When is everything gonna get back to normal?, the atrophying Roger Sterling asks. The wheels of change are spinning forward, and many of the characters aren’t. It’s been a consistent theme on this show, but never as clearly as at this point, now that we’re a year out from the Summer of Love.
We watched as young, striving Pete embarrassed the white-haired, account-less Roger after dangling the Mohawk Airlines account in front of him before snatching it back in a public show. The firm now employs both an African American woman and a young Jew. And the age difference between Don and Harry and the Rolling Stones groupies was so wide that I worried those guys were gonna slip into some statutory rape situation.
Mad Men has never been a show driven by quick plot changes, and this was clearly not one of the show’s stronger episodes, especially since the least-dimensional of the show’s characters, Betty Draper, played such a central role in it.
But it has always been a show about identity. And wearing masks. Betty has always been least interesting to me perhaps she is so transparent as a character. I like that she has a “mask” of her own now, even though this show makes really horrible fat suits. You’d think they’d improve on their “fat” makeup since Peggy’s in season one …
So, who is Betty
Draper Francis? What hunger is she feeding there? And what are those new layers covering up? Since I don’t think much of January Jones’ range, I’ll just go with the most obvious explanation, that she’s generally unsatisfied. But she was a spoiled daddy’s girl beauty queen who never fully grew up. Will she ever find satisfaction?
Megan was right that Betty’s cancer scare gave Betty a reason to call. Henry is right to be wary of her relationship and kneejerk need to reach out to Don.
Enough about that. I’ve always enjoyed art that rewards the audience for paying attention … and five seasons into the show, I enjoyed the callbacks to and echoes of season one:
Betty and Don’s familiarity. I liked that moment when she asked him to “say what he always says,” even though recent years in their lives have proven he’s just lying when he says everything’s going to be fine.
Don’s conversation backstage with the young gal reminded me of his relationship with the hippie, Midge. She was ahead of her time, living a boho life with other artists. And Don always looked at her with that same bemused face that he looked at the concert groupie. He also looked just as out of place in 1966 at that concert as he did in those Soho lofts in 1960.
I’m really excited about this Michael Ginsburg character. This is going to be good. Peggy is never as fun in the office as when she’s sparring with her male coworkers, a la Stan Rizzo and that great working naked scene from last season. And Ginsburg obviously has some family baggage that will be fascinating to learn about.
“Because Romney’s a clown, and I don’t want him standing next to him.” - Henry Francis, on George Romney (Mitt’s father).
Seeds of the sexual revolution are here! “None of you want us to have a good time because you never did.”
What Stiles said during this episode: It’s benign. You’re just fat. I’m so bored.
So, my fellow Mad Men fans, what did you think of episode three? Can’t wait to read your takes.
You know who’s the best? Charlton Heston.