Ol’ Blue Eyes.

This:

Sinatra with a cold is Picasso without paint, Ferrari without fuel–only worse. For the common cold robs Sinatra of that uninsurable jewel, his voice, cutting into the core of his confidence, and it affects not only his own psyche but also seems to cause a kind of psychosomatic nasal drip within dozens of people who work for him, drink with him, love him, depend on him for their own welfare and stability. A Sinatra with a cold can, in a small way, send vibrations through the entertainment industry and beyond as surely as a President of the United States, suddenly sick, can shake the national economy.

That’s from a brilliant profile of Frank Sinatra that Gay Talese did back in 1965 for Esquire, entitled “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold.”

It’s been called the best store that Esquire has ever printed, which I might just agree with. It’s not just a great celebrity profile, but a great one considering it was done up close and personal but without the cooperation of the primary individual being scrutinized. There’s a fantastic little confrontation between Harlan Ellison and Sinatra that’s mentioned and you really see Sinatra struggling with maintaining his own relevance. There’s a lot more that I’d like to say about it, but instead… Well, I just suggest that you read it instead. It is worth your time.

Nothing.

All these years later, you know what show is still perfect?

Seinfeld, man.

Fucking Seinfeld.

For fucking serious.

I could probably watch this show still under just about any circumstances.

Coming home from a funeral, definitely. Probably during the funeral, certainly. During major and brutal dental surgery. During a break up. While I’m being held at gunpoint as thieves are are dismantling and having sex with and then stealing all my worldly possessions. During an exorcism. During a seance. While watching another show. During masturbation, yeah, sure (I can both compartmentalize and multitask)(it’s a gift). During an audit. While blogging. Obviously. Even during sex.

And I’m not saying that I have watched Seinfeld during that last one…

…but I’m definitely not saying that I haven’t.

…In Translation.

Japan unveils humanoid robot that laughs and smiles.

Weekend At Bernies 3!

Holy fucking shit, there’s going to be a 2010 Lollapalooza.

Virtual hugs. Seriously.

Pictures of 16 year old Elian Gonzalez in a military uniform drive the Internet crazy.

Today’s mad linkage comes with a pictorial refresher for last week’s episode of Lost, with pictures courtesy of Videogum, which we discovered via Lola.

Erykah Badu charged with disorderly conduct for naked video.

The parents of bullies.

The right time and place for a conservative victory.

Ryan Gosling gives advice on how to get booty.

George Lucas to  team up with writers from Daily Show and Robot Chicken for a Star Wars sitcom.

Air Force to launch robotic winged space plane.

There are 4 women in orbit right this minute.

Female African-American Robot Designers.

What exactly is a Kraken? And why should he be released?

Hairless “Oriental Yeti” stumps experts.

10 crazy medical inventions that (thankfully) never caught on.

20 strange and mysterious medical syndromes.

“Holy Ghost” relocates his flock to Montana.

A preview for the next episode of Doctor Who, “The Beast Below.”

The Pentagon springs a WikiLeak.

Apparently there’s a certain four-letter word in tonight’s Lost that’s super important.

What happened to the water on Mars?

When the telepaths attack!

Early nearly cut off in machete attack!

Court rules against net neutrality!

Miniature Eiffel Tower attacked!

“So you do want to be in advertising after all?”

Lets do something crazy!

“From one john’s bed to the next,” and here we are, sitting in our hotel suite office ordering room service and naughty adult movies, ready to ruminate on this past Sunday’s episode of Mad Men, the season 3 finale entitled “Shut The Door. Have A Seat.” And what an episode it was…

Onward to the littlest biggest divorce in the world.

Again, normally August Bravo would join me here, but that guy just can’t learn his lesson. Remember when he didn’t heed Peggy’s mom’s advice and moved to Manhattan and then was thoroughly raped? Well, now he’s moved to Portland and while there’s a bar on every corner and someone you can buy a hanjob or coke or both from every ten feet, apparently there’s not enough of a signal to watch Mad Men on youtube via your iphone.

Howdy Don. I am old and crusty. And if you want a father figure, I will gladly give you a spanking.

A brief recap (if possible): We discover that Don has been sleeping in Grandpa Gene’s room because of the strife between Betty and himself. Conrad Hilton gives him the cold brush off and informs him that PPL is being sold, and with it goes Sterling Cooper. Don tells his would be father figure where he can stick it. Then he goes and wakes up Cooper and brings Roger Sterling back to life and gets them excited about taking back their lives and their company and starting over. Together, they begin picking out their dream team from Sterling Cooper and assembling what will be their new company as Don goes around with both his dick and his tail between his legs and learning to value relationships. And sometimes valuing relationships means knowing which ones to say goodbye to, and so off goes Betty and her new boyfriend to Reno for a “quickie” (six weeks) divorce and Don discovers that he has a whole other family. But this, you see, is just a brief recap, so, as we’re told in almost every scene in this episode, “Have a seat.”

