I have to say that I was more than a little let down by the lack of plot advancement in the first episode of the season, but this episode was chock full of awesomeness, again reminding me why this is my favorite show. So, let's dig in.
The show opened with a party being thrown at Paul Kinsey's apartment in New Jersey. Most of the boys from the office were there, as was Peggy, who proudly tells a partygoer that she works
with the "stuffed shirts" not
for them. Paul showed off his home and lifestyle in Montclair, though some of his coworkers noticed a typewriter he stole from the office. While Paul bragged about his fancy rare liquor to Joan, the pair was interrupted by Paul's girlfriend Sheila, a black cashier at the local supermarket. In her usual cutting way, Joan made light of her work, and said that when she and Paul were together the last thing she'd "have taken him for was open-minded." Ouch.
The party featured plenty of potential hook-ups (such as Ken making his move - with Sal watching, no less), but the most interesting is Peggy and a young suitor in the hallway. As he tried to woo her to come home with him (because "you know you want to"), Peggy reminded him that she is a persuader by day, and he's doing a very shoddy job. Again this proud, invigorated Peggy is a long way from the girl we met last season. However, all of that was dashed temporarily when she visited her mom (who needed the vacuum cleaner, I guess?) and got a scolding for not going to church. Though the show had far more poignant moments, these scenes had to be among the best of the night becausewe now know where the baby is!
That's right, the baby is with Peggy's family. However, one thing intrigued me about this conversation. My understanding from last year is that the Peggy wanted to get rid of the baby, both to distance herself from the social stigma as well as not risk losing the respect she had just gained at work. However, when her sister said - in response to Peggy's statement that she is capable of making her own decisions - "that's not what the state of New York says, or what the doctor says," is she suggesting that Peggy wanted to keep the baby, but had it taken away from her because she was an unfit guardian? I mean, she didn't even know she was pregnant, so I could see the state's point. But I'm confused about Peggy's rationale. Or perhaps the state kept her from putting it up for adoption. Feel free to weigh in on this major development below!
The other two important emotional arcs of the episode came from Pete Campbell and Don, both reacting in different ways about different things concerning the crash of American Airlines Flight 1 from Idlewild Airport (now JFK) to Los Angeles that crashed in Jamaica Bay. Pete lost his father in the crash, and, after a chain of events, Don lost some of his dignity. We'll get to that in a second. For all his sliminess, you almost had to feel sorry for Pete (who just minutes earlier was cracking jokes about the "bay turning plaid" because of all the golfers on the plane) when he learned that his father had died. (Christopher Allport, the actor who played Pete's father in Season 1 also died tragically in an avalanche in January; the episode was dedicated to him.) Most crushing was the fact that he had no one to turn to, and ultimately confided in Don. Not sure of how to act, he asked Don what he would do, and though shocked by his answer that he would go home, Pete does so after Don insists that "there's life and there's work."
Don, however, had to deal with a different kind of loss as a result of the crash. Duck Phillips convinced Roger and Cooper to go after American Airlines as they are looking for a "fresh start." To do so, Don must cut loose Mohawk airlines, a task he doesn't want because, as we later realized, he promised the client that they "didn't need a big airline, they were going to make Mohawk a big airline." Even worse, when Don tells the client that he didn't make the decision, the client added to the sting by saying that Sterling Cooper told him when you sign with their agency "you get Don Draper." Obviously, this whole development sets up even more conflict between Don and Duck, which began in Episode 1 when Don was forced to meet with younger talent to help Duck bring in new clients. I'm interested to see where that rivalry goes.
Duck, however is fighting his battle for American Airlines with none other than Pete Campbell. Though Pete initially resisted Duck's offer to handle the American account (little more than a ploy to almost guilt American into signing), he still showed up at the meeting at the last minute and laid it on thick. Pete reminds the client that Sterling Cooper "has someone who knows exactly what you're going through." He also tossed in that the crash was a "horrible thing," but that something good could come of it, presumably, by doing business with Sterling Cooper. Duck may have been stretching it when he said Pete "is the best," but Pete definitely is the most soulless. His vulnerability before was completely washed out by his unabashed ambition. Glad to know it's OK to dislike him again.
Meanwhile, Paul and Joan exchanged words over her treatment of Sheila at his party. In true Joan fashion, she baited Paul to "describe her to me" and challenges him by saying "she knows what's first on the list." While it's easy to paint Joan a racist (which Paul begins to do), Joan then ripped Paul to shreds over his new lifestyle, which he has fabricated to make himself feel important. (
Get Christina Hendricks' take on playing the scene in my interview with her here!) In his embarrassment, Paul retaliated by photocopying Joan's driver's license, letting the whole office know her true age, which upsets her greatly. She may not be a "phony", but she definitely comes off a little insecure.
While Don was ripped apart by his work, sitting alone at the bar realizing he sold out, earlier in the episode at home, he seemed more comfortable than usual. Even though he was annoyed to have to play host at first, he seemed at ease while playing cards with Francine and Carlton. (P.S. Sally as bartender cracked me up!) But maybe Don seemed calm and normal because Betty (still on her independent kick) again came across as an uncaring witch. Her comments about Bobby being a liar for tracing a picture of George Washington and passing it off on his own were cold, perhaps revealing displeasure in her life. ("I don't need a book to know what little boys do," was aimed as much at Don as her son.) Even more intriguing was when the visitors left and Betty continually made mention of how Carlton should be happy with Francine after "everything he did." Don apparently felt like he was being baited, as he said, "I'll say whatever it you think I need to say, but I'm not going to fight with you." Again, I feel as though in the time we missed, something has passed between Betty and Don - perhaps about his affairs - and this new edgy mean streak in Betty is a result of it. Again, I can't wait to see how this one plays out.
Finally, the show ends with Peggy at church with her family. She doesn't hold the baby, until her family goes up to take communion. Peggy stays in the pew to hold the baby (barely), and the tyke instantly begins crying. The image of Peggy as the outcast and sinner (holding the proof of her sin) was very powerful, and a brilliant place to close the show.
Like I said, they squeezed a lot into those 45 minutes, and I was eager for more. If this season was slow to start back up, this one kicked it into high gear in order to catch up. I'm sure I may have passed over some of your favorite moments, so share them in the comments. But overall, what did you think? Were you shocked by how Pete reacted? Do you think Joan's speech to Paul was harsh? What do you make of the tension between Betty and Don? And do you think a Duck-Don showdown is on the way? Share your thoughts and check back next week for more!
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I have to say that I was more than a little let down by the lack of plot advancement in the first episode of the season but this episode was chock full of awesomeness again reminding me why this is my favorite show So lets dig inThe show opened with a party being thrown at Paul Kinseys apartment in New Jersey Most of the boys from the office were there as was Peggy who proudly tells a partygoer that she works with the stuffed shirts not for them Paul showed off his home and lifestyle in Montclair though some of his coworkers noticed a typewriter he stole from the office While Paul bragged about his fancy rare liquor to Joan the pair was interrupted by Pauls girlfriend Sheila a black cashier at the local supermarket In her usual cutting way Joan made light of her work and said that when she and Paul were together the last thing shed have taken him for was open-minded OuchThe party featured plenty of potential hook-ups such as Ken making his move wit