Modernist poetry, Roger in blackface, Dramatic near-tension, creativity under the influence, the line of dialogue echoed across the entire internet, whimsical and not so whimsical nostalgia for a time and place that may have never existed, Public humiliation set to music, The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, and young Sally Draper and Grandpa Hofstadt in The Case Of The Missing Five Dollars! All in the newest episode of Mad Men, episode 3 of season 3, “My Old Kentucky Home.” August?
August Bravo: So far, this probably my favorite episode this season. Hands down. So many strong themes and strong scenes to it.
Marco Sparks: Oh yes. I thought this season hit the ground running nicely with the first episode, but last night it’s like the show really took a nice deep breath in it’s own skin.
August: The first scene always sets such a huge tone for the rest of the episode. In last night’s case, it was the casting call with Peggy and the boys of Sterling Cooper. Ah, Peggy. Always trying to assert her dominance. More and more throughout the show she’s trying to show the guys that she can do the job she was promoted to. Now, while I’m sure everyone thinks she can, she has to prove it, and not just to herself.
Marco: Peggy Olson was on fire last night. She was blazing. She was all lit up!
August: One of my favorite things about this episode was the introduction to marijuana through someone who isn’t Don. And I’m not surprised it’s Kinsey, but it was funny nonetheless that Smitty says, “I’m sure you know someone, right?” Ahh, yes. Kinsey knows everyone!
Marco: Yes, and no. I feel like Kinsey would have to know a guy because he’s all talk. Like his drug dealer/college chum revealed: His version of Kinsey is all a facade, a new form of Gatsby. Kinsey with his faux British accent and his fucking mohair sweater. Mohair!
Paul Kinsey, ad man. At your service, sir or madam.
Marco: Also, that drug dealer. Ha ha! My God, I want a spin off about literate 1960s drug dealers. Like a 1963 Pineapple Express. Let’s sing and smoke some dope, everybody!
August: I loved how Kinsey got so mad at him when he insulted his singing.
Marco: Kinsey and his fucking singing. Talk about a naive melody (see below). I think everyone knows a Kinsey. He’s the guy that, when you see him, you want to either A) punch him in the gut, or B) fuck his girlfriend.
August: I love how the drug dealer just stuck around. He’s got no other clients. He’s got nowhere else to be.
Marco: For serious. And how often do you deliver grass – grass! – to a Madison Avenue ad agency on a Saturday in1963? Maybe if he stuck around long enough, he could’ve got an internship?
August: That guy was very 60s Pineapple Express.
Marco: I think you’ll love that that guy playing the drug dealer with his psuedo-Tom Cruise/Christian Bale looks is actually Miles Fisher. The one who…
…did the Talking Heads/American Psycho mash up video. If you didn’t know of it before, Augustus, I have a feeling you’re about to crap your pants.
August: Maybe. Also not surprising was Peggy’s willingness to try the pot. She’s just as open-minded as Kinsey or Don, but she just had a reputation to uphold.
Marco: Yeah, she’s a “lady,” and it’s not “proper,” as was reinforced by her square old secretary.
August: While instances of marijuana weren’t previously brought up, I’m sure she would have said no before.
Marco: I imagine she took a moment to contemplate the situation and meditate over her WHAT WOULD DON DRAPER DO? shrine that she keeps i her office.
August: And why didn’t she say no this time? Not peer pressure… Because it was Saturday! Kidding. I’m sure it was probably more to do with that uptight secretary of hers muttering that she knew what those boys were up to in there.
Marco: You think the secretary was a stand in for her mom? This was her “Fuck you, mom!” moment?
You think I don’t know what you’ve been doing in there?
August: Maybe, plus Peggy wants to belong and always feels that she needs to belong at work, like belong to the boy’s club, to belong there during all their reindeer games, you know?
Marco: Believe me, I know.
August: Peggy needs to feel that she’s apart of something, so in this case… she just threw herself into it! And you know her, eager minded as she is, she’s always working. Even when she’s high!
