Mad Men

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Couch Baron: B | 3 USERS: A-
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That's Some Great Business Sense!

Don arrives home to find William furiously plunging the kitchen sink; upon seeing him, William smiles that it's all under control. Heh. The kids are watching TV, Gene's at the kitchen table, and Judy's setting places in the dining room. Don heads for the stairs to see Betty but meets her on her way down: "I'm going out for a bucket of chicken." Boy, when she decides to eat, she doesn't fool around. Don asks what's wrong, and Betty tells him she's a horrible daughter; William informed her that the only options are to put Gene in a home or for him and Judy to move into chez Hofstadt. Don does not need to hear any more, and he calls William's name out in a tone that sounds a little more reproving than the one for telling him he's got the wrong tie on. Moments later, the two of them are in Don's study, and Don doesn't drag it out so there's no reason for me to: He informs William what's going to happen, which is that William is going to support Gene financially while Don takes Gene into his house, and the Hofstadt ancestral home will remain untouched. Also, William will tell Betty that this is what he wants: "We'll pretend that you did the right thing on your own." William does raise his voice a little in response, but his little tempest in a teapot doesn't even register with Don, as he adds that William will be leaving the Lincoln. "New York Central, Broadway Limited from Penn Station. It leaves in two hours." He fails to add that if he's late, they'll be demolishing the station around him, but after a signature Don Draper display of virility I doubt William's going to dawdle.

Outside, Don sits at the kitchen table with Gene, finally having some "people," as, without sound, we see William explain the situation to Betty. Betty turns to Don in silent gratitude, and Don favors her with an almost imperceptible smile. William, Betty, and Judy then enter the kitchen, and Betty tells him she and Don want him to live with them for a while. Gene isn't thrilled, even after Judy tries to comfort him: "I should have been the first to go." Yikes. I mean, I doubt anyone there would disagree, but still. William runs off to help the girls pack, and he's rushing just like I predicted. In fairness, though, he's got to be psyched about getting away from those bunk beds.

Peggy's settled into a booth with the one guy, who looks like he started shaving halfway through Season Two. He sloppily chomps on a burger as he tells her he's just about to graduate from Brooklyn College, and he started prelaw but switched to engineering. Peggy is doing a good job of staying engaged in a conversation with someone she normally wouldn't be caught dead talking to, brightly noting that the two tracks he's been on are very different. She goes on that she works for an ad agency, and he replies, "I don't know how you girls do all that typing!" Peggy looks like she's considering telling him how it really is, but instead decides to channel her feelings from earlier in the day: "I work for a jerk!" Heh. Some of the guy's friends then come up and engage him in a "clever" exchange, the point of which is to let Peggy know that he lives right around the corner, wink wink nudge nudge. The guy looks embarrassed, but all Peggy does is grab the burger out of his hand and take a big playful bite. He smiles and tells her she's funny, and the only reason she doesn't stick her shoulder out like Ann-Margret is that she's got the guy in the bag already.

Sure enough, when we return, we see that Peggy and the guy have retired to his place, ginormous even by TV standards for a dorm room, and they're making out horizontally on the couch. Peggy takes a moment to inhale and then ask if he has a "Trojan," so apparently Peggy finally engaging in confession at the end of last season was no reason to think she'd turn back into a good Catholic girl. Anyway, the guy despondently says no, sensing this could mean the end of his heretofore-very-lucky evening, but although she understandably draws the line at anything that could get her pregnant again, she offers, "There are other things we could do." Make your own joke about tools and toolboxes here.

Betty's awakened by the sounds of distant sirens and some louder noises from downstairs, and she gets Don up; cut to the two of them stumbling into the kitchen and, bleary-eyed and bewildered, finding Gene emptying some liquor bottles out into the sink. He tells them that the heat is on, and they have to get rid of the stuff, and in response, Betty wordlessly (and kind of hilariously) exits, either to fall back into bed or to vomit. Don, for his part, purses his lips all, "When I made my grand speech earlier about taking you into my home, I was thinking I'd have lots of booze around for when you went off the rails." Oh, the best-laid plans.

Peggy manages to extricate herself from the guy's foldout bed without anyone losing an arm, but he wakes up before she can make a clean getaway. She tells him she has to work the next day, and when he asks if she'd like to get breakfast, points out that it's the middle of the night. That's the best (and only) time to go to Denny's, girl! Again angling to see her again, he asks where she works, but she again vagues, "Madison Avenue." Sensing that that's a bit large an area to count on a chance meeting, he tells her he hangs out at the bar at which they met a lot, but her fake nod in response suggests she won't be looking for him again. Guy, she'd probably reconsider if you promise never to ask her her name. Anyway, before she goes, she at least tells him it was fun, and seems to mean it, but the Ann-Margret impression is over. THANK GOD.

Cut to a field in which numerous folding chairs have been set up. A woman with a floral garland on her head welcomes the assembled parents to "Field Day" -- more specifically, they're doing a maypole dance. A kid reads from cards about the origins and significance of the celebration, mentioning that it's Ossining's sesquicentennial, and then the dance begins. Folk-y music begins play to, but it fades as the music of Don's Getting An Idea kicks up, and he focuses on the teacher as she slides the hula hoop's straps over her...damn, it happened again. No, he reaches down to feel the grass as he observes the teacher frolic in slow motion, and this is truly ambiguous to me -- are we just seeing further emphasis that he's truly open to new things? Or is there a more specific tie-in to his views of feminine sexuality? Regardless...

...after the dance, Don tells Sally she was great, and then the Draper family, including Gene, has a picture taken...

...and when Don enters the office the next day, he regards Peggy like, perhaps, he's seeing someone new. After returning his long look, she comes out, asking if he wants to talk about Pampers, and they sit down in his office before we cut to black.

Next week: It looks good.

John Ramos is a writer and film producer living in Los Angeles. You can reach him at couchbaron@gmail.com.

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