Episode 3 of Mad Men deals heavily with marriage, infidelity, and the consequence of broken agreements made between two people in a relationship. It’s interesting to see that even in the 60’s the idea of a “modern family” was always there, just not talked about or given a name.
It’s painfully obvious that Don and Sylvia’s relationship is heading towards disasterville, while going 90 miles an hour with burning tires and cut breaks. The original set of rules that were mapped out when they decided they were going to occasionally sleep together are constantly changing. The only thing they can agree on is that they will continue having sex as often as they can. Sylvia is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the situation they’ve gotten themselves in. She’s having a hard time sitting across from the spouses at dinner while they stare at them with egg dripping down their faces. Don is also slowly but surly realizing that these two women are becoming a little too close for his liking. They are definitely playing with fire. Megan confides in Sylvia that she’s recently had a miscarriage, and Sylvia’s immediate reaction is jealously. Her only concern is that Don is still sleeping with Megan, and that she’s starting to get emotionally attached.
We are also granted another piece to the puzzle that is Don Draper’s childhood. We’ve always known that Don was raised by a prostitute, but we’ve never been given the opportunity to connect it with how he treats the women in his current life. He was brought up believing that women were nothing more than sexual objects, and that being a man grants you the power to have them as you please. This speaks volumes for who Don is at his core. It’s unclear if we’ll ever truly know who Don Draper is at the root of all this, but it does give us a better idea.
Pete Campbell is going through a similar set of “rule breaking” issues with his wife, Trudy. Though the ball park is the same, you get the sense that his reasons for cheating are much different than Don’s. Pete comes off as a highly insecure guy, constantly looking to fill the voids in his life. He’s driven by his need to appear powerful, and he’s drawn to women that fawn over him. Pete is so visibly jealous of Don, if only he would realize that it’s just as much an act for Don as it is anyone else. Trudy eventually finds that Pete has been sleeping with Brenda, and she confronts him about his decision to break her well thought out plan. She fills him in on the fact that she’s always known of his infidelity. She allows him to rent the apartment in the city so that it can be kept away from her home. Now that Pete has broken their given rules, a new set must be created, and on Trudy’s terms. You get the idea that Trudy is fully aware of how insecure her husband is. She does what’s necessary in order to make him feel like a man. She also won’t hesitate to tug at his leash whens she sees him getting ready to lift his leg on the wall.
Peggy is still dressed head to toe in her disguise as her idol, Don Draper. Her employees live in constant fear of her, and will look for any excuse not to have to walk into her office. She’s cold, ball busting, and unapologetic when it comes to her work. Her creatives stand in front of her desk to pitch ideas in a police lineup formation. She tells them to sit down and stand up twice in the same sentence. And she constantly teases them with the idea of things like lunch, and fresh air. You can tell that it’s starting to have an effect on her. At her core, Peggy is a warm person with a big heart and it’s being clouded by her commitment to perfection in the workplace. Peggy’s only genuine relationship is with Stan. Stan is able to pull something out of Peggy that not even her boyfriend can. She lowers her walls when she speaks to him, and is able to have genuine conversation, not revolving around work. This could be because she and Stan were able to form a well rounded, fully functional friendship.
Everything going on in this episode is centered around SCDP’s relationships with Jaguar. Herb stops by the office with the request that they spend more money on local advertising than national. During a meeting with the higher-ups Don purposely tanks, without filling Herb in on his plan. He then sits down with the executives of Heinz Ketchup in hopes to add them to the company client list. The meeting dosen’t go as planned, and this can officially be marked as the first time we see Don make such an obvious negotiation error at work.
In the last few minutes of the episode we get another flashback of Don watching sexual acts through the peepholes of the brothel he was raised in. Studying women as they negotiate what will happen with their bodies to sleazy men in suits. As Don goes to enter his apartment he stops, drops his head and slowly lowers to the floor.
As the episode ends, a song by Louis Prima plays called “Just A Gigolo“. The lyrics of the song really relate to what Don is going through. Especially in relation to his new found obsession with death, and the way he treats the women who love him.
“Just a gigolo everywhere I go people know the part I’m playing. Paid for every dance selling each romance every night some heart betraying. There will come a day youth will pass away then what will they say about me. When the end comes I know they’ll say just a gigolo as life goes on without me“
photos courtesy AMC.com