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Mad Men: The Gypsy and the Hobo - Review

"I can't trust you. I don't know who you are." Betty Draper

With only two episodes left in the stunningly intense 3rd season of Mad Men the show has reached a whole new level of tasty goodness. The show has always excelled at intricate and sometimes frustrating storytelling but as it's closing in on the finale all bets are off. We had confrontation, ghosts from the past (no, not Gene), tested loyalty, vase smashing and Halloween all wrapped up into a not so tidy package. The dialogue is always excellent but this week it was exceptional.

"The Gypsy and the Hobo"
was centered around the "will she or won't she" plot line of Betty Draper. Will she confront Don about his secret past or will she keep it to herself and destroy him a little at a time? There was also a nice subplot involving Joan and her hubby/rapist Greg. Roger got a little face time this week after being relegated to the sidelines after he and Don had their nasty blow up. The peanut gallery of Sterling Cooper barely made an appearance and for the 2nd week in a row Pete was nowhere to seen. But these are minor quibbles as the show was simply explosive and had it's fair share of twists and turns and brilliant performances.

On to the recap and review . . .

In the week before Halloween 1963, Betty is taking the kids up to papa Gene's old place to see about finally selling off his house when she asks Don a loaded question about needing some extra cash, knowing full well there is tons of cash in his magical locked drawer next to the shoebox of doom. Don brushes her off and you can tell that she is already testing him by giving him any opportunity to come clean, even if it's a little at a time.

At Sterling Cooper Don and Roger are called into a meeting with a potential return client named Annabelle Mathis. Right off the bat we find out that Annabelle and Roger have a past and that she runs a dog food company that uses horse meat. Yuck. She doesn't want the name or the product changed but wants new rebranding as sales have declined since the Clark Gable/Marilyn Monroe film "The Misfits" came out and brought bad publicity to the dog food industry. After the meeting she flirts heavily with Roger and invites him to dinner to discuss "business."

After work Don is waiting for Suzanne at her place and the two seem to be getting comfortable with each other. She waxes on about their future together and Don makes a move on her. She rejects him and he goes off to take a nap. She joins him in bed and they talk about their future some more. He invites her on a trip since Betty is away and the plan is set into motion. Or is it?

Joan is giving her loser hubby a mock interview for his switch to psychiatry and he gets frustrated. She gets him to open up and he reveals that his father had a nervous breakdown and saw a psychiatrist. Big whoop. She gives him nothing but moral support and great interview techniques and in return he's condescending and sexist. He wants to be a surgeon but it isn't smart enough and he is constantly taking it out on her. Sensing Greg will always be a failure, Joan calls Roger and after some serious flirtation she asks him for help in finding a job. He offers her old job back but she wants and needs more money and says no.

Betty and her brother William meet with the family lawyer to assess the value of Gene's house. It seems Gene left the house to Betty because she is the responsible one which really pisses Willy off and he storms out. Alone with the lawyer she asks advice about what her options are now that she found about Don's secret past. Typically for the time the lawyer gives the worse legal advice I've ever heard. Bottom line is that he advises her to work it out with him because he's a "good provider" and that she will have to prove adultery in a court of law. Geez, Louise.

Dinner with Roger and Annabelle was pretty entertaining. Turns out that she dumped Roger for another man over twenty years ago. She then compares their lives to "Casablanca" which drives Roger to drink, literally. She throws herself at him and to his credit Roger resists her drunken charm citing that he's in love with Jane and sends her home.

Greg returns from his first blown psychiatric interview and is in a foul mood. Joan tries her best to be the doting and supportive wife but he belittles her in a very nasty way. Finally and without notice, Joan fights back and grabs a vase with flowers in it and smashes him over the head leaving him dazed and confused. Our Joanie can do it all!

