The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 9: California Dreamin'

A British invasion looms on the horizon for Sterling Cooper, but not the Beatles kind. First, however, Don will enter the dreamy landscape of Southern California, where a different species of girl lies in wait, ready to pounce and seduce the mysterious Manhattan ad man in the closest poolside cabana. Come on along for the next installment of The Great Mad Men Re-Watch!

Season 2, Episode 10: "The Inheritance"

Review Notes:

“The Inheritance” sets up Don’s first trip to California—and we all love Don Draper in California. But before we can experience the singular bliss of watching Don pretend it’s not 180 degrees in a grey wool suit as he lounges by a Palm Springs swimming pool, we need this set-up episode, whose highlights include Betty’s father’s slow march into dementia (he thinks she’s her mother at one point and propositions her) and a baby shower thrown for Harry. Best moment in the latter: Bert popping his head in to wish no one in particular a very “happy birthday.” In one line, Mad Men captures the universal experience of devoting years of your life to people who can’t be bothered to know a thing about you. Other notables of this episode: Joan gets comeuppance on Paul by announcing to the whole party that he’s been replaced by Don on the California trip; Pete decides to adopt, which his mother, quoting his deceased dad, calls “pulling from the discards”; and yet another appearance by creepy Glen Bishop, who has run away from his mother and appears in a child’s playhouse.

Grade: B
Really just the appetizer for the amazing episode to follow.

Season 2, Episode 11: "The Jet Set"

Review Notes:

Don is accompanied by Pete to an aeronautics convention in Southern California, where you can take fascinating seminars like "How to Eradicate the Human Race at the Push of a Button." He’s approached poolside by a small herd of Eurotrash (though we don’t yet have the terminology to identify them as such), who want to introduce them to one of their party: the lovely Joy, who is utterly taken with the chiseled stud in the fedora. Thus unfurls one of the steamiest Don Draper affairs ever. I forgot about the scene where Joy shows him around the Palm Springs house, introducing him to the idle rich lounging there like drugged cats. Then Don passes clear out from heat exhaustion and wakes up to the sight of a bearded man holding a hypodermic needle. Freaky! And speaking of Eurotrash, this is the episode where the amazing Kurt declares to the rest of the office, “I am a homosexual ... I make love with the men, not the women.” The reaction in the room is just classic. Seriously, you need to watch this scene right now. Finally, this episode sees Duck ingeniously maneuver a deal to sell Sterling Cooper to Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe, a merger that will result in him becoming the company president. As we know, that brilliant development will turn the dynamics of the show on their head, in the best possible way.

Grade: A
One of my Top 3 Mad Men episodes. Pure, unadulterated fantasy.

Season 2, Episode 12: "The Mountain King"

Review Notes:

To me, this will always be the episode where Joan gets raped. I didn’t remember a single other scene in “The Mountain King” but that one, but that scene I recalled vividly. Joan shows Greg around the office, telling Roger the two are going to a French restaurant. “You hate French,” Roger says, in a way that suggests the two have discussed dinner plans hundreds of times before. Then Greg lures Joan into Don’s office for a drink and forces himself on her. “Pretend I’m your boss,” he tells her, as she resists. “This is what you want, right?” She finally relents, focusing on the legs of an end table as Greg violates her. It’s devastating.

Grade: B


1. More than anything, California represented freedom for Don, who actually introduced himself as "Dick" to those hot rod guys. What stopped him from moving there, do you think? His kids? His career?

2. Why would Joan stay with Greg after he did that to her?

3. Peggy now gets her own office. How do you think that affects the dynamic at Sterling Cooper.

Episodes to watch for Tuesday: Season 2's "Meditations in an Emergency" and Season 3's "Out of Town" and Love Among the Ruins


The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 8: Men Behaving Badly
The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 7: God, Sex, and Irish Setters
The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 6: Season 2 Begins!
The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 5: Carousel of Broken Dreams
The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 4: Hearts, Diseased
The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 3: The Miseducation of Peggy Olson
The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 2: A Basket of Kisses
The Great Mad Men Re-Watch: Here We Go!

Comments (2)
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Feb 25, 2012
The Joan scene made me feel horrible as well. She is such a strong woman and to see her so vulnerable was heartbreaking.

On the other hand, the California episodes have been some of my favorites. Joy is definitely my favorite mistress.
Feb 25, 2012
I think Don is starting to realize that you can't run away from your problems, or you just end up with a new set of problems. And I do think he loves his family and his job; staying in CA would have been giving into his fears, and he's starting to move away from that, although we know his troubles are far from over. I loved his self baptism in the ocean.

Unfortunately even in this day and age, insecure women stay with men they don't love, even those who treat them badly, for financial security and to live up to society's expectations. Joan's confidence didn't run very deep even before the rape, or she would have asked outright for the job reading scripts.

Peggy's confidence is real, as we saw when she approached Roger directly to get her own office. She believes in herself as a professional, but Joan only really believes in her sexual influence over men. Peggy has earned the respect of her coworkers, and is comfortable being herself and doing her job; she's one of the few characters who doesn't play games.

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