeks ago.
It’s dark in the Draper bedroom and everybody’s asleep when it begins: the first midnight squalling. Betty gets up and heads down the hallway. She pauses halfway there – building up her resolve? Reluctant? Remembering for the first time in months that she didn’t want this baby in the first place? We don’t really know. After a few seconds she sighs and goes into the nursery.
Next week: The Big Boss comes from London Town! Quick, hide the booze, and the cigarettes, and the pot, and the naps, and pretty much everything you do here! And hopefully more Joan, sheesh.