Tonight's episode, like many in the first season, didn't quite keep the pace set in the preceding episode, but it still offered plenty to love. (Though it was a little jarring to see virtually none of Peggy and no sign at all of Pete.) No, the night belonged to Don, Betty and Harry Crane?!?
That's right, corporate ladder-climber Harry found himself in a sticky situation when he opened coworker Ken Cosgrove's paycheck by "accident." After learning that he makes a full $100 less a week than Ken, Harry began to question his worth and his role at Sterling Cooper. After being scolded by Sal for sharing this depressing news with his expectant wife (a situation Sal understands now that we know he's now married, as pointed out by an observant poster on this blog last week who noticed the wedding band I missed!), Harry put Sal's pep talk to use.
While "considering his options" Harry ran across a friend at CBS who had a controversial show about abortion that had just lost its sponsors. Harry decided to take a look at it and then brought it to the rest of the guys and the clients from Belle Jolie lipstick. Although he made several solid (if overeager) arguments, the client couldn't risk putting their wholesome image alongside such a taboo program, despite all the women who "would find a way to watch this." (Seeing Peggy squirm a little when put on the spot to give the women's opinion was a nice touch.) Even though the client passed, Harry's initiative earned him a meeting with Roger Sterling, who unceremoniously made Harry the head of Television and granted him a raise to $225 a week (with free drinks and new business cards!) It's still a far cry from the $310 he wanted that "nobody here makes, not even close," but Harry and his wife were satisfied.
Meanwhile, Don was forced to clean up a mess created when a drunk Jimmy Barrett, the comedian star of Utz potato chips TV campaign, makes several cracks about "Mrs. Utz's" weight on the set of the commercial. Don gets charged with the clean-up duty after it's revealed that he would have prevented the clients from ever stepping on set
if he had been at the office. (What's with all the midday movies, Don? His watching of a French film depicts even more drastically depicts just how different Don has become since the events of Season 1, when his day breaks were usually spent in someone else's bed.) But while cleaning up the Jimmy situation, Don created a whole other mess by being sucked into yet another affair with Jimmy's wife/manager. (In the front seat of the car, no less! Did people not walk down the street in 1960s New York?) But here again, Don is not in control. He goes along with Bobbie's advances, thinking it will solve his problem. He only leans later that she is playing him to negotiate more money for Jimmy. (The power shift to the women this season is really remarkable.)
However, that shift is contrasted nicely by Betty, who remains a mystery. Although she's clearly been displaying her independence lately, her conversation with Arthur Case, the hopeless riding student at the stable, about his horse spoke volumes. Though she was referring to his horse when she said, "She has to be told what to do," Betty still demonstrates this thinking, despite her attempts to break from it. For example, when Don asks her to be his charming better half at a dinner with Jimmy, Bobbie and the Schillings (the Utz owners), Betty plays the role perfectly. (Gotta love the "Is this one where I talk or don't talk" line.) But the same Betty who two weeks ago used her sexuality to get a cheap fan belt replaced, shuts down Arthur's advances, leaving him only to say that she is "profoundly sad." The only answer she can come up with (besides the nicely placed "No, my people are just Nordic") is that she is "grateful," which is clearly untrue based on the car ride home from dinner when breaks down after being the focus of slimy Jimmy's attention all night at dinner. Her lie to Don that she wants to be in that part of his life ("We make a great team") doesn't even begin to cover the fact that she indeed feels trapped under her sadness.
Don, however, finally shows a little bit of himself that we all remember from Season 1, and takes Betty's advice about the horses, or in this case Bobbie. When it becomes clear that she was simply playing him, it takes little more than a hair pull, and a hand on Bobbie's, um, "reins" to quickly regain the upper hand. Jimmy makes his apology, Don's skin is saved, and all Jimmy can do is bite his hand when Mrs. Schilling says "she doesn't have the stomach for Jimmy's comedy. (Patrick Fischler was great in this episode from beginning to end.)
A couple of other nuggets:
" Don fired Lois after the Schilling/Barrett debacle for her inability to "manage people's expectations." The scene was fast and funny, and Lois's reactions were just excellent. Plus, it seems for now we will see more of Joan outside Don's door. Yay!
" John Slattery is so perfect as Roger, I hardly even feel like he's acting. Scenes like his raise negotiations with Harry and his argument with Don about bumming smokes from Ken and not getting his own pack from the closetful of Luckys because "he doesn't smoke," add so much to the show in an effortless way.
" Despite a new affair and Betty's breakdown, the tension we've seen between Betty and Don the last two weeks was pulled back quite a bit in this episode. Betty even shows a little tenderness by monogramming Don's watch while it's being repaired, but Don can only frown, as he just washed the smell of another woman off his hands moments before. This unrewarded gesture for Betty probably solidifies her understanding of the relationship, perhaps adding to the breakdown at the end and, I would guess, setting up even more tension still to come.
" What happened to American Airlines? I know I've already harped on the uneven pacing, but this was a huge development in the last episode. I applaud Matt Weiner for caring more about character than plot, but in some cases, we need some payoff!
" Finally, I love how this episode skirts around abortion with the episode from
The Defenders that Harry brings in. Harry can't bring himself to tell his pregnant wife that the show that helped him get his raise was about abortion. Plus, Peggy's face shows equal parts shame for her actions and perhaps some hindsight remorse for not having been able to solve her own problems with an abortion. Very nice.
So what did you think of tonight's episode? Do you think we'll see more of Bobbie? Any new thoughts on Don and Betty's relationship? What do you make of Betty's answer to Don on the car ride home? Is she telling the truth or lying? Share your thoughts and check back next week for more!
Click here for Matt Roush's take on this epsiode!
Tonights episode like many in the first season didnt quite keep the pace set in the preceding episode but it still offered plenty to love Though it was a little jarring to see virtually none of Peggy and no sign at all of Pete No the night belonged to Don Betty and Harry Crane Thats right corporate ladder-climber Harry found himself in a sticky situation when he opened coworker Ken Cosgroves paycheck by accident After learning that he makes a full 100 less a week than Ken Harry began to question his worth and his role at Sterling Cooper After being scolded by Sal for sharing this depressing news with his expectant wife a situation Sal understands now that we know hes now married as pointed out by an observant poster on this blog last week who noticed the wedding band I missed Harry put Sals pep talk to use While considering his options Harry ran across a friend at CBS who had a controversial show about abortion that had just lost its sponsors Harry