Happiness. It's what everyone wants, and, generally, people will do almost anything to attain it. The men and women of Sterling Cooper are experts at selling happiness to their clients and, thus, the customer. Still, so many of the characters on Mad Men are only what Roger calls "conspicuously happy" — carrying on the illusion of contentment while deeper trouble brews. Is Joan's marriage to a soon-to-be-rich (or maybe not) doctor real happiness? Can Peggy's euphoric high from smoking a joint last forever? Can money, earned or stolen, fix all your problems? For the sake of TV drama, let's hope not.
"I have a job. I have my own office, with my name on the door. And I have a secretary.... And I am not scared of any of this." — Peggy Olson
When heads of accounts Campbell and Cosgrove drop the ball on a Bacardi account, they recruit Peggy, Smitty and Kinsey to work on new ideas over the weekend. After hitting a brick wall and suffering from severe boredom (and, in Peggy's case, sleepiness), Smitty suggests that "a guy like [Kinsey]" must know someone who can help them get high. Enter Jeffrey Graves (Miles Fisher), a "cocksman" from Princeton's class of '55 and New York City drug pusher.
While the boys toke up, Peggy's new (older) secretary warns Peggy not to take part in their mischief. Turns out Olive canceled her family trip to the Cloisters to be at Miss Olson's beck and call, even on a Saturday. (She even offers coffee or tea — she aims to please!) But Peggy is a woman who knows what she wants. "I am Peggy Olson, and I want to smoke some marijuana," she says as she meets Graves. She also stands tall to Kinsey when he suggests she won't like getting high. "How do you know what I like? You never ask me about anything but brassieres and body odor and makeup," Peggy quips.
Somewhere in between Kinsey and Graves' musical duo and Kinsey's quoting of T.S. Eliot's musings about the end of the world, Peggy finds inspiration amid the smoky haze. As she heads back to her office, Olive, being much more of a mother than an assistant, scolds Peggy for her behavior. "You're not thinking about your future," Olive says. Peggy responds with the speech above, and while at first it seems somewhat cruel to her secretary, it's yet another reminder of just how strong she is. Just as she stood up to Paul Kinsey — and to Don last week — Peggy knows she's one of the boys, and she's comfortable with it. Her buzz may wear off, but the thrill she gets from writing that perfect line for Bacardi is what will always make her tick.
"The fact that Greg can get a woman like you makes me feel good about his future, no matter what happens." — Mrs. Ettinger
Joan, on the other hand, is learning that the perfect life she expected when she married her doctor doesn't deliver that same kind of thrill. I have to believe it was the hope of that dream life she'd always imagined that kept her committed after the office rape. But Greg hasn't changed a bit. He may not be sexually assaulting her, but Greg still has his way with Joan, who at least has begun to put up more of a fight. (I don't want to fight right now," Greg says. "Then stop talking," Joan replies.)
Greg and Joan host Greg's colleagues, the chief of surgery and the departing chief resident, whose shoes Greg is eager to fill. First, Greg is unsatisfied about the place cards at the dinner table, forcing Joan to serve dinner buffet-style. Joan later learns from the men's spouses that Greg may not be a cinch for new chief resident, something she clearly was in the dark about. When the topic arises again during an after-dinner conversation about Greg screwing up a surgery, Greg quickly makes Joan a minstrel. He breaks out the accordion, and Joanie dazzles with her rendition of "C'est Magnifique," but the look in her eyes shows everything is far from magnificent.
"Just wait. All hell is gonna break loose." — Gene Hofstatdt
Sally Draper: Nine-year-old bartender and now expert reader of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume One. Not only does she learn a new vocabulary word, "licentiousness," but apparently she learns how to exhibit the same behavior. When Grandpa Gene is "indisposed," mischievous Sally sneaks in and swipes five bucks. Gene, despite his decline into senility, knows he's been robbed and sets the whole house on a mission to find it. Carla turns the room upside down, and when the money is still missing, Gene has no appetite.
Sally's guilty conscience ultimately gets the better of her... sort of. She gives the money back, but only after pretending that she's just found it. Carla seems to know better, and so does batty Gene, but he doesn't lash out. Or maybe he doesn't realize that the kid got the best of him. Either way, I dare say the love Gene shows when he invites a nervous Sally back into his room to resume reading the book is a far cry from the type of punishment Betty doles out in all her bitterness. I feel the show focused on this subplot more that I would have liked given the outcome, but maybe it's a turning point for Sally, who genuinely always seems to find herself in some sort of trouble. (Let's just hope she doesn't take Gene's actions as reinforcement and go the other way.)
