Back to work, after the birthday party, means a lot less shamed faces than you might expect. In fact, that only thing that really bites anybody in the ass is that Megan is now pissed at Peggy -- for undercutting her while her stoned ass was bitching Don out -- and at Don -- for whining way past the point of no return once everybody had left.
Megan, still busily -- and hilariously -- freezing out Don whenever she can, overhears Harry talking about fucking her in the breakroom, which she finds less hilarious than does Stan Rizzo, who loves a good awkward moment more than anything besides tight Polo shirts. So Harry spends the episode paranoid that she, or God forbid Don, are going to come down on him. Since they're not talking, and Megan could basically give a shit, all this paranoia does is propel him into the scheming arms of one Roger Sterling.
Seems that Pete's had it up to here with Roger's grandfathered-in seniority, and wants some recognition. Being Pete Campbell, he goes about this the dumbest way: Demanding Roger's office and practically explaining explicitly to the partners that it's because he wants to emasculate Roger. Roger buys Harry's office from him for the switch once the other partners suggest Pete could use the space, but then Pete has the last laugh: He plants a fake appointment in his calendar, so that Roger ends up trying to scoop him on an imaginary breakfast meeting at 6 AM in Staten Island. I always enjoy having a reason to be impressed with that kid; they come around so rarely.
Lane Pryce finds a wallet in a cab that spins him out into a fantasy where he can just have some gangster's gorgeous moll come be his special friend, but she ends up sending the wallet's owner instead, bringing him thudding down to earth. Still stressed about money, both for the firm's and his family's sake, it's possible -- in the grand tradition of these dudes -- he wasn't feeling horny so much as just wanting a little escapism. Whatever it is, it's kind of sad.
What is not sad is when Joan's mom -- who is just a hot mess, by the way -- brings to her attention that little Equal Opportunity Employer the boys put in the paper to congratulate themselves for being more progressive than the dicks at Y&R. The assumption being that, just as mommy predicted and frankly wants, they are trying to replace Joanie for good. Not one to rest on her laurels for long, our Joan puts on one of her most amazing dresses ever and heads down there with baby in tow to make sure they don't freeze her out, resulting in a kinda funny Hot Potato game where everybody wants to see the baby but nobody actually wants to be responsible for the baby or hold the baby for more than a second. Including Peggy, of course, but also its parents. The only thing weirder than watching Joanie refer to her child as merely "okay" is watching Roger stare down at it like it's a steak he's considering sending back.
(The only thing weirder than that is how much time you might spend staring at Joan's post-pregnancy breasts, and trying to remember how big they were before, because how big is infinity plus one.)
Which is where the not-sad part comes in, because Lane is so sweet with poor lonely frazzled Joan, so overjoyed to see her, so intuitive about her insecurities and really charmingly willing to tell her the place is obviously crumbling without her, that he ends up practically saving her from a breakdown. I never expected a Lane Pryce scene would leave me breathless, but I have to say -- and this isn't just my personal love for Joan talking -- it might have been the best scene of all two hours. Lord knows I never understood how he pulled Rebecca, but damned if he didn't get pretty sexy at that point. A little kindness goes a long way on this show.
Or at least, that's what Megan tries to explain to Peggy, as once again their mutually respectful friendship puts things on the table within 48 hours that it would have taken pills and months to get Joan and Peggy, for example, to talk about back in the day. Linking up Peggy's attitude at the party (never really comprehending that it was more about dissatisfaction with Don's performance) to Harry's gross sex talk to Don's sudden coldness the other night, Megan decides that the entire advertising industry can go fuck itself, awesomely plays on Peggy's sympathies to the point that it's like Peggy's a man who's disappointed her delicate heart, it's fantastic, and then runs home to clean the apartment in her underwear. Like you do.
After Peggy shows up to apologize to Don for bitching at him at his birthday -- which, of course, didn't even register -- he tells her she doesn't know Megan as well as she thinks, if she didn't go after her. Sexist or true? I don't know, but when he gets home and she's on her knees scrubbing the carpets and calling him old and telling him he's not allowed to watch her in her undies, then that he's not allowed to touch, just watch, and all this coded humiliation shit... I don't know. He fucks her, obviously, and they both calm down and have a conversation about how they both thought the other one wanted the white carpet, they both thought the other one wanted her to stay working at SCDP in Creative, etc.
