Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mad Men Episode 6-4: To Have and To Hold

Recap: The episode begins with Pete, Don, and Timmy from Heinz ketchup having a private meeting at Pete’s Manhattan apartment. Pete and Don talk Timmy into giving them a chance to develop an ad campaign for ketchup, and Timmy agrees to look at what they come up with. Calling this “Project K” back at the office so nobody will know what they’re up to, Pete and Don enlist Stan to work with them. Stan sets up an office behind a door that says “Private” and places tin foil over the windows so nobody can peek inside. Later, they present their ad campaign at a private meeting with Timmy at the Heinz office, and discover upon leaving that Peggy and her team are waiting in line to present their competing ad campaign. Don is angry and says: “I only did it because no one else was supposed to know.” Frustrated, he listens to Peggy through the door as she delivers her presentation. The three SCDP guys end up at a restaurant counter or bar where they commiserate, and are surprised when Peggy and her CGC team enter the room to join them. Acting relatively friendly, the CGC team offers the news that both teams lost and J. Walter Thomson got the business. As the SCDP team files out, Stan gives Peggy the finger. Ultimately, Raymond of Heinz beans finds out that SCDP had contact with Timmy and drops SCDP as their ad agency.

Dawn meets a girlfriend at a restaurant lunch counter where they talk about Dawn being maid-of-honor at the friend’s upcoming wedding, and about the girlfriend helping Dawn by setting her up with dates. At work, Scarlett, Harry’s secretary, needs to go out and shop for a birthday present for Clara, another secretary, whose birthday is the following day. She asks Dawn to punch out for her so she can go out early and shop on company time, and Dawn agrees. Later that afternoon, Joan finds out that Scarlett left the building, and the next day she confronts both Scarlett and Dawn. She fires Scarlett. Just as Scarlett walks down the hall to leave, with all her things in a box, Harry walks in and learns what happened. Harry confronts Joan and tells Scarlett she’s not fired, and to go back to work. Joan then goes to an executive meeting and is told by Cooper and others that she shouldn’t fire the women. Meeting her girlfriend for lunch again, Dawn talks about the incident and how everyone at SCDP is scared. The girlfriend advises her: “They’re not your friends” but Dawn says she really wants the job and believes she’s not being persecuted – everyone’s being treated badly, not just her. Back at work, Dawn goes to Joan’s office, shuts the door, and tells her: “I think it would be only fair if you dock my pay” for the time Scarlett left the building to buy Clara’s gift. Angry about having her authority undercut by the other executives, Joan lashes out at Dawn coyly by putting her in charge of the inventory closet and time cards. At first Dawn thinks this is a friendly move, but Joan makes it clear that it’s a punishment. Dawn says she doesn’t care if everyone else hates her, but wants Joan’s approval. Joan says coldly: “We’ll see.”

In their apartment, Joan and her mother entertain a guest, Kate, an old friend of Joan’s. Kate gives Joan’s mother a makeover, and they all have dinner together. Kate is a sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics but is in NYC for a job interview with Avon. She has a private meeting set up the next day for an interview. Kate expresses how she’s always looked up to Joan and gives Joan a pep talk about how great she’s doing, even if Joan doesn’t feel she’s doing so well. Joan is equally supportive of Kate’s career. Later, Joan and Kate go to a restaurant for dinner where no alcohol is served, and where there’s a telephone at every table. Kate says a friend of hers told her about the place. Since they’re not getting any calls, Joan asks the waiter to check and see if their phone is working. The waiter calls their table from another phone, and Joan passes the phone to Kate, saying, “He likes you.” Kate and the waiter, Leo, arrange to go out to a place he knows about, and Joan agrees to go along. In the cab ride, Leo sits between the two women and says, “Let’s see who’s a better kisser.” He kisses Joan but likes Kate better. The place they end up looks like a private, underground-type club where people smoke marijuana, drink, and make out. Leo and Kate make out, and Leo calls a friend, Johnny, to make out with Joan. The next morning, Joan and Kate wake up in Joan’s apartment and look wasted. Kate later says, “Why did I do that?” She answers her own question with, “I just had to try it.” Joan advises her that when she goes home, everything will be right where it belongs, as if nothing happened.

At SCDP, Ken sits down in Harry’s office and complains about his father-in-law, Ed (of Dow Chemical). Ed says they need some good PR because they’re getting a lot of bad publicity about selling Napalm to kill the Vietnamese. Ken says, “If he wants people to stop hating him, he should stop dropping Napalm on children” (as if Ed were in charge of U.S. military operations). Later, Ken and Harry set up a private meeting with Ed at Dow, offering to help Dow’s image by having them sponsor an hour-long TV program of Broadway musical hits. Harry says, “How would you like to be responsible for making people smile?” Ken says, “Brought to you by Dow Chemical…family products for the American family.” Ed and associates are interested. On returning to SCDP, Harry discovers that Scarlett has just been fired. Not only does he insist that Scarlett is not fired, but he marches into the executive meeting being held right then and demands to become part of the executive team, citing his many accomplishments, some of which the others seem unaware. Later, Roger and Bert call Harry into their office for a private meeting where they present him with a check slightly larger than his annual income. They say it’s “full commission” on Broadway Joe, the show they arranged with Ed for Dow Chemical. Noticeably missing is Ken, the salesman who would normally have received the commission. Harry thanks them for the money, but continues to argue that he should become a partner at the firm. He walks out of the room threatening to move to another firm.

