LadyGhosts of TV Past

Mad Men: Long Weekend, Not Quite at Bernie’s, but We Came Really Close

Previously on Mad Men:

Betty dealt with disappointment and housewife angst by opening fire on some pigeons, Pete dealt with conflicting feelings regarding his secret lady friend by punching Ken in the face, Don dealt with feelings by refusing to have feelings.

Sally Draper, wearing curly pigtails like a boss, is rocketing through the Draper residence with a kite. Don catches her at the bottom of the stairs and reminds her not to run in the house. The reason she is running in the house is that “Grandpa is here! And Aunt Gloria!” Don asks if he can count on her to keep her mouth shut if he sneaks out right then and there.

The resume of Sally Draper:

  • Excellent bartender
  • Extremely proficient in secrets and lies
  • Comfortable employing emotional manipulation for profit
  • Interests: puppies, kites, my father’s love, where my mother hides the cookies
  • Ten-year goal: become comfortable with all available forms of recreational self-destruction, particularly drugs, alcohol, anonymous sex

Betty is in the kitchen, apparently packing for vacation, and an older gentleman, her father, is demanding that she stop hiding the sugar bowl. “Aunt Gloria” offers to look in her purse for some packets from the Howard Johnson, but Betty replies that it’s fake sugar or nothing, shooting a withering glance in Gloria’s direction.

Don, having obviously decided not to flee just yet, comes in and shakes hands with Betty’s father, Gene. Gene introduces Gloria as his “friend,” and Don remarks that it’s great to have another woman around, Betty might get a break. 1) Betty has a maid, JUST SAYIN’ 2) It wouldn’t kill you to rinse a glass or microwave some fish sticks every once in a while, Don. Gloria drily responds that she lives to serve, and Gene and Don have a good giggle about how it’s funny because bitches be living to serve, right?

Betty pointedly asks Don to help her with a suitcase, and Don doesn’t get it at first, but what she really wants is a moment to bitch about her father’s new lady friend. It’s unseemly, she’s a slutty slutty slut, her former husband was a failure, her kids are failures. Don thinks she seems nice, and honestly it’s not like Gene is going to do his own laundry. He reminds Betty that she’s been looking forward to going to the beach, and she should just let Gloria take care of as many things as she wants. That would involve relinquishing control, letting go of her judgmental bitchface, and not contemplating how fat Sally looks in a bathing suit, Don. It’s not going to happen.

Don is planning to join them the next day, but Betty wants him to go with her now and act as a buffer. She appeals to his particular inabilities to relinquish control by saying, “You hate the way I drive? Well, my father taught me.” Don uses the excuse that the empty office will allow him to get some work done.

Some work consists of watching a catchy verging on annoying Kennedy ad, and Don and the Smarmies summarize it as such. Don thinks that its lightheartedness is probably a pretty good strategy. It doesn’t cloud anything up with issues, just a catchy tune. Harry thinks it’s the kind of thing that gets in your head and makes you want to blow your brains out. I’ll let that one sit.

The Nixon ad they watch for comparison is stodgy, serious, and seriously lacking in dancing animation and pictures of a smiling blue-blood family. Paul suggests a little ditty about stabbing one’s own ears out with an ice pick rather than listening to Nixon talk. Don says it should never have been as close as it is.

Roger joins the meeting and Don offers to run the tapes again, but Roger’s already seen them and finds them depressing. Pete, fully in character, asks if they’ve heard anything that would toss some mud on Kennedy’s gleaming white smile. Roger says they hear things, but nothing particularly useful: Kennedy’s a womanizer. Don thinks that’ll probably help rather than hurt him. Harry points out that Nixon’s still ahead in the polls, but Roger echoes Don’s sentiments that it should never have been as close as it is.

Don strongly believes that they should be aiming to tell the Nixon story, rather than focusing on Kennedy’s flaws or lack thereof. Kennedy, he says, was born with the silver spoon, whereas they could present Nixon as the “Abe Lincoln of California,” someone whose story he sees himself in.

