Out of My Mind

The Musings of a Woman Who Thinks Too Much

Nelle Engoron

Nelle Engoron
Location
California,
Birthday
May 01
Bio
You can email me at "nengoron@gmaildotcom" & follow @NelleEngoron on Twitter. My archived radio shows on last season's Mad Men are available (for free!) at: www.blogtalkradio.com/madmentalk **My "Mad Men" commentary for Season 5 is on Salon rather than here -- go to http://www.salon.com/writer/ nelle_engoron/ to find all my Salon articles. **My book, "Mad Men Unmasked: Decoding Season 4," is available on Amazon in both e-book and print versions.** I'm a writer/editor/consultant who lives in the SF Bay Area. I write about all kinds of things, but am particularly intrigued by movies, relationships, gender issues, belief systems and "Mad Men." (Scroll down left sidebar for links to a selection of my blog posts.) I'm working on a novel and a memoir, neither of which is about Mad Men!

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Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 26, 2009 6:07AM

The Hobo and The Gypsy: Mad Men, Season 3, Episode 11

Rate: 27 Flag

 the drapers at halloween


What happened, did you get caught? ~ Suzanne

It’s more complicated than that. ~ Don


In Season 1’s brilliant episode of Mad Men, “The Hobo Code,” we learned about Dick Whitman’s childhood by focusing on a time that a hobo visited his father’s Depression-era farm, seeking shelter and food and a bit of money for some work, only to be cheated by Archie Whitman’s meanness (in both senses of that word).   The young Dick seems fascinated by the vagabond, who teaches him about “the hobo code” – the chalk signs that hobos of that era left on fences or walls to inform the next vagrant who came by whether the person who lived there was kind and generous or a cheat like Archie.  (Think Twitter for the 1930’s.)

But of course (like almost everything in this series), “the hobo code” has two meanings, which have become more apparent as the show goes.  Don has been living by the hobo’s code, which is to move through a world but not belong to it, or to the families or homes you visit, and his struggle throughout the entire series has been about deciding whether to remain a hobo, a man without a real home or identity, or to take the risk of becoming a real person, including fully committing himself to his family.  By signing a contract at work recently, he put the first nail in the coffin of his hobo life, but he did not look happy about it, and in cheating more seriously and close to home with Suzanne, he seemed to actively un-do that act in a spasm of rebelliousness against commitment.

 

What’s taking so long?  ~ Bobby, channeling legions of MM viewers

In Episode 11 of Season 3, "The Hobo and The Gypsy" (a parallel identity that Don has also inhabited), Don is finally confronted with the costume he has been wearing, as artificial as the ones his children take on at episode’s end.  In shedding it, Don finally learns that intimacy can only arise out of authenticity and truth. But before we get to the dramatic denouement that we’ve all been waiting for, we see two other sets of characters debate issues of identity and truth-telling as they try to make peace with their past dreams – and demons.    


I wasn’t sure about coming back here. ~ Annabelle


Roger is visited by an old flame, Annabelle, with whom he shared a Lost Generation love affair in Paris, “on vacation while other people were jumping out of windows” after the 1929 stock market crash.  Both spoiled heirs to family fortunes, Annabelle nevertheless had callously dumped  Roger for lacking direction, breaking his heart.  Now a widow, she wants to rekindle their love affair, having realized that Roger was “the one” as well as “the one that got away” but Roger has to gently but firmly break the news to her that she wasn’t, for him, turning down her advances by calling himself a happy newlywed and insisting that “this girl is different.”  But which girl?  Given how much more appealing Annabelle is than the utterly vapid Jane (at least to this middle-aged woman viewer), we have to believe that Roger (who loves living up to his name) must genuinely be in love with someone, but whether it's Jane or Joan, we are left to wonder.

Having failed in her quest for love, Annabelle is still hoping for a miracle to save her family horse farm, which is literally looking like the dog’s dinner.  Throughout the episode, we are reminded of Shakespeare’s immortal question, “What’s in a name?” -- but while a rose by any other name might smell as sweet, in the wake of the 1962 film, The Misfits (a title that fits so many MM characters), horsemeat stinks.  People have become squeamish about what’s in dog food, a hypocrisy which Annabelle ascribes to the fact that unlike “beef” and “poultry,” there is no euphemism to make horsemeat palatable.  Despite her recognition of the power of words, she wants Sterling Cooper to solve the problem without any change in the formula or the name, because her father came up with it.

Don’t change the name, don’t change the product.  Got it.  ~ Don

As with other agreements Don enters into, this one is made to be broken.  As he will later with Betty, he has to explain the hard truth to Annabelle, saying “the name has been poisoned” and must be changed, arguing against her sentimentality with “it’s just a label on a can” and the real point is that “it’s a quality product.”  Just as Smitty has his head-slapping moment of realizing that the focus group dog owners are describing themselves in how they characterize their dogs (prompting one of Don’s trademark dry-as-toast comebacks, “This your first group?”), so too is Don describing and also selling himself, as he’s done every day since becoming Don Draper.  While acknowledging the value of a product’s (or a person’s) name, he sees no reason to be attached to it when necessity argues otherwise.

Annabelle, however, is having none of it, still valuing patrimony in a way that Don has left far behind (perhaps because his father was an SOB – but then so was Annabelle’s, according to Bert).  Annabelle and Don may have both eaten horsemeat (a fact that seems to shock Roger when Don says it) but we immediately know without being told that she had it in a bistro in Paris and Don had it on the farm, probably because a horse had to be put down, and meat couldn’t be wasted.  From such life experiences come different values, ones that also separate him from his upper middle class wife, as well as from silver spoon mouthed Roger.

In the end, Annabelle can’t handle the truth, either from the horse’s mouth (Don) or the horse’s ass (Roger) and so gets back on her high horse and leaves Sterling Cooper in the dust.

I can’t turn it off – it’s actually happening.
~ Peggy on the truth (about dog food for starters).




I realized there are other ways to heal people rather than cutting them open. ~ Greg

Our next two players in this episode of Truth or Consequences are Joan and Greg.  While Greg mopes around, bemoaning his lost dream of being a general surgeon (if not Surgeon General), the ever-resourceful Joan calls up Roger to ask if he could possibly find her a better job, and the tender, funny, intimate conversation between the two leaves you wondering if Roger is being honest about which girl he’s in love with.

I like that you thought of me – to ask.  You want to be on some people’s minds; some people’s you don’t.  ~ Roger to Joan

Greg is half-heartedly pursuing his new career plan to be a psychiatrist, and practices interviewing with Joan (who I’d hire to be my coach any day) while revealing his disdain for the tenets of the profession.  After first evading her question about why he’s choosing psychiatry by saying, “That’s kind of personal,” he surprises Joan (but not us) with the news that his father once suffered a nervous breakdown.  Showing she too wants authenticity, Joan compliments him on how he comes across when talking with honesty and vulnerability, but Greg scoffs at the idea of openness and so blows his interview and the chance to hear other people open up about their feelings for the next 40 years.  

After throwing a toddleresque tantrum ending with the immortal words, “You don’t know what it’s like to want something your whole life and count on it and not get it, OK?” – making plain his belief that women couldn’t possibly have dreams or ambitions -- Joan shows she knows a thing or two about shrinking heads by throwing a vase at his fat thick one (yeah, Joanie!) to get it back down to manageable size.   

Look at you, figuring things out for yourself!
~ Joan to Roger, who catches on faster than Greg

Chastened (or perhaps brain-damaged), Greg comes up with a solution that makes him nearly bust with pride, even as he admits how obvious it was all along:  He’s going to Be All He Can Be in the Army, which is so desperate for doctors, they’ll even take Dr. Cut Up (as Roger calls him), giving him a surgical residency and making him a Captain.  Of course, later he might have to go to Germany or even Viet Nam “if that’s still going on” but he doubts it.  