John John salutes.

Well, Kennedy is still dead. John John’s had to make his goodbyes, and America has not quite realized it, but everything is different now. The changes are no longer coming, they’re here.

Alarm clocks do not wake the dead.

And Don starts the episode by waking in a tomb, the former bedroom of a dead man and the newborn baby who shares his name. He then goes to meet Connie, the odd kitten who’s treated Don like a ball of yarn half the season, and really wakes up when Connie cuts him loose and then gives Don a self righteous spiel about how he’s impervious to whiners who can’t earn things for themselves. But Don couldn’t give a shit. His company’s about to get sold and he doesn’t want to go work for some sausage factory.

From there on, the episode becomes just a powerhouse of awesome, giving us some truly satisfying and exciting moments dealing with Don Draper and the exiles of Sterling Cooper as they play the phoenix from the ashes of their company, but before we go there, let’s get to what we all knew was coming, especially after last week…

...when both parties are guilty.

“The state of New York doesn’t want anyone to get divorced. That’s why people go to Reno.”

The thing is, after last week’s episode, this season finale was all set up in our minds to be the ultimate downer as the Draper castle was torn apart and washed away, and yet, back in the office, we saw excitement and joy, and more of a sense of family than we’ve seen in a long time in the cold walls of Don and Betty’s metaphorical bedroom. Just another way this show wonderfully plays with our expectations.

So, Benjamin Light hates Betty, and I can understand why, but I can still see where she’s coming from. And I’m glad she’s going. Don remains characteristically clueless about a lot of what she wants and needs, and really, she’s the same way about him. And now that she sees him, now that he’s no longer the “football hero who hates his father,” but the son of poor co-op farmers, he’s nothing to her. Everything that his double life has brought them is completely illegitimate to her, and she longs for the silver haired loser from the Rockefeller campaign instead.

In fact, I think Betty quite accurately throws it in Don’s face when he suggests that she may have to be sick to want out of their “perfect little world.” Well, actually, he just suggests that she’s had a bad year, which she has, and that she should probably find someone to talk, which she should. But her inference is also correct, I think, when it comes to Don’s real intentions there. I can defend Betty to a point, am curious to see who she’ll become as she now enters the real world that Don and her father have essentially protected her from up until this point, but she has been, and in this episode especially, a bit of a stone cold bitch.

“Why are we in the living room?” Bobby Draper asks, and he’s right. It’s the scene of Betty’s ultimate fantasy world and in it, the cathedral to which she can have those fantasies now ends as the family breaks up. This was easily one of the most heartbreaking scenes on TV, and so harsh, so cruel, so real. Don suggests this new status quo is only temporarily and Betty emphatically shakes her head no. And then there’s the kids, the real victims of the way people treat each other, and as Light suggested to me the other day, though it’s not said, you almost feel that for all the coldness they sometimes get from their father, they’d still prefer it to freezing to death with their mother.

Have a seat, Bobby.

As much of a fan of little Sally Draper as I am, the lasting image from that scene for me isn’t just Betty shaking her head no, but it’s Bobby’s ceaseless clinging to his father, clinging to his world that he barely understands as it all falls away. Oh, the fathers and sons this season. Don and Bobby, whom Don rarely shares moments with, honestly. Don getting kicked out by his pseudo-paternal figure, Hilton, which starts flashbacks of the loss of his real father (or real step father, whatever), Archie Whitman.

Archie Whitman sees you masturbate.

Which brings us to the night before the Draper family ended in their living room, when a drunken Don invades the master bedroom in the house, that his wife and their newborn baby now occupy alone, and he pulls Betty out of sleep and onto her feet, confronting her with what he’s only just learned about: Henry Francis. Don has the greatest line of the season when it comes to Betty: “Because you’re good… and everyone else is in the world is bad.” Don’s cruelty is usually cool, measured, but when he delivers these lines, it’s like he’s finally releasing some pent up venom. But it almost goes to far and we’re taken back to his imagined origins in the late night reverie from the season premiere, as he becomes his father, Betty becomes the whore, and then there’s the baby crying. It’s arguable in that scene that Don is confronted with a subtle choice as you half expect him to hit his wife: Does he want to be Don Draper or does he want to just another dick?

Who the hell is Henry Francis?

