This episode of Mad Men focused on the parent-child relationship, and, in so doing, the circle of life. While Peggy and Horace Cook Jr., Sterling Cooper's newest client, try to leave the nest for their own adventures, Betty continues to fight against thinking of the day when her father will no longer be there. In the middle of it all is Don, who's no stranger to daddy issues, but somehow understands the happy medium between the two extremes. In the end, we're left with this season's best episode so far, one that is both laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking all in the space of the same hour.
"I am one of those girls." — Peggy Olson
Thanks to a malfunctioning shower head (and a perhaps-pervy super), Peggy finally decides to make her move to Manhattan. Factoring in the savings on subway/cab fare and pantyhose (!) and with the addition of a roommate, Peggy is quite confident she can pay the "outrageous" rent. Money aside, she's now convinced she is a Manhattan girl, and sets her plan in action by putting up an ad in the Sterling Cooper break room.
The sad ad is discovered by Harry, Kinsey and Cosgrove, who, with the help of Lois, have a little fun with "Margaret." Lois prank-calls Peggy, pretending to be a tannery worker from New Jersey who has severe burns on her face and needs help using the bathroom. When the boys can't contain their laughter, Peggy hangs up, incensed, and decides to take down her ad. But not before Joan gives her some tips: Stop being so buttoned-up, and reach out to new faces. Peggy's new Joan-ified ad gets the job done — by the end of the episode, Peggy is calling Karen Ericson (Carla Gallo, who you might remember from Judd Apatow's brilliant-but-canceled Undeclared) from the travel agency on the third floor "roomie." Even if Peggy isn't Swedish!
To soften the blow when she breaks the news to her mom, she buys her a new TV. It's all smiles and hugs until Peggy drops the bombshell. Peggy's mom, played brilliantly as always by Myra Turley, unloads a fantastic guilt trip on Peggy, but it quickly turns nasty. She tells Peggy she's not the kind of mother who is happier about a TV than a daughter, and asks her to return it. "You'll get raped, you know that?" she finally hisses, prompting Peggy's exit. But as Anita tries to reassure Peggy on the way out the door, we hear Mrs. Olson turn on the tube, perhaps realizing that your babies do eventually grow up.
"It doesn't make any sense. It looks right, sounds right, smells right. But something's not right. "What is it?" — Harry Crane
When the director for the Patio ad drops out, Cosgrove scrambles to find a last-minute replacement. When he is unsuccessful, Don recommends Sal, to pretty much everyone's surprise. But Sal sees this as an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon of the future because, as he notes to his wife, his illustrations are in decreasing demand. And based on his hilarious pajama-party recreation of the entire shoot, he's the right man for the job.
But things are amiss in the Romano household. Sal's wife, Kitty (Sarah Drew), dressed in sexy lingerie, wants to get frisky, but Sal shoots her down (something that appears to happen regularly). She says she "needs tending" and tries to understand what's going on with Sal. And during the aforementioned pajama prancing, it seems she finally gleans a thing or two about her husband. As often is the case on Mad Men, her expression says it all. (Perhaps Sal didn't know he had to limit his exposure at home too.)
Sal effectively recreates the opening of Bye Bye Birdie like he was asked to do, but the client, for reasons no one is really able to express, just doesn't like it. Roger says it's because the girl on screen isn't Ann-Margret. Peggy's sideways, "I told you so" glance says he should have listened to her about how to market the product. Sal takes solace in the fact that Don appreciated his work as a director, even though the client, being "magnanimous" by taking the blame, calls the entire effort a failure.
"He has a dream, and it's our job to make it come true." — Pete Campbell
"Let's get one thing straight. If jai alai fails, it's your fault. " — Horace Cook Jr.
On the other hand, Sterling Cooper's other client, Horace Cook Jr. (Aaron Stanford), will not accept any responsibility if his plan to launch jai alai past baseball as America's pastime goes down in flames. A Dartmouth buddy of Pete, "Ho-Ho" metaphorically drops $1 million on the conference room table and lays out his demands, which include near-impossible feats such as producing a TV show for Patchy, the sport's star, that will air on all three networks simultaneously.
While Pete and Pryce celebrate their new payday, Don suggests they take a step back. It turns out that Ho-Ho is the son of one of Bert Cooper's close friends, and Don thinks they need to inform him before taking his money. So Bert, Pryce and Don set up a meeting to tell Horace Sr. (David Selby) about his son's plan, but none of it is news to him. Furthermore, he tells Don to take his son's money and do his best, because if he doesn't, someone else will. "When we put money aside for him, he was a little boy. We didn't know what kind of person we were making," Horace Sr. says, understanding that his son is trying to escape the "cloud of success" his father created.
Don — whose glance at a snapshot of his father reminds us that he escaped his own cloud, though not one of wealth and privilege — decides to meet Horace Jr. in the middle. He tells him to think twice about blowing his fortune, his future, on this project. "We will take all of your money, I promise you. But you should reevaluate this particular obsession. You can do better," Don says, which Horace Jr. thinks is just some sales technique. Ho-Ho dreams of being the father of a sport and giving his dad a team for his 75th person. In short, his desire to "really do something" means more to him than the money he might waste in the process.