If she's smart, she won't let him cage her up, right? But on the other hand, maybe the whole "I just want your job one day" thing was the quickest way to his dick and she'll just go play the guitar or something. Whatever those ladies do when they're not Betty or Francie, but don't go all the way over into heroin either. I mean, if you put together a list of things that would get Don Draper's pants off and also make him want to marry you, she knows all of them already -- and she doesn't mind employing them, this Megan of ours. But it is weird to see her go all nuts like that, with the mascara and the whole bit, and still have enough of her wits to do this entire freakout scene while scrubbing the floor in her underwear with her ass sticking up. "Look at me! Don't look at me! You're a dirty little boy! You're an old man with a limp dick! I am scrubbing this mess and getting my hands all dirty! Worship me!" You know? Like, she's a gamer.
She very well might also be fucking crazy, but she's at least a player on top of it.
Anyway, the episode ends as it begins: With everybody's morning. Don and Megan are basically back to normal, etc. But once everybody gets into the office, they notice -- as Roger, of course, puts it -- that Reception is "full of Negroes." Because it wasn't just Joan's mom that saw that self-congratulatory, almost-a-joke ad they took out last episode. After a pants-shitting Truth To Power moment in which the rich white men that run our universe realize that a sufficient number of able-bodied young black women in pretty dresses could probably take them down in seconds, they send out Lane, who once again reacts with all the charm and none of the baggage, releasing the young men and taking the ladies' resumes for further review. Could we be seeing a black secretary at SCDP? Still seems early days for that -- and God help us when even Don Draper, as the voice of progressive sanity, can himself only offer a weak "Maybe we should just hire one and they'll go away?" -- but man, I would give anything to see that white man-fear a few more times before we're done.
Next week: Roger hates Pete, Don meets Daddy, Henry and Betty come back in what seems like an odd way, and Peggy still kinda hates the newer, happier Don. (Don't worry, girl! He'll ruin things soon enough!)
-- Jacob Clifton
When we return, it's daytime, and we get an establishing shot of a checker cab (thirty-five cents to enter, then increments of a nickel, don't you know) that we learn contains Pryce. As he reaches into his jacket for the fare, he notices that someone dropped his wallet on the floor. The driver offers to turn it in to Dispatch, as they have a Lost and Found, but when Pryce inspects it and discovers there's close to a hundred dollars in it, he declares his intention to return it himself. It's not clear what his game is -- you'd think he's simply worried that the cash might disappear into one of the hands it would pass through if he turns it in, but he's hard to read, and given what happens later I wouldn't venture to guess what's going through his head. In addition, the driver is clearly worried about Pryce's shift here, and notes that the owner is probably going to call looking for the thing, but Pryce hands over his business card and a tip and the guy relents. Pleased with himself, Pryce exits the cab...
...while Don, not surprisingly, is still asleep, with Megan nowhere to be seen. The only question is whether he got out of bed on the intervening day at all. Cut to him applying shaving cream with his new brush and then looking a bit regretful. I suppose this is the dark side of not leaving your wife at home when you go to work.
Back to Pryce, who has just laid the wallet carefully on his desk when Pete enters and notes that the party was quite the thing. "Have Masters and Johnson come in yet?" HA! Pete with the witty references, I swear. He adds that he should take a seat and watch them slink in in shame, and Pryce notes that Pete is in a good mood. Well, it's no surprise that Pete loves his schadenfreude, but he has further reason to be pleased -- Mohawk called him at home that morning. Before Pryce can get too jazzed in response, though, his secretary buzzes to tell him Rebecca's on the phone, so Pete leaves him to it, but not before he informs him he's called a partners' meeting. Once Pryce picks up, Rebecca apologizes for the apparent row they had that morning, but is still worried about a letter they got from St. Paul's (I'm assuming that's the fancy boarding school in New Hampshire) demanding payment for their son Nigel's tuition for the coming year. Pryce idly argues with Rebecca as he fishes a photo of an attractive young woman out of the wallet, on the back of which is written, "Xs and Os all day. Delores." Pryce smiles, and unfortunately, I do not believe that he's merely appreciative of the love that exists between this woman and the owner of the wallet. Oh, Pryce, if you're than unhappy, go back to your girl at the Playboy Club. It's not canceled in this reality. Rebecca then reminds Pryce to get the names of Megan's real estate agent and decorator, and for someone who's trying to get him to pay up early for Nigel's education, she's doing a good job of making the prospect more difficult.