We first see Megan at work talking to Arlene, who tells her “Mel has big plans for you” and invites Megan and Don to meet herself and her husband, Mel, for dinner.  At home, Megan talks to Don and prepares him for the fact that she’ll soon be having love-making scenes on the TV show. Don says he doesn’t like it but needs to think through it. When Don and Megan have dinner with the couple, Arlene suggests that they go back to their place to get to know each other better, hinting that they want to do some wife-swapping or perhaps group sex. Mel says, “Hey, it might not work…it’s a chemistry experiment.” Don and Megan take a cab home instead, and on the way they remark about how awkward the proposition was. Megan says, “I don’t know whether to laugh or be sick…I have to go back to work with them.” The next day Megan goes to work, but Don stays in bed and Megan remarks that he’s going to be late. Instead of going to work, Don sneaks into Megan’s workplace and watches her lovemaking scene from backstage. Arlene appears and asks Don if he enjoys watching. Don ignores her and follows Megan to her dressing room for a private discussion that quickly turns into a big argument. Don basically calls her a prostitute and says, “Why don’t you have dinner with Arlene and Mel tonight? They’re much more open-minded.”

Meanwhile, early in the episode Don makes out with Sylvia in their building’s elevator, and at the end of the episode he stops in at Sylvia’s home to make love. When he notices Sylvia’s cross on her necklace, he asks her to take it off but she refuses. When Sylvia says, “I pray for you to find peace,” Don is deeply affected. He then moves her cross around to her back and begins to make love to her.


This episode is held together by the theme of private/secretive events that are often exposed awkwardly.

·        Pete and Don meet with Timmy from Heinz at Pete’s apartment because they are keeping their project a secret (“Project K), so that nobody else at SCDP or at Heinz (especially Raymond) will know about it. When they pull in Stan, they set him up to work at the office in a room marked “private.”

·        When the SCDP men present their ad campaign to Timmy’s group at Heinz, they think they are being given private access; Don is angry when they file out of the room and see Peggy’s team waiting in line, realizing his secret project has already been exposed.

·        After Don’s group leaves the Heinz office, they go to a bar or restaurant to commiserate as a team. They are miffed when Peggy and the CGC team enter and sit down to join them – and even more miffed to learn that the CGC group knows the outcome before they do: that J. Walter Thomson got the businesses.

·        Dawn occasionally meets her girlfriend for lunch. There she confides her private feelings about SCDP and the people there.

·        Scarlett, Harry’s secretary, needs to sneak out of work early in order to purchase a birthday gift for another secretary to be given to her the next day. She speaks privately with Dawn and asks her to punch out for her. This secret is discovered when Joan goes looking for Scarlett and then finds out that Dawn has punched her timecard for the day.

·        Joan privately confronts Scarlett and fires her, but Harry discovers her executive decision, which up to that point nobody else in a position of authority knows about, and reverses it. Then the entire executive board hears about Joan’s unilateral decision and makes sure neither Scarlett nor Dawn are fired.

·        The executive meetings are private, although everyone in the office can see them meeting because they convene behind glass walls. Harry bursts into their meeting at once point and awkwardly demands to become part of the board, at least in part so that he can be privy to what’s happening throughout the company.

·        Joan gets her secret revenge on Scarlett and Dawn’s private arrangement by assigning Dawn to take charge of the inventory closet and time cards as a punishment.

·        Joan, her mother, and her friend Kate share a private dinner at Joan’s apartment. Kate tells of an interview she has scheduled with Avon, a potential new employer, which is a secret to her current employer.

·        Joan and Kate go to a restaurant together and end up with a guy from the restaurant who takes them to an underground-type night club, a semi-secret place where they make out (or more) with guys they just met. The next morning, Kate wonders why she did that, and Joan says she can just go home and find everything in its place, suggesting that the secret will remain undiscovered and she can pretend it never happened.

·        Ken and Harry talk in Harry’s office about Ken’s father-in-law, Ed, from Dow Chemical. ogether they cook up an idea for a family entertainment special that Dow could sponsor to help Dow’s image. They then set up a private meeting with Ed and his team, and later we learn that the production was a success. The way this private event was revealed to management was by Harry himself, when he walked in on the executive meeting and announced it awkwardly. He is later rewarded privately by Sterling and Cooper with a large check, although commissions normally go to the salesman, which in this case would be Ken.

·        Arlene and Megan have a private discussion and set up a dinner date for themselves and their respective spouses at a restaurant. At the restaurant, Arlene and Mel propose that they all go back to their place and get to know one another better, suggesting group or wife-swapping sex. When their secretive intentions become clear to Don and Megan, they feel awkward and decline the invitation.

·        Megan’s job as an actor involves new onstage love-making scenes, which are inherently private in nature. She reveals this to Don, who feels awkward about it, and Don decides to follow her to work the next day and secretly watch her from backstage. When Megan is done with her love-making scene and walks offstage, she sees Don and realizes her private feelings at work have been revealed to him. They then go to Megan’s dressing room to have an argument in private.

·        Don makes out with Sylvia in the elevator of their building, and later he sneaks over to her apartment where they have a private conversation and make love. These secret events are, thus far, not revealed to anyone else, but the placement of these scenes in this episode seems to foreshadow that their secret affair will be revealed very awkwardly to others in the future.


