Episode 10: Another Lock Box, Another Troubled Brother, And...

Weren't the Brits the ones who were supposed to be the wankers? One of my favorite episodes ever, it's called "The Color Blue." Blue robe, blue Caddy, blue headboard, blue princess phone, Miles Davis' blues playing in Paul's office, Miss Farrell's kid asking how we know blue is blue.

Mad Men Season 3, Episode 10 But it's more like Code Blue for Don and his secrets. Betty found the key to the Dick Whitman box, a sampler packed neatly for maximal fleeing. Unlike Carmela Soprano and the bird feeder, Betty's not one to care about the cash -- naturally, she's obsessed with the mysterious existence of the first Mrs. Draper, in word and deed.

At the same time, Don was out releasing his Adam substitute to the wild. Now there's an injured bird who will find his way back to roil the (already ramshackle) nest.

By the way, were Miss Maypole's home-baked goods -- three datenut breads -- supposed to suggest her generally Mother Earth-ish nature, or merely that Don's date feels like a nut?

Most of all, I loved the teaming of Paul and Peggy -- the sanctimonious Princetonian against the Mary Wells of the typing pool-- and the sheer thrill of watching how the work got done.

But first, my own nutty conspiracy theories, in light of the fact that the president will be assassinated in roughly six weeks. And, to be noted, with a tension as grave as the one created with that "Sopranos"-like cut just as Don takes the podium at the Waldorf at the end of the show: JFK spends the night before his death in a Hilton in Dallas. (Gulp!)

Submitted for your approval, three shards of ghostly JFK references:

Number One: the Final Net "Double Date" scene, which was magic, a tour de force of writing, acting , and direction. And then I saw the set-up in a new light: two couples out touring in a large convertible, open to the elements. The cap falls off the aerosol can -- bang -- with Governor Connelly and his wife in the front, and the president and Jackie in the back.

Number Two: Right before his epiphany with Achilles, Kinsey takes care of business at his desk. He puts out a napkin, opens his pants, and, for his viewing pleasure, takes out the board of the Maidenform ad he created using photos of Marilyn and Jackie. (Masturbating over your own work -- talk about Narcissus squared!)

Number Three: In the final banquet scene, when Roger "Screw him!" Sterling has to introduce Don, the man he hates, Roger jokes about Don's tendency for lateness. At JFK's birthday bash at Madison Square Garden, the then-president introduced Marilyn Monroe (who was also soon to die) as "the late Marilyn Monroe."

Mad Men Season 3, Episode 10 Meditations in an emergency: I felt used when I found out that the Brits are flipping the agency -- that's why they needed Don tied to a contract -- so I can imagine how the Cooperites will freak when they find out. It was beyond belief that Lois, the foot murderer (talk about an Achilles' heel!) is still employed at the agency, while Sal has to twist in the wind.

Interestingly, Lane Pryce showed his human side with his inhuman wife. She would no doubt have been happier in India, with its servants, rigid class system and British style social hierarchies. (No waiting for cabs to drive through Harlem.)

But Pryce likes New York, where, in all his months in residence, "not one person asked me where I went to school." That's probably because Americans are baffled by the English system -- that whole public/private thing that's always the opposite of ours, for starters. Then there's that A levels thing and the "gap year" idea. Certainly, East Coast agencies were bastions of good ole boys at the time, with Ivy League and/or eating club fraternity brothers hiring each other's children.And Paul Kinsey, for one, is not shy about broadcasting where he went to school.

Speaking of Kinsey, I think I figured out what he forgot. The fact thaat Achilles said that at a family party, all theMad Men Season 3, Episode 10 men turn when the name is spoken.... Wait a minute... I lost it. Has there ever been a better illustration of how a flash of inspiration goes poof? (Even Don hates when that happens, although I was screaming at the screen for the drunken Kinsey to put down the tumbler and pick up a pen.) The way Peggy brought up the Chinese proverb, and she and Don created a Western Union campaign out of it -- "You can't frame a phone call" -- was beautiful.

Perhaps you can't -- but each of the Drapers wanted to frame a respective lover for the offense of a hang-up. (I believe it was the breadbaker and future bunny burner.) Henry Francis doesn't want to take no passive-aggressive guff.

