Couch Commando

MAD MEN: Season 1 Episode 3 – “Marriage of Figaro”

Posted in Mad Men by LaurenStheTA on February 27, 2010

Viewed late at night, with a friend, at home on my couch.

Pete Campbell: Junior executive in more ways than one.

This episode opens with Pete Campbell, one of the junior execs at the agency returning from his honeymoon. It’s important to note that Campbell is a complete ass. It is also important to note what his relationship to our sweet and innocent Peggy Olson is. Back in the first episode Campbell makes more than a few inappropriate comments about women (If anyone is making disparaging comments towards and about women, you can be sure that Campbell is probably the one leading the pack). He is entitled, egotistical, and doltish. But before this turns into a diatribe on my dislike of Campbell, let’s get back to his relations with Olson. At the end of the first episode, a drunk Campbell, who’s been out enjoying his bachelor party, shows up at her apartment. The first episode ends with Olson, fresh off her introduction to her inner vamp led by Joan Holloway, taking Campbell into her apartment for less than appropriate adult activities.

Back to the present, or the not so present…well, back to this current episode, Campbell returns to work freshly married, honeymooned, and as jerky as ever. He makes it clear to Olson that he’s married, and that their night together was one time only. While Olson probably wasn’t in the mood to celebrate his return, the rest of the office has paid a Chinese family to sit in his office as a welcome home gag. He opens the door to find them eating, while a real live chicken wanders around his office. He closes the door and turns to the gathered office and says “Who put the Chinamen in there?” Everyone laughs because racism is OK in 1960. Meanwhile, the ladies of the office are passing around a well worn copy of banned literature: Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Don Draper: Thinking hard, drinking hard.

In this episode we also see the brooding Don Draper get recognized on the train by an old army buddy. We already know Draper has done military service since we’ve seen him peeking at a purple heart medal in the privacy of his office. However, the friend calls him “Dick Whitman” and Draper, though he seems uncomfortable, speaks with remarkable familiarity with the guy. Both Draper and the audience is left unsettled by the exchange between the two men. Later in the episode a few of the junior executives confirm what the show has been hinting about since episode one: Draper is a mysterious man who releases very little personal information about him. Even his wife seems to barely know him.

Speaking of his wife, Betty Draper is becoming more helpless and child-like as the season goes on. It is their daughter Sally’s birthday and Draper must help Betty with the party and build the playhouse that is Sally’s big gift. Among the adults at the party is Helen Bishop, the divorced woman who just moved in down the street. In the kitchen, the neighborhood women subtly pick at Bishop’s divorced status. When Betty asks Don to get the cake, he leaves and doesn’t return. He spends the time lost in thought and parked near the train tracks. When he returns late in the evening with a dog for Sally, his wife is clearly angry and distraught. The episode ends with Draper leaning against the couch and losing himself in his thoughts again. It is becoming clear that Draper is far more complicated than he lets on.

This was my least favorite episode so far. It was depressing and many of the characters are becoming difficult to like. In fact I don’t feel a strong connection to the majority of the main characters, so it’s hard to care when bad things befall them. Hopefully the next episode will have me caring more.

Rated 2/5.

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One Response

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  1. Darren said, on February 28, 2010 at 7:01 am

    It’s interesting that this was your least favorite episode so far because of your posts this is my favorite so far. The reason for that is because at this point the plot thickens, as they say, and you’ve left me asking some questions about the characters. Though I do take your point about how it can be difficult to watch a show when all the characters are unsympathetic at best and awful human beings at worst. I have to take Seinfeld in small doses because none of the characters have any redeeming qualities. At least with a comedy it’s easy to laugh at awful people when they make their own misery. Mad Men does seem to be getting pretty dark. Hopefully, the mysteries surrounding some of the characters will help alleviate the depressing nature of their behavior.

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