Season 4, Episode 12: Advertisements For Myself. Plus, Walk Softly And Carry Your Shoes
What a great episode. As the Heinz guy pointed out, it was all about cycles -- a time to reap and a time to sow, a time for ketchup to blow the beans right out of the, uh, larder. In addition to the mention of Brendan Behan, and beans, the focus was on getting canned, and of how to make the rent, and move on. (There was much mention, too, of physical moving: Cooper keeps saying the agency never should have moved into such an expensive office; Lane just moved his family back to America; Betty wants to move to Rye; Trudy wants to move to Greenwich.)
I hated the way the Heinz man pronounced the word for the red stuff. ("Catch-up.'') But the "c" word certainly applies to what's happening dramatically. Everybody's playing catch-up and Go Fish. And it all stinks.
Moving doesn't necessarily mean changing for the better, either, as illustrated by the trail of sad, laid-off (contemporary-seeming) employees carrying their file boxes out of SCDP's double doors. Faye manages to label her own forced resignation a "fair trade": She thinks that now that she's no longer connected to Don professionally, she and her creative director can become a real item, out in the open. (Unlike Sally and Glen, the young Romeo and Juliet who hide in the woods, but get shut down by bad witch Betty.)
Nor does the ability to "move on" always equate to personal growth. Take Midge (which was the name of the Barbie doll's sidekick, by the way, and from her dark hair and lack of a torpedo chest, I always thought she was meant to be an intellectual). An independent artist and bohemian, this Midge of the first season was pretty much everyone's second favorite mistress (the first being notable heiress/Jewess Rachel Menken.). She was so cool that she made old buttoned-up Don feel like a dork, and turned down his offer of a trip to Paris.
I found it horrifying that Midge is now living in squalor, a junkie grifter married to a guy who pimps her out. I got the worst sinking feeling when she arrived at her home with her mark, er, Don. I was afraid that the "brown" they served him was a Mickey and then they would kill him, boil him and eat him (it was the East Village, after all). Or at least beat him and rob him. So the fact that he got off with just paying for Mr. Cordon Bleu's next hit and buying a painting with cash was pretty good.
And whether it was inspiration or revulsion, the painting (which was as fake and washed-out as Midge has become ) plus Peggy's suggestion about changing the conversation, motivated Don's big cri de coeur (or cri de desperation) about giving up tobacco.
And here I was just last week, bemoaning the lack of swimming and journaling, i.e., what ever happened to the New Don? One week later, he's shown swimming, yes, but also pulling the rest of the sissy-boy pages out of the spiral notebook. With this New York Times letter, he's Old Don, he's back, and he's fierce.
Not mentioning the letter to the partners? Less than believable, although there's no doubt they would have talked him out of it. Getting it published in the Times overnight? Well, maybe a day or two was compressed in the telling. Paying for it himself? Well, I had forgotten about the huge dividend he got when he came back from his disappearance in California, and he's not paying alimony or child support to Betty (Henry would not have it.).
Don's Waverly Place sublet also can't cost much. (Given how much money he has, the choice of that apartment is even more surprising. Like, can't he even give Sally and Bobby a real bedroom? But maybe he's comfortable in that warren of dark rooms -- it reminds him of his childhood. Plus, the low-slung brownstone scale of the Village must remind him of the Midwest.)
So how loaded is Don? Asking each partner to put in $100,000 would be like the equivalent of a million bucks today, give or take. That means with buying Pete's silence, Don had $1.5 million available to pony up. Really, with that kind of dough, why worry about working in advertising at all?
(From the moment Bobby Kennedy was heard speaking into the phone, I was wondering how they could have allowed such a caricature of a bad Boston Brahmin accent on the show. I was relieved to learn it was a practical joke, and very obnoxiously fitting for the Teddy character. )
But speaking of the matter at hand, I got a kick out of the mention that "Emerson Foote" was one of the people who left a message for Don after his letter was published. At first, I thought naming the guy "Foote" was just more macabre, Weiner-style limb-based humor. But it turns out that Emerson Foote was the Foote of the celebrated agency Foote, Cone & Belding, who publicly attacked tobacco advertising while his agency was handling $20 million in American Tobacco cigarette billings. The novel "The Hucksters" was based on him. Later he worked for the American Cancer Society.
