“Mad Men”: Episode 4, “Three Sundays”

Madmen3sundayspeggy_trio

Holy heck, this was a great episode of Mad Men,” packed with equal amounts of arresting visuals and razor-sharp lines of dialogue that will rattle around in our heads all week.

Seg “Three Sundays,” superbly penned by Andre and Maria Jacquemetton and directed by Tim Hunter, is framed by three trips on successive Sundays to the parish church with Peggy’s family. By the end of this episode, we’re all fidgety little boys squirming in the pew and tugging at our starchy collars.There is enough repressed anger and nervous tension in this episode (actually in the Draper household, the anger is boiling over) to light up Broadway, if there were electrical sockets built in to the backsides of Don Draper, Betty Draper, Father Gill (in a fantastic guest shot by Colin Hanks), Peggy Olson and her mother, Katherine, and sister, Anita.

Was it my imagination or in the opening scene in Peggy’s church was there an extra volume put on the Monsignor’s admonition for his flock to “live worthily” and “bear the cross.” These themes seemed to be significant in the episode.

(More after the jump.)

STUART LEVINE WEIGHS IN

If Matt Weiner and his team were concerned about a sophomore slump, they needn’t worry any more.
Sunday’s fourth episode of the season, “Three Sundays,” was fabulous.

For me, the episode was all about children, and how parents treat a child affects those all around on the periphery. Let’s start with Bobby. This adorable rascal keeps getting into trouble: breaking the record player, jumping on and breaking the bed, spilling his drink while playing with his robot. He looks to be about 6 or 7, and he’s testing boundaries. A kid being a kid.

That’s a concept Betty’s completely oblivious to, and her reaction is to have Don smack Bobby around, thinking that will teach him right from wrong.

Don won’t do it, however, still reeling from when his father beat him, and telling Betty that he wanted to murder his father when he grew older. It might not be a shocking revelation, as it was hinted about in a few prior episodes, but it does reinforce that Betty has no idea about the relationship between Don and his father, or much of anything about Don’s past.

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  1. Paul J. says:

    Stu’s right about the brilliant touches of period-ness that the show injects, which shows just how much our society has changed vis-a-vis domestic violence, child-rearing and mores. I have to say, though, that a priest who violated the sanctity of the confessional by revealing something he learned from a fellow parishoner (and not the confessor herself)would be a little more subtle about that revelation…like maybe he should have said “It’s for the little ones,” when passing off the egg, thereby not letting Peggy know definitely that he knew of her out-of-wedlock child. Just a thought, as a Catholic who grew up in that era.

  2. Jimmy James says:

    I thought Don said “VIOLETS” about the candy his father ate. Gotta flip on my closed captions. Even if the word as spoken is “VIOLETS”, I was wondering, what the heck do VIOLETS taste like? Almost a homonym for “VIOLENCE”. Gets me to thinking nothing is unintentional with writing of this caliber.
    As for the child theme, think about Betty’s oddly close relationship with the neighbor boy; how she was flattered by his attention, and gave him her lock of hair like a little girl might do. She is essentially a child, stilted in her development from doing the child-centric wifey role, and having been raised to be constantly concerned about physical appearance, rather than anything deeply emotional or god forbid, spiritual. Those stoic nordic people!
    She constantly engages in girlish fantasies, like with the tow truck driver, Arthur, and of course that unsuspecting air conditioner salesman! But she never follows through, even when she’s certain Don has been unfaithful. She just continues the childish games by passing on the dirt she’s figured out about Don back to him through the shrink. Reminds me of junior high.
    And Joan might also have been thinking about the door she heard lock behind Bobby Barret just a few days earlier, as she looked over Don and his darling daughter.
    Actually wasn’t it Don who originally brought in Duck, and Peter was the one trying to denigrate his (Duck’s) reputation?
    And yes, that last line by Father Gill was a good note to end on, perfectly punctuated by the look on Peggys face, egg in hand.
    Thanks for the summaries. This show has really grown on me. Maybe it was the season one marathon.

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