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Recap / Mad Men S 1 E 2 Ladies Room

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"I keep thinking... not that I could have killed the kids, but... worse, Sally could have survived, and gone on living with this horrible scar on her face, and some long, lonely, miserable life..."

Roger Sterling, three martinis into his dinner with Don and their wives, recounts his upbringing and urges Don to open up about the same. In the ladies room of the restaurant, Betty's hands go numb and Roger's wife Mona must assist her with her lipstick.


Back home, Betty — tipsy from drinking — continues Roger's line of questioning and asks her husband if he ever had a nanny. "It's like politics, religion or sex," he says. "Why talk about it?" When he finally says that he never had a caretaker, they make love.

The next day at Sterling Cooper, Peggy — dressed less frumpy than her first day — chats with Joan about getting her very first paycheck. Peggy's reverie is interrupted when they enter the ladies room and see Bridget sobbing near the stalls.

In Don's office, a group of the junior ad execs clamor around their latest project: canisters of Right Guard, the first aerosol deodorant. Dale and Paul decide to unwittingly test the product on Ken just as Bertram Cooper, one of the agencys partners, steps in. He wants Don to reconsider taking on the Nixon election campaign, and after some discussion, he agrees.


Joan decides to take Peggy out for lunch, but before they make it out the door, Ken, Dale and Harry offer to take them out. Between flirtatious remarks and sexual innuendos, they admit that the office has been rife with speculation about whether or not Peggy has any romantic attachments.

Back at the Draper house, Betty sits in the kitchen with her friend Francine. Francine, six months pregnant, puffs her cigarette as she gossips about a new neighbor, Helen Bishop, a divorcee with a 9-year-old boy and a baby.

A bit later, Betty drives down the tree-lined street in her station wagon with her children, Robert and Sally. As she slows down to watch Helen drag boxes into her new Dutch colonial, her hands go numb and drop from the wheel. The car bounds up a curb and hits a bird bath on the lawn.

Meanwhile, Don rolls off Midge's bed. He looks for a lighter — and his underwear. He's surprised to see a small portable TV. "I remember someone wasting a good piece of a beautiful afternoon reciting a diatribe against television," he says. When he won't let up, Midge grabs the set by the handle and drops it out her window without a glance.


Hours later, Don arrives home and apologizes for not being reachable when Betty was at the hospital. Betty, who has seen several doctors to no avail, wonders if her numbness isn't a physical condition but a psychological one. She asks if she should see a psychiatrist. "Doctors must love that they finally have an answer for 'I dont know whats wrong,'" Don says.

At the next meeting for the Right Guard account, Paul tries to push copy that compares the aerosol can to space-aged astronauts. Don disagrees, contending that the future is actually something that many people fear. Instead, he thinks targeting women might be more effective, but none of the men in the room can figure out just what these women want.

Disgruntled from yet another futile creative gathering, Paul chats up Peggy at the pie cart. He then gives her an unofficial tour of the office and explains the delicate hierarchy of the different departments: There's media — they buy space and sell at a markup — as well as accounting, account management — those with no talent and plenty of vanity — and, of course, creative.

Feeling guilty for assuming that Betty has it all and has nothing to be unhappy about, Don comes home with a white gold watch. She's thankful but, through tears, asks again if she should see someone.

At 11 a.m. the following day, Don sits outside Midge's apartment. He took his wife to a shrink and called in sick. Over on Park Avenue, Betty lies on the leather daybed of Dr. Arnold Wayne and awkwardly alludes to her anxiety.

With Don out of the office the Sterling Cooper creative team is scarce. Unlike Salvatore, Peggy remains hard at work. She knocks on Paul's office to tell him that she's too busy to go to lunch, and he responds by closing his door and kissing her. She pulls away. "I think we've misunderstood each other," she says, admitting that there's someone else. Back at her desk, she's ready to follow suit and leave early until Joan arrives with more work. Noticeably moody, Peggy asks, "Why is it that every time a man takes you out to lunch, you are the dessert?" Ready to break down in tears, she heads to the ladies room only to find yet another woman already doing so by the stalls.

Feeling better after a romp with Midge and after figuring out that what women really want is "any excuse to get closer," Don takes his wife out to dinner in the city before heading home. As he watches Betty climb the stairs to bed, he goes into his study and shuts the door behind him. He picks up the phone and calls Dr. Wayne who remarks, "I had a very interesting hour with your wife this afternoon."

This episode contains examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Vincent Kartheiser is not seen, due to Pete being away on honeymoon during the episode. Maggie Siff (Rachel Menken) is also absent.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: An interesting variant of the trope, after Peggy complains about how the men seem to expect sexual favors every time they treat a woman, Joan tells her its all very normal and she deals with men following her on the street and expresses pity when Peggy says she doesn't deal with that issue. The point being that Joan values Male assessment of her beauty to the point she'd overlook them infringing on her personal space.
  • Male Gaze: Observed from the woman's point of view. A montage is shown where Peggy feels the stares of all the men from the office as they pass her desk.
  • Oblivious To Lust: Paul takes an interest in Peggy, playing himself up as a friendly face and giving her a mini-tour of the office, all in the hopes of sleeping with her. Peggy thinks of his behavior as underlining a platonic friendship, and is stunned when he makes the move to kiss her.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Don expresses some reluctance at putting Betty through it, initially, saying that it's supposed to be for people who are unhappy. Justified given the time period.

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