Mad Men: Marriage of Figaro   Rewatch 
June 8, 2014 5:18 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Pete returns from his honeymoon. After his business relationship with Rachel takes an unforeseen turn, Don attends a party which further illuminates his increasing dissatisfaction with his present life.
posted by tracicle (80 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Did Don finish the playhouse?
posted by drezdn at 5:46 AM on June 8, 2014

It doesn't look like it...

I don't know why it wasn't obvious on first watch, but I never got why he showed up with the dog last time. I think I missed the scene with Rachel that explained it so clearly.

I found this episode really uncomfortable to watch the first time, and still hard to watch this time around. It hit a little close to home as the daughter of an alcoholic, I think. So I probably got much more out of it this time around. Plus having seven seasons more to process Don's drinking has helped.

So much awkward in that party! I hope they stop hitting us with the 1960-was-a-strange-time hammer soon. The scene where Francine's husband smacks the kid (I might be misremembering who did what; I watched it a few days ago now) and Don backs up the adult -- with his standard Quizzical Don Face.

I love Sally already and I want to bring her to my house and let her have a bit of normal, for a change.
posted by tracicle at 7:19 AM on June 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh, Peggy. This is not the last "It never happened" that you (or this show) will utter. So very much repression of feelings.

I too have enough alcoholics among my loved ones that a lot of Don's behavior, in all seasons, is really hard to watch. This is definitely one of those episodes.
posted by Stacey at 7:24 AM on June 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I hadn't picked up till this watching (or maybe I forgot) that Rachel's mother died in childbirth, just as Don's had.

The women being so cruel to Helen, so threatened by her "otherness," seemed right on the verge of being too broad and clich├ęd.

Carlton (who's such as ass) at one point says to Don, "we've got it all" - a carryover from last week.

Also I didn't remember the amount of attention that was spent on the little boy with polio. It felt more like set-dressing, to remind us that we're watching a show about Back Then.

But my favorite line? "That man." Don Draper in weekend clothes is a fine, fine thing indeed.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:17 AM on June 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Never noticed Francine flirting with Don (and then pointing out Helen talking to Don later).
posted by drezdn at 8:21 AM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another thought about Helen: The scene in the kitchen struck me because in just about every way, she is just like them. She went to Mount Holyoke, honeymooned in Rome. Her husband obviously does well (or she has family money) if she's able to settle in Ossining after a divorce. But maybe the difference is, she decided not to put up with the shit the other ladies do? I guess that's enough to be scary. They all seem to be in a contest to show who's the most narrow-minded.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

But maybe the difference is, she decided not to put up with the shit the other ladies do?

That's the way I read it.
posted by cwest at 8:26 AM on June 8, 2014

Helen's just a few years ahead of most of them.

Apparently the playhouse does get finished. I love the bit with the kids playing (and just repeating their parents).
posted by drezdn at 8:26 AM on June 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

I loved that too. Don and Helen, the two outsiders, contemplating their world in miniature (the playhouse and the kids).
posted by cwest at 8:32 AM on June 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

I wonder if Rachel or Fay will show up in the second half of the final season?
posted by drezdn at 9:03 AM on June 8, 2014

I think we had our closure with Rachel when Don runs into her later - S3, I think?

I've wondered about Faye since she knows The Secret.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:22 AM on June 8, 2014

When I first watched this episode, I didn't make a the connection between Don's conversation with Rachel and his getting the dog for Sally, but I wonder if the way Rachel talked about the German Shepherds as being her childhood companions stirred something up in Don.

More importantly, did he just steal Polly out of someone's backyard? I mean, where does one get a purebred, fully-grown Golden Retriever late at night? He didn't have the dog in the car when he was watching the train go by, so he must have picked up the dog on his way home.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:25 AM on June 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

Did anyone else on first watch think Don was going to try to outrun that train or do something else foolhardy? This show does dread so very well.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:28 AM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's Duck's dog fallen through time and space.
posted by drezdn at 9:35 AM on June 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

And maybe even breed.
posted by drezdn at 9:36 AM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Poor Chauncey. I've never forgiven Duck for that.