Roger says that a positive ad only convinces the people who have already decided, whereas a negative ad takes a shot at the people on the fence, hoping to push them to one side or another. He wants to “aim a Howitzer at Kennedy’s balls,” whether the Nixon campaign wants them to or not, and he wants ideas on how to do it by the end of the upcoming long weekend. He also mentions that the Menkens, both father and daughter, are coming in to sign off on the campaign and he wants Don to “ride bareback over Paul” in the meeting to ensure that the senior Menken is pleased. Paul looks less than thrilled by the concept.

He also reminds Don to be on his best behavior for Rachel.

In the background, Harry is taking the projector apart for some reason I assume will become clear at a later date because this is Mad Men, after all. Things always become clearer at a later date.

Roger struts out into the typing pool and asks for a word with Joan. He proceeds to give her plenty of words to choose from as he throws out double entendres by the dozen as they pass secretaries at their desks. Joan is rolling her eyes and looking quite festive in red, white, and blue. She purposefully leaves the door to Roger’s office open as she joins him, but that doesn’t do much to dissuade him from enthusiastically babbling that his wife and daughter are gone for the weekend along with every other wife in town, and therefore he and Joan are free to do whatever they like wherever they like without getting caught. Joan, with an edge, suggests a movie: The Apartment. Roger takes a moment to catch on, but eventually figures out that Joan is feeling a little touchy about the subject of office romance after seeing it. Roger insists that what they have isn’t like that, but Joan is utterly unconvinced. Then Roger makes matters worse by comparing her to his wife, and calling the both of them irrational. Joan says she’ll call Roger some nebulous “later.”

Paul is presenting the plan for a new and improved Menken’s to the conference room: chrome display cases, an upscale tea room. Mr. Menken isn’t thrilled at the prospect of devoting a huge portion of the ground floor of his department store to the restaurant business. He is also not thrilled at the prospect of closing the store for three months while the renovations are completed. Don promises a line out the door on the day of reopening, and Mr. M spits back, “Even if you have to pay people to stand in it,” demonstrating where Rachel gets it. He says he isn’t opposed to change, and Rachel’s presence should prove that, but he isn’t sure why he can’t keep what he has and build on it. Don says that it’s because his customers have changed, they’re more like Rachel than like her father now, and he throws out several compliments to Rachel while he does it. Oh, Don. Well played. Finally, he calls Mr. M old, in a nice way, but old. Rachel defends her father, pointing out that he literally started with nothing and built on it, and how many of the rest of them can say that? Well, Don sort of, but not without implicating himself in a couple of felonies.

Rachel changes tone and says, “This is the plan, Daddy,” in a way that is both pleading and confident. Mr. M does admit that it seems very well thought out. “It is!” pipes up Pete.

The Menkens stand to leave, and Don says it was a pleasure to meet Mr. M at last. Rachel in an undertone asks Don to please not fuck everything up for the both of them. Don wants to know if her dad likes him, and Rachel assures him that he doesn’t. Don asks what about her, and she wisely does not respond.

On their way to the elevators, Mr. M compares Sterling Cooper to a czarist ministry, and Rachel has no idea what he’s talking about. Mr. M does think Don is pretty good at his job, but a little too dashing.

A notice is placed on the bulletin board reminding the staff of the Labor Day weekend, and that janitorial services will not be provided should they choose to turn the office into their own private hotel suite. It’s Joan putting up the notice, but she’s interrupted by Carol, her roommate, who clearly walked several blocks in the heat and did not take Joan’s advice about the “dress shield,” which Joan is quick to point out. She is also quick to ask if Carol needs to get set up with another abortion–or at least that’s what I think she’s implying? Carol’s asshole boss fired her for covering for his mistake, it turns out. Joan sits her down for a quick DAMN THE MAN chat and makes plans to take her out to take her mind off of it. Carol says she hatesManhattan, and Joan quickly shushes her blasphemy: “Don’t say that. The city is everything.”

