The week works through it’s cycle and here we are again, the fog clearing in the aftermath of another great episode of Mad Men, this one being last night’s “The Fog.” And it’s time for us to think upon it, is it not, August?
August Bravo: What time is it? What time isn’t it? And, yes, after being sodomized during my move to Manhattan last week, I am back. Sorry about the absence. Let’ just dive right in.
Marco Sparks: Last night’s episode, and I feel like I could be saying this every week during season 3 of the show, but last night’s episode was probably my favorite so far.
August: Oh yeah, definitely. Last night’s was such a great episode. So good from the get go.
Marco: Do you think Don’s going to go the easy route and hook up with Sally’s maypole-dancing teacher, the anti-Bobbi Barrett, who feels her job a little too much? And equally importantly, are we, the fans, almost hungering for that?
August: No, But I definitely think he’ll get a chance to this year.
Marco: Fuck yeah, he will. Evening phone calls with a drink in hand, hugging the corner of the room, and that seductive bra strap hanging off her shoulder? Lesser men would puddle at that sight.
August: Yes. But do you think that maybe Dennis the prison guard’s little speech may have sunk in with Don to a certain degree? I’d like to think so. I think it’s what everyone wants. That would be awesome.
Marco: Nah, not me. I’m anti-hugging, learning, crying, or understanding. I’m against redemption in pretty much all forms. Redemption gets passed to me at a party and someone’s all like, “Yo, you want a hit o’ this?” That someone could be Peggy’s drug dealer from two weeks ago, mind you, but even still, I’m like, “No, thanks.”
August: Also, I loved seeing the little bit part/cameo by the woman who voices Lisa Simpson.
Marco: Yeah, really. Seeing Yeardley Smith totally stunned me right out of that scene for a moment, you know?
August: I thought it was really funny. Also, I love Don’s constant annoyance with Pryce. Walking into that meeting and then walking out only seconds later after realizing it’s extremely pointless (to him), that was one of my favorite Don moments this season. After all, why should he have to worry about money?
Marco: I think Don does worry about money, just not the company’s, you know? I feel like that’s a big part of his conversation with Peggy towards the end. Peggy, voicing the feelings of everyone, sees Don and thinks he has it all together and has everything. And he does. He’s Don Draper, after all. But I think at every single moment, Don’s afraid of losing it. His “greatest fears lay in anticipation,” after all.
But speaking of that money, and I have to love the way Jared Harris makes the alliteration of “pencils, pads, paper, and postage” sing. Also, Sal’s expense account was higher than Don’s, right? Did he have to pay for that half a hand job?
August: Good question. And one better suited to an accountant. I enjoy finding out more and more about Don’s previous life in each episode…
Marco: …and the way little bits of his previous self filter into his current persona?
August: Yeah. There’s nothing particularly revealing about that in that first scene in Sally’s teacher’s classroom, but everything about that scene, as they’re there to deal with Sally’s misbehavior in the wake of Grandpa Gene’s passing, was just perfect. And awkward. And perfectly awkward. And was only made better by the teacher then calling Don that night, and seemingly after some drinking. Why would she do that? Again, I’m sure there’s a hidden agend at work, even if none of the characters are aware of it yet. Maybe you’re right and her and Don will sleep together.
Marco: Or, at least have… a confrontation of some sorts. And if the game is seduction, maybe it won’t be Don Draper who seduces her, maybe it’ll be Dick Whitman?
I just love the tease the writers give us as super pregnant Betty comes down the stairs, seemingly out of nowhere to ruin Don’s budding conversation with Sally’s teacher, and announces that it’s time. And then asks who was on the phone. “No one.”
August: The waiting room scenes, like we said, were pretty interesting. Don’s chat with Dennis, the prison guard, who’s having a baby. And there’s been a breach. “Our worst fears lie in anticipation.” And Don, always so cool, calm, and collected. And playing the alpha male around someone who’s just it is to always be in charge.
Marco: It seems like when put into an social situation that he just doesn’t really care to be in, Don will have a drink with just about anyone. In that regard, Don Draper is Ernest Hemingway. And next time, I think Don will remember to bring a bottle.
August: That part, he stuff in the waiting room, was just a great aspect of that storyline in this episode. Dennis’ last words to Don are what I liked the most. The stuff about how Dennis can just tell that Don is an honest man. And how this, being fathers, will make them better men. . Nice lingering thought to leave with someone, either inspirational, or…
Marco: …meant to make them feel guilty?
Marco: I think there’s a bit of that, the guilt, maybe, in Don based on that chat. That, or Don listens to Dennis’ naive take on the nobility of a man’s sperm conquering his wife’s eggs and spawning a life and therein lies redemption just kind of cute. I think Don was thinking, I used to think like you did, and now I’m just drinking your booze, buddy. And then afterward, in the hallway, they act like strangers.
But I tell you, Augustus, the show is tugging on me about Betty again. Deep down, I’m honestly rooting for her, even though, really, I’ve grown to hate her. But the way she’s basically just passed off at the nurse’s station amazed me. That girl is just so, so alone.
