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Mad Men Recap: Episode Two, "Flight 1"

Mad Men Rundown: Episode Two, "Flight 1"

On Sunday's Mad Men, a tragedy struck the office and set off a chain of events that further divided Sterling Cooper into two competing sides: the good (Don) and the bad (Duck). Or at least that's how I like to think of it, even though nothing is as simple as good vs. evil in the world of these ad men. For now, though, the show seemed to kick off what I bet becomes a struggle for the soul of Pete Campbell (of all people), and we're probably in for some interesting office politics over the next several weeks.

The thing that continues to nag at me, though, is: What's wrong with Don? He's seriously lost his mojo and is constantly looking bewildered and sad. Last week the show hammered on the fact that he's growing old and might be losing touch with those hip kids so important to advertising. This week was all about watching him lose power and influence at the office and at home, and it clearly doesn't suit him. It's quite the departure from the cocky and ambitious philandering dreamboat we met in season one.

This week's episode also belonged to Paul, Joan, and Peggy, as we got some deeper revelations about what their lives are like outside of the office and what makes these people tick. To read my thoughts and chat with me about yours,


Pete Campbell: The office is shocked when an American Airlines jet crashes. Pete, being the class act that he is, jokes that there were likely golfers on the flight, so the bay probably turned plaid. He then learns that his father was one of those passengers and proceeds to be awkward the rest of the episode. At first he turns to Don for comfort (they have a strange father/son-ish relationship sometimes) but the next day Don is rude to him so he goes running to Duck. Together they use Pete's tragedy to try to get American Airlines as a client.

Don Draper: Don doesn't know Pete helps Duck, but he knows Duck isn't wasting time to woo the troubled airline, and he's rather repulsed. He's then instructed to dump their other airline client so, all in all, it's a bad time for Don. That night over cards with their friends, Betty tells a story about their son lying about a drawing he did. When Don says it's no big deal, Betty shoots back, "What about all that praise he accepted for something he didn't do?" Don's look of bewilderment indicated to me he was thinking something along the lines of, "Oh great, now my wife is thinking? What a crappy day!"

Peggy Olson: So, it turns out Peggy comes from a super Catholic background, and we finally get to see where her love child with Pete has been stashed: with her sister and mother. I know I'm supposed to feel sympathy for Peggy, being that women pregnant out of wedlock had few options at that time — not to mention she's right in the middle of a bona fide career in a boys' club industry — but her total inability to deal with her baby irks me. And then, when Pete gives her a tiny look that indicates he might feel something for her, it clearly still melts her heart. She's come a long way in terms of having a spine, but I still have trouble with her sometimes.

A few more thoughts:

  • Joan's reaction to Paul's girlfriend was deplorable. Makes her somewhat of a villain now. I loved how Paul's response to her evilness was publicly posting her real age (In her 30s! Gasp!) in the office.
  • How funny was that passive-aggressive battle between the Olson wives to comfort their mother-in-law at Pete's family home? I loved when Pete's sister-in-law said, "I like to offer a nice bouquet of my thoughts." I'm going to use that line the next time I deal with my cable company.
  • Poor Paul. His outfit, plus the way he held his drink at the party, plus his beard, plus his pipe was kind of ridiculous. But generally speaking, I like him as a character, even though he always sounds like he's delivering a Shakespeare monologue.
  • What did Peggy's sister mean when she told Peggy that neither the State of New York nor the doctors thought she was capable of making her own decisions? Did someone take Peggy's baby away from her? Were they allowed to do that back then? I've assumed she gave her baby to her family because she couldn't deal.

What did you think of last night? Are some of your questions from season one getting answered? How did you feel about Joan's behavior and Paul's response? Do you think Betty and Don are heading for a major marital blowout?

