Mad-cap: MAD MEN Episode 302

Peggy keeps her game face on in a world of men.
Peggy keeps her game face on in a world of men (not from 302, but close enough).

Episode 302, “Love Among the Ruins” Air Date: 8/23/09

The episode opens on that famous BYE BYE BIRDIE clip of Ann-Marget singing to the camera. (If you haven’t seen this, you must. I played Mrs. Peterson in old lady drag when I was in high school.) Big Gay Sal makes a few comments about having seen it on Broadway. Of course.

(That’s all for Sal this week. I guess he needs a break, after last week’s sexcapades.) (But what we lose in Sal, we make up for in Roger Sterling, who was barely there last week. He’s hilarious, in a sad-clown way.)

Pepsi is developing a diet drink “to help women… reduce.” It’s called Patio (woof), and they want to copy this scene in their ad. Peggy isn’t thrilled. “I understand why you like this, but it’s not for you,” she says. “I’m the one who’d be buying Patio.”

“You’re not fat anymore,” Harry Crane (glasses) points out. HA! That’s not what she meant, Harry. (And also, she was pregnant… although I’m not sure how many of her co-workers are really aware of that, other than Don and Pete.) (Neither of them are in this meeting. Still no Peggy-Pete interaction.)

Ultimately, Ken admonishes Peggy not to be “a prude.” Ugh, I’m such a Peggy. My heart is sad.

The family Draper. “We’re out of Melba toast,” Betty pouts. “Jesus, Betts,” Don replies. “Have some oatmeal. That baby’s gonna weigh a pound.” Ha! The kids don’t want to go to “Terry Town” (?) to look at antiques and decorating stuff. I totally understand that sentiment. When I was a kid, I HATED going to places like Crate & Barrel. (I loved collecting paint and tile samples from Home Depot, though. The colors!)

Don’t fret, kids. Afterward, you’re going to Carvel! (We don’t have Carvel in California, but I understand that it’s an ice cream store specializing in a cake known as “Fudgy the Whale.”) (Don’t cry for us, we have Baskin Robbins.)

Okay, so the Pennsylvania Railroad Station is scheduled to be demolished to make way for the new Madison Square Garden, and New Yorkers are not pleased. Long story short: Sterling Cooper’s finest spend the whole episode winning the account, and at the end Pryce gets a call from London commanding that they turn it down, due to a “conflict.”

Also, London is sad because they lost Campbell’s Soup, Great Britain. Is the London office failing? Cooper throws up his hands and walks out. Whatever! Pryce admonishes Sterling and Don for letting it fall through the cracks. Don protests that he doesn’t set the meetings, while Sterling wanders around Pryce’s office. “You ever get three sheets to the wind and try that thing on?” Sterling asks, pointing to the knight get-up that’s on display in Pryce’s office. HA!

Don and Pryce go out to dinner, accompanied by their wives. Betty is waiting for Don in the office and Sterling greets her warmly, but in return he gets an icy, “How are you, Roger?” She’s obviously on Team Mona (Roger’s ex-wife). “It’s not hard to adjust to happiness,” Rogers zings back. Of course, Joan (Roger’s secret ex and true love) is standing right there, and they share a LOOK. “Goodnight Mrs. Harris,” he says as she walks away. (Her fiance’s last name is Harris.)

I forgot to mention, turns out that last week there was a line about Sterling’s new Greek acquisitions. Turns out that during hiatus he married secretary-Jane and honeymooned in Greece.

At the dinner when Mrs. Pryce asked how long the Drapers have been together. Simultaneously, Don says “ten years” and Betty says “nine years.” Oops. Mrs. Pryce misses London. “But what we lost in London, we gained in insects.”

Don and Betty drive home in the car, and I’m worried that she might barf again, a la last time I remember seeing them in the car. But tonight’s barfery was confined to “True Blood.” Don can tell that Peggy is upset. “Tell me now, not three seconds after I’ve dosed off,” he says. Don, you’re messing with female strategy! Betty found out that her father’s girlfriend (Gloria) left him. They cancel the “Terry Town” trip and invite Betty’s father and her brother’s family up for the weekend.

