In last week's post-show preview, Joan was depicted saying something along the lines of "someone we thought was dead, is not." But alas, my hopes of a reanimated Don Draper corpse back to reclaim his mantle from the identity-thieving Dick Whitman were dashed at tonight's discovery that Joan had been talking about characters on a soap opera. Never, ever believe previews. They lie so hard.
Anyway, in this week's zombie-less episode, we find Betty in equestrian mode, trying to escape her knowledge of Don's affair by running really fast from it on a horse. When that doesn't work, she reluctantly returns home and fusses at her half asleep husband (who still doesn't know she knows) to fix a few things around the house in preparation for an upcoming dinner party.
Peggy is hanging out at the Olsen Family House O' Catholic Guilt when Father Gill drops by. He questions her for a little while about looking "uncomfortable" at church (he knows about her baby, and she knows he knows, but since the revelation was imparted to him in confession by Peggy's sister, he's forced to remain nonspecific whenever he brings it up, which is constantly), then asks if she'll maybe help him with a flyer to publicize an upcoming dance.
At Sterling Cooper, Harry's already in hot water over his new job. "As of today, you are officially costing this company more than you are making it," quacks Duck. What happened was, a Maytag ad ran directly after a brief allusion to communism on some show, leading everyone watching to assume the venerable appliance company wants to violently overthrow the government, install the Maytag Man as President for Life and rename America "The People's Glorious Republic of Spotless Clothes and Dishes." Harry didn't realize that coddling a nation full of blithering idiots was part of his job description, which already includes "putting up with everyone's shit," "frequently adjusting his glasses" and "occasionally fucking the hottest secretaries in the office." Already overloaded with work, he respectfully requests that Sterling Cooper bring on a subordinate to read scripts, ensuring that from here on out, ads are matched up with the appropriate shows. Still skeptical of the supposed importance of this whole "teley-vision" fad, Roger says nay at first, but eventually agrees to get a secretary under Harry immediately. (Insert Hildy joke here.)
Elsewhere, Don, Duck and Pete put their heads together on how to sell America's beer drinkers on the mysterious Dutch lager known as Heineken. Don suggests pitching it to housewives, who apparently labor over dinner and dishes whilst daydreaming of windmills and wooden shoes. Also they should tout its dinner party appeal, he says, by stocking it near the crackers and cheese instead of other beers. I wonder where he's getting these ideas from. It's almost as though he knows a homemaker of Nordic descent who is stocking up at the supermarket for just such a gathering.
Back at the Draper den, Batty is starting to go betty, or something. First she's dissatisfied with a wobbly chair, so she breaks it. Then she's like "nope still not broken enough," so she keeps going until it is splinters. Meanwhile the kids look on like What The Fudge, which makes Sally start thinking about fudge.
Father Gill phones the office and tells Peggy that the first draft of her flyer made a couple of old ladies scream and faint and violently shake their heads in disapproval over its sin-fueled headline, "A Night to Remember." Peggy doesn't see what's so sexual about it, because she is obviously a hell-bound whore. "Tell them this is the way it works, and I know better than them," she says with admirable conviction. "Can't you just speak with them?" Gill replies, because he's a whiny ineffectual hosebag and Catholic women are terrifying.
Joan walks into Harry's office and offers to find him a girl to read scripts, then realizes she wants to be that girl. He accepts. Later on at home, she's reading one for an outlandish daytime drama when she starts asking her M.D. husband-to-be some adorably daft questions about the plausibility of soap opera comas. She's really enthusiastic over this new gig, which means you know she won't get to keep it for long. It's too bad, because she's really good at it. For example, when Harry introduces her to the Maytag guys the next day, they're way too busy swooning into desks and tables and lamps and walls to have any hard feelings about being inadvertently aligned with The Red Menace.
It's party time at Casa Draper, and the guest of honor is a guy named Crab, who just usurped Duck as the character with the most delicious fucking name. Don, Roger, Tender Morsels of Savory Buttered Crab Meat and their wives are watching Sally "Little Miss Sunshine" her way through an awkward ballet routine. "They're performing Winnie the Pooh this year," Betty says, smiling through gritted teeth. "[Sally's] going to be Piglet," because of course she is. In other News of the Not Surprising, Duck shows up all dateless and depressed. "Sorry I'm late," he says, kicking invisible pebbles with his shoe. "I didn't wanna come stag." Don's like, "Nobody cares," which is awesome because it's really what he said.