Back at Sterling Cooper Don arranged some focus groups to find out what kind of dog food dogs actually like. After the people find out their dogs are eating horse meat they freak out prompting a great line from Peggy; "I can't turn it off. It's actually happening." Don tries to convince Annabelle to change the name of the dog food to no avail and she storms out. Roger follows her and he they talk about what could have been. All in the same breath he is brutally honest and dismissive. Jane is the one and Annabelle isn't.

The meat of the episode follows when Don and Suzanne stop by his house so he can get some things while she waits in the car. When Don goes in he's greeted by Sally, Bobby and a real pissed off Betty. Immediately and surprisingly Betty demands to speak with him. She leads him into his study and she demands he open the desk drawer and explain what's going on. When Don realizes he's been caught his face turns ashen and he starts to hyperventilate. Betty pulls out the ole "Dick in a box" and confronts him about his real name, the pictures and everything. As Don tries to stutter an explanation she never lets up with the questions. He goes into the kitchen for a drink but is too paralyzed to get around. Betty gets him a drink and again demands answers. Then most surprisingly Don actually tells her the whole truth and nothing but the truth about everything and you can see her face softening a bit that is until baby Gene starts crying and has to leave. Meanwhile, Suzanne is STILL sitting in the car. Don goes up to their bedroom and Betty comes in with more questions, this time asking about his family. Don continues his honesty and tells her about his parents and how his brother committed suicide. This really softens her heart and for that moment they have a connection. After what seems like an eternity Suzanne finally realizes something went wrong and gets out of the car and walks home. Missed opportunity!!

Meanwhile Roger is trying to get Joan a job by calling in some favors and then there's a quick cut to Greg coming home and telling Joan he joined the Army as a surgeon behind her back. She is totally floored by this news as he didn't even talk to her first. Sounds like bad news for the loser husband as the Vietnam war will be escalating soon. Can't imagine Joan going to the PX to shop . . .

The next morning Don wakes up and realizes he didn't dream the events of the night before and that Suzanne must of went home. He goes downstairs and is greeted as always by Betty (with knife cutting tension) and makes plans to take the kids trick or treating. Don goes into the office and the first call he makes is to Suzanne to break up with her. She senses it was coming but is still sad to get a phone break up. That night Don and Betty take the kids out and Sally is dressed like a Gypsy and Bobby like a Hobo. The first house they visit the guy nails both of their costumes and then asks Don "what he's supposed to be?"

Random Thoughts . . .

I really didn't think Betty was going to confront Don so soon. I thought she was at least going to make his life a living hell for awhile first especially after she asked him for cash at the beginning. Must have been the incredible sexist and horrendous legal advice the family lawyer gave her. "Is he a good provider?" Unfrickin-believable.

I think the plot device of having an old flame of Roger's showing up all of a sudden was a bit contrived. It did however serve a few purposes; like an ad campaign to come up with a new name for horse meat (like poultry for chicken and beef for cow) which was very funny stuff and the drunken dinner between the two in which Roger professed his love for Jane. Did anyone else think if Annabelle was 20 years younger he would have had sex with her? I do.

Speaking of Roger, this episode reminds us in a big way how good John Slattery is. His directness with Annabelle and Joan was very refreshing but the biggest surprise was his loyalty to his wife. Love how he was playing bucket golf in his office cause he's got nothing to do. Nice touch to have him calling in favors late at night to find Joan a job, it showed he has a heart after all. Roger is an integral part of the show and we should see more of him regularly.

Ah Suzanne. Now that Don broke up with you what will you do now? I thought there was great foreshadowing with her creepy lines. She was continually talking about their future together and when he broke up with her she asked if she had to worry about her job. WTF? Everybody knows this relationship will be like "Fatal Attraction" , that's a given. But how crazy will she actually get? She's already stalking him and all she will need is to find out her brother died or that she's pregnant to push her over the edge. Whatever it will be it'll sure be entertaining! I can't wait for it. And what was she doing by herself in the car all that time? Pantomime? I do like their theme music though, it's has a touch of sadness and it's very beautiful.

