At the office, Joan is gossiping to some secretary when Paul comes up and sends the girl on an errand. He then marches off, and Joan, picking up the vibe, follows and asks if something's wrong. He tells her he's avoiding her, and she responds by asking if he's worried about the typewriter. Heh. Paul's seething, though, and asks Joan what she said to Sheila, so Joan parries, "Describe her to me." Paul's stunned at what he takes to be her overt racism, and starts to say he knew Joan was a lot of things, to which she retorts, "I'm not a phony." With a sunny smile, she lights into him, saying that it's so obvious he's only with her in an effort to prove how interesting and bohemian he is. At a loss for words, he looks a combination of angry and devastated, and Joan taunts him further, asking him what part of what she said was wrong. He stomps off, and Joan watches him go with a satisfied look on her face. Now, I rarely mention media discussion of my shows in the recaps, because I rarely care about what a showrunner or creator was trying to do -- it's whether he actually succeeded that matters. In this case, however, I think I should mention that Matthew Weiner said he didn't intend for Joan to come across as racist -- just honest enough to call Paul on his crap. I think Joan did come off as racist in her interaction with Sheila, or at least willing to use racism to make her point, neither of which is acceptable, but I'm willing to give her the benefit of some doubt based on Weiner's stated intentions. It's not like I watch this show for the amazing likeability and political correctness of the characters, anyway.
Speaking of whom, here's Pete in his office. Actually, this episode is about the most likeable Pete has been, not to mention the fact that Vincent Kartheiser is brilliant as always. He may have succeeded at simultaneously being my least favorite character and my number-one actor on the show, which is quite an accomplishment. Duck enters and offers some empty words about when his own father died, and implies that he's kind of hurt that he had to hear about the news secondhand. He'd be really bummed if he knew that Pete went running in to Don as soon as he found out. And I would love to be the one to tell him. Shut up, Duck. Pete simply says there's not a lot to say, and then, after recalling that Duck's dad was in the business, says he didn't know a whole lot about his own father besides the fact that he did not like advertising. That's not entirely true, Pete. We also know he didn't like you. Duck guesses that he was proud of Pete, and offers that some people just have trouble saying it. Pete: "Yes. That was a problem for him." Hee. Duck unctuously slathers on some compliments before trying to get Pete on board by using the tragedy of his dad to hook the American Airlines people. Pete, interestingly, says he thinks he's uncomfortable and he doesn't think he should do that, and his choice of words and tone of voice suggest to me that again, he doesn't know what to do, really, so he's making it up as he goes and doing what he thinks he should do, not what he wants to do. He adds that he hasn't even cried yet, and Duck takes this as his cue to leave. What a dweeb.