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Mad Men: Wee Small Hours – Season 3 Episode 9 Review
The episode starts with Betty having a dream where an unknown man’s hand is caressing her as she lies on the fainting couch in her living room. Given the background of the couch, we know that the man in the dream is most likely Henry Francis. Before he can kiss her, Betty is awakened by the phone. It’s Conrad Hilton calling for Don, telling him, among other things, he wants his hotels everywhere, including the moon. Given the “properness” that people from this era show each other, it seems odd that Hilton would call Don at home at such an odd hour. This eccentric behavior comes into play later.
Not being able to sleep, Don heads into work early and encounters Suzanne Farrel, Sally’s ex-teacher, who is out for a run. Don offers her a ride home and true to form, the flirting continues. Don drops her off at home, and now that he knows where she lives, my first thought is there is no way he won’t be showing up there some time later.
At work, a TV commercial is being shot for Lucky Strike. Sal is the director and there’s some friction between him and Lee Garner Jr., the son of the owner. Lee is drinking and tries to convince Sal that he knows better. The tension boils over in the editing room when Lee makes an advance towards Sal. Sal rebuffs the action, but as could be predicted, Lee demands that Sal be fired. The odd thing about this power move, is that Lee calls Harry Crane to demand the firing and tells him not to tell anyone. This puts Harry in an odd position, as he has no power to fire Sal. With the excuse that Lee was drunk, Harry sits on the request. This comes back to bit him when Lee shows up for the screening of the commercial. He sees Sal there and just leaves. The situation blows up and Sal winds up in front of Don. Don, having learned of Sal’s homosexuality while they were on travel together, feels Sal should have acted differently, given the fact that Lucky Strike is a $25M account and is forced to fire Sal. This scene leaves us feeling horrible for Sal. He was fired for being a closeted gay who didn’t “take one for the team”. I’m not saying that things like that wouldn’t and don’t happen today, but in 1963, someone like Sal had absolutely no recourse.
The relationship between Don and Hilton continued to grow in a strange way, as Hilton calls him again at night to have a drink. Don obliges and during their drink, Hilton reveals how close he feels to Don, calling him “[his] angel” and “more than a son”. At this point, Hilton’s business experience and wisdom seem to excuse what may seem like hyperbolic compliments, but later when Don and his creative team are presenting ideas to Hilton, things get crazy when Hilton is disappointed because there is no mention of Hilton hotels on the moon. An incredulous Don explains that it’s a great campaign that has been put together but Connie is hearing none of it. It will be interesting to see how Don handles the fact that someone who hours ago he was looking up to as a mentor and maybe even father figure, is really just a crazy old man. Well, maybe not entirely crazy, but we see that Conrad Hilton definitely has a screw loose. This should mix well with the giant carrots he’s dangling in front of Sterling Cooper.
On the sexier side of the episode, Betty still can’t decide what she want’s to do with Henry Francis. After her dream, she starts a written correspondence with Henry. Henry comes over to the house in the middle of the day, but they are interrupted (standing in the foyer) by Carla. This creates a charade of organizing a fundraiser which Betty actually has to follow through with to lower suspicions about her and Henry. At the fundraiser, Henry doesn’t come, but sends an assistant instead. Betty is upset by this, which doesn’t make sense as the whole point of the act was to not raise suspicion. A perturbed Betty shows up to Henry’s office with the proceeds from the fundraiser. After Henry calms her, he locks the door and they start to kiss. Betty, however has changed her mind, again, halts the action and leaves. At the same time her behavior is annoying, you can’t help but feel bad for her. We can’t be sure what’s boiling inside her, but sooner or later it’s going to erupt.
I probably don’t even need to write this paragraph because anyone who watches this show could have guess that Don found his way over to Suzanne Farrel’s house. Even I didn’t think it would happen in this episode. But alas, they wind up kissing in her kitchen. Something is going to have to be different about this affair and it is almost eluded to before they embrace for the first time. Suzanne mentions the closeness in proximity of the two of them and especially his wife. Suzanne had always had some off-center, unstable factor about her. I can totally see this relationship turning Fatal Attraction on Don. I don’t predict a boiled bunny, though. Well, maybe just metaphorically.
One other thing I’d like to comment on are the teasers for the next episode, at the end. Does anyone else find these hilarious? They really don’t tease, rather are just a bunch of dramatic one-liners, such as: “Damn it!”, “That’s a lie”, “What did you find out?” and the hits keep coming. They should really just put in some commentary or bloopers or anything, really.