The latest irregularly paced update in the rewatch. This show just gets better the more you watch it.
Episode 7: “Red in the Face”
I think these two images pretty much sum things up.
That and when Pete walks up to Don and Roger, asking “Did I miss anything?” and Roger tells him he didn’t, and he’s all “Goodnight, Paul.” The camera stays with him and Don as they walk out, since we know what Pete’s reaction will be. It’s a nice smirky bit that leads into the whole Don-and-Roger rivalry bit which isn’t really my favourite. I like that Mad Men isn’t afraid of bodily functions — and I think this puking will be kind of echoed by Betty’s later puking in Don’s new Caddy — but it’s not my favourite. This episode is all manliness sweepstakes, so of course Don wins, but Pete is actually way more interesting while he’s losing. As is Peggy’s reaction to the whole thing, which I still find strange. Was it somehow a hint to the pregnancy thing? She does go straight to the snack cart after.
Episode 8: “The Hobo Code”
So this is the one with the flashbacks to Don’s youth (via Don getting stoned at Midge’s house: “I feel like Dorothy. Everything just turned to colour.”) where he learns through the Hobo Code that his father is a bad man. Uh, he might already know that though. The first time through, it obviously provides amazing insight into the Secrets of Don, but this stuff, especially since Don’s mystery past turns out to be such a red herring later on, is kind of boring. The Adam story plays well on rewatch — because it ties into other stuff about Don and his family — but the whole thing is that Don Draper is kind of this ultimate postmodern subject. He got dealt a terrible hand, but then he grabbed on to the first chance he could to shed his old self and become a shiny new self. The seams show every now and then, but I’m totally getting ahead of myself. Thouh this is the episode that Bertram Cooper tells Don to read Atlas Shrugged.
The part of the episode that only gets better with age is the stuff with Pete and Peggy. It starts with the sound of Pete’s shoes echoing on the shiny floor of the Sterling Cooper lobby; Peggy catches the elevator with him; they start talking in the office, before anyone else is there. Then they bone on Pete’s office couch and he pulls her ponytail. The janitor hears them, but it’s okay, because in the 1960s, black people didn’t really exist.
After all the unspoken tension between them, it’s kind of refreshing to see them getting to act out the things they were wishing for. I love the way Peggy smiles a little when someone comments on her torn shirt: “I’ll have to start keeping a spare.” It’s great, because it’s not really a girlish thing; when you think someone keeping a spare shirt at the office, you think of Don and his drawer from the first episode. She doesn’t see herself as one of the girls, she sees herself as one of the men. It takes her awhile to make other people see that, though.
I did love that Don goes to bat for Peggy’s work in the meeting. Don’s speech is worth reproducing because it is insane:
You’re a non-believer. Why should we waste time on Kabuki? [...] Listen, I’m not here to tell you about Jesus. You already know about Jesus. Either he lives in your heart, or he doesn’t. Every woman wants choices, but in the end, none wants to be one of a hundred in a box. She’s unique. She makes the choices and she’s choosing him. She wants to tell the world “he’s mine.”
He follows up Ken’s compliment with the following, also worth remembering for when ew get to Bobbie Barrett: “Ken, you will realize in your personal life that at some point, seduction is over and force is being requested.”
It is probably a good time to point out that Don realizes Midge is in love with her douchebag beatnik friend after he sees them through a camera; he saw his life through a camera in “Marriage of Figaro,” and didn’t like what he saw, and cameras will be important again in “The Wheel.”
The great, great scene in the episode is the party at PJ Clark’s, of course. Everyone’s having a great time doing the twist or whatever, and Peggy dances over to Pete, all smiley and bright and confident. “Dance with me,” she says. “I don’t like you this way,” Pete says, ie, he doesn’t like her happy and confident and successful. You see her realize this, realize the way Pete sees her, the way he wants a Peggy who’ll look up to him, not a Peggy who’s busting through glass ceilings. She rejoins the throng, wiping a tear away as she dances. HEART-BREAKING.
Episode 9: “Shoot”
So “Shoot” is mostly about Betty’s issues with her sense of herself totally being wrapped up in being beautiful. McCann-Ericsson is trying to woo Don from Sterling Cooper, and offers Betty a job modeling in their Coke ads. It works because January Jones really does look so much like Grace Kelly.
Betty’s nostalgia for her time modeling in Italy makes a lot of sense: on the one hand it goes right in with her sense of self-worth being tied up in ornament, because at this point her beauty actually had some utility, and on the other it was also something that was all hers, probably the most freedom she ever had. (Remember how she told her therapist that her mother disapproved, despite the fact that she’d spent Betty’s whole life telling her beauty is her job.)
My favourite Pete bit, as the boys are sitting around, speculating on what kinds of offers Don’s getting from McCann. “I hear he makes 30,” someone says. “He’s not ten times better than me,” Pete scoffs. Everyone is noticeably quiet for a second.
But mostly, let’s get back to how crazy Betty is. Here is an example: little Sally comes in crying because their neighbour with the pigeons threatened to shoot their dog. After she leaves, Betty turns to Don: “Did you see those big tears? I really want to get a picture of her crying one day.”
Though we knew Betty had issues with beauty and normal human feelings before, but this was the moment where you kind of have to go, oh — “I really want to get a picture of her crying one day”? Her daughter. Crying. Picture. Betty is crazy!
Don decides to stay at Sterling Cooper when it becomes clear that this thing that Betty is really excited about and makes her feel special is really just a ploy to get him to come sell TWA with them. And Don is actually a little grossed out about that, because, and I think we’re realizing this for basically the first time, he really does care about her. This is definitely the first time you see him treat her with tenderness, not just as a possession. Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious Betty’s both a prop and another job to Don, but it’s tangled up with actual caring about her and also with the sense that he’s not as close to her as she wants because he’s “different” and has to always be an outsider.
You can see this in the way he talks to Betty when she tells him she doesn’t want to work anymore. “I would’ve given anything to have a mother like you. Beautiful and kind, filled with love. Like an angel.” This tribute to her maternal gentleness prompts Betty to have a David Lynch moment, as we hear soft old-fashioned ironic pop music and Betty pulls out a BB gun and starts shooting at that asshole’s pigeons.
No one fucks with Betty Draper.