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Mad Men Open Thread: Souvenir

Mad_men_betty_bouffant Oh, Mad Men. Only you can take the glory of a whirlwind trip to Rome and turn it into this depressingly bittersweet memory. I don't know why you have to bum me out like that.

So, it's an August weekend in New York and I guess the staleness and stagnation of that part of summer kind of got to everyone and they took action with mixed results.

With Trudy away with her folks, Pete is left to his own devices for a few days. He watches cartoons while eating big bowls of cereal and naps on the couch. While taking his garbage out (giving us a glimpse of his surprisingly dingy hallway), he bumps into his neighbor's young, German au pair. She's in a panic because, with her employers out of town, she went to a party and borrowed a dress from her mistress. The dress has a big wine stain on the front and the au pair is sure that she's in for it. Pete convinces her to let him take care of it.

Pete takes the dress to a department store where he runs into Joan, who is the manager there. Joan looks wide-eyed and embarrassed and can see right through Pete's story of Trudy being the one to spill on the dress. However, in a veiled exchange for his silence, she gives him a slip to get a replacement dress. Joan could not hide her disappointment (?) as she explained that Greg was changing his focus to psychiatry, which I'm guessing is a massive failure for brain surgeons. I hope hope hope that Joan is out of that marriage soon. I know that she wants to fall in love and be married and I want that for her, I just hope that she realizes that she doesn't need to settle for Greg and his bullshit.

Pete delivers the dress much to the au pair's relief. Later, he returns to her apartment and pulls some super creepy moves that result in them having sex. I don't know about you, but Pete's icky insinuation that the au pair owed him because he helped her made my skin crawl and while the au pair rolled with the kiss, the whole thing felt rather like date rape. When the neighbors return, the father confronts Pete about his indiscretions with the au pair and says that she's been crying. I can't be sure, but I got the sense that the father had already staked a claim on an inappropriate, adulterous relationship with the au pair and wants Pete to keep his hands to himself. Or perhaps I'm just a jerk and am mistaking his protectiveness for something else. When Trudy returns, she quickly figures out that Pete did not behave. They make up quickly, though, but I don't think she's going to leave him by himself anymore. I mean, seriously, dude, it was ONE weekend. Keep it in your pants.

Mad_men_betty_henry Anyway, on to the big events of this episode. Don and Betty. And Betty and Henry. Yowza. After the junior league's mild success at the council meeting, thanks to the delay tactics of Henry Francis, Henry and Betty's tiny flirtations explode in a kiss. This enthralls Betty and when she goes home and starts telling Don about the meeting, she's positively giddy. But her giddiness doesn't seem to be so much about the fact that Henry kissed her, but that a man who was not her husband found her sexy and wanted to make her happy. This, in turn, reawakened her affection for Don. She also changes her mind about joining Don on his last-minute business trip to Rome to check out the Hilton there.

Mad_men_betty_italians Their time in Rome is amazing. They reconnect in a way I don't think anyone, even Don and Betty themselves, thought was possible at this point. I was thrilled to see them so into each other and their little fantasy play at the cafe where Don beats out two Italian men to win the bouffanted Betty's attention was adorable. Mad_men_betty_don_rome Speaking of which, Betty's Italian? Awesome and sexy. (Note to self: learn Italian.)

When they return home, they are confronted with the unsettling news that Sally has a) kissed a boy and b) beat the crap out of Bobby. The Rome trip seems to have reset Betty in a way that she talks to Sally like a human being. In other words, there's no nonsense about fairies. The news of Sally's physical abuse doesn't seem to concern Betty too much (and Don quickly left Betty to deal with that matter), which may or may not be an issue they'll delve into later. I'm an only child, so I was kind of shocked by the altercation, but my husband, who has a sister six years his junior, said, "Meh."

Anyway, Betty's talk with Sally about the kiss is wonderful. While there's still plenty of old-fashioned advice ("You don't kiss boys, boys kiss you,") Betty does an amazing job of explaining why first kisses, and Sally will have many of them, should be treated as special events, not followed by a cage match, you know. Betty has had several new first kisses in the past few days from Henry and Don so she's practically glowing.

Mad_men_bett_francine_henry Betty is also wearing this funky maxi dress, much different than her usual structured outfits. But for all of her renewed outlook on her life, her discussion with Francine drags her back into her suburban depression. Francine and her husband took a similar trip and were similarly renewed, but I guess are back into their old ruts. Betty doesn't want that at all and when Don gives her a charm from Rome for her bracelet, she icily tells him that she'll have something to look at when she tells the story of their trip...because Don won't be there with her, he'll be working.

I was thrilled that Betty's issues were given more attention and how they affect her mothering of Sally. I feel bad reducing them to daddy issues, but that seems to be at the heart. Betty sought attention and affection from her father and later from men. And though her father tried to rectify what he eventually realized was his daughter's emotional neglect through her daughter, and though Sally does get some much needed attention from Don from time to time, she's obviously still floundering.

Other stuff: Henry's political mantra about delaying when you don't have power, which Betty repeats to Don. Does this say something about their marriage? Was the trip to Rome just a delay in their march to bitterness and regret? And that metaphor seems to be wrapped up with the fact that the trustees are moving on with their reservoir plans. Hmm...perhaps the reservoir is the idealized marriage that Betty wants and the development plans are reality's destruction of it.

Also, Betty semi-scowling at her fainting couch. For a moment, she is empowered as a wife and mother and doesn't need it? Or simply realizes that it looks ridiculous?







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Comments

Washington "Pronto" Cube

The minute Betty and Don landed in Rome, I said to myself, "NOW you're going to see some clothes," and sho' nuff. Iin the hotel lobby that woman who walked by in a trapeze dress and Betty's head snapped like "whoa" while wearing her little pink Peter Pan collared pearl buttoned suit, all tampered down. Welcome to La Dolce Vita, Betty.

