"People buy things to realize their aspirations."
says Bertram Cooper and so
does Don Draper. In this case, Don buys a 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, a flashy, modern, $6500 dream car that the salesman says is "for people who have arrived." But Mr. Draper wasn't so easily convinced at first, as the salesman also suggested that Don would be as comfortable in his new Caddy as he is in his own skin. Cue a flashback and a whole new mystery. We see Don roughly 10 years earlier also selling cars &mdash, albeit used ones (no wonder he gets so many clients to sign the dotted line for Sterling Cooper) - with fluffier hair and a much less strained demeanor. That demeanor quickly faded into something more familiar when she bluntly states, "You're not Don Draper." Once Don remembers how uncomfortable he is with himself again in present day, he passes on the test drive of the Cadillac and heads back to the office.
There, he and his two creative boy wonders, Mr. Smith and Mr. Smith, help him fine-tune a pitch for Martinson Coffee (who dropped the possessive form of the name, much to Sterling's chagrin). Duck is thrilled with himself to have gotten Martinson in the door, and he and Don appear to have actually moved forward in their working relationship as they agreed in last week's episode. Mr. Smith No. 1 tells Don that the young generation that Martinson wants doesn't care about the new can or what kind of beans the company uses, because they don't want to be told what to do. Instead, they want to "just be." Their solution is a pitch that, to Sal's displeasure, requires no artwork, only the mood music of the two young guns "more than a jingle" jingle. The pitch is successful, earning Sterling Cooper a solid new account, Duck more respect in Don's eyes and Don an opportunity to sit on the board of the new Museum of Early American Folk Art. "Philanthropy is the gateway to power," Cooper tells Don, urging him to "take his seat among the few people who get to decide what will happen in our world" who have invited him to join them. Now convinced that he has "arrived," Don buys his Caddy.
But Don couldn't maintain his new found comfort level long. Jimmy Barrett called and invited the Drapers to his party celebrating ABC's decision to pick up "Grin and Barrett" for a 39-episode run. Though he "claimed" Don hadn't gotten back to him, it was clear he was calling to chat with Betty, and perhaps even using her to make sure Don attended. (As he said, if she's anything like Bobbie, she "books the dance card.") When the Drapers arrived (Betty "glamorous" and Don wearing his tux Cooper told him would be seeing more action) Bobbie quickly moved in on Don, who she'd been trying to reach at the office (apparently) unsuccessfully since Don left her tied up at home. When Betty excused herself, Jimmy went in for the kill, planting the seeds of Don and Bobbie's infidelity in Betty's mind. ("I know her and you know him and there they are and they don't care where we are," Jimmy said.) Jimmy then turns his attention to Don, who he learns is leaving because Betty's "not feeling well." Jimmy pulls no punches, telling Don there is nothing he likes about him, despite the fact that he got him everything that he wanted. When Don plays dumb, Jimmy lays it on him, saying that he laughs at Don when he thinks about him with Bobbie (someone apparently a lot of people have had), but that even so, his willingness to sleep with another man's wife makes him "garbage." Echoing the closing moments of the first time we met Jimmy Barrett, we see Don and Betty driving home in silence. That is, until Betty vomits in the car, tarnishing the physical representation of Don's achievements just as Jimmy did the emotional.
One person who can never realize his aspirations is Sal, but he certainly can gaze longingly at them. Tonight, the subject of his gaze was an unsuspecting Kenneth Cosgrove. After breaking into Cooper's office with Harry, Sal and Jane (who he is still hopelessly trying to woo) to see the boss' new painting, Ken described the Mark Rothko piece as something "so deep you could fall in," catching Sal's attention. When Sal told Kenneth his story from Season 1 was "beautiful and sad," Ken decided that Sal should read his new manuscript since he's "not like everyone else." Sal jumps at the opportunity, an even invites Ken over for dinner.
Sal cooks his finest spaghetti sauce and gushes over Kenneth's latest story, "The Gold Violin," hardly noticing his wife is in the room, despite her constant attempts to interject herself into the conversation. Of the gold violin that inspired Cosgrove's story, Ken says, "it was perfect in every way - it just couldn't make music." Perhaps Sal feels the same way, because even though he has a solid career and a home life that Cosgrove admits envying (and Sal must enjoy a little, as he honestly did seem upset that he had hurt Kitty's feelings, he cannot live the life he wishes. (
See Bryan Batt talk about Salvatore's battles with homosexuality in that era in our video Q&A!)
