Mad Men – Episode 7: “Seven Twenty Three”
Focusing solely on Betty, Don, and Peggy the episode opens up with the ending. We see Peggy in bed with someone, Betty in a fainting chair, and Don passed out on the floor. Immediately you ask “what the heck?.” And that is pretty much the same sentiment you carry with you throughout the entire episode.
Betty continues to talk to the man she met at the Sterling’s party, Harry. She uses her civic league as a cover to meet him. After her meeting with him, they pass a furniture store and look at a fainting chair. He said that women would be so overwhelmed they would just pass out. Later, she buys the chair and places it in her newly decorated living room. Betty has always had the bored housewife syndrome and the purchase and the eroticism she gets from it are further examples of that.
Peggy is still being pursued by Duck to leave Sterling Cooper. She and Pete both receive expensive gifts, hers is a Hermes scarf. Naturally, she doesn’t want to return it. Peggy rarely receives any sense of accomplishment. She is the one always pursuing. She always feels like the one on the outside looking in and this is repeatedly shown throughout the series by having the boys meet and literally shutting the door on her face. Her only success comes from a feeling of vindication at times. Therefore, she likes that Duck wants her creative talent. Peggy also gets chewed out by Don and it’s brutal even by Don’s standards. He says that she should be thankful just having what she has because she just used to be a secretary. While that is true, Don knows talent and would not have been as supportive of Peggy if she didn’t have any. This scene is an important one to watch again. After that nice talk, she goes to return the scarf to Duck who is staying at a hotel downtown. Well, we all know who she ends up in bed with. The Peggy and Duck connection is absurd because they rarely shared a scene together last season. Yet, when you look at how they both are constantly looking for validation it all makes sense.
I’m disappointed at the series for continuously taking Don back to his old ways. There seems to be no real character growth and only regression. Time and time again, Don starts off good, goes bad, and redeems himself in the end. This is the episode where Don goes bad. He is getting hounded by Sterling Cooper to sign a three contract to secure Hilton as a client. Don doesn’t want to sign stating that he loses all power that way. Betty learns of this and icily asks if it’s because he doesn’t know where he’s going to be in three years. Don’s infidelity had him in California for a time last season. Betty was done and it wasn’t until she learned she was pregnant that she took him back. After this confrontation with Betty, Don takes off again and picks up two teen hitchhikers who offer him drugs and beat him and take his money. I guess if Don isn’t with Betty in three years then he’ll be dead. Times they are a changing.
Mad Men – Episode 8: “Souvenir”
I like to call this “The Episode without Peggy.” The episode is split between the domestication of Betty and Pete. Betty has always shown signs of unhappiness. She constantly seeks out other men, yet has only once slept with someone other than Don. She shoots her neighbor’s birds in season one. She manipulates her therapist too. In that vain, she meets again with Henry. After a town hall meeting, he walks her to her car and kisses her. Betty is unhappy and kind of just seeks the next thrill. She has no real interest in Harry and she seems done with him for good after that night. When she gets home that night she tells Don she wants to join him on his work trip to Rome. When in Rome, Betty goes to the salon and gets made up like the model she really is. She enjoys some role playing with Don at the expense of two Italian men. They go back to their room and make love. Her dress was black and her underwear was black and it contrasts her housewife role. Betty really wants to be bad. When they return home, Betty already expresses her discomfort with where they live and her friends. Don seems confused because he has worked and finally signed that three year contract to continue giving Betty this lifestyle she now hates. Later on, Betty talks to Sally about first kisses. She says that first kisses are special because every kiss after that is just a shadow of that first kiss and until you get so completely removed that it’s nothing like the first at all. Each thrill Betty seeks is just her trying to get back to where she started and instead she just gets further away.
Pete is home alone because his wife Trudy is away with her parents for vacation. I liked the moments with Pete alone because we kind of see him as a child. At the end of season two he proclaimed his love for Peggy and yet in Season three he’s with Trudy and they’re happy. We understand that Pete is just really a simple guy at heart. While Trudy is away Pete goes out and plays with the neighbor’s nanny. And when Trudy returns, he feels such guilt that he kind of tells her and says he never wants her to go away without him again. Pete really just wants domestication with Trudy despite his job, his love for Manhattan, and his history with Peggy.