Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "The Jet Set"

Season 2, Episode 11
Episode Synopsis: Don takes a business trip to Los Angeles, where he hooks up with some interesting new acquaintances; Peggy's in the mood for an office romance; Duck contemplates the future at Sterling Cooper.
Original Air Date: Oct 12, 2008
Guest Cast Mark Moses: Herman "Duck" Phillips Peyton List: Jane Siegel
Full Episode
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Season 2, Episode 11
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Length: 47:56
Aired: 10/12/2008
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "The Jet Set" Season 2, Episode 11

Throughout this season, Don Draper has told a number of characters to "move forward," forgetting the past and making the most of the future. But in this episode, old habits died hard for both Don and his Sterling Cooper rival Duck Phillips. Similarly, Roger Sterling was up to his old tricks (though to be fair, he never really gave them up) and Peggy again found herself falling for the wrong man. All the while, Don is miles away from the action, both at the office and his business trip, indulging in what can only be described as Mad Men's most surreal plot to date. And luckily, he left his "baggage" behind.

While awkwardly hanging poolside in his gray suit, Pete informs Don that the airline did indeed lose his bag while also being reminded again that this is no vacation for Pete. (Though it could be, Don threatens.) Don then turns his attention to the bar where he thinks he sees Betty, but despite January Jones portraying the illusion in a couple of the shots, it isn't so. Don soon meets Viscount Willie and a young beauty named Joy who wastes no time making eyes at Don. Despite their pleading, Don resists their invitation to dine with them, perhaps regretfully so, as he laughs his way through Pete's description of the engineer they are meeting for dinner. (Obviously, Mr. Draper has no interest in "engineering man for space travel.")

The next day, Don has a bit of a change of heart, brought on presumably by the presentation at the convention about the MIRV missiles. (The destruction of Moscow was a bit of a grim antithesis to Don's Kodak pitch in Season 1's finale, and boy have Don's emotions changed since then.) Whether he flashed on memories of the war or if it was the idea of firepower that could annihilate civilization, Don decided it was time to cut loose — from Pete, the convention and from Don Draper. When he again ran into Joy, he once more feigned protest about travelling with her to Palm Springs, but it was only seconds before he was in the car.

Though everything that happened at the house — from Don fainting from heat stroke and learning this group of friends was a band of nomads to his being seduced by the much younger Joy and that wacky dinner scene — was wildly peculiar, the strangest behavior came from Don, who to fans of the show may as well have been a stranger in this episode. Sure he was guarded (he said a mouthful when upon being asked about his story he replied, "I don't know how to answer that") and presumably pursued Joy because he had Betty on the mind (was I the only one who thought January Jones was actually dubbing in some Joy's lines?), but Don felt strangely not out of place with this eclectic bunch. Perhaps it's because they spend their time running from any form of identity as well. Even Joy's father would rather be seen as her friend. (How perfectly perverse was his walking in on Don and Joy the morning after to make such a revelation?)

Joy then made her pitch, inviting Don to come along with the group and vowing that she wouldn't be "possessive — you can be with anyone you want." Earlier in the episode, Don might have said yes, but just then he gets a look at two run-down kids who are being drug across the world with their parents and the moment gives him pause. Even so, he doesn't run back to the kids he's drug through his own muck, but rather makes a phone call that explains everything. He hadn't been acting like Don Draper because all this time he's been Dick Whitman, at least that's what the ease with which he utters the name would have us believe. He agrees to meet this mystery person "soon" and settles into that classic title-sequence pose. (Just like earlier in the season at the French film. Ironically, all of these scenes felt like a foreign film in many ways.)

But while Don relaxed on the couch (and Pete happily on the lounge chairs beside the pool) Duck Phillips took advantage and made quite a power play. He'd only been missing his secret ingredient: gin. After feeling out Roger for his chances at being made partner (which Sterling laughed off) Duck decided he was ready to go back to doing business the Londoners' way. But when his old colleagues informed him that they weren't hiring (and gave us the added info that he came back to the states to be with his family that then fell apart) Duck finally gave in to his addiction and kicked back a drink. And almost instantly, the cunning businessman in him was revived.

As if he was pre-programmed Duck made a pitch, suggesting his old friends buy the controlling interest of Sterling Cooper to handle their American clients … and put Duck in charge, of course. ("Creative reports to me, or the whole thing falls apart," he says. Oh, Don, your rug is being pulled out from beneath you and you don't even know it.) Once the Brits are in (and feeding Duck's relapse with a case of Tanqueray), Duck makes the pitch to Cooper and a skeptical Sterling, who really inspired the whole thing, considering the money he's about to lose in his divorce to Mona. He lures them with the promise of international prestige, money and bigger clients, without changing a thing. Even more cutthroat, he tells Roger there's no time to "think about it," and that the potential buyers have five days to make an offer. "There's the man I've heard so much about," Cooper says. Indeed, Duck is again that man, the one who hides the cocktail in his belly with breath mints before the pitch. Bottoms up!