A secondary theme is helpfulness – either friends helping friends or teamwork.

·        Several people work successfully in teams in this episode: Pete and Don’s team from SCDP, who work on the Heinz ketchup proposal; Peggy and Ted’s team at CGC, who work on a competing proposal; Timmy and his team at Heinz ,who listen to the proposals; the J. Walter Thomson team, who won the business; the executive board at SCDP, who work together to talk Joan down from her firing frenzy; and Ken and Harry, who form a team to help Dow Chemical.

·        Dawn meets her girlfriend for lunch, and the lunch meetings provide her with personal support that she doesn’t get at SCDP. This private friendship gives her a chance to talk about her work experiences without the risk of having her words repeated as gossip at work. The two friends have a mutually supportive relationship, with Dawn trying to help her friend with her wedding (although forgetting at one point) and the girlfriend trying to set Dawn up with potential dates. She also gives Dawn what’s intended as friendly advice about SCDP so she can protect herself: “Those people are not your friends.”

·        Scarlett helps the other secretaries and especially Clara by taking time off to shop for Clara’s birthday present, as is their tradition in the secretarial pool, and she gets her a beautiful scarf.

·        Dawn tries to help Scarlett as a friend by punching out for her at the end of the day.

·        Harry helps Scarlett (and himself) by standing up to Joan and telling Scarlett to go back to her desk.

·        In an effort to help Joan and/or Scarlett, Dawn meets privately with Joan in Joan’s office and offers to have her paycheck docked.

·        Kate helps Joan’s mother by giving her a makeover.

·        Joan helps Kate by making dinner for her and letting her stay at her place while she’s in the city for a job interview.

·        We hear that Kate’s friend has helped her out by telling her about a unique restaurant where people get dates by calling each other on phones at each table.

·        At the restaurant, Joan helps to set Kate up with a date; when Joan answers the phone and talks to Leo, she hands the receiver to Kate and says, “He likes you.”

·        After Joan and Kate go to the underground nightclub, Leo calls in a friend of his, Johnny, so that Joan will have someone to make out with too. In the process, Leo is helping both Joan and Johnny.

·        When the CGC team joins the SCDP team after their Heinz ketchup presentations, Ted and Peggy try to be relatively friendly to Don, Stan, and Pete, although their friendly conversation is rebuffed.

·        Arlene purports to be friends with Megan and offers an invitation for dinner to Don and Megan, ostensibly to help Megan’s career. Arlene and Mel then tell Don and Megan that they like them both and want to get to know them better at their home. At first this sounds friendly to Megan, but ultimately she realizes that what they want is more than friendship, or perhaps too much “friendship” for what she and Don are interested in.

·        Don and Sylvia are more than lovers; they’re also friends. Sylvia has a keen understanding about what Don experiences in life, and says that she prays for him to find peace. Don feels the impact of this statement in a deep way, and Sylvia’s insights into his mind/soul may help to explain his passion for her.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mad Men Episode 6-3: The Collaborators

Recap: In their home, Pete and Trudy say goodbye to two couples who were dinner guests. As Pete flirts with the ladies and Trudy with the men, it’s clear that each of the couples is either cheating on spouses or considering it. At Pete’s Manhattan apartment, he seduces Brenda, a neighbor of Pete and Trudy. Later in the show, Brenda screams outside Pete and Trudy’s house, and when they let her in she has blood on her face and has been beaten by her husband. Trudy realizes Brenda and Pete have been together and Trudy lays down her terms with Pete: “You will be here when I say.”

At his home, Don overhears Arnold and Sylvia Rosen arguing about money, joins Arnold in the down-elevator, pretends he forgot his cigarettes, and returns upstairs to have sex with Sylvia. Later, Don, Megan, Arnold and Sylvia are supposed to go out to a restaurant for dinner, but Megan feels too uncomfortable to attend due to her recent miscarriage, and Arnold gets a call from his answering service for some medical emergency so rushes off. Don and Sylvia are left to dine together, and after they argue for awhile, they go upstairs and have sex. Don claims he only wants Sylvia, despite his statement the previous week that he wants to end his relationship with her. After Don returns home to Megan, she confesses that she had a miscarriage and Don assures her that he would want whatever she wants (pregnancy or abortion). At the end of the show, Don is once more knocking on the back door of Sylvia and Arnold’s apartment. She tells him Arnold is home, and that he can’t knock on her door like that. Don makes up a story for her to tell him, and they arrange to meet again the following morning. Don heads home but stops at his front door and sits in the hallway to think.
At work, Don and Ken meet in Don’s office with Raymond (Heinz baked beans) and Raymond’s associate Timmy from the ketchup division. After a confusing meeting, Raymond tells Don privately that he doesn’t want Don doing business with Timmy, making Don and Ken angry. Don thinks back to his teenage years at his Uncle Mack’s whorehouse. Meanwhile, Megan is in the building’s laundry room and fires her maid just as Sylvia enters the room to do her laundry. Megan and Sylvia talk, and then go upstairs to Megan’s apartment to continue their conversation. Megan reveals that she had a miscarriage, and Don walks in and sees them talking.

