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Mad Men: Jai Ho Ho

[Alex Blagg, formerly of Best Week Ever blog and Blagg Blogg Dot Com, and currently the editor of Wonderwall, will be bringing his wit, wisdom, and love of skinny ties to this season of Mad Men.]

At Sterling Cooper, there is no day of rest to honor the plight of the laboring man. So holiday weekend or not, it is time once again to cast our mystic Mad Men crystals, examine all the meaningful symbolism, and attempt to decipher the infinite truth of the White American Experience that manifests so fleetingly, like a DVR’d chimera made out of cigarette smoke. Here are some things we learned this time:

Jai Alai was the Laserdisc of sports. This week’s Sterling Cooper creative pitch meeting was brought to us by some crazy rich kid who calls himself Ho Ho and wants to spend a million dollars to convince American that the obscure sport known as Jai Alai would somehow make a better national pastime than baseball. Even before Don finally decides to show up to the meeting, the kid is clearly in way over his head. His spoiled sense of privilege, deluded self-confidence and ridiculous willingness to sink millions of ad dollars into a sport that’s played with giant wicker fruit basket gloves make him an easy mark for the greedy mad men. Pete repeatedly insists on referring to him only in culinary terms, with his increasingly eager talk of devouring this delicious deal on a platter. However, it becomes clear that Don prefers his business deal meals to be of the more organic, free-range, grass-fed variety, so he decides to ask the rich kid’s father for permission to fuck him over. That’s Don Draper, always asking nicely to finger-bang you. Anyway, the old man says they can take the kid’s money, so Pete gets his meal after all (one has to assume some celebratory dancing was involved, though it must have been cut for length. Oh well, perhaps in the deleted scenes.)

New York renters were a danger to themselves even before Craigslist. Peggy hates commuting and wants to move to Manhattan, but Peggy’s mom disapproves, saying she’ll get raped if she moves to Manhattan (I’m pretty sure this is factually incorrect as the Meatpacking District was still packing meat back in 1963, which means that most nice young Bridge and Tunnel girls were still relatively safe from the kind of sexual persecution that held sway there once Carrie Bradshaw and the gals started guzzling pinktinis at places called “Den” or whatever around the time 9/11 happened. Get your historical facts straight, Mad Men). Anyway, as long as Peggy doesn’t seek out apartment-hunting help from Joan, the one person in Manhattan who we know for a fact lives with a rapist, she should be fine. Whoops, she had Joan help re-write her apartment-hunting ad! Joan actually made Peggy sound snappier, so there probably won’t be anymore terrible prank calls coming from inside the office (seriously, that prank call made Bart Simpson sound like Chaucer. So terrible), but Pegs probably would have just been better off having Big Donny D do the punch-up for her as one of his weirdly hypnotic haikus, like, “Peggy Olsen. The roommate you need. Here. Now. Forever.” Anyway, it turns out she’s probably going to live with that girl who has the bizarre and unexplained mistrust of sailors. Now that I think about it, Peggy’s mom was probably right.

Sal’s wife seems to really hate musical theater. After being ignored by her husband for what one has to assume was the entirety of their marriage, Sal’s poor wife Kitty finally figured out why the only negligee that would arouse Sal’s interest would be one that’s “strapping young bellboy”-colored. While it’s true that the last forty-five years has yielded considerable advancements in the field of Gaydar, one would imagine that it would have taken less than Sal doing one of the most flamboyantly flaming renditions of a musical number ever performed this side of a Tranny talent show to even register a blip on Kitty’s screen. And the wilted expression that poured over her face at the moment of realization just made the whole thing even more heartbreaking.

Salted Ice Cream is probably not the best idea. I guess this is what we in the biz call “foreshadowing”. Like a handgun introduced in the first reel of a suspense film, the guy who’s dumping table salt on spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream straight from the tub may not make it to the end of the episode. That being said, RIP Grampa Gene. Just when we were starting to enjoy the terrible babysitting antics of this grizzled Grampa Simpson, they had to go and take him away from us. But such is life. One minute you’re scaring small children with blood-stained battle helmets and letting your eight-year old grand-daughter drive a car, and the next you’re gone. Anyway, after a local police officer tells Betty and Sally that the old man kicked while waiting in line at the A&P, Betty (who manages to outdo her own “cold loveless mother” act week after week) straight up shuts the front door, leaving her young daughter to cry on the front steps alone. Later, Sally yells at her grieving/maniacally laughing parents in the kitchen and then watches a monk set himself on fire. Man, that poor girl is seriously going to spend the seventies making more regrettable sexual decisions than Warren Beatty.