Mad Men has moved from the placid buttoned down early ’60s to the wild swirling loud LATE ’60s. Big difference, y’all. Hair is getting a little longer, blazers a little more colorful, and offensive sexist comments a little less offensive and sexist. But those aren’t the only changes to the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce family. Now that the series is firmly planted in the Age of Aquarius, we’ve decided to recap the series through the only topics that matter: Sex, Drugs and Rock ’n’ Roll! Beware of spoilers and read on!
The episode begins with Pete and Trudy hosting a good ol’ fashioned “Welcome To The Cul-De-Sac” party, which also features some good ol’ fashioned creepy sexual come-ons. In one corner, two neighboring husbands hit on Trudy while Pete does his awkward prep school best to chat up a married woman named Brenda. He encourages her to come into New York City to see the latest Broadway sensation, Hair. “It’s just filled with simulated sexual acts!” he gushes, barely able to keep down a “Gee wiz!” But for some reason, the pretty blonde Brenda digs it, and weird references to Pete’s “hot dog” and pubic hair soon follow. We’ve never prayed harder for a commercial break.
Meanwhile back in Manhattan, Don carries on his own next-door affair with neighbor Sylvia Rosen. They have morning pre-commute sex in the maid’s bedroom, and it triggers a flashback to Don’s miserable childhood growing up in a brothel. That’s always the sign of a keeper!
Sylvia feels guilty about their furtive fumbling, especially since she and Don often have dinner together with their respective spouses. But Draper’s an old pro in the cheating biz. “You don’t mind sitting across the table from your wife and my husband?” she asks, dumbfounded. “I don’t think about it.They’re both good company,” he responds. Incredible.
Incredibly, Pete manages to convince Brenda to come to his Manhattan crash pad, presumably for “hot dog” viewing. She doesn’t want any music, or food or drinks: Just pure unadulterated Pete. It makes us wonder how truly horrible dudes in the sixties really were, if the weasel-y Pete scores left and right. But Brenda is in the hizzouse and things are about to get hot and heavy. Or maybe cold and heavy. When he asks if the temperature in the place is OK, it’s painful in a uniquely Pete way. “It’s been known to get hot,” he leers.
At Sterling Cooper Draper (Pryce?) HQ, a walking cootie named Herb Rennent lumbers into Joan’s office with all the tact of a water buffalo with a case of Viagra in his system. They slept together as part of SCDP’s deal with Jaguar, and now he’s back for a round of verbal sparring that would be impressive were he not so totally despicable. “Did you get all gussied up for me?” are the first words out of his mouth. “No I had no idea you’d be darkening my doorway.” Oof. Point to Joan, but Herb’s not done. “I know there’s a part of you that’s glad to see me,” he ventures. “I know there’s a part of you you haven’t seen in years,” Joan fires back. That’s his d–k, right? Did we get that right? Game set and match to Joan.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected interpersonal moments of the episode occurs when Peggy spends a lonely late night at her new offices at CGC. Instead of calling her live-in boyfriend Abe, she calls her old SCDP coworker/nemesis Stan Rizzo. We kind of were under the impression that she thought of him as a misogynistic pig…but then again they did work together naked in a hotel room a few seasons back, so what do we know. They seem unusually giggly and happy to speak to one another. Is something goin’ on? We’ll wait and see how this one plays out, but we’re calling it here and now!
Pete and Don’s neighbor affairs end the episode in extremely different ways. Thanks to both their spouses cancelling, Don and Sylvia are free to have a romantic dinner for two at an elegant Italian restaurant. Sylvia is bummed out at first, but Don bulldozes her ethics with distinct Don bluntness. “You want to feel shitty right up until the point where I take your dress off. Because I’m going to do that.” They have torrid sex back at Sylvia’s apartment, where they “keep it French” and promise not to fall in love with each other. He goes home, comforts his wife Megan about her recent miscarriage (say what!?) and flashes back to watching his pregnant mother have sex with Mac, the brothel head, while a hooker calls him a dirty spy. Yes, all is well in Don’s brooding and miserable world.