Roger’s ex-wife (Mona) and wedding-planning daughter (Margaret) visit his office to go over some wedding details. Mona is none too pleased with his naked (male) Greek statue. Margaret told her fiance (Brooks) to come late, and takes the alone-time to tell Roger that she doesn’t want new-wife Jane at the wedding. “I didn’t want to go to her wedding, but I did. The least she can do is not come to mine… seeing her on my wedding day is gonna ruin it. She’s young enough to be my sister. How does it look?”

Mona tried to strike a compromise by banishing Roger and Jane to some less-desirable table. Also, she already has a date to the wedding. She’s not exactly boo-hooing into her handkerchief. (Fun fact: Roger and Mona are married in real life.)

Brooks enters and saves Roger from further squirming. We find out that their wedding date is November 23, 1963. UH OH. The Kennedy assassination was November 22, 1963! (Oooh, that’s going to be a great episode, if we see it.) (Maybe that will be the finale, since apparently it’s May-ish now.) (There’s a Maypole at the end of this episode.) (That’s not a euphemism.)

Okay, we already covered the Madison Square Garden thing, but Pryce tells Don that the MSG people want, “A Cyrano de Bergerac, to make New York fall in love with them.” I can’t pass up an opportunity to appreciate a Cyrano de Bergerac reference.

Another condensed plotline for you: Betty’s father (Gene) and brother (William) arrive, et al (William’s wife, Judy, and their kids). William wants to sell his house and live in Gene’s, and put Gene in a home (or keep Gene in the house under his wife’s care). Betty is unhappy with that idea, and it’s decided (through Don’s vaguely threatening insistence that William make this look like William’s idea) that Gene (and his Lincoln) will stay with the Drapers, and Gene’s house will sit untouched (I don’t really get that part, but… that’s what Betty wants).

Gene does some things to show us that he’s a little off: Buys a sandwich for long-gone Gloria, and dumps the Draper’s alcohol down the sink… because he thinks it’s Prohibition? Uh oh. (Also, annoying. Alcohol doesn’t grow on trees!) (Maybe it does. I don’t know.)

Peggy watches Joan charm some visiting men in the office lobby. Poor Peggy.

Pre-MSG lunch, Sterling complains to Don that Mona’s “pouring poison” in Margaret’s ear. Nice little tip of the hat to “Hamlet.” (Even if it wasn’t intended.) (It was probably intended.) Something is rotten in the state of Sterling Cooper. (Or in the city of London… what’s up with the London office?) (Or in the family of Draper.) (Insert anything that’s possibly rotten here.)

“I blame Mona,” Sterling says. “All of a sudden I could give two craps about that wedding. All I want to do is win.” Sword fight! Poison blade. Go!

The MSG guy doesn’t want to eat a full lunch with Don and Roger, and Roger protests, “Edgar, please. Eat our sweetmeats. Drink our wine.” Also very Shakespearean, don’t you think? (And hilarious.)

Don tells that change can be a joyful dance. (This might help to interpret a later scene.) “If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.” (Don applies this principle when he cuts off Betty’s circuitous dialogue with William and just tells William what needs to be done.)

Don comes home from work and finds Gene in the guest room. “Thanks for the ritzy accommodations,” Gene snarks. “You’re an Army man, Gene,” Don replies. “Grab your socks and… grab something.” This must be an old Army joke (Don’s an Army man, too), because Gene cracks up.

Don enters the bedroom, where Peggy’s reading. “Lights out at eight fifteen, I’m impressed.” WHAT? Betty tells Don that he ought to have hung up his sooty coat downstairs. Nice to see you, too, Betty. I know Don’s not always the greatest husband, but Betty is… so cold. Don doesn’t seem to mind, because he knows that Betty is upset about her dad.