Photos courtesy of AMC

Join The Conversation
treb treb 8 years
I assumed Peggy had the vacuum cleaner because it was a client's product. And I also assume the "state of California" comment was implying that Peggy was deemed unfit or mentally unstable to care for her son because she refused to accept his existence.
mother2 mother2 8 years
Just caught this episode last night on on-demand, and wow! The thing that struck me the most was Peggy's complete denial of her baby. I know times were different back then, but seriously, I wanted her mother or sister to slap her face a few times. When she went into that bedroom and that little boy was looking at her, and she shut the door, I felt sick. I guess because I have children of my own, it really hits home. I just can't imagine reacting that way. And if Peggy is so nuts about Pete and can't have him, then why wouldn't she be crazy for that baby, which is obviously his child? I definitely think she was in a psych ward, too. If you recall, when she was going into labor, she kept denying she was preggers, and the doctor told the nurse to call someone from psych. I agree, Buzz, I have trouble with Peggy, too. She's really getting on my nerves. Joan really took it to the next level with her vindictiveness, and I loved Paul's retaliation. Pete made me sick when he was pitching to American Airlines and brought up his dad, what a sleaze. He's another one that needs a slap. I do love how he rolled his eyes at his sister-in-law about the bouquet of thoughts comment. Puh-lease! I think Don is just really depressed and unhappy and it's affecting his home and work life. He's still got it bad for Rachel, which is why I think he turned down the waitress at the end. Betsy knows Don has fooled around on her, and I think her comment about the neighbor's husband has let Don know that she knows about it. I see a big blow up coming there. I feel so bad for their kids. Say what you will about Don's infidelity, but he is so good with those kids. Betsy just seems annoyed with them all the time, especially with her son. Really looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season unfolds!
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
Yeah, of course Joan is calling Paul out on his being a poser, for sure. But a part of that is that she's saying he's dating a black woman in order to make a statement because she can't fathom any other reason a white man would date a black woman. Her speech to him in the office is obviously to berate him but it's based in racism and blatant disrespect for Paul's girlfriend on account of her being black. The same is true for the things she says to Paul's girlfriend at the party. Joan's a product of her times, for sure, and I think she is exemplifying this kind of mentality that was so prevalent at the time. It was utterly preposterous to her that a white man would want to date a black woman for any other reason than because he's a poser with something to prove. At the very core of this belief is Joan's disdain for and dismissiveness of black people, which again, seems to be in keeping with the time period.
popsplenda popsplenda 8 years
The producers have talked about Don this season and how they wrote him to be more of a "good" husband. I watched the head writer talking about how Betty now has Don home and at the table for dinner but how it's not quite how she imagined it which is pretty clear in the hotel bed scene. I saw Elisabeth Moss (Peggy) the other night at a Shakespeare play (All's Well That Ends Well) She's pretty thin in real life and she was wearing a headband to disguise the Peggy bangs. She had the cutest purse!
urbankitty1 urbankitty1 8 years
I missed the show last year and just watched all of Season One downloaded from Itunes. I was really looking forward to Betty totally losing it. The thing with shooting the pigeons just seemed like she was right about to go over the edge. And the thing with Glen. I wonder what happened to the psychologist?
buckley9383 buckley9383 8 years
I LOVE this show... And I agree with gigi_s I was hoping Don would flirt with the waitress too. But what I really want is for Rachel Menken to come back in the picture.
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 8 years
Watch Don's son become a great artist...(No thanks to Betty) I think the Joan age thing was since she was that old and still unmarried. She is the prettiest, curviest one on the show. I was amazed at the weight on her driver's license....140 @ 5'8! No celebrity would ever admit to that. Pete urks me. He doesn't even care that his father died. He and his brother are simply worrying about the money. Pete's wife seems so sweet and naive. I feel sorry that she's married to such a weasel. kwikwit...What do you mean by children in the 60's weren't put on the pedestals that they are today? Like every kid is a genius/artist, that sort of thing? BTW...I wonder what these people's houses smelled like! All that cigarette smoke! Yuck!
gigi_s gigi_s 8 years