Which takes us back to the offices of Sterling Cooper, the kind of place that Don never expected to work at, but where he thrived, or, where he’s thrived for the last three years. With PPL being sold off and the SC along with it by their new British masters, Don is awake, and on his way to wake up Bert Cooper…

The dialogue in their scene is perfect, and I love that Cooper, who’s always kind to Don and his talents and his mysteries, and who purrs like a fat old wise and eccentric housecat with a bit of a Japanese fetish, lets Don know flat out that he doesn’t think he has the stomach for the reality of the future Don wants so brutally to regain control of…

Meow.

Cooper: “Young men love risks because they can’t imagine consequences.”

Don: “And you old men love building golden tombs and sealing the rest of us in with you.”

But something begins in this scene, the start of building something, a bridge out of their indentured servitude and Cooper hits Don with one of those harsh realities he’s going to have to face: He can’t do this on his own. He’s going to need Roger Sterling.

I was going to tell you. Well, no, I was not. Bros, hoes, whatever. Lets drink!

And let me just say: Fuck Yeah, Roger Sterling.

When the highpoints of this episode was literally everything that came out of his mouth. Don and Cooper both make their pitches to Sterling about taking the tough road and starting something new and Sterling breaks it to Don: You don’t care about people. And maybe that’s why you’re so bad at being real with them. And Cooper hits Sterling with some real talk too: You need the excitement and danger of this business to survive and feel alive like you’re used to. Retire now and you might as well move into a plot in the ground with your child bride. It’s funny how enduring Jane has somehow purified Roger in our eyes, made him possibly realize that Joan is the woman for him, not the girl for him like Jane is, and put him on a better path.

From there, they go to Pryce and put forth a plan: He’ll fire them, thereby releasing them from their contracts, in exchange for shared power in their new company, and over the weekend, they’ll assemble a dream team to take with them along with any clients and supplies they can swipe from the office. And the show literally explodes into life. It became the gathering of the dream team from something like Ocean’s 11 or the start of a mission from one of those crack team of guys going on a mission World War II or something. It was perfect and it was exhilarating.

Beg me? You didnt even ask me.

And it was a great moment for the characters to confront their own failures and move past them, to be happy beyond them. Don especially, as he does the walk of shame, first treating Peggy like dirty in assuming that she’ll just follow him blindly so he can beat her about as he pleases and then getting told off by her as she finally stands up for herself to him.

And then Pete, whom Don actually has to compliment for his eye towards the future. He’s not just wanted, he’s needed in the new company, Don tells him. And thankfully, along with Pete, will come his perfect partner, Trudy.

Sorry, August, but I guess Ken Cosgrove doesn’t make the cut.

This guy? Really?

Sadly, they took Harry Crane along too, but maybe since they’re literally sifting through the ashes of Sterling Cooper, maybe they’ll blow a little of those embers into him and ignite some potential. Or maybe he came along just so Cooper could deliver my actual favorite line of the episode, telling Harry that if he turns him down, he’ll spend the rest of the weekend tied up in the closet.

And, of course Joan is back. They’re all brilliant actors and they’re staging what could be a fascinating play, but they need a director, they need someone to coordinate them and make their needs accessible. And of course Roger knows that Joan is the person to do that.

But alas, no Sal. But in a small way, that could be a good thing. Sal may not be able to come back to the new company and the show in his old capacity, but more on that soon. Cause there’s always this:

Fuck doors. Fuck yeah.

And then there’s Don’s return and appeal to Peggy. He stops treating her like his former secretary. He stops treating her like just an employee. He actually sees her as a person. Possibly through a mirror, but still, he’s awake now and really looking at her. He’s really to lay down his sword and shield in front of her and stop holding the fact that he’s a man over her as something superior. I think one of the most realistic and truthful things Don has ever said is when he told her that she’s just like him, she’s his anima, and together they both can conjure the words, the “asa nisi masa,” if you will.

If I say no, you will never speak to me again.

“Because there are people out there who buy things, people like you and me, and something happened. Something terrible. And the way that they saw themselves is gone. And nobody understands that, but you do. And that’s very valuable.”

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

When he says that, it’s not just to her that he’s confessing things, it’s to himself as well. Peggy ventures a guess that if she turns him down, he’ll cut her off forever and, baring his soul to her, he says it’s the opposite: “No. I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you.” It’s telling that the most touching scene of the episode isn’t between Don and his departing wife, Betty. It’s between Don and himself/Peggy.

Fan Fiction, start your engines.

But of course Peggy is her own creature as well, and I think everyone, not just Don and Pete, are going to see it. So classic was Roger asking her for a cup of coffee and her flat out saying, “No.”

Velveeta really is the cheesiest.

