If the preferred drink of Mad Men's pilot was a straight up martini, last night it was the vodka gimlet, as the ladies get (wolf-)whistled up to center stage. Since Betty Draper (January Jones) was left out of the pilot until the (not so) surprising twist at the end, last night we got to play catch up with Don's lovely lesser half.
She seems the idyllic housewife of the time - two kids, a successful husband - but like many women, it all feels like a trap. Triggering these feelings she can't yet name is the death of her mother, just three months past, and the stress is making her hands go numb. She brings up her mother's death several times and the only empathy she gets is accidental (a bathroom attendant says "I'm sorry..." but then goes on to inform her that she needs to move so others can use the mirror.) When she tries to get Don to talk about his upbringing, hoping this will draw him into her situation, all he can say is "I was raised to believe that talking about yourself was sinful pride," which shuts Betty up. Then later in bed, he again averts the question "Jesus Betts... it's like politics, religion or sex... why talk about it?" (Cue nookie.)
Meanwhile, Peggy again spends much of her day fending the sexual advances of her co-workers. While Pete (Angel's Vincent Kartheiser) is off on his honeymoon, she befriends Paul, a copywriter working under Don. He seems nice, giving her a witty grand tour, while smoking a pipe, but when she ends up in his office, the mask comes off and he's just like the others. Paul brings up The Twilight Zone, and this is not just a setting device here, it's also reminds that shows during that time like tackled these issues through sci-fi metaphors, and that Mad Men can somehow be even creepier at times just showing it 'how it was.' Speaking of sci-fi, Peggy's secretarial guardian angel (and office slut) Joan is played by Christina Hendricks, who is probably most famous for playing Saffron, or "Our Mrs Reynolds" on Firefly. That makes two Joss Whedon alums on the show.
This is supposed to be about the music, though, right? Well the first selection of music comes pretty late as Peggy watches a montage of co-workers oggle walking by her desk. The Andrews Sisters' "I Can Dream Can't I" plays and it hits both the mark on Peggy's (unfortunate) fixation on the married and misogynistic Pete, and on the unspoken dreams of Betty, who delivers her sad story to a silent psychiatrist.
The client this week is Right Guard, and Don's revelation for a tagline comes as he unconsciously is trying to figure out what his wife wants. First he suggests a trusted cowboy, who always brings the herd in (Marlboro Man?) but sees that he's only projecting himself on the campaign. It won't work for Right Guard, but can he see it also won't work at home? It's a post-coital conversation with his beatnik mistress Midge (who apparently has her own collection of cowboys who bring the herd in) that gets him to think of the perfect answer to the question 'what do women want:' "Any Excuse to Get Closer." It works for the campaign, but can he put it to work at home?
In the end he's on the phone with Betty's psychiatrist, reminding us this is before doctor-patient confidentiality extended to the husband. As he closes the door for privacy, The Cardigans' "Great Divide" plays, further suggesting that beneath this typical suburban family's surface, there's a sinister divide taking place:
There's a monster growing in our heads
Raised up on the wicked things we've said
A great divide between us now
Something we should know (lyrics)
Playlist: Mad Men - Ep102
1. "A Beautiful Mine" - RJD2 - opening credits/theme music
2. "I Can Dream, Can't I?" - The Andrews Sisters - Peggy watches as the men wink at her / Betty on the psychiatrists' couch
3. "Great Divide" - The Cardigans - Don talks to the psychiatrist on the phone / closing credits
More: Some scenes on this show make you amused at how we all made it into adulthood. When Betty's daughter runs in with a plastic bag over her head, her mother's only concern is about the dry cleaning that was in the bag prior. And there wasn't any seat-belts or child seats, as the kids jump back and forth from the seats, and end up on the floor giggling after Betty crashes into the neighbor's birdbath.