Speaking of disappearing dogs, does the show explain what happens to Polly? Or does she just disappear in later seasons?
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

It hit a little close to home as the daughter of an alcoholic

Yes, I had the same response to this episode (and even more so to season 6). The way Don goes off to get the birthday cake, disappears for hours, and then returns with a dog instead of a cake, is so typical. I really felt for Betty as she watched Don get to be the hero to his daughter when he's really acted like such an irresponsible jerk.

This is only somewhat related, but that scene reminded me of this thing my (alcoholic) father often did occasionally when I was growing up. Like Don, he would disappear for whatever reason, usually he was pissed about something, and then show up awhile later having stolen various flags/signs/whatever out of other people's yards. I think it was partially to amuse me, but even more so it allowed him to act out and rebel like the angry adolescent that he was at heart. As a very young kid I found that trick kind of entertaining, but I know it really pissed off my mother, and I totally understand why.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:09 AM on June 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

It was funny how perplexed Francine is with Helen taking walks.

Francine to Betty: "Where in the hell is she walking to?"


Francine to Helen: "You must have loved Paris. It's all walking."
posted by cwest at 10:12 AM on June 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Speaking of disappearing dogs, does the show explain what happens to Polly? Or does she just disappear in later seasons?

If I remember correctly, Henry didn't like the dog. Polly disappears later on without explanation. Not completely sure.
posted by cwest at 10:20 AM on June 8, 2014

I really felt for Betty as she watched Don get to be the hero to his daughter when he's really acted like such an irresponsible jerk.

Yeah, I felt so much rage on her behalf. Seeing her blank face and hearing her robotic "I don't know what to say" breaks my heart because it's obviously a mask, and she's forced to put her whole self into not letting it slip. Because what if it does? At best, she'd be ostracized like Helen Bishop.

I thought that Helen Bishop and Betty were really mirrored in this episode -- they're the ones with fancy degrees, they're the ones with foreign holidays, Helen pairs off with Don to watch the children play house in the yard as Betty freaks out, and Helen's the one who gets Sally's birthday cake (again as Betty freaks out). They're the ones who aimlessly keep going forward, walking or living with no sense of where they're trying to get to, an idea that none of the other ladies seem able to comprehend for some reason.
posted by rue72 at 10:26 AM on June 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Did she also say, "I don't know what to say," when she got the watch in the previous episode? I know it's said a lot, but it's an interesting contrast. It's a very clear repression of her emotions, whether positive or negative.
posted by tracicle at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm interested in that recurrence of "I don't know what to say," especially as I believe it's spoken mostly by women throughout the series. It's a verbal trick that, to me, says "I'm afraid to say what I'm actually thinking/feeling." Interesting in contrast to Don's constant repetition of "What do you want me to say?" He uses the question to deflect and avoid conflict too. Except that phrase is combative and places responsibility on the listener - "come up with my next line for me." I'll be keeping an eye on the two phrases through the rewatch.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 11:42 AM on June 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

I really love that you came up with the tag "Don Draper and His Poor Life Choices" for that story.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:28 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have no idea why that isn't the tag for every Mad Men story to be honest.
posted by The Whelk at 12:32 PM on June 8, 2014 [9 favorites]

It's weird but I think Mad Men won me over the first time with Helen and the conversations about her walking. Something about it just felt so right (though that may be because I am sure it is a conversation I overheard when I was Sally's age which caused me to realize early 80s small Midwestern small town wasn't that different than 1960s suburban New York).
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:36 PM on June 8, 2014

I have no idea why that isn't the tag for every Mad Men story to be honest.

Sometimes it's Roger's poor choices. Sometimes it's Peggy's. Don't narrow down the field.

And good for Francine addressing her confusion to the source! Those divorcees just want to walk around to scope out the (un)available men!