In the middle of their William-wants-the-house discussion, Don opens the bedroom door and yells, “Cut it out!” I can’t tell if it’s the kids jumping on the bed or what. It must be something in the sound design, but it didn’t come across on my TV. (I also had a fan blasting, so that’s half the problem.) (It’s hot in hurr.)

William and Judy have to sleep in bunk beds. William seriously looks like a kid, tucked into the top bunk between cowboy sheets. William recounts that “Don had nobody [from his family] at their wedding. Nobody at all.” Aw, that’s sad. (Of course, he’s living under an assumed identity and his real family sucked, but still… sad.) Judy wants to move in with Gene, but William already works for him, and doesn’t want to be under his father’s thumb all of the time. He’s a thirty year old man!

It’s so crazy that in 1963 the majority of 30-year-old men were like William, with a wife and kids. Most of the 30-year-old men I know are… like, just getting out of grad school, and single. I mean, there are surely many Williams out there, but… wow. In my view, times have changed.

Peggy is at home, lonely as usual. Brushing her hair in the mirror, she breaks out into a spontaneous chorus of “Bye Bye Birdie,” trying to imitate Ann-Marget. She takes a beat, regards herself soberly in the mirror, looks down, then continues brushing her hair. It’s funny and sad.

Don is really pissed about the news that the Madison Square Gardens account is being turned away. What about the World’s Fair? And at least 30 years of solid business through all of the ventures associated with the account? “Who’s running this place?” Don asks. “Why the hell did you buy us in the first place?” “I don’t know,” Pryce replies. At least he’s honest.

Peggy comes in on the heels of the bad news, unhappy with Sal’s Patio storyboards. “Yes, everyone wants a drink that sounds like a floor,” Don says, with a heaping dose of sarcasm. Don hasn’t seen BYE BYE BIRDIE (“You really haven’t seen it? You’ve seen everything.”), so Peggy runs the reel for him.

“Don’t you find her voice shrill?” Peggy asks. “She’s throwing herself at the camera,”Don says. “She’s pure. She makes your heart hurt.” Ugh, Don. I’m such a Peggy right now. “No one seems to care that it speaks to men,” she says. Don says that the ad will be saying, “Look how happy I am when I drink Patio. I’m young and excited, and I’m desperate for a man.”

Peggy makes a face. “I know what the fantasy is, but… shouldn’t it be a female one?” “Peggy, I know you understand how this works,” Don says, making a don’t-be-stupid face. “Men want her. Women want to be her.”

Peggy: Even if that’s true…

Don: It is. I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.

Peggy points out that this would feel phony, in a movie or a play. “You’re not an artist, Peggy,” Don states, standing up. “You solve problems… Leave some tools in your toolbox.” I think that’s his nice way of saying, The more you protest this, the worse it makes you look.

I think that Peggy just wants to be reassured that there are men out there who are looking for a girl who’s a little more Peggy, a little less Ann-Margret. I have SO been there.

Roger jumps into a crowded elevator and ends up standing next to Peggy. (Love her sort of Girl Scouty brown hat and her coat, though I’m not sure what to call the color… seafoam?)

Roger: Heading home?

Peggy: Yes.

Roger: Let me ask you something. You’re a young girl.

Peggy: Excuse me?

Roger: You’re the only one around here who doesn’t have that stupid look on her face.

Peggy: What does that mean?

Roger: What would your father have to do for you to not want him at your wedding?

Peggy: … My father passed away.

Roger: There you go. He didn’t do anything. (Conversely, the last line might be, “You’d do anything.” Hard to tell.)

There’s something really hilarious about this exchange, because you can tell that Peggy is thinking, WHAT is he getting at?

Peggy gets off the subway in Brooklyn (I think) and gets into a crowded bar. She says “hello” to a group of people who don’t acknowledge her, and gamely keeps walking. She’s so self-conscious, and nobody else is there alone. The coat is off, and she’s wearing a lovely blue dress (she was probably wearing it before, but it stands out more in the bar).