Don seems so diminished from last season, that I was secretly hoping he would flirt with that waitress at the end.
Francesca-Fiore Francesca-Fiore 8 years
I agree that Joan was calling Paul out for his fake-hipness, and I think her little speech in the office nailed him. But I was unimpressed by the way she treated his girlfriend- Paul may be a poser but there's no need to take it out on the girlfriend. That was just straight up b*tchy.
Noodles-and-Waffles Noodles-and-Waffles 8 years
Buzz ~ I think you misread the Joan story line. I think the writers were trying to show how much of a poser Paul is and that he was just using the black woman. I think Joan told the black woman Paul wasn't so open-minded when they dated to hint that she was being used to fill an image Paul was trying to set for himself. Fabulous episode as always.
jadenirvana jadenirvana 8 years
I think Don looked at Betty that way because she was being her usual passive aggressive self. She was berating her son for being dishonest as a thinly veiled way for berating Don for being dishonest (by cheating). I thought it was hilarious that they brought in George Washington (of cherry tree fame) as the victim. She clearly sees herself as equally noble and untarnished. She was doing the same thing in the kitchen when she was saying how Clarice's husband should be showering her with love after what he put her through, but clearly talking about herself. She is the classic repressed housewife, but definitely near snapping. Peggy, feisty, hungry, and homely, continues to be my favorite character. Seeing how alien she is in her home life gives a hint to how she became so scrappy, and I love how she holds her own. The only woman who still seems really one-dimensional is Joan. She's still such a caricature, and I wish she would show something besides the Jessica Rabbit act. Love Pete Campbell, and thought his dazed reaction to death was very realistic. I actually hope him and his wife make it. They are cute together and obviously trying hard.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I don't actually think what Joan said was meant the way you took it. At least that would be the case according to what the actress said in an interview. I think it was supposed to be exactly what she said to him, calling him out for using his girlfriend to make himself seem interesting. I don't really know how the writers meant for that to be though, but I'm assuming it's what she said it was. I'm kind of interested in seeing where the Peggy thing goes, whether or not they go into what went on already. I have to admit I almost would hope for Pete and Peggy together. He just doesn't seem interested in his wife and I don't even get why he married her.
Lysa1237 Lysa1237 8 years
I recently started to watch Mad Men and now I'm hooked, love that you guys have a recap, it made my day :)
Francesca-Fiore Francesca-Fiore 8 years
I'm wondering if, as this season progresses, we're going to learn about what has happened with Don and Betty in the past 2 years (since the end of last season)- it would be in line with the way they do things to do a slow reveal. It's clear he and Betty have a totally different dynamic now...
bento-barista bento-barista 8 years
All of the major characters seem to be showing different/new facets of themselves, most especially Don, and I agree with Linda McP. He seems to made a commitment to his marriage meanwhile Betty seems more apathetic/cares less about it. I need to brush up on the last few episodes of season one because I can't recall what would have brought about this change, although I do realize that there has been a time lapse. Do we know exactly how much time has passed since the season one finale? The fact that Don had his daughter making drinks for the adults shocked me, I won't lie; I could never imagine asking my children (f I had any :D) to do that. I can only assume that that's the way things were done back then. As for Peggy, I don't know what to think of her. I can see her falling into the category of "modern women" that were burgeoning starting around that time and that she might trying to avoid things that would impede her success, i.e. having a child, esp. out of wedlock. She is definitely power-hungry; you can see that from the first episode where she talks down to Don's new secretary. But the way she treats her son is unbelievable. The episode left me wondering about three things concerning Peggy: a) Is her sister raising Peggy's son as her own? b) What compelled her to go to church at the end of the episode? Was it to please her mother? c) Why did Peggy bring a vacuum to her office? :) (If they explained that last part, I must have missed it.)
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
vailbeach - Yes! I've seen pics of Wells with a pipe too. Maybe it was their version of being a hipster but instead of skinny jeans the men tied scarves around their necks?
vailbeach vailbeach 8 years
