My father's never given me anything. By the way: Happy Father's Day!
Light 'em up, ladies. This may rival Betty shooting birds as my favourite little moment.
Penny in the air...
Tracie has a rundown of Betty and Sally here, so I won't go too much into that, except to say: God, Sally. I'm just so, so sad for her. Everyone in her life continues to disappoint her again and again, with the exception of Glen the weirdo and, suddenly, her mother. I do think, following this year's hammered theme of generations and children, Sally is the negative image of her parents. She takes their worst qualities—Don's chameleon sociopathy and Betty's icy manipulation—and somehow turns herself into a clever, strong but (so far) good person. I think she's just not that interested in "trouble", as the blonde boarding school girl claims; nor did she really want a smoke. I think she's just letting her mother be close to her for once.
Because her father is a monster. Peggy has it exactly right, and it scares me that nothing she says is getting through to him at all anymore. Was he wrong about Ted and Peggy? No. Was he wrong about the budget? No. Nothing he explicitly said was incorrect in any way. This doesn't preclude him from being a monster.
He is pretending to be a baby. The episode ends with him in fetal position. The press release is about being reborn. Do you get it yet? DO YOU?
But this whole episode was about that breathless anticipation, the insane pounding of the heart and the heat in your temple as you wait for something terrible you know is going to happen, but you just don't quite know when. Kenny gets SHOT IN THE EYE, and we don't see his fate until half an episode later. We endure two phone calls first, one from Betty and one from Harry, and I was honestly convinced both were going to be about how Ken was Dead as a Doornail.
Then we have Bob Benson. From the first, tense meeting with Pete, I was waiting for some trick, some plan on his part to take Pete down completely. Bob, like Don, isn't saying anything wrong. He's not even doing anything wrong. Go back to the episode with Joan's ovarian cyst. Joan's mother tells her it doesn't matter what Bob's intentions are—what matters is what he did. Now, knowing what we know, does it matter that he is a fraud? A sociopath of Draper-esque proportions? (For the record, I think the answer is yes, because icy Bob is a scary Bob.) We don't (yet) know why he has Gatsbyed his way into SC&P but in terms of quantifiable effect, all he has done is try to help out his colleagues and superiors, with coffee (lots and lots of it), hospital visits, gay Spanish nurses from Spain, pep talks.
Bob Benson is the Lorelai Gilmore of this show, only with even more fabulous hair.
Contrast once again with Don, who comes out of the same abyss and does nothing but destroy all that is good and happy. Bob is now clearly established as the same kind of chameleon who can turn brittle in a second, but we are spared any real fallout from his scheming. At least for one more week.
Go back, now, to Don the fur salesman. Don, who conned Roger into giving him a job, the way Bob and his tie (of course) conned Pete into giving him a job. Are they on the same trajectory? Was Don like this, once upon a time? Is it this emptiness, this running away, this absolute lack of accountability that turns humans into Don Draper, the Monster?
Who here took his helpfulness at face value? I already know the answer: nobody. Nobody in their right minds who has ever watched this show before expected the St. Joseph account to turn out well. Instead, we are subjected to this horrible tension throughout the episode as we watch Ted and Peggy both rely on Don to save the day, to dig them out of the hole he put them in, knowing that Don is nigh Congressional in his inability to be good. Did Ted and Peggy have it coming? Maybe. They were certainly oblivious to their surroundings. It's certainly possible that Ted had blinders on when it came to Peggy's Glorious Idea. But...did they really do anything wrong? I didn't see any unprofessionalism, at least on the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason Choughgfouf standard. Sure, they giggled a lot. Smiled at each other. Had fun. Were happy. Is that a crime, now, in this world that Don has created for us? How many times has Don gone over budget, ignored the client's express wishes, for reasons far less than the ones Ted had?
Nothing is better than Joan's knowing expression throughout this entire scene. Although Don's mocking baby cry comes close.
But no. Don, in one devastating, clever, grossly inappropriate fell swoop, both "fixes" the problem and exacts his idea of retribution on Peggy. Because Peggy, and Peggy alone, must be punished. Because Ted doesn't suffer. Not really. He isn't the one with the Clio on the line. Ted doesn't tell Peggy he went over budget; he doesn't stand up for her in the meeting with the client; he doesn't even stand up for her with Don. Not where it counts. Peggy is the one who suffers the fallout completely. Her ad is neutered. Her faith is shattered, again. Her work goes unrecognized, again. (Why should she get thanks? "That's what the money is for. You should be thanking me every morning when you wake up, along with Jesus, for giving you another day!")
Ted goes home without a word, without having to look her in the eye and face the aftermath.
And Don? Don curls up on his couch after disclaiming responsibility for his daughter, completely ignoring his wife, and "saving" the company.
“A name can mean a new beginning, a chance to see yourself as you would dream to be, and to leave the baggage you have accumulated over the years behind,” said SC&P partner Don Draper. “At least that’s been my observation.”
This entire season has been about giving Don chances. He died in a pool and still, his only concern is leaving his baggage far behind him, shedding The Suitcase of his former life (wanting to feel, to know what is real, living a lie). What he doesn't realize is that the ultimate shedding of your past is death. There is no more past, or present, or future. There is no more. And it won't make you whole.
...and the penny drops.