Episode 7-- Duck And Clobbered! Or, Waiting For That Don Hancock, As Things Go Atavistic In The Night

Last week we got some pulp foot action, which lent a "Twin Peaks"-ish thrill to the proceedings. This week opens with a noir-ish mystery feel, with three forward-flashes (in medias res, to be fancy) on shots of recumbent characters. (Or as Jews ask at Passover, "Why on this night do we recline?")

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"?

Mad Men Season 3/Episode 7 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 endsMad Men Season 3/Episode 7 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.

Mad Men Season 3/Episode 7 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.

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31 comments about "Episode 7-- Duck And Clobbered! Or, Waiting For That Don Hancock, As Things Go Atavistic In The Night".
  1. Scott Curtis from Studeo , September 29, 2009 at 4:10 p.m.

    Haven't we heard "Would you say I know something about you" once or twice before? I can't remember the setting but it felt familiar.

  2. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , September 29, 2009 at 4:10 p.m.

    who knew that such drama could be created over a contract and a non-compete?
    the rest of the show was soap opera...
    i thought for a second that a little homage was in the works with draper as cary grant in north by northwest...incapable of inebriation.....good episode...but now the pack of them are approaching worthlessness except, of course, for joan who is the only heroic figure left although pete has possibility of redemption despite being a protestant among the catholics and the management of grey noshing......
    and where is sal's wife and sal for that matter............
    when was the hideous ny hilton built? the one on sixth across the street from the hotel where the beatles stayed in early '64......and how do we see saint patrick's spires from sterling cooper's offices through saks fifth avenue........
    as usual, great job dorothy..........pearls, as always, before swine

  3. Jonathan Hutter from Garrand , September 29, 2009 at 4:22 p.m.

    Duck, yuck.

    An episode without Joan leaves me feeling just a little bit empty.

    Lest everyone think that this was truly the "golden age," Conrad Hilton will remind us that just because a client has a ton of money doesn't mean you want that business.

  4. Cynthia Amorese from JAL Enterprises NY , September 29, 2009 at 4:54 p.m.

    Brava, Madam! My favorite write-up this season.

    The eccentric men got my attention Sunday night. Bert showing his teeth and forcing Don into submission. Connie being overbearingly . . . Connie.

    I once worked with an eccentric, a Ross-Perot-meets-Ted-Turner personality with a Scots accent and OBE. He charmed and disarmed, getting everyone fired up by his vision and doing things they'd never normally do. Then he bullied and belittled (always publicly, always unexpectedly), reducing proud men to tears. Like Connie, he presumed to lecture people, started conversations that seemed weighty and symbolic but were often just weird, and openly warned people that working with him would change their lives (no one ever heard it as a warning).

    I wasn't sure if Connie meant the "wandering eye" talk sexually (he was 76 in 1963) or in terms of expanding-my-kingdom lust, but it sure felt awkward. I fear a little for Don now that he signed over his power and keeps ending up on the wrong side of his desk.

  5. Amy Schulz from Wendt Integrated Communications , September 29, 2009 at 6:15 p.m.

    I just wanted to say thank you. Reading your article is one of my favorite things to do each week! I count the minutes post-show until it arrives in my in-box, even though it makes me feel a little thick for not catching half the references you do! Thanks for adding even more dimension to my Mad Men experience.

  6. Ray George from HawkPartners , September 29, 2009 at 6:55 p.m.

    Once again, a wonderfully entertaining summary - thanks as always for your perspective.

    Many great lines in this episode - was waiting for something bad to befall Don this week, and your explanation makes perfect sense to me. Also loved Bert's aggressive side (maybe?) - showed he can close the deal.

    I have one lingering question though - what is the significance of July 23, 1963 (date on the contract)? Seemed to be highlighted for some reason and cannot figure out why.

  7. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine , September 29, 2009 at 7:17 p.m.

    Great analysis! This episode was one of the ones I could watch repeatedly (like last season's Palm Springs epi). Glad the "Twin Peaks" similarity it hitting home with others.

    I hate it when Don yells at Peggy - is she a surrogate for what he'd like to say to Betty? I'm also wondering about Betty and the politico - it's almost like she should have married someone like that - he seems educated and thoughtful - they seem like a great match - too bad she's stuck with 3 kids - no easy exit for Mrs. Draper on this one. This episode seemed to also point out Don's lack of class and stability under the veneer - as you said - turning back into Dick Whitman whenever there's a challenge.

