Where to begin. This episode was chock full of discussion-worthy topics. Here are the things I wrote down while watching, complete with my after-episode reflection commentary :
Oh My Goodness it’s Glen and Freddy!: I never thought I would see these characters again! Welcome back Glen Bishop. He’s grown into a real hooligan in the past couple of years. The moments between Betty and Glen are some of my favorite in this show, probably because I find them to be a wonderful mix of sincerity and slime. Last night, it seemed Glen’s desire for Betty has been displaced onto the more appropriate target, Sally. I loved the phone conversation between Sally and Glen… it was so fabulously serious. I think that’s actually how children talk to each other on the phone… or how they used to before they started texting. Glen probably wants to do dirty things to Sally, but I’m clinging to the hope that their friendship might just stay platonic. Or better yet, that it will hover somewhere in-between, allowing Glen to play the role of the therapist that Sally surely needs, and Sally to be the blonde that Glen lusts after.
I’m happy to see that Freddy is back. Though I find him irritating, he’s a good character. I wanted Peggy to tell him what was really bugging her: that he was sitting in her desk, acting like he was her superior when she in fact was the copy-writer hand-picked by Don for the new firm. But perhaps what she was really feeling was that she DOES want to get married. I doubt it. Peggy may want to get married, but she is never going to want to quit working at SCDP. Her rationale for wanting a husband: “I don’t want to spend New Year’s alone,” is very Don Draperesque. Unfortunately, Peggy can’t ‘do’ marriage like a man does marriage, or can she? I loved Peggy and Freddy’s conversation about sex, even as it made me cringe. Is the message here that it’s OK to sleep around with men, but not with the one you want to marry? It will be interested to see what happens between Peggy and boy toy Mark. Will he stick around now that she’s gone all the way? Did Peggy sleep with him because she decided that she doesn’t want to marry him? Or did she sleep with him to prove that she’s not traditional? Let’s just hope she used protection.
They don’t make dresses like that anymore: This was a great fashion week on Mad Men. All those lovely party dresses seem reminiscent of a time that really is lost. And this is not just a nostalgia for an imagined past. I have a distinct memory of a green satin dress that belonged to my grandmother in the 60s which looked a lot like Don’s secretary’s (Allison’s) dress. My grandmother’s dress was one of my dress-up clothes as a kid. How I wish we had preserved it better– though it wouldn’t have fit any of the women of my generation– my grandmother had the tiny frame of a Betty Draper. This Christmas party was all nostalgia. It seemed to call our attention to all the other office parties we’ve seen on this show, and to the way that this one was not like the others. This time all the fun was surface level, generated purely for the entertainment of Lee Garner Jr. I don’t quite know what to make of this shift, but it feels like the distinction between work life and home life is more sharply differentiated than we’ve seen it before. In the past, Roger and Don had wives and children at home, and work was the place they could be themselves. But now that they’ve both been divorced, all the secrecy of their infidelities have been aired. And something’s lost in that transition. The other big change is of course that they are now responsible for maintaining their new fledgling business. Watching Roger dress up in a Santa suit was truly something, and seemed to articulate precisely how much things have changed for these characters. One more note about the party: How many women work at SCDP? Can there be a need for THAT many secretaries? Though I suppose they are so cheap to employ that Lane need not protest too much.
Some unorganized parting words: Trudy is the worst, she may actually be more annoying than Pete. Don better not marry that secretary just because he slept with her. More Dr. Faye Miller please, and more Hitler jokes.