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Mad Men Recap: Episode Nine, "Six Month Leave"

Mad Men Rundown: Episode Nine, "Six Month Leave"

Any Mad Men episode with a lot of Roger Sterling in it is going to be among my favorites and that's a big reason why this first new episode after the show's big Emmy wins did not disappoint. There's a moment at a gambling club when a young woman approaches Roger and Don and asks if they're winners. His response is classic Roger: "Uh, losers tonight but winners in general." Another reason why this episode was good? That would be Betty's bone-chilling spiral into crazy-town, made even creepier with the suicide of Marilyn Monroe lurking in the background. The symbolism of Monroe's untimely death is rich with meaning and I can't wait to chat more about that after the jump.

It isn't just the ladies who have had it up to here with their lot in life. Apparently, despite the fact that they've long been having their cake and eating it too, the men are also feeling trapped. Roger and Don, in a scene that makes them out to be even bigger jerks than I thought possible, talk each other into a midlife crisis together. All of this combined with the sad and pathetic ending of one man's career at Sterling Cooper made for a very dark episode indeed. Ready to chat about it? Just


Betty Draper: One of the bestselling novels of 1962 was Katherine Anne Porter's Ship of Fools, a totally depressing take on basically the whole world and human nature — which is exactly what Betty's in the mood to read! She's so out of it that she can hardly interact with her children. She roams around the house like a zombie, half-heartedly taking on a home improvement task or just falling asleep in the middle of the day face down on her couch. When Don finally pays a visit their exchange is filled with contempt for each other. Don tells her he's not going to talk her into anything and she spits right back at him, “I thought you could talk anyone into anything." Yes! Betty is not backing down and it seems like with each episode she sees more clearly the true identity of the man she married (even though, sadly, she doesn't even know the half of it).

Don Draper: Don's weird moral relativism and rationalizations are just making his character more unsettling than ever. There is this icky sense of entitlement that oozes out of the man and it's only made worse by his chauvinism. Can you tell he's really ticked me off? During his bonding session with Roger after they fire Freddy "that guy who played the symphony on his pants zipper" Rumsen, he confides that he doesn't feel badly at all for what he's done to Betty, that he's actually just relieved. And then, in the most nihilistic moment of the night, he waxes philosophic about what it is to live life: "You don't know how long it's going to be, but you know it's got a bad ending." Good grief, that's depressing. Where is that ray of sunshine Father Gill when you need him? Oh, and later Mona comes storming into Don's office, accusing him of making Roger leave her! Wow.

Some more thoughts:

  • I know this sounds kind of strange at this juncture but you know what flashback I would love to see? Don and Betty falling in love. I think it would be striking to see how far they've strayed from whatever first bonded them together.
  • Marilyn Monroe's death affects the women in the office differently than the men. Joan has to sneak into Roger's office for some alone time due to the emotional weight of it. The men, on the other hand, are hardly sympathetic. Don's reaction is basically, "Suicide is disturbing," while Roger comforts Joan with, "She was a movie star that had everything and everybody, and she threw it away."
  • Don seems impressed when Peggy points out the obvious: that the Playtex ads they never ran in which they divided women into two groups (Jackie Kennedys and Marilyn Monroes) would have had to have been pulled in light of Marilyn's death.
  • Tellingly, Joan explains to Roger that Marilyn's death was because "this world destroyed her." There's so much in that line, isn't there? Especially since Joan herself has been referred to as the Marilyn "type."
  • The "Freddy's a drunk and peeing himself" scene was terribly awkward and horrifying. I mean, yes I laughed, but it was just so gross. And then the sloshing noise his shoes made on his way out of the office? Ew! However, some of the Freddy jokes around the office are pretty good ("He's a real whiz in advertising!").
  • Somehow this display of drunkenness is considered over the line, and Roger decides Freddy must be fired. Kind of amazing considering that office is filled with people who don't have a problem drinking before noon, but OK.
  • The hypocrisy gets even richer when Roger and Don tell Freddy he needs to "dry out," only to follow up with a farewell boozeathon in an underground gambling club.
  • What's up with Don's secretary? Is she flirting with him? She buys him shirts (and did you notice the Mencken's bag?)! She seems to annoy everyone, and then in the end Don wants her gone.
  • So, Don punches Jimmy. This took me by surprise and I felt badly for Jimmy.
  • Peggy gets her promotion but it doesn't feel very good since it's only because of Freddy's departure. All's fair in advertising, though. It makes me wonder if a man in Peggy's position would feel half as conflicted. Isn't it amazing that Peggy was once Don's secretary? I kind of forget that these days.

What do you think about last night's episode? Was it as depressing for you as it was for me? Are you mad or glad Betty passed the hot horse guy onto her friend? Do you think she has bigger and better ways to get even with Don than something as predictable as sleeping with a younger guy? Do you feel sorry for Mona? As a matter of fact, do you feel sorry for all the women of the early '60s?

Photos courtesy of AMC

Join The Conversation
treb treb 8 years
You felt sorry for Jimmy? Really? I guess I'm cold and heartless, but I just don't really feel that sorry for anybody. I champion the awful behavior of Don because he's my hero of the show. I also thought that maybe Freddy has medical issues bigger than drinking...almost looked like absent seizures to me.
bittersweet411 bittersweet411 8 years
I signed up just to talk about Mad Men and respond to the hypothetical flashback of Don and Betty you suggested. I think one of the major themes of their entire marriage is how fraudulent it all was. Jimmy touched upon Betty's perfection, the arm candy hostess, while Betty's friends wax on about Don being the epitome of a '50s breadwinner, the man in the classic gray flannel suit. I think the flashback would have merely re-enforced what we saw in season one: the necessary façade adopted by those who don't really know who they are beyond their expected societal roles. Freddy being handed his pink slip didn't just mean a loss of position, but a loss of identity. We saw that reflected in the marriage of Peggy's sister and her injured husband, who receives little sympathy for his unemployment. And I think that's why Don is so apathetic about the disintegration of his marriage. He's "relieved" because he's never loved her. (Don looked straight into Betty's eyes and lied in the last episode. It would have worked had it not been for Jimmy's commercial, which reassured her sanity; that's why she told Don not to come home.) I think Don might have thought he found his equal in Ms. Menken, but his cold-hearted behaviour (that of running away with her, abandoning his family, to save his own hide from Pete's discovery) shocked even her. As for Betty and Arthur the horse guy. I think that was a throwaway storyline that proved how disloyal people in her life really are and how quickly they will betray each other (like Don did to her). Betty used her knowledge of Sarah Beth's weakness against her. She gave them a cynical test and they both failed. ... but now I'm rambling. Keep up the great, thoughtful posts.
bushra bushra 8 years
thanks for that pinky. to me the secretary seemed more sweet on Don than Roger, but like many of you guys have said on previous recaps Roger was going to collect on reinstating her when Joan fired her, right?
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
pookie - yea thats what i was thinking too! thanks for your thoughts! :)
glam-sugar glam-sugar 8 years
I do feel for all of the women in this show.
pinky-tuscadero pinky-tuscadero 8 years
fudgeit- If I'm not mistaken, I believe that Margaret is the daughter.
bushra bushra 8 years
as Mona left she mentioned someone called Margaret, who was she???
lylpookie lylpookie 8 years
hausfrau, I don't think that Pete thought he'd get the job...but that he'd be all important because he brought it up to their attention. He locked Freddy in and stopped Freddy from meeting the Samsonite people, he saved the day...he, therefore, is indispensable. Plus he helped Peggy get promoted, and has the power to help people climb the ranks.
Lysa1237 Lysa1237 8 years
LoL Sorry forgot to check my spelling. I meant to say I would think freddy would not commit suicide.
Lysa1237 Lysa1237 8 years
O.K. Where do I begin, I just loved this episode. Couldn't believe the ending I was speechless, had to catch the re-run to take it all in. I would like to see what Joan thinks about Roger's new development hmmmm.... seriously she's the one for him, can't stand to think he is with that no good.... golddigger Jane.... blah, even Don dislikes her. Don... what will happen with him and Betty???? the previews show him shirtless next to a bed, that looks like a child's room? does have a quickie with Betty??? hmm does previews are deceiving sometimes but I dunno guess we have to wait. I started to like Betty, she has become more human (real) to me at least, but Don on the other hand (OK I luv that man) but his character has been acting like an @$$hole and NEEDS to get his S... together, seriously I wouldn't want him to fail per Se, but he needs a wake up call ASAP. he already changed his life once does he need to change out of this one too? when is he going to be satisfied? and by who? Pete, ugh I love to hate that guy, jerk. He better not think it was HIS idea that made Peggy advance with S.C. if he uses that against her he better have something coming. Peggy, glad she got promoted but yes it was obvious she wanted it out of merit than how it went down, yes I do remember the days when she was Don's secretary, aw she's gone so far. Poor Freddie, I would like to think he didn't killed himself after but who knows with the whole Marilyn story, wish I thought it was very well written into this episode. Any one else noticed hoe every important character was laying down somehow on a couch on this episode?????? nice one writers. OK what about the preview for revolutionary road????? very well placed just like the ....Tempted by the fruit of another...LoL damn commercial got 2 me. OK I've rambled a lot today, don't really know anyone who watches this show, but I'm glad there maddics (is that the right term?) out there like myself. xoxo
pinky-tuscadero pinky-tuscadero 8 years
As always Buzz, great recap! It just keeps getting better and better. What I LOVE about Mad Men is that you never know what to expect. And this episode was no exception. First of all, Betty is going to have a total breakdown or have an affair with Roger.(maybe that's too predictable) I truly felt sorry for Freddy and I did think that he would kill himself near the end. Love, loved when Don clocked Jimmy. I also think that this will be the season where Peggy's ego is going to go on full overload that her sisters jealousy will somehow expose her love child and will cause her work to suffer. Who knows? The part with Mona, didn't see it coming. And that Godfather ending, SWEET!!!!
fionamcbree fionamcbree 8 years
Luv all the comments! Freddy killing himself is VERY obvi but that's probably the point--people often send obvi signals about their mental state and those around them think they can just "shake it off" or take a vacation to fix things. It would really hit Don & Roger hard since they were so callous re: Marilyn Monroe. And Joan told Roger, he's going to lose somebody he loves and then he'll know the pain. One of my favs in this episode was when Jane tried to win favor with Don "I'm a discreet person..." and he cuts her down with "I don't know anything about you...and this, is personal" (or something like that). Yes! Keep that conniving heifer in her place! She's bad news and Roger deserves all the drama she's about to bring upon him. At least Don see's that Jane's bad news. She's already caused major turmoil amongst the secretary pool, has Don & Roger at odds, etc. Don's a jerk in the marriage but he is a more caring parent than Peggy. Peggy knows Don could care less about what she does---as long as she doesn't mistreat his kids. I think the "you can't see your kids" or sending them to boarding school, etc. route is what she's going to take (after possibly getting some nookie somewhere-ha) because the kids are the only leverage she has. p.s. When is somebody going to punch Pete in the stomach!? He's such a trouble-making, insensitive, "must-hire". Maybe his wife will do it? (yay)
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
I didn't get the part where Pete Campbell says to Peggy that if it weren't for him, she wouldn't be a copywriter. I got that its because he ratted out Freddy to Don, but why did he do that? Was it because he thought he'd get the job? Or did he know she was going to get it and maybe he thought he'd be able to manipulate her?
kwikwit kwikwit 8 years
KTB, great catch with Archibald and I TOTALLY agree with you on Don being pretty upset about Betty. You guys saw "The Wheel" episode (my favorite), right? He loves his family. Also, I think Freddy might kill himself. His last discussion with Don was eerily similar to the guy in Shawshank Redemption who gets out of prison and doesn't know what to do with himself.
kwikwit kwikwit 8 years
Whoops...sorry, it's Jane, not Jean.
kwikwit kwikwit 8 years
Buzz, great recap but you missed one major point - Roger is leaving Mona for Jean. Does anyone else appreciate how close "Jean" is to "Joan"?
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
To be honest, Don could have turned out as abusive as his dad. With the way he grew up, how is he supposed to be? And I kind of don't feel bad for Jimmy. He's kind of an a-hole. I don't like Jane at all. Nothing about her seems remotely sincere or honest. She's a fake. I can't wait to see what happens the rest of the season and the next seasons, especially since they skip 14 months every season. I want to see what happens with the characters as the decade continues and as things continue to change, especially with what we know about the decade.
hooligan hooligan 8 years
what was "the Archibald Whitman" line?
chibarosa chibarosa 8 years
My favorite line of the episode: Don to Peggy: "Don't feel bad for being good at your job." I've replayed that over and over in my head a thousand times today. I think it's great that Don sees Peggy's potential. What an awesome recap - and thanks for all the great comments. No one else that I know watches this show, so I have no one to talk to about it! I thought the same thing about Freddy too - they totally foreshadowed it, didn't they? Also, thanks to ktb for catching the Archibald Whitman line. That line makes so much sense now...
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Well she did tell him where she who knows whats been going on? I have a feeling she was playing for Don also (the shirts etc) but roger dropped his wife first.
skiwi skiwi 8 years
ooh I had no idea Roger was having an affair with Jane, I thought it was nothing more than casual flirting in the office.
lylpookie lylpookie 8 years
CaterpillarGirl, I thought the same thing about Freddy auf'd himself too!!!! I hope that's not true, but I wouldn't be surprise.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Ski, Roger left mona for Jane.
skiwi skiwi 8 years
I don't understand why Don wanted Jane to leave after he found out that Roger is leaving Mona ?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
When Freddy said "goodbye Don" i had this horrible feeling that he is going to kill himself, because he just kept going on and on about "what do i do if i dont go to work everyday?" They had to Fire Freddy, Even though they all drink, Even though they took him out to drink to send him off , Because Its considered poor management to be a staggering pee yourself drunk, in other words "be a man and hold your drink" Freddy obviously didnt hold his and it could have cost them clients and thier reputation, WHAT if he had done that in front of the samsonite people? EGADS I wonder what Joan will do and say now that jane is rogers new thing, and he wouldnt leave his wife for her!
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