  8. Cynthia Amorese from JAL Enterprises NY , September 29, 2009 at 11:48 p.m.

    The 7-23-63 date is making me crazy. Nothing of historical or cultural significance seems to have happened that day. It isn't Weiner's or any of the main cast members' birthday (Elizabeth Moss was born 7-24). And the Time cover with Hilton appeared four days earlier (7-19-63). All I come up with is this flimsy three-degrees-of-separation connection, which wasn't worth the research:
    . Michael Wilding was born 7-23 (albeit in 1912)
    . He married Elizabeth Taylor
    . Who later married Conrad "Nicky" Hilton Jr.
    . Who was, of course, a son of Conrad "Connie" Hilton

    I definitely need to get out more.

  9. Paul Collins , September 30, 2009 at 2:52 p.m.

    Methinks Miss Farrell protests too much. She's projecting her own desires on Don (not that he doesn't have them). She could be complaining about him right up to the moment she jumps into his bed. "You men are all alike. At least I hope you are."

    For several of the reasons you so-wonderfully pointed out, Don has made me feel less sympathetic to him. But that's part of what makes him so interesting.

  10. Anne Hohenberger from Teletech Comm , September 30, 2009 at 6:23 p.m.

    C'mon you guys! Ms. Parker gave us the heads up earlier in the season that Roger's daughter's wedding is the same day as JFK's assassination (11/23/63)... so the significance of 7/23/63 is just a good sign post for us to NOTICE a four-month countdown to THE BIG DAY (for everyone).

    BTW LOVE the blog. And all the comments.

  11. Mickey Lonchar from Quisenberry , September 30, 2009 at 7:28 p.m.

    Best line of the episode: when Bert Cooper says to a shoe-less enclave in his office, referring to Connie Hilton, "I hear he's a bit of an eccentric."

    http://www.quisenblog.com
    twitter.com/mickeylonchar

  12. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , September 30, 2009 at 9:40 p.m.

    so conrad hilton and peggy olson are both children of norwegian catholic fathers.....on that the plot will turn...

  13. Patrick Scullin from Ames Scullin O'Haire, inc. , October 1, 2009 at 9:06 a.m.

    As always, Dot, you are a beacon into the dark corners of the show. Favorite line was Don's response to Connie, who seated behind Don's desk expressed concern about a man's with no family pictures or bible on his desk-- quote Don: "How do you know I wasn't home with my family reading the bible?" Sweet.

    As for Duck playing kissyface with Peggy, what else could he do? She had liquor on her breath. This season gets better and better and may be the best yet. Amazing. http://www.thelintscreen.com

  14. Royelen lee Boykie from Mad Men Musings , October 1, 2009 at 12:19 p.m.

    @Kate LaFrance: It is AWFUL to see Don abuse Peggy so badly -- what's worse is watching her take it! (Well, she does give it back some by Ducking).

    I think Dorothy was spot on with the fact that Bert's paternal actions aroused BAD fathering inherent in Don (he tries to be unlike his father with his own genetic kids but when it comes to the office kids, he's cruel.) Peggy got it worse than Pete but Pete also got a reminder that Don isn't as warm and fuzzy as he wants him to be. But Don's tirade really projects the real Dick (Whitman) he is: not confident (tears Peggy's to shreds), lacking authenticity (she didn't deserve it), and hostile (attacking an ally). Peggy probably got it worse than Pete because she means much more to him.

    The July 23 date on the contract was because the eclipse -- just days before was July 20 and only some people remember but the show always helps those who don't know every historical detail figure out exactly where in time this is. (I want to know how Betty lost 15 lbs of pregnancy weight in the 16 days since the last show.) And it's likely we ALL are wondering, will we see the assassination or will the season end just before it and pick up again after it (assuming the show has another season). Oh, I can hardly wait. WAIT, I don't want to get there at all!

    As always, love the blog, Dorothy and am wondering how many times you watch it before you send out your blog?

  15. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 1, 2009 at 12:47 p.m.

    seems to me dick whitman is the effective ad guy, a realist;
    admonishing peggy wasn't bad..."you're good, get better" that's respect and good advice..........one of the differences between the ad business and industry in general are emotion-filled conversations like that without HR guidelines.....mentor and worker....................
    peggy wants to be copy chief of grey advertising after two years and change at the sterling cooper boutique and hopes for a free trip to paris as a perk....she'd be better off heading back to brooklyn for mass on the fifth sunday after pentecost--that will send increase googling of heading for calendars and sunday missals both..........some guy (doug) with a long memory on one of the sites did a history of dr. pepper in new york run down...concluding that only the machine is bogus...

