There’s a terrifically interesting battle brewing in season 2, and it’s not just the growing tension between the Mad Men sexes. Yes, the boys over and over have told the increasingly self-possessed gals in their lives not to tell them what to do. They want to stay in control — of the conversation, the conquest, and their public image. Don finally went and kicked poor Lois back to the switchboard, not for all her administrative blunders, but for failing to put a proper spin on his afternoon at the movies. ”I try to cover for you all the time,” she protested wobbly, saying the worst possible thing to a man who likes to think of himself as bronzed in honor. ”You do not cover for me,” he schooled her, before spelling out the description of what may be the world’s worst job. ”You manage people’s expectations.” Joan came to his rescue, purring like a cat in her whammo blue dress.
Sexes aside, art and commerce were rubbing up against each other like itchy, angry lovers who can’t live with or without each other. When foul-mouthed comic Jimmy Barrett hurled drunken-whale jokes at the wife of a CEO on the set of a potato-chip commercial, Don was put in charge of damage control. He had to convince Jimmy to make nice with Sterling Cooper’s client’s wife, and to get that apology he had to go through Jimmy’s wife, Bobbie, who was, much to his surprise, also the brains behind the loud mouth. The two squared off on the darkened set, and the scene began as if these two were in some moody, backlit commercial themselves. ”These people are his benefactors,” he warned her. ”Like the Medicis of Florence? They’re patrons of his,” taking a pause for sneering effect, ”art.” Turns out Jimmy’s androgynously named wife doesn’t much like to be bossed around, and it was hard to tell whether she was speaking for herself or her husband when she cut Don down to size. ”Jimmy doesn’t have a lot of patience for business — or businessmen,” she said, nailing him to the bar. ”In fact, I’m pretty sure he already hates you: some glib adman, in that suit, cigarette perfectly in hand, not a hair out of place.”
To prove she had the upper hand, Bobbie later made a bum rush at Don in his car and really hit below the belt. I may have given Don too much of a pass last week. I thought he turned down a woman’s advances because he could no longer effectively detach after finding out that his wife was wise to his wandering eye. But he wasn’t scared of being identified as a man who cheats, so much as terrified of being a man who couldn’t literally come through. ”I don’t think I can do this,” he told the shark in his lap. ”Doesn’t feel that way,” she snarled right back. Afterwards Don slunk back into his kitchen and washed Bobbie off his hands and mouth before giving Betty a prim kiss on the cheek. He beamed when Betty gave him the watch she had repaired, marveling that she’d gone to the trouble of having it monogrammed. Turns out, though, that maybe she added that little extra touch because she had some trouble of her own in mind.
NEXT: Neigh it ain’t so