Episode 1.03: Marriage of Figaro


April 8-9, 1960. (Note: The women were discussing plans for Easter break, which had not yet happened. Easter Sunday was April 17, 1960.)

Friday, April 8, 1960
The train to New York City
Don is on the city-bound, flipping through Life Magazine, checking out the Volkswagen “Lemon” ad. A man greets him. As Dick. Dick Whitman. Don looks puzzled, smiles, does not correct him, chats with him (his name is Larry Krizinsky), and takes his card. Definitely relieved when Larry’s cuts short the “reunion”. “Old Dick Whitman, what are the chances?”

Sterling Cooper

Pete is back from his honeymoon. The boys try to get details from him on the elevator ride up to the office, but Pete is a reverent husband. Once in the office, everyone, notably the women, greets him with warmth and enthusiasm. He opens his office door to find a Chinese family eating, and a chicken walking around. “Who put the Chinaman in my office?” Big guffaws over this practical joke. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Paul, Harry, and Salvatore are in Don’s office for a Secor Laxative meeting (which has been postponed a few times) where the boys give Don essentially nothing, except for a few lame laxative jokes. In all seriousness, the jokes lead to a discussion of the merit of brand self-effacing humor, like the Volkswagen ads. Don, on all counts: We are not amused. Roger joins the meeting.

Pete arrives late for the meeting, first gently criticizing Peggy for leaving him off the invite list. Peggy at first smiles to see him. He makes a point of telling Peggy that he’s married now, extracting an “It never happened” from her.

After the meeting breaks up, Pete stays behind to schmooze Don. Don’s cufflink breaks during the conversation.

Around the proverbial water cooler, Joan returns Lady Chatterley’s Lover to Marge (or the unnamed secretary next to her) and then Peggy borrows it. Joan persists in condescendingly positioning Peggy as virginal, despite the fact that Peggy asserts herself.

In the conference room, Harry tells an offensive marriage joke. Rachel Menken then arrives for another meeting. She and Don flirt over his broken cufflink. Pete notices. After hearing the marketing research, she calls the team to the carpet for having never been to her store. Don assures her that he will correct this on that very day. It’s a date. Don walks her out, and they flirt some more over a free-range chicken.

With a blatant tone of anti-Semitism (he calls Rachel “Molly Goldberg”) Pete remarks on the Don-Rachel flirtation to Harry. The two discuss the mystery that is Don, and move on to talking about women and the kinds of relationships a married man can have with them. Trudy phones, and Pete is floored by the notion of having a wife who will have dinner ready when he gets home. Just floored.

Menken’s Department Store
Don enters the store. Rachel is in a different outfit, which he notices. “This is my closet,” she says in response. As if to punctuate that remark, she walks Don over to the men’s accessory counter where she picks out and gives him a set of cufflinks. Little medieval knights, as it turns out.

Sterling Cooper
A bunch of people are going out after work, Pete turns them down, he want to go home to his home-cooked steak. He remarks coolly that Peggy looks nice.

Menken’s Department Store
Rachel and Don work their way up to the roof. Where she talks about her childhood, introducing him to her big dogs, and where they kiss. After the kiss, Don tells her he is married. She ain’t having it, and asks that he assign someone else the account, and that he also be responsible for the cover story.

The train back to Ossining
Don sits alone until he is interrupted by a conductor, who hands him a newspaper he dropped, paralleling Larry on the train that morning, handing him a business card.

Saturday, April 9
Ossining, New York
Don is in bed, Betty is up, her hair in pin curls. Sally runs in, saying “Daddy, get up, it’s my birthday.” Betty reminds Don the party is at two and he has to put together the p-l-a-y-h-o-u-s-e before then. They leave and Don gazes at the cufflinks on the night table.

In the yard, Don works on the playhouse. Gets himself a beer. Goes back to work. Gets another beer. Sally sees the playhouse, gets excited. Don sends her to get him another beer.

In the kitchen, Betty and Francine (in curlers and pregnant) prepare appetizers. They discuss Helen Bishop. Francine ogles Don, who is still working on the playhouse. He gets ANOTHER beer. He goes to the powder room, realizes it’s all set up for guests, and wipes his hands on his shirt.