But then the long night of the weekend comes to an end and the sun comes up on Monday morning and the all stars of Sterling Cooper are gone, spirited away to their new home, an office in a hotel suite. In fact, really, all of Sterling Cooper is gone, shredded to pieces in the night…

And now:

Sultry phone voice.

“Good morning! Hello Sterling/Cooper/Draper/Pryce. How may I help you?” It’s nice to meet you.

Pip Pip. Cheerio. And good day to you then, sir!

“Very good. Happy Christmas!”

Pete tried to poach John Deere.

“He didn’t even leave a note!”

Still miss you, Sal, but you’ll have to change or die, as is often the case with history. As the always explosively brilliant Karina Longworth suggests when talking about the end of the episode as the camera captures the joy on the faces of the new SCDP employees/refugees:

The glow in the room that’s reflected on Don’s face in that shot—that is only there because they are all there, because he needs all of them to do his job, and vice versa. It’s arguable (probable, for all the lines like “we don’t have art”) that Sal could be back in Season Four and SCDP (and the show) would be better for it. But his sham marriage may need to fully deteriorate before he belongs in that hotel room.

One can only hope that Sal embraces his sexuality and himself and comes back into the fold as a contracted big time commercial director. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. Also, Fuck Lee Garner, Jr.

Will Sal be forever left on the cutting room floor?

This episode was everything I could ever want from Mad Men. Much like us here at Counter-force, sitting her in our hotel suite/bloggitorium, at least when I’m doing my song and dance, we’re obsessed with the future. But we see it through the multi-colored lenses of the past. The past was bombs, the present is rubble, and the future is fireworks and we’re looking up at the stars, to dangle as many silly pyrotechnic metaphors in your face as I can.

The limeys invade.

The Beatles are coming. Vietnam is coming. The world isn’t done being changed and the light from the future can’t be fully seen yet, but for now, in the world of Mad Men, the characters are happy. Excited. Don Draper has perhaps finally said goodbye to Dick Whitman and is ready to move on. Trudy is showing up with sandwiches. Joan’s husband can hopefully only be guaranteed a nasty ending. There’s Peggy/Pete stuff on the horizon. There’s Joan/Roger stuff on the horizon. And there’s always fucking Jai Alai. We may never seen Suzanne Farrell again (though she’ll live on in Twix commercials). Or Paul Kinsey or Duck Phillips or Ken Cosgrove, for all we know. But what happens in this world and in Don Draper’s life could be anything.

Don and his new family.

Especially when Don places that call to Betty. He won’t fight her. She can have whatever she wants. And he hopes that she finds out what that is. “Well, you’ll always be her father,” she pathetically replies with, but I think it was meant to be a kind statement, something Betty’s always been foreign too. She’s going to leave two older children with a vastly better mom, Carla (so classy, Betty), and take baby Eugene, her youngest child and ball and chain from the past, to Reno with her new boyfriend.

I just called to say  I do not love you anymore.

And Don’s going to crawl off into the city, heartbroken maybe, but feeling lighter and hopefully optimistic. We have a general idea of the future he’s going to see, but he doesn’t, and he’s excited for it. And we’re going to go with him.

And, wonderfully, Roy Orbison is going to sing a song about the whole thing. August and I had a great time talking about Mad Men and hopefully you enjoyed it too. And hopefully it’ll only get better since, after all, “the future is much better than the past.”

Future, here we come...

The end of Camelot.

Turn on the news! Turn on the news!

It’s amazing how a single bullet, a magic bullet if you will, can change the course of history. It can turn the kids into the adults and vice versa. As Trudy Campbell said, “I don’t care what your politics are, this is America, and you can’t just shoot the President!” If only that were true, Trudy. But adults can say a lot of things when they’re living their lives in front of the TV, either in the office, in the living room at home, or in the hotel room after your nooner, and last night’s episode of Mad Men, “The Grown-Ups” showed that better than anything. So let’s go back, and to the left, as we talk about the birth and death of marriages and the day that the 60s really began…

Everything is going to be fine.

August Bravo: Dia de los Mad Men! And the whole country’s drinking…

The Madness of Don Draper.

Marco Sparks: I loved the beginning of this episode, the first image there of Pete curled up on his office couch, squeezed tightly into a fetal position, waiting for a woman to bring him warm nourishment. Only that hot cocoa was instant, made with water instead of milk!

August: Watching last night’s episode really made me like Trudy. She’s certainly a trophy wife, yes, but she’s always by Pete’s side.

Marco: On this show, she’s the definition of “devotion.” I mean, she was this close to sleeping with an old paramour to help Pete get a short story published in… what was it? Highlights For Children? Fitting.