I often wonder if Joan ever would be happy with her desired house in the country. I suspect not.

Pete pads into Don’s office to announce that they’ve lost the Dr. Scholl’s account because they weren’t happy with the creative. Don takes it pretty well, and even offers to tell Roger for Pete. However, as soon as Pete leaves and shuts the door, Don actually reacts to the news by pushing everything off his desk and letting it crash satisfyingly on the floor. Being a person who routinely dumps out the silverware drawer when I’m having a moment just to hear it clatter, I totally feel that.

Don sighs, and Peggy steps in asking, “Were you buzzing me? My intercom was making a funny”¦ oh.” She goes to clean up the mess and Don stops her and asks her if she wears Dr. Scholl’s inserts. She thought they were required, and Don replies that now they are forbidden, rips the client folder, and asks her to get rid of it.

Don, without any ceremony, informs Roger of the lost account. Roger, who is getting his hair cut, by the way, takes it just as well as Don appeared to to Pete, but being Roger and not being much of a desk smasher, will probably leave it at that. He calls someone at Dr. Scholl’s, perhaps even Dr. Scholl, a “fat bastard,” and repeats the same line Don said to Pete: “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.” Don asks if he really believe that, and Roger compares clients to spouses. We all know how Roger feels about spouses.

Roger suggests they cheer themselves up by firing someone, or at least getting properly shitfaced and getting laid while their wives are out of town.

He proposes a first stop at a Freddy Rumsen-arranged casting call for a double-sided aluminum commercial, and reminds Don that when God closes a window he opens a dress.

Pete pounces on Peggy and asks her to see the ad proofs she’s carrying, if Don talked to Roger about the lost account, and what is wrong with her. Answers: 1) No, it’s Ken’s account, 2) You’ll have to ask him, 3) I’m trying to do my job and you’re making it very difficult. Pete implies that she’s cockblocking him because of their illicit couch adventures, and she isn’t being professional. Peggy is like R U SRS? Then they have a conversation that goes:

Peggy: I am trying to be a reasonable human being.
Peggy: Yes, remember when you told me all about your confusing feelings about being married and then fucked me on your couch? Because I do.

Down in casting, a Freddy Rumsen commercial for double-sided aluminum means, you guessed it: lady twins. And lady twins means, you guessed it: Smarmies. Flirting topics include: bone structure and brothers (Sal), conjoined twin cows (Ken), Ukranian food (Paul). Don and Roger arrive to show the boys how it’s done, except not really because they kick them all out. Roger picks out a pair called Eleanor and Mirabel, or, for the sake of recapping ease and my own amusement: Thing 1 and Thing 2. Roger promptly names the Things the face of double-sided aluminum and sends the rest of the girls home disappointed. He invites the girls up for a drink, and then confirms that they are over 18. They are. Barely.

Don makes drinks as Roger lounges on his couch, making sexual small talk with the Things. Thing 1: “Oh, my. Everything he says means something else, too.” Thing 2 is a little overheated, and Roger explains that they shut the air off at five. Don asks Thing 1 what her talent is. It’s horseback riding. How quaint. Also, how Betty. Roger transparently waxes poetical about Thing 1’s “translucent” skin and asks if he can touch it. She says why the hell not and offers him her arm. He helps himself to her thigh instead. Roger invites Thing 2 over to sit with them, and tries to engage them in some twincesting. Don is a little grossed out, and tries to extricate himself from the situation, which gives the Things an option out as well. Roger forbids anyone to leave, and Thing 2 chooses to throw herself at Don in the hopes that she won’t have to deal with Roger.

