As usual there are so many things to get into, but I just have to say GO BETTY!!!
She was gone for a while, but the the girl is definitely back and I like it. It was strange territory to be in starting from last week – I had gotten so used to Betty’s snivelling and whininess I had near ’bout forgot what she’s like when she’s being a grown-up. There were hints of this industrious, assertive side of her while she went about her household tasks while juggling Junior League business early in the episode but where she really shines is Rome.
Initially I was skeptical about how interesting watching the Drapers abroad could be, but it was one revelation after another. Betty speaks fluent Italian! She coyly holds her own while men hit on her! She and Don flirt! Throughout the run of Mad Men we have seen what kind of women Don is attracted to, but weren’t given much clues about how his relationship with Betty developed. Finally we see Betty and Don in a situation where she is clearly more confident than he is, and she gets to fully exhibit her poise, independence and savoir faire. Betty in Rome felt like a glimpse into what she once was – before the husband, babies and a gilded cage in Ossining. Now that I finally see what Betty was/is/could be I also find myself in the unfamiliar situation of rooting for her and Don. Their exchanges and behavior toward each other during the trip were sweet and appealing. For the first time ever, I want them to work out.
I know I jumped ahead a bit, but don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten about Henry Francis. Betty allows him to kiss her and when I heard that Don would be out of town for two days I was all set in my mind for a torrid weekend tryst between Henry and Betty. But contrary to my expectations she opted to accompany Don and the, ahem, enthusiasm, with which she jumped her husband’s bones was surprising as well as sexy. When Betty gets home she seems to want nothing more than to put the whole thing decisively behind her, from the strange looks she gives the fainting couch to her clear annoyance with Francine for her insinuation of a connection between herself and Henry. Perhaps now that Betty knows she’s “still got it” she feels no further temptation toward an affair? In one of the prior seasons Betty and Don are in bed and she tells him that she wants him…that she always wants him. I think that’s true.
And now, a move from curious to outright creepy: Pete Campbell. I should have known that any episode that began with him reading Ebony (wtf?), being strangely friendly with his secretary and buying drinks for everyone was way too good to be true. As I watched, I didn’t know what to make of Pete’s storyline. Alone in the apartment he seemed at once loosed of all constraints yet also unsure of what to do with himself. At times he seemed even child-like – eating cereal and watching cartoons. I couldn’t divine his motivations for helping the au pair with the stained dress and was thoroughly shocked at the culmination of events. I always knew Pete was an asshole but now he’s a rapist too? When he arrived at her door the first thing I thought of was how he similarly turned up drunk at Peggy’s door in season one. And, as if what he did to the poor girl wasn’t enough, the way he swiftly went from apparent guilt to business as usual once Trudy forgave him for infidelity (not to mention the ease with which she did that!) left me slack-jawed. I must admit I am all out of trenchant analysis with regard to Pete this week – I need you guys to help me out.
Odds and ends:
– That up-do of Betty’s was ugly. I can’t be the only one who feels this way.
– Poor Joan! I was so glad to see her, but that little pause before she said “Psychiatry.” and the way her head drooped and she rubbed her temples after she saw Pete broke my heart.
– Betty and Sally: lots to discuss there. As Sally matures and becomes sexually aware what other advice with Betty give her? Also, who has a feeling that she comes by that temper of hers honestly? Betty just doesn’t hit anyone.
Until next time, Arrivederci!