Pete, on the other hand, seems to have pushed his luck too far. Brenda shows up at the Campbell family home, beaten and bloody after a fight with her husband that may or may not have been about her affair. Trudy smells a rat, and the next morning lets loose on him at breakfast. “All I wanted was for you to be discrete! She lives on our block…” she rails. But she doesn’t want a divorce. “I’m drawing a 50 mile radius around this house, and if you so much open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you.” Yup, Pete’s gonna have to go long distance now. It’s not exactly the strongest ultimatum we’ve ever heard, but YOU GO TRUDY!
EPISODE 2 FINAL HOOK UP COUNT:
Don and Sylvia Rosen: 2
Pete and Brenda: 1 (that we see…)
Don’s Mom and Mac: 1 (but it’s a flashback)
Joan and Herb Rennent: 0 (Epic fail)
Peggy and Stan: 0 (One to watch!)
The folks of Mad Men hit the hooch pretty hard this episode, starting off with Pete and Trudy’s “Welcome Wagon” party in the opening scene. This could go a long way in explaining all of the awful come-ons and blatant innuendos among the married peeps. Later on when Brenda visits Pete’s Manhattan apartment, she claims that she started day drinking on the train. To be fair, that’s probably the only way we could ever get in a bedroom with Pete Campbell.
Life at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is just as booze-drenched as ever. Business meetings with Jaguar and Timmy “The Ketchup King” are conducted over bourbon. Joan pours herself a large gin when the giant cootie Herb verbally molests her, and Roger goes hard on the vodka after Don intentionally tanks the Jag sales pitch. “That was the deftest self-immolation I’ve ever seen,” he salutes to Don, and soon they’re clinking glasses. Even Peggy takes a pull from her bourbon as she pulls a late night at the office. Clearly, Don taught her well.
Don helps himself to a bourbon when he comes home to find his wife and mistress having a heart-to-heart in his kitchen. Makes sense to us. Megan lights up a cigarette as she reveals her miscarriage (correlation?), and Sylvia and Don do the same after having illicit sex in the maid’s room.
Their solo Italian dinner is a 2 Old Fashioned affair for Don, while the lady does a double wine. But the final drink of the night goes to a sullen Pete, alone in his office save for a glass of bourbon. The absurdly chipper office flunky Bob Benson stops by and tries to snap him out of it. “It can’t be that bad when you’re doing something that you love,” he says as if a Disney character. “I’m glad it looks like that to you,” Pete says. We guess he learned something from Don, too.
OFFENDERS: Don (2 Bourbons, 2 Old Fashions), Sylvia (2 Red Wine), Pete (2 Bourbons), Roger (1 Vodka), Joan (1 Gin), Peggie (1 Bourbon), Timmy The Ketchup King (1 Bourbon), Herb Rennent (1 Bourbon), Dr. Rosen (1 bourbon), Sylvia (started on the train…)
OFFENDERS: Don (1), Megan (1), Sylvia (1), Johnny Carson (1…on the TV)
Rock ’N’ Roll
Despite taking place in the early days of 1968, the show still managed to pretty much totally skirt around any kind of popular music of the time period. The only two occurrences took place during Don’s flashbacks to the depressions era (in all senses of the word) brothel where he grew up. He and his pregnant mother arrive to hear the strains of an old 78 RPM record scratching out a jazzy rendition of “Whistle While You Work,” from Snow White And The Seven Dwarves. The prostitutes plying their trade in the adjoining rooms cause the song to somehow take on an even creepier vibe than the sight of Dopey with a pickax ever did.
Mad Men’s closing credits famously have amazing (if incredibly haunting) tracks, and this episode was no different. Musing on his troubled past and equally troubled future, the old Bing Crosby chestnut “Just A Gigolo” starts playing.
Sure, from the title it just seems like an easy play on his brothel past. But the lyrics hit a little closer to home.
There will come a day
youth will pass away,
then what will they say about me?
When the end comes I know they’ll say
’Just a gigolo,’ as life goes on without me
What’s to come for the handsome ad-man who is starting to show his age? Can he keep jumping from woman to woman (and life to life) forever?