In their apartment, Joan gets dolled up to go out in a vampy black dress. Carol is significantly more demure in blue with longer sleeves and pearls. Joan asks for a zip up in back, and I’ve got to say that there is one incalculable benefit of having a roommate right there. Joan continues her things will get better tomorrow pep talk, and Carol says she’s feeling pretty happy because she just loves being with Joan. Joan smiles in a yay lady friends gotta stick together way, but Carol continues that she loves Joan. Joan smiles again, but that’s not how Carol meant it. She really loves Joan. Joan willfully ignores the sentiments behind the sentiment and keeps powdering up. She doesn’t turn until Carol starts explaining that all she’s ever wanted was to be near Joan in the hopes that one day she would notice. “Just think of me as a boy,” pleads Carol. Joan takes a long pause, then allows, “You had a hard day. Let’s go out and try to forget about it, okay?” Carol, on the verge of tears, knowing that this is the only answer she is going to get, agrees.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Don and Thing 2 are sitting on the couch with her feet in his lap, listening to the rambunctious noises coming from Roger’s office. Thing 2 leans over and kisses Don lightly, then asks if he has any gum. Don does not have any gum, but he’s pretty sure it’s time for him to leave. His halfhearted retreat is blocked by Roger, who is riding a mostly unclothed Thing 1, actually riding on her back, into Don’s office. Thing 2 is mildly disturbed by the whole thing, and Don really thinks he should go.

Thing 2 informs her sister that she’ll be right outside and walks Don out. Don offers to call her a car, but she says she’s going to wait and look out for her sister.

In Don’s office, Roger and Thing 1 are looking quite sweaty, and Roger is rambling about his daughter. Thing 1 would like to keep his attention on her, but Roger keeps talking about Margaret. Thing 1 says that girls love their fathers, and Roger, not wanting to think about the idea that this assertion may not be true, changes the subject back to Thing 1’s skin and how he wants to “suck your blood like Dracula.” Charming. But it works, and they start to make out.

Joan is bringing home a couple of business men who, I’m sorry, are total downgrades from Roger. The girls go off to fix drinks, and one of the men calls dibs on “the redhead” to the disappointment of the other. Joan wastes very little time in leading the more interesting of the men to her room, leaving Carol and the other to their awkwardness. The man starts to kiss her, asking, “What are we gonna do?” Carol stops him for a moment, then, in complete defeat, answers, “Whatever you want.” And it’s really, really depressing.

Back in the office, Thing 2 and Don are having drinks. Don has evidently decided it would be un-chivalrous to make her wait by herself for her sister to get one in. She asks if he’s married, and he admits that he is. She says he kisses like a married man, his way, no negotiation. He asks if that’s good or bad, and she says it’s good. “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” Don tells her that she’s selling too hard. Thing 2 is saved from having to reply to that blow by the calls of Thing 1 from the hall. Roger, naked but for his socks, is having a heart attack.

Don orders the girls to call an ambulance and then get the hell out of there, and Thing 2, true to her word, complies.

Don helps two police officers pull Roger out of the office on a stretcher. What I’m wondering is if Don managed to get some pants on him before the ambulance arrived, but it’s unclear. Roger is muttering, asking for “Mirabel,” which is Thing 1’s real name, so Don slaps him and reminds him that his wife’s name is Mona.

At the hospital, Don hovers over Roger’s room, waiting for the nurse to leave before asking how Roger is doing. Roger is, understandably, pretty shaken up. He asks if Don believes in “energy,” or rather souls. Don asks what he wants to hear because no, Don believes in neither energy nor souls. Roger is in the midst of a major cardiac event-induced existential meltdown, and when Mona arrives he breaks down in sobs, repeating her name and telling her he loves her. She motions for Don to bring Margaret in, and Don watches as the family embraces and cries.

Joan and her conquest arrive at Sterling Cooper, having responded to an urgent message from Bert, who orders the conquest to leave immediately. The conquest makes some fuss about leaving Joan there in the middle of the night, but she tells him it’s fine and he leaves in a huff.

Bertram tells her about Roger’s heart attack, and she is visibly stunned. She cries silently as Bert dictates telegrams alerting their clients to the news.

