If you like weed and black chicks and stolen typewriters, you'd love Paul Kinsey's party, which has all three. Everyone at Sterling Cooper is invited, except for Sterling. And Cooper. And Don, who probably went to bed at 8:30 anyway.
It's at this little underlings-only mixer that we meet Harry's wife for the first time, and she's pretty much a horrible shrew, giving him hell for drinking. At a party. He's beholden to her, though, which is probably a lasting effect of confessing his infidelity from Season 1. (However, since the girl Harry cheated with, Hildy, is easily the most attractive woman at Sterling Cooper not named "Joan," everyone including his wife should give him a sustained, enthusiastic round of applause.)
We also learn that former drama student Paul used to "dress up like a girl" in college (presumably for the stage, but possibly just for fun), which is still far less gay than the beard/neckerchief combo he's sporting this evening.
Speaking of beards and gayness, Sal and his wife appear again briefly before walking off to go not have sex somewhere. Paul has a phony relationship too, but, conversely, his is meant to make him stand out. His girlfriend is black, and Joan (who used to date Paul) sees this as a transparent bid for attention, and says something vaguely racist to the girl. (Then again, in 1962, vaguely racist was pretty polite.)
Out in the hallway, Paul's old college roommate is necking the fuck out of Peggy, but she's pretty scared of penises ever since one of them put a baby inside her, so she says nay to intercourse. "I'm in the persuasion business," she tells the guy, "and frankly, I'm disappointed in your presentation." It's actually a pretty impressive shootdown, which makes me hate Peggy slightly less. But still a lot.
The next day at work, Roger and Don walk in to find everyone crowded around a radio. Assuming they're listening to coverage of a nearby parade honoring astronaut John Glenn, Roger orders them back to work. (A man who has seen Joan naked is no longer impressed by things like space travel.) Instead, though, it's news of a plane crash: American Airlines Flight 1 decided to make an unscheduled stop at the bottom of a lagoon, killing everyone onboard. Looking to avoid negative association by consumers, Don instructs the staff to pull every Mohawk Airlines ad immediately. Meanwhile, like the internet commenters of their day, some are already cracking jokes about the tragedy.
One of them, Pete, soon gets a very relevant phone call. Turns out his dad (who hates him) had been on that flight, and will now be doing all his Pete hating from beyond the grave. Pete responds to this news by walking into Don's office and confiding in him. Despite their differences, it seems, Pete still craves his boss's cameraderie. He asks Don how he should react, and Don says he should go home, because "that's what people do." "Is that what you would do?" Pete asks. "Yes," Don lies. He lies because these nemeses have something in common that didn't even occur to me until tonight: They both hated their fathers. Here, Pete seems to be looking for an understanding answer from a kindred spirit (who's secret past he discovered last season), but Don can only respond by telling him how to feign grief, much as he would do in the same situation. All told, it's still probably the nicest Don's been to Pete since, ever.
Later, Don meets with Roger, Bertram and Duck, all of whom want to make an immediate bid for American Airlines (presumably at Duck's urging). In the wake of this grisly accident, they reason, the company will be looking for a new direction. Don opposes the idea on the grounds that they've already brought on an airline account (Mohawk), and trading up so soon not to mention capitalizing on death and destruction to do it just wouldn't be right. For once, though, he's the odd man out. And not only that, it's Don's job to give Mohawk the bad news.
Pete goes home to help his family make arrangements, and learns through his brother that their dad died broke. Not really a big deal, because Pete wouldn't have seen a penny of it anyway, but still. What a dick.
At the Draper residence, Betty and Don are holding poker night with friends Francine and Carlton, and Carlton has really chubbed up. Then again, with the jowls and belly, he looks a lot like Peggy did last season, so maybe he's just pregnant? Really he's just miserable because Francine won't let him cheat on her anymore, that selfish bitch. Also, in the "Mad Men" tradition of "Look how comically negligent parents were in the 60s!" type scenes, Don enlists his young daughter to make everyone drinks.