Finally she squeezes up to the bar next to two men. “It’s so crowded in here, I feel like I’m on the subway,” she says, smiling. The guys laugh. “Where’s your drink?” one of them asks. He has a slightly nasal sort of outer-boroughs accent. Actually, he kind of reminds me of Michael J. Fox in BACK TO THE FUTURE.

Can I just say… men in suits and women all dressed up in tasteful dresses? I wish today’s bars looked this appealing (minus the smoke). Every guy looks better in a skinny tie. You had me at skinny tie!

Don comes home to find William plunging the sink, Judy setting the dining room table, Gene playing solitaire at the kitchen table, and his children and nieces watching TV. Having viewed tonight’s “True Blood” before this, I would say that a family house-takeover is definitely preferable to a maenad house-takeover.

Betty comes downstairs, looking tired. “I’m going out for a bucket of chicken,” she tells Don. This makes me laugh because A) I don’t know if we’ve ever seen the Drapers eat takeout, and B) because the phrase “bucket of chicken” is part of a rather funny story I once stumbled across. I also can’t imagine Betty eating fried chicken. She’s all about the Melba toasts.

Betty: I’m a horrible daughter.

Don: No, you’re not.

Betty: William says these are the options– they put him in a home, or they move in with him and Judy is his nurse. Judy.

Don: William says?

Betty: He’s probably right.

Don: (yells) William! (to Betty) We’ll get the chicken in a minute.

William puts the plunger down in the hallway (ew) and Don leads him into the study. “Jesus,” William says, spotting a globe. “What year is this from?” “I don’t care,” Don says, closing the door. “Look, Don,” Williams says, all palsy. “We’re all upset. One thing I’ve learned from this: Don’t get old.” True story. Anyway, Don gets all serious and lays down the smack-down. He’s like, Gene’s staying, the Lincoln’s staying, Gene’s house remains untouched.

“You’re gonna go out there and you’re gonna tell your sister that this is what you want. We’ll pretend that you did the right thing on your own.” Don tells them to get home sans Lincoln by taking the train. “New York Central, Broadway limited leaves from Penn Station. It leaves in two hours.” Wait, is that the same Penn Station that Madison Square Garden is supposed to replace? Isn’t it still there? I need to do some Wikipedia-ing.

Don sits down with Gene and triumphantly reads the paper while William delivers the news, MOS (without sound). Don is totally Peggy’s hero right now. William, Betty, and Judy deliver the news to Gene, but play it like he’s just going to take an extended vacation at Chez Draper.

Gene: So the animals are running the zoo.

William: We’re not selling the house. And you’re gonna have your car.

Gene: The plans, the plans– the plans you make.

Judy: You know you want to get out of town. You’ll be with the kids. Betty is a better cook, you always say that. (Ugh, poor Judy.)

Gene: I should have been the first to go.

It’s too soon to quote “The Who,” (because they’re not around yet), but “Hope I die before I get old” is probably one of the more genius lines ever written.

If I were Betty, I would have been totally relieved to have William take care of the dad stuff, but I guess Betty felt like a bad daughter because women were supposed to be the main caregivers? But I feel like Gene’s house is going to fall to decay, and what’s the big deal if William and Judy live there? Does Betty think that it will mess up her inheritance?

Whatever. Let’s see if Peggy’s having a good time on her date.

She’s drinking a “delicious” drink called a Stinger. Her date doesn’t know what’s in it. He reminds me of some actor, but I’m not sure who. Definitely a mix of George and Marty McFly, though. He is scarfing down a burger with great zeal.

Date: I’m graduating from Brooklyn college next month.

Peggy: What are you studying?

Date: What?

Peggy: (louder) What are you studying?

Date: (re: his french fries) You want one?

Peggy: I’m afraid you’re gonna bite my hand.

Date: I’m sorry. I just need to eat. My mom says I’m still growing. I gotta work on my manners. I started pre-law but switched to engineering. More jobs.

Peggy: Really? Those are so different.

Date: You’ve gotta figure, if we’re all gonna be replaced by machines, might as well be the guy that makes them, right?

Peggy: Or you could just become a robot.