It’s later. Betty is dressed and her hair is done. She’s making a pitcher of mint juleps. Don trades his beer (his fifth?) for a mint julep. The guests chatter. One (Chet Wallace) tells an offensive marriage joke. The women talk in the kitchen. Helen Bishop arrives, apologizing for being late. Her present is wrapped in Christmas paper. Betty is sweet and cordial about it.

The party guests are:

      Francine and Carlton and their kid Ernie


      Joyce and Henry Darling (they are sweet and in love)


      Nancy and Chet Wallace and their unnamed daughter


      Jack and Marilyn Farrelly and their kid Kevin (who had polio and uses crutches)


      Helen Bishop and her son Glen


      Extra children: There are three boys and two girls that are not specifically assigned.

Food for the adults
Mint juleps
Stuffed celery sticks
Date nut bread
Cold turkey
Waldorf salad

Food for the children
Peanut butter sandwiches

Don takes Glenn out to the backyard to show him the food.

Betty asks Don to pick up the cake at Hi-Top and asks him to take movies. Carlton ogles Helen. The other men all discuss her. While Don takes home movies, Carlton makes a pass at Helen, which she handles deftly. Don also films the Darlings as they kiss in the same posture as Don and Rachel kissed. Don is struck.

The kids play house, arguing like their parents do, as Don watches and drinks. Helen steps outside and chats with Don. The women all talk in the kitchen. Glen comes in looking for his mom. One of the women points out to Betty that Don is with Helen in the yard, Betty immediately goes out and sends him for the cake.

Ernie runs through the hall, knocks over a drink. Jack Farrelly slaps Ernie for it. Carlton comes in and tells Ernie to apologize, and then tells him to get his (pregnant!) mother to clean up the drink.

Don is in the car with the cake. You can see his empty drink on top of the cake, he must have brought it in the car. He pulls up to his house, slows, and then keeps going.

At the house, it’s nearly 4 o’clock. Betty is calling the bakery; learning that Don was there almost an hour ago. The Wallaces leave. Helen volunteers to bring a frozen Sarah Lee cake rather than not having any. Betty’s hands begin to go numb as she cuts the cake.

Don wakes up in the car, it’s dark. He’s at the train station. He stares bleakly as a train crosses in front of him.

At home, Betty washes up. Her hands are again numb, she can’t get her gloves off.

Don comes home, he’s brought Sally a dog. Betty doesn’t know what to say. Don passes out on the living room floor.

The closing song plays: P.S. I Love You.

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  6 Responses to “Episode 1.03: Marriage of Figaro”

  1. Just wanted to clear up a (very) little error — "Janet" Darling is actually listed as JOYCE DARLING in the episode's credits. (For what it's worth, this episode's synopsis on AMC's "Mad Men" site seems to be mistaken as well). The character's name is also listed as Joyce Darling on the IMDB page of the actress portraying her (Adria Tennor's IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0855133/).

  2. I probably got it from AMC; not sure. I just checked the episode and, at least from how I scanned, it seems they don't say it anywhere. I'm going to leave this as is, with these comments intact. If she recurs, perhaps we clear up, and if she doesn't well then, it won't much matter.

  3. I understand that Betty has the hand numbness in this episode, but I thought her extra force on the cake at the party was because it was partially frozen. Aren't unopened Sara Lees frozen until just a few hours before they're meant to be eaten. And it was a cheesecake, wasn't it? How humiliating for Betty.

  4. Just got into the series, so pardon the late reference and request…
    Any leads on where I could get the beggining to the joke that ends "No. I'm kidding, she's dead. What'd you shoot?" The joke ends as the meeting starts with Rachel.

  5. Hi, another new Mad Men fan here. I'm trying to catch up on the old episodes and just watched this one today.

    Can somebody please explain why Don didn't return to the house with the birthday cake, preferring to keep driving and then space out in front of a train station? Then he shows up back home with a dog. He didn't have a dog with him at the train station. I don't get it and it's driving me nuts.

    Great show, btw.

  6. Annie, do a search on Marriage of Figaro or Rachel (Rachel Menken) in the search box located right above the “Categories” label. There’s plenty of discussion on the dogs, Don’s disappearance, and his contemplation at the train crossing.