Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: B- | 1 USERS: B
YOU GRADE IT
It's a Gi…Boy!
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!
I don't enjoy saying this, and I'm probably so far out in the cold with this opinion as to be out of the solar system, but I was expecting so much more from this episode. It actually detracted from instead of building on the momentum of the last couple episodes, in my opinion. Not that there weren't great things, of course, but on the whole it just didn't come together for me. Of course, Mercury has been in retrograde this week.

In an elementary-school classroom, Don and Betty are awaiting, presumably, a teacher, and since the setting is appropriate for a "You learn something new every day" revelation, I'll tell you that I had no idea pregnancy pads came in the size Betty is currently sporting. If I didn't know now that she's dropping the kid this episode I'd be worried her stomach would be heading into farcical territory. The teacher, who just happens to be she of the maypole dance (at least now we have an explanation of why the camera lingered on her so lovingly in that episode), then enters with the news that she was expecting another couple, but they're apparently not coming, which is good news for Don and Betty, because no matter how awful Sally's been lately they earn a relative gold star over "the Piersons" by being the parents that showed up. There's a cute little moment where the teacher realizes Betty isn't remotely going to fit into the one of the child desks and offers up her own chair, and after the teacher, with a pointed look Don's way, says that it's nice to see both of them there, they get down to business -- Sally initiated a fight with Becky Pierson, complete with hair-pulling and scratching. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed -- with all the trouble Sally's gotten into leading up to this, I was kind of hoping for some broken bones or at least an incident that left teeth marks. After a completely bizarre cut to a shot of Sally wiping blood from her face that feels like it belongs on an entirely different show, Don notes, hilariously echoing my sentiments, that no one needed stitches, as if anything less serious than that didn't raise an eyebrow back on the farm, which is probably the case. Betty pointedly adds that she hears the Pierson girl is "a bruiser," and the teacher admits she's heavy. "The children poke pencils into her sides when she's sitting because they think she can't feel it." I hope there's not that much of a difference when she's standing up, otherwise the children might have, if you will, a point. Betty is gratified to hear that Sally hasn't participated in such bullying, but the teacher points out that the fighting is atypical of Sally, and as such wonders if anything has changed at home. Betty haltingly admits that her father passed away about two weeks ago, and the teacher is immediately mortified at bringing up such a sensitive subject, but then wonders why they didn't notify her. She adds that Sally hasn't missed a day of school, and wonders if she went to the funeral; Betty replies that they wouldn't put her through that, and Don adds that he doesn't think children belong in graveyards, making me hope for his sake that Sally doesn't have a Goth phase anytime soon. The teacher notes that she now understands why Sally was asking so many questions about Medgar Evers's murder, prompting Betty to excuse herself to the ladies' room. When she's gone, the teacher apologizes again, but does add that Sally needs attention, as there's a "special pain" involved with losing someone at that age, although she's not sure if Don can understand that. However, Don simply replies, "I can," holding her gaze slightly longer than he might have, and between that and him showing up at all for the meeting, if he weren't single, I think he'd have the immediate opportunity to have sex in or on an elementary-school desk. However, Betty returns to put paid to any such possibility, and the teacher tells her any behavioral issues with Sally really can wait. Betty asks if she's sure: "I just want to put it behind us. I really just want everything to be okay for when the baby comes." And yet your strategy with your daughter almost ensures that that won't happen. The teacher's reply of "It's going to be a beautiful summer" doesn't exactly agree with me, but then it doesn't exactly disagree, either.

Pryce is reading aloud from an expense report, and I guess people generally find him so likable and charming that he's forced to take measures such as these to lower their expectations. Don enters, late, and after Pryce makes a snarky comment about the same and receives a blandly witty rejoinder, Pryce wonders why Sal put in for twelve dollars more in expenses on the Baltimore trip than Don did. Well, he had to give the bellhop a good tip, no? Pryce then complains about the number of pens and other office sundries that are being consumed, and at this, Don has had enough and leaves the room as early as he entered it late. I will give Pryce credit, however, for not skipping a beat as he moves on to a mystery of a missing credenza. Heh.

Lord, spare me Paul talking about the genius of Karl Marx. Pete is similarly unentertained, as he's preoccupied with his conclusion that Ken got all the good accounts at SC. So...Pete really got no leverage out of his coup with Bronzo last week? If this were all in his head, a symptom of the idea that, like Trudy said, he's never satisfied, it would make sense, but the way Roger and Bertram act toward him later suggests that's not the case, so I'm finding this one of many examples of the seams surrounding the plot points in this episode showing. Anyway, Pete's specific complaint is about "Admiral Television," as the sales are flat. He does, however, then notice that there's growth in some areas -- namely, those with large African-American populations. Well, he actually asks, "Is it possible that these Admirals are being bought by Negroes?" I think it's not only possible, it's eminently likely. You cracker. Harry then enters and reports the news that Lois caught her scarf in the copy machine, and Paul sighs that perhaps when Joan leaves he'll be able to be rid of her. Hmm, did Joan assign Lois to Paul because she got wind of the prank they pulled on Peggy last week? Seems a bit of a leap, yet given that it's Joan I'm willing to take it. Pete shares the papers he was reading with Harry and asks for his opinion, but Harry doesn't say much to validate Pete's conclusion. Ken then comes in, guffawing about Lois, and gets appreciative noises from Paul and Harry while Pete sits and stews like the runner-up in a Junior Miss pageant. Again, the ep feels off -- two weeks ago, he and Ken seemed chummy in presenting a united front to the boys, last week he scored this huge victory, and now suddenly he's back to acting like Ken's the new Heather Number One? I think I know where they're going with this, but it still doesn't fly for me...

...but soon enough, we're in Don's office, wherein he's dictating some correspondence to his girl when Pryce opens the door. The secretary leaves, and Pryce and Don exchange barbs about the creative process and waste and honestly, it's boring, so let's move on to where Don pours them both a drink and suggests that if Pryce wants to save money, he should "get [his] nails dirty with Bert Cooper and Harry Crane. Clients love to pay for media, and Creative needs pencils." Pryce seems to see the wisdom in this, and when Don tells him to think of his men's morale, not just his own, Pryce sardonically notes, "You've obviously seen Bridge On The River Kwai." As should everyone. Don replies that he's seen everything, as Pryce knows from his ticket stubs, and I'd think that a

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