Last year, G.D. and I disagreed on how the Drapers judged the quality of their marriage. He called it objectively bad and thought both viewed getting out as a blessing. But I thought the Drapers, or at least Don, wouldn’t necessarily have thought of marriage in the same way we would today. For Don, marriage obviously didn’t preclude sexual activity on the side, didn’t require he curb his drinking or in any way hamper his work life. All it did was give him the veneer of respectability, the stability of family and the ability to access suburban social circles closed to a bachelor.
This episode was, in some ways, about the opposite. Don is pathetic, though I can’t tell if we’re supposed to see him as such or if it’s just important that his underlings think so. Don had always managed to keep his philandering ways out of the office, and now he’s having sex with the secretary who feels sorry for him. He’s patronizing prostitutes and flirting with everyone, but it’s not working as well because he’s not as charming. Don married was irresistible; Don divorced is palpably lonely. But there’s nothing really different about his behavior, only the way it’s perceived.
On to the episode recap: Freddy has returned, sober, and butts heads with Peggy, who despite her trail-blazing path so far is dating someone seriously and refusing him sex on the Rules-like premise that it will keep him serious about his intentions to make an honest woman of her. Freddy tells her as much, and it’s to him she confides that she actually does want to get married. All of this comes out while their working on a pitch for Pond’s, the client that got Freddy’s foot in the door. Its hinted he retained Pond’s loyalty because he’s in AA with a muckety-muck who falls off the wagon after lunch with Roger. Roger, meanwhile, has to turn an austere office party into a real one after a Lucky Strike honcho, Lee Garner, the one who got Sal canned, decides to turn up. It becomes Roger’s job to debase himself for the client. This, again, isn’t much different from the kinds of cartwheels they turned for clients at Sterling Cooper, but we’re supposed to view it differently. Once out on their own, the founders of this new agency — it has too many names! — is a scrappy survivor that depends on the largess of one big client, and everything it does seems a little more desperate.
Meanwhile, back at the Osining homestead, Weirdo Glenn, the little boy whose crush Betty indulged a little too much, has returned. He is working to befriend Sally and breaks into the Draper/Francis house to tear up the kitchen while the family’s all gone. This would seem harmless if Glenn wasn’t a serial-killer waiting to grow up, and I’m actually nervous about what it’ll do to poor Sally.
Some highlights: Trudy, who’s busy being Annie, makes a brief appearance; we see more of Joan being gorgeous; and Peggy has sex with her suitor in the end. If I forgot anything, as always, let me know in the comments.