Rather disappointing news.

August: It’s probably women like her that made that decade what it was, for better and for worse. Am I envious of Pete here, just a little? I sure am.

Marco: I have to say it’s a joy to watch Alison Brie, who plays Trudy, on Community.

Alison Brie should be on every show.

August: And now we go back to Pete. We all knew he wouldn’t get that job, right? We all wanted him to not get that job. At least I didn’t want to.

Marco: Because you’re the vice president, treasurer, and refreshments organizer of Team Cosgrove, aren’t you?

August Bravo and Ken Cosgrove, sitting in a tree.

August: I think Ken really did deserve it. Maybe.

When you are a little kid, life just passes you by.

Marco: We really have no idea since we never actually saw him doing his job. He was mostly just showing up to ask him people to go get a drink with him or riding lawn mowers into the office.

I hate her, daddy.

August: He never really stressed about it. He was just Cool Hand Luke about it, like, all of the time.

Kinsey smells a booty call.

Marco: Poor Pete. People saw him working, so they assumed he was working. They saw Cosgrove chillaxing with that stupid grin and “that haircut,” they just assumed he had everything under control.

I wonder if this is the last time we’ll see Duck, abandoning his sexual conquest of Peggy temporarily (I love her roommate asking why she was with him if he’s not married) to call his kids.

Lets eat some monte cristo sandwiches and have mediocre sex, baby.

August: Time to get down to business…

Marco: And Jackie turned to Jack Jack and said, “Mr. President, You can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you…”

ST-C420-13-63

August: We all knew it would happen this season…

Dallas.

Marco: Weiner said he wasn’t sure we’d see it this year, or how in depth it’d be covered, and yet, this was the defining moment of this season, and the moment so strongly hinted and foreshadowed this whole year, with Roger’s daughter’s wedding date and the constant references to Dallas.

In the motorcade moments before...

August: Yeah, we all knew it would happen. Maybe in next week’s episode, I think some of us were thinking, but we knew it was going to happen. Hell, it already did happen. Kennedy is dead.

In the shadow of a gunman.

Marco: I love the constant use of news footage, of the characters literally trapped in those moments, time brought to a standstill as they can hear the beats of their own fucked up, broken hearts. And especially poignant with the deaths of Ted Kennedy and Walter Cronkite in the past few months, too.

Walter Conkrite gives us the straight dope.

August: And Lee Harvey Oswald is dead too.

Oswald and Ruby are going to start a band and it shall be awesome, American History.

Marco: Who cares about justice when you can just hand the situation over to the mafia.

This was the year he rode the subway to the ends of the city.

August: I love the moment that everyone finds out about it, the way the phone calls are ringing off the hook throughout the entire building, going unanswered, and then, all of a sudden, they stop. Silence everywhere. It’s both what you’d least expect and exactly what you expect.

What the hell is going on!?

Marco: And in strolls Don Draper, just a few seconds late to a scene, as he seems to be in every scene in this episode, asking, “What the hell’s going on?”

Actually, the scene with Harry Crane and Pete is what I loved about the actual finding out of what happened in Texas. The TV’s on in the background, broadcasting a special bulletin and they’re whining about their jobs. Pete’s complaining like a sad little kid and Harry’s trying to sound like a mature adult. And then the hilariously ironic line: “I’m going to die at this desk unnoticed.”

August: Man, Roger is just so unhappy. His kid of a wife can’t control herself. And neither can Roger. Calling Joan while his wife number whatever is passed out drunk next to him. That takes guts. And I don’t think Roger even cares anymore.

Congrats on throwing you life away into perpetaul unhappiness, or what we like to call Livable Hatred Of Another Person.

Marco: What a long, strange journey it’s been since the party in “My Old Kentucky Home,” both of which were thrown by Roger, both of which involved Betty having an encounter of sorts with Henry Francis from the Governor’s office, and both ending with Jane passing out from “not eating enough” with her booze.

A good person.Did you notice that Jane constantly reiterates that she’s “a good person?”

Except now this is a world where a President has been killed and Roger can’t find the jokes in the face of this true, uncertain horror. At the end of last season it was the Cuban Missile Crisis and the end of the world. This is worst. This is what happens after. This is the real world and it’s time to be grown ups.

Please feel free to have the prime rib AND the filet of soul.

But, man, Joan is the saving grace of this show always. If next season involves the Brits having sold Sterling Cooper to Duck’s company, I can only hope they get Joan back. Also, I think it’s fair to point out that in Roger’s life, to take Pryce’s words as metaphor, Jane is Ken Cosgrove and Joan is Pete Campbell.

