Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: B- | 2 USERS: A-
YOU GRADE IT
It's a Gi…Boy!
n oddly tone-deaf wink-wink on Don's part if I weren't preoccupied with eagerly pointing out that the man who claims to have seen everything never saw Bye Bye Birdie until it was forced on him.

Pete's busying himself with his demographic research until Hildy buzzes him with the news that his "Uncle Herman" is on the line. He urgently picks up the phone and asks if "Aunt Alice" is all right, and on the other end, Duck Phillips asks who it is. After they establish their identities, Duck says he used his real given name, "Herman," so as to keep the contact with Pete a secret, but Pete informs him that he actually has an Uncle Herman, and he's ninety-one. Heh. After I note with some disdain that Duck has three gold duck sculptures decorating his wall, he tells Pete that he's at "Grey" now, and they should have lunch. Pete's leery of the idea, but Duck talks him into it. From his clarity and focus, I'm guessing he's sober again, which is unfortunate in that he can't blame the décor of his office on being hammered.

Don arrives home and answers the ringing phone; it's "Suzanne Farrell," Sally's teacher. (Heh, no wonder she could dance so well around the maypole.) Suzanne seems nervous, inebriated, and somewhat intimidated by Don, which would make her the perfect woman for him if she weren't on the other end of a phone line. She apologizes for her behavior that morning, and when he expresses confusion, she explains that her own father died when she was eight, and as such she may have felt a little closer to the situation than might have been appropriate. Don looks like he feels a connection with her, although this time there's no music playing and he's not cinematically feeling up a lawn, but whatever's going on between them is interrupted by Betty calling his name, as it's time to go to the hospital. Don has an amusingly uncharacteristic and endearing moment where he says he has to get his keys and Betty points out that they're in his hand...

...and then an older nurse is helping Betty into a wheelchair while wondering if it might be a false alarm, and Betty's like, "This is my third kid, bitch, do I look new?" The nurse sends Don off to "the solarium," and in this era I'm surprised that's not code for "bar," but then again, it's not going to turn out to matter. As Betty gets wheeled down the hall, she looks back at Don's shrinking form, and then we stay with her as her attention becomes occupied by a janitor who looks like her father from the back. We're of course meant to think the imminent birth is bringing up memories of her father, which is a nice alternative to the birth and death in the same episode I was so glad they avoided last episode, but the janitor is obviously actually being played by Ryan Cutrona so it's hard to fault her here. Soon after, Betty is futzing with a pen as she tries to fill out some forms, and she gets the nurse off the phone to inform her through her pain that she's not planning on breast-feeding the child, and also that her water never breaks, which is a nice departure from TV protocol. She asks when "Dr. Aldrich" will be there...

...while Don leafs through a magazine in the solarium. The only other person in there is a shaved-head-sporting guy named "Dennis Hobart," who asks a nurse that looks like half of Debra Jo Rupp for some information. The nurse tells him that his wife is fine but the baby's breeched, so they're calling in a specialist, and this news freaks Hobart right the hell out, considering no one had even talked to him for a hour. Once the nurse is gone, Hobart comments to Don that being an imminent father isn't what he expected, and pulls out a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red as he adds that he brought it because he thought it would be a party in there. From the way Don is eyeing that bottle, you just might get your wish, cowboy. They start drinking as Hobart complains he's been there all day, and he even called in to get off work -- he's a prison guard. He and Don bond as Don seems genuinely glad of the company, but when Hobart asks if he throws the ball around with his son, Don goes serious: "Not enough." Child-actor laws can be so restrictive. The conversation breaks after that line, and Don rips out an ad for a convertible from a magazine...

...and then we're back with Betty, who's being told by the nurse to get on the bed. "I'll shave you, and then give you a quick low enema." Sounds like she should buy her a drink first.

In the waiting room, some amount of Scotch I'd guess falls into the "not insignificant" category has been consumed, and Don complains that time seems to have stopped. Try recapping when the jokes aren't flowing, pal. He then asks Hobart about Sing Sing, and Hobart tells him that although he's outnumbered, he feels like a king. Don: "Except your subjects want to kill you." Not seeing how that detracts from the comparison. Hobart says they're not all bad -- some are killers, but some are baseball players, and in '29 their team even played the Yankees. Don, half in the bag, jokes that everyone was in stripes, which gets an appreciative laugh from Hobart. He gets serious, though, as he says he has to be careful not to bring his work home, especially with a kid there, and furthers his point by saying that he sees all these violent prisoners, and every one of them would blame their parents for how he is. Don mutters that that's a bullshit excuse, and given that he didn't turn out to be a serial killer in spite of his upbringing, he's got some credibility on the subject.

Betty, despite having "little veins," eventually gets an injection of something that will apparently help with her pain and "put [her] in a twilight sleep." I'd like to pick up some of that -- the ability to put certain people into a twilight sleep would ease a lot of my pain. Despite the medication, Betty is not pleased to hear that her regular doctor is in the middle of tying one on for his anniversary in the city, so she'll have to take the obstetrician who, while unknown to her, is both on duty and sober. The nurse starts to tell her she's at five centimeters already, the implication being that it's way too late to be arguing the point, but that becomes irrelevant for the moment, because the nurse suddenly starts some geography-related babbling...

...and then Betty's in a dream in which she's walking down her street, except they achieve a surreal, dreamlike effect (and save from having to film on their lot for this scene) by green-screening the background in. She's in an uncharacteristically busy sundress with an uncharacteristically goofy smile on her face, and when she stops walking, a caterpillar floats down on a thread of silk into her outstretched hand. Betty regards the incredibly fake-looking thing intently, and closes her hand before...

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