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Mad Men: “My Old Kentucky Home”

September 2, 2009

Joan accordion

My recap/ review for Mad Men 3×03 follows, so stop reading if you have yet to view the episode:

The episode opens on some poor girl in pink auditioning for Peggy, Harry, & Sal. Harry is acting a bit annoying and smarmy.  Hmm.  Harry will be attending Roger Sterling’s party over the weekend, while Peggy, Paul, and new guy will be working. Peggy quips, “They hate creative.” Hee.

Joan walks down the hall with a couple other secretaries. Dun dun dun.  She meets up with her old rival Jane, now Mrs. Roger Sterling.  Jane is wearing a fabulous diamond print black and white dress. She rather brattily explains that she’s just stopping by because “Roger had her rings re-sized” … she “just keeps losing weight.” Also, she “get[s] a nosebleed anywhere above [whatever numbered street].” Ha.  She asks Joan for a “tiny favor” to humiliate her. What a BI*#@!  At the same time, I kinda can’t blame her.

Meanwhile, Peggy has a new secretary, which is wholly unsurprising, given that the last one wanted to flirt with Mr. Hooker all day.  Peggy: “I want you to forget everything Lola told you.”  Hee.  As a woman, and former-secretary herself, Peggy has a very different dynamic with her “girl” than her fellow copy writers.

At the Draper home, Don and Betty discuss the upcoming festivities hosted by the Sterlings.  Don is cranky about it, and quips, “But it’s Roger and Jane.”  He is strongly disapproving of the match, still.  Betty wants to go, as she bought a dress.  Meanwhile, Sally reads to her grandpa.  The choice of literary amusement you ask? The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.  Not light bed-time reading, let me tell you.  It sets up the theme for the episode, which deals with excess and artifice, reasons Gibbon saw as contributory to the fall of the empire.  While Gibbon’s theories are certainly outmoded in the field of ancient history, he is well-worth the read … just try to read it when you’re alert, not at bedtime.  Sally gets called to bed, and grandpa tells her to “Go wash your teeth.”  I have never heard that expression. When was the tooth-brush invented? Hmm, well before Grandpa’s time, so I don’t understand his expression.

Cut to Peggy asleep on her desk, while Kinsey uses Harry Crane’s fraternity paddle to play golf (or some semblance of the game). One of the new guys is there, whose name I cannot recall.  They are working on a Bacardi ad.  The boys still mistreat Peggy, and send her out to get drinks. Peggy runs into her secretary Olive in the kitchen.  Peggy questions what Olive is still doing there, and Olive passive-aggressively snips, “When your working, I’m working.”  Meanwhile, the two boys discuss ways to score weed.

Back at the Draper residence, Sally helps Betty dress.  It looks like a wedding dress.  Sally: “Grandpa says you’re going to a soirée.”  For some reason that cracks me up.  Sally goes into grandpa’s room and finds his money just lying out on the table, so she steals some. Uh oh.

Meanwhile, Joan sets up for a dinner party of her very own.  Jerk husband (grr) still exists, despite my prayers to the contrary.  Joan explains the rules of Emily Post to the boorish man.  Jerk husband: “Joan, I don’t want to have a fight right now.”  Joan: “Then stop talking.”  Ha.  Then they kiss and I want to throw up.

Betty calls for Carla.  In response to a compliment, Betty hilariously replies: “I know I look good for my condition, but I’m still in my condition.”  Hee.  Gene wines about being robbed.  Betty reminds him how forgetful he is, and offers to replace the $5.   Don gives him the money, but he refuses to take it.  Carla wisely tells the kids to come out to the yard with her.

Kinsey’s “guy,” as in drug-dealer, Jeff, comes in.

The Drapers meet up with the Campbells and Cranes at the Sterling’s party.  It’s a bit awkward.  Trudy to Betty: “When are you due?”  Betty: “Any minute–can’t you tell?!”  Betty continues to crack me up.  Love that woman.  Pete points out big potential clients, and Don tells him not to give out his card.  Hee.

Cut to Peggy.  She gets food from secretary, who tells her: “I know what they’re doing, and you shouldn’t go in there.” Ha.  Olive: “They obviously don’t want to work, so you should just go home.”  Peggy ignores the woman’s advice, and marches into the office.  “What are you doing?” she demands, but then realizes that it’s obvious.  Paul: “Look, I needed it for inspiration.”  Peggy decides to smoke up too. New guy: “Can you believe this?”  No, I really can’t.

Black face?!?!?  Really, Roger?!?  They’re not in the South, and he’s married to a modern young woman.  How is this happening?  Don wants to go.  Betty tells him not to disappear, because she wants to dance (she’ll lie about that later, as she is wont to do). Roger explains that he did this for Jane at home, and she thought it was a scream. Shouldn’t someone her age know better?

Moving on.  Don jumps over the bar to make a drink. I’m suddenly thirsty. He and the barkeeper talk.  Bartender: “Who are you hiding from?”  Don: “I’m at work disguised as a party.”  Ha ha.  Perfectly expressed.  Bartender: “I’m at work disguised as a wedding.”  Don is really a pro in the drink making department, which is surprising given that Sally makes all his drinks at home.  Don then tells hilarious story about parking cars at a fancy club, where he couldn’t use the bathroom … so he would open up a trunk.   This earns a laugh, and the two men seem to bond.  When the bartender asks Don where he’s from, I suspect that Don even answers truthfully.  Don states that he’s “from Pennsylvania by way of Illinois.  We lost our farm and ended up in coal country.”  Wow, a lot of info there to a stranger.