August: Oh?

Marco: Don’t start writing Roger/Pete slash fiction just yet. I just mean that Jane made Roger feel young, like he was invincible, and everything was easy and there was no work required to achieve his needs. And it’s because the women he wanted wanted someone else. But Roger would have to work to be worthy of Joan and he knows it. And it means he’d have to acknowledge that there’s something he desires so passionately in this world.

Phone sex.

We can only hope for good things when Dr. McRapist gets his legs blown off in ‘Nam, all Born On The Fourth Of July-style.

August: Man, this whole episode. No one cares about their own lives. Not unless they’re on the TV. In fact, for the first time the only person who does care is Don. Everyone’s focused on the President, or lack thereof, the wedding, their promotion/de facto demotion, a certain busty redhead, or a Governor’s aide. Everyone’s mind wanders. Their wants and needs. Everything just means nothing anymore.

Sal, you are missed.

Marco: The things you thought were important? Turns out they weren’t, not really.

August: Watching Betty kiss that guy made me die just a little inside. It really did.

Marco: I liked the little bits leading up to that. No, Don, while it may be good for the family, a family drive isn’t going to fix things. Not when they’re determined to be broken.

Parked in an ominous location.

But the actual shot of Betty’s car joining Henry’s in the middle of the nowhere? Interesting. Added with that music, it felt like a very Hitchcock-ian thing for a few moments there. That said, I don’t know that Betty would be all that great as one of Hitchcock’s famous icy blondes. Well, maybe.

I am not in love with the tragedy of this thing. This is not Romeo and Juliet.

August: I was watching that scene and I kept thinking, “Hey, asshole, that’s Don’s wife!” You can’t do that. And she can’t do that! But the lies are finally starting to get to her.

Marco: Sneaky of them last week to think that maybe she had been won over by Don taking the mask off to reveal the inner Dick Whitman hidden beneath. But now he can never put that mask back on.

I really can only see Henry Francis as a plot device rather than as a character. Mostly because that’s what he is, a shade of something, an element to draw out parts of Betty, to wake her up.  But do you think that, by this point in the story now, he and Betty have slept together? I mean, he’s proposing marriage to this not so happily married mother of three, so wouldn’t they have to have? Silly little religious aspects aside, how realistic  is entering a marriage/serious relationship with no time in the lab testing sexual chemistry?

August: Ah, I don’t know. Mostly, I don’t think she’ll leave Don. I don’t see it as realistic. I think this goes back to how they toy with our expectations and our grasp on the dramatic tension. We think she will, but she won’t.

And WTF was that faux proposal? Betty could not have taken it seriously. I really hope not. If you’re tired of being shackled by your husbands lies, then another man is not going to necessarily be the answer. I guess that was just the best available 1960s pick up line.

Forked path.

Marco: Also, had to love her response to him asking why the kids were being allowed to watch the Kennedy assassination coverage: “What am I supposed to do, Don? Am I supposed to keep it from them?” It took me a moment to really feel how subtle but powerful Betty’s weapons were in that scene.

But I think she wants to feel something other than helpless, or maybe just something in general. And that moment as she was watching Oswald get shot, it was almost like she herself had been shot. I think people complain about January Jones’ acting ability, like when her ex-boyfriend Ashton Kutcher advises her to give up the craft, but I think she’s perfect as Betty.

August: And then there’s Don, trying to be a better guy? A better husband? Maybe. I think Don’s trying to work it out in a way. And maybe that scares Betty a little? All the staying home, the taking care of baby Gene in the middle of the night, the trying to care.

Marco: If this is Don’s reaction to having to finally lay all his cards out on the table, Betty can only be wondering what he was really up to all those times he was supposed to be working.

August: Is Betty going to become the new Don Draper? After all, if Don Draper can be someone else, why can’t she?

Marco: Ooh, I’d watch that show. Part of me is starting to think that if these two were to actually grow up… well, it may not be together.

And I liked Sally’s continued role as watcher in this episode, first glued to the television as things that she may not yet understand in the country, but then taking the both boiling and freezing cold temperature in the kitchen and living rooms, the atmospheric changes between her parents.

August: “I kissed you yesterday and I didn’t feel a thing.” This has to be affecting someone other than just me. Hearing lines like that, which I have before, just makes one cringe. It cuts into the heart of you. And Don. Just sitting there. In confinement. In the dark. What does he do? What can he do? His own wife doesn’t love him and the words don’t come to him so that he can fix it.

Derby Day, bitches.