Marco: With the dictaphone! Like a little Hunter S. Thompson.
August: Such a great idea t put something like this in this episode, especially when it seems pointless.
Marco: Which, of course, it was. But was meaningful to the people back then. This is the 60s. The era of trying new things and mind expansion.
August: Yes. I’m slowly liking Peggy more and more. I’m sure having a woman direct this particular episode has nothing to do with it.
Marco: I don’t even pay attention to who directs the episodes anymore. All of their directors are sharp and this show just seems so technically well produced, well rehearsed, etc.
August: Okay, so now to my favorite plot line of this episode: Poor little Sally Draper. Can we really call her poor anymore? Maybe now, but for a few hours there she was rich. Rich, I tell you!
Marco: A lot of people seemed to hate that storyline but it felt just as right and seemed, to me, to belong as much as Peggy and the boys smoking dope.
August: love to watch these kids grow up. It’s fantastic.
Marco: Yeah, really. And I despise children, and I’m not going to bullshit about that, but the little girl playing Sally is just precious and adorable.
August: I love how first you don’t really see the kids very much. Then, they’re slowly starting to break things that aren’t theirs. And then, BAM, stealing from their grandfathers. I would have loved it even more i she tried to frame the housekeeper for stealing it, but I guess the writers didn’t want to go in that direction. Great line with the grandfather calling her “Viola.”
Marco: Because he’s pretty much got Alzheimer’s and things she is Viola, his old housekeeper. Or, classically, assumes that she’d know Viola. I really dread a lot of the racist moments on the show, even though they’re so true to the time period. Poor Carla. And, ugh, Roger.
August: So why did Sally steal the money? I mean, after all, she just ends up throwing it on the ground and asking her grandfather if the money she “found” was the missing five dollars in question. Did she want the love and affection of her grandfather? Was she just bored? Or is Sally growing up to be something worse? I’d like to say the last one, but lie I said, she did just give it back. I can see Sally doing something worse this season. I can’t wait to see her reaction to the baby being born.
Marco: Oh, that’ll be fun, for sure. But I think that in this particular case, The Case Of The Missing Five Dollars, it’s just a youthful indiscretion. But, yeah, Sally can also now potentially add kleptomania to her other funtributes like awesome bartending skills and alcoholism. I think what were seeing is that these kids aren’t really being “raised” by their parents, just interacting with them. And, hormones or not, shit, Betty seems to get colder and colder by the minute to her children (Carla’s a better mom to them at this point). So, in these interactions, the kids are just going to pick up nothing but bad habits and not really understand why. Bobby Draper: future serial rapist. Put money on that. Either him or that fucking Glen kid.
But I think that Sally stole the money for a thrill, realized that unlike everything else, Grandpa wasn’t going to forget or confuse himself out of wanting the money back, and she knew she had to get that situation over with as quickly as possible. And she got lucky. I’m ready for Grandpa to go to Heaven. Once you start echoing the paperboy from Better Off Dead, it’s time to go.
August: The scene where the money is stolen sparks one of the best lines in the episode, and the season so far. Don offers the the grandfather five dollars after his appears to be missing and…
Gene: “You people, always thinking money solves problems.”
Don: “Nope, just this particular problem.”
What a great line.
Marco: Maybe not within his actual family unit, but with external forces within his actual house, Don Draper will remain The Man and has no qualms about showing it. Especially if it’s annoying. Besides, Don probably has a few bucks left after having to restock all of their booze last week.
August: Finally, the party scene. You could feel the tension the whole episode with Sterling’s blushing new bride, Jane. Especially when she talks to Joan earlier on.
Marco: Considering the shit Joan had to put up with in her storyline last night, I really wish she had punched Jane in her bony… everything.
August: The party just made Jane look even crazier. I didn’t get the whole dancing thing with Pete and his wife, Trudy. Was that the charleston? Wht was the significance of them parading on the dance floor, basically shooing everyone else off of it? Cute as it was, were they trying to prove something? Who knows.
