The Differences Between Ketchup and Catsup
Mad Men Season 6 Episode 3 recap
They were explained to me for the first time. You? I always thought catsup was supposed to be spicy, which sounded kind of appealing. But the differences were drawn clearly here: one is delicious and special and unique, and the other just …isn’t.
That was, of course, the case with a number of plotlines this episode. The ketchup plot, other than weirdly highlighting Pete’s miserable apartment, mainly served to spend a long time showing us what we’ve known, but now really know – Don is lagging creatively. Peggy, on the other hand, is at the top of her game. Don needs Peggy back if he’s going to survive. Which is great, and not a moment too soon, because having Peggy spinning her wheels for Chaough isn’t that exciting. Still, it’s not like I think she’ll come back without a fight. They are now opposites. Ketchup and its pales-in-comparison cousin, Catsup. Don will need Peggy to change his fate – which, if even Ken Cosgrove feels entitled to chastise him now, is slipping more quickly than we think. In general, not seeing what’s going on at SCDP as much, business-wise, tells me they’re getting complacent – even as they tell Harry otherwise.
Speaking of Harry – I don’t want to rush the larger conversation that forms the meat of the episode, but I do want to say that it’s one of Roger’s enduring qualities (and Bert Cooper’s too, I suppose) that he can tell a weasel at first glance. He seems to never have been wrong about a person in his employ, even if he can tell that they are somehow useful. He will give Harry all the money in the world – but not a partnership. Because he knows what that would mean, and basically understands people – arguably better than anyone else in the office. It’s been true for Pete, which may even have had the odd effect of making Pete more of a person, and it’s certainly true for Harry, who appears to be good at his job even though I would like him to screw off forever. He’s just so gross. But I understand this to be the point.
For Joan, however, oh, Joanie. I can’t decide when I feel worse for you – when your decision is undermined right in front of Scarlett and random passersby, or when Harry screams out that you slept your way into the job (which, to their credit, nobody flinches at), or when you got real with your friend about how belittled you felt.
What kills me here is that this is where Joan has been before. We’ve seen it – remember in season 1, when her birth certificate was printed up on the wall? Joan is in no mans’ land – quite rightly not part of the secretaries’ pool, but simultaneously not truly part of the upper cadre. Harry – who can’t even get entrée into the room – calls her Joan, and in return she calls him Mr. Crane. That might get me more angry than anything else – the idea that even the titles and names that she’s earned are disrespected, regardless of what the whispers might be about how she gets there. But who can she tell, really? Joan has always kept her own counsel at work. There are any number of fleeting glances that tell us Don might know what’s up – but he’s not really that interested in helping…or he would.
And the difference in perception is partly Joan’s own. She hasn’t pushed for a glam-er office, it doesn’t seem. She doesn’t demand to be called Ms. Holloway (or is she still Mrs. Harris?) She doesn’t even tell Harry, as he well deserves to be told, that she utterly outranks him. But, as her ambitious friend tells her, just being there makes the difference. Just being a part of the visual lineup of the place, mixing the sexes, continuing to poke holes in the establishment, and holding her head up high – even if she starts with a target as easy as Dawn.
How did we feel about Dawn this week? Clearly we’ve been asked to care about her and get to know more of her in and outside work. Furthermore, she’s eager to please in the extreme, going so far as to tell the former Mrs. Harris that it doesn’t matter who likes her or not as long as Joan does – aren’t these echoes of Joan herself, who didn’t need to be liked? For that matter, of Peggy, who never participated in the office bacchanals? Peggy virtually begged Dawn to want more, last year, so maybe now we’re there. She may never aspire to be Peggy, but she may look up and want to be Joan – which, is that almost as good? Just as good? Better?
By contrast, of course, it is hard to feel anything about the “struggles” facing Megan Draper. I just don’t care that much, because she’s too childish to know what she wants. I was reflecting tonight that it was a long time since we’d seen her and Don getting sexual and violent at once, but tonight came close. Whatever about swinging, whatever about Don’s affairs – the point here is he can’t stand to be cuckolded, or seen to be. Sure, that’s fine. But the other point is that, as the hilarious swinging matriarch pointed out, Megan wouldn’t want him to be. She’d want him to be defending her and a little bit jealous and possessive. She wishes he would be more dramatic about his love for her. It’s his lackadaisicalness that makes her crazy – and thus, she knows the difference between the cool wife she wishes she was, and the one she actually is. The difference between ketchup and catsup.
Finally, Stan’s beard has made me completely turn around on him. Um, yum. Delicious.
Attached -- Jon Hamm pumping gas this weekend.