This week we got the November 22, 1963 episode we’d all been waiting for. The theme seemed to be the “turning point.” On a seemingly normal Friday, something very bad happens in Dallas. Roger realizes he’s married a child-woman not so different from his spoiled-brat daughter. Betty realizes she doesn’t love Don. Maybe Don realizes he loves Betty? Henry Francis makes Betty a completely insane offer of marriage.
And yet, some things stay the same: Pete is still a whiny, entitled waste of WASP DNA. Joan is still with Rapist Ken Doll and Peggy has another smokin’ hot “go-round” with Duck.
Join us as we “take a pill and lie down” to discuss…
BeckySharper: Ugh, creepy belly-fondler Henry Francis is back…do you think Betty would seriously run off with him? I mean, it would make NO sense whatsoever for her to leave Don for him–she doesn’t even know him. It’s just exchanging one cage for another…and I suspect the Henry Francis cage could hold a lot of unpleasant surprises too. If she’s going to dump Don, he’s hardly a good alternative.
SarahMC: Henry Francis reminds me of a character from The Twilight Zone. I find Betty’s “relationship” with him strange and empty. I don’t really want that to go anywhere, but I wonder what’s going to happen now that Betty’s told Don she doesn’t love him.
Pilgrim Soul: They have never given us enough flavour of Don’s feelings for Betty to make her telling him she doesn’t love him actually tragic for the audience. I mean, I can intellectually rationalize this out: Don has never had to think about Betty loving him, because she is a crutch, the person who always has to take him in, even if he’s flitted off to a creepy Mexican household filled with Eurotrash stereotypes. So it comes as a shock when she says she doesn’t, to him. Okay, fine, but Don has played fast and loose with Betty forfuckingever, behaving with remarkable indifference at times. The first season Don, the one who kept tabs on her psychiatrist? Maybe I could see him being devastated by this. But this one, the Don who is profoundly ambivalent about the baggage his perfect life has accumulated? I don’t know. It’s almost liberatory for him, it would seem – that is, if one were treating Don as an actual human being with consistent, if occasionally irreconcilable, notions about what it is to be a man in the world he lives in.
PhDork: I don’t think Betty’s confession was ABOUT Don. It was about Betty. Yeah, it will effect Don, because she IS a crutch, and he’s going to find out just how much he relied on her emotionally (while resenting her, all the while). But it’s way more about Betty. I can’t imagine that she’s going to marry Creepy Francis, because she doesn’t know him–although she doesn’t really know Don, either, I guess.
SarahMC: I almost cried when Carla started crying about Kennedy. It was surreal to watch the characters go through that.
BeckySharper: Yeah, I thought Carla’s grief was horrible too, and I kept thinking “Just wait until ’68.”
SarahMC: I wish we could follow Carla home. Maybe in an upcoming season.
PhDork: Carla’s grief WAS horrible, SMC. And I fucking hated Don for refusing to explain anything to Sally. He’s losing everything, and desperately clutching onto his “I’m the Man” role. It makes him even more ridiculous. “There, there, it’ll be all right” was always a load of bullshit, but now it’s transparently so.
What I mean about the show not being clear enough about the psychic break is that sure all the characters SAID things are different now, but it was sort of emotionallly unclear – given that the show has invested so little time in the context of the Kennedys and Camelot and whatnot – why the characters were upset. I mean, I can fill in the blanks, sure. But I think it’s lazy writing nonetheless.
PhDork: Wait, now. Up there you said: “it was sort of emotionallly unclear – given that the show has invested so little time in the context of the Kennedys and Camelot and whatnot – why the characters were upset. I mean, I can fill in the blanks, sure.” Was it unclear, or overexplained?
Pilgrim Soul: I said “sort of emotionally unclear,” in the sense that I found it told, not shown. You see?
PhDork: …I guess? I don’t think it was either unclear or overexplained. And Don & Betty ARE (were) Camelot. And that shit is ovah.
BeckySharper: Yes, and I think the ovah-ness is all the more obvious to us 21st century viewers, who have the benefit of hindsight. We know that the reality of JFK and Camelot was a sham like the Draper marriage; a good-looking, much-admired man who in reality was an emotionally tormented philanderer and lousy husband married to a long-suffering paragon of glamour and feminity who had to muffle her anger and swallow her pride and intelligence because that’s what was expected of her.
What did you think, gentle readers? What’s up with Roger and Joanie? How gorgeous was Trudy’s cobalt blue dress with dyed-to-match pumps? What did Peggy’s roommate mean by “I’m glad you’re being more selective now?”