Mad Men: Nixon vs. Kennedy   Rewatch 
July 9, 2014 4:34 AM - Season 1, Episode 12 - Subscribe

On election night, the Sterling Cooper staff pulls a rowdy all-nighter while watching the returns. Pete's ambitions cause him to directly challenge Don.
posted by Sweetie Darling (22 comments total)
 
This is one of my favorite episodes.
posted by drezdn at 10:39 AM on July 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mine too!

I love the whole election night party, especially the reading of Paul's story.

Joan's face after Sal kisses her.

Harry and Hildy!

The first appearance of Jon Hamm's "Dick Whitman" face, all wide-eyed.

Also, poor Don Draper #1.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 12:07 PM on July 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Paul is so very much Orson Welles, and he does love it.

Poor Clark-Kenting Harry. Poor Hildy. And I'd totally forgotten about the Ken/Allison hookup here...
posted by RainyJay at 12:34 PM on July 9, 2014


The first appearance of Jon Hamm's "Dick Whitman" face, all wide-eyed.

Also the first glimmers of Don Draper as we know him, as the lady on the train hits on him.
posted by donajo at 2:33 PM on July 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


He was pretty hubba-hubba in that officer's uniform.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:51 PM on July 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Loved that Don only sees himself in Pete and vice versa when he's been knocked onto his ass/back into being Dick Whitman. Then it's like "oh, right, Pete, neither of us thought of what happens next. Let's go to the land of stockinged feet and roll the dice."

Don has always been an opportunist: it's how he got to be Don instead of Dick. Pete doesn't know how to do that yet. Bert put both the boys to shame. He restored what little order he could by just dismissing Pete's uncomfortable truths that no one, anywhere, wanted to hear. Don's a self-made man, a real one, like Bert, he just went a step further with it.
posted by RainyJay at 2:56 PM on July 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was creeped out by the party. Nixon, rum and creme de menthe is a disgusting combination. In that respect, I am very much a Peggy.
posted by donajo at 3:25 PM on July 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


The scene with Don and Rachel is so good too. "What are you, fifteen?" and "Oh my god, you haven't thought this through at all."
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:50 PM on July 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm still wondering why Joan stuck around for the party, could she look any more out of place?

I was glad I watched this again, all this time I thought it was Dick's stupidity that Don got killed, and in the re-viewing I see that neither man knew there was gas around to explode. It makes the stolen identity thing seem less craven.

Oh, and I'm here to tell you, I don't miss all that office sexism AT ALL!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:27 PM on July 9, 2014


Yes, this is a very good episode. There are so many great scenes.

I have a hard time watching the Don and Rachel scene, not because it isn't good, but because I feel such embarrassment for Don. He really shows his ass. Thankfully, Rachel calls him on it.

Rachel: "You don't want to run away with me. You just want to run away. You're a coward." OUCH.

Don doesn't live his life, his life lives itself. He gets dragged along with it. Not only did he not think through his impulse of wanting to run away with Rachel, he hasn't thought through a huge amount of material about himself and his life.
posted by cwest at 7:38 PM on July 9, 2014


Other stuff.

How much has Harry changed? It's funny to see him wear his conscience on his sleeve compared to what we have gotten from him the last two or three seasons.

Pete has driven himself half-mad with his ambition. The first time I watched this season there were several times where I thought Pete was truly going to lose it.

Don: "My research says I was not to call you Duck." Unreliable research, eh Don? The first hint that Duck Phillips is not going work out the way Don had planned.
posted by cwest at 7:51 PM on July 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


He was pretty hubba-hubba in that officer's uniform.

Shoot dang, you know that's right. His interactions with Rachel are not hubba-hubba, though. He disappointed me so hard when he tried to get her to run away with him... almost as hard as he disappointed Rachel. She's right on the money... at this stage in the game, Don is totally a big ol' coward.
posted by palomar at 2:00 PM on July 10, 2014


Did Paul call the agency "Sterling Coo"? Ew.

Don leaves the office, the "kids" pull out the booze and the TV, and the first thing NBC reports is that their computer tabulates Kennedy's odds at 22 to 1. Presaging, perhaps, the computer's growing role in decision making at firms like SC, while also leaving a lot to be desired in accuracy.

Of course Paul has absinthe in his office. Of COURSE he does.

Poor Hildy.

OK, now that I watch it again for the first time in years, I'm a little thick on this point--what does Dick Whitman hope to gain by switching dog tags with Don Draper? Dick still would have gotten his Purple Heart; he could have taken a train somewhere else to avoid his "family." All he gets, presumably, is a lieutenant's pension instead of a private's. Is that the gambit here?
posted by ChrisTN at 8:17 PM on July 10, 2014


OK, now that I watch it again for the first time in years, I'm a little thick on this point--what does Dick Whitman hope to gain by switching dog tags with Don Draper?