On the Jaguar account, Pete, Don and others try to accommodate Herb when he tells them he wants to change the SCDP-Jaguar ad campaign to bring in more sales at his shop – but he needs the SCDP people to make it seem as though it’s their idea. Pete, Don and Bob Bensen play along as Herb tries to persuade his own bosses, but Don’s cooperation in the scheme is unconvincing and the bosses say no. After the Jaguar meeting, Pete and Roger yell at Don in Don’s office, and Don argues that Herb’s request wasn’t worth their energy. Don says “You know what this is? This is Munich!” (Collaborate with Hitler and he only demands more.) Roger says “You choose dishonor over war. You still might get war.” Pete tells Don: “So he’s demanding and unreasonable. How does that make him different from the others?”

At Peggy’s workplace, Peggy listens to her assistant, who tells her that she should be more encouraging toward her writers. The next time Peggy calls her writers into her office, she tries to be encouraging but handles it awkwardly. Later, Peggy returns to her desk and sees a product sitting there called Quest, a feminine hygiene powder. She takes it to Ted and tells him she didn’t get the memo on it, and Ted looks at the materials and realizes she was punked by someone in the office. Peggy spends time on the phone with Stan at SCDP during her late night work schedule, and Stan tells Peggy about the beans/ketchup meeting. They laugh, and Stan says the funniest part is that Ken spent the prior two weeks telling everyone he was getting the ketchup account. Then Ted walks into Peggy’s office and sees her on the phone on a personal call. Peggy cuts the call short, but Ted tells her it’s perfectly okay for her to make personal calls, and is very encouraging to her. Later on, Ted gives Peggy a file on Heinz ketchup and proposes that she work on it. She refuses, explaining that she had insider information and it wouldn’t be fair to Stan for her to act on it. Ted explains that Stan made a mistake by mentioning it, and that Peggy should use it to her advantage.

Intertwined themes in this episode are disloyalty and betrayal and being an accomplice (collaborator) to the bad behavior of others. This involves not only love relationships but also friendships and even international relations.

·        Pete and Trudy say goodbye to two couples who came over to their house for dinner. Pete talks to the two ladies and they say they would like the tickets to the Broadway musical Hair that he has to offer, but not to let their husbands know. This suggests that they might want to attend the show with someone other than their husbands. Pete collaborates (in spirit) by agreeing to their request. Meanwhile, the two men flirt with Trudy in a way that suggests they have a sexual interest in her, although Trudy doesn’t signal to them that she’s willing to go along.

·        We hear news about the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. The U.S. and South Vietnamese had agreed with North Vietnam to a two-day cease-fire in honor of the Tet Lunar New Year celebrations. However, the North Vietnamese conducted surprise attacks during that time, betraying their agreement. The collaboration is among the North Vietnamese governmental and military people involved.

·       We also hear news about the Pueblo incident. The Pueblo was a U.S. Navy intelligence ship that was captured by North Korea. The Americans claimed the ship was in international waters but eventually negotiated for the release of the U.S. hostages by signing a confession of espionage. U.S. negotiations directly with North Korea made the South Koreans feel left out and betrayed by the U.S. because they had agreed to collaborate, supposedly being on the same side. After the hostages were released, the U.S. reversed their rhetoric and denied their guilt, betraying their signed confession. The collaboration here is among the U.S. military intelligence and governmental personnel involved.

·        Don witnesses Dr. Rosen and Sylvia arguing about money, and Rosen accuses Sylvia of giving his money to her kid (apparently betraying her agreement not to). Don acts friendly to Dr. Rosen in the elevator, and then sneaks back upstairs and has sex with Sylvia (betraying his friendship and his marriage to Megan). The collaboration happens because Sylvia and Don presumably have agreed to keep their affair a secret.

·        Later in the episode, Don and Megan are supposed to meet the Rosens for dinner at a restaurant. Megan, feeling bad due to her miscarriage, decides not to go, and Dr. Rosen gets a phone call at the restaurant and has to leave immediately. Don and Sylvia dine together, per their agreements with their spouses, but then they sneak off for sex in betrayal of their spouses and their friendship as couples. It’s as though events collaborate or conspire to bring them together out in the open.

·        Pete has an affair with his neighbor Brenda in his Manhattan apartment, betraying their respective marriage vows. After they get dressed again, his mood changes from admiration and presumably other love-related feelings to cold dismissal, revealing his genuine lack of regard for her, an emotional betrayal. The collaboration here is Pete and Brenda conspiring to cheat their respective spouses.

·        Raymond, head of the Heinz baked beans account, makes an appointment to bring his associate Timmy, head of Heinz ketchup, to meet with Don and Ken in Don’s office for a friendly visit, setting up Don and Ken to expect a chance at new business. Then Timmy leaves the room and Raymond betrays Timmy by telling Don and Ken never to do business with Timmy, and slandering his character. Raymond acts like he’s a friend to Don and Ken, but he ends up betraying their expectations and business needs while demanding that they collaborate with him to undercut Timmy.

·        In the laundry room of their building, Megan feels betrayed by her maid for all the mistakes she’s made and fires her. Then Sylvia comes down to do laundry and acts like a trusted friend to her. Sylvia and Megan talk on a personal level and continue their conversation upstairs in Megan’s kitchen. Then Don comes home, sees the two women together, and wonders if Sylvia has betrayed him by revealing their affair. However, Sylvia has continued to collaborate on their secret.

