"It's your life. You've gotta move forward."
That's Don Draper's M.O., and in this episode, also his drunken advice to Roger Sterling. (And it wasn't very long ago we saw Don giving similar advice to Peggy.) For better or worse, Peggy took the advice to heart, and is now nearly as emotionless as Don. For proof, look no further than the elevator ride to the office where the topic of conversation was the apparent suicide of Marilyn Monroe. Hollis was the only one who could muster any real sensitivity to the situation, while Peggy (and Don, as he agreed with fascination at how much of an ad man Peggy has really become) was just thankful Playtex didn't go for the Jackie/Marilyn ad from a few weeks back. "Some people just hide in plain sight," Hollis said. That's a little unsubtle for Matt Weiner, but the cliché is never proven truer than by the men and women of Sterling Cooper.
But Peggy shares something else with Don Draper: a sympathy for others' mistakes. When a drunken Freddy Rumsen pees his pants while preparing for a pitch meeting, Pete seizes control of the situation, but Peggy goes out of her way to protect Freddy's image. Not that it makes much difference, because in a matter of moments, the formerly sniveling secretaries have replaced their tears for Marilyn with stares (and probably even some laughs, similar to what we later see from the guys) as an embarrassed Rumsen heads out of the office. After Pete and Duck bring Freddy's mishap to Roger's attention, Sterling breaks the news to Don that they have to cut him loose for "conduct unbefitting." (Loved Don's "of
Freddy Rumsen?" retort. Again, he cares and his loyalty is showing through. Even to the point that Sterling calls it a liability.) Don's attempts to label Duck as a teetotaler who has been gunning for Freddy since Day 1 fall flat, and the date of execution is set. Over cocktails!
Readers know I am a big fan of Roger Sterling, and have been calling for more scenes from him all season. Freddy Rumsen's firing was a doozy. Sterling alternates from the cool guy ("There's a line, Freddy, and you wet it") to being downright cold. (He cuts short all sentimentality, and when Freddy says maybe he'll move to another town, Sterling toasts New York.) Despite his protests that he can dry out, Freddy increasingly realizes the decision was not negotiable. He takes the news decidedly well (at first, anyway) and appears he might take Don's "move forward" attitude to heart. But that shouldn't stop the drinking on one last-hurrah of a night. "Here's to Monday morning," Freddy says. "It'll be here quicker than you think."
The boys head to an after-hours club/casino to finish off the night, and while Freddy's betting big, Roger shakes down Don. "Where you staying?" he asks, knowing that things aren't as they should be between Don and Betty. As usual, Draper remains tight-lipped, but then he sees Jimmy Barrett. And he lays him out, effectively ending boys' night out. (Nice touch for Jimmy to bounce back up and ask boxing great Floyd Patterson "How'd I do?") In the alley, we realize the real tragedy of Freddy's fall. "If I don't go to that office every day, who am I?" he asks. And yet another character's identity crisis takes center stage. Yes, Freddy is an alcoholic, and working at Sterling Cooper enabled his habit. But as evidenced by his flawless run through the pitch before the unfortunate pants-wetting, he could still do the job. Even so, he knew his "six month leave of absence" was more than that. "Good night, Freddy," Don says. "Goodbye, Don," was Freddy's matter-of-fact acceptance. (Kudos to Joel Murray for his funny and heartbreaking performance. I will never forget him playing Mozart on the fly of his pants.)
Meanwhile, Betty spends her days in her housecoat guzzling red wine. She wakes to see Carla taking the kids to school, and gazes at them as if they aren't even hers. She has little interest in listening to the report on Marilyn's death, and quickly passes out on the couch. (More about all the couch-dwelling later.) When riding buddy Sarah Beth shows up, things get worse. She talks about being "invisible" to her doting husband, and that her shrink says she's bored. She fills that boredom with thoughts of Arthur Case, the young man from the stable who has had an eye for Betty. Betty tells Sarah Beth not to talk to him so much and that she needs to learn how to flip the switch on and off. (Something she's perfected earlier in the season). "Don is perfect," Sarah Beth says, immediately bringing the conversation to a halt, settling to resume at lunch later in the week.
Don does make a stop by the house, since Sally called his office to ask when he'd be back from his "business trip." Betty is clearly uninterested in having Don back in the house, but they both agree it's bad for the kids. So Don creates a pitch - maybe he's working a project in Philly. "Jesus, did you just think that up?" Betty says, shocked at how easily he lies. "Or I could just come home," Don says, before giving up: "If your mind is made up, there's no talking you out of it." But Betty got the brilliant last word in: "I thought you could talk anybody into anything." Ouch.
And apparently, Don can't talk himself into caring much either. When Roger and Don head to
another bar after saying so long to Freddy, Don finally spills it. "I'm staying at the Roosevelt," he says. He also gives a slight peek into his past, perhaps inadvertently, when he calls his slugging Jimmy Barrett an "old Archibald Whitman maneuver," before shrugging him off as "some old drunk I used to know." But all Sterling's talk about "doing the grand gesture" for Betty is lost on Don, who confesses he doesn't feel bad for what's happened. Instead, he's relieved. (Of what, not having to play perfect family?) Don's "you have to move forward, as soon as you figure out what that is." For Don, "what that is" wasn't another woman, he said, but it is for Roger, who took the carpe-diem message to heart.
