Mad Men

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Bertram is Evil. Evil!

Peggy turns up at Duck's hotel room, scarf re-boxed and in hand, and Duck tells her she missed Hermès, but still invites her in for a drink. After he explicitly establishes that he's off alcohol, she orders a whiskey, causing Duck to look askance at her and say that she is Don's girl. She replies that she was raised on whiskey, which in this era might be literally true, and after they sit, Duck tells Peggy that Grey has Hermès, Macy's, Heinz baby food, and Revlon. The underlying message isn't lost on Peggy, and she replies, "You need someone in a skirt." I think Sal could sell that in a pinch. Peggy asks some questions about her potential title and travel options, but she quickly turns him down, so he shakes her hand. "I'm just sorry I won't be seeing you every day." In case you're drawing a map, this is where the scene turns. Peggy, looking down at his hand, asks what he's doing in a manner that could certainly be more discouraging, and he tells her he doesn't know how he worked all that time at SC without noticing her. Here's another instance of someone looking directly at someone else, with unclear consequences. He kisses her, and she uncertainly asks what he wants. Duck: "I want to take you in that bedroom, lock the door, take your clothes off with my teeth, throw you on the bed, and give you a go-around like you've never had." Maybe he does write his own copy after all. Peggy, having had her fill of callow youth, is like, "Where do I sign?" They mack.

Betty's sitting at the kitchen table when Don arrives home, and she immediately sends the kids upstairs. Recognizing this as a bad sign, Don asks what's wrong, and she tells him about Roger's call. Don storms over to the phone, and when Betty tells him not to bother with Roger, he tells her not to worry about his job, which I didn't really catch the significance of the first time but definitely backs up the idea that he'll happily leave SC over the contract issue. Betty, however, lashes out at him for keeping it from her, pointing out that he never tells her anything about his work, and by the way, why exactly won't he sign the damn thing? He tries to tell her it doesn't concern her, and when she won't accept that, he claims it's a matter of business -- not having a contract gives him the power. "They want me, but they can't have me." Of course, Betty sees right through this to the underlying issue, which is that he doesn't want to be tied to anyone, even her: "Why would I think that has anything to do with me?" She adds that it's three years. "What's the matter -- you don't know where you're going to be in three years?" Beaten but unbowed, he takes his drink and his hat and heads off into the night...

...and we cut to him driving down a darkened road, sipping his drink as he goes. If he keeps that up, I know where he's going to end up, and it won't take three years to get there, either.

Cut to Duck and Peggy in bed, and he tells her he loves the taste of liquor on her breath...

...and then we cut right back to Don drinking, and the sequence there disturbs me in a whole new way but let's not get into it here, because on the side of the road, Don sees a young couple trying to hitch a ride, and on a whim, he pulls over. He asks where they're headed, and the girl says Niagara Falls, but the guy quickly says they'll settle for the nearest motel. Don has them hop in, and after they introduce themselves as "Doug" and "Sandy," Sandy tells Don they're going to get married even though they're not really in love and don't particularly know each other -- they're doing it so Doug, as a married person, won't be eligible for the draft for VIETNAM. (I'm capitalizing the mentions from now on so you'll know to pay attention.) The kids then chuckle about Don being an ad man and then exposit that they're high and offer Don two Phenobarbital pills as a substitute for gas money, which he downs before tossing his drink out the window. I don't know how long it takes those things to take effect, but I'm guessing the motel guy is going to have an eye-rolling time checking this party in.

When we return, the pills have definitely kicked in to some degree, as Don looks goofy and giddy as he dances with Sandy. The group has also managed to procure some booze, although it wouldn't shock me if Don had it in the back seat for emergencies, and after opining that school is for losers, which is why he won't go back to get out of serving, Doug repossesses his girl with some comments about Don watching them that threaten to take us to premium cable territory. However, a less risqué but equally disturbing thing happens when Don suddenly hallucinates his notorious father Archie in the chair in front of him. He cracks Don up with a joke about hillbillies and their deviant ways, and although it's pretty funny I don't think Don's the most discriminating audience at the moment. Doug, who no longer seems so friendly toward Don, asks what he's laughing at, but he then devotes his attention to making out with Sandy on the other bed, leaving Archie free to tell Don he's a bum. This, I think, is the final piece of why it's being hammered home how much Don hates to have other people see him -- they might learn that he's Dick Whitman, a fraud. Even though that's never really come back to bite him, he's still terrified and feels the need to retain the option of running. Archie snickers that you wouldn't expect Connie to be taken in so easily, which is ironic because Don did tell him about his modest beginnings, and goes on that Don's hands are soft like a woman's, because he doesn't do anything. "You grow bullshit." Don is growing increasingly heavy-lidded, but not quickly enough for the kids, who can't believe he's still awake after taking two of the pills. He's not an amateur, here. Doug, however, takes it upon himself to counter Don's extreme tolerance by punching him in the back of the head, and Don goes down like one of the better-looking trees in the Hudson River Valley...

...and then we're back to him looking at himself in the mirror the next morning, obviously having landed on his face. He picks up a note from the girl thanking him for the "help" and saying that they left him his car, adding, "Your welcome." Heh. Stay in school, kids! It can keep you out of the Army and prevent you from making grammatical mistakes in front of large audiences! Don opens his wallet and finds one whole dollar inside, which I'm guessing is not what was there when he arrived, and he disgustedly heads into the bathroom...

...just as Peggy sits up in bed again. Duck asks if everything's okay, but when she says she's worried about Housekeeping disturbing them, he says he put out the Do Not Disturb sign. "I'll call them when we're done." I guess there's no need to announce his randier intentions again, given that she's already naked and in bed. Might not hurt his case to repeat the part about the go-around, though. He adds that he loves the morning, which I'm guessing is a new development in his life now that he's sober. They get to it...

...while Betty's decorator is completely horrified at the monstrosity now sitting where the hearth should be. On the plus side, the chances of it catching on fire at some point are pretty decent. She tells Betty she's ruined the whole room, and if she wants to keep it, "please do not tell people I did this." I'd get her to sign something to that effect, honey, because that thing is beastly.

Peggy sees Don the next morning and is shocked at his appearance, which he blames on a fender-bender. She asks if he'd like some coffee, presumably in an attempt to show him she doesn't think so much of herself, but he brusquely refuses. Don, I know you're not in the best mood this episode, especially right at the moment, but please consider GIVING PEGGY A FUCKING BREAK. The viewing audience will appreciate it. After he gives Allison the same explanation, she tells him Bertram is waiting for him. Inside, he finds the man in question, sitting in Don's chair much as Connie did, so you know he means business. After a little story about Sacagawea, Bertram informs Don thusly: "You, Don, have been standing on someone's shoulders. We brought you in, we nurtured you like family, and now's the time to pay us back." Don stares at Bertram sullenly, like a petulant child would, which feels about right, and Bertram adds that he can't go any further on his own. Bertram then produces another copy of the contract and a pen, and asks this: "Would you say I know something about you, Don?" Oooooh. You know, on first viewing, I thought he was being completely evil, but I'm not really feeling any venom here; I'm more inclined to take him at his word that he's merely reminding Don of how well he's been treated, in many senses, and telling him it's time to come along for the ride. Don's the one who's making it into such a trap in his own mind, and Bertram's basically telling him to get over it as he adds, "After all, when it comes down to it, who's really signing this contract anyway?" Okay, I'll admit that was a little evil. Bravo, Robert Morse. I was hoping they kept you around for a reason. Don signs and dates (7-23-1963) the contract, taking some measure of revenge by telling Bertram he wants no further contact with Roger...

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