...Francine would hate me, and I love her so.
posted by RainyJay at 5:55 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

What struck me is the point where Don is filming, and sees the neighbor and his wife engaging in a kiss. Just like he kissed Rachel. And how he can't have that with Betty. And Betty is doing everything she was taught to do, and yet she can't connect with Don, the fear of losing him, hence, telling him to go get the cake when he was talking to Helen Bishop. She knows he is unfaithful, she knows something is wrong, and she really knows something is wrong when he comes home late with a dog. He's not even playing the game at that point. Yet she can't break the ice of propriety and politeness to really dig into him, she just delivers her zinger and walks away. Don is seeking a connection, and Betty can't give it to him the way Midge and Rachel and Peggy can. It's not her fault, and she gets it later with Henry, who is more gentle and not suck a jerk. Don is Betty's Bad Boy stage, I guess.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:40 PM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's strange that Betty would marry someone she essentially knew nothing about. Lust? No wonder Gene was so suspicious.

Betty spends all of the last episode trying so hard to get Don to tell her about himself. Because she LOVES him. And he acted like she is just nosy and shallow for wanting to know. After seven or eight years of marriage, no less. And The Secret doesn't excuse him being so dismissive.

Speaking of, by the time I watched S1 for the first time I already knew about Don/Dick (because I was working my way back from S3). You folks who watched in real time, what was your reaction to the scene on the train?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:59 PM on June 8, 2014

Personally, I was like, wtf? But it didn't hit me until Don started having flashbacks.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:09 PM on June 8, 2014

The other disconnect I have is Don being raised in such a hell hole... and then with whores in the whore house and how he left to go into the Army and got out by shamming it. And then he all of a sudden became this suave guy. How did that happen?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:21 PM on June 8, 2014

Must have been those night classes at City College.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:49 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

You folks who watched in real time, what was your reaction to the scene on the train?

I didn't watch it in real time, but I also didn't know about Dick Whitman when I saw this episode ... I just thought it was a weird thing meant to be sort of unsettling and ominous, the way a lot of things on this show are. I honestly had no idea that Don really was Dick Whitman.
posted by lunasol at 7:50 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The other disconnect I have is Don being raised in such a hell hole... and then with whores in the whore house and how he left to go into the Army and got out by shamming it. And then he all of a sudden became this suave guy. How did that happen?

I do kinda wish they'd gone into that more, since what we saw of Dick as a kid was so awkward.

The story I've made up in my head is that being surrounded by sex workers at a young age taught him how to construct a fantasy of connection and charm. He never really experienced real love as a child ("nobody loves Dick Whitman"), but he was surrounded by the artifice of it.

So once he got out of the service, and was untethered by his shitty family and background, that sense of freedom, combined with his movie-star looks, probably drew a lot of people to him, both women and men. And he didn't know what it was like to form a real connection with someone, but he knew how to create something that looked and felt enough like a connection to be successful.

He also had spent his whole life trying to blend in and be "just right." So once he got to New York and realized he wanted to be an adman, he had the skills to create himself in the image of the ad men he saw there.

Thus was suave Don Draper born.
posted by lunasol at 7:59 PM on June 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

That's a good hypothesis I guess. But how did he learn that? His little brother fell off the turnip truck, how did Dick/Don learn to navigate high society? Did Anna teach him?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:08 PM on June 8, 2014

I always assumed the lady who hit on him on the train (when they drop off the Don Draper/Dick Whitman body) taught him everything he knows.
posted by drezdn at 8:11 PM on June 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

This episode has an interesting structure--split in two, work and home. In some ways, Don's narrative at home seems to be the realist answer to Pete's hopeful optimism about his marriage.

And I actually buy that Pete really is that smitten by Trudy, and the concept of marriage, of coming home to dinner and love (God knows he didn't get that from his mother). He seems nothing if not an incredibly earnest guy. Whereas Don is the opposite of all that--all stoicism, heart locked tightly behind his sleeve.

And here we meet Glen. And he's perfect. Too quiet, a little weird. I always forget that he's supposed to be--what? Three, four years older than Sally?

Love the cast singing "For she's a jolly good fellow." I used to think that was what people did in the olden days, before I learned about the rights issues with the birthday song.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:34 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Very cute Peggy-centric supercut (with many spoilers; seems to have been made after S6). You may wish to mute the soundtrack, depending on your musical sensibilities.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:24 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Glen is nine, this is Sally's fifth birthday, I think 1955 was the year she was born.

The first time I saw Don/Dick greeted on the train, I thought it was a double take, then I didn't know wtf to think. It wasn't spoiled for me because I may have read something but it made sense when they wrapped it up.