But Betty is indeed hung-up. Like her hair in the clips, like her washing, and the fact that she lay in wait for Don but he never came home. (The sleeping-just-down-the-street action is indeed tawdry.) She's hung-up, but has she given up? It's interesting that she's reading "The Group," Mary McCarthy's 1963 bestseller, describing the vagaries of Vassar grads, all hamstrung (in an Achilles heel sort of way) by the respective men in their lives. Mary McCarthy alone was brave enought to lay it all out there -- what it was like for troubled,educated, upper-middle-class women in the 1940s and '50s. And for her honesty (and orgasm-baring), Vassar wanted to strip her of her degree.

Only three episodes to go, readers! Is Joan coming back? Will Betty confront Don? Will the wood nymph take a hike? I'm on pins and needles -- tendon is the night.

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14 comments about "Episode 10: Another Lock Box, Another Troubled Brother, And...".
  1. michelle rutkowski , October 21, 2009 at 3:45 p.m.

    I believe the hairspray is Aqua Net, not Final Net.

    Nice analysis. Knowing the coming Kennedy assassination is looming really colors this season's episodes!

    Do you really think Joan and Sal WON'T come back? She and Brian Batt's names are still firmly in the opening credits.

  2. Jonathan Hutter from Garrand , October 21, 2009 at 3:55 p.m.

    The reason why the agency is going to hell in a handbasket and the Brits are running amok is because Joan is not around. Only she can set things right.

    As far as all the JFK stuff, I feel like history is coming at these people like a freight train. I can see it, and am powerless to stop anything. I only hope Don Draper avoids Dallas in November, as it is possible he will be shot in a case of mistaken identity.

    Something tells Connie will hold out a trip to Dallas to meet the President as a carrot to Don (I'm sure Connie will know in advance that JFK is staying at his hotel), only to withdraw it just in time to save Don's life.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , October 21, 2009 at 4:30 p.m.

    Dorothy, you are absolutely amazing! Not to mention the writing and acting. Yes, Sal and Joan will be back. With the sale by the Brits, the agency will be re-shaped, so to speak. Since we already know there will be another season after this one, Betty may be on the brink a few times but it won't confront him or the consequences of that revealed until later. Speaking of Betty, she doesn't eat does she? Diet pill doctor? Whatever happened with her sessions?

  4. J.a. Hope from Hope Health Inc. , October 21, 2009 at 4:41 p.m.

    Always great insight and analysis. Just a small point, (but bigger if you're from Texas). J.F.K. spent his last night at the Hilton in Fort Worth, not Dallas. They're definitely two distinct cities 40 miles apart.

  5. Lynne Swihart from The Balcom Agency , October 21, 2009 at 5:30 p.m.

    The Hotel Texas in Fort Worth is where the President spent his final night. It is currently a Hilton (but has also been a Sheraton and Radisson over the past few decades). Dallas is 40 miles to the east. The two cities have a long rivalry (not unlike Don and Roger). I suppose you can tell where my loyalties lie!

  6. Bill Hommel from Self , October 21, 2009 at 5:39 p.m.

    FYI - JFK spent his last night at the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth - not at the Dallas Hilton.

  7. Doug Plotz from VIACOM/MTV Networks , October 21, 2009 at 5:52 p.m.

    Anyone else think that Grey will be in play for SC? Duck might still get his chance to be D2's boss...

  8. Randall Hoffner from ABC, Inc. , October 21, 2009 at 5:53 p.m.

    So why do you think "Paul the Golden Arm" looked so astonished at the Western Union campaign thought up by Peggy and Don? Someone I know thinks he did write down his idea and she stole it when he was indisposed. I'm not so sure about that.

  9. Bob Batchelor from Thiel College , October 21, 2009 at 8:28 p.m.

    What a baffling episode...and then the tragic news that only three more remain. I agree with Jonathan that the JFK assassination is going to devastate SC. I don't see the office staying the course in the watershed moments that follow, particularly Vietnam.

    As for our hero, Don's romping with the teacher and the sneaking out in the middle of the night in the name of Hilton really turns my stomach. I think it is the closeness to his home that gets me and, at the same time, raises interesting questions about Don's mindset and future.

    In one week's time, I went from a kind of disgruntled Don supporter directly into the anti-Don camp. Yet, I can't muster any sympathy for Bets, who must be the worst mom on the 1963 planet.

    Don needs to go to California for good, perhaps as an early venture capitalist, while Bets can marry Henry and serve out her days as a stone cold political wife. Sally and Bobby can twist in the wind as they jet between the two, who will wage psychological warfare on each other as they shred the kids' lives.

  10. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost , October 22, 2009 at 2:45 p.m.

