Mad Men
Out Of Town

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: B+ | 4 USERS: B+
YOU GRADE IT
Something Interruptus
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!
Welcome to Season Three! I'm loving how much great press the show's getting, aren't you? I can only hope the ratings see a spike because of it. All that said, this episode didn't grab me quite the way most of them have up to this point on first viewing, but it rather grew on me the second time around. Also, I thought last season's premiere was a little underwhelming too, and we know how that turned out. Anyway, let's get to it.

We start as usual with some close-ups: Pajama bottoms leading down to bare feet in front of a refrigerator; a burner on an electric stove coming to life in the dark; the lights flipping on as a pan is placed on top of the heated metal. Don, smoking a cigarette (guess that recurring cough he had last season hasn't worsened), pours some milk into the pot and idly stirs it, but his attention focuses when he hears some muffled crying. He looks up, and in front of him is a scene from the past: A woman in her late thirties, I'm guessing, is lying on a bed, shaky both physically and emotionally due to the fact that she's just delivered a stillborn, apparently not for the first time. She wonders why God has forsaken her, but the person to whom she's talking, a woman of a somewhat more advanced age, firmly tells her that God will give her a child. Her faith must be pretty strong for her to deliver that statement with such authority while holding a basin containing God's latest failed attempt. The would-be mother insists on taking a peek at the corpse, and after she does so, a surly, rugged man enters and snits, "So you killed another one." The midwife snaps back that possibly if he'd "get off her" every once in a while things like this wouldn't happen, and I agree, not just because it would relieve the physical strain but because the kid might be less inclined to commit suicide in utero were she less sure that Archie was going to be her father. Yes, these are the younger Archie and Abigail Whitman (played by the same actors they've always been), and I guess it's nice of the show to give us a reminder of how screwed up a childhood Don had before they make him into a big old cheater. Again. Archie growls at the midwife, who vamooses...

...and then after a cut to Don, the scene has changed, and we see a young man begging a pretty young woman to cut him a discount on her, uh, services. Of course, we know that Don's mother was a prostitute, so it's not a big leap to conclude that this is she. After some discussion about the fact that he doesn't have enough money for a "sheep," she consents to fulfill his needs, but "you get me in trouble, I'm gonna cut your dick off and boil it in hog fat." Looks like Don's gift for flowery speech wasn't inherited, although there's a certain similarity in the number of sexual partners they enjoy. We see Don smile at his mother's sassiness...

...but his amusement fades in a hurry as when we next cut over, she's obviously very sick, and from her severe shivering and renewed declarations that she's going to cut the guy's dick off, it seems like the childbirth has caused complications that are going to claim her life, as we already knew. The midwife from earlier asks the new mother if she'd like to hold her son, but she merely repeats her violent intentions...

...at which point the milk bubbles over the edge of the pot. Heh. Don snaps out of his little foray into his imagination (last time they set up a flashback like this, it was actually a memory of his) long enough to take the milk off the boil, but moments later he's right back in it, as he hears an urgent knocking. Turning, he sees Abigail answer the door late at night to find the midwife holding his newborn self in a bassinet. Smiling, she reminds Abigail that she said God would give her a child, but when Abigail asks whose it is, she declines to answer, instead asking if Archie's home. When Abigail now fails to respond, the midwife repeats that God is giving her a child, and adds that his name is Dick, "after a wish his mother should have lived to see." Excuse me while I involuntarily cross my legs. It's a guy thing. Without any need for further convincing, Abigail takes the bassinet from the midwife and withdraws back into the house, leaving Don to contemplate this information that he just...saw? Filled in from information Abigail and Uncle Mack gave him? Imagined? Always, on some level, knew? No time to wonder about that, because the milk is done...

...which he brings up to Betty to try to remedy the fact that she's having trouble sleeping, one possible reason for which is that she's very, very pregnant. She sits up and takes the milk from Don as she explains that whenever she's ready to drop off to sleep, the baby wakes up. Betty seems more chipper about that habit than you'd think, but the earlier scene certainly makes it seem like more of a blessing than it otherwise might. Don notes Betty's use of the feminine pronoun in referring to the baby, pointing out that Betty seems awfully sure of the gender, and Betty smiles in response: "She knows what she wants." She then points across the room and says she packed Don's valise, and he turns and sees it lying open. He offers that he could have done that, like, seriously, woman, this is the time you should be waited on hand and foot while you watch twenty-five hours of soap operas a day! Instead of seeing the wisdom of my words, Betty replies that Don will get a chance to pack the thing again, as the clasp is broken, and Carla told her she saw Sally hitting it with a hammer. "She's taken to your tools like a little lesbian." Hmm, was the "lesbians go to Home Depot" stereotype really that prevalent back then? Regardless, it seems like the writers' goal was to have him laugh at the slight on gays so as to make his attitude later seem surprising, but I never thought Don of all people would give a shit what consenting adults do. But moving on, Betty finishes the milk and lies back down as Don crawls into bed with her; she wonders if she'll ever sleep again before saying she just wants everything to be perfect for their new daughter's entrance into their home. He tells her to close her eyes, and after she complies, he relaxes her by having her visualize herself on a warm and sandy beach, the faint smell of coconut oil in the air. Betty notes, "You're good at this." Too good -- I knew I shouldn't have tried to recap this scene after dark. Good night!

Ah, that was refreshing. So in her office, Peggy, still sporting the hairdo that Kurt gave her, calls her secretary, "Lola," via the intercom, but the girl doesn't respond, so Peggy has to go outside and find her flirting with a cute but smarmy young Englishman. Peggy sharply calls Lola's name, and Lola clams up but looks defiant instead of chastened. Oh, honey. Despite your name, you are not going to get whatever you want if you displease one Peggy Olson. Cute But Smarmy Brit (his name, as we'll soon learn, is "John Hooker") tells Peggy she looks lovely, and she thanks him, but when she asks if he's there to see her, he says no -- he was just "verifying some information." So that's what the Brits are calling it these days. When he's gone, Lola gushes that he's always stopping by about the strangest things, but it's okay, because she could just listen to him read the phone book. Peggy: "Well, when he gets to 'S', I need Howard Sullivan at Lever Brothers." Hee. I'm telling you, Lola, don't cross her. She'll figure out how to get you fired while mining your life for ad-campaign fodder. Don't say you weren't warned.

In Bertram's office, another Brit, this one older and at the opposite end on the looks spectrum from John Hook

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