The British are Coming: MAD MEN Episode 306

Good times barber shop!
Good times barber shop!

Episode 306: “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency” Air Date: 9/20/09

I was really torn between calling this “British Invasion” and “The British Are Coming.” I chose the latter because it has more to do with the American Revolution. And this is a 4th of July episode. So… I hope you appreciate my clever decision. And my humility. Ha.

And the Mad Men website had several great pictures this week. So I figured… the more, the merrier!

While I was watching the Emmys, my mom called to warn me about something bloody and disturbing that happens in this episode. (Although I love “True Blood,” I’m generally very squeamish.)

Mom didn’t want to ruin it for me, but through a series of questions I managed to figure out that the bloody event would be something similar to a stabbing, that it wouldn’t happen to a lead, that it wouldn’t be perpetrated by Sally, and that it would take place about three-quarters into the episode.

As a result, I spent the entire episode (and entire recap, since I recapped on first viewing) speculating about how the bloody mess would come to be.

Previously on: Dr. Greg stuff. (Oh no… are we going to see hospital blood?) Also: Earlier tonight, “Mad Men” won the Emmy for Best Drama.

I didn’t even mention this in my notes when I did my initial recap, but it’s very important to know that at the beginning of this episode, Ken drives a John Deere lawnmower/tractor thing into the main cubicle area of Sterling Cooper. I have no idea how he got it up the elevator. He’s gloating, because John Deere is his account (not Pete’s), and something big just happened with it.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that tractor was the gun on the wall. As in the famous principle: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” -From S. Shchukin, Memoirs (1911)

But I didn’t realize that the tractor was a gun, because sometimes a tractor is just a tractor.

Sorry to get all reference-y. Actually, I’m not sorry. This is “Mad Men.” It’s high brow TV. Keep up.

There’s a special announcement at Sterling Cooper: The British are coming! As in… the guys who own Sterling Cooper. They’re visiting through July 3rd, which was supposed to be a day off. “They were unaware of the holiday,” Mr. Hooker informs everybody. Or they were very aware, and bitter! (In case you’ve forgotten, he’s Mr. Pryce’s man-secretary. They’re both British.)

Aw, Wednesday will be Joan’s last day.

Everyone is rushing around to make sure that things are perfect for the visit.

Hooker: Mr. Kinsey, you may need to shave your beard.

Paul Kinsey: What? Who ARE you people?!

Hooker: That was a joke.

Don and Roger Sterling are going to a barber shop… oh no, shaving knife blood?! I think this pre-barber scene is when Cooper says something to make Don think that the British are going to promote him and steal him to London.

Betty is sleeping on her bed, with Baby Gene in her arms. Bobby and Sally come into the room. Bobby approaches his mother, but Sally stays a safe distance away from the baby.

Bobby: I’m bored.

Betty: Go bang your head against the wall.

Bobby: Mo-om.

Wow, Mother of the Year.

Betty: Only bored people are bored.

Bobby (re: the baby): Can I pet him?

Awww, kids say the darndest things! Bobby pets the baby, and then he and Sally leave. Betty calls Baby Gene her “little pig in a blanket.” So… she likes Baby Gene, at least.

At the barber shop, Sterling gets a manicure. Is he an original metrosexual? Don declines a manicure. It’s too feminine for his taste.

Sterling tells a story about how his very manly father always got manicures. A windshield severed his father’s arm. But the fingernails were perfect! Could that be the bloody scene later on, in a flashback? No, because the story is a lie. Well, at least what his father hit was a lie. (But the severed limb is foreshadowing!)

Don slaps aftershave on his face, and doesn’t flinch. What a man!

Sterling says that the problem with Mona (his ex) is that she started judging people. Sterling doesn’t like being judged. That’s a pointed message at Don. (Oh yeah, they were sent to this barber together because Cooper wants them to make up. There’s still tension between Don and Sterling because Don called bullshit on Sterling’s happiness at the Derby Days party.)

Joan gives terse instructions to Hildy the Secretary.

Hildy to Joan: Are you being short with me because you think it will make parting easier? My mother used to do that.

Wow, mother issues everywhere. And then Mr. Hooker approaches.

Hooker: I’m noticing for the first time that the ladies out here are rather plain, present company excluded.

Joan: Well, we could hire some prostitutes. I know your prime minister enjoys their company.