"How may I help you?" - Carol at Men's jewlery - I had to triple check that wasn't Meredith from S4 on.
posted by tilde at 6:12 AM on June 9, 2014

Forget the All Night Puppy store, where did the cake go? Maybe Don actually traded the cake for Polly. At the end, Betty's washing the dishes and her "all thumbs" numb hands anxiety is back, she can't take off her dishwashing gloves.

Watching the gals in the kitchen; curious that Helen qualifies she'd do it all over again, even being with Glen's father. If it weren't for Matt's "dropped stitches" method of story telling, I'd think there was a different father for the baby. That still gets me, that until the kids are three or four they still just call them babies.

There were a lot of good choices for the line of the episode, though Helen and Don commenting on the not so varied crowds inside and outside the house was underscored by one of the nameless
children: "I like sleeping on the couch."
posted by tilde at 6:43 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I like the whorehouse theory of Dick learning to assimilate and fit in, lunasol. Plus, despite the timelines, as we'll see later, he didn't just pop into the ad business. Came into it by the side door from general sales jobs.
posted by tilde at 7:04 AM on June 9, 2014

I started watching in the middle of S2. I liked the show, so I began recording the rest of S2 and went back to the beginning of S1 to catch up.

By the end of Marriage of Figaro, I thought "Don Draper" was a top-notch confidence man. Well, he is in a way, but I mean a criminal, someone who defrauds other people, bolts, and then assumes another identity. Thought maybe his being an "advertising executive" and "family man" was his best and longest confidence trick yet.

I thought this because of the train motif. By this point we had seen him on the commuter train more than once. In ep2 Ladies Room, we get the first lonely train whistle in the distance which took place while Betty was sitting up in bed smoking while Don slept. She stubs out her cigarette, lays next to him, and says "Who is in there?" In ep3 we have Larry Kryszinski (?) ID'ing "Don" as "Dick Whitman." This takes place on the commuter train, of course. I took the name Dick Whitman to probably be his real name due to it being the one he had in the army.

And finally, he doesn't return to the birthday party and we see him sitting in his car smoking while a train goes past with the whistle blowing and the lights reflected in the windshield. I'm thinking by now that he's ready to abandon his life at moment's notice. A confidence man and ready to flee.

Other notes.

The couple that Don films, who are clearly in love, are named the Darlings. Joyce and Henry Darling. That's cute.

Joyce Darling later shows up in S5 ep3 Tea Leaves as a cancer patient who helps Betty deal with her cancer scare.

Hildy, Pete's secretary, still looks like she can barely tolerate him.

Sal looking at the centerfold in Playboy during the Secor Laxative meeting.

The strain of anti-semitism continues. Francine: "And believe me, those aren't the only giant noses you'll have to deal with." There are a couple of instances with other characters as well.

When Larry Kryszinski hands Don his business card on the train, the card is backlit and you can make out the letters IBM. Now that's attention to detail.
posted by cwest at 8:16 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wondered in the beginning about the train motif; the commuter train seems pretty standard for living in the country and working in the city, but it's called back on a lot later on. This early on I just figured he wanted a quiet place away to be, and a few episodes later it was more a call to "wrong side of the tracks" as well as escaping, I think.

I think he might have been thinking of taking off - Rachael mentions the dogs kept her from being lonely raised by just her dad (busy guy to boot) so that's why he gets Sally a dog. I'd not made that connection before. I saw a dog as a random white elephant gift because he can't get her a pony yet. And Rachael was strong enough to reject him, get him taken off of the account quietly.

And they paralleled the train scene too - Larry at the start and the innocuous helpful train conductor at the end. I know I jumped the first few times through when he got that second tap.
posted by tilde at 8:39 AM on June 9, 2014

And of course, as the show has gone on, the train motif has turned into an airplane motif, which makes sense as air travel becomes more common. Notably, cars were never a huge motif (Jaguar aside); only long-distance modes of transit. It's all about escape and forward motion and putting a lot of miles between you and whatever's weighing you down.
posted by lunasol at 8:46 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

motif is escape - will he - if so, how - where, when - with and without what ...

