Don Draper's façade has been cracking all season, but in this episode, it was dealt its final blow. Of course, for the façade to truly go away, Don must confess and give into the fact that his entire life is built on a series of lies, which he is clearly still unable to do. But then it seems Peggy and Joan are similarly afflicted, each unwilling to openly confess their true thoughts and feelings at the risk of blowing their covers.
Joan is the unlikeliest suspect, but comes to her realization at the hands of Harry Crane, who is bungling his job as the head of television, most recently by letting an ad for a Maytag product know as "The Amazing Agitator" run during a movie of the week about Communist agitators. So, Miss Holloway sets to work reading network scripts and liaising between both the clients and the networks. And with that little taste of the world she reminded Peggy a couple episodes back she never wanted any part of, she's hooked.
We see more of her mysterious fiancé, but mostly as a vehicle for contrasting what Joan used to want versus what now fills her days. Instead of watching TV and eating bon bons in the suburbs, she's much more excited by her new authority and power. (Her fiancé, of course, thinks she just walks around with people staring at her all day at work.) And that's not completely untrue, as even though she's doing her new job well, the clients also enjoy the face-to-face meetings with Joan. ("I love what she says, and I love the way she says it," says one client.) She even manages to show Harry up in one meeting, offering the client a better slot for the same price. Either way, customers are happy, Sterling is happy, and Harry is happy, because he finally gets approval for a dedicated man in his department. But poor Joan is left going back to ruling the hen house. (Part of me wonders if Sterling isn't still intentionally trying to get the best of Joan.) Christina Hendricks' performance in the scene where she is stripped of her duty was so strong, saying everything she needed on her face, even as her helpful tips for the job came spewing from her mouth. I can't help but think that the job description her fiancé suggested was floating in the back of her mind. Still, she says nothing and carries on.
Peggy, meanwhile, is reunited with Father Gill (Colin Hanks), who seeks more of Peggy's "expertise" in attracting girls to the CYO dance. It certainly seemed like more of a ploy to get Peggy active in the church, but whatever Father Gill's intentions, Peggy reluctantly agreed to find time in her schedule to do the pro bono work. Her "campaign," however, is met with some resistance from the CYO committee, which doesn't find her "A Night to Remember" concept as wholesome and romantic as Peggy does. (They also have a particular concern that the dancing couple on the flier didn't "leave any room for the Holy Ghost."
When Father Gill suggests that all parties meet to discuss the problems (mostly so he doesn't have to tell the committee that Peggy "knows better than they do,") it's more of the same, even ending with the suggestion that Peggy rethink the whole idea. Peggy has some words for Father Gill, boldly telling him that his job is to make the committee understand that Peggy is the expert. (How nicely this mirrors Don's complaints to Duck earlier this season, when Don tells Duck to stop pitching the clients' ideas to him.) Nonetheless, Peggy reworks the flier and even makes copies at the office. Perhaps thinking he has gained more of her trust, Father Gill just drops confession in Peggy's lap, telling her "God already knows." (Loved her "Well, then I don't need to talk," retort.) But like Don, Peggy's defense is beginning to weaken, and she looks like she's on the verge of spilling her guts when she's saved by the copier. Crisis averted again, for now at least.
But Don has dodged his bullet one too many times. We've seen the tension brewing between him and Betty all season long, and this episode beautifully displayed Betty's boiling over, first with her intense ride at the stables to open the show and later with the destruction of one of her dining room chairs as her kids looked on in terrified confusion. Though she bottled it back up in time for the dinner party she was hosting, Don unwittingly uncorked it again, thanks to how well he knew his wife. As Don had predicted in an earlier meeting, Heineken should be trying to sell their beer to suburban housewives who want to entertain, not the men at the tavern. Sure enough, Betty had bought a case of the "frosty beers from Holland," for her international menu, proving Don right, and giving all the men a good laugh.
Betty's embarrassment, however, is simply the catalyst. (Like everything else in this perfectly realistic scene, the understanding that small fights in marriages often reveal bigger issues was spot-on.) So, as Don walks toward bed, belittling Betty's anger, she drops her bombshell: "I know about you and that woman." And how perfect is it that her first objection is that "she's so old"? But Don's an old pro, right? He's told so many lies in the last couple decades - what's one more? He does his best, but he is visibly uneasy, and is grasping at opportunities to turn the conversation around (discrediting Jimmy as a big mouth, pointing out that Betty has no proof). But it's all in vain, because after all, Betty knows Don well, too. "You're lying," she says, and Don goes to bed alone.