Hooker: Secretary at War. And you’d do best not to bring that up tomorrow.

Ha! Get some hookers for Hooker.

Hooker says that maybe they can “re-shed-yool” Joan’s surprise going away party, since the Brits are coming tomorrow. Oh, wait, oops? Surprise party. Hooker says that he’s sure Joan already knew. He calls her “Mrs. Harris.” Is she already married to Greg? (Thomas and I have been arguing about that.)

Joan tells Hooker that she’s going home to cook a celebratory dinner for her husband. (He finds out if he’s chief resident today… I’m guessing he’s not, since we know that he’s a surgery-botcher.) “And when you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what you forgot, don’t call me.” You go girl! (Why don’t you talk this way to your icky husband?)

Okay, new guess: Greg isn’t going to make chief resident. And then he’s going to use a medical instrument to stab whoever DID get it. Because… he’s a rapist.

Don and Betty debrief about the day. Sally won’t go near the baby. She also won’t sleep without a nightlight… but I mean, those are both things that kids do. Not too crazy. Don asks Betty if she’d want to live in London, and she says, “Of course. I could get a pram and a real nanny.” Are those things cheaper in London?

Joan is sleeping on the couch when Greg comes in drunk and stumbles over something in the dark. Aw, there wasn’t any celebratory dinner, because Greg never came home. Poor Joan! Greg says that he told her he was going to drinks with the docs. Joan calls him on his lie and says, “I just ate dinner for two.” Haha, a woman after my own heart.

Greg didn’t get chief resident. Duhhhh. He’s a shitty surgeon. Doug Hutchinson is chief resident. I think Doug Hutchison is getting stabbed tonight. Or maybe Edinger, who didn’t look Greg in the eye. All of these people are up for stabbing, because my mom said that it was a “new character” who would be getting maimed.

Uh oh, it’s going to be Edinger.

Greg: He sat me down in his office and he poured a drink and he said… he said I had no brains in my fingers.

Joan: But he wrote you all those nice evaluations–

Greg: Dammit, Joan! Doctors don’t write bad things about each other.

Ugh, that explains a lot. Like those doctors you see on “20/20” who accidentally amputated the wrong limb, more than once. Because they keep getting sent from hospital to hospital, and never actually get fired or reported.

If Greg wants to stay in surgery, he’s going to have to leave New York. He’ll go to “Alabama, or something.” He’s still a doctor, but he’s not a surgeon. Greg won’t say whether he was fired. But he does tell Joan that she’ll need to work for another year. “Greg, that’s done,” she says, re: her job at Sterling Cooper. “Well, get another one,” he replies.

Joan: Listen, you are still a doctor. I married you for your heart, not your hands.

Oh, so they are married. (And I bet he married her for her chest, not her heart.)

The other doctors went out to celebrate, but Greg couldn’t fake it with them. He’s been sitting in The Dublin House (a bar?) since 2pm. Oh great, alcoholic in training. “Go lay down,” Joan says. “I’ll undress you.” Ya big baby.

Don lies in bed next to Betty, looking smug. Is he about to face a Greg-esque reality check?

Sally lies awake, even though she has her nightlight.

Joan wears her amazing lime green dress, which I think we’ve seen before. Ugh, Mr. Hooker is taking over her job. AH! Mr. Sheffield from “The Nanny” is back, as… I think it’s spelled St. John (pronounced “sin gin,” haha).

As Hooker shows the Brits around, Paul sits in his office with the door open… playing guitar and singing? It’s like he’s in a competition: America’s Biggest Corporate Beatnik?

Blue-suited Pete meets Guy McKendrick (one of the Brits).

Guy: I know everything about you. You’re a very impressive fellow.

Pete: I wish I could return the compliment.

Guy: Well perhaps one day you shall.

Did Pete accidentally totally burn Guy McKendrick? He said it really pleasantly, but “I wish I could return the compliment?” Sounds… like a diss. Oops!

Next Guy McK meets Peggy.

Guy: I know everything about you. You are a very impressive young woman.

Are you sensing a trend here? Peggy says, “Why, thank you.” That feels more appropriate. Oooh, and Guy hopes to chat with her later. Bow chicka wow.

Now I’m thinking that maybe Guy McK will be the stabee.

