Arts & Culture

Jews Watching Mad Men: One Shtup at a Time

"Holy crap!" thinks Don, "I should be shtupping her!" That’s great, but lets backtrack because in order to understand where we are going we must first revisit where we’ve been and the folks behind Mad Men understand this concept very … Read More

By / September 27, 2010

"Holy crap!" thinks Don, "I should be shtupping her!"

That’s great, but lets backtrack because in order to understand where we are going we must first revisit where we’ve been and the folks behind Mad Men understand this concept very well.

"You’re overreacting," Roger says to Joan, "One step at a time." This is his response when Joanie informs him that she is late, like late, late.  When Joan leaves his office, she takes a moment with the door open, to put on heirs for the office, making it seem professional, a little flirtation between the two of them, designed as a ruse.  Roger and Joanie have fallen in love again, and suddenly it feels much like season one, as far as those two are concerned.

"Do you think your friends are going to be jealous when they find out that you’re going to see The Beatles this Sunday at Shea Stadium?" Don says. Sally, who answered the phone, still mad at her daddy over what happened last week at his office, screams, and jumps around in circles covering her mouth!  It’s like all those old videos of the Beatles with women loosing their shit and chasing after them like in Hard Days Night!  For us it’s one of those warm moments of feeling glad for our characters, and it’s one of Mad Men’s great examples of grounding us in our own American past.  But wait, it’s something else.  Betty, upon seeing her daughters reaction and finding out about The Beatles Concert, smiles, the type of smile we rarely see from January Jones’ icy character, then she laughs and it’s so clearly outside of her control that for a moment you think that maybe she misses him, the man who can make such big things happen.

"You’re my chocolate bunny." Says Lane.  Lane, expecting his kids to come home to visit before going back to London, goes to greet his son Nigel with a stuffed Mickey mouse in hand and is greeted by his old cane-toting father instead.  He’s come to drag Lane back to London and set everything straight with him and his wife, but we soon learn that Lane has fallen in love with a woman who works as a waitress at a Playboy themed bar, who wears a pair of bunny ears and a tail to work.  At the end of the episode, Lane invites his dad over to his place to introduce him to, "His chocolate bunny."  Daddy is cordial, being English and all, and then waits for Lane’s bunny friend to leave the apartment and (again, being English and all), thwacks his son in the temple with his cane.  He demands that Lane come back to London to straighten out his family, and Lane concedes. 

Oh, Did I mention that Lane’s chocolate bunny is a black woman?

So far there is a tiny shard of rekindling between Don and Betty, and a revisiting of the love between Joanie and Roger, but there’s one more ghost from season one that returns to us in the this episode, the feud between Don and Pete.  In the first season, Pete, still trying to climb the ladder, despised Don — seeing him as a man who unapologetically moved through life.  Pete then becomes the first to find out that Don is Dick Whitman.

Next thing you know, Pete brings in a new four million dollar account with North American Aviation that involves the Defense Department.  Then, Betty gets a knock at her door and it’s two G-Men asking questions about Don, making sure that he is who he says he is.  When they leave, Betty calls Don freaking out, she tells him what happened, and Don, tries to keep it together. Before he hangs up, he thanks her, but there is something about the way he says this, and the look on Betty’s face, a look of excitement, danger and intrigue that points to intimacy between the two of them.  Then Don looses it.

Joanie goes to have an abortion, and though it’s not her first, she feels ashamed.  We are left to wonder in the end whether she actually went through with it.  Roger finds out that Lucky Strike is leaving SCDP.  All season we’ve been reminded that the Lucky Strike account is the money that holds SCDP together.  Roger becomes frantic, calling everyone in his Rolodex and ends up too scared to tell the partners about what’s happening. 

Don calls Pete in panic and tells him about what happened.  Now Pete’s old dirt on Don turns into his burden.  He realizes that he either has to get rid of the four million dollar account or get rid of Don.  He ruminates at home with his wife but eventually caves.  At the partners meeting, Pete announces that they’ve lost the account because of mistake he’s made.  Roger screams, telling Pete that "he fucked up."  Pete, takes it.

Don, starts loosing it, fever stricken and paranoid.  He sees his accountant in order to open up a trust for his kids that they can access immediately.  Even Don’s accountant is worried for him, but before he leaves, he tells Don, in reference to his new secretary, "Please tell me you’re shtupping her." 

Doc Faye insists that he go home and when they’re in his building, Don sees two guys that he thinks are G-Men, but aren’t.  When he gets inside, he has a panic attack and Faye takes care of him.  Finally collected, Don and Faye lie in bed together and Don admits everything to Faye, he stole a man’s identity and deserted his country during wartime; Faye, hardly bats an eye.  She reacts to this hard truth the way we feel most would, the way Betty should have. 

So what’s left?  Lane, still recovering from an old man’s cane to the head, is going on a leave of absence to fix his family in the UK.  Roger, puts on a happy face unable to admit that he’s lost Lucky Strike, his only real responsibility at the firm.  Pete, having given up the North American Aviation Account, has a newly enflamed resentment toward Don and Don is in the clear.  With business relationship squashed, the background check into Don stops.  He’s saved.   At the end of the day Doc Faye and Don celebrate the end of the ordeal and the fact that they know each other that much better.  Faye is the first woman Don’s been with that knows his dark truth.  As she’s leaving, the door is open, and she says, "Very good then, you can call me with the details," playing the same flirty ruse, that Joan did with Roger in the beginning. 

Don’s newly hot secretary, the replacement for dead Ms. Blankenship walks in.  All episode, she’s thought that Don’s sudden stress is somehow her fault.  She hands him The Beatles tickets, which she leaned on Harry to get.  Don thanks at her, realizing that she’s a good secretary.  Then, when she walks out in the hall, he looks at her and the credits roll.  We’re left to wonder whether there is something about the danger that’s making Betty re-attracted to Don, and whether that same something, which we thought was bringing Don and Faye closer together, is making Don feel like he needs to be, in the words of a Jewish version of Bobby Brown, "Shtuppin Around."