Monday, October 12, 2009

At the Mountains of Madness- Part Nine: "Wee Small Hours"


The Mad Men "how I spent my summer vacation" episode has come and gone and now everyone's back to work and up to their usual tricks. A new affair begins, an old one seemingly ends, and another is deferred entirely. Everything seemed to be going so well for everyone, but that's the 60's in a nutshell, isn't it? Everyone was having such a great time and then everything went to shit right quick. Or was that the 80's? Maybe that's just American history in general? Who knows?

Connie's early morning phone calls were the least bracing thing this week. Jump ahead to hear all about it!

Oh, Sal. Poor, poor Sal. Things were looking up for our token Italian. The Patio campaign fell through but Sal had a new career as a commercial director. Great, right? Unfortunately, the attention he so closestedly craves comes his way at the most inopportune time from a most inopportune source. You see, Sal's directing a commercial for Lucky Strike (which apparently Pete can't smoke without coughing up a lung) and daddy's boy Lee Garner Jr. (who I don't think we've seen since the pilot) is the client who's always right. While going over the not-gay-at-all commercial in the editing room, a drunken Lee makes a move on Sal. This isn't the first time clients have noticed something about Sal that none of his co-workers seemed to have picked up on; remember the Belle Jolie representative from Season One? Sal rejects Lee's advances, stating "I'm married." "So am I." shoots back Lee. That night Lee calls TV Department head Harry Crane and demands that Sal be taken off the account and also that he can't tell anyone about it (he promptly tells Kinsey). When Harry does nothing because you know, he's a decent guy, and Lee shows up to a regular meeting, he storms out with nary a word as to why. Roger demands to know what the hell happened, and Harry tells him of Lee's call, prompting Roger to fling him over to Don (perhaps he's just in a huff because he doesn't know anyone in Albany who can stop that sanitation department facility in his neighborhood). Don in turn has a powwow with Sal about what happened, Don knowing his big gay secret, after all. Don scoffs "You people" and chides Sal for not taking one for the team. The dilemma with Lee puts the Lucky Strike account, the jewel in Sterling Cooper's crown, in jeopardy and Sal is fired to keep the client happy. The last we see of Sal, he's on a pay phone telling Kitty he won't be home for dinner, ostensibly because of work, but really because he's picking up some rough trade in the Park. Be careful, Sal! I saw Cruising and this could end with Powers Boothe asking to pee on you!

I really hope the end result of this is former Sterling Cooper employees Sal and Joan becoming best friends, Will and Grace-style. Either that or something along the lines of the Object of My Affection. Also concerning this subplot, anyone think the inclusion of all the Martin Luther King references and all the gay struggles this week was timely given the march on Washington for gay rights? Something else to think about is this. Looks like the signs about Lee Jr. were there all along, eh?

Betty's flirtation with Albany fat cat Henry Francis came to a(nother) head this week. The two have become pen pals and it seems like they're coming back into each other's romantic orbits (Betty still has that damn couch) after she shot him down last week. When Carla catches Henry over, he gives the excuse of holding a Rockefeller fundraiser. When Betty goes through with the smokescreen Henry doesn't show and sends a surrogate. Betty drives all the way up to Albany with the funds raised and throws them in his face, demanding to know why he was a no-show. "You're married," he says "You have to come to me." (lots of ruminations about marriage and its role in the politics of cheating this week). Realizing that her potential affair is much more lurid than she had hoped, Betty abandons the whole idea (for now) and heads home. The character she reminded me most of in this interaction was her own daughter Sally. Just look at that obstinate, pouty face when she's in his office. Betty's a child, we've known this since the beginning and it's becoming more and more apparent every episode.

Don's become Conrad Hilton's new BFF. He's confiding in him and treating him like a son, subjecting him to folksy wisdom about the Marshall Plan and Manifest Destiny. The two of them are both rags-to-riches stories in the flesh and really get each other, you know? Now that Don's officially working on the Hilton account, their bromance (sorry) is in jeopardy. Don's whole "customer is never right" approach to advertising doesn't jive well with Connie, who's used to getting exactly what he wants. When he talks about Hiltons on the Moon, he really wants an ad campaign about Hiltons on the Moon, not just an idea of one. This coupled with the phone calls in the wee small hours of the morning is really putting a strain on their working and personal relationship. What's to become of these two? Only time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, the Don Draper extramarital nookie drought is finally over as Don's at long last sealed the deal with Miss Farrell (by the way, is she playing the same character in those Twix commercials?) and is now playing his infidelity a little close to home. Hiding in plain sight or hubris at its best?