"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mad Men: Shoot

I have mentioned that I thought that one of the themes of this show is freedom, and I think in the opening scene of this week's episode solidifies that a little bit more. It's a shot of the neighbors prized birds flying off from the coop, though they return when he has food in his hand. I get that feeling that all the characters are looking for that freedom, or at least a change. Betty wants to go back to modeling, Don might want a new job, and Pete wants Peggy. Maybe. Kinda.

Jim Hobart from McCann Erickson wants Don to come work for them. They're bigger, getting more impressive accounts than Sterling Cooper (Coke, Pan Am, etc), and can promise him a great future. Hobart also offers Betty a modeling job on a Coke shoot, saying she looks like Grace Kelly. January Jones does look like Kelly, actually. He gives her his card, and she tells Don about it on the ride home. At first I thought he was going to be all 1960 manly with her, but he seems
slightly supportive of the idea.

Betty goes to the shrink and he tells her that she's angry at her mom (her mom used to hate her modeling and called her a prostitute). She gets pissed at him for this but you can tell she kinda believes it too, even if she does miss her.

At the office, the gang watches a film clip of Jackie O speaking Spanish, and they panic. What does this mean for the Nixon campaign? Pete comes up with the idea (without Don's approval) of running a ton of Secor Laxative ads in Illinois. At first I had no idea how this would help Nixon, but later when Roger and Cooper actually congratulate Pete on the idea (it's all laxative and Nixon ads in Illinois, so Kennedy will be stuck doing radio spots) I get it. Don is ticked that Pete didn't run the idea past him first.

It's interesting to note that Don makes $30,000 a year. I believe that it was revealed in an earlier episode that Pete makes $3500. Pete says something in this episode about "Don isn't worth 10 times what I'm worth," and I tend to agree. Though I guess we haven't seen what Don has done for the company before the show started. After intercepting a gift of golf clubs from Hobart, Roger tells Don that he shouldn't leave. For one thing, he'll never be able to fire clients at McCann Erickson, because they have stockholders to answer to. Second, he might not be doing the type of ads he thinks he will be. And third, he thinks this is personal, not business for some reason.

I like how this show is using real names for companies and products: McCann Erickson, BBDO, Young & Rubicam, Pan Am, Coca-Cola. It brings a heavy does of realism and retro-coolness to the show.

There's a running joke in this episode about Peggy's figure. It does seem she's getting, um, chunkier as the show progresses (Joan: "You're hiding a very attractive girl with too much lunch"). Pete joins in (what is this, 5th grade?) until Ken goes a little overboard, calling Peggy a "lobster" (all the meat's in the tail). He punches Ken and causes a brawl in the office. They shake hands, but it's baffling that no one really presses Pete as to why he punched Ken in the first place.

Back to the birds: the neighbor is showing the Draper kids how the birds come back for food when the Draper dog leaps into the air and chomps on one of them. I don't know what the symbolism is here...come back home and get in trouble? Try to be free and you'll get bitten on the ass? The neighbor tells the kids that if the dog is ever in the yard again he'll shoot it.

It turns out that Hobart only hired Betty to help his strategy of trying to get Don to come to McCann. He even tells Don this. Betty is let go (though told it's for other reasons). At home, she tells Don that she just doesn't want to be a model again, running around Manhattan with her portfolio like a young girl. Don says he understands but she could have done it if she wanted to. Interesting dynamic between Don and Betty, almost as if they have a more balanced marriage than in earlier episodes.

Don decides to stay with Sterling Cooper but not for the money, though he does insist on $45,000 and no contract. He wants to be able to leave at any moment to follow "do something else" while he still can (freedom again?). If and when he does leave, it won't be for more advertising.

Betty has had enough of the neighbor and the birds and what the birds represent too, especially after a day of cooking, doing laundry, and just sitting around the house smoking. In one of the great images on any show in quite some time, she stands outside with a BB gun, cigarette hanging out of her mouth, shooting at the birds in the sky, as the neighbor freaks out.

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