As Don rests on the couch, nursing his hangover after having just promoted Peggy to Freddy's position, Mona bursts in to blame him for Roger's decision to leave her. No one is more surprised than Don, and when Mona threatens to make a scene (is Roger as embarrassed by this as Freddy was by his tinkle?), he lets her go, seeking solace in his new girl: Jane. She is a wreck and runs away, and Roger, turning to Don for some support is greeted with a door slammed in his face.
A few other notes:
" What did you make of Betty setting up Sarah Beth and Arthur? Betty seemed happy to be back out at the stable (with her switch flipped back on), but was she just being bitchy by setting up the lunch and bailing? She certainly knew what she was doing by taking the phone off the hook around the time they might be calling to see where she was. (Side note: If she and Don don't get back together, I don't see how her character remains a vital part of the show. She is already so disconnected out in the suburbs. Their reunion might be strained, and yet a ways off, but it almost certainly has to happen.)
" Don's insistence that Jane be taken off his desk after learning of her affair with Roger was interesting. Maybe Don is jealous that Jane has cozied up to Roger, but it's more likely that Don suspects her of leaking details of his personal life to Sterling. (Even more angering would that be after Don insisted to Jane "I don't know you at all, and this is personal.") Maybe Sterling isn't as intuitive as he lets on.
" I think it's criminal that Joan wasn't given more to do in an episode that included the death of Marilyn Monroe, to whom Joan has been so frequently compared. Then again, she did loads in her one scene. Roger misread her mourning on his couch as her missing him, and tossed aside the notion that she should be sad. "I'm just another frivolous secretary," she said. (Bitter from her recent non-promotion?) But more directly, Joan says, "One day you will lose someone who is important to you." That foreshadowing was too potent to ignore, but who has Roger lost or will lose? I don't think Mona means that much to him. Margaret, his daughter? Don? Maybe eventually Joan?
" Slimy Pete Campbell, the office tattle tale. He destroyed Freddy's career as a means to advancing his own. When Peggy calls him on it because Freddy was the one who helped her climb the office totem pole, Pete reminded her that "because of me, you're no longer a junior copywriter." (Which is true, now that she's promoted and Duck takes her seal of approval over Paul Kinsey's) Even more heartless, when planning the Samsonite pitch, Pete tells the gang one of the clients just had a baby. Sal asks, genuinely, "Oh, a boy or a girl?" To which Pete only replies, "That's good."
" The shirts Jane bought Don from Menken's weren't the only throw back to Rachel from Season 1. Don used Rachel's new husband's name (Tilden Katz) when they went to the casino/club. Still can't shake her, huh Don?
" Joan was mourning. Betty and Freddy were passed out from too much booze. Don was nursing a hangover. Pete wastaking an afternoon nap? Even so, all of these characters were caught lying on a couch in this episode. Betty is no stranger to the therapist's couch (nor is her friend Sarah Beth), and I think the symbolism is apt that each of these characters have something to get off their chests. But (with the exception of Pete, maybe) I think they are all legitimately tired of putting on the false face each day. Even more sadly, they are all interrupted from their slumber, not allowed that inner peace they are perhaps searching for.
" I really enjoyed the boys' impressions of Freddy Rumsen ("Aww, Jesus!") and laughed at their "whiz" jokes. Don wasn't so easily impressed, again coming to Freddy's defense. "It's just a man's name isn't it?" he asks when their only defense is that their behavior is funny. Strong words from a man who only has a "name," since his reputation is just that. Don Draper may be an advertising success and creative genius, but he is a ghost of a man.
" Lastly, congrats to
Mad Men on its well-deserved Emmy wins. I continue to be even more blown away each episode this season, and expect many more golden statues in the show's future!
What did you think of the episode? Will Don and Betty ever work it out (at least for those poor, poor kids)? What did you think of Freddy's swan song? Did Roger shock you, or have you come to expect that kind of behavior from him? Share your thoughts below and check back next week for more!
Its your life Youve gotta move forward Thats Don Drapers MO and in this episode also his drunken advice to Roger Sterling And it wasnt very long ago we saw Don giving similar advice to Peggy For better or worse Peggy took the advice to heart and is now nearly as emotionless as Don For proof look no further than the elevator ride to the office where the topic of conversation was the apparent suicide of Marilyn Monroe Hollis was the only one who could muster any real sensitivity to the situation while Peggy and Don as he agreed with fascination at how much of an ad man Peggy has really become was just thankful Playtex didnt go for the JackieMarilyn ad from a few weeks back Some people just hide in plain sight Hollis said Thats a little unsubtle for Matt Weiner but the clich is never proven truer than by the men and women of Sterling CooperBut Peggy shares something else with Don Draper a sympathy for others mistakes When a drunken Freddy Ru