Joan looks stunned at this news, but also relieved and happy.  Greg assures her that she won’t have to work anymore because Uncle Sam will take care of both of them, but given we’ve heard Roger recommend her to a fellow exec who needs someone to organize his office, I foresee a conflict coming in which Joan will have to decide if she’s really ready to put her feet up and get knocked up, or if she misses the authority she had at work more than she wants to admit.

I can’t believe I never told you that.  ~ Greg to Joan




Where do you want me to start?  ~ Don

Interesting as they are, these storylines are mere warm-ups for the heavyweight match of Truth or Consequences between Betty and Don.

Betty learns the truth of her situation and the consequences of a potential divorce when she takes the kids to visit her father’s house and negotiates with her brother William over selling it.  He wants to buy her out, but not at market price, but that’s not even the bad news.  That comes from the family lawyer, Milton, who Betty asks for advice about her marriage, confessing what she hasn’t even spoken aloud yet – that her husband has deceived her and everyone else.

Milton seems unfazed by this news (leaving me to wonder…isn’t there something called matrimonial fraud, and if so, wouldn’t this qualify?) and instead paints Betty a grim picture of New York divorce law – she won’t get any money and Don could even get the kids.  True to the time, he asks her the two key questions women in her situation were always asked:  Does Don hurt her?  (Although in the upper middle class manner, he delicately phrases it as whether he "scares" her.)  And:  Is he a good provider?  Hearing her answers, he advises her to go home and work things out with the father of her three children.

I just wanted more than I thought I would want, but it will pass.  I know for a fact it will.  ~ Suzanne

With cold legal water thrown in her face, Betty surprises Don by coming home sooner than expected – and just as he’s about to leave on a getaway with Suzanne, who has realized that she wants more and is beginning to push for it, a move that surprisingly Don responds to, revealing how close he is to abandoning his marriage.  

But Betty’s showdown at the “You’re Not OK Corral” not only wipes that possibility off the map, it even seems to make Don forget Suzanne is out in the car waiting for him.  Or at least it felt that way, and I’m sure I’m not the only viewer who was on tenterhooks, expecting Suzanne to burst in just as Don and Betty finally had it out (a scripting mistake, in my opinion, that undercut the intense dramatic power of this confrontation that we’ve waited so very long for).

Don at first resists Betty’s demand that he open up his Drawer of Mystery, and his vehement “this is my desk – it’s private” speech suggests that a man’s desk is like a woman’s purse – not to be trifled with unless you have permission to enter.  Given that in psychological terms, a woman’s purse is considered analogous to her vagina, I guess that means those big ole wooden desks represent a man’s privates.  Certainly in this case, we know the desk hides Don’s Dick.

I don’t even know him.  I met him at the wedding. ~ Milton the lawyer about Don, but seemingly channeling Betty

In an extended and masterfully played scene (by both actors), Don not only comes clean (well, mostly) with Betty about his life, narrating it with the family pictures she’s uncovered, but also finally allows himself the emotional release for what he’s lost (especially Adam) as well as for what he’s gaining (authenticity and intimacy with Betty).  It’s heartbreaking to see Don finally acknowledge that he drove Adam to his death by denying him the contact that he wanted, and that it came about because he didn’t want to risk losing the life that he’d created as Don.

“He hung himself,” he tells Betty bluntly, and that’s true not just of Adam but Don as well, who killed his birth identity and hung himself in taking a new identity, with all the strictures that such a deception entails.

We also see the shadow self that lurks underneath the ever-confident Don Draper:  namely the self-loathing Dick Whitman, who answers Betty’s “What would you do if you were me?  Would you love you?” with “I’m surprised you ever loved me.”  

Betty’s response, “Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?” is satisfying in a way almost all of her dialogue is here, as she finally takes charge of her life and her relationship, not letting Don get away with anything, calling him a “very very gifted storyteller” who can explain anything while still saying nothing.  But Don’s response to that question, “I don’t know,” seems utterly sincere.  We see that he isn’t speaking from self-pity as Betty suspects but instead, having opened up a vein, is now pouring out the truth like blood that can’t be stopped.

Yet even in spilling his story with seeming relief, Don fudges a few facts, saying that the Army mixed up the identities and not that he deliberately exchanged the dog tags, using the classic rationalization, “I didn’t think I had a choice and I don’t know what the difference is.”  And when Betty catches his lie about getting divorced from Anna “the minute” they met (when it was actually just 3 months before they married) and asks, “Why couldn’t you tell me any of this?” he bristles and deflects with, “When?  The day we met? On our first date? On our wedding day?” capping it with the ultimate put-down, “Why did you need to know?”  Betty’s response, “You don’t get to ask any questions” fails to address the point – that of course his future wife needed to know about his past.  

While the focus is on Don, Betty reveals herself as well, saying that she’d always assumed that Don was “some football hero who hated his father” and that she’d known he grew up poor because he "doesn’t understand money," a comment which carries echoes of her father’s sneers to Don that “you people think everything is about money’ as well as Roger’s rich-boy country club put-downs.  Like those two men, Betty thinks people don’t understand money if they don’t see it exactly the same way she does, as a signifier of class and position, rather than as merely a useful tool  (the way Don does).

Well he is but that’s not the point – it’s a lie so big, Milton.  I feel like I’ve been in some dream since I found out.  Just saying it out loud to you is the first time I’m realizing it’s true. ~ Betty


Similarly, Don and Betty have differing views of identity.  Don, seeing identity as a tool just like money, argues facilely that “people change their names, Bets.  You did.”  To which she retorts, “I did, I took your name” – a name which she now knows is false, and thus an affront to the deep familial and social meaning that names have for her (as they did for her parents).   

Her father had claimed that Don couldn’t be trusted “because he has no people” and it is only in presenting his people, in a raw storytelling style utterly different from his usual slick pitches and seductions that Betty slowly begins to trust Don, real sympathy breaking over her face as he tells her the names and fates of his kin.  And yet Gene was right – Don has no people because “they all died.”  He has only Betty and his kids, and in the end he asserts his connection to them, correcting Betty who has spoken of his hiding secrets in "her" house by saying “This is our house.  Those are our children.”

Hobo and gypsy no more, he has joined himself to Betty at last.  Upon first being confronted, Betty notes his uneasiness and asks, “Are you thinking of what to say, or are you just looking at that door?” to which he responds, “I’m not going anywhere.” 

And for once, he doesn’t.  Betty may follow him from room-to-room with the shoebox of secrets and threaten, “We’re not done here,” but it is Don who takes the shoebox into their bedroom, that most intimate spot of married life, and asks her to sit down next to him, so he can finally consummate their marriage by telling the truth of who he is.  

Earlier, Joan has told Greg that psychiatry is “a field about the most intimate details of life,” to which the clueless Greg responds, “More intimate than their organs?”  Here we see not a psychiatrist’s couch but a married couple’s bed as the site of intimacy -- not of organs in sexual ecstasy, but of hearts opening in honesty.

As with sexual encounters, the real moment of truth occurs in the cold light of morning, when lovers must face each other (and themselves), and accordingly we see Don and Betty (under the ever-watchful eye of Sally) exchange what could be married couple banalities about breakfast but which we know say so much more:

Betty:  You want something?
Don:  You gonna have something?


They thoughtfully solicit each other’s desires, but acting in tandem at last, neither eat, before parting with tenderness and promises to go trick or treating with the kids that night.  At that time, we again see them in perfect sympathy, the conversation about dinner echoing the one of the morning:

Betty:  Do you want anything?
Don:  No.


In an act of nurturance and affection, Betty takes the sandwich she’s been eating and hands him the remaining piece, which he eats.  Don is choosing not to want something unless his wife and partner wants it and has it as well, and in the end, he finds he is wanting nothing and yet gets fed.  

Trick-or-treating with the kids a short while later, their neighbor Carleton says “Well, look at this, we have a gypsy and a hobo!” to the kids before surveying Don and Betty in their suburban costumes and joking, “And who are you supposed to be?”  In their rueful, resigned and yet finally contented faces we read their unspoken answer:  Ourselves.