August: Betty’s vision question as she was induced and the dreams of her mother and father are so intriguing. I feel like she’s slowly losing her insanity throughout the progression of this show. And the horrible nurse, and her accusing said nurse of cheating with her husband, wow.
Marco: “I don’t want to be here.” I imagine you don’t, Birdy. I’ve seen a lot of people online loving the nurse’s analogy there: Betty is on a boat. And Don is on the shore. And right now, it doesn’t really seem like he’s waving her away from the rocks.
But I’m fascinated by how, even in her dreams, Betty gets no respect from her father, and knows the place that she’s been stuck in for so long. “You’re a housecat. You’re very important, but you have little to do.” There’s a whole other discussion/bit of bloggery to be done on the pop feminism dripping out of Betty’s storyline in this episode alone.
August: It was a very interesting, very revealing dream, I think. But who was the black guy sitting there in the kitchen? And the blood? And that was the Hofstadt’s longtime maid, Viola, right?
Marco: I’ll admit to a bit of confusion there as well. At first I thought it was meant to be Medgar Evers. Especially since his death was mentioned earlier. Now I’m pondering if it was just supposed to be someone from Betty’s past? I don’t know.
But, you know, Medgar Evers, that Tibetan monk, Gene Hofstadt, and the upcoming assassination of JFK: This is the year of death on Mad Men.
August: I like Duck – now with ducks on his office wall – trying to scout Pete and Peggy. So good. And especially doing it at the same time.
Marco: And the suggestion that they have a secret relationship, which, of course, they do in a way, but that’s an offensive notion to Pete, who always sees Peggy as less than he. Starting with the fact that she’s just a woman, and continuing with the fact that she is a genuinely talented woman. She represents everything Pete hates about woman,and everything women show Pete has within himself: weakness.
August: Peggy always seems to be breaking down. Or crying about something. Not having enough money. Having a baby. Life being too hard. Or too expensive for her. She puts up a strong front, but falls right into every woman’s stereotype of being a whiny little baby herself.
Marco: I am not going to touch that one with a thirty foot pole.
But I do like Peggy, and like that she gave Don the baby present, and that it was an elephant. Of course it’s an elephant in that room, considering her past and his secret knowledge of that!
August: And I like Pete Campbell. Ah, Pete and “the negro” in the elevator. Always taking work a little too seriously and undervaluing people a little too much.
Marco: He’s always a bit racist, though he doesn’t like being called a “bigot,” but poor Hollis there just wasn’t going to be respected by Pete in that elevator because of the color of his skin anymore than Peggy will ever be because she’s a woman, and because she has power over little Pete Campbell.
It’s kind of funny that Kinsey thinks he’s cool because of his knowledge/fetishizing of black culture. I feel like Kinsey and Pete come at this group of people from just opposite directions.
August: Little Pete Campbell? I tell you, I love his initiative. He basically created the idea of the urban market last night. And I think a lot of his disgust with Peggy comes from his not respecting the decisions she makes. But he is such a controlling guy, even when he shouldn’t be. Or, maybe he should? He is that baby’s daddy.
Marco: I think Roger summed up Pete best last night: A lot of times this business comes down to just, “I don’t like that guy.” That, and chocolate sundaes.
But Pete sums up one of the larger things going on in this show perfectly. We talked before about characters relationship with the previous generation and how they feel out of place with them and that they can’t learn anything from them, but the thing is… they’re just like them, in their own way. Everyone on this show, to use the ship metaphor, is essentially a passenger on the Titanic. And social change is about to hit them hard like a motherfucking iceberg.
August: I hate how everyone dislikes him there at Sterling-Cooper. He’s not the most noble man, no one there is…
Marco: It is advertising after all.
August: Right, but he does have the occasional good idea, you know? It’s a shame some companies worry about image when dealing with “undesirable customers” and not money. I guess Pete’s ideas aren’t good enough that Roger won’t have to give out a few handjobs in 1963.
Marco: Been there, done that.
August: And we cut to the credits. Also, totally unrelated: Kanye West is the shit.
Marco: Kanye is just the new Joe Wilson. Actually, he’s like a wrestler who’s grown too old for his good guy storyline and now has to flirt with evilness and rudeness.
The thing I was hoping to see the most in this episode was, since I knew that it’d be some Pete stuff, a scene with his lovely and wonderful wife, Trudy. Especially since the actress who plays Trudy so wonderfully, Alison Brie, is in this month’s Esquire, in their slightly condescending Funny Joke From A Beautiful Woman segment. Anyway, we shall end our chit chat today with her joke, which I think you’ll find oddly fitting to this episode of Mad Men…
A guy walks into a bar and sees a sign that reads, “Cheese sandwich $3.50. Chicken sandwich $4.50 Handjob $5.” He checks his wallet and calls over the waitress. He asks, “Are you the one who does the handjob?”
She smiles at him seductively and says, “I am.”
He says, “Well, wash your friggin’ hands. I want a cheese sandwich.”