The Brits take off their shoes to go into Cooper’s office. Guy has degrees from Cambridge and the London School of Economics, and he’s been studying Don’s work. Stalker!

Guy says to Don, “I look forward to, how do you say, catching up?” But Guy speaks English. He’s British. I always think of “how do you say?” as being something that non-English speakers say. There’s something kind of phony about Guy. I mean, not that. I don’t think he’s secretly French or anything. But… odd. He’s charming, but it’s covering up something more calculated.

I think at this point there’s some sort of Agatha Christie/Clue reference to having the meeting “in the x, with the y.” Which is appropriate to this recap, because I’m sleuthing out the stabber/stabee. (Also appropriate because I just watched “Bored to Death”… big night of sleuthery.) After the Brits leave, Cooper says, “Well, that was strange.”

Lane Pryce nervously awaits the visiting Brits. “Spectacles,” Hooker reminds him, and Pryce removes his glasses and sticks them in his pocket. Haha. Vanity.

The Brits are very impressed with Pryce’s work at Sterling Cooper. They’re offering Pryce a reward and a challenge. It’s in a box… it’s something that looks like a snake? A taxidermied rattle snake in a basket. Yay?

St. John: It’s for our snake charmer. We’re sending you to Bombay.

Pryce: Bombay? What would I do there?

He sounds very nervous.

St. John: Well, hopefully the same thing you accomplished here.

Pryce is not happy at all. His wife just settled in, his son was just accepted to school. He doesn’t want to move halfway across the world, all over again. But St. John reminds Pryce that he’s moving up. (… Or is he?) (Technically, he’s moving south.)

Ah, Guy McKendrick gives a presentation on an overheard projector. This is 1963? In the year 2000, overheard projectors were still in wide use at my high school. I don’t know if that’s a comment on technology, or on public school… or both. (They’ve probably moved on to PowerPoint by now.)

Everyone claps for Lane Pryce. “Our loss is India’s gain,” Guy says. Then he adds, “There’s no need for alarm. There will be no further reductions in our ranks.” Harry is the only one who claps for that, and it’s wonderfully inappropriate and awkward.

Don, Guy, and Cooper will be overseeing the company. There’s a line from Don’s name up to Guy’s, so I guess he’s under Guy now? And Guy is… in his late twenties, I think? So… not exactly a promotion, there. Not for Don, at least.

Cooper points out that Sterling isn’t on the chart at all. “Ah, that was an oversight,” Guy says. Hmmm. Don is sketching a little British (sort of?) flag in his notebook. Guy doesn’t want to inform the rest of Sterling Cooper of this good news (?) in a memo. He wants to go inform the troops right away! The Brits exit.

Harry: What the hell just happened?

Pete: They reorganized us, and you’re the only one in this room who got a promotion.

Harry: Really?

Sterling: Yes, really.

Haha. Cooper apologizes to Don for his wild imagination. I guess he really thought that Don would be going to England? And Don was pumped about that? Because… REVOLUTIONARY ROAD? I don’t know.

I need a blood buddy. Usually at the movies I bury my head in Cole’s shoulder, and he tells me when I can look. He’s Blackberry messaging me, but my recapping has put me out of sync with him. This is not good.

Betty and Sally have a chat in Sally’s room. I like their colorful outfits! Betty “finds” a gift. “‘To my new big sister, the best in the world!’ And my goodness, it’s from Baby Gene.” Ooh, Sally doesn’t look happy. But my mom told me that the blood doesn’t involve Sally, so I’m not too worried for the baby.

Ooh, they totally are dying Sally’s hair, and making her look like mini-Betty. Their hair is really similar in this scene. It’s kind of freaky. Mini-Betty!

Anyway, Sally inspects the card. “Baby Gene can’t write,” she says suspiciously. Future rocket scientist! “Babies get fairies to do things,” Betty says. “You know that.” Really? Is that something that kids are supposed to know? Nobody every told me that. But I never looked gift-from-baby horses in the mouth. It’s a Barbie. Oh, great role model.

“I think he wants you to know that he wants to be your friend,” Betty says, re: Baby Gene. Actually, this is probably Betty at her kindest. Oh wait. She stands up, puts her hand on Sally’s shoulder, kisses her on the head, and says, “And you are very important to me, too.” It’s fairly curt. And then she walks out.