I really enjoyed the walk down memory's lane through Menken's. Reminded me of the old department stores from my youth built in the '10s and later. Mostly spent time in the 'basements' though, while mom shopped the bargains. :) Headless teddybears on the bedrooms floor? Noooooooooooooooooo!
posted by tilde at 11:18 AM on June 9, 2014

What was with the polio discussion? Did her kids get vaccinated, maybe in a trial, and it wasn't ... enough?
posted by tilde at 11:35 AM on June 9, 2014

This talk of where Dick learned to be Don reminded me of a passing thought I've had before.

I'm late to the Mad Men party but has anybody written the definitive piece about new identities, growing up in brothels, Don Draper, and Anna Madrigal?

Because the fact that typing "Don Draper" and "Anna Madrigal" into a search engine is not returning something relevant is blowing my mind.

Related: I am now taking notes on this re-watch (which will sooner than later become a watch for me) with a new project in mind just in case.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:17 PM on June 9, 2014

tilde : "What was with the polio discussion? Did her kids get vaccinated, maybe in a trial, and it wasn't ... enough?"

I'm curious about this question, but I can't remember the details of the conversation, so I'm not sure if you're question is just the to the conversation or just the time frame? Because as far as the time frame goes, my mom is only 2 years older (born in 1952) than Sally is supposed to be and she spent lots of time as a kid in the hospital - and has always walked with a limp - because of polio. Even though the vaccine was being tested in 1952, it didn't really roll out until the mid-50s, so depending on how old Kevin (the kid with polio) is supposed to be, this all seemed right on to me.

(I mean as "right on" as a conversation where people tsk-tsk about the poor parents of somebody with disability can actually be.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:53 PM on June 9, 2014

As soon as I hit post, I remembered the conversation more. I took they were saying that they were glad for the vaccine for other kids but wasn't it too bad it wasn't soon enough to be helpful for their kid.

Like my mom, Kevin would have been an outlier at the end of the (hopefully) last US polio epidemic.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:56 PM on June 9, 2014

Yeah, my uncle had polio as a child and he's in his early 60s. He has one very wasted leg but is still mobile (for the time being; it's likely he'll soon end up in a wheelchair). He's in New Zealand though, we got the vaccine in 1957, two years after it was developed. Apparently the last case in NZ was 1962.
posted by tracicle at 1:01 PM on June 9, 2014

I always assumed the lady who hit on him on the train (when they drop off the Don Draper/Dick Whitman body) taught him everything he knows.

That's pretty much my theory as well -- as we see in that scene, Don is dealing with the shock of seeing his family waiting at the train station to pick up the body they think is his, and he's sort of flustered and taken aback when this attractive young woman starts the full-court press on him, all "Oh you poor dear, you're so young and handsome in your uniform and I bet you've seen some horrors, come let me buy you a drink and then I will thank you for your service by offering you my vagina," and he just sort of lets her take the lead. I can easily see that happening a few times, actually. He's an attractive young man, ladies are getting more forward and making the first move... he wouldn't have had to be an instant Lothario in order to have grown into the creature we meet in the first season. He just would have had to learn how to pick up ladies, and that's a skill he could have learned well enough by letting some enterprising ladies pick him up.
posted by palomar at 3:09 PM on June 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Thanks on the Polio explanation. Unstated are the comments she gets about "too bad the vaccine wasn't available for him in time".

I do love how Rachael didn't take his respinning if what happened at her last meeting with him even though she's opening herself up to his charms.
posted by tilde at 3:31 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Re: Were Don got the dog. I'm going to choose to believe that the wise hobo (coming up soon) taught more than just that Don's dad was a jerk — he taught Don where to find 24 hour hobo exchanges in every town, where bread could be traded for a new bindle or cake could be swapped for a dog.
posted by drezdn at 8:57 PM on June 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Force shadowing hobos! But ties into the escape and railroad themes! ;)

Busy this week with the last week of school activities but my other random thoughts during the episode:

Pete sorta tries to be a grown up while still being a little fratty/bratty. Striding into the meeting late, projecting a confident opinion about the Beetle ad, but is stomped by Roger.

