She Has Manners With Everyone But Me
either a Stella Artois tagline or what’s flashing on the neon sign above Pete Campbell’s bed, what Betty says about Sally is sad on its face, because it’s something only truly hurt people say. They perceive themselves as forever jagged, scratching people thru their clothing. Sometimes it’s even true, and Betty is sort of right to feel like a generic person might be inclined to be impolite to her just because. People like Betty have misspent all their vibes into being a resting-face bitch, and it’s hard to be nice to people like that.
Her mistake is in assuming Sally isn’t courteous or respectful or whatever just on general principle. It’s because Sally is a teenage girl and you’re her mother, you wretch! It’s nothing personal. If sons were put on this earth to trouble their fathers, daughters were put on this earth to make their mothers forget their own youth. Stage dads who live vicariously thru their sons who play football and otherwise strap are also derelict, but nothing’s parentally worse than a mother who looks at a daughter and cannot remember what it was like.
Betty’s progressed, tho! The two nicest things she’s done on the show both involve Sally: silent-partnering an infant’s gift of a Barbie doll and offering her that cigarette in the car on Sunday. Sally’s contention that her father’s given her nothing was perfect but subject to factcheck—there was the Beatles show, the instant debt-forgiveness when she broke his suitcase latch, a Ronald Reagan in ‘Challenger’ moment when JFK was shot. Don has been the better parent simply for having liked Sally a lot, but Betty’s playing mad catchup.
Betty cites Miss Porter’s as having produced Jackie Kennedy and Don corrects her: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She did well twice Betty says. So did you Don says. Don is obv. JFK in this analogy so he can afford to be a little gracious. Moreover, in that scene I realized how much Betty really is a Jackie and how much the Jackie has fallen fortunately out of usage: the right schools, the right man (twice), and still a tragic figure. Not until Hillary defied Fitzgerald would it be possible for a woman to have a second act in America.
Ken Cosgrove briefly becomes the Man in the
Anne Hathaway Shirt, David Ogilvy’s valentine to story appeal. Vance Packard in The Hidden Persuaders called attention to the nineteen-year campaign’s use of a ‘a highly successful non-rational symbol’. Ken Cosgrove is successful but also rational and he knows frat boys are the Ukrainian gangsters of a scene. There’s no beating or joining them, so get out while you can.
Distraught over yung Sally, Don, duh, drinks a lot. Megan’s all: You need to pull back on the throttle a little bit, honey. More plane-crash theory. Maybe the discussion of Mad Men’s titular falling man and the fact that John Slattery reads the audiobook of Falling Man by DeLillo has not included the heaviest of the 9/11 memoranda: that it’s about plane crashes. Except for a flirtatious flash of his old self with her, as he slyly tells her she looks terrible when she looks anything but, Don is oblivious to Megan. He even changes the channel when her show comes on and in a weird instant you learn more about what it’s like to live with this man than in lifetimes of Betty. If Peggy’s been easing away from Don all season like she just discovered he’s got a wooden leg or a heroin habit, this is the episode in which she finally calls him a monster to his face. It’s not because she saw him literally tune his wife out, but it shd be.
Rosemary’s Baby is big this season. Sally was spotted reading the paperback in another episode and the movie popped a wheelie on the zeitgeist. The movie is more fashion show than horror movie, swiveling Mia Farrow thru a revolution of breathtakingly edgy looks. Then she cuts her hair off like Karlie Kloss and the horror begins. The ending is the second-best in movie history, behind this, because of what it proves—that a mother’s unconditional love is a terrible idea.
This is why Betty doesn’t risk it.
Glen Bishop, his aging process inspired by AJ Soprano’s Mudvayne period, breaks thru yonder window with some friendzone light. I did not see that coming and I don’t think Sally did either—I’ll bet the only reason she’ll tolerate it is because she’s fresh out of male authority figures at the moment and Glen at least knows her really well, kind of exactly like a brother. No boy deserves a big sister, but every girl deserves a big brother. Glen is every bit as benignly creepy as Bob Benson and will be just as ruthlessly attentive. Omg isn’t he the best little boy in the world ever?
It’s revealed that Bob Benson is up to his ears in résumé-forging debt, that Beloit would like him to stop telling people he went there, and that Thomas from Downton Abbey says hello. Tom Ripley vibes are often merely a symptom of No Personality Disorder, which would make Pete Campbell the Dickie Greenleaf/Jude Law character. Okay, this makes no sense. Still, Bob is apparently both really gay and really leechy about what he perceives to be normal behavior. Since this is Pete Campbell we’re talking about, it’s a pretty new kind of normal. He has not less but more pucker than the cranberry, and he definitely doesn’t like people mixing with their betters. That he chooses to be Bob’s big brother and leash-holder is just another way for him to style I Own You on Bob’s bathroom mirror in his own toothpaste. Bert Cooper once warned Don Draper to keep an eye on Pete because who knows how loyalty is won, but it’s not about loyalty with Pete. It’s about ownership, distribution of property, and getting a bigger office. He’s now got all the dirt on the two dirtiest members of the firm, and sooner or later he’s gonna open that particular desk drawer.
I maintain that Bob Benson is ultimately a minor character whose internet fame is undeserved, which doesn’t mean that two episodes ago I didn’t go around mumbling ‘have you seen my fish shorts?’ to no one in particular. Bob is only important as the obverse of Don’s meticulously-constructed myth; he’s what happens when you use inferior materials. His sexuality doesn’t matter (Sal’s didn’t, not really) because Mad Men doesn’t do that kind of plotty thing. It allows for a detail but never pushes it. Like the best kind of character development, it’s up to you.