Season Four, Episode 11: SCDP -- It's Toasted. Plus, Rome Wasn't Built In A Day
Don's in a pickle, with or without the Heinz meeting.
I watched the evening mentoring session turn into full-on quickie shtupping with horror. Now Don is setting up a parallel sex life to his married one, having a blonde wife and a dark-haired mistress. Who are both mad at him at the same time, all the time.
Of course, it's more complicated than that: Faye, of the many changing hairstyles, is not his wife, but a work colleague -- and has a Mob-connected dad. And Megan, the mighty dabbler of delicate French extraction, might be a total psycho. (But I do love her funny teeth, which look like real mid-century Montreal teeth) She must have memorized those lines about not being sentimental from Cosmo. She claims she can keep her emotions, and her work, separate from sex, but I'm not buying it. This episode, "Chinese Wall" proves that there is no such thing. No boundaries are respected, anywhere.
Really, Don. What happened to being a better man? Okay, we understand that you had to let the journaling go. But the swimming? (Other than jumping into the secretarial pool.) Stopping at three drinks? (That sounds like a solution Faye might have come up with, and Don is already at four and more.)
So many intertwining themes in this episode: death (but what else is new?); water (drowning, going down with the ship, Peggy likes to swim,); the fall of the Roman Empire (Roger diddling while Joan burns, Trudy of the tiny pelvis perhaps requiring a Caesarean); and can-we-have-sex-without-being-punished?
Also: Peggy as the new Don, Don as the new Roger, and Roger as, hmm, a very slim vanity project with a Roman Emperor for a wife?
We know that Roger wants Joan, but can't do the right thing and commit to her, and at the same time seems to have no interest in his young wife. We haven't seen Jane in a while, but she's obviously been busy. Not only did she get her very short cousin hired at the agency (and that was a great sight gag with the head of accounting not seeing the last-hired little guy waving his arms twice), but she's arranged her life to be a pasha at home. The walls of the Sterling apartment look like the club where the funeral was held, but at the center of it, on her modern furniture throne, there Jane sits as a pasha, in a gold coat, with a golden harp behind her. (Peel me a grape!)
The instrument suggest not only the fall of Rome, (and maybe it's a reference to Livia Soprano?) but Ken Cosgrove's published short story, from two seasons ago, of the gold violin -- perfect but unable to play a single note. The message would seem to be how damaging it is, doing things for show. (Like a vanity publishing of a book.) Yet Jane seems really content to nestle her head on Roger's shoulder, as if all's right with the world, even though he can't even muster a single note as an inscription to her in the book she "bought" other than the very strained "To my loving wife."
The parallel was Don going home, stinking of fresh secretary kill, to Faye, who also just wants to nestle her head on his shoulder on the living room sofa and hope that all is right with the world, now that she has made him her world. (Gulp.)
There was also a lot about shoulders: shouldering the burden (or not.) As we will see later, everything rests on Peggy's shoulders. Don, in a scene at the agency that foreshadowed the funeral scene, tried to put an inspiring spin on a death notice. With a bit of the rhythms of the Saint Crispin's speech in "Henry V," he told the folks that they would stand "shoulder to shoulder" and it will be "exhilarating!"
("We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother." That's the way Shakespeare put it.)
However, having Cooper introduce the agency announcement by calling a meeting of the "nearest and dearest" sounded funereal, and the clueless accounting guy ended it on a note of no confidence.
Ham-handed Stan (who with his giant chest and ridiculously tight shirts looks like a cartoon bully) uses the possibility of death, and the agency going down, as a way to ramp up his sex life -- claiming to have an Olympian trick to teach Peggy.
Earlier, of course, Abe reappeared, and Peggy had to sit on his lap all the way home from Jones Beach. They fall into her bed. He's surprised to find that she's a slob. He's a neatnik, apparently, from the way he's shown folding his towel the next morning. And what kind of self-respecting freedom fighter waits for the air conditioning guy? Maybe he's secretly more bourgeois than Peggy. Or maybe they are a good fit and can really learn from each other. He tells her she has the shoulders of an Olympian, and he loves them.
And how magnificent was her Playtex gloves presentation? I didn't get the lipstick on the teeth thing -- mere Lucy-type sight gag, or was it some sort of Scarlet Letter, cause Peggy really, really enjoys her sex? I loved how Don responded when Peggy feared that the news of the account loss meant that she was being punished: "You're not paying for anything. I'm counting on you.'' She should frame those words.
Certainly, her newfound carnal pleasure entered into the pre-Cyndi Lauper "girls just wanna have fun" strategy: "The meaningful life a woman leads when work is done."
Not the rubber gloves used to remove a dead woman's blotter, or the gloves that a cold mother like Betty touches her daughter's neck with. (Or the thimble that a woman uses so she doesn't prick herself when she sews. That funeral scene was perfect. That's just how those guys spoke of their lives and their so-called devotion to their families, meted out in sterling silver thimbles.)
No, Peggy has a classic idea: these are the gloves that preserve the feel of a woman's touch, so that she can enjoy using her hands for all of her other meaningful activities.
Indeed, she's pulling a Don Draper at his best. It's not a slide projector, it's a memory machine. These are not cleaning implements; they are preparations for sex. How could clients possible want a better concept?
Only two more episodes to go, my fine Blogsters. As Don put it, "there's only so much we can pretend like we're doing." Predictions, anyone?