Is Betty obsessed with Baby Gene because he’s sort of a symbol of the potential reincarnation of her just-died father? Let’s discuss.

Oh, and the Barbie has short brown hair. And it’s scary looking. (According to Oprah’s 1960s-themed episode that aired on Monday 9/21, 1963 Barbie was meant to look like Jackie O.)

Guy toasts goodbye to Pryce, and to Joan. “I wish you caviar, and children, and all that is good in your new life.” Guy raises his glass to Joan and smiles handsomely at her, and she starts to cry.

Oh no, is Joan going to stab her husband? Desperate housewives!

Hooker wheels out a cake with a picture of a ship on it. It says, “Bon Voyage, Joan.” I can’t help but think of it as a sinking ship.

“Enjoy the liquor and delicatessen,” Guy says. Delicatessen! I love it. (I really do. The word and the food.) The presentations will continue tomorrow. The rest of the day is dedicated to partying.

Which is lame, because can’t they finish the presentations today, and get 3rd of July off tomorrow?

Ken Pete, Harry, and Paul stand off to the side, looking unhappy.

Ken: So… what now? They keep adding people above us.

Pete: One more promotion, and we’re gonna be answering the phones.

At least this is kind of bonding Ken and Pete, after all of the we-got-the-same-promotion drama of episodes one and two.

Okay, maybe Pete is going to stab Guy? Maybe Joan is going to stab Hooker, to get her job back?

Peggy and Don stand together, awkwardly.

Peggy: This is good champagne.

Don: I don’t think so.

Oh, come on, Don. Throw her a bone. Peggy exits to get some food, and Don’s secretary tells him that Conrad Hilton’s office is on the line. OH CRAZY. Remember Connie? From the bar at the garden party?

Okay, the only reason I connect this so fast is because Thomas called that Connie was Conrad Hilton, the night that we watched the Derby Days episode. Thomas is uber-smart like that.

Conrad Hilton. The hotel owner. As in, Hilton. Don knows all this, but Don doesn’t make the Conrad-Connie connection. He’s willing to meet with Hilton “right now,” but is really confused.

Don’s told to meet Connie at the Waldorf. I’ve stayed there! But not in the Presidential Suite, which is where Don is headed.

Sterling’s upset that he wasn’t on the chart. He complains to Cooper, who is eating chocolate pudding. Cooper is delightfully eccentric.

Sterling: I like to think, I’m rich, they can’t hurt me.

Cooper: That’s a mistake.

Sterling: I’m being punished for making my job look easy. Although that kid, Guy, he has a spark. He is a pure account man.

Cooper says that being a good account man is about “letting things go so you can get what you want.” Deep. Sterling leaves, telling Cooper to have a nice holiday and “enjoy the fireworks.”

During the commercials: “AMC congratulates Matthew Weiner and Kater Gordon on their Emmy award.” That was fast! This recorded at 7pm PST. Kater looked kind of like Vampire Jessica from “True Blood.”

Forty-one minutes in. I’m increasingly nervous about the blood.

Party at the office. We haven’t seen an office party like this since the election episode, have we? Smitty and Out Gay Kurt (FINALLY!) and… some other guy… are talking Vietnam. I won’t call him “Guy” because there already is a Guy.

Employee: My dad keeps talking about Vietnam. I think he wants me to get drafted.

Smitty: First of all, they’re hardly drafting anybody. Second of all, you’re too old. [thinks] Third of all, I have a friend in the army, and if you’re smart, you’re set. He sits behind a desk at Fort Dix and screws secretaries all day.

At Fort Dix?! Hahaha. Suddenly Gay Kurt is interested (in Dix! haha), and says his first (and so far, only) line all season, in his wherever-he’s-from accent (the actor is from Bosnia/Germany).

Kurt: Does he shoot the peoples?

Smitty: I gotta take a piss.

Also: Smitty is wrong about a lot of things about Vietnam. Or at least, he’s going to be wrong, in retrospect. And Smitty has bad judgment in general. (Foreshadowing.)

Peggy got a card for Joan. “It would be nice if I gave you a gift for once, and you didn’t wonder if I wanted something,” Peggy says.

Peggy: I don’t want you to think I never listen to you. It’s just we can’t all be you.

Joan: Be that as it may, I do take some credit for your success here.

