Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Joe R: A | 2 USERS: D+
The Winner of the Ham Battle is You

That night, Don tucks the kids into their bunk beds at the Sad Pad. The next day, they watch...Dennis the Menace? Some TV show or another. Sad music plays, because this is what's become of Don's time with his kids, but let's be honest: was his quality time with them any more vibrant before the divorce? When it's time for Don to return them home, they find the house empty. So Don sits in a dark house that used to be his and waits for Betty and Henry to return. When they do, Don announces his presence and says it's 10:00. Henry said he thought they said they'd be back at 10; Don says they didn't. Betty: "I waited for you plenty of times." Don asks Henry to leave them alone, but of course Henry is a man and does not have to do what Don tells him to do. So he asks Betty to tell him what to do. Even her "It's fine" is too ambiguous, he wants to know if he should stay or go. Betty says to stay. Oh, Henry, not your finest hour. Don asks when Betty's moving out -- it's been a month since she was supposed to be gone. Betty makes some flimsy excuse about finding a place that's right for the kids, but Don says whatever the case, if she's not gone soon, he's going to have to start collecting rent. Betty is as shocked at this statement as anything she's heard. Almost hard to believe anyone's ever called her spoiled. Don turns to Henry and says he could buy the place. "Don," Henry says, "it's temporary." Quick as a whip, Don says, "Believe me, Henry, everybody thinks this is temporary." SLAM! Exit line! Draper gets the last word!

After Don leaves, Betty pouts about his nerve. But Henry says he's right. Betty returns to her feeble, kids-based excuses. She can't just uproot them from their school and lives without a place to go! What kind of a mother would she be then? "You're not even looking," Henry says. "There's nothing out there," Betty says, "and he doesn't decide." That first part may or may not be true, but obviously it's the second part that is the real reason Betty's still here.

SCDP, the next day. Peggy comes to Don with a Sugarberry ham, both a peace offering and an actual gift from Sugarberry. "They could have just as easily fired us," Don grouses. "But they didn't," Peggy returns, "because they sold more hams." Because she gets RESULTS, you stupid chief! Peggy then invites Don to take credit for the scheme, if he wants to, but Don sticks by his guns: he's not impressed. He doesn't approve of "these kinds of shenanigans," and he guesses she knew that, since she didn't tell him about it. "It was going great," Peggy rationalizes, "until it wasn't." He then asks about the whole fiancé thing. She says he's not, really, but she also chastises Don for calling him out like he did. "You brought him with you because you thought I wouldn't embarrass you," Don correctly intuits. But instead of apologizing, Peggy simply says, "At least I'm thinking ahead." Determined to shame her about something, Don then tells her she needs to start thinking about the image of SCDP. Peggy: "Well, nobody knows about the ham stunt, so our image is pretty much where you left it." OH YES SHE DID. Don immediately lets her know he won't be needing her in the Jantzen presentation. "Now you're being spiteful," she says, though Don chalks it up to not wanting a "girl" in the room with the uptight Jantzen people. "You know something," says Peggy, gearing up to Tell Don Draper How It Is, as she occasionally does, "we are all here because of you. All we want to do is please you."

Henry Francis is at his mother's house, helping her take the expanders out of the dining room table. In a moment that gives me the closest thing to acid flashbacks I'll ever get, he asks if he really needs to take the expanders down to the basement, since they'll need them again at Christmas. I heard that, Henry. "Did the children like their gifts?" Pauline asks. Henry recognizes this as something of a conversational warning shot, but he doesn't engage, simply saying they did. "It's nice the holiday is memorable for something else," she needles. Mrs. Francis, you can sit by me at the next holiday dinner. I love sweet potatoes, and we can shit-talk Betty Draper until the tryptophan kicks in.

Henry tries to make it seem like Pauline is blaming Sally for "getting sick," but Pauline has a point to make. She's raised plenty of children so she knows it when she sees it: "They're terrified of her." Henry says she doesn't know any of the people she's talking about, which is true. Doesn't make her any less right. "I know what you see in her," she persists. "And you could've gotten it without marrying." God love this woman. Henry begs her to give Betty a chance, even bullshitting that Betty "loves" her. "She's a silly woman," Pauline says, almost begging Henry to realize it. "Honestly, I don't know how you can stand living in that man's dirt." Bereft of a decent comeback, Henry just stomps off with one of the expanders.

At SCDP, Don (with Roger and Pete) is presenting an ad to the Jantzen folks. Don's busy setting the scene when Jim interrupts to ask if he can put his foot on the coffee table that's there instead of a conference table. "Pretend like it's your living room," Roger says, in that perfect Roger way where it seems like he's being accommodating but really he's telling you what a prick you are. Don continues talking about the beach and bathing suits, and how the differences between swimwear and underwear are miniscule variations of cut and cloth and what is essentially a gentleman's agreement. Don reveals the placard with his ad on it: a Gidget-looking bathing beauty wearing (fairly ample, by today's standards) bikini bottoms. Over the area where the top piece would be, there's a black bar, giving the illusion of toplessness. On that black bar is the slogan: "So well built, we can't show you the second floor." Like a lot of people, I thought the "second floor" stuff was a little too on the nose, thematically. Maybe if we consider that Don is intentionally deep-sixing his own pitch, this could be an internal fuck-you, but otherwise "second floor" doesn't make much sense to anyone not watching a TV show called Mad Men. Which I assume the Jantzen fellas are not.

Anyway, Bob is like, "Remember how we told you we were totally into modesty? Like, to a Mormon-worthy degree? Did you maybe forget that?" Don smirks that he was actually going for something "suggestive." "A wink, but it's not a leer." Bob again stresses "modesty," and Don tries to sell this ad as being modest. It will make their competitors look crude, plus it will make people want to see the suit. "They'll want to see the girl," Jim corrects him. And who knows if she's even wearing clothes?! Don sighs and says the ad will get asses into the store, which is what they're paying him to do. "It's not wholesome," Bob decides. They're a family company, after all. Don's idea of "family" isn't what it was a year ago, though. "Your competitors are going to keep killing you," he tells them. "Because you're too scared of the skin that your two-piece was designed to show off." He tells them they have to decide between being "comfortable and dead, or risky and possibly rich." The parallels to Don and the way he deals with self-promotion and publicity are fairly clear, yes? Bob bottom-lines it for Don that whatever they are, they don't want this ad. Don huffily turns the placard back around and tells them that he hopes they enjoyed "looking in the window" of a creative agency. He stomps out, followed by Roger, leaving Pete to glad-hand the Jantzens.

Roger catches up with Don -- the glass walls in the conference room mean this is in full view of the Jantzens and vice versa -- and tells him to cool down. Hopefully Pete can convince them to hear some more pitches in a week or so. But Don's not into that. "That's not the point," he says, and he steps back into the conference room and shouts at the Jantzens to get out. They're agog at being treated this way. Don actually SNAPS at them, like you would a DOG. "COME ON!" he shouts, "LET'S GO!" Out in the hallway, he asks a secretary to cal

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