Betty serves up some Heineken with dinner, excitedly introducing it as "ZOMG bier from Holland!!1!" Duck thinks Don put her up to it to prove a point, but really she's just an easily impressed housewife, the exact same demographic Don hoped to target. As the table applauds her husband's cleverness, Betty looks supes embarrassed and full ofrage.
Peggy meets with the Committee of Offended Old Ladies, and it's a pretty tough room. Aside from hating the event's name, they think the couples pictured on the flyer are dancing wayyy too close together, and would rather them stand on opposite sides of the illustration reading Bibles. Meanwhile Peggy hates their existence, and later asks Gill why she must answer to someone else's amateurish taste when he brought her on for her expertise.
At the Draper house, the guests are gone, and Betty is about to throw down. "You embarrassed me," she snarls. And Don's like "But baby, our fictional marriage helps me at my job all the time," which would have only worked to assuage her anger had she been present for his "Carousel" pitch. But none of that really matters anyway, because it's not really the Heinekens she's upset about. She tells him she knows. If Garth Brooks had written this episode, this is the part where thunder would roll.
"How could you?" Betty asks. "She's so old!" which is a pretty shallow complaint to offer up first, but still, she has a point. Don doesn't own up to it, though, and for a guy who lies all the time, he's not doing a very convincing job of it now. The best protest he can muster is "You think I would sleep with that woman?" as if he can't quite believe it himself. Maintaining his innocence, he goes off to bed and lies there with his eyes open, caught. Betty opts to sleep in Sally's bed for the night, where magically there is enough room.
The next morning at breakfast, Don saunters downstairs all chipper and remorseless while Betty looks haggard like a Walk of Shame victim. Ah, the conscience-sparing benefits of chronic dishonesty. After he goes off to work, she tears through his closet in search of lipsticked collars or lingering perfume, instead finding nothing in his pockets but ad slogans scribbled on napkins. Ironically, one of the ones we can decipher is that Season 1 classic, "What do women want? Any excuse to get closer," which Don came up with immediately after boning Midge. Betty's looking at honest-to-God evidence, but has no idea.
At work, Don, Duck and Pete meet with the Heineken people, and Duck praises Don's little homegrown "experiment." The execs are pretty impressed, and all it cost Don was his marriage.
After throwing herself dramatically onto various beds, Betty settles on one and passes out, still unshowered, still wearing her clothes from the night before. Don comes home to a dark, silent house where the kids have already been put to sleep. Betty walks downstairs and once again confronts her husband. "I would never do this to you," she says, which is really more like "I would only creepily fanaticize about doing this to you while leaning on an appliance." Later, Don is dozing on the couch when Betty comes back down, finally showered.
"I don't want it to be like this," she says.
"Me either. Nothing happened."
"Now you look me in the eye," she says.
Don does his best impression of a sad puppy. "I love you," he offers, eyes gleaming. "And I love the children. And I don't wanna lose all this." Betty relents a little.
At work the next day, Harry introduces Joan to her replacement, which she didn't really know he'd been looking for, perhaps hoping this would evolve into a Peggy-esque boost toward true respectability at Sterling Cooper. It doesn't help that Harry tasks Joan with getting the new guy up to speed, telling him "She knows everything about this." It helps less that he replies "That makes one of us!" Joan looks utterly heartbroken, and I wish I could console her with an intimate back massage.
Peggy brings Gill to the office to use the copy machine, and he takes the opportunity to try and get a confession out of her. "Do you feel you don't deserve [God's] love?" the priest asks, and Peggy dodges the question like it was shot at her in the Matrix.
Betty is at home doing her best Carmela Soprano, trying to be an oblivious housewife again, when Jimmy Barrett's annoying visage materializes in an Utz commercial behind her. Reminded of it all, she calls Don and tells him not to bother coming home. "I don't want to see you," she says.
In the final minutes, we get one of the most poignant episode endings since last season's "Babylon." Joan is at home, rubbing the irritated spot on her shoulder where her bra strap strains to hold up that massive chest maybe the only thing she'll ever have to offer. Peggy is taking the world's saddest bath, wishing she could hide from God. Father Gill disrobes in his tiny bedroom and breaks out his guitar, providing the background music as we close on Don, grabbing a Heineken from the fridge as he stands in a too-perfect kitchen. The camera pulls back, and we see that he's been banished to the office.
- The negative connotations inherent in Heineken's role in the destruction of Don's marriage draws a pretty ironic parallel to the kind of ad pairing snafu that got Harry in trouble. I wonder if that occured to them.
Don: "Crab, Duck. Duck, Crab."
Maybe I should stop watching this show on an empty stomach.