Like Bobby, who announces his intention to be an astronaut for Halloween but ends up as a hobo, we don’t always become the people we dream of being.  But there might still be a bag of candy for us in the bargain, if we’re willing to give up the trick for the treat.

 

He’s home, let’s go.  ~ Bobby, knowing it’s time to get on with life.



 

 


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I love your insight and humor: "Certainly in this case, we know the desk hides Don’s Dick."

Twitter for the 1930's nearly killed me.
great write up as always.
I couldn't help but find the long confessional scene slow - regurgitating information we mostly knew already- and drawn out. Thus it broke my suspension of reality enough to think "This just screams 'Jon Hamm for Emmy' ". It didn't help that I was more interested in whether poor misguided Miss Farrell was still waiting in the car.
The interesting question is "what now?" Two episodes left in the season, and if Betty's not leaving Don, what fun will we have?
Nice. But frankly I HATED having Don look so weak. Isn't that awful? I love him strong and arrogant. I don't know why. I guess because I simply do not like Betty as a character and understand why he cheats with more real women. I also disagree with you re the Suzanne thing. She would NEVER bust in. She just waits and waits, as is her lot. She was/is perfectly played including her asking if Don is okay. And his response.
I love reading your posts, though, always. But I have to say, I wish MM would stay in the office more and in the home less.
Great analysis, as always, Silkstone!

Betty's discovery of the box brought out the best in her and in this episode she behaved like a genuine adult. And unlike Don, who needed a drink when she confronted him, she doesn't need to use alcohol as an emotional crutch (although she's fond of nicotine). What is Don going to do with this new, assertive, truth-telling wife?
There are so many brilliant observations in this analysis but your reference to the big desk hiding Don's Dick is amazing. I now watch the show so I will understand your analysis and not the other way around ;0)
A woman's purse represents her vagina? I never knew. Seriously. I wish I had known that when I was, like, 18.
Your analysis continues to be the best of any I read. Thank you so much for the great effort you put into this. (You would be a brilliant literature professor.)

I think the Greg military decision opens up future Viet Nam connections in the story line. And they certainly have to find a way to keep Joan in this; I think it may be back with Roger--who obviously still cares for her -- while Greg is in training.

I agree that the acting between Don and Betty was exceptional in this episode. And we are heading for November. The dramatic irony of us knowing how history enfolds adds immeasurably to the story line and elevates this series.

But now, lucky us, so do you.
I loved this episode. So satisfying to finally see Don and Betty sharing true intimacy. Great that Betty demanded explanations, and Don for once didn't dodge the bullet. Jon Hamm can convey so much with just his expression. As in his scenes with Anna, he seems to be a completely different guy when he gets out from behind the Don mask.
Great analysis. While I wondered about Suzanne bursting in or being found, the longer he didn't acknowledge her the more I was convinced he really was invested in coming clean with Betty.
Excellent work and the comment about the desk Dick was your funniest yet!

I continue to cringe at Betty's coldness with her children just as I am amazed at Don's ability to be kind to them, when he was not raised with kindness himself.

To me, this episode was a power shift. Despite the Draconian Divorce law, Betty now has the power to "out" Don. He HAS to stay or face the consequences.
Brilliant dissection and analysis. Perhaps you are the surgeon and the shrink. Is the desk anything like Justin Timberlakes,"Dick in a Box?"
I'm glad Betty finally took action about Don's shoebox info. I think there was some added tension during their confrontation because Suzanne was capable of bursting in at any time. Remember she stalked him on his morning commute? I don't think we've heard the end of her. I'm a little surprised Betty didn't confront him about all the hidden money as well.
One historical quibble about Greg's reference to Vietnam. I don't think that was on anyone's radar in 1963. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was not until Aug of 64, and the first American combat troops were not sent until 1965. The audience knows what's coming, ( and this will be a convenient way to free Joan of Greg), but I don't think most Americans are any more aware of Vietnam than they are of the Beatles at this point in time.
First-rate, as usual.

I didn't get the eating horsemeat contrast between Don and Annabelle, so I'm glad you picked up on it. I was kind of wondering what purpose it served to have Don say that he had eaten it.

Also, I never thought for a minute that Suzanne would come to the Drapers' door (although I did wonder of anyone would see her in Don's car or see her leaving).

I'll echo whoever said that I wish they'd spend a little more time at Sterling Cooper. I could watch a whole show take place in Bert Cooper's office. That is one of the most beautiful rooms I've ever seen on television.
I think you nailed this one.
Applause. Applause. Applause.

Silkstone, I look forward to your recaps/essays even more than I look forward to the show itself, and this time you've simply OUTDONE yourself.
People keep asking about why Betty wasn't more interested in the cash. Firstly, you've got to remember that these people all lived or grew up in families that went through the Depression and WWII--they didn't really trust banks. My father told me once that the Depression had made his father way too timid when it came to investing, etc. Secondly, there were no credit cards. Everything was cash. If you needed to make a big purchase fast, you needed cash on hand. Thirdly, even today, wealthy people just keep cash stashed around, as I've discovered in the last few years. Betty's dad no doubt did the same thing--which is why it didn't faze her. (And the fact that Gene worked in a bank probably made him very, very aware of the necessity of having cash on hand.)

Another point: It's not that Betty now has the power to "out" Don, though she does; now she is complicit. She has as much to lose as he; his secret now becomes hers. So, any increase in truth and intimacy between them will come from not the power that she now has in the relationship, but from the fact that they are in it together.
Superb. I love reading these next-day recaps. For me, your stuff is better written and more intelligent than most of the pieces published on Salon.com.
Hey all, thanks as always for the kind comments. I'm back with a few hours of sleep and a large latte and wanted to respond to some things you wrote:

Susanne, thanks! I need to give credit to Kaybell for inspiring that first line because of her comment last week that the entire ep could be summarized as "Betty realizes Don is really a Dick." It was a short leap from there to my joke. But I did think up the Twitter one (I love to make fun of Twitter whenever I can).

Brian, I didn't find that scene slow -- this is MM, after all, where things move slowly, and this is THE scene we've been waiting 3 seasons for, so it deserves a full playing out. I was thinking last nite about where things go from now, too. I agree with people who said we may not have seen the last of Suzanne - -I think she may pop up to spoil the new-found peace between Don and Betty. It's also possible that the last 2 eps will focus more on other characters' arcs, which people have been wishing for.

Lisa, I think it's great you admit that! I think women have very mixed feelings about men acting vulnerable. I've heard many men say that women tell them they want that, but if a guy gets vulnerable, and esp if he cries, they actually hate it. I have to say, Betty seemed to like it (not that she'd want him weeping all the time, but...). And that says a lot for a woman of her generation and repressed nature. So it bodes well for her growing as a person. And I get what you are saying about Suzanne being the good girl who would never insert herself (except, uh, in having an affair with the married father of one of her students) -- it was more thinking that she wouldn't realize Betty was home and walk in wondering what's taking Don so long. But I also think Suzanne may end up being more intrusive than expected.

Too.true -- well put. Betty does finally seem like an adult here, after being so childish for so long. And it's an interesting question you raise. When one partner changes, even for the better, it can be the demise of a relationship. Don will also have to change.

Dorinda, thanks!

Doug, I can only imagine what you've missed.

Lea, you're always so kind! thank you. Yes, I think it's a great way to work Vietnam into the show....which suggests Joan will stay married, doesn't it? I hate to see her stuck with Greg but if he's off at war, it won't seem so bad....

NoisyNora, I also think Hamm has a very expressive face. Which is funny since he plays a man who wears a mask. Agree he seems very different when he goes into, um, Dick mode. He's a lot more appealing to me.

Yak, I hadn't thought about the blackmail angle. I don't see Betty going that way (agree with person who said it actually makes her collude with Don) but I also think it does give her a feeling of security that she has that information to fall back on. And Betty's all about the security.

Scarlet, ha! Wish I'd thought of that connection.

