Mad Men Chat episode three: On colossal fuckups, Texas-sized belt buckles and DUI Streaks

Mark: What a colossal fuckup by Lane’s secretary. His marriage was already on the rocks and he probably just got a divorce – something I’d imagine was hard to do in 1965 without proof of an affair or something egregious within the marrage, especially in the UK. Remember, Betty had to take off to Reno to get one from Don; I don’t know what a British subject would have to do.

Heather: Colossal fuck-up is the best way to put it. Just imagine! Lane’s life is just turning upside down, and his little (I can’t imagine he’s very large) rendezvous with that $25 Midnight Lady might come back to bite him in the ass. Although it probably cheered him up for the time being, I can see Lane feeling pretty sheepish or guilty about it. Don sucks at helping people out with relationship problems. “Here, drink! Have a whore!”

Mark: Yeah, Don’s marrage advice has already broken one up (although Roger does seem kind of happy). Speaking of Lane, his getting drunk and hanging out with Don was amazing. The scene where he watched Godzilla, drunk, with Don was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen on Mad Men, especially for a show which is pretty dark. It was a nice change of pace from the first half, and especially for Don’s character. He’s had a dark season and seemed like he was in a pretty bad place, especially as this episode started. Even in California, things were pretty shitty for him. He, and I’d argue us viewers, needed a few moments of levity. Lane using a steak as a belt buckle or being awkward in a comedy club was a great way to provide that.

Jenn: I found that scene with Lane and Joan and Lane’s secretary kind of amusing – the poor girl just switched up a couple note cards and she got chewed the fuck out. I think the situation was just frustrating for them because Lane was already getting heat from both the girls, and Joan felt like she was being degraded by Lane.

The secretary (does she even have a name?) just had the misfortune of fucking up an already bad situation. Although it was interesting to see what really makes Joan tick; she sees herself as an equal to the men at SCDP and gets frustrated when they treat her otherwise. Maybe she and Peggy aren’t so different after all.

Heather: This whole part of the episode was excellent. A Boys Night Out was in the making and you can tell they both had a great time. Lane’s Texas sized belt buckle was hilarious yet incredibly uncomfortable at the same time. A prim and proper man totally letting loose always feels wrong and provides the laughs. Loved it when Lane told that lady off in the theatre.

Jenn: Him meeting up with Lane was entertaining, though. I did feel conflicted, on the one hand their man-date was hilarious, on the other I felt like Don was purposely trying to drag Lane down with him. Don has a failed marriage, a drinking problem and has to pay for sex, so he pulls Lane out to do the same, drinking nonstop, encouraging him to act out and even buying him a hooker? I hope Lane shakes that night off and reconciles with his wife and continues his life as normal, let Don be sad and alone with the money on the nightstand.

Mark: I kind of felt like I was watching two episodes at times. The first half in California was so different from the second half, it kind of feels disjointed as I think about it. The stuff on Anna and her cancer was bleak. For once I was hoping Don would say something to her – doesn’t she have a right to know? – but he didn’t. Instead he promised to be back for Easter, a few months off. It’s a nice thought, and maybe something that could keep somebody fighting, but it almost felt hallow coming from Don.

Heather: I wanted Don to tell her so badly! But, at the same time, it would have created so much stress for her. (a) Knowing her sister (was that her sister?) and her niece were keeping it from her there would be a whole lot of anger and resentment for a while (and who knows how long she actually has) (b) feeling limited and totally lost, etc. My mother died of cancer, so I can kind of see where the other two are coming from when they’re trying to protect her. If I had a chance to ask her, I’d probably wonder if my mother preferred to know or not know.

It’s a difficult question to even think about. I’m not even sure I can answer it for myself. Don was about to tell her, but she was smiling and she was happy – and he didn’t want to take that from her. I wouldn’t have been able to do it either. He probably feels like crap about it.

Mark: Yeah, that’s a hell of a tough question. Maybe I’m missing something obvious here, but that scene was the darkest and most gruelling scene I can think of in Mad Men’s history (and maybe on TV, now that I think about it).
It’s also kind of weird that Don is the one who wants to tell the truth for once. He’s usually the one fighting to keep things secret.

Heather: No doubt! The thing about Don is he has a heart when he can be himself. He’s totally himself there. Which is nothing like the Don Draper we know.

Jenn: Was there any reason for the California part? I hated the California arc in season two, we didn’t need to revisit it. Yes I’m sad for Anna, but I don’t need to watch Don angst and spiral downward and hit on underage girls when there might be something interesting going on with the other characters.

Mark: I found it creepy that Don hit on a girl who he earlier remembered by saying “I last saw you when you didn’t have front teeth.” He’s really on the prowl this season – is it just me or does it feel like he’s going after more women then ever?. He’s gone after any girl that shows any interest – real or otherwise – in him this season.

Heather: He’s dealing with his depression the only way he knows how, booze and chicks. I was floored when he went after that young girl. I knew it was going to happen as soon as he danced with her, and she was giving him all the signs he deemed necessary to make his move. What a sleeze (Don, I mean). Right now he knows no boundaries. He’s angry and lost.

Mark: Don’s secretary is still there, although this episode happened pretty soon after the previous one. I’m surprised she’s still as smitten as with as she seems.

Heather: She’s an idiot.

Mark: Big news of the night: two abortions for Joanie! I wonder who the father would have been for either of them, especially the first one she had from a ‘midwife.’ And does her husband know about them?

Heather: As if her husband knows about them! He’s probably rape her again. Ugh. I don’t like her husband at all.

Jenn: I feel like the abortion mentions weren’t anything of great shock. I doubt that it’ll turn out that the pregnancies were from Paul Kinsey and Roger Sterling or anything. It was probably from before her Sterling Cooper days. And no, her husband most definitely does not know. He obviously has a problem with her being strong or powerful (I mean he sees her in control at work and his follow-up action is rape?) so if he discovered she had made these important decisions without regret, he’d probably go crazy.

Mark: Speaking of him, he doesn’t know if he’s going to Vietnam, doesn’t understand why Joan can’t just not show up for work and goes around making an ass out of himself, but then he helps Joan when she slices her finger open.
And while he’s doing so, he drops the line of the night (maybe even the season) when he says “I can’t fix a lot of things, but I can fix this” (or words to that effect). Is he really that self-aware? It’s a nice wrinkle on his character, if nothing else.

Heather: It was, and it was a cute scene. I really enjoyed it. I still hate him, though. He’s a princess.

Jenn: Ugh can he just die in Vietnam already? The whole stitchingscene was awful, I hate how he patronized her the whole time. I liked the Joan obviously had no confidence in him as a doctor, but his refusal to go to the hospital made me jump to some crazy conspiracy theories. Does he even work at the hospital? Is he embarrassed to bring her there because he’s really just a janitor? I need to know!

Mark: Always a hoot when I see a doctor light up a smoke in his examination room.

Heather: Man, I remember when my Mom used to light up in the mall. It’s so strange to see now!

Mark: I know. I remember smoking sections, which are long gone now. Speaking of public health hazards, this was yet another episode where Don drives drunk. For a show where actions are supposed to have consequences, Don’s had a hell of a non DUI streak.

Heather: I predict it will be the death of him. Or maybe the end of the season will result in him killing someone else via drunk driving. His luck will run out.


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