John, I’m with you. I think this may be the best season of Mad Men yet. And—as a fan of January Jones and the stories involving Betty Draper (I can’t believe you persist in dissing the truly brilliant maternity ward episode!)—it pains me to admit: I don’t miss any of the Ossining characters when they’re not onscreen, with the lone exception of Sally. Kiernan Shipka’s portrayal of Don’s troubled daughter is so nuanced and compelling and wonderful that I think there’s only one way for Weiner to improve Season 4: SCDP should hire Sally Draper as its new receptionist. She can clomp around in oversize high heels and vie with Megan for supremacy at the front desk. Then we’ll never have to go upstate again!
A few more thoughts on the bathroom themes this week: Some commenters have noted that the episode highlighted pestilence along with excrement. I read the mice, roaches, vomit, and feces as a sign that this is a rock bottom for Don—he’s mired in filth, and the only way out is up, with a helping hand from Pegs. As for Don’s use of the phrase “shitting on,” our senior words correspondent Jesse Sheidlower (a Slate contributor and editor at the OED) wrote in to assure me that the usage was gaining favor in America in the mid-’60s—he has a corporate memo from 1963 to prove it.
Michael, you wonder whether Peggy will ever tell Don that Pete was her babydaddy: I’d bet you a barrel of bourbon she’ll take that one to the grave. Did you catch the look on Pete’s face this week as he spotted his wife exiting the bathroom deep in conversation with his former fling? If only we could somehow turn that image into an emoticon for “extreme uneasiness.” (For more images of Pete’s weaselly facial expressions, try this Tumblr.)
Finally, I want to point our readers to an interesting analysis of the episode on Vulture, where Logan Hill takes the possibility that Peggy and Don may launch a romantic relationship somewhat more seriously than we did. I tend to think they’ll keep it professional, even as they develop what may be an emotionally profound alliance. But Hill points to some compelling evidence, and it’s an intriguing theory.
See you guys in Dr. Edna’s office.