Harry, we've already heard several characters refer to Vietnam but then they are better informed (including courting military contractors as clients). I think it's on the radar but yes, most Americans think about it as Greg does - a distant problem that will soon go away, not the defining issue of a generation as we know it will be.

Jeanette, ha! I also love Bert so part of me always wants more of him. But I'm sure a little goes a long way - he's like the spicy mustard on the sandwich. I hope the last 2 episodes focus on the office, too. I was thinking last nite that this season of MM is like that season on The Sopranos that was mostly about Tony and Carmela's relationship and ended with the big fight where he almost hits her. Instead of violence, in MM's climactic episode, Don and Betty make peace. Well, I guess that's the difference between the ad business and the Mafia!

Gwool and VR, thanks!

Highland, great insight about the cash. I hadn't thought of that and it makes complete sense. I confess I was really surprised that Betty was so nonchalant about it. Even though she was looking for much more than that, I thought she'd hesitate over it.

DB, high praise! thanks so much.
While in the act of watching Mad Men I find myself wondering, "hmm, what will Silkstone have to say about this, or that." Your analysis has become an integral part of the Mad Men experience for me. I try to pay more attention to the allusions and the rich details, but even so I know that on Monday, when I read what your take on the show is, I'll still will have missed things and will need to watch it a third time!



I agree with one of the comments above that your Mad Men work beats anything on Salon, or Slate, or anywhere else on the internet.
Silkstone, this was arguably one of the most dramatic and touching episodes of Mad Men to date, and yet you had me laughing long before the Dick in the desk line. Your descriptions of the "chastened or brain-damaged" Greg and Annabelle's not taking advice either from the "horse's ass or the horse's mouth" caused me to do a spit-take with my tea. A fine recap and analysis as always, although I'm with the readers who said that they never expected Suzanne to come bursting in. I've always viewed Suzanne as just being a little ahead of her time, living in the now, giving in to urges without using good judgement and believing that her behavior hurts no one as long as she takes personal responsibility -- a proto-flower child. And I'm not sure we've seen the last of her.

It was great to see Joan and Roger again. Christina Hendricks and John Slattery are such good actors that their presence really amps up MM.

Hard to imagine what the last 2 episodes -- and next season-- hold for Don and Betty. For all the shared intimacy of this episode, it seems unlikely that Betty will become a warm whole person or that Don will give up his old ways so easily.
Funny smart and insightful comments--another homerun!

Did I miss something in Don's answer to Betty about why he kept the box "in her house'? It seemed vague, unclear--but was that supposed to be because Don was so caught off guard and "disarmed" in an older sense of the word?

I agree that Suzanne (who continues to annoy) In the Car was distracting--surely, I thought, she won't ring the bell and add fuel to the conflagration. But maybe we are to see Don's forgetting her out there as significant. Just as he was about to do a more domestic version of bolting with Midge, he was challenged about his very identity and having to deal with the woman he has had, after all, 3 kids with. Makes the playing house thing with Suzanne seem all the more sordid/silly (by my lights). Anyway, the easy, smooth philandering and getting away with it Don was thrown off his balance by a fierce Betty and Suzanne all but forgotten--now that his mask has been torn away, can he still cheat with such a clear conscience? Seems that fluid identity thing allowed him to do that with nary a qualm--now?

Might the "gypsy" in the title refer to someone other than Don? Our Joan, who has yet to find a place in which her light can shine with full force. We don't know too much about her background, do we? And remember that sad song with the accordian--that sure hinted at a sad "gypsy" past. Since all the men seem to think of her in terms of cup size (Joan knows men, alright), I'd like to see her get to use her brain size. I like to think Dr. McRape will be off in Vietnam and Joan, bored, will go on to found a women's center with her old gay roommate and now lover --giving career advice maybe? I can dream, can't I? ...

I can't take credit for it, but saw on another site a great comment--Looks like Vietnam will be getting its Dr. Frank Burns.
As a 51 yr old, many things about MM ring true to me historically, especially the Draper's home life. Betty is like the mothers I remember growing up. Our parents rarely doted over us...we were dismissed out of hand and spent a lot of time essentially on our own. My mother was not so cold, but we were the house everybody else came to because they were not alowed to make a mess or interupt their moms.
Wow, that was comprehensive.

I felt there was something odd going on in the first twenty minutes or so, particularly in the first scene in Bert Cooper's office. Everyone's timing seemed off. But (falling in with your line of analysis) perhaps that was foreshadowing of that whole plotline, having to do with the messed-up timing of the love affair between Annabelle and Roger.

I find the hulking actor who plays Joan's husband very menacing, and not just because the first time he appeared in the show he raped her. His squarish, ex-fullback build seems to fill the frame every time he appears. In one shot he comes up behind her when she's seated; I thought for a second his next move would be to strangle her.
Kudos once again Silkstone for a great summary.

I just wanted to add one thing. My impression during the great confrontation between Don and Betty was that by having his past presented to him, Don temporarily reverted to Dick. The scared, pained look on his face reminded me immediately of the scared look on Dick Whitman's face when he was in Korea. And Betty responded to that by recognizing, maybe for the first time, Don / Dick's humanity. Very cathartic.

DDDD
As dramatic as Betty's confrontation of Don with The Truth came to be, what made the episode was Joan boinking her no-good hubster with a vase. Oh surre he's going to join the army. This marriage is So OVAH!

Joan will land on her feet.

With three episodes to go it's obvious that the season will end with the endof Sterling Cooper. Next season will deal with the Great Diaspora. Who will survive -- and what will be left of them?
Thank you! I appreciate the posts so much! I was the gypsy in 1967!!! Too fun! Rated!
Ablonde, thanks as always for your support!!

Adele, "proto flower child" is a perfect way to describe Suzanne, mixed with that 1950's good girl thing. But I still think she may have a trick (vs a treat) up her sleeve yet, and cause some trouble. I agree about Hendricks and Slattery being absolutely delicious together. Their scenes always leave me wanting more. I don't know if it would be as good if there really were a lot more, but it's fun to wonder. I started out finding Joan a bitch -- and I think she's presented that way in the early episodes and has been softened since -- but she's completely won me over. Slattery's character is despicable but he has so much fun playing him that it makes him a joy to watch. (similar to Kartheiser with Pete, who's a pathetic character played to hilarious perfection)

MaryCal, thanks! No, I don't think Don answered the question about why keep the shoebox in the house. Recall, though, that it came to his office, Pete found it on his desk, stole it for a while and tried to blackmail him with it. So that may have left him feeling the office wasn't too safe. And he clearly understood that Betty was too much of a good girl to break into his desk. Whether he unconsciously led her to the key is an unanswered question.

I like your analysis of Don "playing house" with Suzanne and it seeming silly. I hadn't put that together in my head, but I was bugged about it in the same way without knowing why. I confess it may have struck a nerve for me as a long single woman who lived alone for many years -- in that situation, you can get a little weird when you have a lover and want to "play house". So both her behavior and Don's impatience with it (given he already has a wifey at home) rang very true to me.

I'm not quite seeing Joan as a Gypsy. I think it's just another way to describe Don. The Frank Burns comment is priceless. I had a similar thought last nite watching the ep and forgot to work it into my recap -- altho I was going to be a bit more charitable and comment that maybe he'd learn at least meatball surgery as they did in MASH.

Fran, I'm the same age and my childhood was very similar (as I've written here), and yes, Betty rings true to me to how mothers commonly behaved in those days. They were really pretty "cool" with their kids, at best.

Mark, I find Greg menacing, too, and when he came home with the flowers, and had his hands behind his back, before I saw what they were, I really worried that he had a gun and was going to threaten to kill her or kill himself in front of her!

DDD, I agree with you (and others) who saw Don "regress" to Dick, and to a younger more vulnerable age. I think we also saw what lurks beneath that slick "Don Draper" exterior much of the time -- a very frightened man.

Sao Kay and Tiger, thanks!

