Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Joe R: A | 2 USERS: D+
The Winner of the Ham Battle is You
nd proceeds to condescend to Don's new, single lifestyle in the guise of trying to set him up with a friend of Jane's. Twenty-five years old! Looks like Virginia Mayo! Gymnastics team at Mount Holyoke! "You hit it off, come Turkey Day you can stuff her!" Oh Roger, you giant pig. Don assents by omission, so Roger calls out to Don's secretary to set up a reservation. He recommends the Chicken Kiev. "Butter squirts everywhere."

Later, Don returns home to his dark, sad apartment. He gives new housekeeper Celia a hard time for not putting things back where she found them. She takes it in stride and exits with a request that Don eat something already. Don idly shines his shoes and watches the poor-quality reception on his TV set. It looks like he's watching a movie ... for the first 30 seconds. Don smiles at his Glo-Coat handiwork. The entirety of the next day seems to be spent poring over ads in his portfolio, fussing over his apartment, and generally killing time until his date. Maybe Roger wasn't too far off.

So here's Don on his date with Sarah Newlin from True Blood. We don't get her real name up front, but the credits tell me she's "Bethany Van Nuys." How brilliant. Here, as on True Blood, she's the kind of overly-smiley that makes you distrust her. The big difference is that here, she's in charge, in a very subtle way but there's no question about it. She's like if Joan Holloway suddenly figured out the extent of her powers and decided to stop being deferential as a stratagem. She tells Don she's breaking her rules about dating divorced men, but Jane has made Don her personal crusade. Don wonders if there aren't more important things to crusade about, which leads Bethany to darkly comment upon the state of the world today, "those boys killed in Mississippi," and what it takes to change things. This girl is no Betty. Don is intrigued. It's tough to tell if he's enjoying this conversation-of-equals thing or if he's trying to wrest the upper hand back, but either way, he asks her what she does. She says she's an actress, currently a "supernumerary" in the opera. Not a chorus girl -- she doesn't sing. "I do a lot of mock-drinking," she says with a mixture of humility and the delight that comes with doing what you love, even on the periphery. "I'm a wench, I'm a courtesan, part of a harem. It depends on the opera." Don smiles and says, "That is truly fascinating." She asks if he's ever been to the opera, but he says only on business "so I've never enjoyed it." She tells him he must come as her guest. The waiter comes by with menus, but Bethany doesn't need one. She's getting the Chicken Kiev. "You know they make you wear a bib" Don cautions. "Come on," Bethany counters, "let's have some fun." So Don makes it two Chicken Kievs ("Chickens Kiev"?).

All that butter sauce must've worked too, because in the car afterwards, Don couldn't be more amorous. Bethany holds her ground, however. She asks if she'll see Don at Roger and Jane's for Thanksgiving. Don balks. He moves in, and they kiss. She wants there to be no confusion: she wants to see him again. But she's not inviting him up to her apartment. "We'll see where we are on New Year's," she says. "If it's meant to be, it'll keep." This is a bit more than just a prudish girl and Don's blue balls. This is about wanting to be more than just Don's lay of the week. She leaves Don -- as he's done with so many ad campaigns -- wanting more.

The next day, Peggy is sitting in a diner with her two ham-fighting actresses, enthusing about how well today's publicity stunt went. Gladys -- played by comedian Cathy Ladman, who I remember from the old pre-Daily Show Comedy Central days -- grouses that the other "doesn't know when to stop" and rubs her sore shoulder. The other one coolly responds that her objective was to get the ham, and "no one told you to hit me." Peggy glosses over this interpersonal mishegas and welcomes a beaming Pete to the table. Pete hands the women their fees (in unmarked manila envelopes) and says they can look forward to seeing their names and photos in Monday's Daily News. The one who got hit -- Daisy -- asks for an aspirin, which Peggy provides from her purse, and then Peggy suggests they disperse and not have any contact for a while. They all stand up when suddenly, Daisy grabs a handful of Gladys's hair and yanks down, hissing "You hurt me!" Peggy and Pete break it up, and the ladies go their separate ways. That was pretty serious. There was no such thing as hair extensions in the 1960s, so even under Jersey Rules that was a significant offense.

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Mad Men




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