[Ed. note: due to unforeseen circumstances, the wonderful and talented Alex Blagg will no longer be able to cover Mad Men. We will miss him! But the show is still so great. So let’s focus on the good stuff (the show) instead of the bad stuff (R.I.P. Alex Blagg).]
This week’s episode is told in three flash-backs…or is it flash-forwards? It is definitely flash-something. So we see Peggy in bed with a man (a man!), and we see Betty lounging on a sofa like she’s some kind of professional sofa-lounger, and then there is Don. He is face-first on a motel room carpet, beer cans strewn everywhere, a smashed newel post in the 60s-modern decorations behind him. And when he wakes up, his face is covered in blood! Don, why is your face covered in blood? But then he comes downstairs and he is not in a motel room, he is at home, and there is no blood on his face at all, or even any scrapes or anything, and Betty asks for his opinion on their new living room furniture, and you remember “Hey, I saw Memento. I’ll make it through this.” Don suggests moving the end table and lamp from one end of the sofa to the other end of the sofa, and the decorator is like “he’s an end table and lamp placement genius.” Duh, lady.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE OFFICE!
Conrad Hilton is waiting in Don’s office, and everyone knows about it and is going crazy. Sometimes it’s important for this show to remind us that despite how it may seem otherwise, this IS still a show about advertising executives. How else to explain the giddy excitement over a hotel developer waiting in an office. Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY excited about Conrad Hilton waiting in that office, I’m just not sure why I am so excited. Because if there are two things in this world that I do not care about, it is the day-to-day business of hotel operation, and fictionalized representations of deceased businessmen. WHATEVER, CONRAD HILTON! YAY!
Conrad gives Don some pretty serious office advice. Get a bible. Get photos of your family. Come to work on time. He is like professor office over there. But he also gives Don some pretty serious business. So, you know, trade off. After he leaves, the office breaks out into a round of applause. Remember last week when in that very same room a man’s foot was mangled by a riding lawnmower? No. Clap clap clap.
But it’s not all applause and forgetting gruesome tragedy. Because Sterling and Cooper are insisting on Don signing a contract. Uh, Don doesn’t sign contracts. I thought we all understood that. No contracts. The guy from England/Fringe is like “I’ve never seen anything like this. You get a raise, a signing bonus, and it’s only for three years.” Well guess what, Prince Charles, you’re in America, and there’s going to be a lot of things you’ve never seen before. Like straight teeth. And functional democracy. And Don doesn’t sign contracts.
Don is supposed to think about the contract over the weekend and have his lawyer take a look at it, but guess what he does instead? That’s right, he doesn’t think about it at all and he doesn’t have his lawyer look at it. You know why? Because it’s a contract, and we’ve been over this. Instead, he flirts with the teacher and stares at the solar eclipse.
MEANWHILE, Betty goes out for iced tea and apple pie with the guy she met at Roger Sterling’s party a few weeks ago, who it turns out is an important political adviser to Governor Rockefeller. Supposedly they are meeting to talk about the unsightly destruction of a local reservoir, or something, but obviously that is not what they are meeting about. They are meeting about flirting so much. In the phone call to set up their non-date, Betty agrees to make time on a Saturday (a Saturday! Scandal!) to meet with him, and before hanging up she gives a quick tug on one of Don’s desk drawers. Still locked. WELL TWO CAN PLAY AT HAVING SECRETS, DON, thinks Betty. After their non-date, the guy asks to walk Betty to her car, but she is not THAT big a fool. She knows what is proper and what is not proper. The man tells her to buy an antique fainting couch. Huh?
OK, but so, back at the office, Roger Sterling is frustrated that Don is not taking this contract thing seriously enough, as if he didn’t get the memo that DON DOESN’T SIGN CONTRACTS. He calls Betty and is like “Betty, I need you to make your reserved and obstinate husband do something he doesn’t want to do.” Oh sure, Roger. So Don comes home after yelling at Peggy and Betty tells him about the phone call and so he yells at Betty. So much dark-browed yelling this episode. They have some pretty serious words about the nature of power and their relationship and Don is like “goodnight,” and walks out the door with a drink in his hand because it was the ’60s.
He picks up some hitch-hikers out in search of some free love on the free-love highway. They’re heading to Niagara Falls to get married to keep the guy out of Vietnam (OR SO THEY SAY). They give Don some pills, because as hard as Don doesn’t sign contracts is inversely how hard he does take pills that teenagers hand him in the middle of the night while he’s driving. Like a boss. They go to a motel, and Don starts tripping balls. He sees his father. It is very intense. And that is when the kid punches him in the back of the fucking head. Yikes. This is no country for old men, you guys. In the morning, Don wakes up and all of his money is gone. And to add insult to injury, the criminals left a poorly spelled note.
To a man that makes his living with words, this is the cut that cuts deepest. He goes to the office and tells everyone that he got into a fender bender. Which is funny because when he was in an actual fender bender last season (that’s what you call flipping your car the fuck over, right?) he said it was something else. Oh, Don. Anyway, Cooper is waiting for him in his office with the contract, and he BLACKMAILS HIM! Oh my goodness. Don signs the contract and says that he wants to have no further contact with Roger Sterling. Uh oh. Trouble in paradise! The bloom is off the rose. When Don gets home he angrily tells Betty that he signed the stupid contract, even though as everyone knows, Don does not sign contracts, and then he storms up the stairs, hardly even noticing that Betty is lying on an antique fainting couch in the middle of the living room? Oh, Betty.
Also: Peggy fucked Duck Phillips. Twice.