I thought it was awesome that they brought Joan back into the show in a very clever way. Sex bomb, accordion player, triage expert, master of interview techniques and now a vase smasher? Oh yeah, Joan (Christina Hendricks) was awesome in this episode. It's shown over and again that she is the most progressive thinking woman in this show but is trapped in the 60's. What a shame. Too bad she gave up any hope for a happy life when she married the inept/sexist/pseudo-doctor/rapist loser that joined the Army cause he couldn't cut it as a surgeon in the real world. The escalation of Vietnam is right around the corner and I'm sure he'll be one of the first ones killed. Good riddance to bad trash.

I'm not sure I like how they are not showing a lot of Sterling Cooper lately. No Pete, Ken, Kinsey or Harry and only a moment with Peggy and Smitty. And what happened with Sal? There's gotta be a way to fit all of them in.

Anyone notice the secretary in the yellow dress after Annabelle left Roger in the break room? Nice.

Jon Hamm did an amazing acting job with his scenes with January Jones. They had to do some color correction in post as there's no way that his face turned that white when he got caught. Kudos to Matthew Weiner for having Don tell Betty the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He could have gone so many different ways with it. Those scenes were some of the most intense in the shows history. And Don was a football hero? Great performances all around!

According to the sharp eye greygoosegirl the following items were incorrect for the time or for continuity: the luggage, except for Bettys make-up train case; the double sink, and the sewing machine. Also the color of washer and dryer changed colors from the last episode. Thanks for the info!

The most subtly funny scene was when Annabelle said her husband dies of lung cancer and Don sparks up a Lucky Strike and just stares at her. Classic.

Best Exchange:
Joan: "So how are things?"
Roger: "Mr. Hooker has rearranged the secretaries in the pool alphabetically."
Joan: "By cup size?"
Roger: "Well, I know where you'd be sitting."
Joan: "You're making me sorry I called you."

Don: "Where do you want me to start?"
Betty: "What's your name?"
Don: "Donald Draper. But it used to be Dick Whitman."
Betty: "Who's that woman? Your other wife."
Don: "It wasn't romantic."

Best Lines:
"You don't know why? She owns a horse farm that makes dog food." - Roger.

"Well there is no other word for horse meat, I thought maybe you could invent one." - Annabelle.

"You know, people spend more money on dig food than baby food." - Bert Cooper.

"I heard she's a teenager. Probably too jealous to let you have business meeting with me."
- Annabelle.

"This isn't a beauty pageant." - Greg to Joan.

"Look at you, figuring things out for yourself."
- Joan to Roger.

"You don't know what it's like to want something your whole life . . . and to plan for it, to count on it and not get it, okay?"
- Loser Greg to Joan.

"Dogs don't like uniforms."
- Peggy

"I can't turn it off, it's actually happening."
- Peggy

"I joined the Army Joanie." - Greg

Overall, I give this episode an exceptional 5.3 Lucky Strikes Out of 5 because of the intense scenes and amazing acting by everyone. No matter how serious the story gets the writers always inject some humor for levity. Once again I simply can't believe how great this show is in all ways and that it's on basic cable! It was wonderful that they finally found something for Roger and Joan to do. I've run out of superlatives to describe just how spellbinding and incredible this show really is (how's that?) Can't wait to see what they come up with for the finale! Remember that Roger's daughter is planning to marry the weekend JFK is assassinated. Should be interesting.

Join me on Twitter for "live" tweeting for the last two episodes of the year and take the poll to tell me what you thought of this episode (sorry Mr. Weiner). As always, I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts about this great episode (and my late review!) Enjoy this sneak preview of next weeks episode as Don storms into the Lanes' sweat lodge. See ya!

-- Janaki Cedanna

Next Week: "The Grown-Ups" - Don meets with an impressive candidate. Peggy second guesses her taste in men. Pete makes big career decisions.

Posted by Janaki Cedanna on October 26, 2009 1:25 PM
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