David, I don't think they'll break up the agency yet. Too many seasons to go, and trying to follow people in different work places would be too scattered. But it's heading towards extinction, as Matthew Weiner has said.
I always look forward to your analysis of Mad Men. yay.
Far be it from me to ever disagree with you, as you are so excellent this week as always (I agree with those who say you've become an integral part of the MM experience), but I have to say I took Carlton's question "And who are you supposed to be?" completely different. I think it's not over for Don with regard to where he's headed in life, and I still think he runs away (or life runs away from him). As you pointed out about "he's not happy about his contract", I think that will remain the same with regard to his marriage (unless Bets really does find some tenderness toward him - though I'm skeptical as she'll likely see him more beneath her upbringing than ever after this).
My other disagreement was about her "You don't know anything about money comment". Great insight by others with regard to cash at this time, but I doubt that Gene got where he was by being without business acumen or risk aversion. I think, as demonstrated by her holding court at Gene's desk, that Bets is a lot more capable than we've yet seen (as in her mastery of Italian), and this will extend to business for her - does she long to be more of a true "partner" with Don (to the point of some of her frustration), and is this where she'll make her mark?

Jane: vapid, but sexy hot ... I think this is what works for Roger. I don't see him with Joan, but because of her and not him. He is, and will forever be, demeaning toward her. She won't make the same marriage mistake twice.

Dr. Greg - totally agree with the comment on "Nam's Dr. Frank Burns" ... I think he goes away a la Scarlett O'Hara's first hubby - one of the first casualties of the war. Too bad it won't be til 1965 .... but maybe he is killed by friendly fire in a boot camp "accident" ....

Thanks to one and all for your great insights
Love it, love it, love it.
My husband and I were in Boston last Sunday and watched Mad Men out at a bar that has quite a following. It was great watching everyine's reactions. We also think this season is going to tie into the JFK assasination because of all of the civil rights references. The Medgar Evers assasination and Betty's predictable comment to "her girl" aslo makes us believe the last two episodes will tie into this horrific tradegy.
Insightful recap as always. Though I have to say I disagree with you more than usual.

I took Betty's comment that "you don't understand money," more at face value. It was said with such casual disdain that I took it just to mean that she recognized he wasn't middle class and didn't understand basic stuff like household management, or respect for the rituals of financial transactions within a marriage, like: when your wife is leaving on a trip and tells you she only has $40, you hand over the cash you have. You don't look at her like she's an idiot for not thinking about stopping at the bank. And the fact that he says "there must be $200 in there" shows that they don't exactly sit down and talk about the household finances very often.

I don't like Betty, but I think Don Draper probably projects far more on to money than she does. Do you really believe money is just money to him? This is somebody who hoards large sums of cash into a shoe box in his desk, just in case he has to take off suddenly. He's got some money issues.

I think this was an amazing episode. So well acted. But also the best writing we've seen on the show yet. And the character development is fascinating. We see Don vulnerable, and exposed. On one level so much more authentic that he's ever been. But all the while becoming an even more a self absorbed, complex phony. His sweet mistress is sitting out in the car, the ENTIRE time he's coming clean. Meanwhile, Betty, who I've always detested, shows the first glimmers of real character.

She's a self-absorbed, refrigerator narcissist. Which is why Don married her. He could depend on her not to care enough to ask any deep questions. But she's risking something in confronting him this way. As her lawyer pointed out, she very vulnerable in this situation, financially and socially. So for her to be this authentic is a pretty huge leap in maturity. One Don obviously was never expecting. And neither were we.

This is a man who has lied about his identity once, and hoards secret cash. She could have woken up the next morning to an empty bed and an empty bank account. So there is something a bit touching about this courage.

I also found the whole theme of psychiatry and confessionals, in this age where the "talking cure" is still kind of in its infancy, beautifully interwoven. Especially in the ways that the truth is such a double edged sword. The truth is out between them. But this was a marriage built on lies. Can it really survive honesty? Betty's no longer fulfilling her function for Don as the partner who doesn't care enough to ask. I don't think there's any happily ever after here.

As for Roger, I don't understand why people are wasting their time trying to figure out which woman is "the one." First of all, the only one for Roger is Roger. That line was pure infantile revenge. But it was pretty entertaining revenge. And second, she deserved it. When she compares herself to Ingrid Bergman? and he retorts "that woman got on a plane with a man who was going to end WW2, not run her father's dog food company." Ha!

As for her mature sexiness? Here she is reminiscing fondly about their time in Paris "People were jumping out of windows and we were on vacation!" That woman is the definition of vapid. She's just Jane with money and 20 years. Roger merely sees past her glamor and bullshit. She's simply not "the one." That doesn't mean there is a "one."

And then there's the final nail in coffin. That of all the men in the world, the "one" is Roger? Even Roger's not idiot enough to fall for that line.

And finally, I really loved the closing theme music from Oliver! That over the top orphan sentimentality, so wonderfully undercut any possibility that Don Draper is on the road to authenticity. I feel for him. But I don't think true love or happiness is ever in the cards for him. That line at the end "and who are you supposed to be" was a thud. But it was thud that simply arrived sooner, rather than later.

The only thing for sure to come out of this episode is that Jon Hamm has one hell of a movie career ahead of him. Because that was some pretty awesome acting.

So I'm not entirely cynical!
Brilliant, as usual. I love the way you note the recurring themes and images, the patterns woven into the story. The show feels like literature and reading your essays makes me think about it in a way I deeply enjoy -- it's like being back at school again, in the best way imaginable.
UnderstandingDon -- and Juliet and anyone else -- please do disagree with me!! I leave out the hedging words to indicate what I write in these recaps are just my own thoughts and opinions, but of course that's all they are. I always like hearing what other people think.

UD, I agree it can't really be over for Don -- otherwise the show would be over. I think you and several other people have brought up a good point of what will Don do if Betty starts getting really empowered? The dynamic of their relationship is already changing and will continue to do so. That's where the drama will come in, I think. As for the money thing, I understand what you are saying but I still see Betty's comment the way I described. As for Jane, OK...I can see it. I just really dislike that "girl" as Roger aptly terms her. Her laughing at the blackface just sealed the deal for me. Being a big fan of GWTW, I laughed at your predicting that Greg will be like Scarlett's first husband. I actually love the idea of Joan as a war widow. She'd rock those black dresses.

Owl and Syd, thanks!

Matty, yes, in one of the first recaps I did this season, I noted that we find out Roger's daughter's wedding is scheduled for the day after JFK will be assassinated so we will get some reaction from the characters about it, I think. But Matthew Weiner has said he doesn't want to do the usual kind of thing around that event, so we'll see what he comes up with.

Juliet, also welcome your disagreements! As I said above, though, I'm sticking to how I see the money thing. It's not that money isn't important to Don -- I've said a few times that what I think is the difference is that for people like Roger and Betty, it's a social signifier and defines who you are, whereas for Don, it's a tool. So yes, he keeps a stash in his drawer - - because that would enable him to flee, as you say. If it was a status thing, he'd spend it, including on things that are visible to other people (recall his initial reluctance to buy a Caddy after he got the SC buy out money, despite Roger's urging). For Don, money = freedom, including to say Fuck You to his job or anyone. For Roger and Betty, money defines their position in life, and it tells them that they are better than people who have less, or who don't know how to act with their riches (like Syd Barrett). There's a difference.

I agree Don married Betty precisely for who she is -- and that means she did the same with him. What will it be like as they change? this continues to be the question, for all the characters, in a series about a decade of enormous change, which did rend many relationships of all kinds.

I love your take on Roger! yeah, Roger and his Stoli. Those are really his only 2 true loves. But I still think he has feelings for Joan and vice versa. He's not immune to sentimentality at the least. And Joan is capable of real love, just very very cautious about it, I think.

I didn't know the theme music at end so thanks for saying what it was. Is it from the movie, cuz I saw it but don't recall that song (or maybe just a different recording, from the stage version)? I think you're dead-on about the orphan thing.

Steven, thanks! Yes, as I've said, to me, this show is like a novel, and that's why it unfurls more slowly than most TV but also why it's so rich and complex.
Very enjoyable column.