The gold violin, of course, serves as an even better representation of Don, who indeed lives the "perfect" life on the outside, yet is anything but on the inside. The camera lingered on the picnic scene as the Cadillac drove away, reminding us of the litter the Drapers blatantly left behind. Even in this picturesque scene, we can't pull our eyes away from the garbage (remember Jimmy's choice of words?) that clutters up Don's life. And when Cooper tells Don about his new ascension toward power, he reminds him that he "knows a little something about him." It seems every positive in Don's life is counteracted by one (or more) negatives - the metaphorical garbage he just can't seem to escape.
More intriguing than the gold violin, however, is Cooper's Rothko painting. Everyone in the office looks for some great insight into what the painting means while Cooper is really only interested in the financial gain. But Cosgrove is most correct in his assessment that it is meant to simply be experienced and enjoyed. (I think Matt Weiner could even be giving a little wink to his critics.) Indeed,
Mad Men for me is best when I just let it take me in and dazzle me, which it most often does. It's true this show is more than just "smudgy squares," one might see at a quick glance, but part of the fun is in the interpretation and the joy that it brings. (Read Matt Roush's take on the episode
A few other thoughts:
" Who else was dying for a Joan/Jane catfight? Joan was certainly within her rights it seems, but I loved Jane's smart mouth and unflinching way of challenging Joan. Joan perhaps sees too much of herself in Jane, and doesn't like it. And how brilliant was Sterling's attempt to help Jane by doing absolutely nothing? He was playing both sides of the situation to his advantage, either getting closer to Jane who is happy to still have her job or perhaps regaining Joan's attention. Sly dog.
" Missed Pete this week, and didn't see enough Peggy, who simply pressed the play button in the Martinson pitch and watched Paul Kinsey pour water on Pampers. Loved Sal's line, though, about disposable diapers being so expensive at 10 cents apiece that you would think they needed to be reused.
" Who is the mystery woman at the car dealership in1952? A family member/girlfriend/wife of the deceased Don Draper? Dick Whitman may have escaped his past by not getting off a train to reunite with his family, but I doubt seriously he didn't find it as easy to shake this woman off his case. What do you think he did to carry on this false life? Could he still be in contact with this woman? Perhaps the person to whom he sent the book? (I still think it's Peggy, based on the flashback from two weeks ago, but this could be an interesting new twist.)
" I read some interesting theories about Duck's reasoning for leaving Chauncey alone on Madison Avenue last week. Some suggest (as I believed) that he kicked Chauncey out to remove the guilt he felt from falling off the wagon. Others suggest that by getting rid of the reminder of his failed marriage, he would let go of the anger that was urging him to drink and therefore remain sober. So did he or didn't he? This week, he seems more upbeat than usual and appears to be doing his job better. What's the difference? I say it's booze.
" So what's next in the Draper household? I've already questioned what might have passed between Don and Betty regarding Don's infidelity in the gap between Seasons 1 and 2, but perhaps that will take a backseat to the current affair. Or maybe we will get some flashes of the past that work to parallel the most recent situation. Either way, it should be a bumpy ride.
" Kudos to the writers for ending tonight's episode on a funny (albeit darkly comic) note, with Betty puking. After Don's painstaking attempts to keep his new ride "perfect" (no sex in the car, no silly putty in the seats, checking the kids' hands after the picnic before they could get back in), Betty spews all over the front seat. With all the anticipation building
something to happen, that unexpected jolt with a quick cut to Don's horrified face and then to black was startling and satisfying. And it had me laughing all three times I watched it.
So what did you think of tonight's show? Are you mystified by the new flashback into Don's past? What do you think Don's next move is with Betty? Will Salvatore pursue Cosgrove further, or keep spending his repressed nights lighting his cigarettes with Ken's lighter? Share your thoughts and check back next week for more!
People buy things to realize their aspirations So says Bertram Cooper and so does Don Draper In this case Don buys a 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville a flashy modern 6500 dream car that the salesman says is for people who have arrived But Mr Draper wasnt so easily convinced at first as the salesman also suggested that Don would be as comfortable in his new Caddy as he is in his own skin Cue a flashback and a whole new mystery We see Don roughly 10 years earlier also selling cars mdash albeit used ones no wonder he gets so many clients to sign the dotted line for Sterling Cooper with fluffier hair and a much less strained demeanor That demeanor quickly faded into something more familiar when she bluntly states Youre not Don Draper Once Don remembers how uncomfortable he is with himself again in present day he passes on the test drive of the Cadillac and heads back to the office There he and his two creative boy wonders Mr Smith and Mr Smith he