Sunday, March 7, 2010

Marriage of Figaro – Mad Men Episode Summary 1.3

Pete Campbell returns from honeymoonSynopsis: Pete Campbell returns to the office fresh from his honeymoon, and he like many newlyweds find marriage life refreshing. Don Draper, on the other hand, feels trapped, and appears longing to live a life other the one he has now. He falls for his client, but the woman stops whatever affair they were to have after learning that he is married. So, Don comes home to his wife and kids to continue to play the role of good husband and father. A job he is expected to perform especially at his daughter’s birthday party.

Episode Summary: Don Draper is on a train to work looking at a Volkswagen ad completely annoyed. His annoyance turns to worry when an old army buddy recognizes him, and calls him by his real name Richard “Dick” Whitman. Caught unaware, Don Draper could do nothing else, but acknowledge that he indeed is Dick Whitman, the once army man of Fort Sill. Pete Campbell, on the other hand, fresh from his honeymoon returns to work still overcome with bliss. His colleagues who threw him a bachelor party could not wait for him to kiss-and-tell. However, marriage somehow changed the once vulgar Pete Campbell as he tries his best to keep the salacious details of his honeymoon to himself. If having a ring on your finger changes a person, it also alters the way people look at you. This he notices by his co-workers’ uncharacteristically friendly attitude toward him. Soon he learns that it was mostly brought about by a prank they pulled on him as they hire a Chinese family in full traditional attire to sit in his office. Some things never change like the waggish behavior of most Sterling Cooper employees. Don Draper is many things, but waggish. The displeasure from his morning commute lingers to the early meeting with his creative team for their Secor laxative account. The meeting was fruitless as they only ended up talking about their competitor’s new Volkswagen lemon ad that caught people’s attention be it of brilliance, annoyance or bafflement.  Continue reading...

While the men fuss over the ad, the girls at Sterling Cooper are gaga over the banned book Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Joan Holloway who had just finished reading it was discretely returning it to the owner when Peggy Olson asks that she borrow it. Given the scandalous nature of the book, and seeing the young, new secretary as innocent, and prude, Joan immediately advises against her reading it. Little did she know that Peggy had already had a forbidden tryst with Pete Campbell. Granted that the affair happened before the young man’s wedding, both know that what happened between them was wrong. Though Peggy does not necessarily see it as a mistake, Pete makes it clear that it was something that should be kept secret more so forgotten.

It seems that the ad men are feeling a bit puckish with Harry Crane telling a joke while they wait for their client, Rachel Menken. The mood immediately changes at her arrival. The meeting though started on the right track with the presentation of comprehensive research about their competitors once again abruptly ends when Ms. Menken senses that none of these ad men had bothered visiting her store. Don Draper seeing no escape from this glaring mistake admits to their error, and promises to personally perform the simple yet essential task. Pete Campbell detects the attraction between the creative director and their client having observed Don’s flirting with the woman that began when his cufflink accidentally falls off his cuff. Taken aback by what he just witnessed, he discusses the matter with Harry who explains the behavior as typical with married men who like himself could only resort to innocent flirting.

Don Draper, true to his word, pays a visit to Menken’s department store where he gets a tour from the storeowner herself, and a new pair of cufflinks to boot. His tour extends up to the rooftop, Rachel Menken’s favorite part of the store for it is where they keep the patrol dogs that she dearly loves. Losing her mother at childbirth, Rachel was brought up by her father who spent most of his life at the store. Though she had an older sister, it was the company of the dogs that kept her while her father is busy with work. The attraction that was brewing with the two from their first meeting finally comes up to a boil as the two passionately kiss. However, whatever future the two would have had is put to an end when Don Draper confesses that he is married. Rachel Menken regrets learning this fact, and having fallen in love with the man who could not be hers. She immediately ends the affair before it grows out of hand, and requests that Don find someone else to handle her account.

The excited voice of Sally Draper awakens Don. It is her daughter’s birthday, and his wife reminds him that he is to put together the playhouse in time for the party. Don sees the cufflinks from his almost lover, and he is filled with regret and longing for a life different from the one he is living now. Don busies himself with building the playhouse for his child, while his wife Betty and pregnant friend Francine prepares the food for the party. After a few beers, the playhouse is finally done, and the guests have arrived including their new neighbor Helen Bishop, a seductive single mother with two kids. The men watch their wives from across the room as the women chat about their honeymoons. Francine’s husband Carlton pays close attention to Helen. The man follows the woman, and when they are alone insinuates the idea of the two of them having an affair. Their awkward conversation interrupted only by Don who was ordered by his wife to grab the video camera to document the celebration. The women including Betty worry about the new neighbor, and their concern becomes apparent after seeing the woman and Don chatting. In an attempt to keep her husband at arms length from the seductress, Betty orders Don to pick up the birthday cake from the store, and he does what he is told. Don Draper drives back home with the cake, but drives away as he passes his house.

Hours passed, and still no sign of Don and the cake. The guests start to leave, and Betty begins to worry more so becomes embarrassed that her daughter celebrates her birthday without blowing her candles. Helen seeing the concern on Betty’s face shares the frozen Sara Lee cake that she kept in her fridge. Far from what she would have served, they made do with the unfavorable replacement unsure whether it alleviated or worsened her shame. Darkness has fallen, and Don Draper wakes up in his car neither troubled nor proud of what he has done. He returns home bringing with him a dog. Sally Draper could not care less about the cake nor his father missing her blow birthday candles. The child was just too happy to see his father come home, and was equally excited at the sight of the gift he brought along. Betty, on the other hand, is displeased, but has nothing to say.


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