Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A+ | 4 USERS: A+
Parting Really, Really Is Sweet Sorrow...

Pete comes in to Don and announces that, without having had to crack his Deerfield yearbook, he's brought in an account. Don gives faint congratulations, but perks up when he hears the Clearasil name. As well he should, given that this is before Stridex came along. When Pete tells Don that his father-in-law is an executive there, Don opines that him giving Pete the account was generous. Pete: "He's interested in my future." Leave it to Pete to regard the situation that favorably. Personally, I think if Pete were revealed to be sterile, Trudy's dad would arrange for him to overdose on cough medicine. Don notes that Pete will probably get the bonus. Pete: "I got the bonus. And Cooper gave me some book by Ayn Rand." HA! So Bertram is in fact counting on Pete to be loyal to Don, to the point where he now sees the two of them as the future of SC. This isn't lost on Don, and he notes that Pete now has real investment in the company. Pete: "It matters to me that you're impressed." Really, Pete? Because you certainly played that one close to the vest all season. Don concedes that he is in fact impressed. Pete smiles: "Self-worth and status. You said it." He leaves, and Don's like, "For a taciturn guy, I need to shut up more."

Hey, Betty's at Dr. Wayne's! This should go well. She takes her usual place on the couch and says how nerve-wracking getting the family together is. "My mother didn't cook last year because she was so sick." She adds that now she's going to have to deal with Gloria, so apparently she does still exist. At least for the moment, but I think Francine might have put too good an idea to pass up in Betty's head. However, Betty says, she has things for which to be grateful, such as the therapy sessions, which have helped, despite the fact that Don doesn't think so. "Still, I can't help but think that I would be happy if my husband was faithful to me." Ooh, nice. I mean, this makes perfect sense. I think there have been a number of indications along the way that below the surface, Betty unconsciously suspected Don of infidelity, and her cries for his attention both conscious and unknowing are evidence of that. And Francine's revelation was the impetus for Betty's epiphany here, but it's the therapy sessions that really enabled her to get to the truth. But I love the touch that she's also discussing this because she thinks it might be relayed back to Don -- it's a power play, and it'll be fascinating to see the ramifications. Anyway, Dr. Wayne starts writing furiously as Betty talks about how her brother spanks his children, but Don has never laid a hand on the kids. "He's kind inside. But's all there in my face, every day. The hotel rooms, sometimes perfume, or worse." Leaving aside the fact that Don never actually conducted his assignations in hotel rooms, I think she's embellishing here to make it sound good for both Wayne and Don -- I'm not sure I believe that she's vividly recalling all this evidence now -- but regardless, she tells some truth as she says that Don doesn't know what family is -- he doesn't even have one. "It makes me sorry for him, when in fact I should be angry, very angry, you know? But I put up with it, like some ostrich." She notes that it's interesting, and sits up and fixes Wayne with a look, and unlike last time, it's appraising and calm, while Wayne just looks the tiniest bit intimidated by her newfound handle on the truth. She lies back down with a cigarette and says that when Don makes love to her, sometimes it's what she wants. "But sometimes it's obviously what someone else wants." She speculates that it could mean that she's not enough. "But maybe it's just him." That was such an amazing scene, I don't even know what more to say about it, and I don't envy Dr. Wayne having to capture everything that happened on that little tiny pad.

And, in one of those bittersweet ironies this show never tires of doling out, just as Betty is declaring Don devoid of any feelings of family, he's about to make the most sentimental and family-nostalgic pitch of his lifetime. Yes, the Kodak people are coming into the conference room, along with Sal, Harry, Duck, and Don. The rather geeky Kodak guys are expecting a pitch that emphasizes the technology of the Wheel, but Don suggests trying to make a sentimental bond between the public and the product. He talks about his first job at that fur company (where he and Betty met, as you'll remember) where an old Greek copywriter named "Teddy" talked about how nostalgia can bring that deeper bond. He has the lights turned off and starts his slide presentation, saying that Teddy told him that in Greek, "nostalgia" literally means "the pain from an old wound." He displays slides of his family -- the kids playing, him and Betty eating from opposite sides of the same hot dog. He goes on, "It's a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone." It's actually my throat that's feeling the twinge, and damn, Don Draper, I didn't want to cry here but you are good. Don pushing his son on a swing, Don with his head in Betty's lap. "This device isn't a spaceship; it's a time machine. It goes backwards. Forwards." The kids playing with a red wagon. "It takes us to a place where we ache to go again." Sally on Don's shoulders. "It's not called the Wheel. It's called the Carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels, around and around and back home again." Don kissing Betty in bed as she holds one of the kids. "To a place where we know we are loved." Don carrying Betty, who's in her wedding dress, on the steps of the church. Don's eyes glisten as he smiles mournfully; we get a card advertising the Carousel, and then a shot of Don and Betty kissing each other, blissfully happy. It's so interesting -- I see some strong similarities between Don and the title character of Dexter. They both are awfully good at faking how they think normal people behave. And they both seem privately to think that they're devoid of real human feelings. Yet underneath that self-perception, there are actual, genuine emotions of which they're unaware, but come out in many of their actions. I'm not saying Don is quite as extreme an example of this as Dexter Morgan, but I think the parallel exists. I will add that on the heels of Betty epitomizing the obligations and strife attendant to adulthood, we have Don pitching the appeal of the Carousel as a childlike escape from the present. God, this show is amazing. Harry, in tears undoubtedly related to his current situation, has to excuse himself, and everyone else is too overwhelmed at the awesomeness to speak. This isn't meant as a complaint by any means, but I know the feeling. Duck is right there, though: "Good luck at your next meeting." Heh. There's a reason he got the job.

Duck comes into Don's office with the boys in tow. Well, except for Harry, who's presumably rinsing out his handkerchief in the men's room sink. Duck says that the Kodak people called from the lobby and announced that they'd canceled their other meetings, so congratulations are in order. And there's more good news: Pete's father-in-law called and said he'll be in for a meeting before Christmas. Drinks go all around, but Duck refuses his, which I'm guessing will be Important Later. Much, much later, thankfully -- I'm worn out here! After everyone (except Duck) raises their glasses for a toast, Don gets An Idea and says he knows how Pete can parlay his good fortune into a home run -- since Clearasil appeals to young girls, they should take advantage of the fact that they have a female writer in Peggy. Pete tries to kibosh this thought by playing the dismissive card, but he's quite predictably alone here -- while the boys may or may not like her, they certainly respect her work. Pete opines that his father-in-law will walk away if they give him "some little girl." Don: "You'll have to give back that copy of Ayn Rand." Heh. It's the proto-"Make it work." Pete should concede this battle, but he's too worked up, spitting that Peggy's not even a copywriter, so Don summons her and promotes her to junior copywriter on the spot. I'm not convinced that Don knew how Pete would react in advance, but once Pete started bleeding all over the water you could hardly expect a shark like Don to act otherwise. Peggy at first is disbelieving, prompting Paul to snit, "Don't act surprised." I think we've got a topic for Paul's next one-act play. Of course, once the shock wears off, Peggy's thrilled, and she promises to do her best as she shakes Don's hand like, well, a man. Don says that Pete will brief Peggy after the holidays. And given the way Pete stomps out of the room, maybe he's the one that should be writing the C

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