Marco: Oh, they definitely were. That bit says so, so much. Especially about Pete and Trudy, whom I think, despite their differences, makes a wonderful Lady MacBeth to his manchildness. It’s about wowing his bosses, the previous generation, with a dance from their generation. Something you know he hated learning from the previous generation, but now needs to get what he wants from said generation. And it’s about sticking it to his coworkers, especially as he tries to win over all of the Accounts department from Ken Cosgrove.
Also, again: Fuck Harry Crane. I hate that guy. Sure, I’d punch Kinsey in the stomach for being a loud mouth asshole, but then I’d let him pick up the check for a round while taking in some beatnik poetry readings in the village. But Crane? I’d hit that guy with a boat.
August: Back to Roger’s wife, Jane. Basically she’s a kid and she doesn’t know her limits, booze-wise. Sound like someone we personally know?
Marco: Surely not someone who writes here at Counterforce…
August: No, of course not.
Marco: Inside jokery! But can I just throw this out there… Jane = the evil, out of her depth Peggy?
August: Ah, Jane, drinking too much and blabbing to Betty about the secret split between her and Don. What does this do? Does this provoke a huge catfight? I wish… But, no, Betty just feels it necessary to storm off all dramatic like, and have Don come in and take control.
Marco: To be fair, Betty does have the virus of human life stuck inside her. That’d make me moody about certain issues too.
August: But the handling Don does, so precise in a way. Being Jane’s boss again, telling her to just sit down, and making her even more awkwardly placed at the party. Then Roger comes back and asks what’s going on and Don belittles the young bride, and her husband even more, by saying she’s had too much to drink. And he has that same look on his face that he’s had all season when having to deal with Roger.
Marco: That look like he either has to take a shit or he’d rather be taking a shit.
August: Yeah. That look that says: You made a dumb decision leaving your wife and marrying this young whore.
August: But I could be wrong. Roger picks up on Don’s look, and his whole attitude. I wish I could remember exactly what Roger said to it all. Maybe you could fill in the blank fr me there, Marco? Something about being happy an inviting your own guests? I forgetz.
Marco: Something to the effect of them being there at the super rich country club on Long Island and Roger reiterating for Don’s benefit that it was me who invited you here, buddy boy. It reminded me of Mr. Big reminding The R about who’s dumping whom in the desert to die after a swift beatdown.
August: Hey, “nobody has to know!”
Marco: Other than Peggy, my favorite scene has to be Don having a drink with Conrad Hilton. You just have to love Don’s climb over bar because he doesn’t have time to walk around. Fantastic! Definitey in my top five Don Draper moments ever.
I want to talk about the Joan stuff, but I don’t. Poor Joan. Goddamn, her rapist doctor husband infuriates me. In so many ways Joan is the more successful good housewife type than Betty, though she has to put up with a shittier husband than Betty does. And all that Emily Post bullshit? Oh man. I hope she leaves him this year. And let’s face it, at some point her and Don are going to have to hook up, at least once, and when they do, televisions everywhere are going to melt from the nuclear sexiness. And then we’ll all melt. And then the TVs will melt. And then the Soviets will bomb us out of existence.
Marco: Also, prediction: By the end of the 60s on this show, at least a few seasons from now, you just know that Don and Peggy are going to drop acid together. Maybe when they go to Haight Ashbury and pitch their services to the Grateful Dead? Something like that.
Also, I love Peggy’s assertion of success in the face of probably being incredibly hungry (and not at all paranoid), but it did sound a tad naive. Wonderfully naive, even for a moment who has so much potential success hanging on her shoulders. But I hope that was the last of and not the start of a Peggy Olson recreational drug storyline. Hum another naive melody, please.
August: Once again, the previews for next time got me pretty pissed off, but what can you do?
Marco: You’ll just have to tune in next time.