Where to even begin with last night’s episode? There was Sterling in blackface, Campbell doing the Charleston, Joan playing the accordion, Peggy smoking pot, and a menacing Grandpa Gene looking like he might child-abuse Sally. The four story lines are starkly different in an awesome way, and unlike in the previous episode they meld into each other somewhat seamlessly.
We open with the casting of the Ann Margaret look alike for the Patio ad mentioned last week, with Peggy rolling her eyes as the Mad Boys gawked. Campbell and Cosgrove come in to announce that Bacardi will be in first thing on Monday morning expecting approximately 11,000 pitches for their campaign, so while they and the rest of management are at Sterling’s fancy country club soiree, Peggy, Kinsey and Smitty have to come in on a Saturday.
Meanwhile, Grandpa Gene has settled in at the Drapers’, with Sally reading to him nightly from The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Because that is in no way allusive to the great social and political upheaval that will occur throughout the remainder of the 60s, and to all of the characters on Mad Men. Especially not when he says, “You just wait. All hell’s gonna break loose.” ANYWAY Papa Betty scares the bejeezus out of me and Sally later this episode when he looks poised to slap her over the $5 he (rightfully) suspects she stole from him. This subplot ends with Sally reading again to Grandpa, all seemingly well. I’m sure it won’t stay that way for long.
Next we have the Sterlings’ party. It is so wrong and so right and let’s just get down to it. It’s a WASPy as hell gathering held for the higher-ups at Sterling Cooper and some of their clients. Crane wears seersucker, Trudy Campbell sports another one of her choice hats, and Roger Sterling serenades a very pleased Jane Sterling, in blackface. And EVERYONE seems to be really into it. Except for Don, who after asking a content Betty if they can leave (she shuts him down), wanders inside to find a stiff drink. Instead he finds an equally bored kindred soul. They bond over their humble backgrounds while Don fixes the drinks. It is a ridiculously good scene, and that explanation in no way does it justice but…damn. Just watch it. The rest of the party is chock full of Little Important Moments that include Betty letting some creepy stranger feel her pregnant belly; a drunken Jane making a drunken ass of herself; Sterling trying to re-bond with Don and prove he’s happy with that sweet little lush, and Don not buying it; Don and Betty embracing in a meadow. As uncomfortable and racist as the party was (seriously, Blackface was still okay in 1963?), let’s get down to the awkwardness of the Dr. and Mrs. Joan dinner gathering!
Joan is just the best lady ever. She can do everything! To wit: she holds her own when stupid Jane shows up at the office dressed all shmancy and being obnoxious; she stands up to her idiot husband when he tries to cross her and Emily Post; and she can play the accordion! And yet, she somehow ended up with this asshole who even Mrs. Dr. Chief of Surgery realizes is a jackass. The party itself isn’t so interesting…surgeons, wives, roast, blah blah blah. We do find out that not only did Dr. Greg kill a man on the table (probably by accident but who knows) he also neglected to tell his kick ass wife. Ugh, he sucks. And then he makes Joan play the accordion for everyone. Leave him Joan! Marry me! It will be legal in Vermont tomorrow! Sigh.
Last but not least is Smitty, Kinsey, Peggy, Peggy’s motherly secretary, and Kinsey’s weed dealer in the Sterling Cooper Offices over the weekend. Their brainstorming session for Bacardi is weak, and after some back and forth between Kinsey and Smitty, the decide to call in some inspiration of the marijuana variety. Peggy naps in her office while they boys fishbowl Kinsey’s office (much to Mama Secretary’s disapproval), but interrupts and demands to smoke as well. Stoned Peggy is awesome, as is Kinsey and Weed Dealer reenacting their days in college glee club. But more importantly, Stoned Peggy rules. She tells Mama Secretary not to be scared for her, because she is ALL RIGHT. She CAN do this job. And she also stands up to the Mad Boys (stoned and not) all throughout this episode. Yay for Peggy and her ever growing confidence!
Wow, that was a lot. I need to go lie down, but tune in next week when Betty (hopefully) has the damn kid already.