·        Herb, the salesman at Jaguar, talks the SCDP team into collaborating with him on changing the SCDP ad campaign to steer business to his shop. Pete, Don, and Bob Bensen agree to attend a meeting with Jaguar executives to collaborate with Herb by making his proposal for him, but in the process, Don’s half-heartedness betrays their efforts and the Jaguar executives are unmoved to change the ad campaign.

·        Before the meeting at Jaguar, Don balks to Pete about Herb’s request. Feeling that Don is betraying SCDP, Pete quips: “So he’s demanding and unreasonable. How does that make him different from the others?”

·        After the meeting at Jaguar, Roger and Pete enter Don’s office and yell at Don for his lack of full cooperation and loyalty to the team effort. Don yells: “You know what this is? It’s Munich!” (like going along with Hitler when Hitler betrayed his agreement and attacked Europe – as if helping Herb would only enable him to demand more from SCDP for no extra money). Roger scolds: “You chose dishonor over war. You still might get war” – a paraphrasing of a Churchill quote that Roger attributes to his mother. Here, it appears that Roger and Pete both feel betrayed by Don. 

·        Next door to Pete and Trudy, Brenda’s husband discovers Brenda’s infidelity with Pete and betrays his wedding vows to love and to cherish by beating her physically, seriously cutting her face. When Brenda rushes to Pete’s house, Brenda’s husband yells something about Pete that informs Trudy that Pete had been with Brenda.

·        When Pete leaves Trudy and Brenda together in the kitchen while he goes to the other room to get bandages, he worries that Brenda will betray him by telling Trudy about their affair. When Trudy steps out of the room, Pete challenges Brenda’s loyalty to him by asking about her relationship with her husband: “What did you tell him?”

·        The next morning Pete kisses Trudy as he’s ready to leave for work, and Trudy confronts him about his infidelity and lays down new terms for their marriage. She points out that she has already collaborated with Pete’s affairs by allowing him to get an apartment in the city and pretending she thought it was for business reasons, but she draws a line and refuses to collaborate when the affair is paraded in front of her.

·        Ted Chaough walks into Peggy’s office, where she’s been having a personal conversation with Stan. Peggy feels awkward, like she’s been caught betraying company policy, and so she pretends it was a business call and ends the call abruptly. Stan collaborates with Peggy’s pretense by hanging up too, realizing what had happened.

·        Ted gives Peggy the assignment of developing an ad for Heinz ketchup. Peggy refuses because she don’t want to betray her friendship with Stan, who has just tipped her off that Heinz ketchup was looking for a new ad agency by recounting to Peggy the beans/ketchup meeting fiasco in Don’s office. Ted explains that in business terms, Stan made a mistake, and it was her job to capitalize on that mistake, so Peggy collaborates with Ted and thus betrays Stan as a friend.

·        Peggy’s writers apparently collaborate to punk Peggy by leaving her “Quest” – a feminine hygiene product. From a business standpoint, this shows that the writers feel some disloyalty to their boss.

·        At the end of the program, Don knocks at the back door of Sylvia and Arnold’s apartment. She answers the door but says, “You can’t knock like that, he’s home.” She’s frightened that Don is betraying their agreement of secrecy, but he comes up with a story for her to tell, and they agree to meet the following morning, a continuation of their marital betrayals.

·        Interspersed throughout the episode are Don’s flashbacks of his teenage years growing up in his Uncle Mack’s whorehouse. At that time he saw so many people having sexual affairs, and knowing that his mother was a prostitute too, he must have considered marriage and fidelity and decided it was okay for men to have affairs. However, his mother-figure “aunt” told him that what people did at the whorehouse was not nice, and somehow this may have helped him adopt the double standard he holds for himself vs. his wives (Betty, Megan). He apparently doesn’t see his own marital infidelity (or the infidelity of the married women he sleeps with) as a betrayal, although if Megan cheated on him, he would probably hold her to the “nice girl” standard and feel totally betrayed, just as he did with Betty.

·        The whorehouse represents a social institution where men and women collaborate to promote the sexual infidelity of men for the profit of other men (like Uncle Mack).

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mad Men Episode 6-1 & 6-2: The Doorway

Greetings to all Mad Men fans! Sorry we're late getting started this year...life is just too busy...but Mad Men Themes is back for another great season of thematic analysis, starting with the first episode below.

Recap: Don and Megan take a trip to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a new client of SCDP, to check it out. While there, Megan is asked for her autograph as a TV soap star, Don stands up at the beachfront wedding of a new military acquaintance, and they both  smoke marijuana in the hotel. When Don returns to the office after the vacation, everyone is having professional photographs taken, and Don has to pose in his office. Pete, Harry, Stan and others have all changed their hairstyles according to the trend of the late ‘60s. Entering the Creative room, Don discusses the use of the term “love” in advertising, saying that the word has been trivialized and shouldn’t be.

At home at night, Megan wakes Don up to say she has to go to work and can’t make the funeral of Roger’s mother. Don is drunk by the time he shows up at the funeral of Roger’s mother. The funeral is a disaster, with an old lady speaks about how much Roger’s mother doted on Roger, and Don vomits and has to be removed from the room.