Next we get our first glimpse of Peggy's immediate family, which consists of a sister and a very Catholic mom who alternates between scolding Peggy for not going to mass and telling her how pretty she is. For a religious person, she seems to have no problem telling huge lies. After dinner, Peggy peeks into a bedroom and OH SHIT SON IT'S HER BABY. He has a giant head, but seems otherwise fine, and is apparently being taken care of by his aunt and grandmother. Ashamedly (or maybe because of the giant head), Peggy can hardly stand the sight of him, and quickly shuts the door.
The next day at work, Paul rolls up on Joan like "Why'd you say something racist to my girlfriend? Is it because she's BLACK?" Joan calls him out for being a pretentious fucktard, which he most definitely is. I will say though, I do detect a note of jealousy in her voice. Maybe Paul's feelings are legit after all, and red's just upset to see someone else in a happy relationship. Her doctor boyfriend would rather play with her boobs than propose, (But I mean, seriously.) and her clock continues to tick.
Elsewhere, Duck walks into Pete's office, and after buttering him up with all the kind, consoling words Don could never muster, drops a bit of a bombshell: He's meeting with American Airlines, and wants Pete to be the pointman. The flattery seems to chip at Pete's armor (which I imagine looks like pajamas), but not quite enough. Pete says he'd be a little uncomfortable pitching to the air carrier that knocked off his pop.
Perhaps still seeking acceptence, Pete goes straight to Don to tell him what Duck wanted him to do, and is summarily shooed the fuck away. (Why won't you let him love you, Don?) I guess the niceness didn't last. Meanwhile, someone has posted a piece of paper containing Joan's true age on an office bulletin board, letting everyone at Sterling Cooper know just how close the expiration date on those eggs is. Could this be Peggy's revenge for that giant copier Joan installed in her office? I dunno. Maybe.
That night, Don meets a Mohawk exec at a Japanese restaurant, and breaks the bad news to him, though he clearly doesn't want to. The guy seems pretty miffed, recalling Don's personal assurance that Sterling Cooper wasn't looking to court a big airline. Don has nothing much to say back but, "JK, i guess," and they part ways, but not before Don makes eyes at one of the waitresses. Just when you think he might fall back into his philandering ways, however, he stands up and walks out. (Maybe he remembered that their vaginas are sideways. Everyone knows that.)
In another bar, in another part of town, a very different meeting is taking place. Duck is pitching pretty hard at an American Airlines exec, and so far he's not really biting. But suddenly, perhaps spurned by Don Draper one too many times, Pete shows up to the rescue, ready to use the death of his father to help broker some sort of deal. And sure enough, as sson as Pete lets the AA honcho know that his plane pretty much murdered dad (but in a nice way), the guy is all, "Hey lets hear some of those ideas."
The final scene is a Sunday mass, which Peggy has decided to show up to. And as she's handed her baby, she replies with a look of "ew." Even still, she's already a better mom than Betty Draper.
- In hiring Duck, Don may have been the unwitting architect of his own demise. There's a lot more potential for trouble here than there was between Don and Pete in Season 1, as Duck is much closer to an equal, job title wise. And as he makes a play to bring Pete under hiswing, Duck's anti-Don army may have just grown by one.
- Pete appeared to be a little more sympathetic this week. The more we learn about where he came from, the easier it is to understand why he is the way he is. And while it may seem callous upon first glance that he use his father's charred corpse as currency, the guy never gave him anything, so he really might as well.
- Much like the episode last season in which Don was turned off by a rival firm's methods of recruiting him (which included falsely entertaining his wife's fanciful notions of resuming her abandoned modeling career), we see once again that Don seems to have a strict code of ethics that not many in the industry adhere to. Having to break things off with Mohawk seems to fuel Don's growing distaste toward the business side of things.
As Don discusses the ethics of ditching Mowhawk for American Airlines:
Don: "What kind of company would we be?"
Roger: "The kind where everyone has a summer house."