The Date asks Peggy what she does, and when she tells him that she works at an ad agency, he assumes that she’s a secretary: “I don’t know how you girls do all that typing.” She doesn’t correct him. UGH, this guy is cute but it’s almost impossible to date someone who’s still in school if you’re working in the real world. AND she’s playing dumb about her career. So… I’m not seeing a long-term scenario with this guy.

“I work for a jerk!” Peggy tells Date, and I wonder if she’s referring to Roger or Don. Date’s friends are leaving, and they ask if he has cab fare. “What are you talking about?” he responds. “I live around the corner.” “Oh that’s right, he does,” the friend says, and Date looks nervous for a second. He totally lives with his mom.

After the friends leave, Peggy intercepts Date’s burger and takes a bite, covering her mouth with her hand as she chews. “You’re funny,” he says. And you’re kind of simple, Date, but you’ll do.

Peggy and Date make out on the couch (I think it’s her place, but it turns out that it’s his… must be borrowing it from a friend, a la THE APARTMENT). Peggy asks the guy if he has a Trojan, and he says, “No.” Wrong answer. Since the baby, Peggy’s hyper-careful about birth control. (Duh.)

As soon as sex is out of the picture, Date says, “Jeez, it’s getting pretty late.” Smooth. “Well, there are other things we could do,” Peggy says. And they go back to making out… which they were already doing. Presumably they move on to do something that rhymes with “moral.”

Can I just say how impressed I am by the fact that I never see these people as modern-day actors wearing 1960s clothes? It feels like going back in time, and everyone– from Don Draper to the background actors– feels authentic. (It’s also really crazy to see pictures of what these people usually look like– especially Pete Campbell.)

Don and Betty find Gene pouring the alcohol down the sink… we covered that. So he’s a little bit senile, after all.

In the middle of the night, Peggy wakes up on date’s foldout couch, gets dressed. Date obviously wants to see her again. “You know, I hang out at that place a lot.” In a world before cell phones and Facebook and email, it’s so strange to imagine Peggy walking away without any of his contact info. But I don’t really think she wants to contact him again, anyway. “This was fun,” she says on her way out.

Peggy’s gonna be a playa this season!

I guess it’s May? Randomly, the Drapers are at a “field day,” watching Sally dance around the Maypole. Actually, Don’s watching the teacher, a brunette woman in a white sleeveless dress with a flower wreath in her hair. And watching her, and watching her. In slo-mo. With violins. Don runs his hand through the grass. Is he getting an idea about Patio drink, or is he getting hot for teacher?

“Cindy’s dad” takes a pictures of the Drapers and Gene. Happy family!

At the office, Don stops outside of Peggy’s door (her office is next to his). She’s typing, but she turns around and they share a Look. (Also, it’s strange to me that she faces away from the door when she writes. I don’t know anybody who feels comfortable with their back to a door. Leaves you open to a surprise ambush.)

Peggy exits her office. “Do you want to talk about Pampers?” Exciting stuff! She walks into his office, sits down, and… episode over.

Next week: Drama. Ooh, Joan fights with her fiance. Break up with him!

And now (sadly), I’m going back to the future!

xoxo…

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4 thoughts on “Mad-cap: MAD MEN Episode 302

  1. Here are your friendly East Coast corrections.

    It’s Tarrytown, NY, which is kind of a pain in the ass to get to, especially for a fun-filled day of antiquing. Do you know where Don lives?

    There are Carvels out here, but they are few and far between. I’ve been to one in Pasadena. I grew up a few blocks away from one, and I got ice cream cakes from there for every birthday. Needless to say, I was hoping for a scene in the Carvel, but I guess they didn’t want to put tense conversation about Gene in an ice cream store. Although…come on.

    Penn Station apparently used to be a magnificent grand old train station…which was demolished in 1963 to make way for Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks continue to shit all over their fans. Penn Station still exists, but directly underground MSG. It’s more utilitarian than magnificent now, but it’s still huge.