I don't think that Don forgot that Suzanne was in the car. He tried to go out to shoo her off but when stopped by Betty, he played his hand thereon the only way he cold. He'd be caught out had he made another attempt to "get his hat" so he was forced into hoping that Suzanne wouldn't knock on the door to see what was keeping him. I'm not sure why she just took off. Was there evidence that Betty was back home or was it more on general principles that she wouldn't pursue to that extent? But someone in her situation might have wondered if Don had slipped on the stairs or something, especially as she cares for him that much.

I'm a little surprised about some folks' negative views about Betty. She's always seemed to me to be one of those bright women who took the traditional route of marrying a good-looking good provider and has since gradually realized that being a typical mother and supportive wife for her husband wasn't all she might have hoped for. Especially when he's been unfaithful.

And as for Dr. Cut-up, he'll go to Vietnam and stay there till the writers need to get rid of him. It's really open-ended.

If this past episode wasn't the best yet, it's right up there. I'm really looking forward to how they treat the Kennedy assassination. Next season brings us The Beatles and soon thereafter the whole 60s tumult.
"Certainly in this case, we know the desk hides Don’s Dick." without skipping a beat - kudos.

I enjoyed seeing Betty find a strength and not give Don any wiggle room, not letting him off the hook. He tried his usual bombast to push her back in her corner and she was having none of it I liked the way her soft, pampered girl look was gone and she assumed the air of a woman clear about her position. Conversely it was interesting to see how quickly Don crumpled. you could see him literally physically diminish it seemed. I attribute both of these very believably physical metamorphises to the acting chops of each - as you pointed out once before - it's easy to underestimate how well January Jones gets her character, Betty.

I would disagree that it was a writing mistake not to have Suzanne burst in on them, although I half expected it also, but I do think that it stood better for Betty and Don to have their moment of truth alone.

I loved the way Joan slammed the vase into Carl's head - possibly a foreshadowing of the road the women are going to take in the future?

And Roger just simply surprised me. It's almost like there was an underlying theme of integrity at work.
There is something about Don's secret that seems a bit trite. Last season, when the firm learned of his alternate identity (via Pete), they decided, "so what."

I would say that he needs a lawyer and maybe the statute of limitations has already run its course.

So, what if no one cares? I dunno -- another reason to stay tuned.
I'm late to comment this time... Your analysis was brilliant as always.

I agree completely that having Suzanne cooling her heels in the car undermined the focus on Betty's confrontation with Don. I wish it hadn't been done that way. I am relieved to have it over with though.

It's too bad there are only two episodes left of the season because it's too late now for some of other characters to have have full storylines. This season has been all Don and Betty with crumbs for the rest. I'm mostly sympathetic to Don, in spite of his many flaws, but I really don't find Betty that interesting. She's gorgeous and it's great to see her done up in the prettiest fashions of the day, but that's about it.
Another great analysis, Silkstone. . .

Someone comments about Betty's "I only have forty dollars" . . . I think Betty was thinking about the ton of cash in Don's locked desk drawer. What's in there, thirty thousand? His last packet of money that he put in there was his five thousand dollar bonus, in fifty dollar bills . . . and there were several similarly-sized bundles of fifties . .

I think Betty was thinking 'gee, I have forty dollars in cash, I'm gong away for a week and there is a boatload of cash in that drawer, I want to see how he will react when I mention needing some cash?"

And his response, that she has two hundred dollars in her checking account shows that he is very aware of how much cash Betty has . . . and he does not give her any bundles of five grand. .

I bet Betty does not know Don cleared over half a million when PPL bought SC. In the sixties, many wives had absolutely no idea what kind of assets their husband had.

Betty must have had a million reactive thoughts about everything she discovered in that drawer. And she is plenty smart, we know that. She had to be thinking 'gee, he socks away a ton of cash without telling me he has this money and he gives me two hundred dollars? What's up with that? (well, put that in a sixties vernacular). . .

Also, I think Betty was trying on confronting Don when she said "I have forty dollars" , wanted to closely watch his reaction, now that she knows he is deeply dis honest with her. She'd have to be wondering . .. what all has this guy lied about? It is very reasonable to assume there are many more lies than the ones revealed in the desk drawer.
Tizzie, I agree with your points. But I have wonder about his reaction. This is before credit cards. So someone like Don, who has to buy clients meals and drinks is probably going to be walking around with a wad of cash on him. She's leaving on a trip. He can't hand over some extra money? It's weird.
Abrawang, I think the Suzanne in the car thing was badly done for all the reasons we're naming. Including we don't know for certain why she left -- we have to assume she saw evidence that Betty was home (esp as her first words on the phone the next day are the "Did you get caught?" line). But it left things dangling. As for Betty, apparently we at OS are harder on her than most people online! Yes, she made a very common choice for women -- and in some ways, the only viable choice, most women's jobs being menial at the time. It's not that -- I think it is her coldness and childishness that turn people off. If she were warm and loving and motherly, it would be different.

Teresa, I didn't post it, but in my notes I was writing stuff about Don's reactions. He really does crumple and show more emotion than we've ever seen, including fear (I thought he looked terrified at a couple points). I think Jon Hamm was terrific in breaking "Don" open at that point. As for Suzanne, the writing mistake to me was not that she should have burst in -- quite the opposite! I thought the fear she would do that undermined the drama of B&D's scene. I would have liked an earlier inset of the shot where we see her get out of the car and go home, so we could know she's out of the picture and focus just on B&D. I thought they waited way too long to put that shot in, which leads me to believe they wanted that tension for the viewers. And I think that was a mistake. There was plenty of tension and drama without that!

Suz, I agree the other characters have gotten very short shrift this season. Earlier I compared it to the Sopranos season that was a lot about Tony and Carmela's marriage, so maybe Weiner's training on that series is showing! I think it was wrong not to balance it more, but ah well. Nitpicking on such a fine series.

Tizzie, I saw Betty asking for money the same as I think you did -- I thought Betty was testing Don to see if he'd admit to having more cash around. Yet how could he? He wouldn't open that drawer with her around. I suppose he could have closed his office door, got some cash out and then given it to her. But it seemed a sort of fruitless attempt. Still, when she says, "So you don't have any more money around?" it seems clear she's trying to dig at that secret, perhaps just to confirm how much he lies to her.

Juliet, see above. I agree he must carry a fair bit of cash (although Diner's Club cards existed then - they were the first credit cards and businessmen did use them for entertaining, which was one big reason they were invented). But I'm guessing they had a system like my parents did in that era -- my mother got an "allowance" every week of a budgeted amount of money for groceries, household expenses and her own needs. You lived within that. It's not like most people do now, where they just keep drawing more money out of the ATM. It's the reason that our parents -- or perhaps your grandparents -- managed to save so much money even while earning less. They lived on strict budgets for the most part and of course didn't use credit like we do.
Don and Betty are definitely at a cross roads. Can she really live w/ his lie?? She is more focused on appearances than he is so I see her keeping his secret..until she finds out about the teacher!!!
I know some of you have been speculating about who the gypsy refers to. Isn't it possible that it refers to Betty? Think Esmerelda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame - a beautiful woman who, as the object of their obsession, precipitates misery in the men who fall for her. Don clearly explained that his desire for Betty was one of the reasons he couldn't tell her about his past. Dick Whitman (Quasimodo?) would never have had a chance with someone like Betty. As Don, he got the girl and gave her the life she said she wanted while at the same time setting the stage for the misery to come.
I've never seen the show but this review was as good as watching it!
Just one more thought: No more exile to the kids' table at this party: you belong on the actual Salon, eating with the grown-ups. Heather Havrilskey, watch out!
One more thought about the way they handled Suzanne Farrell being in the car. Seems to me this is a Mars/Venus issue: all the guys I've talked to (my view too) thought it was all the better because we were horrified she might come in! (perhaps a few of us have been analogously in Don's shoes at one time or another ;-) ); on the other hand, I really appreciated you women who said you never expected her to come in given her place in the circle of relationships. My take is that it was brilliant that they could (not) do one thing and we all took it so differently!
DDDD, that's really interesting! Comparing Quasimodo and Don seems odd at first but I get it -- Dick Whitman, the self inside the confident Don, feels ugly and unworthy. I think that also gives another reason for Dick-as-Don's womanizing -- a classic way to make yourself feel attractive. It makes me think of how Dick talked to Anna Draper about Betty when he was engaged - -he seemed amazed that she wanted to marry him. Of course, he was also not nearly as successful then, but still... she is a prize that he won that he may not feel he deserves.