Then there's poor Peggy, who jumped from jerky Pete, to vow-taking Father Gill, only to think she has a shot with Kurt after he invites her to a Bob Dylan concert. ("Isn't that interesting?" Joan says with contempt in the break room when the "date" is revealed.) But things really got interesting when to stop the jokes being made, Kurt (wearing coveralls?) tells his colleagues he's homosexual. Peggy's shock and embarrassment were rivaled only by Sal's priceless face, which at first seemed jealous of the revelation, and then, crushed by Cosgrove's slur, perhaps justifying Sal remaining in the closet.

But perhaps Kurt can bring about change for Sal the way he does for Peggy, who Kurt tells she has old style when she asks him what's wrong with her. His solution? Chop a few inches off her ponytail, lose the bangs, and bring her into 1962. The new 'do was really working for her, and even caught Pete's eye, though he couldn't pinpoint the change. No matter, Peggy already seemed armed with a new personality to go with her look, and let's hope this time it sticks around a little longer than the sexed-up Peggy we saw at the cabaret club.

Peggy cut her hair. Kurt cut the tension surrounding a taboo subject (and is one of the few characters to think "it's ok, it's good" to not have secrets). Roger cut his financial losses with Mona to be with (and propose to!) Jane. Duck made a play at cutting Don's legs from beneath him. And Don cut the tether that was tying him to his tortured life with Betty. And perfectly, the show ended with the "baggage" that Don was free of in California being delivered back to the Draper household, where Betty (who was dreaming of a suitcase last week) will be left holding the bag.

A few remaining thoughts:
• I couldn't help but be reminded of the first time we saw Roger and Joan together in the hotel room during Roger's proposal to Jane. But the scene also nicely paralleled Don's academic post-coitus chat with Joy, who claimed that sex was better than Faulkner. Sadly, it seems Roger has been sold the cookie cutter image of love that coud easily be the tagline on one of Sterling Cooper's campaigns: "This is the life I was meant to live," he tells his lawyer who's urging him to reconsider marrying Jane. Also, Sterling's proposal, though he swears is not "impulsive," sounded almost like a dying man's last request. "Would you do that for me?" he asks. Every girl's dream, right?

• Behind Roger Sterling of course, Ken Cosgrove has to be my favorite go-to guy for the one-liners. His nonchalant "Kurt's a homo" when Pete returns from California cracked me up far more than it should have. Though Sterling did come in a close second tonight with his response to Duck saying he'd be proud to present his accomplishments to the Board. "Good, 'cause I'm at a loss," Sterling said.

• Even before Bryan Batt got to brilliantly (and silently) play Sal's reaction to Kurt's coming out, he was great in the opening conference room scene. He first was flipping disinterestedly through a Playboy and then turned to commenting on the "nauseating upholstery" and décor on the Loretta Young Show.

• I have to stand corrected.I assumed Duck fell off the wagon the night he let Chauncey out onto Madison Avenue. But as Mark Moses told me when I interviewed him last week, that was not the case, evidenced tonight by the sheer pleasure Duck experienced when that first drink touched his lips. But I will continue to predict that Duck is out of the picture for next season, as Roger ominously foreshadowed tonight, "Is this as sure as American Airlines?" If the deal doesn't fall through, I think Duck's alcoholism will again be his undoing, but we shall see.

• We've discussed the baggage symbolism, but let's not forget Joy. She brings some actual happiness (or joy) to Don in the same way that he is free of the emotional weight he's been carrying. And what about her voracious appetite for being between the sheets? The Joy of Sex indeed!

• So who did Don/Dick call? The blonde from the used car dealership has to be the most obvious choice. Was she also the recipient of the book in Episode 1 of this season? And, more importantly, does he just want to meet to say hello, or could the person be joining him and the nomads for a trip to Nassau? (I kid, of course, because no matter how the show might reinvigorate itself in future seasons, it cannot work without Don in New York.) Anyone able to make out what Don wrote down when on the phone?

What did you think of the episode? And with two episodes left, where do you think all of this will lead? Share your thoughts below and check back next week for more!

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Throughout this season, Don Draper has told a number of characters to "move forward," forgetting the past and making the most of the future. But in this episode, old habits died hard for both Don and his Sterling Cooper rival Duck Phillips. Similarly, Roger Sterling was up to his old tricks (though to be fair, he never really gave them up) and Peggy again found herself falling for the wrong man. All the while, Don is miles away from the action, both at the office and his business trip, indulging in what can only be described as Mad Men's most surreal plot to date. And luckily, he left his "baggage" behind.

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Premiered: July 19, 2007, on AMC
Rating: TV-14
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