How quickly things change!
One minute Grandpa Gene's here, the next there's a baby living in his room. One minute you think you might be moving to London, the next you find you're not. One minute you think your husband's about to be a chief resident, the next you find he'll never be a surgeon. One minute you think you're running a glamorous New York office — the next you're howling over a bloody, shredded appendage.
Last night's episode began with Sally voicing her fear of the dark. Or, as she put it: "I'm afraid of what's going to happen when you turn the lights out." It's not that she's afraid of the unknown: She's afraid of her worst fears lurking there, in her own house.
When Betty was cuddling with the new baby, Bobby asked, "Can I pet him?" Sally, on the other hand, stayed far away. Later, Betty told Don, "She won't even go in his room." Change is not always easy.
At Sterling Cooper, we learn it's soon to be Joan's — Mrs. Harris' — last day. But when her husband comes home late — and drunk — Joan finds out that he didn't make chief resident. "You're not going to be able to leave your job," he says, but she replies, "that's done." Things have changed: Joan thought she was leaving the job behind and starting a whole new life, but now she realizes she'll have to alter her plans. Her face before turning out the light was amazing: Sadness, anger, weariness yet strength and resolve, all in that one moment, one expression.
The arrival of The Brits at Sterling Cooper was also a sign of change. Sometimes change comes in a neatly wrapped gift. But just as inside Layne Price's "gift" box was a snake and the message "We're sending you to Bombay," not all change is welcome. Earlier, Bert Cooper - who seems to be woefully out of touch - hinted that Don might be transferred to London, but at a meeting, dashing newcomer Guy McKendrick informed the department heads that things will, for the most part, stay the same. Or, as Pete explained it to Harry: "They reorganized us and you're the only one in the room who got a promotion." Sometimes change sucks!
Meanwhile, Betty was trying to change Sally's mind about the baby, using "fairies" and a Barbie doll. Sally, an astute realist, declared: "Baby Gene can't write." The doll seemed to know that she was also a snake in a box, so to speak, and couldn't even look Sally in the eye. (Related: Could Sally's disinterest in the Barbie be evidence of a growing disinterest in all things "girly"?)
One thing that was odd — when dashing Guy McKendrick addressed "Mrs. Harris"…
…Joan — who always keeps it together — broke down and cried. For a change.
Thinking that it was Joan's last day, Peggy made the effort to tell her that she appreciated Joan's efforts, although, "It's just we can't all be you." But Peggy's heartfelt expression of gratitude was interrupted by the creatives getting splattered with blood. The dashing Guy McKendrick's foot! Mangled by a riding mower! Peggy fainted — in Pete's arms — but Joan! Joan was grace under pressure, quickly making a tourniquet (perhaps she would make a good doctor!). Surely having her hubs fail at the hospital while she managed her keep her composure while covered in blood was no accident on the part of the writers. In any case, the foot-mangling: How can something so horrible be so hilarious? One of the best lines in this episode was actually Roger Sterling, later saying, "Somewhere in this business, this has happened before." (Plus! the title of this episode is basically a joke: "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency.")
While the Brit was on the verge of bleeding to death, Don was taking a meeting with Conrad Hilton, the famed hotelier whose first wife, Mary Adelaide Barron, had a son named William Barron Hilton — Paris Hilton's grandfather. (Conrad's second wife? Zsa Zsa Gabor.) Conrad — Connie — and Don had met previously; and when Connie asked the loaded question, "So what do you want?" he was disappointed by Don's answer. Connie scolded: "The next time someone like me asks you a question like that, you need to think bigger." Don, who'd gotten his hopes up about a job in London only to be quietly let down, had a comeback for that, and it involved more snake imagery and the moral: "One opportunity at a time."
But change really was the theme of the episode, and Joan had a great little speech at the hospital: "One minute you're on top of the world, the next some secretary's running you over with a lawn mower." She was referring to the dashed hopes of the dashing Brit, but also to her own dreams of quitting her job, which she would now have to abandon.
Sally's Barbie ended up in the bushes, where she meant for it to be: Out of the house.
Don returning it to her room made her scream, and Sally finally explained her fear about the baby and her dead grandfather: "He's called Gene, he sleeps in his room, he looks just like him…" Valid points! But instead of talk of "fairies" — like she got from her mom — Sally got a declarative "there's no such thing as ghosts" from her father, as well as some actual physical contact.
Don finally gave Sally what she really needed: Some reassurance, some parenting, the hand-holding that a child requires when going through a big change (without the bribery of dolls, or "fairy" talk). And maybe we all need someone to gently walk us through change? 1963 was full of change — in this episode there were references to Iwo Jima and the draft — and it's only July. In August, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech — marking a huge, public moment of a wave of change.
Earlier: Mad Men: Blood, Sweat, And Tears
Mad Men: "It's A Dead Man's Hat. Take It Off."
Mad Men: "I'm Peggy Olson, And I Want To Smoke Some Marijuana"
Mad Men: "Just Don't Get Pregnant."
Mad Men: Ann-Margret Gives Master Class In Womanly Arts
"His Name Is Dick - After A Wish His Mother Should Have Lived To See"