  16. Frank Dangelo from Catalano,Lellos and Silverstein , October 1, 2009 at 4:40 p.m.

    Dot,
    Always anticipate and enjoy your weekly review...I was just wondering whether you were aware your "Seven Sisters" education comment can also be construed in advertising circles back then as referring to the "Seven Sisters" magazines.... consisting of Family Circle, Woman's Day, LHJ, Redbook, McCalls, Good Housekeeping and BHG.....

    "....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.)""

  17. Maddy Mud from McMarketing , October 1, 2009 at 5:06 p.m.

    Re: Don having to sign the contract -- do any Ad folks know how real this is? Today? Back in the day? I found it odd that a client would be able (or care to) discern whether Don was signed to Sterling Cooper. Plus, wouldn't a Conrad Hilton type, want to move Don wherever he chose? I'm ready to be chastised and educated ...

  18. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 1, 2009 at 6:19 p.m.

    Maddy Mud is precisely correct which is why the Brits and the guys whose names are on the door probably made up the whole thing to get Don's name on the contract.
    As soon as the Brit management heard that some lamebrain copywriter brought in an account instead of the slickos who are charged with that duty, they told them to get this flunky under contract before he steals the account and starts his own agency.
    Maddy Mud is also correct that Hilton would want Don free to conduct business with them--and they couldn't enforce a non-compete anyway. Who is Hilton going to prevent him from working for? Sheraton? Days Inn? Most client-agency contracts in those days were 90-day cancellable, with compensation spelled out, and if Sterling Cooper dumped Hilton they could go to work for Holiday Inn after 90 says.
    The only caveat to this is agency-to-agency stuff. If Draper leaves, he can't work on Hilton for the stated period of time.
    I seem to remember that when Mary Wells left Tinker to start WRG, Miles Labs parked Alka-Seltzer at DDB for a couple of years until her non-compete ran out--or at least that is how i remember it. Could be apocryphal. Or my memory was lost trying to place Doctor Pepper in a time continuum

  19. Royelen lee Boykie from Mad Men Musings , October 1, 2009 at 6:52 p.m.

    @Tommy Hollis, of course telling Peggy, "You're good, get better is fine." Telling her, "There's nothing I can do for you, you always have your hands in my pockets and the truth is there is nothing you've done I can't live without," is cruel. So she came in on a ruse to share in the excitement. His anger was totally misdirected. He wasn't mentoring her, he was punishing her for something she didn't do. And she was wounded not effectively encouraged, he just touched her neuroses. That's what I saw anyway.

  20. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 1, 2009 at 7:40 p.m.

    There is nothing you've done I can't live without.
    HONEST--AT LEAST.
    THESE TWO OWE EACH OTHER....on other levels.
    Draper has shown her deeper kindness than any of the other bozos in her life. FROM the priest to pete to the lummoxes she works with.
    His motive? I think he respects her ability the way any Whitman would.

  21. Cynthia Amorese from JAL Enterprises NY , October 1, 2009 at 11:58 p.m.

    Anne -- JFK's assassination was 11-22

    Royelen -- I understood the timeline, but wondered if the 7-23 date was significant beyond being the day Don signed over his power

    Tommy -- So the Brits think Don is a lamebrain copywriter flunky, eh? Despite admiring his one-upping of Duck, making a study of his work, and keeping him in the reorg chart but ditching Roger? I agree it was the two agencies determined to make Don knuckle under, seeing the dangers of leaving him unharnessed after Hilton gave him the three hotel accounts. But I was surprised Don didn't call their bluff and speak to Connie directly. Don't think he knows what he wants.

    Could anyone read what the hitchhikers wrote to Don? Seems odd they left him a note.

  22. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 2, 2009 at 9:18 a.m.

    Lamebrained--in the sense that he is a creative/copywriter and can be diddled with when it comes to stock/compensation/contracts as opposed to suits like Roger who are already under contract and need to be cajoled through disrespect and dismissiveness to give up what they have already earned.
    What they admired about his dunking Duck was that he DIDN'T have a contract. Now he has one and they assume--like that poor flunky they were sending to Calcutta--he is now, as another grad of London School of Economics put it, "Under my thumb."
    The hitchhikers said they left his car.

  23. Royelen lee Boykie from Mad Men Musings , October 2, 2009 at 12:04 p.m.

    Anne: Well, you could be right, could be more. Maybe we'll learn later.
    Tommy: Did Don mean to help her or are you just justifying his tirade because it MAY press her to act better (it may IN the office but out of the office it obviously added to her vulnerability).