Joan is just chilling with the gals and big sistering Peggy a bit more. She's got her hope chest with her toothbrush and a change of clothes in her giant purse. I don't know how she's got a change of clothes in there, I'm guessing a change of underclothes and she'd change into her spare at the office (that we'll see later). I know I always keep a spare top and bottom at the office mostly because I'm a super messy eater. :P

I don't get how Betty's and Francine's curls/ers in the kitchen turn into their hairstyles. I know it's TV but still. Francine looks like she went with a bun but I just can't get there from here. Mostly because I can't really do it but it's probably based on having different hair from Betty and everyone else on Pintrest I try to copy.

Runner up line of the episode: Pete: "Honesty. It's a great angle."
posted by tilde at 6:21 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Rachel being snidely called Molly Goldberg is a reference to Gertrude Berg's character on her TV/radio show. Aviva Kempner made the doc Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg about her.

Molly is the epitome of the nurturing Jewish mother, completely unlike elegant Rachel.
posted by brujita at 6:38 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by tilde at 6:46 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

The couple kissing were married, just not to each other (I'm thinking). Don is filming and it's all so...not what it's supposed to be. All these 'happy couples' but none of them is happy. He's sent out to buy the cake, and at this time is three sheets to the wind.

The nerve of Betty to not be fulfilled and happy with all of this, even though he hates it with a passion. He went out and did what he was supposed to, he married a beautiful woman/girl, had babies, bought a big house in the suburbs and even came through with the golden retriever. So why is it that Betty is messed up and angry all the time? She's not a person for heaven's sake, she's his WIFE!

So there's Rachel, and she's real, and she says what's on her mind and she calls him on his bullshit AND she's not taking any shit from him, and he's in LOVE! Because that's a real person with agency and they could connect and have a relationship.

No wonder he took off. That's what he does when he's overwhelmed and out of ideas and options. (As we'll see later.) Only the older he gets, the more people are left broken in his wake.

So he comes back with a dog, and for a moment everything is all Normal Rockwell again, but now he knows. it's all a facade. No one is happy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:54 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nope, on re-re-watch the kissing couple is definitely the Darlings, as referenced above. It adds to Don's angst (brings a little tear to his eye!), I think, because it's real - their affection isn't for show in front of other people. Also, Carlton had just hit on Helen which is just gross.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:12 AM on June 10, 2014

I agree, and also, the Darlings' kiss was lovely. Who wouldn't want to be them in that moment?

Don's whole home is just an advertisement (beautiful house, beautiful wife, beautiful kids) for the "product" that the Darlings actually have, real love and *intimacy.* The kids' plywood playhouse is to Don and Betty's home/marriage as Don and Betty's home/marriage is to the Darlings'.

I think that Don is actually pretty good at love, but he's The Pits when it comes to intimacy. Betty is even worse, though.
posted by rue72 at 11:31 AM on June 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Can the Darlings not have kids or something? There's some edge to them as a couple that makes it clear they've been through some hard times.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2014

I saw that, too, Potomac Avenue, when I was rewatching. She has an odd reaction to the guy telling the "your lawyer and your wife are drowning" joke.

I think they do have kids - but thinking ahead to "Tea Leaves," is she at the oncologist for a *return* of cancer?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2014

(By odd, I mean she doesn't pretend it's funny.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2014

Are they the ones with the kid w polio?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:19 PM on June 10, 2014

This might have something to do with Marriage of Figaro, the opera. I keep writing and deleting something comparing Don to Count Almaviva (not to mention his resemblance to a more famous Mozart "Don") but instead I'll just link to the plot description and let you draw your own parallels.

I've caught snatches of the aria from the play that the episode plays during their party scenes, but I can't find a record in any wikis about what it might be and why it is used. Oh wait here's a TWP post abo--shit.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:27 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

... denunciation of aristocratic privilege ... What I know about it I know from Bugs Bunny and the movie Amadeus. Plus they were playing the music during the episode on the stereo.

Never seen MoF. Though some of the themes can be applied as well as what is linked above, Don's dissatisfaction with aristocratic privilege ... maybe even Peggy and Pete as he tells her they can't have an affair anymore (even though they did have it just before he married on his way home from his bachelor party).