"It's different inside." — Connie
Don and Betty head to a soiree thrown by the newlywed Mr. and Mrs. Sterling for Derby Day. And after only a few hours (and a performance of "My Old Kentucky Home" by Sterling in blackface), Don makes an escape. He heads to the bar in search of some bourbon, but finds Connie (guest star Chelcie Ross), a man escaping his own personal nightmare. "I'm at work disguised as a party," Don says. It's a brief scene, but in it, the two share stories from their pasts that make it clear that even though they have risen to higher levels of society, they still feel out of place. Don used to urinate in rich people's trunks because the roadhouse where he parked cars wouldn't let him use the toilet. Connie used to stare at mansions with their "twinkling lights" and giggling girls, only to learn that it's different once you get inside.
Betty meets a stranger of her own while waiting for Trudy Campbell outside the ladies room. The fellow hits on Betty a little bit, and the two discuss her pregnancy. Then Betty, who clearly has no boundaries (think Glenn Bishop), lets the complete stranger feel her belly. Unfortunately, the baby isn't moving, and Trudy cuts the party short. Turns out he's Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley), an employee of the governor's office. There may be more to come from the glances between those two.
"People don't think you're happy. They think you're foolish." — Don Draper
After a long day of drinking, young Jane makes a scene by falling down drunk at the buffet line. Don and Betty try to help her, and she drunkenly admits that she knew that she and Don would get back together. (Betty's eyes could set the whole country club on fire in that moment.) Don tries to calm Jane down, but she ends up somewhat groping him as Roger looks on.
Roger finally confronts Don about his icy attitude toward him of late. He mistakes Don's anger toward him as jealousy, saying it's too much to be "conspicuously happy." When Don makes sure Roger knows just how he feels, Roger plays his trump card. "You know, the great thing about a place like this? You can come here and be happy and you get to choose your guests." Somewhere I see Connie shaking his head.
While Roger continues to make his lovely new life known to everyone by dancing with Jane center stage, Don finds Betty alone in the dark. He takes her and kisses her, more passionately than we have seen in a long time on Mad Men. Don may not have danced with her all day like she wanted, and even though we know he's far from the perfect husband, he's trying again — first with Gene, now with this. Roger puts on a false front of happiness for all the naysayers to see, while Don, a man who definitely knows a thing or two about living a lie, realizes happiness comes in the moments when no one's watching.
A few other thoughts:
• One couple who seems genuinely happy is Pete and Trudy. Their ridiculous dance number was hysterical to watch, but unlike Roger's, it showed a real warmth between the two that we saw in the season premiere. Whatever has passed between these two in the time between seasons, I am glad to see.
• Speaking of dances, what did you think of all the different performances? Last week, some of the commenters picked up on Don's use of the word dance in his speech to the MSG rep and his fixation on the dancing teacher on the maypole. Dancing and singing are generally reflections of happiness, and fit in nicely with the episode, even though I admit seeing all these characters break into song was odd on first viewing.
• The oddest had to be Paul Kinsey. I liked again that someone called Kinsey out on being phony, particularly his affected way of speaking. It was clear his college roommate got the best of him by calling him out, but their impromptu duet also delivered the best line of the night from Peggy. "I am so high," she says, perhaps as confused as we are by what we're seeing in front of us.
• Connie reminded me of something I wanted to point out in the premiere: how willing Don is to open up to strangers. (It's also something Betty did tonight.) He told the stewardess in the premiere it was his, the real Dick Whitman's, birthday. Tonight, he tells more of his past to Connie. We learned Dick's mom was a prostitute when Don told Rachel in Season 1. Granted, she wasn't a stranger, but she wasn't, say, his wife. Maybe Don feels telling his secrets to strangers protects him. Obviously, when he opened up to Roger about being kicked out of the house, it caused all kinds of problems, including coming back to bite him with Betty in this episode.
What did you think of "My Old Kentucky Home"? What did you make of the exchange between Betty and Mr. Francis? Are you sad to see Joan stuck in a relationship with that awful Greg? Sally and Grandpa: Interesting or boring? Share all your thoughts below. Plus check out our 60-second video recap!
Happiness. It's what everyone wants, and, generally, people will do almost anything to attain it. The men and women of Sterling Cooper are experts at selling happiness to their clients and, thus, the customer. Still, so many of the characters on Mad Men are only what Roger calls "conspicuously happy" — carrying on the illusion of contentment while deeper trouble brews. Is Joan's marriage to a soon-to-be-rich (or maybe not) doctor real happiness? Can Peggy's euphoric high from smoking a joint last forever? Can money, earned or stolen, fix all your problems? For the sake of TV drama, let's hope not...