Marco: Again, I think for everyone who’s complained that this season has gone by slowly and just dragged, I would point out A) how much character developments/moments we witnessed within this episode, and not just with a few characters, but spread across the spectrum of the cast. Everyone shined. And B) again, I would use this as a yardstick compared to “My Old Kentucky Home.” Everyone’s changed. Everything’s different now.

August: And there goes Trudy again. Was that a motivational speech? Trying to get him up and go? Who does that? Only trophy wives. Only Trudy.

No dancing tonight.

Marco: Trudy is a trophy prize that Pete has never quite earned. But again, look at the differences and the things that are the same about them from then til now. In “My Old Kentucky Home,” they were the power couple, working together, trying to impress their elders, putting on the dance and show. And now, they’re unified together on that couch, stronger together. The most telling moment is when Trudy, so beautiful in her blue dress, takes off her dancing shoes and sits back on the couch with her husband, the man stuck in the fetal position at the start  of the episode and who is now finally starting to sound like an adult.

August: And then there’s the refuge of an empty office. Except for Peggy, the woman hard at work.

Marco: Perhaps because Don and Peggy are essentially the same? And I think they both realize that that Aqua Net ad is just fucked now in the face of Kennedy’s death.

August: I thought this episode would be a lot more. I mean, it was everything it was supposed to be. And so much more. I just envisioned something entirely different.

What?

Marco: And maybe that’s why it was so good?

I want to scream at you... for ruining all of this.

August: Maybe. And seriously, they can’t give me a good preview for next week’s episode?

A new President and we will all be sad for a while.

Marco: Oh, that preview is genius. Just clips from over the course of this season. Mad Men is a show drifting up the river of history that’s already gone by and sometimes you can only look back at what you’ve already seen and done and just guess what’s next. What happens next could be anything. And whatever you think it is, it’ll be something else, but you’ve got to be prepared. Sitting in the dark while you wait for the dawn to come is just part of being a grown up.

Alone in the dark.

Love Among The Ruins.

Ah, Ann-Margret. Her of the unique ability to be 25 and act 14.

August Bravo: Before we talk about last night’s very interesting episode – “Love Among The Ruins” -I want you to go to this site. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it before, the “Which MAD MAN are you?” quiz. I too it and my result was Pete Campbell. I really hoped for Cosgrove. Oh well. And from last week, what you said about Draper being more forward thinking than Kinsey, I thought you meant Kinsey, the famous 50s doctor, not the character on the show. Very appropiate for you to say that.

Marco Sparks: Thank you. I do my best. Oh, you mean Alfred Kinsey? Ha ha. Yes.

August: Okay, so last night’s episode… was a very interesting one. There were o many subtle scenes throughout. I love Don’s growing anger over Pryce and the chaps from London. And I’m very intrigued to see how that anger might continue to escalate throughout the rest of the season.

Marco: Indeed. Here’s Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner talking about the chaps and dandys from London:

“The British have come here because we’re great. They’re redefining how things are done. But at the same time,they feel everyone needs a parent. That’s their attitude.”

And yes, last night’s episode with the truly great title, “Love Among The Ruins,” based on the poem by Browning, was very interesting. And there really are so many ruins there, aren’t there? Sterling Cooper itself, New York, Betty Draper’s dad, Roger Sterling’s hopes for a smoothing sailing into his post-divorce life, etc. Oh, and speaking of which MAD MAN I happen to be, I took the quiz and this is what came out…

…surprising no one, perhaps. The drama over his daughter’s impending nuptials which may or may not have Roger’s young bride Jane in attendance is fasciating to me. I think since the end of last season, I’ve actually started to really like Roger. But I do sense that the new set date for his daughter Margaret’s wedding – November 23, 1963 - might be a sad, mournful day. It will probbly rain too.

August: I’m going to go ahead and say this right now, but my favorite scene in the episode was Probably Don showing his dominence in the family by telling Betty’s brother how everything was going to be and work with the arrangements over her ailing slightly alzheimers-ish father. I always feel Don is trying to maintain his manhood in the house. Not that Betty questions it or that anyone else does, really, but he seems to constantly need to exhibit his alpha dog status in the homestead.

Marco: Perhaps because he wants to have that perfect suburban home life, and in doing so, he feels partly defined by wearing the pants at home? And let’s face it, it’s not hard to be “the man” compared to his brother-in-law. I don’t want to call anyone a slippery pussy or anything, but seriously, stuff a tampon in that guy so that he’ll shut up. Also: Bunk beds!

You know who I didn’t love before, but that I do now? Peggy Olsen, no joke.

August: Peggy’s storyline throughout this episode was unusual, but certainly a nice change. What makes her think the things she does? I wnder how her infatuation with men again will change the way she feel about work. What I really liked about her in this episode was her reenacting the “Bye Bye Birdie” scene in the mirror. Does she want to be looked at the way the men look at the other girls? I don’t think so, but maybe she wants to know if she still has it?

