Episode 7-- Duck And Clobbered! Or, Waiting For That Don Hancock, As Things Go Atavistic In The Night
Don happens to be nose down on the grimy motel carpet, bleeding, while Betty, dressed daintily and watching the ceiling, faint with the vapors, is thinking about touching herself. I have to hold my nose here before I can describe the third scene: Duck and Peggy are post-coital under the covers. Hold that tiger! Or, in Duck's case, here he really released the hounds!
The episode was all about the push/pull of power, buying and selling, about being tethered to the ground or free to search the sky. Given the focus on the total eclipse of the sun (which did take place on July 20,1963) it brought a heightened focus to the dark side. And since this episode comes almost exactly half way through the season (yikes!) perhaps the action has officially turned to the counterlife.
Like a cartoon character, when superhero Don feels threatened, he morphs back into Dick Whitman, rambling man and disaster waiting to happen. I mean, picking up grifter-hitchikers, ingesting their drugs, and going back with them to their motel room? Hasn't he ever seen "Dateline"?
Not a pretty picture, those grifters. (Those scenes reminded me of the Budweiser commercial in which a couple in a car stops to pick up a hitchhiker on a lonely road. The wife points out, with some alarm, that the hiker has a hatchet. The husband responds, yeah, but he's got some Budweiser!) Still, it's one way to bring the escalation of the Vietnam War into the picture (I don't believe they were draft dodgers, though; that was a sweet cover for mere thievery). Earlier, Pete had mentioned the military build-up. So when the non-honeymooning transients ask the Cadillac man, "Are you a spook?" he can answer honestly, "No, I'm in advertising."
But the specter of very cruel daddy Archie Whitman continues to spook him. So while Don can start the morning shining his shoes, putting on a starched shirt, and checking out the chinoiserie and silk Dupioni drapes in his redecorated living room, (love it, by the way!) he ends the evening as Dick -- drugged, beaten, robbed, and face down in the mold, with a redecorated nose. What came in between? A new father figure, sitting in his office chair, demanding obeisance.
The officious designer lady had just explained to Bets that "Men hate change." And that's the case when Connie Hilton arrives unannounced, and cases Don's office and finds it wanting: no family photos, no Bible. While they enjoyed a great and easy exchange as outliers over drinks at a bar, it seems that each time Don faces Connie in a work situation, the result is odd and awkward. "Are you nervous, Don? I'm finding you hard to talk to," Hilton says, after upbraiding him for being late. Also, as a religious Catholic (which Peggy's mother pointed out), why would he use the "wandering eye" analogy?
For the moment, Don has to sit in his little chair and go along for the ride. "Having me in your life is going to change things," Connie says, and it registers. Though he ushers him out politely, Don becomes so unnerved by that prospect that he attacks anyone at the agency who tries to share in the Hilton bliss.
Peggy gets the worst of it. Whenever she gets a dressing-down from Don, (and that one was pretty cruel) she ends up taking off her clothes with "the wrong boys." Although this time, she's dealing with Duck, a grown man. (And what a guy! First he shows up in the beatnik turtleneck, and now he unleashes the carnal beast!) In the parlance of the modern "player," first he "negs" her. He tells her she's not going anywhere at Sterling Cooper. And then adds, "I was thinking of all the times I walked by you and didn't even notice. How was that possible?" When she becomes receptive (Desperation ? Desire? With Peggy it's hard to tell), he reels her in with "I want to take you in that bedroom, lock the door, take your clothes off with my teeth, throw you on the bed, and give you a go-round like you've never had!"
That might be one of the greatest/most awful come-on speeches ever written. As Peggy said previously, when she received the Hermes scarf with a witty note attached that said "Elegance and Success -- Duck," I wonder who wrote it for him.
There's quite a difference this time, materially, for Peggy, compared with her previous conquests: Duck provides a lavish hotel setting, rather than the ratty pull-out couch she spent the night on with the college boy. But at that point, she was doing the choosing, free to disappear in the morning. Duck (yuck!) seems to be a morning person, and though he looks like an undertaker, she agrees to another go-round. She worries about the maid coming in, which seems strange, given that she seems to have no compunction about showing up at work in the same outfit the next morning, teeth marks and all.
There's a parallel story line with Don: he shows up, his face marked by a "fender-bender." He gets a similar speech about his future from Bert Cooper, "You can't go any further on your own." Cooper, who these days seems to be extremely of sound mind, then uses the ultimate threat to rope him in. "Would you say I know something about you, Don?" he asks. Or, in retrospect, was he finding a way to let him off the hook, psychologically? "After all, when it comes down to it, who's really signing this contract anyway?" with Don again on the wrong side of the desk. (And what about the Miss Farrell reversal? After she drunk-dials Don, now she's Miss Priss?)
Then there's the puzzle of the New Bets. It's great that she's attempting to put her Seven Sisters education to use for an eco-aware Junior League civic project (and thanks to the commenter who corrected me that she went to Bryn Mawr, not Wellesley.)
As she tells creepy belly-feeler guy, "We all have skills we don't use." (And I thought of Joan and her accordion. I hope she's not written out for the season! That would be disastrous.)
After an odd and disappointing meeting at the bakery, Betty, looks into the sun and feels faint. Mr. Francis, Rocky's main man, tells her she needs a fainting couch. "When Victorian ladies would get overwhelmed -- corsets and things -- they'd need a place to lie down."
How's that for a reversal? Five months after the publication of Betty Freidan's "Feminine Mystique" -- aimed at upper-middle-class, educated women exactly in Betty Draper's boat who were feeling imprisoned by kinder and kuchen, and offering a way out -- our Betty decides to act like a Victorian lady in a corset.
The comically tufted and oversized couch is completely out of date, and out of scale for her fabulous new living room. Earlier, the decorator had told her that nothing should go in front of the fire place: "That's your hearth, darling. That's the soul of your home. People gather round a fire even if there isn't one."
So Betty's blocking up the soul of her home, to make it all about her, and dithering on her sickbed. (It also suggests the psychiatrist's couch, where she was a prisoner to the doctor reporting to Don.)
Lots of beds were made in this episode, and unfortunately, everybody's lying in them.