Back at the marijuana den, drug-dealer Jeffrey comments: “She is a riot. Makes me wish I had a job.”  Paul: “You do have a job Jeffrey. You’re a drug pusher.”  Jeffrey is a bit offended by this, and pushes back.  We learn that Kinsey was “real Jersey.”  Jeffrey quips: “I guess that’s why they have scholarships.”  Paul is pissed, but Jeffrey continues, “You are arrogant and you can’t sing.”  He’s only half wrong.  New guy tries to break things up: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here not to fight.”  Kinsey demands that Jeff take it back.  Then Kinsey sings to prove his old frenemy wrong.  He’s not bad.  As Kinsey breaks out into song,  the other guy joins in. Peggy: “I am so high.”  What a lovely episode this is.

Back at the soirée, a guy hits on Betty while she is waiting outside the bathroom. While pregnant.  Just feels wrong.  He asks to feel her belly and she weirdly acquiesces.  Trudy comes out, and says that she hopes to do some dancing.

Back at Joan’s party, our gorgeous hostess addresses her guests: “Please, don’t stand on ceremony. Dig in.”  We learn about “Code Pink,” which apparently is called when there’s an attractive unconscious female.  Joan rather scathingly replies: “Sounds like where I work.”  Both wives (one older and one younger and pregnant) get up to help Joan with the roast.  The older of the wives comments, “You think they make no money now?” She explains that she was a kindergarten teacher and made three times as much as her husband, but eventually it’s worth it.  She warns Joan not to get pregnant.  Pointing to the pregnant one, she continues: “I told her the same thing, but she doesn’t listen–she’s a nurse.”  I like this lady.  Older doctor’s wife likes Joan too: “The fact that Greg can get a woman like you makes me feel good about his future, no matter what happens.”  Hmm, is that a dig at his surgical skills?

Back at the Draper home, Sally hides under table, while Carla searches for grandpa’s money.  Gene is a jerk to the Carla, but I don’t think he means to be.  Sally stealthily stages a reveal of the money.  I’m pretty sure Gene realizes that Sally was the thief.

At the Sterling Soirée, Harry’s wife pushes him to socialize, and it is awkward.  Betty lies: “Don loves to dance, but I think I’m disappointing him because I don’t feel like it.”  Oh Betty, sometimes you just break my heart.  Then Trudy and Pete move onto the dance floor and all else is forgotten.   Everyone else moves out of the way to watch them go at it. Harry’s wife walks off pissed.  Hmm. I guess she’s disappointed that she’s not the center of attention.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Kinsey talks nonsense (what else is new).  New guy: “We got it. You’re educated, and you sang in the Tiger … what are they called?”  Peggy: “Tiger Tones.” I’m really starting to like new guy, and I think he has a bit of a crush on Peggy. Peggy dismisses the boys: “You both can leave. I ‘m in a very good place right now.” HA!!!  Olive lectures Peggy when she comes out of the office, but Peggy is quite happy with herself.  “Don’t worry about me. I am going to get to do everything you want for me. I’m going to be fine, Olive. I really am.”  Hee.  Olive takes that as a cue to leave.

Back at Joan’s party, we learn that the doctor’s wife and Jackie Kennedy have the same due-date month.  There’s some small-talk between doctors, in which we learn that jerk husband is a sucky surgeon.  Jerk husband: “I don’t like to worry Joanie about those types of things.”  More like he’s embarrassed.  Jerk husband says that Joanie has many many talents.  Oh, don’t we know it.  “You should play for them.”  He really wants her to, so she agrees.  Then she frakin’ pulls out an accordion.  It’s red, and she sings in French.  Seriously.  It involves the words “Ooh la la.  C’est magnifique.”  Adorable.  I can barely stand it.

Back at the Sterling Soiree, Jane really can’t hold her alcohol … not surprising, as she weighs 80 pounds.  Betty gets pissed because Jane drunkenly mentions how happy she is that the Drapers are back together.  Roger confronts Don, and Don tells him that his wife’s drunk.  Roger: “You know, my mother was right. It’s a mistake to be conspicuously happy.”  Don: “No one thinks you’re happy. They think you’re foolish.”  Wow, Don, tell us how you really feel.

Meanwhile, Sally goes in to say goodnight to grandpa and he calls her in to read to him.  She reads some more Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Oh, those crazy Romans.  This marks a literal bookend to the episode–the writers decided to drop the metaphor, I guess.

Then we cut to Don looking at Roger, and I started to wonder whether he really is jealous.  Then he sees Betty standing out in the grass, and walks over and kisses her.  Aww.  Thoughts?  What is going through Don’s inscrutable head?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2009 2:44 pm

    Sometimes I think that Don has finally figured out that being soley with Betty is the right idea, but then he does something like hook up with a stewardess… So you never know!

    But it really seems that what Jane said to him about always knowing that they would get back together struck a cord with him.

    • heroine_tv permalink
      September 2, 2009 3:29 pm

      Yeah, it’s confusing. I think he deeply feels that what Roger did is wrong, and that partly explains why he went back to Betty last season. But then I think, maybe he wishes he could be more like Roger … I think you’re right about Jane’s comments striking a chord–that would makes sense. It was a sweet moment at the end, regardless.

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