Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A- | 4 USERS: C+
I Went To A Garden Party…
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!
Yay for the fourth-season pickup! Looks like AMC wised up.

It's time to make that awful Patio concept a reality, and a redhead wearing what looks like a wedding cake with liberal amounts of pink frosting is detailing her acting experience for the Casting room, which includes Sal, Smith (since they were hired as a team, I'm taking this as an indication that Kurt survived the firings as well, which pleases me), Paul, Peggy, and Harry. The girl's trouble in coming up with the name "Molière" while going down her résumé is, I believe, the show's shorthand for "bimbo," but that doesn't stop Harry (why would it) from goofily grinning at her and asking her to do some Ann-Margret-esque move he refers to as "that twist" for them one more time. She obliges, and as soon as Peggy chokes back a bit of peptic acid, she dismisses the girl before informing Harry that he's not part of their process and should confine himself to being a spectator. "Don't forget it." I kind of hope he does forget it, Peggy, just so I can hear you tell him how it is again. Ken and Pete then enter, seeming more comfortable now with their shared-king status, and Ken informs the room that Bacardi is coming in on Tuesday to see if "'Daiquiri Beach' has legs," and this schedule means that Creative will have to churn out ideas over the weekend. Everyone protests, including Peggy, who says she has plans. Hilariously, everyone looks at her with the equivalent of a raised eyebrow, so she adds, "I really do!" Heh. Harry makes a possibly earned but still snotty comment Peggy's way about how he won't be working, given his spectator status, and then Ken tells the group that he and Pete won't be around either, as they'll be attending Jane and Roger's Kentucky Derby garden party out on Long Island. Harry: "Are any of you wearing seersucker? I don't want to look like a barbershop quartet." Well, that's an image I'm not going to get out of my head anytime soon. The only question is who will be their fourth, and I hope he'll forgive me but I nominate Bertram. It's not like he has much else to do these days. Harry does mention he wishes he weren't going, presumably foreshadowing his later social awkwardness but also giving Paul the opportunity to suggest, "Give me your glasses. I'll go as you." Heh. Nice one, Harry. When Accounts and Television are gone, Paul sighs that they all started at the same time. Sal: "I've been here six years longer than you." That sounds bad, but I'd at least guess that the pre-Paul years seemed shorter. Peggy notes, "They hate Creative," and gets no argument from anyone in or out of the room.

In the main area, Joan's heading out, presumably to lunch, with a couple of girls when she sees Jane approaching. After inwardly smiling about the fact that she just got a manicure, she catches Jane's eye, who gives her a smile as wide as it is fake before saying, referring to Joan's plans to leave SC, that she didn't expect to see her. Joan, twice as fakely, says she'll be there for just a little while longer, and then one of her minions tosses out that it's good to see Jane..."I mean, Mrs. Sterling." That one hangs in the air for a good long moment before Joan dismisses her underlings, and Jane tells her she's just stopping by after having her rings resized. "I keep losing weight." Other than the affirmation of her newfound status, that's surely meant as a dig at Joan's full figure, but bragging about how she doesn't eat is going to come back to haunt her before the episode's end. Putting her bitch drive up into third, she asks where Joan is living, and Joan tells her they're in the same place, but are looking at getting a house with a yard up in Riverdale. Jane hits the open road by saying she gets a nosebleed anywhere above 86th Street before giving Joan some instructions having to do with her chauffeur, and when she's gone, Joan takes a long moment to swallow what she just had to endure from her replacement. Not that I necessarily think that Joan really wanted to be married to Roger, in the end, but I think they both told themselves and each other that they knew that wasn't a possibility, so it has to hurt Joan, at least a little, to have seen him dump his wife for another, even younger, office girl, not to mention that it takes away from Joan's apparent victory at being the one to find true love. Add in the fact that this episode is all about social status, and you see how truly significant this little exchange is. Of course, if Joan were really married to a wonderful guy, she'd forget about all this by the time she reaches the elevator, but...well, I don't want to get too ahead of myself. (But in case you want a preview: Greg, on top of everything else, is a loser.)

Peggy tells her new secretary, a buttoned-up matron-aged woman named "Olive," that there's no further need to include Harry in Casting notices. Heh. After acknowledging that, Olive shows her willingness to serve by holding out two cups and offering Peggy her choice of tea or coffee, saying she'll drink whichever one Peggy doesn't want. Peggy chooses coffee, pointing out that it's what she normally drinks, but Olive clarifies that she's offering the choice because Lola said a second cup makes Peggy edgy. Peggy: "I want you to forget everything Lola told you." She's already on fire this episode, which makes her later pot-fueled lines no surprise. But I was thinking, given that Lola would have interfered with the image of Peggy's ascendancy this episode is pushing on us hard, that maybe it was a little convenient that the anti-Peggy Lola disappeared, but then I realized that she's probably working for the also-thankfully-absent Hooker, who as you'll remember was offered his choice of girls to do his typing. Not that I miss her, but I love that the show has an actual reason for giving me what I wanted.

When Don arrives home, Betty tells him she went out for an hour to pick up some nylons, presumably for the garden party, and came back to find, as she shows Don, an entire pot full of peeled potatoes. "Carla said [Gene] thought he was on KP duty." I bet Carla would be a lot happier with him if he'd cleaned the latrines for her instead. Don takes this as a reason to suggest not attending, his ulterior motive being that he is not thrilled about hanging with Roger and Jane, but Betty says she wants to go, and she even bought a dress for the occasion. By the way, Don's pouring himself a drink here, and while it's a nice touch that he's not keeping the liquor on a high shelf, after last week I would have thought he'd go one step further and put the stuff under lock and key. Betty continues to subtly display her newfound ability to assert herself in the partnership as she takes the drink Don just poured for himself, and there's another reason Don's going to seek out an unpopulated bar later on.

Sally's reading to Gene from The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, and that may not be the most subtle way to foreshadow all the coming upheaval this season, but she is just a kid. But while I'm at it, I think I see better what this season is about now; it's not merely looking at people's attitude toward change but at their ability to say goodbye and to move on from great loss, the most cataclysmic example coming (I don't think I'm spoiling anything here, since they pointed to it so dramatically last episode) with the JFK assassination at, I'm guessing, the end of the season. Anyway, Sally is at least reading, if not learning, an awful lot of SAT words, but Don interrupts the vocabulary session (and description of Antioch being a hedonistic and shallow society) to inform Sally that it's time for bed. Gene, after implying that Don's vain and focused on pleasure by asking him how Babylon is, dismisses her with an admonition to "wash [her] tee

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