They share a smile. It’s sweet. Aw, why can’t they be friends? Because… it’s the working world in the 1960s, and… Joan resents Peggy, I think. Because Peggy is a copy-writer, and not a… sex object. Even though Joan never really wanted that kind of career. Until the whole TV/Media thing last year, where Harry should have hired Joan to be his right hand.

And then: Oh no, Now Smitty (I think) is driving the John Deere tractor thing around, and he’s probably drunk, and… I have a feeling this is going to be the cause of the bloody incident? I need a blood buddy, because I don’t want to look anymore. It’s hard to recap without looking.

Um, I am paralyzed with fear. I am pausing the episode and Blackberrying Cole for backup, here.

Oh, the tractor is gone, for now. Whew.

Peggy to Joan: I’m really happy you got what you wanted. I remember on my first day you said that could happen to me if I played my cards right.

What, getting married? I don’t remember.

Oh no, the tractor is back. THIS IS THE WORST. And Paul’s kind of inept secretary (Lois?) is driving. She’s bad at this!

Joan and Peggy are saying they’ll see each other all the time. Not. “If we don’t,” Peggy says. “I just want to say…”

The tractor noises are getting loud. Joan and Peggy are yelling over it. I have to pause. Steeling myself for blood.

Oh no, the secretary slices some guy in a gray suit’s leg… and drives right through an office wall/window. Whee! That wasn’t so bad… yet. It was kind of funny. And several of the regulars got sprayed with blood.

Oh, I think his foot is… almost severed. I’m not looking. Paul is splattered in blood. And Harry? I’m not looking.

Joan runs to the rescue. “Get us a tourniquet and a first aid kit.” Lois is freaking out. “Get her out of here!” Joan says. You guys, Joan is a medical master. She should be a nurse, or an EMT. That’s her next career. I bet she’s better at this than Greg is.

Okay, Mom. That really wasn’t so bad. I didn’t look, but I don’t think I needed such a dire warning.

Don meets with Conrad Hilton, and remembers that they met at the country club. Don made him a drink. “Let me return the favor,” Conrad says. “I can’t believe you’re Conrad Hilton,” Don replies. “Connie,” Conrad corrects him. Er, Connie corrects him.

Connie: Food? Best kitchen in the world, got a salad named after it.

Waldorf salad! Also: The Waldorf decor hasn’t really changed since the 1960s. That’s pretty cool. I mean, this is probably a set in Los Angeles. But it’s a set that is decorated to look like the Waldorf did in 1963.

Hey buddy! Reunited with Connie.
Hey buddy! Reunited with Connie.

Don can’t get over that he didn’t know who Connie was. “Ah, I don’t know,” Connie says. “Now, after this comes out next week…” He holds up a picture of the cover of Time Magazine, with his face on it. “Well, they don’t do that for everyone,” Don marvels. Connie puts it down. “I think I look like an A-rab.” Ha! Random.

Also, this is Paris Hilton’s… grandfather? Great-grandfather? Haha.

How did Connie find Don?

Connie: Well, I called around, told people I had a long chat with a handsome fellow from Sterling Cooper, and your name never came up. Apparently you don’t have long chats with people.

Only with strangers. But now Connie isn’t a stranger. And he knows that Don used to be a valet who peed into car trunks. Awk! Connie wants Don to look at some ad ideas. “You wouldn’t be in the Presidential Suite right now if you worked for free,” Don answers. Throw a few Benjamins at him, Connie! But Connie wants one for free.

The ads have a weird mouse on them. I’m good at this game, because Don says, “I don’t think anybody wants to think about a mouse in a hotel.” On the same page as Don! I feel cool.

Don and Connie sit down. “Well, there went my idea,” Connie says. “You got something better?”

Don: I might.

Connie: So… what do you want?

Don: I’m not gonna lie. I’d love a chance at your business.

Connie: Okay. But the next time somebody like me asks you a question like that, you need to think bigger.

I can’t tell if Connie is saying that Don shouldn’t have been so quick to ask for money before, or that he should have asked for more than just a chance at business just now. Either way, it works.

Don: There are snakes that go months without eating until they finally catch something. But they’re so hungry that they suffocate while they’re eating… One opportunity at a time.

Okay, so I guess it was the latter? Connie expected Don to ask for his own company or something?