  24. Maddy Mud from McMarketing , October 2, 2009 at 2:09 p.m.

    I think part of our confusion with Don & Peggy is this show vascillates between people being kind and being cruel. Which I'm sure is a hallmark of Weiner's world vision. We're used to our characters being "the nice guy" or "the bad guy" with a little wiggle room in those labels. But the Mad Men characters can have several shows in a row where you think, "oh, okay, this guy's not so bad," and then they just lash out. It would have been hard for me to accept Don's dress-down of Peggy, without Pete soliciting him first, and Don's contract issues, etc. I think he was mean to her, and he was cruel. He took out his mood on her. Asking to be put on an account, is not asking for a raise. It's ambitious, and shows you want to do good work. Bosses generally like that ask over "give me more money." I will concede, there's a piece of her ask that is "I want something" but it's also got a lot of "I want to DO something for YOU" because you believed in me. Every business improvement book pretty much tells a person like Peggy that this is an appropriate move. But, like all mean and cruel people, Don had just enough truth in his invective to sting her. And, he gave her the tiny-est of bones at the end to give even more weight to his harsh words that proceeded. It greatly disapointed me in Don, when I was beginning to like him again, but it was consistent with what seems to be the show's theme -- that people are capable of monstrous behavior AND good behavior. In my own mind, I still struggle with the extreme swings this show has. I think of people that I know, and like -- they aren't this venal. And a lot of the older ad men I talk to take huge umbridge at the Peyton Place element. But, are they simply looking back with nostalgia-fueled memories? I do think if you become a friend of the Mr. Weiner, and he does something shitty to you -- you've been warned! : )

  25. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 2, 2009 at 4 p.m.

    What you do with this show--part of what makes it great--is reflect on people you have met in the ad business who are like these characters. And Draper is like a lot of talented Creative Directors who take out a lot on the folks who work for them. Some professional, some personal.
    I assume it is different from working for an accounting firm or a factory for that matter. But in this situation, Draper thinks that she needs a kick in the ass and, at the same time, he would like not to have to make a decision about her at the time because he is still focused on figuring out what he is going to do for himself. She also knows she has a genuine offer for a new job, but like so many ad people who stay in a job for a long time, she is insecure and comfortable in the work where she is.
    Career advice: stay where you are. Personal advice: go back to Brooklyn and meet a nice Norwegian-Irish Catholic boy.

  26. Royelen lee Boykie from Mad Men Musings , October 2, 2009 at 4:40 p.m.

    Oh Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, he gave Peggy the kick because he thought she needed it? I think you are projecting your good intentions. He lashed out from his own internal pain, not to be a demanding/driven/helping boss. He's hurting and taking it out on Peggy. For all kinds of reasons.

  27. Royelen lee Boykie from Mad Men Musings , October 2, 2009 at 4:41 p.m.

    Love this blog, thanks all for being part of the conversation.

  28. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 2, 2009 at 4:49 p.m.

    it seems that it would be too obvious
    it is the combination of motives that make his character interesting to me...
    but you could be right---perhaps the scriptwriter would know although there was that wacko criticism of intention that dorothy park here might remember from her salad days....where a text was looked at from the intention of the writer, the reader, and a third way that was truth in a deconstructive or destructive way---
    meanwhile smallville kicked off another season....maybe dorothy could do a blog on that....

  29. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine , October 2, 2009 at 6:36 p.m.

    Anyone else see this on HARO tonight?

    Summary: Mad Men-ing Your Home

    Name: Paris Lia

    Category: Lifestyle

    Email: pl.editorial@gmail.com

    Title: Editor

    Media Outlet: http://www.growersandnomads.com/home

    Specific Geographic Region: N

    Region:

    Deadline: 05:10pm PACIFIC - 07 October

    Query:

    Are you obsessed with the cool, sleek, smokin' retro style of Mad Men?
    Growers and Nomads are looking for people to share their home
    renovation/decoration stories and photos on how you've Mad Men-ed your
    home. Maybe it's just for Mad Men viewing parties, or maybe you
    permanently turned your half bath into a bar. Either way, we want to hear
    from you!

  30. Royelen lee Boykie from Mad Men Musings , October 3, 2009 at 10:43 a.m.

    Oh well, I don't disagree that Don is way more complex than just being mean. Could be something brewing here or it could just be he was mean enough to get Peggy to Duck. And really, her Ducking was about the most fun thing ever. Who saw that one coming? Great performances for them both -- it was actually believable.

  31. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 3, 2009 at 1:23 p.m.

    peggy has probably just read the latest issue of cosmo and has decided that duck is the way to sleep her way to the bottom---