Sunday's episode dealt heavily with parenting, specifically fatherhood.
One of the most notable scenes took place between three generations: Grandpa Gene, Don Draper, and Bobby. As Gene showed Bobby a Prussian helmet with dried blood, Don said, "Bobby, it's a dead man's hat. Take it off." This was such a layered statement: Not only was Don trying to wrestle the parenting role away from Gene and exert his authority over his, but Don's actually the one wearing a dead man's "hat." Name, identity, etc. A father's warning to a son not to make the mistakes he made?
The episode began with a great segment showing Grandpa Gene teaching Sally how to drive. The gorgeous smile on her face says so much: It's not just that she's having fun; it's not just that she's proud that her grandfather let her take the wheel. She loves being loved, craves the attention that Grandpa Gene gives her — and which she rarely gets from her parents. (An aside: My grandfather taught me to drive and this scene made my heart swell.)
In addition to time and attention, Grandpa Gene tells Sally: "You're smart… You could really do something. Don't let your mother tell you otherwise." Wise words. Parenting from a strong father figure — which Sally clearly relished.
There were parent issues of another sort going on in Peggy's life: She told her mother that she planned to get an apartment in Manhattan, and her mother did not take it well at all. "Family's cheap," Her mother spat. "Someday both of youse is gonna feel this — this broken heart I'm carryin… You'll get raped, you know that." Peggy's sister Anita tried to diffuse the situation, telling Peggy, "The whole Father dying situation… that was hard on her." Lessons are learned through parents — even if that lesson is learning when to walk away (or move out).
Of course, Sterling Cooper was dealing with Fatherhood, as the company's new client, Horace Cook Jr., was looking to spend $3 million of his dad's money on promoting jai alai in the U.S. At a lunch with Don and Pete, Horace talked about being the "father" of the sport, and impressing his father someday by giving him a team. Pete, who has dad drama of his own, was on board for making sure Horace got what he wanted, telling Don: "So he was born with a lot of money> He has a dream and it's out job to make it come true." But in a meeting between Don, Bert, Lane and Horace Sr., Horace the elder said: "Should you be lucky enough to strike gold, remember that your children weren't there when you swung the axe." Quite an interesting take on inheritance and passing things on to your kids.
The crappy parenting Sally's been getting was on full display when a cop arrived at the house to inform Betty that Grandpa Gene was dead. Sally was, quite literally, left out.
Sally's outburst when the adults were laughing while mourning Gene came as no surprise, but its worth pointing out that while Betty brushes Sally off ("Go watch TV"), Sally doesn't move until she gets a silent, motionless okay from Don. Even though Don spends so much time away from home, the thread between father and daughter is somehow strong, trusting, understanding. And when Sally did go watch TV, what she saw was more death, namely, the now-iconic image of Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức self-immolating in protest of South Vietnam's treatment of Buddhists.
Of course, it wasn't all doom, gloom and daddy issues on Sunday night:
Don broke the ant farm! Is it the end of the "gynocracy"? Ant colonies need queens to survive…
…And Joan killed them all. Dead.
Joan taught Peggy a thing or two about copywriting.
The Patio commercial was ear-piercingly awful…
Although Peggy's "I told you so" look was amazing.
And watching Sal act out the Patio routine was hilarious, even if his poor wife suddenly realized the truth about her marriage.
Earlier: Mad Men: "I'm Peggy Olson, And I Want To Smoke Some Marijuana"
Mad Men: "Just Don't Get Pregnant."
An Open Letter To Jon Gosselin From Don Draper
Mad Men: Ann-Margret Gives Master Class In Womanly Arts
"His Name Is Dick - After A Wish His Mother Should Have Lived To See"