Ooh, also: Another mention of snakes. Does this have any ties to the taxidermy snake that Pryce received from the Brits? I mean, it does. Duh. This is “Mad Men.” So, snakes that eat too much suffocate, and Pryce got a dead snake… does that mean that Pryce got a bigger project than he could handle, overseeing Sterling Cooper?

And now… Don has an emergency call. “Home or office?” he asks. Because both are… volatile.

Harry, Ken, Smitty, Pete, and Paul sit in an office. Someone is wiping blood off the window. Harry and Paul are down to their undershirts, thanks to the blood spray. The guys are really, really pissed at Smitty for breaking out the tractor, and for letting doesn’t-know-how-to-drive stupid Lois drive it.

Harry: We had the world handed to us on a plate. And then you swing in on a chandelier, drop your pants, and crap on it.

Sterling walks in. “Jesus, it’s like Iwo Jima out there. We should put a rubber mat down so Cooper can get around [in his socks].” “They’re changing the carpeting,” Pete replies.

“Any news?” Sterling asks. “He might lose his foot,” Paul says morosely, especially juxtaposed with Sterling’s chipper attitude. “Right when you get it in the door,” Sterling quips.

Whose office got smashed, I wonder.

Ken says that he takes full responsibility (reminder: he brought the tractor in because John Deere is his account). “Somewhere in this business, this has happened before,” Sterling says, before walking out. This business is CRAZY!

Joan gets a Coke out of the vending machine as Don enters the hospital waiting room… I don’t think this is the same waiting room from the baby ward. Don sadly notes that her dress is ruined with blood. “I didn’t expect you to come over,” she says. “I just thought you should know. Honestly when I called you, I thought he might die.” Eek, he lost the foot.

There’s something so frank about the way they talk to each other. It’s great.

Don is having too much hospital this season.
Don is having too much hospital this season.

(I wanted to make that photo the main photo, but… bloody spoiler alert.)

Don tells Joan that she’ll be missed. “That’s nice to hear. Especially from you, Don.” Joan and Don sit in silence for a few moments.

Joan: I bet he felt great when he woke up this morning.

Don: I’m sure you’re right.

Joan: But that’s life. One minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary’s running you over with a lawnmower.

They both start to laugh. It’s that kind of laughing you do when you don’t want to cry, because both of them are dealing with unspoken disappointment.

The Brits enter. OH, the guy she hit was GUY. THE Guy. Guy McKendrick. That’s why the Brits are here. Gosh, he looked different in the getting-hit scene. His hair looked darker, and… his face was twisted in pain. My bad.

Ahh: This episode is called “Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency.” But Guy doesn’t walk out. Get it?

St. John: He was great account man. Prodigy. He could talk a Scotsman out of a penny… Now that’s all over.

Don: I don’t know if that’s true.

Third Brit: The man is missing a foot. How is he going to work? He can’t walk.

St. John: Doctors said he’ll never golf again.

Jigga-what? None of this has to do with his ability to be an account man. I guess this was a time before… wheel chair access. Etc.

I talked to my mom about this, and she said that the 1960s were a time before amazing prosthetic technology, and before… you know, fairness. So a guy in a wheelchair or on crutches would just be considered a sad cripple. Part of Guy’s charm was his handsomeness, and his… tallness, or whatever. The way he could command a room. And, apparently, his ability to go business-golfing. Very important skill.

So… poor Guy. Ugh, this blows.

Now the Brits are going to re-evaluate their entire strategy? And Lane Pryce is going to stay in New York. And the office is closed tomorrow, which is also July 3rd. Well, that’s a plus. And the company is going to reimburse Joan for her dress. Score! She likely saved Guy’s life, with the tourniquet and all. So… tell them you need your job back!

Don to Joan: You should get home to that lucky husband.

SAY YOU NEED YOUR JOB BACK, JOAN! But Joan just kisses Don on the cheek, and wipes her lipstick off his face, in a motherly way. Don looks smitten. Even though Joan was his secretary, I have a feeling he never slept with her. Because he’s moral in certain arenas, and because she was Sterling’s girlfriend. But I bet she was his best secretary, because she ended up being Queen of the Secretaries.

Oh wait, it’s a Dr. Pepper vending machine. Not Coke. And it’s super cool. There’s a little door. Pryce buys sodas for himself and Don. He tells Don that he’s been reading American literature lately. As if it’s some new-fangled thing. Haha, those snobby Brits.

