Our Great Mad Men Re-Watch is nearing the end of Season 1. Today, we nearly lose Roger, which leads to Don being made partner, which in turn paves the way for Peggy to get a $5 raise. Heart attacks: They're good for everyone!
Season 1, Episode 10: “Long Weekend”
In Episode 10, “Long Weekend,” our hero Don, having had his heart handed to him by Midge the Beatnik, turns to the second brunette mistress in his life, Rachel, for solace and sex. The episode also introduces Betty’s widowed father, one of the least interesting developments in the series, who arrives with his lady-friend for a holiday trip to a beach house with Betty. Betty hates the woman, hates driving, hates sugar, hates mothering—she pretty much hates everything except smoking. And then there’s Roger. Oh, Roger—it’s all caught up with you now, hasn’t it? The vodka-and-milks, the Beef Wellingtons, the twin-banging, the whole kit-and-kaboodle came down hard on you in this episode.
Backing up a little: At the office, the creative team watches a goofy Kennedy campaign ad that seems more like it's selling a Slinky than a presidential candidate. Most are dismissive, but Don acknowledges that it’s “fun” and “catchy.” To which Harry observes, “It’s catchy like it gets in your head and makes you want to blow your brains out”—a darkly premonitory line, and one that’s supposed to make you shift uncomfortably in your seat. I love Don’s speech in which he attempts to sell everyone, including himself, on Nixon: “Kennedy? Nouveau riche, a recent immigrant who bought his way into Harvard. Nixon is from nothing. Abe Lincoln of California, a self-made man. Kennedy, I see a silver spoon. Nixon, I see myself." Oh, whatever, Don. If ever there was a candidate made in your godlike image, it’s the gorgeous, womanizing King of Camelot.
The big event in "Long Weekend" is Roger’s heart attack, which arrives at an inopportune moment—but don’t they always? Just as he was about to seal the deal with one of the identical twins from the Cartwright double-sided aluminum casting call. Don springs into action, awaiting the ambulance and smacking his boss in the face when he calls out the wrong woman’s name. It’s a humbling moment for Roger at the hospital, now newly acquainted with his own mortality. But if “Long Weekend” is about anything, it’s about watching the walls come crumbling down around the show’s most impenetrable characters. It happens with Joan, as she fights back tears typing telegrams about Roger’s condition to the company clients. And it affects Don deeply, too: After seeking comfort in the arms of Rachel, he spills his entire, shameful history to her. I don’t know about you, but I was relieved that he finally got that out.
– The nurse puffing away on a cigarette at the hospital.
Strong work from Roger and Don this episode, but the introduction of Betty’s father moves the show in a sluggish direction.
Season 1, Episode 11: “Indian Summer”
The episode begins with Don’s brother Adam killing himself, and ends with a shoebox package from Adam arriving at Don’s desk, only to be intercepted by a suspicious Pete Campbell. In between, Roger returns to the office, only to suffer another possible heart attack in front of Lucky Strike, a client already jumpy over a looming cancer lawsuit. Peggy is brought in to work some magic on the Electrosizer, a woman’s weight loss device that, she discovers, feels like a vibrator. And machine-enhanced female pleasure is a recurring theme, it turns out, as Betty has a naughty rendezvous with a washing machine. Yup, it sure is hot this October, and it’s getting to just about everybody. Even Bert is horny for Don! Professionally speaking, that is. Spooked by Roger’s revolving-door relationship with the hereafter, he offers to make Don partner. Don accepts, on the condition that he have no contract.
A highlight of “Indian Summer” comes in Peggy’s date scene with Carl Winter, a sweet guy from back home. Peggy, who has put on some noticeable heft—yet still has no idea she’s several months pregnant (!)—can’t help but mask her disdain for the blue-collar guy, who works as a trucker for Wise potato chips. He in turn dismisses her brags about working in advertising, saying it “doesn’t work” on him. The date nosedives from there, and while I wish she was nicer to Carl, let’s face it—she has bigger fish to fry, and career is her top priority right now. She asks Don for a dedicated desk for writing her copy; in his Don way, he castigates her for not having the balls to ask for a raise. She gets one anyway: $5, bringing her salary up to a whopping $40 a week.
A relatively minor episode, especially considering a season high, “The Wheel,” is fast approaching.
QUESTIONS FOR RE-WATCHERS:
1. Who is your favorite Mad Men spouse? My vote is for Mona Sterling.
2. Do you think someone could be as pregnant as Peggy is and not be aware of it? Didn't TLC have a show about that once?