After much thought, Don develops an ad campaign for the Royal Hawaiian hotel that sums up his experience there: wanting to walk off into the unknown – with a picture that reminds his co-workers of suicide. At the end of the program, Don and Megan are having a New Year’s Eve get-together with two other couples, and the last to leave are Dr. Rosen and his wife Sylvia. Rosen gets a phone call about a medical emergency and Don accompanies Dr. Rosen to the basement. He talks to Rosen about what it’s like to have the power of life & death over others, and Rosen says it doesn’t bother him, and that it’s a privilege and an honor. Rosen says, “You get paid to think about things they don’t want to think about; I get paid not to think about it. People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.” Rosen tells Don to quit smoking for the New Year. Then Don sneaks over to his apartment and makes love to his wife Sylvia. When Sylvia asks Don what he wants for the new year, Don says he wants to stop “doing this.” Sylvia says “I know.”

Meanwhile, Roger sees his psychiatrist and waffles between cavalier jokes (which the psychiatrist challenges him on) and existential observations, such as: “Doors, windows, bridges and gates all open the same way and close behind you. Turns out the experiences are nothing. You’re going in a straight line to you-know-where.” At the office, Roger smiles and jokes and talks on the phone to his latest girlfriend. Then his secretary, Caroline, enters his office crying and tells Roger his mother has died. Her heavy crying contrasts with Roger’s hollow response as he begins to absorb the information. When Caroline cries on Roger’s shoulder, he says, “She was 91.” But at the funeral Roger begins acting strangely and has a melt-down that ends with him shouting, “This is MY FUNERAL!” and telling everyone to leave, although they just sit there and he walks out. Later in the show, Roger is told that his shoe-shine man died and bequeathed his shoe-shine kit to him. Sitting alone in his office with the shoe-shine kit, Roger begins to weep.

In Betty and Henry Francis’ world, Betty, Sally, Pauline, and Sally’s friend Sandy attend the Nutcracker ballet. On the way home, Betty (who looks dowdy) gets stopped by a cop for reckless driving in icy conditions, and Pauline tries to get the officer to let her off without a ticket by saying how important her husband Henry Francis was. Once at home, Sally tattles on Betty to Henry, and Sandy plays her violin for the group. She’s accomplished and says she expects to attend Julliard next year even though she’s only 15 years old. After they all go to bed, Betty jokes to Henry about his being attracted to Sandy, and suggests that he could go in the other room and rape her and she could hold down Sandy’s arms, since “You wanted to spice things up.” Later Betty can’t sleep and goes to the kitchen, where she discovers Sandy at the kitchen table. Sandy admits she was rejected from Julliard and reveals her plans to drop out, go to Manhattan and live like a hippy. “People are naturally democratic if you give them a chance” she asserts. Betty wants Sandy to stay with their family but Sandy doesn’t want to. Later Sandy disappears and Sally tells Betty that Sandy went to Julliard early, although Betty knows better. Betty goes to “the Village” to the building where Sandy said she’d been. Sandy had sold her violin to a guy there, and the guys in that building try to figure out how to cook stew. Betty challenged some of them, and one guy grabbed her wallet but gave it back to her. Betty leaves, disappointed that she couldn’t find Sandy and take care of her. When Betty returns home, she sees Sally talking on the phone, and Sally looks at her mother and closes the door to get privacy from her. Later in the show, Betty comes home and she’s dyed her hair black, making her look a lot like Pauline. Sally sarcastically says, “What happened to you?” and Bobby is angry: “You’re ugly!” and runs out. Henry says “Elizabeth Taylor…”

Peggy and Abe are still together, and Abe now sports long hair and moustache. At her office, Peggy meets with two coworkers about a problem they have with an ad they’re running. The Johnny Carson show had featured a comedian who joked about U.S. troops wearing a necklace of Viet Cong human ears, which casts a new light on Peggy’s ad campaign for the Super Bowl: a Roman saying “… lend me your ears.” The client wants to pull the ad and Peggy has to come up with an alternative. She works late and forces her underlings to work late also. Peggy tries to call her boss, Ted Chaough, who is on vacation, and she talks to a pastor instead. She tries to leave a message with him but doubts it’ll be delivered to Ted. Peggy is an abusive boss to her direct reports. Abe is there and witnesses it, commenting, “Sorry, I didn’t know what kind of abuse was required for the fraternity.”  On New Year’s Eve, Peggy and Stan talk on the phone to each other from their respective offices, and then Ted shows up in the doorway of Peggy’s office. He tells Peggy he had received all of her messages, he acts impressed and slightly turned on, and Stan teases Peggy over the phone, “He likes you.” Peggy shows Ted a video she had made of a guy using the headphones they are promoting in the ad. Ted tells Peggy that he didn’t answer her messages because his wife had told him he works too much.

Newspaper headline early in the program: “End to a violent year.” (1967-68). Ending music: Elvis Presley: “This is the moment; I will love you longer than forever; Promise me that you will leave me never…”


A major theme of this double episode is personal transformation. As the title suggests, characters this season are moving or have moved through doorways, from one phase of their lives to the next, or from life to afterlife. Death is one form of this concept of transformation, but not the only one. (Note: Matthew Weiner was interviewed on NPR – WBEZ on 4/25/13 and said that his view of the theme for this episode was “transformation.”)

·        Sally has been transforming from a preteen to a sarcastic, unhappy teenage girl, but on the positive side, she’s gaining a sense of independence and self-confidence.