Marco: I think if you take the whole Marilyn/Jackie O. comparision from last year and apply it to the two main ladies in the office, of course Peggy has to compare herself to Joan. I mean, first of all, look at Joan. She has a certain kind of commanding power and authority within the office (look how she handled Moneypenny last week) and she was the first person that Peggy interacted with when she was hired. And Joan and Don really are Peggy’s main role models I think.

from here.

I like Peggy more because she takes the good advice people give her (mostly from Don and occaionally from Joan)(but also from Colin Hanks last year), and she uses it. And she gets ahead. Yeah, she wants the eye of the men, I think, but only sometimes. That kind of attention feels good sometimes, but she knows she wants and deserves more out of life and a career. She doesn’t want to be a man, I don’t think, she wants to be a woman in what has always been a man’s world, and I think her arc over the course of the show will be just as interesting as Don’s. She’s too smart, especially shown last night during the whole Patio/Diet Pepsi meeting, about which fantasy to market towards: men’s or women’s.

“You’re not fat anymore.” How condescending, Crane.

In fact, I think she’s moving closer and closer to being the human version of Don Draper, as opposed to poor mn’ blue blood Pete Campbell, who is just as lost in the world of the human beings as Dick Whitman, but isn’t as good at hiding it and/or being fucking awesome in it.

Also, as much as I do now like Roger (and you can just smell an upcoming Roger/Don confrontation, can’t you?) and his runaway out of control charm, I think he needs to be applauded and, of course, slappd across the face for his “You’re the only one here who doesn’t have that stupid look on her face” line.

August: I love that line, I think it goes, “You’ve got to leave the tools in the toolboxes.” I wonder if he means the men at the office?

Marco: Mayyyybeee. I loved the stuff with her at the bar, trolling for the finest male college boys Brooklyn could offer her, and try out a few of Joan’s zingers. It’s okay to fuck some college boys, and you know what? It’s just as okay to skip out on them in the middle of the night, Peggy. If you stay, I think you’re going to find out just how boring Burger Boy really was. I was waiting for her to add to her parting, “I work on Madison Avenue, bitch!”

Joan still has my sympathies because of her asshole husband to be (or are they already married and I missed that?). The looming threat of June 1 and her upcoming prison of maternity makes me yearn for her to make a fiery breakout.

“It’s sexy and it’s what they want.”

August: With Betty’s father living there for what I assume will be the majority of the season, I’m interested to see the unusual things he will do, as he slips further and further away. I liked his prohibition era worry to the sirens outide. And I’m curious to see more of his antics in Don’s domestic bliss this year.

Marco: It’s interesting that the father, slipping away, was still able to shake Don up last year with his comment: “He has no people!”

August: That near final scene, with Don’s kids at the summer function, with Don just sitting there, just watching the girls dance around, the bare feet moving through the grass. Don’t can’t help but watch and reach below to touch something, to feel the grass. Just for a second. Maybe just to feel something. His life is in a jumble right now, and he fees lost (as he possibly goes more introspective) and he can’t help but want to feel something, anything.”

Marco: Yes, yes, yes. That scene was incredibly beautiful to me, and also incredibly tragic. Don Draper is a lost man searching for something external that he seems to feel is missing internally. He’s been a lot of places and all of them are where he’s already been, and yet, I feel he’ll travel a lot farther and long to feel a great many more things before he really meets Don Draper/Dick Whitman at the finish line. Also, I smell a wee bit more of infidelity.

August: We still haven’t talked about New York itself yet.

Marco: You mean that ever changing, sordid little beast with the Penn Station/Madison Square Gardens change up? I like Kinsey, the young guy who believes in change, but maybe not always for the right reasons, and always have a good laugh at him, especially here, as the Grand Old Wise Man Of New York City. I see Kinsey’s side to this particular argument, especially about the great works of Roman architecture, but I wouldn’t compare New York to Rome, nor call it the greatest city on Earth. I know New Yorkers truly believe that, but, well… “a city of cry babies?” Ha ha.

But I also love Don’s magic in selling the potential clients on coming back to Sterling Cooper, and of course his frustration with then having to drop them after he not only won them back with the need for such a change to NYC. He doesn’t just give his juice away for free, people! Just the same as the fact that the man attends meetings, he doesn’t set them.

It’s an interesting time at Sterling Cooper, in NYC, in Don Draper’s life, and on Mad Men. Out with the old, and in with the new. See you next week.

Bye Bye Birdie!