Oh...laughing. In the hotel bedroom, I kept saying out loud, "Look at that GLASS...look at that GLASS"...(she was drinking her Pellegrino out of Murano glass.)

Conrad Hilton is being portrayed so John Waters skeezy I'm surprised he didn't use a pass key to come into the bedroom during l'amore with a dwarf, two mimes and Anna Magnani(Fellinisque.)

Once Betty got home and was shuffling around Ossinger in her Pucci print hostess pajamas, the deadly looking casserole that her friend was blowing smoke into--the ennui has hit. And by God she was proud of her new plummage, picking off little bits of this and that off of it and adjusting it like feathers. There is a world out there.

As for Joan in Bonwit's...that just flat out broke my heart. Edging into a marriage that is already a flat lining Code Blue meeeeeeep. I'll tell you (readers) something funny. The minute Pete was assessing that damaged dress? Brownies swear I thought, "Joan would know how to fix that." And *blink* so she did. Of course she's going to get hauled back into the office. They can't keep having employees going into Bonwit.

Pete's confessional to his wife was bizzare, given his past character. I wasn't sure what the tears were for. Perhaps another one wanting to break free--or past guilt over Peggy who could make him so much happier...cue to Joni Mitchell singing Harry's House Centerpiece:


Heatwaves on the runway
As the wheels set down
He takes his baggage off the carousel
He takes a taxi into town
Yellow schools of taxi fishes
Jonah in a ticking whale
Caught up at the light in the fishnet windows of Bloomingdale's
Watching those high fashion girls
Skinny black models with Raveen curls
Beauty parlor blondes with credit card eyes
Looking for the chic and the fancy
To buy

He opens up his suitcase
In the continental suite
And people twenty stories down
Colored currents in the street
A helicopter lands on the Pan Am roof
Like a dragonfly on a tomb
And business men in button downs
Press into conference rooms
Battalions of paper-minded males
Talking commodities and sales
While at home their paper wives
And paper kids
Paper the walls to keep their gut reactions hid

Yellow checkers for the kitchen
Climbing ivy for the bath
She is lost in House and Gardens
He's caught up in Chief of Staff
He drifts off into the memory
Of the way she looked in school
With her body oiled and shining
At the public swimming pool ...
* * *
The more I'm with you, pretty baby
The more I feel my love increase
I'm building all my dreams around you
Our happiness will never cease
'Cause nothing's any good without you
Baby you're my centerpiece

We'll find a house and garden somewhere
Along a country road a piece
A little cottage on the outskirts
Where we can really find release
'Cause nothing's any good without you
Baby you're my centerpiece
* * *
...Shining hair and shining skin
Shining as she reeled him in
To tell him like she did today
Just what he could do with Harry's House
And Harry's take home pay

Suzy Q

Where to begin?

Pete. Pete and the au pair. Oh lord. That wasn't even date rape, it was just rape. They didn't know each other at all. And yes, I do think the master of the au pair's household already had her under his thumb and didn't like Pete honing in. His directness in confronting Pete was surprising.

Pete never confessed to Trudy. He just looked like a dog who got into the trash. I think that could have been interpreted in a number of ways, and Pete might have even saved himself my "confessing" to going to a strip club or something equally benign but forbidden. But, Trudy was ever so forgiving, wasn't she?

Oh, Joan. I'm afraid she's in a dead marriage but contrary to the comments I've seen here, and comments I have previously made, I think she might be in it for the long haul. After all, women back then didn't just dump husbands quite so easily, even the violent ones. It's prestigious for her to be married to a doctor. But, I also want her back where she belongs, at Sterling Cooper.

Betty and Don in Rome = HOT. She looked fabulous, and I loved the scene where Don beat out the two lotharios.

I loved Betty's maxi dress - I would totally buy that today. I didn't quite understand (and neither did Don, it seemed), why she was so snippy when he gave her the charm. I'm not sure your explanation is the right one. We'll see.

Thanks for a great recap, kididdy!

Deb on the Rocks

I love the funhouse mirror images they always work in, and in Souvenir the juvenile and controlling way that Pete goes to Europe while the real grown ups went to Italy was perfecto. But in both cases, as Joan said when returning the dress (which was the au pair's souvenir from her party)--this never happened. That was what was going on for Betty--the au pair's wine spill never happened, Joan's humiliation never happened, Pete's indiscretion never happened, and Betty's Roman Holiday never happened--she's supposed to just move back into her unhappy life with a tiny reminder of a bigger life.

I think they play Sally to be the worst of both Betty and Don. She kisses a boy, play acting her mother's life, but when teased about it, she denies it--like Don would--and then uses her power to get out of the convo. Oh, pour little Sally.

Great episode. I immediately put La Dolce Vita in my queue.

Rosie

"I hope hope hope that Joan is out of that marriage soon. I know that she wants to fall in love and be married and I want that for her, I just hope that she realizes that she doesn't need to settle for Greg and his bullshit."


I don't think that Joan is the marrying kind ... period. I find it pathetic that she's so desperate to adhere to society's ideals about women being wives and mothers that she would marry a man who had, months earlier, raped her. And she's still trying to cling to this marriage. To this ideal.

That is pathetic.

bd

"Once Betty got home and was shuffling around Ossinger in her Pucci print hostess pajamas,"

I believe you mean Ossining, which is where they live. Ossining is a really different town now from where it was in the 60s. But back then, it was full of uppercrust and mansions. I think the Kennedy's lived there for a little while. It is a really cute town, easy commute to/from NYC for work, right on the Hudson. I dont think it was a coincidence that they have the Drapers living in the same town as Sing Sing prison.




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