·        Sally’s friend Sandy undergoes a major transformation from an aspiring young violinist to an alienated hippie dropout. She also laughs about her mother’s recent death, indicating that she has yet to be transformed by the grief that awaits her when she’s ready to feel it.

·        Sandy’s contacts in the dilapidated building in Manhattan are recently transformed from protected teens to young adults trying to stay outside the social system and invent their own “democratic” society, a hint of the youth movement of the ‘60s that aimed to transform society.

·        Betty transforms herself from a bleach blonde to a brunette, a transformation that makes her look very similar to her mother-in-law, Pauline.

·        Peggy has transformed herself from Don’s protégé at SCDP to a fully independent creative force, someone with her own staff at the new agency.

·        Pete, Stan, Abe and other men have transformed their appearances. Pete has an old-style Elvis look with his carefully combed hair and sideburns, while Stan and Abe have adopted a 60s radical look -- long hair and beard/moustaches. The changes in appearance suggest that they’ve gone through a doorway into a new sense of self, defined partly by generational changes.

·        Megan has become a TV soap star, and is mistaken by a fan as “Corryn” – the character she plays. Not only has she transformed her career, but her marriage has been transformed from rocky to apparently stable, since Don now seems to give her whatever she wants.

·        Megan and Don have gone through the doorway of smoking pot, which gives them another dimension to their relationship that Megan believes transforms sex into a different experience.

·        Don has transformed himself at home from highly engaged husband to bored but dutiful husband who goes through the motions of his relationship. Back to his habit of infidelity, he is now attracted to Sylvia, a woman who appears closer to his own age than most of his attractions – and this new relationship is transforming or influencing his thinking, with their shared interest in reading Dante.

·        Roger’s mother, “Mimsy,” has passed through the ultimate doorway from this life to whatever lies beyond, transforming from the living to the dead, or perhaps from this life to the next. Meanwhile, Roger begins to undergo a major transformation upon her death and upon the passing of his shoeshine man.  In the midst of Roger’s seemingly endless jocularity, he reveals to his therapist his existential angst: “Doors, windows, bridges, and gates all open the same way and close behind you. Turns out the experiences are nothing. You’re going in a straight line to you-know-where.” Roger breaks through his feeling of emptiness when he receives the shoeshine kit bequeathed to him, and feels deep grief over his losses. These experiences transform him into a more complete, feeling individual.

·        Roger’s daughter Margaret asks Roger for financial assistance for her husband Brooks, who aims for a career transformation to the field of refrigerated trucking.

·        In a flashback, Don is horrified to see his building’ doorman, Jonesy, faint and apparently die, and then be revived by Dr. Rosen. Later in the show, Don drunkenly demands that Jonesy tell him what his near-death experience was like. Many people who have near-death experiences claim to be transformed by them, though in this case we don’t know if Jonesy felt transformed. We do know that Don is searching for information on the nature of death from an unusual standpoint. Later, once he distills his Hawaiian vacation experience and depicts it in a proposed ad campaign, he reveals a fascinating aspect to it, as if it might be like paradise. Thus, his view of death is apparently undergoing a positive transformation.

·        In his presentation of his ad campaign for the Hawaiian hotel, Don says, “It’s not just a different place – you are different. It puts you into this state…You don’t miss anything.” He’s suggesting that the hotel experience is transformative.

·        Ted shows up at the office on New Year’s Eve and discovers Peggy talking on the phone with Stan. This illustrates how much Peggy and Stan’s relationship has been transformed over time from their original hostility to a friendship. Ted tells Peggy he got all of her messages but didn’t answer them because his wife had been complaining that he worked too much – so Ted was at least trying to transform himself into a better husband – although this may be just a New Year’s resolution that won’t last long.

·        Reactions to death range from conceptualizing it as a transformative but not necessarily bad (Don in his hotel ad campaign); to something to be laughed at or shrugged off (Sandy and Roger about their mothers, comedian on Johnny Carson joking about the ear necklace); to a horrifying prospect (Don and Megan when Jonesy collapsed); to evoking feelings of emptiness (Roger about his mother) to something cool and exciting (Bobby seeing a coffin in the violin case, and Pfc. Dinkins discussing his machine gun: “You should see what it does to a water buffalo!”); to something it’s best not to think about (Dr. Rosen); to an existential void (Roger when seeing his psychiatrist).

A second theme is one-way relationships.

·        From the beginning, it appears that Don no longer feels as emotionally invested in Megan. He lets her lead the relationship and he tries to cooperate, just as he did with Betty, but his heart isn’t in it anymore. Megan, however, seems to be excited about Don and clueless about his bond with Sylvia.

·        The woman in Hawaii who wanted Megan’s autograph was excited to meet her, but Megan was less than excited to be approached by a fan.

·        Betty cares about Sandy, but Sandy doesn’t want Betty around her and doesn’t return the feelings.

·        Sally wants to be friends with Sandy, but Sandy doesn’t seem to care about Sally’s friendship. Later when Sandy leaves, Sally feels dissed and says Sandy was stuck up. Sandy, on the other hand, didn’t express any emotions, good or bad, towards Sally.

·        The young man Don meets at the bar in Hawaii, Pfc Dinkins, is excited about having Don in his wedding, and wants to bond with Don. Don goes along, but doesn’t return the young man’s excitement about becoming fast friends.

