Our favorite retro drama may not have made it to the Summer of Love yet, but it's preparing with the Summer of First Base in this veritable snogapalooza. Pucker up, because August has everyone randy in 1963.
It's a little cruel to be showing episodes about the dead heat of summer just as the weather has turned as cold as Betty Draper dealing with one of her children, but she and everyone else was melting in the sweltering heat. Of course the kisses were less than innocent and gave us a peek into the characters' lusty minds.
Betty and Henry: As soon as Henry strutted into the Ossining City Council chambers last night, we knew that Betty's sexual reckoning was upon us. The pervy belly-rubber showed up to lend his pull at the governor's office to Betty and her junior league mavens so that they could derail some massive water tank being built near their reservoir. He actually didn't stop the development, but proposed that a study of the existing reservoir be done to push the project back and hopefully kill it. "When you don't have any power, you have to delay," he tells Betty.
Betty once again hides behind her upright facade and bids Henry adieu in the parking lot, as much as she'd like to have him throw her down on her fainting couch and making chilly, barely moving love to her. He leans into her car window and asks if he had anything to do with her happiness—letting her know both that he wants to please her and slyly that her pleasure doesn't come for free. She lets him have a deep kiss, but is quickly on her way. Is she delaying so that she can have more power over the situation, or has she paid her debt and had her fill of flirting with a real, heart-felt affair?
Later, we find out that the devious plot— his play to keep the water tank from being built has failed too—behind his devious plot to bed Betty has failed as well. Either his power and his promises are empty, or he pulled the governor's support when she wasn't willing to pull down her panties. Either way, it doesn't seem likely that Betty will be back with him soon.
Betty and Don: While Betty's interior motivations were in question the entire hour, there was just as much attention paid to her shellacked exterior of beautiful perfection. We see her putting on lipstick in the mirror, getting her hair done in a magnificent bouffant, and fixing her beautiful flowing geometrical color print dress. Oh, and don't forget the return of her beautiful Suburban Splendor Barbie white sunglasses. If she can't single-handedly bring them back into style, then there is no justice in the world.
And nowhere did she look more splendid than her night out in Rome with Don, where she worked that ornate hair structure, gorgeous gown, a those dangling orbs earrings that must contain the brilliance of the sun. Their scene on the palazo was the oddest and the most rewarding of the night. Once Betty starting speaking perfect Italian, it makes total sense that she would have studied the language at Bryn Mawr. While all of her schoolmates were studying French like good, educated WASPs who want to be part of the cultural elite, Betty was taking Italian because she thinks she's just a little bit different.
Her language skills come in handy to turn down two lusty Italian men, and Don approaches and pretends that he is a handsome stranger. The Italians call him old and ugly (if they had seen him filling out a plain white undershirt earlier in the hour, they would know just how untrue both of those things are) but Betty invites him to sit down, shooing off the competition. Of course, Don pretending to be someone he's not—especially when out of town or away from the family—is a familiar site, but now he is in cahoots with Betty. The two seemed strangely in tune this episode, and approaching something that might even be called happiness.
And they get into plenty of cahoots after their dinner with Conrad Hilton. Back in their room, Betty is seduced by the glamor of Rome and the brilliance of her husband, who she thinks has impressed a very important man. She's also working out all those revved up hormones from when she was dreaming about Henry. If her little dalliance in the parking lot can bring her closer to Don, then all the better, but we're sure Mr. Draper is going to find a way to disappoint her soon.
All the sex and glitz must have gotten to Betty's head, because she is horribly depressed when they couple returns home. Just like her excitement about the prospect of moving to London earlier in the season, Betty wants out of her little hamlet and her provincial life. She would probably even leave the children behind so that she and Don could go gallivanting about Europe like F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald with an expense account. For now, she'll have to settle for some scorching kisses when she can get them.
Sally and Ernie: While there has been some speculation that future hippie Sally is going to grow up to be a lesbian, she proved you all wrong last night by laying one on Ernie. The kiss came almost as a direct reaction to watching her mother put on lipstick in the mirror. Sally must have picked up on the sexuality her mother was giving off, and Sally wanted to try it on for herself.
Of course, the plan backfires. Not only does Ernie shake her off, but Bobby taunts her and Sally beats the shit out of him. I am scared of Sally Draper. She is one mean little girl who is not afraid to lie to save her ass and will give you a smackdown if she doesn't like how you're treating her. This does not bode well for the future.
But the real reason for the kiss was so that Betty could sit her down and give her a little lecture on first kisses. In full view of the ugly fainting couch in front of the fire—the symbol of her animal lust for Henry—she tells Sally that first kisses are important and not to just be giving them out like pieces of chewing gum. Betty is still drunk on endorphins from her sexual marathon with Don, and she realizes that she made a mistake with Henry, because when she kissed him, she learned way more about him and herself than she could handle. Her reaction was to get away with her husband for an escapade, which just reinforced her suburban ennui, which is what lead to her buying that disgusting fainting couch in the first place. She hasn't gotten rid of her new furniture just yet, but as of right now, she may be regretting her purchase.
Pete and Gudrun: Pete Cambell is an asshole. When his wife, Trudy patron saint of awesome hats, is away on vacation with her parents, he whiles away the time making up plots to diddle the neighbor's nanny. As soon as Trudy departs, it's amazing how quickly Pete descends into behaving like a 12 year old, watching caroons, eating cereal on the couch, and being mean to girls. When he finds the poor, sad, lost little nanny trying to burn a dress she spilled wine on, he first tells her to lie and tell her employers that the kids did it. Of course Pete's first thought is to do something juvenile and underhanded. He's like a grown up Sally Draper, but not as tough. He tells her that he will take care of it, and she is stupid enough to put her trust in Pete Campbell.
After getting some help finding a replacement gown, Pete brings it by triumphantly, hoping that he'll be rewarded with a little taste of German loving. Nein! Gudrun stays true to her boyfriend and sends Pete away with a peck on the cheek. After a few drinks, Pete comes back, demanding to see her in the dress, but we all know what he's really asking for. She is again stupid enough to let him into the apartment, thinking that a man whose first impulse on seeing her in danger was to advise her to lie might actually have honorable intentions. Though she doesn't fight back, he essentially rapes her, taking her sexually under the implied threat of exposure to her employers if she doesn't comply. He is a smarmier version of Henry the politico, and he will not settle for some chaste smooching in the parking lot.
She doesn't keep mum either, filling her employers in on their transactional relationship, and Pete is shamed enough that when Trudy returns, he tells her that she can never go away again. He's stupid enough to think that her being around is going to be a good influence on him. Her hats are magical, but we have a feeling no accessory is powerful enough to cure Pete of a severe case of assholism.
Pete and Joan: These two didn't kiss—thank fucking God!—but Pete's scheming for a piece of au pair lead him back to Joan, who we see working as a manager in a department store. Oh, Joanie! We wanted to cry real tears, just for the look on her face when Pete turns around and she realizes that her jig is up.
However, our proud Joanie always rallies, and instead of whining about how hard her life is or being too embarrassed, she copes the only way she knows how, by taking control of things. She turns the situation around, saying she's just filling in and doing the job so she can get the first pick of dresses. Then she helps Pete get a new dress, and gets it to him for free. Now that is the girl who would save your life if a secretary ever ran over your foot with a lawn mower!
We learned a few other things about Joan, that Doctor Rapist is thinking about becoming a psychiatrist, a rich choice considering his history and one that will take even more training. Looks like Joan isn't free from the salt mines after all. And as Pete leaves the counter, satisfied that his plot worked, Joan—robbed of her gold pen pendant of power—hangs her head for a moment of self pity.