Pryce: Tom Sawyer.

Don: That’s a good one.

Pryce: I feel like I just went to my own funeral. I didn’t like the eulogy.

Oooh, THAT’s a good one. Poor Pryce. These Brits are getting ambushed… how appropriate, for 4th of July. (Also, there was a chapter in Tom Sawyer called “We Ambuscade the Arabs”… but I remember it being pronounced “A-Rabs,” like Connie said it. Everything ties together, on this show. Nothing is a throwaway.)

Don approaches his red front door. He picks a rose for Betty? Oh, it’s for Sally. From the fairies/Baby Gene. And she’s asleep, so he puts it on her desk.

Don’s in his room, taking off his tie, when Sally wakes up screaming bloody murder. It wakes the baby, and Betty brings him into Sally’s room. Sally screams even more when she sees the baby, and tries to hide in Don’s arms. “Get him out, Daddy!”

The dog comes in, barking. I didn’t remember them having a dog. “I don’t even know why to say,” Betty says, irritated. She leaves with the Baby Gene, which is totally a doll. Don comforts Sally.

Don: Calm down. Tell me what’s going on.

Sally: Grandpa Gene. He’s not supposed to be here anymore.

Don: He’s not.

Sally: He’s called Gene, he sleeps in his room, he looks just like him, and I bet when he starts talking he’s gonna sound just like him, too.

Don: He’s a baby. That’s it. I want you to go to sleep. There’s no such thing as ghosts.

Okay, this is MUCH more disturbing than the bloody foot stuff, in my opinion. I’m kind of surprised that my mom didn’t call to warn me about THIS. (Also, my theory about Baby Gene being Betty’s father-replacement is true. And… creepy? Oedipal on several levels? And Sally gets what I’m talking about.) Don goes back to his bedroom.

Don: Betts, this has to stop.

Betty: There’s nothing I can do. She’s jealous of her little brother.

Don: She’s not jealous, she’s scared, and it’s all because he has that name.

Betty accuses Don of bringing Sally into this, because he didn’t like Gene. And remember… he didn’t want the baby to be named Gene.

Betty: She’s a child, and she’ll get over it. And now you have to. He was my father, and that was his name. It’s what people do, Don. It’s how they keep the memory alive.

Don: He hated me and I hated him. That’s the memory.

The “that’s what people do” line is kind of cutting, because it highlights the fact that Don doesn’t have any family, nor does he talk about them. In some ways, Betty is calling him a non-person. And in some ways… that’s true.

Sally comes in and apologizes for waking up the baby, and Don and Sally go into the baby’s room. Don picks up Baby Gene, and sits down. He invites Sally to come over and see the baby. “You see?” he says. “It’s all right. This is your new brother. He’s only a baby. We don’t know who he is yet. We don’t know who he’s going to be. And that is a wonderful thing.”

Aw, this whole sequence is really sad. It’s getting back to the whole Don Draper/Dick Whitman thing. Don doesn’t want to remember his family. Don had to kind of re-birth himself. He was born through tragic circumstances two times over, and… it’s just kind of funny, how much he loves a clean slate.

I kind of like the idea of being able to trace yourself back a long, long way through a tradition… to know who you are from the day you’re born, to a certain extent. I mean, you can always grow from there. But maybe I’m wrong… or maybe I’m not articulating this the way I’d like to.

I feel like Don’s being a good father to Sally this season… and he’s really making an effort to try to make her not hate Baby Gene. Sally and Don actually have completely opposite feelings about the inappropriate-ness of the baby’s name. Sally doesn’t want Baby Gene to replace Grandpa Gene because he was dear to her, and Don… well, he didn’t like Gene at all, and the name’s a sour reminder, rather than a sad one.

And we end on that tableau, and a folksy song about birth and death. (I’m sure it’s famous.)

One final word about Joan: Maybe now that Harry is promoted, he can give Joan a TV job? She can’t leave the show, right?

Next on: Some ladies ask Betty if she’s suicidal. Always. Right?

xoxo…

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3 thoughts on “The British are Coming: MAD MEN Episode 306

  1. easy to say it wasn’t that scary when you were totally expecting something to happen, and you were warned not to look, and didn’t. Sally screaming…who knew if that was scary? I was still in a state of John Deere trauma.

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