·        Betty harassed Henry about raping Sandy, sneering at Henry’s earlier suggestion that he wanted to “spice things up” a bit. Henry obviously was less satisfied with their sexual relationship, but Betty resented that he felt that way so likely didn’t share his sentiments.

·        Peggy’s client was unhappy with Peggy’s “lend me your ears” Superbowl ad campaign because of the sick humor of the Johnny Carson Show comedian who joked about a necklace made of the severed ears of the Viet Cong. Peggy did not share the viewpoint and thought the ad campaign was fine, but she agreed to change it. She then asked her subordinates to come up with new ideas, and she intimidated them. They did not feel about her the way she felt about them – she thought she was fair to them, but they apparently didn’t.

·        Bob Bensen from upstairs meets Don in an elevator and is exceptionally friendly to him, giving him a cup of coffee. Don takes the coffee but rejects Bob’s offer of Cottonbowl tickets, and doesn’t show any interest in Bob.

·        When SCDP staff are having their portraits photographed, several men admire Joan but she doesn’t seem to enjoy it much or return their admiration.

·        Caroline enters Roger’s office crying, and delivers the news to Roger that his mother has died. Caroline grabs onto Roger to cry on his shoulder, and he doesn’t share her feelings of grief or appreciate her grabbing onto him at the time.

·        Don is awakened by Megan in their home. She is saying goodbye because she has to leave early for her acting job, and says she’s sorry she’ll miss the funeral of Roger’s mother. Megan shows that she seems to feel close to Don, but Don winces with resentment towards her when he says, “My wife’s a big TV star.”

·        At the funeral, we learn that Roger’s mother built her emotional life around Roger, whereas Roger thought his mother’s sentiments were “completely pointless.”

·        Mona talks to Roger about how Roger’s mother wanted to spend more time with him, and Roger’s daughter wanted to spend more time with him. Obviously, Roger didn’t share in those desires or he would have done it.

·        Roger gives Margaret a jar of water from the River Jordan as a gift, saying it’s valuable, but Margaret couldn’t care less about it and leaves it behind.

·        When Betty comes home from chasing down Sandy in Manhattan, she and Sally lock eyes while Sally is talking on the phone. Betty presumably wants to know what her daughter is up to, but Sally simply closes the door on Betty in a rejecting way.

·        Bob Bensen seems to want to be part of the in-crowd at SCDP, but even when he sends free catering to Roger’s mother’s funeral, he is rejected.

·        Ted flirts with Peggy when he shows up at the office on New Year’s Eve and sees her working. Peggy presumably doesn’t return his feelings, possibly thinking that his admiration is all about her work, although Stan picks up on the flirtation over the phone lines.

·        At the Draper’s on New Year’s Eve, Dr. Rosen gets a call from the answering service and claims to have to leave for a medical emergency (although we don’t know what he really did), and Don goes out with him. Then Don sneaks over to his place to sleep with his wife, and we see that Don and Sylvia do return each other’s admiration. However, Don/Megan and probably Arnold/Sylvia don’t seem to have mutual feelings for each other within their respective marriages.

A third pervasive theme is the many faces and interpretations of love. The entire Mad Men series features love relationships of many kinds, but in this episode various ideas about how love is expressed and what love is in terms of marriage and sexual relationships or parenting become thematic after Don passionately expresses his opinion about use of the word love.

·        Don’s love for Megan appears to be a real, strong commitment, even if she no longer excites him as she used to. But with Sylvia, he’s not just using her for sex; he appears to feel a deep bond of love there, which means he’s living the belief that a man can love two women at once, just in different ways.

·        Betty shows a motherly love toward Sandy and toward the young drop-outs she meets when searching for Sandy that she doesn’t often exhibit toward Sally, although in past episodes she sometimes shows a limited amount of love for Sally.

·       Betty observes Henry and Bobby’s love for the violin music Sandy plays. Betty’s love for Henry is complicated, and laced with envy toward Henry’s love of Sandy’s music, which she expresses through dark humor.

·       The love of each of the parental characters is complicated, from Mimzi’s doting devotion for Roger that he never experienced as love, to Betty’s extremely limited love toward Sally that Sally understandably doesn’t appreciate.

·        In Hawaii, we hear that Megan’s TV drama is “To have and to hold,” an obvious reference to marriage, which is supposedly based on love.

·        Don stands up to Pfc. Dinkins’ beachside wedding, and we hear from Dinkins that the marriage was part of a compromise for him, bringing up the question of what happens when marriage doesn’t include love.

·        At the office, Don criticizes the creative work of his team for trivializing the word love, while the creatives point out that “anything matrimonial sounds Paleolithic.”  This reflects the changing views of love in 1960s America. Despite all of his philandering, Don never continues a relationship (except in marriage) where he no longer feels passionate, and for that reason he shows that love is central to his life, not trivial.

·        We hear about the 1967 “Summer of Love” and yet also see that ‘67 was a violent year, an interesting juxtaposition that hints at a possible connection between love and violence.

·        The final music of the episode is Elvis Presley singing: “I will love you longer than forever; promise me that you will leave me never.” This mythical view of love and marriage was being questioned openly in the 1960s, as divorce laws were beginning to be loosened up in many states.