    Also, everything Don said about Madison Square Garden changing New York was true, even 40-plus years afterwards. And, the World’s Fair came back to New York in 1964, but to Flushing, Queens instead of Manhattan.

    Also, I enjoyed the Jersey town shout-outs – Woodbridge and New Brunswick. That’s my hood, yo.

  2. Running Commentary:

    Bye-Bye Birdie: I really enjoyed this scene in terms of the reactions of the different characters. Peggy obviously was rather disgusted. Pete and theguywhosenameIalwaysforget were super into it and rather smitten with Ann. And of course Sal was super into it for another reason. For a second I found it a bit cliched, but then I bought in. My favorite part, though, was when Sal said he had seen it on Broadway and theguywhosenameIalwaysforget sort of looks down with this, “huh.” look on his face as if to say, “Well, isn’t that odd.”

    (Oh, right. His name is Harry).

    I was wondering what the heck is Melba Toast. When Don first said, “Jesus, Betts…” I thought he was gonna complain that she was eating TOO MUCH because they were out of the Melba Toast. I was relieved when he finished his sentence.

    Re MSG and Penn Station. I know that MSG has had a couple reincarnations in different locations, but I don’t believe as late as the early-60’s. And I also went to Penn Station and it exists and did not seem all that new, so I am assuming that this plan does not go through. I wonder if it was an actual idea. I always assume it is on this show.

    re Peggy/Roger: I’m not sure if she’s necessarily on Team Mona. I mean, possibly. But I chalked up her coldness to the night at the Draper home where Roger drunkenly hit on Betty after dinner when Don was down in the basement getting more booze or something.

    Can we get into Joan’s ridiculous rack (I’m sorry, there is no other word to use. It was literally a rack tonight), especially when she was wearing that green blouse. What the hell. It’s the biggest chest I’ve ever seen.

    Don’s line about “tell me now, not 3 seconds after I doze off” was pure gold.

    I am so friggin angry I didn’t catch the JFK-assassination thing. Nice one.

    Someone we both know did not know who Cyrano was. No, I’m serious.

    re the whole Betty/Her Dad/Brother thing. I am just really sick of Betty. She is so obnoxious.

    re Peggy watching Joan: Of course later this will be obvious, but as I was watching I thought, “Was that a look of jealousy or was that a look of, ‘aha. I have some pointers.'”

    re Don yelling “Cut it out!” I also didn’t hear anything, but I thought that might be by design. I’m having trouble putting it into words. But maybe they were trying to convey how on edge he was. Whatever the noise was, it wasn’t so loud as to be readily noticeable, but Don still shouted down the hall.

    Peggy:

    -I wish they’d do something different with Peggy’s bangs.

    -re her convo with Roger: I absolutely thought he said, “You’d do anything.”

    -At the bar, I find it interesting you don’t note that Peggy’s line to the two guys is about it being as crowded as a subway is the exact same line that Joan used to the clients when Peggy was watching her earlier. I’m not sure if you didn’t realize it was the same line or if you just didn’t see fit to comment. But as I said above, I was wondering what Peggy’s look was when she was watching Joan, and my answer came her: she was most certainly taking notes on how to attract a man.

    -I don’t look good in a skinny tie. I’m too broad 😦

    -I do think Betty doesn’t want to let William move into the dad’s home because of her inheritance. She’s just so… sucky.

    I figured Peggy’s “jerk” was Don because of his comments to her after watching Bye Bye Birdie.

    I’m glad you were confused about the whole Don/teacher thing, too. I didn’t know what to make of that scene.

  3. Amy beat me to the Tarrytown correction, so here’s some more enlightening info: Melba toast was a really thin, dry, tasteless (think cardboard) cracker-like substance. It was very popular in the 60’s, marketed toward girls and women trying to lose weight. Since Betty is in her third trimester, it’s highly doubtful she is still feeling pukey. I’m guessing the reason she’s “Melba toasting” is because she’s watching her calories. Don is obviously concerned that she’s not eating enough, hence the comment. No one ate those things because they tasted good, that’s for sure!!

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