Sandra, thanks! I'm amazed you read such a long piece about a show you don't even watch!

Steven, I'm overwhelmed by that compliment - thank you so much.

UD, yes those gender splits are interesting. I've encountered that many times in reverse -- where men enlightened me about why a guy would or would not do something that I completely did not get.
I had a bit of a different take on Suzanne. She has a lot to lose -- her license to teach can be taken away and she could be ousted from her garage apartment. She has expressed these concerns before and she's aware that she's taking risks. Having her in the car did add stress to the situation between Don and Betty but I didn't see Suzanne coming to the house. I thought she might either fall asleep in the car and get discovered or she'd be seen leaving the car or on the sidewalk. One of her questions to Don the next day is whether her job is safe. Certainly she'd like to play house with Don but she knows the risks and shrinks down in the car to not be seen. I think she'll pop up again the the series maybe as Don's son's teacher to tempt again or maybe caught in a public trist that makes Betty suspicious of whether it had happened previously with Don. Suzanne is the Hester Prynne -- she has a lot to lose and is well aware of it.
I am mildly surprised by suggestions that Suzanne Farrell has a lot to lose if it becomes public knowledge that she is having an affair with the father of one of her students. Didn't they have teachers' unions in those days? Suzanne teaches at a public school, not a private one.

I like the suggestion she is like a modern Hester Prynne.

Maybe Suzanne is from another part of NY or, even, MA -- since she 'got' her brother a job in Bedford MA -- she must know someone in Bedford? Maybe she has come to Ossining fleeing scandal in another school/town?

Gee, I never would have thought her job at risk .. but clearly she does, which makes her behavior all the more puzzling. She is a beautiful woman. Even flakes can attract committed partners if they want one . . women who has serial affairs with married men, as Suzanne seems to have a proclivity for . . . doesn't that seem to be asking for trouble? It's like she has an echo of her brother's epilepsy, a 'disability' . . .she is self-destructive, only choosing unavailable men, causing unnecessary entanglements.

I totally don't get the Suzanne character. She clearly loves children. Why not marry and have some of her own? In her late twenties (her brother says he is 25, she is older than him), with a teaching license, she would be a great catch to plenty of available husband candidates.

As far as the writers keeping Suzanne out in the car, I agree that they could have shown her slinking off sooner than they showed us . . but maybe the fact that Suzanne appeared to have waited many hours, seeming to slink away only when the whole neighborhood was sleep -- this would diminish the likelihood of her being seen leaving Don's car with the suitcase.. but waiting so long tugs at the heart. I don't like Suzanne, I feel like she made her own bed with Don (knowing he was married) and she freely chose her poison, chose the heartache of knowing his first priority was his wife . . . still, I feel sorry when she is in pain.

I guess there are women like that, women who don't quite believe they deserve to be cared for and taken care of so they repeatedly choose unavailable men. And predatory men always seem to be able to sniff the Suzanne's of the world out, eh?

I bet Suzanne figured out pretty quickly that Betty was still home. It was barely dusk when Don got out of that car. . it is late October, getting dark earlier. As soon as it was really dark outside, like by the time the street lamps turned on, Suzanne would have seen lights going on all over the house. Maybe she could even see the television glow, see movement in the house. Betty sent the kids upstairs -- so if Suzanne was closely watching the house, she would have seen human activity upstairs and down and quickly concluded Don had found something he had not expected in that house. And Suzanne would have immediately, and correctly, surmised that Don found his family.

She probably waited in the car too long because against reason, she kept on hoping Don would come out and live out the fantasy of going away together. She had nothing better to do with her evening other than to cling to hope. . . so she did. I think I get that behavior.

And, with my above interpretation, this means that the writers got it right. Loopy, romantic, low self esteem Suzanne would have waited too long in the car.
Light bulb! Suzanne is the gypsy. I feel dumb.

I also like the idea of her as Hester Prynne. Yup. (except hopefully not prengnant.) Tizzie, teachers indeed would be fired for what she'd done in that era...and for some years after. Especially female teachers.
You discussed Betty’s exchange with her dad’s lawyer:

“Milton seems unfazed by this news (leaving me to wonder…isn’t there something called matrimonial fraud, and if so, wouldn’t this qualify?) and instead paints Betty a grim picture of New York divorce law – she won’t get any money and Don could even get the kids. True to the time, he asks her the two key questions women in her situation were always asked: Does Don hurt her? (Although in the upper middle class manner, he delicately phrases it as whether he ‘scares’ her.) And: Is he a good provider? Hearing her answers, he advises her to go home and work things out with the father of her three children.”

The history of family law in New York is far from my specialty, but I can give some of these points a shot.

(1) In circumstances that you have characterized as “matrimonial fraud,” many jurisdictions probably have the remedy of annulment. That’s different from a divorce. An annulment establishes that, legally, a marriage was void from its inception. (“An ‘annulment’ differs from a divorce in that a divorce terminates a legal status, whereas an annulment establishes that a marital status never existed.” Black’s Law Dictionary p. 59 (abridged 6th ed., 1991).)

It’s far from clear that an annulment of the marriage would be an attractive option for Betty. Depending on the controlling statute and relevant case law, an annulment might, in some jurisdictions, threaten the legitimacy of the children. It might leave Betty with no claim to Don’s property. I have no idea how those issues might have been resolved under New York law in 1963, but she’d want some clear answers before charging off in that direction!

(2) You state that attorney Lowell tells her “she won’t get any money and Don could even get the kids.” Listen carefully to Lowell’s actual advice. When he tells her that —

“you’re not gonna get anything; you won’t even be able to buy William out of the house — you’ll have to sell it. And, he can take the children,”

— that’s what she’ll face *if* she can’t surmount the difficult challenge of proving his adultery, in court, and thus can get a divorce only “if *he* wants out,” too. In those circumstances, she won’t have the bargaining leverage to demand alimony from him, or demand custody. But if she *can* prove adultery, then, presumably, it would be a different story.

(3) You characterize as “True to the time,” Lowell’s posing to Betty of two “key questions [asked of] women in her situation.” Presented “in the upper middle class manner,” Lowell “delicately phrases” the first question “as whether [Don] ‘scares’ her.” The second question is, whether Don is a good provider.

I would say that the second is more a question “of the time.” Today, even if a husband is a “good provider,” it doesn’t constitute an especially compelling reason to refrain from divorcing him, because it’s much easier for the wife to get alimony, or to enter the workplace (if she’s not in it already) and earn a good living on her own. But Lowell’s question would indeed have been a highly pertinent one at a time when the law made it hard to secure alimony, and when society was not a favorable environment for a woman’s economic independence.

In contrast, Lowell’s first question, “Are you afraid of him?” (not, whether he “scares” her), is not at all a quaintly dated query. To the contrary, it’s (alas) timeless — and it’s the sort of basic, cut-to-the-chase essential question that legal counsel *should* ask. And it’s the sort that a lot of lawyers neglect to ask, even today, because it seems too simple, or because they assume that, if it were true, the client would tell the attorney of her own accord. (Ask the question; you’ll be astonished at what people tell you.) An attorney has no more urgently relevant concern than his client’s safety, and Lowell deserves credit for thinking of Betty’s.

