“Mad Men”: Episode 11, “The Jet Set”


Let’s call this one “The Hobo Code,” part II, in which ourMad Men hero Don Draper runs away from his problems in New York, runs away some more and then gets smacked in the face with Palm Springs heat and the reality of how his actions are likely to affect his kids.

Episode 11, “The Jet Set,” is one of those intriguing hours of the show in which at first it doesn’t seem like much is happening, but on reflection there’s a whole lot of moving and shaking below the surface.

In this seg, penned by Matthew Weiner and helmed by Phil Abraham, we learn, to use Ken Cosgrove’s shorthand, that “Kurt’s a homo,” and that Peggy Olson with her strict Catholic upbringing is a model of tolerance and respect for diversity (Can we enlist Peggy to help fight California’s evil anti-same sex marriage initiative, Prop. 8?).

We learn that Duck Phillips really is an incredible schemer, with a few martinis in his belly, and it sure seems like he’s been laying in wait for his attemped Sterling Cooper coup attempt for a while.

We learn that Jane Siegel really shouldn’t be writing poetry. We learn that Pete Campbell is just not a West Coast kind of guy. And in the most tantalizing tidbit, we learn there’s someone out there somewhere that Dick Whitman, not Don Draper, wants to see — “soon.”

There’s lots more to digest.

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  1. Peter Sjöberg says:

    Great summary!
    – It is a crack in the glass (and no it’s defenitely not plastic, they are filthy rich goddammit!)
    – The page Don writes on is one of the empty one’s that often appear in books because the number of sheets has to be even so she wouldn’t miss the end if she read the whole book, although that seems unlikely
    – The way I interpreted the scene where Pete meets joins Don with the riches in the bar, was that the whole thing was a way of showing how socially clumsy Pete is compared to Don (despite the fact that their respective upbringings would suggest the opposite), not an actual connection between Willie and Pete

  2. Big Tex says:

    I’ve been critical of the show since it started, mainly because it’s always felt so slow but this is the first episode I truly enjoyed 100%.
    Don has taken Marcello’s place in La Dolce Vita, a character trying to find his place in the world, presented with choices between a serious domesticated life and casual “hobo” lifestyle of frivolity which when clashed creates Don’s feeling of self-disgust.
    Loved this episode.

  3. Billy says:

    Vera, I thought the exact same thing! Either the actress playing Joy has an eerily similar voice to that of January Jones or something else was going on. I thought I was just being weird.

  4. Loup Garou says:

    Examplary Critique and Summation! Enjoyed reading it very much and will come back for more.

  5. Vera says:

    I may be imagining this, but it seemed to me that they dubbed in Betty’s voice when Joy was speaking. There was some misfit of sound to her lips and I thought she was imitating Betty’s manner. This may also account for a somewhat weak performance by Joy. So maybe this wasn’t really an episode without Betty?

  6. joe says:

    willie + joy are spy’s – they sell secrets.

  7. Tobey says:

    About Don studying his glass in the pool–I have to watch it again, but my initial thought was that it was a seam, not a crack, that the glass was actually plastic. Something that appeared to be one thing, but was actually another (kinda like Don).

  8. Keith says:

    I had a slightly different take on the Pete/Willie moment. I thought Pete, in the face of apparent wealth and status, was trying to impress by mentioning some high-class place where they might have met (and that Pete has probably never actually been); Willie saw through it and brushed Pete off like the social-climbing wannabe that he is.

  9. Paul J. says:

    I think Cynthia is right and wrong on this one. I think Duck was trying to be a loyal soldier until he was rebuffed by Roger, and saw a chance to advance himself, after applying a little liquid courage. And as for Joy, I think she was spot on in her part, as the daughter of early ’60s hedonists who will only grow and mature as the decade rolls on. Don knows there’s another world out there, and he wants in –just has to clear some stuff up first. For Jane, she’s not just a gold-digger –she’s an early feminist when she tells Roger that yes, she could lose him if he doesn’t take her seriously. For such a pretty girl, watch the way the actress uses her minor change of facial expressions to convey her real responses to his midlife crisis swoon. She won’t “take” him for all he’s got –she really wants someone to love her, body and mind. She’s unconventional, wrapped in conventionality. A wonderful segment, in a show that’s the highlight of my TV week.

  10. doobiedoo says:

    i adore your recaps cynthia – so beautifully written. This was a confronting episode in many ways – Duck’s return to drinking was palpably terrifying. But my heart leapt during the scenes between Peggy and Kurt. As you say – finally, someone showing the girl some friendship and compassion. God i love this show.

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