"Why are you laughing? ... He's dead. He's dead and he's never coming back. And nobody cares that he's really, really, really gone." — Sally Draper
Someone else who can "really do something," according to Gene, is Sally. Despite the five-dollar robbery, Grandpa has really taken a shine to her. He teaches her how to drive, buys her her favorite fruit and shares ice cream in the afternoon, even though Betty doesn't approve. Betty also doesn't enjoy talking about Gene's death, but he insists they go over the arrangements he has made. (Foreshadowing alert!)
In many ways, Gene has become another child in the Draper household. Betty and Don get the final say on everything, even though he's the elder member of the family. Betty smokes, even when her father tells her not to, and Don overrules Gene when he tries to give Bobby a German soldier's helmet from the war. Perhaps that commonality strengthens his bond with Sally. Or maybe it's that, as Gene says, Sally is more like Betty's late mother than Betty.
Whatever the reason, their bond is palpable in this episode, making it all the more sad when Gene literally checks out at the A&P. Betty, maybe making a connection with her dead father or perhaps being more like Sally and Grandma than Gene knew, eats a peach while William cracks a joke to lighten the mood. Sally, in her grief, throws a tantrum, which only earns more harshness from Betty. She tells Sally to stop being hysterical, and when the anger continues, commands her to go watch TV. (Don's sympathizing nod finally does the trick.) But rather than escaping reality via the TV, Sally instead witness the horrifying image on the news of a monk setting himself on fire in protest of the Catholic Church. Whether or not her parents realize it, Sally is learning about the world. And I can't help but wonder as Don pushes Gene's pull-away bed into the corner to make room for the crib if Don is considering what kind of person he and Betty are making.
A few other thoughts:
• In an episode about parents and their successes/mistakes with their children, we finally get a glance into Betty's view of motherhood. Ever wonder why she always talks about Sally being fat? Because Betty had her own weight problems as a kid, and her mother made her walk home as punishment.
• Though Roger thinks that the Patio ad's lack of Ann-Margret is to blame for its failure, I wonder if it is because Sal was behind the camera. And maybe that's the thing no one can quite put their finger on. While Sal generally says and does all the right things (I love when he says lines like "It looks like it was a lot more then 20 percent off"), he looks at women in a different way than the other men in the office. And since they made it clear the ad had a sexuality aimed at men, it seems Sal's touch might not have been what was needed.
• The failure of that ad rubbing up against the success of landing such a wealthy client kept the Campbell-Cosgrove battle in the background. After all, the only reason Horace came to Sterling Cooper is because Pete talked him into it. Pryce was also clearly pleased with Pete. And as Cosgrove mused while the boys tried out jai alai in the office, he is sad not to be a part of that campaign. Advantage Campbell?
• I look forward to seeing more of Peggy and her roommate, as I also enjoyed Carla Gallo on Carnivale and, most recently Californication. However, I worry about Peggy. I know she's confident, but this is the second time that she's relied on Joan to get what she needs. She used Joan's joke to land the boy in the bar a couple weeks back and it's Joan's ad that reels in fellow fun-seeker Karen. Is Peggy really ready for Manhattan?
• Peggy's mom calls her "peaches." Coincidence? I think not. Significance? Share your theories below.
• Another line in Mama Olson's rant that could be thrown away as anger, but seems more significant to me, is this: "Why should I believe anything you say?" Obviously, Mrs. Olson hasn't let go of the baby Peggy had and gave away. (Also interesting that Peggy's sister is supportive of Peggy's move, whereas last season, she was the bitter one.) I wonder if we'll ever see the last of the baby consequences.
• Loved Don catching the ball with his hand instead of the basket when the boys were playing jai alai. The whole scene, capped by the destruction of the ant farm, was great, and we actually saw Don crack a little bit of a smile when he said, "Bill it to the kid."
• I also love watching this show with the knowledge of just how wrong people like Horace Jr. are. Though in this case, I suppose, the characters also knew how ridiculous his plan for jai alai to supplant baseball was.
• Finally, my fedora is off to Kiernan Shipka. Her portrayal of Sally's pain in this episode was moving, and it's something that is always a bit of a gamble with a child actor. I thought she was fantastic, and it just reminded me again how much I dislike the new Bobby.
What did you think of "The Arrangements"? Sad to see Grandpa Gene go? What impact do you think Peggy's roommate will have on her? Who's up for a jai alai match? Share all your thoughts below, plus watch our 60-second recap of the episode.
This episode of Mad Men turned its focus on the parent-child relationship, and, in so doing, the circle of life. While Peggy and Horace Cook Jr., Sterling Cooper's newest client, try to leave the nest for their own adventures, Betty continues to fight against thinking about the day when her father will no longer be there. In the middle of it all is Don, who's no stranger to daddy issues, but somehow understands the happy medium between the two extremes. In the end, we're left with this season's best episode so far, one that is both laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking.