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Mad Men Recap: Episode Three, "The Benefactor"

Mad Men Rundown: Episode Three, "The Benefactor"

Last week I mused that the soul of Pete Campbell was being set up as a battleground for the competing forces at Sterling Cooper, but I may have been a little premature, as Pete was nowhere to be seen in the latest episode of Mad Men. Boo. Even though Pete can be slimy and repulsive, that's a heck of a lot more interesting to watch than, say, Harry angling for a raise. Joan was also pretty much MIA last night, which only added to a sense of wanting this episode to be over so that we can get back to the good characters next week.

That said, last night was not without its fair share of slime, although the target of my revulsion came as a bit of surprise to me. Plus, we got a lot more Betty, which means we're inching closer to to knowing what happened between her and Don during the break between seasons — and also means we're probably closer to her ilicit affair with the horse guy (at least that's what I'm hoping for predicting). To see the rest of my thoughts on last night's episode,


Don Draper: Whoa! All this time spent practicing restraint and staying loyal to his wife and he throws it all away in . . . the front of a car? With someone who is not Rachel Menken or my other favorite lover-of-Don, Midge Daniels the bohemian? I was not happy with that but also wasn't surprised to see Don back to his cheating ways. The biggest ick moment of the night for me came from how violently Don treated his new mistress, Bobbie Barrett, at Lutece. His manhandling of her after she threatened him on behalf of her "client" was uncomfortably sexual and made me a bit fearful of Don (has he ever treated Betty that way?).

Betty Draper: Betty had quite the episode, starting with her little moment with Arthur, the horse rider all the ladies have a crush on (do you find him all that dashing? I don't). He comes onto Betty by telling her she's beautiful and his fiancee is jealous of her. He also observes several times how "profoundly sad" she is, which turns out to be quite intuitive because after attending the business dinner at Lutece, in which she fulfilled Don's request that she be "shiny and bright," she breaks down in tears on the drive home. She tells Don they are tears of joy because she really enjoyed being a part of his life, being on the same "team." I feel like poor Betty is heading for an emotional implosion, and yet I can't completely guess what that will look like.

A couple more thoughts:

  • Does anyone have a guess for what French movie Don was watching? I've seen a couple of guesses, including Hiroshima Mon Amour.
  • One of the biggest cringeworthy moments for me was when Betty asked Don, "Is this one where I talk or don't talk?" after he invites her to a business dinner in the city. Can you even imagine asking that of your husband one day? Ugh.
  • There was definitely a body-shaming theme woven through last night's episode as well. Betty's horse riding friend casually refers to her own daughter as fat (with a twinge of remorse and bitterness in her voice) and the whole episode's dramatic arc kicked off with a comedian comparing the overweight wife of one of Don's clients to the Hindenburg. In regard to a certain standard of beauty for women and girls, I wonder how far we've truly come since then.
  • Harry and his wife were actually pretty adorable. I loved her coaching him on how to get a raise, although it struck me that she was far more savvy about how these things work than he is and probably would be better in the corporate world!
  • How did you feel about Don firing his secretary? That poor girl was doomed from the start, but I'm unclear what purpose her tiny subplot has served other than showing us how tough it was to make it as someone's "girl" in the office, especially since they were practically asked to read minds and cover their male bosses when they slipped out to cheat on their wives and/or watch French movies. Who knows, maybe we haven't seen the last of this girl.
  • And I just have to say that I totally love Roger Sterling and laughed out loud during his scene with Harry discussing the raise. The cavalier way he speaks is often a welcome relief from how stilted and repressed the rest of the cast can be.

So what did you think of last night? Did Don's affair end right then and there with that terribly physical confrontation in the restaurant? Do you think Betty will find out about his infidelity? Did you miss Joan, Peggy, and Pete as much as I did?

Photos courtesy of AMC

Row-D Row-D 9 years
Thank you JadeNirvana. I was beginning to feel weird reading the comments cuz I too thought Don and Bobbie's scene was all kinda hot. Don knows exactly what flips her switches. Agreed, it wasn't nice and romantic. He did not mean for it to be. Sex can be a tangly, messy, brutal, sexy thing. I think his interactions with various women definitely show the different sides of him.
michele896 michele896 9 years
Can't wait until next week when Pete is back. Who knew how far Don would take that "hand" metaphor? Here's a hilarious recap of the episode:
jadenirvana jadenirvana 9 years
Also, who is "the benefactor?" What did the title mean?
jadenirvana jadenirvana 9 years
You know I really wouldn't describe the bathroom scene as "agonizingly painful." In fact, I thought it was kind of hot. I don't know if this makes me deranged, given some of the other comments on here, but in light of the fact that they already had a sexual relationship (aggressively initiated by Bobbie), I did not think a little light kinkiness in the bathroom was too big a deal. In fact, if I had to say who was being innappropriately domineering and crass out of the two of them, I'd say it was Bobbie. I think she has aspirations towards masculinity (adopting a masculine nickname, acting as her husband's manager) and that seemed like a man-to-man scene to me. It also fit in with the overall theme of the show, which I thought was power/submission. When Don grabbed Bobbie's hair, I immediately thought of Betty telling Horseface that his horse ( a female, natch) had to be "told what to do". The conversation between Harry and Salvatore about how to ask for a raise also neatly illustrated the classic power play. Anyway, even if Don's a chauvinist, I prefer seeing him in his debonair machismo as opposed to the haggard, staggering Don of the past few episodes. Maybe I just read too much Ayn Rand in college, lol.
yihaw10 yihaw10 9 years
I thought it was Perry Mason too, but it seemed more like the person yelling was the father, which is why the guy next to him kept saying, Mr. Mason! to ask him to calm down. I got the impression that firing the secretary was their way of writing Joan into working more with Don - that would be interesting to me to see the two of them working more closely together!
Gatito Gatito 9 years
I'm curious to see how the relationship between Salvatore and the lipstick company(Belle Jolie?) client will develop. It's becoming pretty obvious to me that Salvatore is fighting being gay.
jopperma jopperma 9 years
I also need more of the Peggy and Pete story and missed them this episode. I definitely think that baby with her sister is Peggy and Pete's and am interested to see if she ever tells him or deals with the fact that he is her child in any way... Especially if it turns out that Pete and his wife have more trouble getting pregnant.
PaulLev PaulLev 9 years
My favorite part of last night's episode - and it was in general great - was the Harry Crane story (but he should have asked for $400 if he wanted $300) ...
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 9 years
And a picture of Mad Men creator Matt Weiner with the Bloggers:
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 9 years
I've been wathing this show since season one, and didn't know that buzz gave "recaps." This blogs for true devotees:
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 9 years
The show is actually "Perry Mason," you hear the name "Mason" Sterling Cooper got to watch the show before it blew up (as in became a hit)...and it was probably retitled.
designergirl designergirl 9 years
I missed Peggy this episode- I' dying to find out what happened to the baby. Interestingly and squeamishly enough, it was kind of nice to watch Don get some of his power back.
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
I might agree to disagree in regards to that scene with Don — I think that while the scene with Bobbie was certainly compelling, I felt it revealed him to be quite a monster when he feels threatened. Sure, he's an engaging character and it doesn't mean that he doesn't have redeeming qualities, but the fact that his hand was aggressively up her skirt in what appeared to be an agonizingly painful position for Bobbie, was him exerting physical dominance over a woman in the most insulting and disgraceful of ways. In my mind it revealed a much darker, intolerable side of Don than we've ever seen before. It makes me wonder (and shudder): How low (and violent) is this man willing to go?
bookwritinmama bookwritinmama 9 years
I loved the scene in the restaurant. It was Don reclaiming his masculinity. Bobbie was being a total bitch and the only way for Don to show her he wouldn't knuckle under was to do what he did, to get to her in a way he knew he could. It was like a classic movie with a twist of 2008 thrown in and I don't get people being so squeamish. The PC stuff kills me sometimes.
lylpookie lylpookie 9 years
I think the show was "The Defender." I forgot to add, that I don't find Arthur cute either! Don's my man. And kwikwit, I see your point about Don and the women he associates with. I think I have to agree with was a bit rough to watch though, but it makes sense in the way you stated it.
dylaninjapan dylaninjapan 9 years
Although the Don/Bobbie moment in the restaurant was very awkward, but I thought it was a truly beautifully styled and shot scene. From the start of the scene, everything really looked like it was straight out of an old movie (ignoring the color.) Also, how cute is Harry?! He really seems so innocent. I still can't bring myself to call an episode of the best show on TV "not that good." By the way, what TV show were they watching (the one that said "abortion" 31 times in five minutes)?
kwikwit kwikwit 9 years
Also, I agree with you, Buzz. Arthur is NOT cute. And I *love* Roger Sterling!
kwikwit kwikwit 9 years
Alright, I'm sticking up for Don on this one. Yes, the scene with Bobbie was extremely rough and hard to watch but I think it's more that she brought out that side of Don. I don't think he would ever act that way to "Birdy". Bobbie is aggressive and Don responded in kind when she blackmailed him. I think all of his ladies bring out a different side of him. Midge brought out the artist, Betty the father, etc.
lylpookie lylpookie 9 years
I missed Pete too! I don't care for him, but agree...terribly interesting character! I also cringed at the Don/Bobbie moment in the restaurant. WTH?!?! Betty affair is totally going to happen...I think she probably already suspects about Don/Bobbie...his odd behavior of washing his hands and face immediately upon walking in the door before kissing her might have been a giveaway...and one can only suspect there was perfume involved. There was also the moment that Peggy cringed when they were watching the tv show and the dad was going off on his daughter and the comment about not being fit as a parent. Makes me curious as to what really happened with the baby. Did she give him to her sister, or was he taken away?
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