Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A | 2 USERS: A+
A Change Is Gonna Come

Pete comes in to see Harry for some sympathy: "I found out yesterday that Head of Accounts is going to Kenny and his haircut." Hee. Harry sympathetically says he heard, and lowers the volume on, as a reader emailed to tell me, an episode of As The World Turns. And the same reader informed me that he still remembers that scene being interrupted, and that the woman in it is now ninety-one and still appears on the show. Awesome. But does Harry seriously have to watch TV all day now? Not that I of all people have a theoretical objection, but it does seem like it would make it hard to get anything else done. Pete asks Harry if he was consulted, and Harry grimly replies, "After the fact." They agree that the news is not good for Pete, who breathes that he has no future there before asking how Harry got where he is. "You made your job up." Harry demurs, however, saying he merely used the fact that other agencies have TV departments and SC didn't. Pete sadly muses that there's no analogous road for him to take with Accounts, and there's kind of a weirdly-timed cut out of the scene...

...that leads us to Don coming in to see Pryce and bitching about the memo he got informing him that the guy he wanted to hire to replace Sal is too expensive for them. Don gets heated, in more ways than one: "Do you want me to walk you through a delivery schedule?"

Another oddly-timed cut ensues, and I'm now thinking that was done purposely to stir up feelings of unease in advance of what's about to happen. Because Duck, watching TV, sees a news announcement about "an attempt" on JFK's life that they know at least wounded him. There's a knock on the door, though, and Duck lets us know something about his priorities when he switches the TV off, and the fact the he even goes so far as to unplug it suggests he's not so much interested in giving Peggy a say about whether or not they're about to, um, go to the printer. And thus they commence their trip without delay.

Don continues to press his point until Pryce picks up the phone and suggests he call Powell. Don instead says he'll just go complain to Bertram. When he's gone, Pryce gets a phone call, and is like, "What?"

Harry's moving the pity party along by complaining about his own situation when a bunch of employees file in and commandeer his TV, switching it to the news report, and way to be on the ball, CBS. Everyone watches in horror...

...and as Don comes out of Pryce's office, he sees a sea of ringing phones and no one to answer them...and then, as one, they all stop. That got me right in the gut, I'll tell you, having lived through the same thing on 9/11 as all of you no doubt did as well. Don sees a group of people gathered around the entrance to Harry's office and wonders aloud what the hell is going on...

...while Betty's at home watching. She leans forward when an update comes in...and the word is given that JFK has died just as Carla enters from the back door. Carla and Betty sit and cry together as the kids come in uncertainly, and then Carla lights a cigarette, another touch I loved. Sally puts a consoling arm around Betty's shoulders...

...and now that they've, um, returned, after some discussion of hickeys, Duck tells Peggy there was a news story on before she arrived that's been on his mind, so he plugs the TV back in and sees Walter Cronkite giving the official announcement (CBS has caught up, finally), and his voice breaks a little as he gives the details. As Peggy gapes in shock, Duck rushes to call his kids. We don't get to see if he connects, and you'll pardon me for not really giving a shit.

Margaret, in her wedding dress, is inconsolable as Mona tries to comfort her. I'd feel sorrier for her if she hadn't bugged the crap out of me earlier, but it does kind of suck for her, with the upcoming immolation and all.

Don arrives home, not looking particularly affected, and calls for Betty. When she doesn't answer, he asks the kids, who are still in front of the TV, where she is, and Sally tells him she's not feeling well. She then appears, though, and as Don pulls her into a long embrace, she tells him she can't stop crying. After they disengage, he asks why the kids are watching the coverage, and she disbelievingly asks if she's supposed to keep it from them, which is the beginning of the end for him, although I didn't really grasp that on first viewing. He tells her to take a pill and lie down while he tends to the kids, and she looks like she wants to argue the point but eventually decides to leave the room without another word. Don tells the kids to turn the TV off, but they're transfixed, as you'd expect, so he sits on the couch and tells them everything will be okay -- they're getting a new President, and they'll all be sad for a bit. They keep the TV on...

...and later, Don comes up to bed and takes a pill himself. Two children by yourself can be quite a handful. Plus, there's the other thing.

The next day, Betty and the kids are watching Cronkite talk about how Oswald claimed to be a Marxist, not a Communist, like most people would be interested in discerning the differences between the two even without the assassination. I mean, Betty's fugly pleated yellow housecoat alone is evidence enough that no one's brain is really turned on here. Don appears, already dressed to go to the wedding, and Betty's like, "Seriously?" It seems pretty clear to me that she wants some reaction from Don about the whole JFK affair, but all he does is gently prod her again to get dressed, prompting her to ask if it hasn't been canceled, as you might expect. Don, however, doesn't want to call Roger to find out, and I thought at first it was to avoid putting Roger in an embarrassing spot if he hadn't put it off, but now, from his delivery, I think it's just because he's not talking to Roger unless absolutely necessary, which seems petty, but either way, he says if it's a no go, they'll get some dinner in the city instead. "We can't just sit in front of the TV all day." This man is just baffling.

Pete and Trudy are dressed, but despite the fact that Trudy's all in electric blue Pete's attention is focused on the TV as he bitterly says that everything was going to change with JFK, and now they're stuck with Johnson. He then wonders why they're even going to the wedding. She counters that it's business, calling him "Pete" for the first time that I ever remember, but he hotly says that, while he does hate the SC brass, that's not why he wants to stay home -- it's that the President has been murdered. Trudy unenthusiastically reiterates that they have to show, and then sits on the couch with Pete. She asks if he's been drinking, and he snaps that the whole country's drinking, and not to celebrate some spoiled brat's wedding. He's met Margaret before, then. He goes on, "They'll never cancel. You know why? Because they're happy." He goes on that she should have heard some of the things people in the office said, and when Trudy indignantly asks for an example, he offers, "'Man made a lot of enemies,' things like that." She seethes that that's awful, and when he tells her another one about Harry doing paperwork regarding lost commercial revenue as other people were talking about poor Jackie and the kids, she's done -- his tie gets loosened, her shoes come off, and they're on the couch for the day. Guess I've got more in common with Pete and Trudy than Don, and that comes as a relief to a surprising degree.

Whether his reasoning was correct or not, Pete was right in that the wedding has indeed happened, and at the reception, Betty and Jennifer Crane (Harry's probably off crying some more about lost ad revenue) exchange stories about the preceding day across their sparsely-populated table before, in the front of the room, Roger grabs a microphone and genially asks everyone to please move up and sit wherever they feel like, and it's just too bad they didn't show anyone taking the opportunity to get out of a boring conversation, because you know that must have happened in at least one instance. Roger adds

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