    Me too. I was whisper yelling at the screen: Write it down. Write it down. Nobody stole it. He just drank it away. And I was dying to know what it was. It seemed to probable that somehow, Achilles... a family name... everyone turning when someone spoke... Phones are one-on-one, but a turns everyone's head at once? Tantalizing...

    BUT... I think it was actually another symbol for what the Color Blue was all about. They all had the same name and they all were different. Just as Don Draper is not Don Draper, but everyone calls him Don Draper. And when he stood up to speak, they all loved and lauded him and Betty simply looked on with a business-like contempt.

    I did enjoy seeing Kinsey, Peggy and Don working on and solving advertising problems, much the way they did in season 1. Season 2 I thought Clearasil and American Airlines were going to be the big campaigns and they went away. And now they're teasing us with Aqua Net and Conrad Hilton. I'd love to see more of that. There was also an air of independent effort vs. working together. When they came together in Don's office, that's when ideas gelled and not because Don was coming up with them. Notice the Chinese phrase came from Kinsey, Peggy saw the literal way it applied to the project and Don brought it full circle to a workable slogan.

    As an additional note: It was interesting to see them working so hard on an ad campaign designed to save the only medium that ever died. Joe Mandese is wont to say that no medium ever went extinct save one: the telegraph. Is this another veiled symbol or foreshadowing within Matthew Weiner's clever Mad Men story line?

  11. Cynthia Amorese from JAL Enterprises NY , October 22, 2009 at 2:53 p.m.

    Now it's Betty thinking "Who ARE you?" She'd do better to wonder about herself than about Don. Whatever they may have discussed and agreed when she took him back after his California sojourn, there's a fundamental dishonesty between them that dooms the relationship. Which is why I'm not so sure she'd do worse with Henry. He seems to have been honest with her so far, even if she hasn't always liked what he says. If he can help her clarify what she wants and then act on it, maybe she'll leave behind the fairytale ideas of perfection and start figuring out how to make her own life happier.

    Likewise, I can't hate Don for wanting Suzanne (is that her name? I've fallen into thinking of her by her MadBlog nickname, Miss Maypole). He seems to share a real intimacy with her and I can imagine him unlocking his secrets to her quite differently from how they've been revealed to Betty. Plus, he's learning something from her, on a personal level (maybe a chance to atone a bit for the way he turned his back on his brother), as well as in social-consciousness terms (Don reads and sees everything, but I didn't have the impression he considered things from a moral perspective, thinking only what the implications might be for advertising).

    I want to put my arms around Lane. He's a good man, but too loyal to buck his ruthless handlers. And his wife is too wrapped up in her own homesickness to see that her husband is changing and finding himself more at home with "the Americans" than with the men and culture that keep him pinned down.

    As for Paul, I desperately hoped I got it wrong with the scene in his office. I've always been put off by his manner, but now there's a physical dimension to the revulsion. He would be a terrible sex partner (no way was Joan really interested). And I'm sure he smells bad.

  12. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 22, 2009 at 4:34 p.m.

    Somebody came up with "telegrams are forever" and then decades later must have peddled it it to de beers.
    Funny, but telegrams (western union) is a thriving business today that sends cash. Wiring money very popular among first generation immigrants (both legal and illegal) to send money home. I pitched the company in the 90s, nothing as emotional as envisioned here.
    Another good ad agency show, though, completely making me forget to track anachronisms.
    I don't think there were any public agencies yet, but perhaps the next year PKL went public. Interpublic (McCann) would have been a likely buyer although DDB bought a West Coast agency around that time, but the idea of buying and turning over an ad agency in this short period of time is way ahead of its time.
    I had a lot of fun reading Dorothy and the commenters again.

  13. Brenda Garrand from Garrand , October 22, 2009 at 8:34 p.m.

    What I love most are the myriad hanging story lines: Bets's therapy, Peggy's horrid "affair" with Duck and his Grey friends, (and PS, how DID she get pregnant given her visit to Joan's smarmy, smoky pill dispenser?) Dick's ex l/wife, Joan's "off to nowhere" rapist husband (and her abbreviated hausfrau-ness) Trudy's infertility, and all the rest. Unlike the rest of you English majors, (and I do love the symbolic foreshadowish analysis) I'm just grooving on the plot twists, the revelations on an era that shapes us all (cue my mother in law) and the sheer entertainment of a finely crafted piece of drama.... Can't it run new every week forever?

  14. Tommy Hollis from GAM.TV , October 25, 2009 at 11:27 a.m.

    Piece in ny times metro section today about attention to detail on mad men--in this case referencing westchester and politics and signage and other stuff.....