Betty spends the night in Sally's bed, and the next day in the previous night's party dress - which, like Betty and her usually perfect hair, looks worse and worse each time we see it - getting drunk and looking through Don's things to find proof. All she finds is "stupid advertising," and perhaps she's ready to just forget it all. But when she wakes Don on the couch in the middle of the night (with hair wet and no makeup) she is treated to another batch of lies. "You don't ever tell me you love me," she says. "Of course I do," is Don's reply, and perhaps he's lying to himself inside as much as he is to everyone else on the outside - so much so, that he doesn't even know the real truth anymore. In that moment you want to believe Don cares about his wife, but at this point, who knows what's real in that man's head? Betty doesn't "want it to be this way" but when she sees Jimmy Barrett's smiling mug on the TV that afternoon, she tells Don not to come home. And so, he spends his night (like many in Season 1) away from his wife, children and "idyllic country home," but this time the only adultery involved is that which has already been committed.
The closing montage serves as a nice balance to many of this season's opening sequences, which have shown these characters getting dressed. Instead, here we see Joan taking off her "armor" as some commenters aptly called it a few weeks ago. Her scar for the day might be from a too-tight bra strap, but the emotional scar comes form being too tightly strapped into her role in the office, now that she's seen what more is out there. Peggy is bathing, and splashes some water on her face, perhaps a refreshing reminder to stay focused in order to keep her façade from crumbling like Don's. Don sips Heineken in the office kitchen, the only place he has to go, and the only place where his lies are usually rewarded. And Father Gill physically transforms from priest to man with the removal of his collar and the picking up of a guitar, reminding us (as perhaps Peggy reminded him) that he "lived life" before becoming a man of the cloth. Although we as viewers continue to be privy to the truth, it is the continued wait for that seemingly never-coming confession that keeps us watching.
A few other thoughts:
" Again, we had a great moment between Pete and Don. No words are spoken, but Pete's lingering and Don's confused "what do you want?" shrug says it all. And it makes me laugh.
" Roger Sterling, who almost always has the best lines, rocked as usual tonight, despite having little to do. His introduction of Duck to Crab (and Crab to Duck) was priceless.
" Anyone else love seeing casual Joan at home? And what about Warren's obsession with her at work? "She's so much woman," he says, and we know he is definitely is one of the ones who stares at her as she does her job.
" What happened to sexy Peggy? Perhaps Pete took her down a peg again. After all, that stare at the cabaret was pretty brutal. Or maybe Peggy is simply using her new look only in emergencies.
" The dinner party was priceless. From Sally's ceremonial ballet performance to the drunken wife of Crab Colson to Betty's long and mannered introduction of the menu as the perfect hostess, everything about the scene felt as precise and formal as the dinner itself.
" I must stand corrected, as I was certain the tension between Don and Betty all season was from some sort of blowout the couple must have had following Betty's discovery that Don was talking to her shrink (and all of the other secrets Don might have spilled as a result.) But I have to say Betty's reaction and complete emotional (and mental?) breakdown in this episode seems like a first-time ordeal. There was no hint or reference to last time. So what's been going on before all this? And how long will Don be sleeping at the office?
What did you think of tonight's show? Are you glad Betty finally confronted Don? Do you think they will repair their marriage? How do you think Joan's realizations might change her situation at work? Will Peggy ever reveal to Father Gill what he already knows? Share your thoughts and comments below, and check back next week for more!
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Don Drapers fa231ade has been cracking all season but in this episode it was dealt its final blow Of course for the fa231ade to truly go away Don must confess and give into the fact that his entire life is built on a series of lies which he is clearly still unable to do But then it seems Peggy and Joan are similarly afflicted each unwilling to openly confess their true thoughts and feelings at the risk of blowing their covers Joan is the unlikeliest suspect but comes to her realization at the hands of Harry Crane who is bungling his job as the head of television most recently by letting an ad for a Maytag product know as The Amazing Agitator run during a movie of the week about Communist agitators So Miss Holloway sets to work reading network scripts and liaising between both the clients and the networks And with that little taste of the world she reminded Peggy a couple episodes back she never wanted any part of shes hookedWe see more of her mysterious fi