Back in the hospital, Don is calling Betty to let her know what’s going on. She asks what happened, and he simply tells her that it happened at work and it was awful. Betty would be happy to come home early if it wouldn’t make the kids sad, and immediately launches into complaints about Gloria and memories of her mother. Don tells her to stop thinking about death, but she can’t. They hang up, and Don notices Pete has arrived at the admission desk.

Pete asks what happened, and Don covers that he doesn’t know. It’s interesting that Don’s response for Roger’s indiscretions is the same that Peggy is expected to have for him.

Their thoughts are interrupted by the lobby television, which is loudly playing a smear ad put forth by the Kennedy campaign. Don puts his hand to his head in frustration.

And then he is knocking on an unfamiliar door, but if you guessed that it belongs to a lady you are correct. It’s Rachel Menken’s. He apologizes for showing up so late, and she says she received the telegram. He asks to be let in, and she asks if he’s okay. It’s clear that he isn’t, and for once in his life Don honestly says no, he is not okay. He asks for a drink. She obliges and offers to make a call if he’s not happy with the doctors. She asks how Roger really is, and promises not to move the account. Don admits that Roger is grey and weak, and his skin looks like paper. Rachel can see that Roger is Don’s friend. Don asks what difference it makes, and Rachel says it means that Don doesn’t want to lose him. Don responds to someone giving a shit about his feelings the only way he knows how and starts to kiss her. She stops him, and says that he doesn’t get to do whatever he wants. He needs sleep, not kissing, and he agrees to sit down as long as she sits with him. “Why?” she asks. “Because I feel like you’re looking right through me over there.” She sits.

“I don’t like feeling like this,” says Don. Like having feelings, Don? “No one does,” replies Rachel, assuming that he means normal feeling person things like feeling worried for a friend.

Don recollects the first time he was a pallbearer, and feeling like at that moment he was no longer being sheltered like a child, one step closer to death. Rachel simply replies that she’s never heard Don talk that much before–at least she hasn’t heard him talk that much about himself rather than talk that much about how someone else is wrong about something. She asks what he wants from her, and he says she must know because she knows everything about him. She doesn’t, but she is forgetting that she is dealing with Don Draper, who mistakes anything resembling genuine human connection for romantic love, or the opportunity to get something he wants. He continues to kiss her and she continues to protest. “Jesus, Rachel,” he says, “This is it, this is all there is, and I feel it slipping through my fingers like a handful of sand.” Well, you can’t get a whole lot better pitch for sex than that, in my experience. Rachel is not a fool, though, and she calls Don out on the fact that he is making excuses for bad behavior. He says she doesn’t really believe that, and she hesitates, then begins kissing him back.

No, Rachel! Listen to your better judgment! Or don’t, and have a good time! But, also be safe! I don’t want to act like I’m judging you and then have you not want to talk to me when it all blows up in your face! I’ve been through this before!

Okay, so that’s officially happening.

At Sterling Cooper, Bert walks Joan to the elevator. And though he knows it’s none of his business, she could do a lot better. She, assuming he means her conquest, says he’s just a friend, but Bert tells her not to waste her youth on age. She cries as the elevator doors close.

Rachel and Don are naked on her couch. She offers him a cigarette and he refuses, but she takes one. Don is not finished having his existential meltdown, and the sex only paused the flow of words about himself. His mother was a prostitute who died in childbirth. He was raised by his father and his father’s wife until his father died when he was ten, kicked by a horse. Then his not-mother took up with another man and, “I was raised by those two sorry people.” Rachel kisses him on the forehead.

Next time:

I don’t remember what happens in the next episode, so I guess we’ll all have to tune in next week.

By (e)Kelsium

Kelsium lives in Southern California with her partner and collection of almost (almost!) kill-proof plants. She enjoys the beaches, but finds the lack of acceptable bagels distressing. She considers herself an expert in red lipstick and internet rage.

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