(4) “Milton seems unfazed by this news . . . .” Lowell’s even-keeled response strikes me as professional, lawyerly. As an attorney, you hear a lot of amazing things. You don’t want to show an emotional, unsettled reaction, even to pretty disturbing statements; doing so will likely spook your client (or a witness), and discourage candor.
Brian, good detailed assessment! I don't really disagree with anything you've said. Annulment would not be attractive to Betty, for reasons you describe. I'd think today it would be followed by some sort of suit that would gain her a financial payoff, as well as child support, but laws were very different then, and I believe NY is still a very odd state in re: divorce compared to others. I think it's the only one that still doesn't have no-fault divorce (Elizabeth Gilbert's fairly recent experience recounted in Eat, Pray, Love suggests this was true at least several years ago). I've heard it's a bad place to divorce for that reason, as she says in her book.

Which makes it a little odd that Roger divorces easily even at great cost (he sells the agency in large part to finance his divorce from Mona). Yes, he bought Mona off, but she could still have refused and kept him tied up in the marriage forever. Not uncommon in that era, in any socioeconomic status -- that one spouse refused to divorce.

Your explanation brings up that point, which I had in the back of my mind but forgot that some folks might not known -- that at that time, you had to prove fault (usually adultery) or both had to consent.

I think what renders this moot is that the lawyer and Betty seem to be working with the assumption that Don won't want to divorce. But we know he probably would want to (at that time, at least). I also think he'd actually be reasonably generous with Betty and the kids despite his money hiding -- he hasn't shown any signs of not being so far in the way they live, etc. I also doubt he'd want custody - -and it was very rare in those days for divorced men to have it. So the conversation seemed a bit generic to me rather than about the person in question.
Don fumbled his cigarette.

I'll write more later.
Here’s an interesting sartorial problem: When will the more senior men in the firm — Don and Roger, most notably — yield to changing fashion, and ditch their hats? Remember that, up to the late 1950s, it was unusual for American men to be in public, and certainly dressed for work, without a hat. Going without a hat was considered low class. When this changes it will be significant with respect to an important dynamic within the show: the tension between convention, the establishment, and the nonconformist trend within youth of the day. The hats that men like Don and Roger have worn and carried with great panache for three seasons are strong symbols of conformity. But it’s 1963; they can’t hang on to them much longer! So which coming season will we see the men of Mad Men leave their hats behind?

This has made me think of my father’s attire. He was a civil engineer, and entered the workforce in 1961, with Los Angeles County Flood Control. I’ve seen many photos of him and his work colleagues from the early ’60s. They had the Mad Men look: dark suits with narrow lapels, white shirts, and thin dark ties (less expensive tailoring, I’m sure, but definitely the same look). But even then *they* didn’t wear hats — at least not the young guys. I can’t recall that my dad ever work a hat to work; I’m sure he never owned a fedora.

Perhaps the west coast, maybe Los Angeles in particular, was the leading edge in this trend away from hats, but it was complete, nationally, in a remarkably brief span of time. And I remember that when I was a kid I observed and knew — without ever actually reflecting on the matter — that hats were something *older* men wore. My *grandfathers* wore hats; that was important in my unconscious absorption of that age distinction.
C'mon, Doug, sometimes a cigarette is just a cigarette!

seriously, I noticed that, too, and should have commented on it. very Freudian, eh?

Brian, really, the hats should be disappearing by now, I think. The turning point, as I understand it was when JFK was inaugurated in Jan 1961 without wearing a hat (even though it was bitter cold). That was considered shocking. He was either the first Prez ever inaugurated without wearing a hat or the first in a hundred years or more (I think the first ever). I thought after that, hats started disappearing as he (as Jackie was for women) was such a trendsetter.

As a side note, I have my Dad's fedora. I grew up watching him wear it to work on the East Coast. I don't think he stopped until the mid-60's but he was a conservative guy in a conservative profession.
Warning: lengthy post.

Three years ago, when "Mad Men" started, one of the most shocking things was the cigarette smoking. It was perpetual, constant, and everywhere. Indeed, the creators of the show seemed to want to slap us in the face with it in the very first episode, being as it was about cigarettes and cancer.

But it was interesting to me, coming of age as I did in the "anti-smoking" era, to see that it wasn't just a nasty, addictive habit that could kill you. It was social. Men offered cigarettes to woman to be polite, and would light them to be gallant. But even more, cigarettes could be used to be intimate; to create a distance; to provide a pregnant pause in the conversation; to make a friendly gesture. It was a social thing as much as a habit. And that view has been reinforced for 3 years.

Don, in his dealings with people, is smooth. His hair is always flawlessly combed and brylcreamed; his pocket hankerchief folded sharp as a knife and exactly parallel to the pocket; shoes always shined; face always clean-shaven. He is suave, controlled, composed, and laconic to an almost absurd degree.

Don uses cigarettes for all the above reasons, and more. He uses cigarettes to create a pause in conversation; to intimidate; to draw in; to dismiss; as an aid to thought. He is never short of one, and never needs a light. Like his suit or his hair or his shoes, his cigarettes are a prop to help him control the world, and how the world sees it.

Silkstone points out that sometimes a cigarette is just a cigarette, and of course she's right. But after all this time, after seeing Don under pressure in innumerable situations, after seeing him lie, constantly and well, to clients, family, friends, Betty, and everyone else, it struck me as significant that, when uncovered at last, Don's hands don't shake as he lights his cigarette--he drops it, completely. Just like, later, he drops all pretense with Betty, telling her the pain of Adams suicide, the shameful truth of his birth. Yes, even then, he shades the truth--but he does it as we all do: just trying to make it a bit better, a bit less painful, a bit less horrific.

Don has dropped his cigarette with Betty. What this portends long-term, who knows? But his facade is dropped now; he can't go back. (And I think him leaving Suzanne in the car was a deliberate choice by the writers. After all his professions of love to her, he stays and faces the music with Betty, no matter what the pain. "I'm not going anywhere," he says, and I believe him. He chose truth and Betty rather than a fantasy and Suzanne.)

Sometimes, a cigarette is much more than a cigarette.
There are some misconceptions about JFK's inaugural and his hat. (For a detailed account of this and the demise of the hat in American fashion and society, see Neil Steinberg's "Hatless Jack: The President, the Fedora, and the History of American Style" (2005).) JFK and Bobby (RFK, not Young Man Draper) actually wore hats that day -- top hats, to go with their formal morning dress. JFK doffed his -- as was customary -- when taking the oath of office and delivering his inaugural address. But both brothers wore theirs most of the day, as long as they were outdoors. (See, e.g., the photo at http://www.life.com/image/53372917.)

Still, it is true that both brothers were known for going hatless, and this caused considerable anxiety in the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International, which was among the labor unions that had been strongly supportive of JFK's campaign for president. Theodore White's "In Search of History" recounts how hat-making interests, worried that both men would forgo headgear at the inauguration, pressed hard with highly-placed advisors in the incoming administration to make sure they didn't go bare-headed. The Kennedy people agreed, but it took some scrambling to get suitable hats, as both brothers wore large sizes.

The Wikipedia entry for "fedora" states, "Like the bowler hat, the fedora was popular from the early 1920s to the mid 1960s on the east coast. In the late 1950s the hat began to lose favor on the west coast of the United States, which is known for its more casual clothing." The entry cites no authority for this summary. (I can't tell whether the hats we see in Mad Men are fedoras, or trilbies, but that distinction doesn't matter for this historical question.) So Don and Roger may hang onto their hats for a little bit more, but not much longer!
Doug, I was joking, of course. I see him dropping the cigarette exactly as you do, although I couldn't have written about it as eloquently and thoughtfully as you did. That was a great analysis!

Brian, thanks for the chapeau lesson. Now that you write that, I recall film of JFK on his way to or from the inauguration doffing his top hat to his father who was in a reviewing stand. So I can picture him in it. I didn't realize the Presidents usually took their hats off for their speech, either.
Late again - backreading. Keep 'em coming Silk. I didn't know you were a screenwriter. You ARE aren't you? If no, think about the callings you've missed.