And though Peggy called it a shenanigan, (that's the word Don used when he called her on the carpet for the battle of the hams stunt) she too understands it's the kind of grandstanding feat that might just turn things around.
Still, Bert Cooper is outraged, and thinks he's created a monster in Don. He calls the act cynical, craven, and hypocritical (which is all true, although Bert was also mad that his name wasn't on it.) He decides to quit, which evokes one of the greatest lines of the season. "You there, get me my shoes!" he says, as he carries them out. "I didn't think they'd start with him!" Harry says.
If I may, I need to add one aside about Harry Crane's office. How hilariously ugly, oversized, and out of keeping with the rest of the offices' tony minimalist sensibility is that furniture? I noticed it in previous episodes, but this time, adding the model cannon on his desk took the cake. (He is a loose cannon, obviously.)
While everyone at the agency is confined inside, ears to the walls, ready to combust, most of Sally's screen time was out in nature, in front of a shed, looking up at the sky, with her "friend" Glen. Glen was the height of creepiness as a little boy. He's plenty odd still, but in a totally surprising way. Now he's a monstrously large, sweaty football player. Still, he seems like he could be a sweet friend for Sally. Someone with whom she can wax philosophical about the Indian girl on the butter box, (wasn't there a similar comic routine about the Quaker on the Quaker Oats box?) and share Fritos and stories of divorce and therapy.
Although Sally can't completely shed her mother's influence; she tells Glen that his helmet "smells." (It's a "practice helmet." How's that for a metaphor?)
Betty is appalled when she finds out that the two have been meeting secretly; just as with the mother in "The Graduate," Betty's response is less about whether her daughter is too good for him and more about her own shame. She fears that the perverse stuff she did as a grown woman -- having played house with the boy, and given him a lock of her hair -- will come to light. That's why she claims the family has to move to get away from "low-caliber people." ( Like her earlier self.) Although, all along, despite the writings of John Cheever, it was weird for Weiner to place an upper-middle-class, striving family like the Drapers in the rather blue-collar town of Ossining, home of Sing Sing. In Westchester, Rye has much more cachet.
But wherever she's planted, Sally is growing up, moving on, and making "wonderful progress," as Dr. Edna said. And it's not all a con. When faced with her toddler brother banging a spoon incessantly, as if he's in prison, Sally adroitly negotiates herself a place at the grownup table with her mother and Henry. Betty says, "I'll think about it," something of a role reversal.
Of course the question of who is the mother and who is the child is made painfully clear during Betty's meeting with Dr. Edna. Told that Sally can taper off, Betty gets angry and frantic, and says, "She's not better! Her life is chaotic and I'm afraid of losing this influence!" She's speaking about herself, and afraid of losing her own access to the doctor.
Despite the change of husbands, and the possible move to Rye, she still plays the infantilized one with Henry. (We all want to hate on Betty, and though she is a cold, needy Momma, it's not all her fault. It was very difficult to be a middle-class wife in the early 1960s and not lose your footing.)
However, it seems that Trudy, she of the tiny pelvis, and now a baby named Tammy(?) can really stand her ground with Pete. In an episode rife with talk of square footage, and rooms (Don tells Pete, "get me in a room!") Trudy forbids her hubby to put money into the business with: "You mean you'd lose your stateroom on the Titanic?"
But back to Sally: She scared me when she started talking about death, but I was relieved to hear of her dream of flying. Not horizontally, like Superman, but upright, like Mary Poppins, over London. (The Disney movie had premiered the previous year. A sweetened version of the more astringent original, it was about a nanny who saves children who get no attention from their cold parents.) Anyway, flying like the Poppins figure, Sally would be the opposite of the falling man in the animated opener. Phew.
Only one episode left for this season! Roger seems pumped about having to learn peoples' names in order to fire them. But perhaps the turnaround will be left to the women. Will Joan get to use her superpowers? I was disappointed that Faye didn't want to have a drink with Peggy. Will Faye mud-wrestle with Megan?
And will Betty fall in love and want to run off with Dr. Edna?
Last season ended with the unbelievable high of the formation of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. What about this season drooping to a close with Draper Olson Harris? Or, should Don choose plural marriage, Draper, Draper, and Draper.