This is something I've always wondered about, and even thought about posting a question on AskMe about it. I finally settled on the explanation that it presented with him the kind of clean break he felt he needed to get out. By the time he went into the army, he was already in his early twenties (Dick was born in 1926, and the Korean War started in 1950, so he was at least 24), and still stuck with his family, in what probably seemed like a dead-end situation - this was a chance to get truly away.
posted by lunasol at 8:37 PM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Of course Paul has absinthe in his office. Of COURSE he does.

Except he doesn't, he just says he does. Of course.

Dick switches dog tags with Original Draper because OD is close to the end of his tour. By pretending to be OD, Dick gets to go home instead of serving out his tour.
posted by donajo at 8:39 PM on July 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


By pretending to be OD, Dick gets to go home instead of serving out his tour.

Thanks. I guess I'd always assumed that Purple Heart = ticket home. Good to know.
posted by ChrisTN at 8:55 PM on July 10, 2014


Also, that old Army class divide. An LT goes a lot father than Private Whitman after the war.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:51 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"This country was built and run by men with worse stories. "

Oh Bert.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:04 PM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


OK, now that I watch it again for the first time in years, I'm a little thick on this point--what does Dick Whitman hope to gain by switching dog tags with Don Draper?

He hopes to get OUT! Don only had a couple more weeks to go before being discharged. Dick didn't think it through any further than that. Dick had only just arrived and was looking at another 2 years in his tour.

Dick's injuries weren't enough to get him sent state-side, he would have gone back and been reassigned to another unit. After watching his LT get blowed up, I'm pretty sure he was over all that bullshit.

So now, he's out, and free as a bird. And with a college education in the bargain.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


And with a college education in the bargain.

Well, a college degree. I can't see him trying to make it as a licensed Architect.

"Line" of the episode, Joan re-assessing Sal after that kiss. Don's look to "Who cares?" wasn't bad either.

Harry, zowie. I definitely have a type, though I don't go for married guys if they aren't married to me in one way or another.

Despite everything going on, Joan really got a lot of screentime this episode, a lot of backstory for her.

Money ... Peggy lost $3 mad money (her pay is $35 a week so that's a chunk ... 10%ish). Pete has a $5.00 haircut and prep school and never had to work for anything in his life as far as Don can see. Whereas Pete thinks he's been working hard and Don just loafs around and comes up with good ideas.

Don really thought he was connecting with Rachel. Another self-made family (second generation self-making her way beyond her father's ability) ... but she's a fat ton more mature than he. He reboots back to his early teenage years ... Adam and Eve, great line, especially given his brother's name.

Seriously, if Adam is "the first man" than what the flip is he?

But she gave him the "You haven't thought this through" line that he turned around on Pete. She's not going to run off with the coward? Fine. Then he runs into Peggy, "Innocent people get hurt - and other people - people who are not good - get to walk around doing what they want."

Fortified by two women he respects at some level, he goes in. Calls Pete's bluff and sees what happens. He can still run if he falls.
posted by tilde at 6:47 PM on July 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


This episode establishes a pattern for Pete of carrying through on threats when he tries to leverage or blackmail others with information that he has. It's also a pattern that he usually comes by this information in less than appropriate ways (snooping Don's mail, seeing his father at a brothel. It's also blown up in his face real good more than once.

It always fascinated me that Pete felt like he had no choice but to carry out his threats. At the same time, the fact that he repeatedly has to do so indicates that he's not actually very good at blackmail.
posted by dry white toast at 11:04 PM on July 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


OK, now that I watch it again for the first time in years, I'm a little thick on this point--what does Dick Whitman hope to gain by switching dog tags with Don Draper?

Don gets to die as Dick Witman and send back a corpse to his family as proof of death. He gets to make exactly the sort of clean break that he is advocating to Rachel in this episode. To understand why he chooses to take that line in both cases, consider his childhood encounter with the hobo a few episodes back. The hobo talks about escaping a raft of suffocating problems- and in fact the pursuit of death itself - by cutting his ties and hitting the road in a form of rebirth. This seems to inspire Dick - who is in fact named an honorary hobo. The only thing holding him back from following the hobo at the time, was that he was still a child. Now he is not. To my mind, the promotion and the end of tour, are useful side effects of the switch.

In the case of both the original Dick to Don renaissance - and the escape he proposes to Rachel - there are indeed signs of cowardice and "not thinking things through". Since it is my first watch, I'm not sure that is going to happen to original Don's family and friends when his shoes are filled by new Don - but they are going to be deceived and lied to about the event. Dick's brother will also suffer.
posted by rongorongo at 11:10 PM on August 5, 2019


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