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Easter Eggs and Cocktails: Three Sundays on "Mad Men"

I've rarely ever wanted to reach into my television set and slap a character as much as I did watching last night's episode of Mad Men ("Three Sundays").

While I understand the jealousy that is clearly seething under the surface, I felt that the actions of Anita (Audrey Wasilewski), Peggy's sister, were completely unforgivable and selfish. Is Peggy living in a deluded dream world where there don't appear to be consequences to her actions (namely having a child out of wedlock)? Sure, but that doesn't give Anita the right to rat her out to the new young priest, Father Gill (Colin Hanks) who seems to be taking a shine to Peggy... and may have been the only person who could have gotten her to rejoin the church, something that both Anita and her mother Katherine (Myra Turley) seem to want.

Anita's betrayal of Peggy, couched as it was in the terms of the confession, was all the more calculated and cruel; she wanted to take something of value from Peggy and to punish her. The look of shock and horror on Peggy's sad little face as she took the blue Easter egg from Father Gill ("for the little one") was absolutely heartbreaking, all the more for the fact that the episode ended right there and then.

"Three Sundays" also hiked up the tension between Don and Betty as Betty needles her husband about his lack of discipline when it comes to their children. While their confrontation quickly turns ugly--with Don smashing his son's toy robot and then shoving Betty (after she pushed him)--he does finally reveal some small detail of his past to his wife, telling her that his father beat him senselessly as a child.

This, and the touching scene of Don holding his son Bobby (how adorable and naive was his "we'll have to get you a new Daddy"?), gave Don Draper a much needed softening after his Tony Soprano-like behavior in last week's episode and made Betty's line about Don being the man he is because of his father's corporal punishment all the more ironic: Don is the man he is today in spite of those beatings, not because of them.

I do wish there would have been some fallout from Little Sally drinking at the office (she can sure make a mean cocktail), but that doesn't seem to be Don's style. Still, I love how outraged Betty is about Bobby's constant lying but she won't ever confront her husband about his own falsehoods. But that's what I love best about Betty, that she seems to be a woman filled to the brim with paradox. She tells her psychiatrist that one of the things she loves best about Don is how good he is with the kids and how he never lays a hand on them... but in this week's episode, it's that very restraint that is driving her mad. Still, it's that paradox that fuels her own sublimated rage, at being trapped in the house with the kids all day, at Don not disciplining their children, at her lost potential. Never before has the gilded cages of the 1960s housewife seemed all the more gleaming or fraught with peril.

As for Roger, he truly is in everything for the chase, whether that's business (as evidenced with his casual reaction to losing American Airlines as a client before they've even landed them) or with women (see his fascination with prostitute Vicky). And yet Don does seem to be different. For him it's not necessarily about the chase but about the prize at the end of it. Roger seems to be tumbling further and further down the rabbit hole; other women are one thing in the world of Mad Men, but now he's sleeping with hookers and taking them to Lutece? Could it be a midlife crisis--stirred up all the more by his daughter preparing to marry--that's sending him into a tailspin?

Next week on Mad Men ("The New Girl"), Joan finds a perfect secretary for Don but then reprimands her for her, uh, "decolletage"; Don finds himself trapped between comedian Jimmy and his wife Bobbie.

Comments

Another fantastic episode. Colin Hanks was wonderful in the role of Father Gill. I hope they keep him around for awhile!
Anonymous said…
I pretty much wanted to slap Anita as well, but unforgivable? I don't know. I think that the beauty of Matt Weiner's prose is that he makes even the most unsympathetic characters/moments somewhat forgivable. Even though it definitely wasn't very Catholic of her, I could definitely see what drove her to do what she did. It's beyond jealousy. Even if Peggy is living in a dream world, Anita's point is that everyone else (mama included) seems to let her off the hook for everything. She glides in, plays the dutiful daughter, and glides out. She doesn't have to deal with all the day to day crap. I can see how that would build and build in Audrey (remember it's been a year and a half since the baby), and then here comes this new priest who seems equally blinded by Peggy, and....

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