Mad Men

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Couch Baron: A | 6 USERS: A+
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A Lucky Strike

When Pete's gone, Peggy moves around Don's desk and, as he looks through his drawers for something, thanks him for a great first day, and then, more haltingly, for standing up for her to Pete. She puts her hand on top of his, and he regards it long and hard before moving it off and telling her sternly that he's her boss, not her boyfriend, and by the way, if she ever lets Pete go through his trash again, she'll get booted back across the East River faster than the subway can take her. Peggy, upset, says that Pete told her he left his fountain pen in Don's office, and she didn't know, and by the way, she hopes that Don doesn't think she's that kind of girl. Don softens and tells her of course not, and she should go home, and they'll get a fresh start the next day. But before she does, he needs her to place a call. The number must be EAT-CROW.

The Slipper Room! The set designers have studied the place, because it looks awfully like the real thing. Ken tells a pink-bunny-costumed cocktail waitress that he wants to see her at their table every fifteen minutes, whether she has drinks or not, and Harry amends that to every five. Sal and Paul are also joining Pete for his night of debauchery, and some women promptly join them. Ken informs the table that they work at the Automat, and he invited them to come. I'm actually old enough to remember the last Automat in New York City, which was on 42nd and 3rd, if I recall correctly. And tokens were fifty cents and the East Village was too dangerous to walk around in even in daylight and good God, is that my thirty-eighth birthday I see staring me in the face? ["Actually, Grandpa, there's a new Automat in town -- in the East Village, no less." -- Sars] Anyway, the girls all think Ken's the cutest, Sal makes another "Gay?" comment, and everyone's having a grand old time until Pete gets too insistently touchy-feely with one of the women, causing her to suggest to her friends that they leave. Faced with being the big pooper at his own party, Pete promises to behave, but the girl still goes and sits down next to Ken as she asks what they all do. Harry slurs that they're the finest ad men in New York. "Hell, the world!" We'll see if he's this confident next time Don's on vacation. The stripper onstage finishes her act, observed with serial-killer eyes by Pete. That'll happen.

In a more civilized cocktail room, Don is apparently attempting to mend fences with Rachel, and after the waiter drops off a "special" Mai Tai and a whiskey neat, Rachel, in a generously playful tone, asks if Don got in trouble for how he acted at the meeting. Don answers that question indirectly by apologizing for losing his temper and, basically, for talking down to her. She quickly accepts his apology, and says it was "refreshing" to hear out loud all the things she's assumed people have thought. I've been called some adjectives for doing the same thing, but I don't recall "refreshing" as being one of them. Don then turns the subject to Rachel's personal life, asking why she isn't married, and I'm just so certain he'd ask the same thing of an unmarried male in this situation. Rachel basically tells him that, somewhat bitterly saying that if she weren't a woman, she'd be allowed to turn the question around, and that she wouldn't have to choose between having a family and having a career. It's worth noting that Don doesn't seem to be wearing a wedding ring here, although I'm willing to believe that that's a character choice and not simply cheap misdirection, as he asks if the thrill of business is the reason she won't get married, and Rachel smiles and says yes, but also, she's never been in love. Don cynically tells her that love, the way she's thinking of it with the lightning bolt and the skipping through fields together, doesn't exist. "What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons." Rachel's unfazed by this declaration, so Don goes on that you're born alone and you die alone, and while the world tries to make you forget that truth, he never does. "I'm living like there's no tomorrow, because there isn't one." If he actually believes that, he must really hate Pete not to be out at his hedonistic bachelor party. Rachel sees deeper into Don than he intended, though, as she muses that she's never realized it before, but it must be hard to be a man. And it's important, I think, not to underestimate the importance of this point when thinking about how miserable the institution of marriage comes off on this show -- with men and women both pressured to fit into identities that clearly don't feel right or comfortable for them, what chance do they have to build a healthy relationship and family? Don's taken aback by this conversational turn, although he tries badly to hide it, but Rachel goes on that she doesn't know what Don actually believes in, but she does know what it's like to feel out of place, to be disconnected. "To see the whole world laid out in front of you the way other people live it. There's something about you that tells me you know it too." Don takes a moment and uncomfortably says he's not sure if that's true, and tries to deflect Rachel's spot-on reading of him by asking if she wants another drink, but she declines. Before she leaves, however, she informs him that he can tell Roger he charmed her, and she'll be back in the office Monday morning for a real meeting. Don says he'd like that, and Rachel heads for the exit...

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