The other marriage theme is carried with "Lady Chatterly's Lover" - another classic I've not consumed ... "he's married, she's married" ...

Harry hits it with the "Your wife will need round the clock care ... kidding she's dead" and then the joke at the party "Your wife and your lawyer are drowning and you need to make a decision - go to the lunch or a movie ..."

I checked it at lunch, polio kid (Chief Tiny Tim?) belongs to Marylin and Jack (the boy is Kevin).

The Darlings are discomfited at the lawyer wife joke Chet tells, I think Mr Henry Darling is a lawyer.

I heart Betty's party dress so much.
posted by tilde at 1:42 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think I realized until this re-watch that Don doesn't like Pete because he sees Pete and someone who has everything handed to him and Don sees himself as a self-made man ("like Richard Nixon").

Pete's parents are as much of a sham as Don's home life.
posted by drezdn at 1:46 PM on June 10, 2014

Yep, Kevin with his braces and feathers is "Chief Tiny Tim" - just found my notes.

Captioning showed [Joan Sutherland singing in Italian] as Don filmed and as Carlton tried to wedge his way into Helen Bishop's life and then she shut him the heck down.
posted by tilde at 1:55 PM on June 10, 2014

Whoa, also from IMDB

"Factual errors
During the party scene, a radio announcer introduces a opera broadcast of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro as staring Robert Merrill and Joan Sutherland. Neither Robert Merrill or Joan Sutherland included leading roles in Figaro in their repertoire. "
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2014

Pete's parents are as much of a sham as Don's home life.

Hence my theory around when Bob Benson came on board that Pete was the product of an affair and an unwitting Don Draper ... (forward spoliers in there or I'd just c&p the comment).
posted by tilde at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Joan Sutherland very famously starred in Don Giovanni in 61 at the Met.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:09 PM on June 10, 2014

She'd been the lead in DG many times, throughout the 50s and 60s. But she never sand TMOF. WTF is Weiner pulling?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:11 PM on June 10, 2014

Maybe he pulled her understudy tapes, it was cheaper? ;)
posted by tilde at 2:12 PM on June 10, 2014

hahaha well it's uncredited so he maybe he just stole the soundtrack from somewhere.

I think there's something here though. I'd like to go through the ep and see where the two arias and the overture appear.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:15 PM on June 10, 2014

I noticed yesterday that one of my favorite MM sites, Basket of Kisses (, is offline. I hope it's not permanent!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:44 PM on June 10, 2014

Weiner pulling... *snicker*
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:57 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:03 PM on June 10, 2014

It feels as if Don is uncomfortable with people in his home, and his wife running the party with her neighbors and friends and being told, multiple times, what he needs to be doing and not doing (put together the play house, take movies, get the cake, don't use the powder room).

As someone who is a wreck before, during, and after gatherings at home (even if it's "just family") I totally relate.
posted by tilde at 5:37 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

"She has an odd reaction to the guy telling the "your lawyer and your wife are drowning" joke.
Huh. I always interpreted the look that passed between the darlings as being a shared distaste for how sexist the joke was - the idea being that the Darlings' obviously happy marriage was built on shared respect, and particularly respect for the wife by the husband, that may have been (or is presented in the show as being) unusual for the time.
posted by acanthous at 1:00 PM on June 11, 2014

"Who put the Chinamen in my office?" Oh, Pete.

This episode reminded me how much I liked Rachel, and the story behind Menken's Department Store, rising from the ashes of the Depression. There are quite a few characters whose stories are their own version of the "American Dream"--starting with humble beginnings and struggling to make better lives for themselves, purportedly as self-made women/men. Don is the prime example of this, of course. It's always interesting to see the details of how it looks different for each one.

I'm so ignorant--until I noticed Betty making the mint juleps at the party, I guess I'd always assumed that home seltzer makers weren't really a "thing" until Sodastream popularized them a few years ago. Not so much, huh?

"It's not the [off-Broadway show] where they take their clothes off, is it?" Were they thinking of one in particular? Too early for Oh, Calcutta! or Hair...
posted by ChrisTN at 6:32 PM on June 22, 2014

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