Mad-cap: MAD MEN Episode 301

Sal and Don got some "Out of Town" action.
Sal and Don got some "Out of Town" action.

Episode 301, “Out of Town” Air Date: 8/16/09

The great thing about sitting down to a new season of “Mad Men” is having NO IDEA where the show is going to be. How far ahead will they have jumped in time? Where will everyone be in their lives? Here are some highlights of last night’s episode…

Don Draper is in the kitchen heating milk, magically remembering the tragic circumstances of his own birth. It’s really confusing at first, and I’m like, is Don standing in the middle of a Whitman-themed “Our Town” rehearsal? In his house? (Turns out his name is Dick as in PENIS, not as in short-for-Richard. Sad/gross/weird.)

About thirty minutes later, we will find out (when Don tells a flight attendant, who thinks his name is Bill because he’s using his brother-in-law’s luggage) that it’s not only the upcoming baby that triggered the memory parade– it’s Dick Whitman’s birthday (for the unenlightened, Don IS Dick Whitman). Aww, it’s his real birthday and nobody knows it! (Don is full of SECRETS.)

The milk is not for the baby but for still-pregnant Betty, so we know that less than nine months have passed. Also, Betty calls little Sally a “little lesbian” for getting into Don’s tools. Heh. (Also, a little gay foreshadowing for you… not for little Sally, but for Big Gay Sal.)

We find out from the new British boss-man at Sterling Cooper (Mr. Pryce) that there IS no fog in London (whaaat?)… it was actually pollution, during the Dickens era. (Oddly, this morning I was reading Julia Child’s “My Life in France”– thanks, Roomie!– and she talked about the “French fog,” which was post-WWII pollution. And it was foggy– in the weather sense, I think– in LA last night.) Anyway, my mind is BLOWN. San Francisco still has real fog– right?!

Mr. Pryce has an uppity British male secretary, who flirts with all of the other secretaries but doesn’t want to do typing… he’s what the Brits would call a “prat.” Pryce also gives Ken and Pete the same promotion. Of course, Ken’s cool with it and Pete is MAD. Luckily Pete’s awesome wife Trudy is there to calm him, in a crazy black Hot Dog on a Stick hat.

Joan is still engaged (to the rapey doctor)… and still hostile to Peggy. Also, Joan’s bust is bigger than ever! It’s INSANE. (More to love!) Pete and Peggy don’t interact at all… things are still pretty awkward post- “I had your baby and gave it away,” I’m guessing.

BEST FOR LAST: Incredibly repressed Big Gal Sal (I say that with the utmost of affection) finally had a Big Gay Encounter (!!!) during a business trip to Boston with Don. No, he doesn’t do the gay stuff with Don… he gets it on with a short, spry little hotel bellman, who turns out to be quite hot once he takes off his uniform. Just as Bellman’s hand enters Sal’s pants, the FIRE ALARM goes off!! WHY?!!?

Don climbs down the fire escape and sees Sal with the half-dressed Bellman! UH OH. But Don is cool. Also, Don is with a stewardess (I know, I know, not PC– but that’s what they were called, back then… and up until fairly recently).

The next day Sal is late to a meeting, and I’m fairly certain that he DID IT with the Bellman (YES!) and that it was his first time. “Mad Men” is all about trying to figure out what’s being concealed, and I am deducing that the Bellman finished what he started. Sal was really paranoid that Don KNEW, and Don did KNOW, but he warned him to be discreet in ad-pitching code. (I wasn’t clear on whether Don KNEW, but my friends told me that the ad-pitch was a subtle KNOW.)

(You can see Bryan Batt’s take on it here.) (He’s the actor who plays Salvatore Romano.)

Don gets home, and little Sally apologizes for breaking his suitcase. She didn’t want him to go! Because at the end of last season he almost didn’t come back. He kisses her on the head. There there, little Sally. I fuck other women, but I always come back to Mommy. (He kept staring at the flight attendant’s slender stomach, and I felt a pang of “you jerk,” that he was cheating on his preggo wife.)

Next week on: You can never tell with “Mad Men” previews. Intrigue. Betrayal. Etc.

It’s weird because until this season Jon Hamm just WAS Don Draper, and coming back to the show last night it took me a few minutes to get used to Serious Draper and flush the SNL-appearing, Jimmy Kimmel-friending, “30 Rock”-cameo-ing Jon Hamm out of my mind. Because Jon can be funny, but Don is SERIOUS.

Hoping for more Big Gay Action for Sal this season… and I think he’s going to get it! (I feel really bad for his poor wife, though. He’s mean to her. Then again, he cooks really delicious Italian food for her. Not the worst trade-off.)


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2 thoughts on “Mad-cap: MAD MEN Episode 301

  1. Um, now that I read that Bryan Batt interview, I love him even more. I was totally like, “WOOOO! Go Sal!” and then “GASP! It’s Don!”

    I thought it wasn’t really Don’s birthday and he was just using that line to get some. But, that WOULD explain the crazyness in the beginning.

  2. It was absolutely Dick Whitman’s birthday, Amy. Well, I absolutely agree with The Binge and it was my interpretation at the time, as well. Especially when viewed in the context of the “flashbacks” to his birth, it was quite obvious. Remember, when she asks for his driver’s license to prove it he says, “It wouldn’t help.” Which of course has two meanings – she thinks his name is that of his brother-in-law and so of course she would see the name “Don Draper” and be like what the hell? But on another level, even if she knew his name and he explained his evening-long deception, it would STILL say the real Don Draper’s birthday, because Dick/Don stole that guy’s identity.

    Plus, Don needs no help getting some action and wouldn’t need to resort to such a lame line. I mean, really. Would that even work? No, seriously, tell me if that’d work.

    As for the interview with Mr. Batt… I am surprised that the audience at the premiere gasped when Don saw him from the fire escape, because as soon as the fire alarm went off I knew Don would see him. And when Don went out the fire escape (remember, Sal had gotten off the elevator first), I knew the jig was up.

    I am ashamed that I didn’t put 2+2 together on the ad pitch Don made on the plane. I mean, I knew it was his way of saying, “I don’t care, just don’t broadcast it.” But somehow I missed the actual ad as symbolic of that. Shame on me. It was rather obvious, in hindsight.

    I need to re-watch this episode. Actually, I need to re-watch Season 2. I got halfway through it in the last week before last night… and I couldn’t hold off on watching the season premiere before finishing my review of Season 2. Drats.

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