Have to admit that this one felt a bit odd and disjointed to me, but here goes: Ken, backed up by Harry and Sal (Pete, natch, is not on this account, given what happened last week) wants to use Ann-Margret in Bye Bye Birdie as an inspiration for a campaign to sell the newly-created Diet Pepsi, which has a "working" name of "Patio" at this point. Peggy isn't too jazzed about the concept, finding it vapid and sexist, but the boys are all, "Pish posh, girlie." When will they ever learn? The boys' lack of confidence in her, however, leads Peggy to do an Ann-Margret imitation in front of a mirror, and how much does Elisabeth Moss rule? The next day, Peggy shows Bye Bye Birdie to Don, complaining that the ad idea targets men rather than the actual potential consumers of the product, but Don is unmoved, much to her dismay. On a whim, she stops off at a crowded bar and tries ditzing it up so boys will like her, and soon she's fooling around with a fetus, albeit a relatively nice one. Meanwhile, some grass and a woman (it is not what you think) seem to convince Don that maybe Peggy was right after all.
Pete has Paul with him to create that campaign to counter the negative image around the demolition of Penn Station, which turns out to be an issue when Paul expresses sympathy for the other side in front of the clients. Meanwhile, Joan (that's Mrs. Harris to you!) compliments Betty on her pregnancy when she shows up to SC, and mentions that she and Greg will be trying (again?) after he (hopefully?) makes Chief Resident at the beginning of July. Don and Betty then go out to dinner with Pryce and his wife Rebecca, which does nothing to improve Betty's already-foul mood -- you see, Gloria left her father, and she's worried about him, so she's going to have her brother and his wife bring him up. Don's not thrilled, but he doesn't have much choice in the matter. Also, Pryce announces to the senior partners that they lost a big account, and London isn't happy, so they'd better rustle up some new business, and he sends Don and Roger out to clean up the mess that Paul and Pete (mostly Paul) made with the Madison Square Garden people. Mona, Roger's ex, and Roger's daughter Margaret show up to the office to discuss seating arrangements for the wedding, but Margaret doesn't want Jane to come at all, not that Roger really pays her any mind. At the client lunch, Don expresses disdain for Roger's problems before the client show ups and falls under Don's hypnotic spell, although he does make it clear that Paul is not to be allowed within miles of their campaign. Pryce then turns up and tells Don that London is pulling their involvement from MSG, as they don't see it as a long-term moneymaker of an account. Looks like they all have vision as bad as Pryce's.
Don's presence at the lunch sticks the very pregnant Betty alone with her in-laws and children, and she gets the lowdown from her brother that he wants to put Gene, the dad, into a facility. Betty is not so much having that, though, thinking that her brother just wants to take over their ancestral home, which she tells him to his face, kind of awesomely. However, when William informs her that the other option is for him to move in with Gene and have his wife take care of him, Betty gets upset, so Don takes William aside and informs him in no uncertain terms that Gene will be living with them while he, William, supports him financially and leaves Gene's house untouched. William reads Don well enough to know not to argue, and soon he's announcing to Gene that he'll be staying chez Draper for the foreseeable future. It doesn't take long for Gene to start acting all crazypants, though. It's the side of dementia the tourists never see.
As might have come across in the recaplet, I found this episode a bit harder to parse than most, but now I think I know why: On the surface, it seems to be an examination of the different characters' openness or lack thereof to change, which is a fitting subject on which to spend an episode, given what's coming not just in November 1963 but through the rest of the decade. But I'm not sure the idea is consistently executed or explored. Maybe you'll see what I mean if I just get into it...
...so we open with a minute or so of Bye Bye Birdie, which is ironic since it seemed like Ann-Margret was the one doing all the hooting and warbling. Just so I don't forget to acknowledge it, though, if you think of Betty's childhood nickname, the song title is significant on a whole different level, because there's no truer goodbye to childhood things than the day you have to care for your own parent. When the lights then come on in the SC conference room, Sal marvels at how he saw Susan Watson do the role on Broadway, "but she didn't have that." Sight unseen and sound unheard, I'll agree. Ken lets everyone (Harry, Sal, and Peggy are in attendance) know that while they won't actually be using Ann-Margret, their new ad campaign is meant to be a "frame by frame" reproduction. Peggy: "So...something about how desperate she is for a Pepsi?" Hee. It doesn't look as cutting on the page, but trust me, Elisabeth Moss's particular delivery of "desperate" would have made Miss --Margret cry. Ken, however, informs them that while Pepsi is the client, the product is actually a diet version to help women "reduce." Is it called "Diet Pepsi," you ask, a measure of playful knowing in your voice? No, no it isn't, and I'd like for both our sakes to leave it at that. But I'm contractually forced to tell you that the name of the new product is "Patio," although when it first aired I thought it might have been "Paddy-O," which would have been more interesting if no better advised. Ken announces his desire to have the campaign be great so he can end up "at lunch with Pepsi," and he may not be giving in to hating Pete but he certainly seems to be taking the prospect of beating him seriously enough. Harry declares his intentions to get the only jollies he's allowed these days by coming to Casting (I'm paraphrasing), but Peggy asks if they're really going straight to that step, her tone conveying she is most displeased indeed. Harry gives Peggy a bit of attitude (he really has let his new position go to his head, no?), so she volleys back that it's obvious why he likes the ad (off camera, Sal shifts uncomfortably before remembering what a mensch Don can be), but it's not for him -- she's the one that would be buying Patio. She obviously is referring to the fact that she's a woman, but Harry condescendingly replies, "You're not fat anymore." Wow. That's not just obnoxious, it's obnoxious in a very specifically sexist manner. If she were one of the boys, she'd be allowed to send a jibe back, and besides, it wouldn't have been meant in the same cutting way. But here, her choices are to respond and look overly emotional or swallow her pride and take the comment. I, however, am not bound by these rules, so I'll say this: Dick. Anyway, Peggy channels her feelings into her work, announcing that they can say as a hypothetical that they won't be able to get the company to change the name (I love the unstated assumption that everyone's in agreement that it's awful) and that they'll also be able to find a model "who can match Ann-Margret's ability to look twenty-five and act fourteen." Sal almost hits Paul Lynde territory in replying, "Is that what she's doing?" Yes, it is, which is the only reason you can deal with it, honey. Take a look at your wife sometime. Given that, Peggy asks, can they treat it with a bit of parody and make fun of it, at least? Ken snots that Peggy shouldn't be a prude, as Ann-Margret's sexy. Lord, she is not, Ken. She's what a fourteen-year-old girl, and not a particularly precocious one, might think is sexy, which is why Peggy couldn't be more right, as usual. Ken adds that it's what the client wants, prompting Peggy to point out that clients don't always know best. Ken: "Well, when we land them, you can start talking to them that way." So, you want me to start rooting for Pete, then?