It was driving me crazy last night, trying to figure out who Paul is trying to look like. It just hit me today: Orson Welles. In that era, Welles went around with a beard like that. Albert Camus could've written for this show. Just brilliant and amazingly disturbing.
Angelica Angelica 8 years
I LOVE this show, but last night's episode threw me for a loop. Multiple times. The comment from Peggy's sister was confusing, Don is confusing - one moment he will look at his wife all happy and the next he is super moody with he and seems like he's gonna hurt her. I don't understand Pete's motivation anymore and yes, poor Paul.
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
haha, kikiwit, I definitely remember doing that as a kid, too, and things seem to be different these days. It just seemed in that scene that the Drapers' expectations for their children were quite different: Robert could sit on the couch and do nothing but stuff his face while Sally was learning how to be a good little obedient server. And yeah, I wouldn't want to test Don's tolerance for men ogling his daughter in the future!
kwikwit kwikwit 8 years
I love this show!!
kwikwit kwikwit 8 years
Also, is it just me or, doesn't the show do a great job of illustrating how children in the 60's weren't put on the pedestals that they are today? The Tom Collins thing made me laugh - it was very reflective of my own childhood when I remember making Manhattans for my uncles and bringing beers to my dad. Good point about the sketchy neighbor, Buzz! Sally Draper will definitely be a knock-out like her mom and that creepy neighbor will be salivating. I don't doubt that Don will take care of business if that's the case.
kwikwit kwikwit 8 years
I'm totally with Arienne on this one. I think they put Peggy in a mental institution or something. At the beginning of this season they said that she was gone for a few months. If she'd immediately handed the baby over to her sister she would have been back to work in a week or so.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
I, too, have to keep reminding myself about the time lapse; so much has happened to the characters since we last saw them. At the moment that I'm watching the episodes, I'm often annoyed by the slow reveals, but then I spend the next day thinking about the show, putting pieces together, anxious to see next week's episode. The writers are brilliant. Don seems weary; he seems to have made a commitment to the marriage, but as Betty grows more distant, he seems to be conflicted. When he told her he just didn't want to fight any more, I felt his turmoil. He loves his children, but he's growing tired of being the one who is fighting to hold things together at home. We'll probably see some of the "old Don" soon. The "new Betty" is annoying, but brilliantly so; she is so complex, which makes me like her character more than I want to. With respect to Peggy and the state of New York comment, I took that to be a reference to being under 21 and not having any legal rights to terminate the pregnancy. But, I'm not 100% sure, since I've lost track of how old she was at the time. arienne's speculation about Peggy's mental health is interesting. Peggy does react inappropriately at times, especially in dealing with her own child; her smirking at Joan, though, was priceless! And, I really loved her "I work with them" retort when asked if she worked "for" the guys. The conflict between Pete, Duck, and Don will be interesting to watch. Pete is sure to use his family tragedy to personal advantage. Wonder on which side he will emerge. Like Betty's, Pete's character is so multi-facted; it will be fun to see how the office drama plays out. Loved the scene with the kids sitting on the steps listening to the conversation at the card table and sneaking candy. Both my husband and I remember doing this as kids. They captured the moment well!
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
Oooh, this post on Yum with the recipe for Tom Collins reminded me of a scene in this week's episode that made my stomach turn: When Don is instructing his daughter on how to make drinks for people, and she's going around serving them to her parents and their friends. Meanwhile, Don and Betty's son is slouched on the couch eating chocolates. Adding to all that is the conversation Don is having with the other man, who is basically saying how hot his neighbor's teenage daughter is. And little Sally Draper comes by during this conversation to learn another drink from her father, reminding us that someday she'll be the object of some neighbor man's fantasies. Gross.
treb treb 8 years
I love Peggy. I have this soft spot for her. And maybe because I have zero desire to procreate I was really able to relate to her difficulties interacting with the child. She had ZERO time to come to terms with having a child. I can't imagine. I think Pete is such a great character. I really want to squeeze his pinhead for being such a prick.
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