‘Mad’ Women: Little Sally’s all grown up

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There’s less than a month to go until the end of Mad Men. We’re so close to the finale and yet, it doesn’t really feel like we’re building towards any sort of closure. Aside from referencing Don’s old mistresses, and throwaways to The Ghosts of Advertising Past like Lee Garner, there’s not much finality in these last few episodes. “The Forecast” introduces a plot that may build to a fitting epigraph, however. Roger gets a call from SC&P’s “benevolent overlords” at McCann about some retreat in the Bahamas and he needs Don to write a Gettysburg Address-type speech about the future of the company.

I’m really down with a plotline that pushes Don to try and summarize the entire hopes and dreams of SC&P five episodes before the end of the whole series. He’s having trouble finding a fitting theme for the inspirational puff piece because Don Draper himself doesn’t have that gift anymore. He tries to derive inspiration from a frustrated Peggy, who demands she have a performance review after a big blowout with Pete. Aside from being the first female creative director at the agency, her dream is to try to create something of lasting value, a goal Don doesn’t think is possible at an ad agency. Peggy is an idealist who isn’t entirely jaded by this industry yet, and she’s hurt by Don’s incredulous laughter.

Meanwhile, Joan is in LA to interview people for an account and some guy who looks like Jackie Treehorn from The Big Lebowski pretends to be a candidate and suavely asks her to dinner. After what I’m guessing is a great date that ends in them sleeping together, Jackie Treehorn admits he’s divorced, and Joan shares that she’s divorced as well. When asked what happened, she says she ended up getting the job she always wanted. While that’s great for Joan, it’s really depressing to remember what she had to do to get the partnership in the first place.

Jackie Treehorn goes to New York to buy property and, after initially seeming supportive, is being a shit about the fact that Joan has a kid and can’t just whisk off to see the pyramids with him or whatever. “I have a plan, and it’s to have no plans,” he yells, like it’s only his plans that matter. The next morning, when Joan gets frustrated with her babysitter, she flounces off, yelling about how the sitter is ruining her life. Instantly her face falls when she realizes she may as well have said it to her son.

The next morning, Jackie Treehorn shows up with flowers at her office. There’s a weird line where Joan says she’s decided to send her son away and, if she had to decide between him and her son, she’s choosing Jackie Treehorn (what is his name?!). I have no idea if she’s joking or not, and it’s kind of horrifying to realize Joan’s only half-kidding. Thankfully, though, Jackie Treehorn apologizes for being so rigid, and he wants to try and include Joan and her son in his life in New York.

At the Francis Fortress of Solitude, Sally is going to some sort of trip and Betty gently nags her in her prim Betty way about avoiding boys. The line “I’m sorry, Mother, but this conversation is a little late … and so am I” delivered by a straight-faced Sally is hilarious, as is the brief second of horror that crosses Betty’s face before she admonishes Sally, especially since it’s not said with any severity. It’s kind of great to see that they’re so casual together now, even if it doesn’t last until the episode’s end.

When Glenn Bishop comes to visit Sally, he’s wearing ridiculous flowered bell bottoms. Betty doesn’t recognize him initially, but is blown away when she finds out Glenn is 18 and a freshman in college. Betty’s relationship with Glenn in Season 1 verged on inappropriate, as she was a full-grown adult confiding her very adult problems to a besotted little boy who didn’t understand what she was talking about. I don’t think it’s simply that she’s attracted to adult Glenn, but that she’s just taken aback that this man was once the little boy that encapsulated everything she was hopelessly confused about in her past life as Betty Draper.

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The point of his visit is evidently to issue a formal goodbye–he’s shipping out to Vietnam next week, and Sally is pretty furious, especially since Glenn’s been so opposed to the war up until this point. Betty apologizes and shakes his hand, warmly telling him that she and Sally will see him when he gets back.

Later, Sally feels bad that she huffed away without saying goodbye to Glenn and tearfully asks his mother to get him to call her back. But when Glenn comes back the next day, it’s to see Betty. He wants validation for doing what he’s doing from someone who has a begrudging admiration for the troops. Glenn drops the bomb that he’s decided to ship out in some weird attempt to prove himself as a man to his family, and evidently, to Betty, as he tries to make out with her. It’s an incredibly awkward come-on that Betty rebukes, and Glenn becomes as broken-hearted and misguided as the little boy we first saw in Season 1. Glenn and Betty’s entire relationship was based on two socially stilted people who didn’t feel the need to hold back when it came to expressing feelings to each other. There’s an element to Glenn’s bravado that proves he thinks Betty is a prize he can win through being a brave soldier, but there’s also that old desire to bond with someone who sees right through him.

It’d be naive to assume that Sally doesn’t sense the vibes between Betty and Glenn, and when one of her friends hits on Don during a going-away dinner, she accuses him of being just like Betty, and if she has one dream for the future, it’s to not become her parents. When Don tells Sally that she’s actually just like him and Betty, and that, while she’s a beautiful girl, he hopes she’s something more than that, you know it’s because he took that copywriter’s insult to heart.

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B+

Stray observations:

  • “We have a peanut butter cookie problem,” said no one ever, except Pete Campbell. I know this is a female-focused Mad Men recap series, but I’m looking forward to an episode about my favourite smarmy accounts guy too.
  • It wasn’t a huge plotline this episode, but Don’s empty sadness nest is being sold by a hot realtor I’m sure Don is sleeping with, and who says his apartment “stinks of failure.” When it finally sells to newlyweds expecting a baby, Don seems crushed by the prospect of a couple in love starting fresh in an apartment where he wanted to do the same.
  • “You should really talk to them about Colonial Williamsburg.” – Betty Francis, History Nerd
  • Joan’s been married twice? I didn’t actually think she married Bob Benson, but I probably don’t remember because Bob Benson is the least interesting character in Mad Men history.
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One response to “‘Mad’ Women: Little Sally’s all grown up

  1. You left out the best part–Don’s “and then what?” existential contemplation of the meaning of life.

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