Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mad Men "Souvenir": Filibuster

"You're going to have a lot of first kisses.... every kiss after that is a shadow of that first kiss."

One week after experiencing a sort of burial for Dick Whitman, everyone else is getting into the act, passing themselves off as someone/something else. Betty, as the suave American tourist who speaks flawless Italian (when does she ever get to practice that?), Pete as a confident philanderer, and Joan as the happy housewife (again). They all pull it off convincingly at first, but unlike Dick/Don, they don't have the practice to keep up the veneer for long. Pete has no poker face for his guilt when Trudy tries to get close, but at least Joan manages to keep her charade up until Pete leaves. And after her sojourn in Rome, Betty finds the drab existence of her suburban life (kids, nosy neighbors, Jr. League drama) unacceptable. Don, being a veteran at role play, tries to keep it alive with some jewelry, but Betty shuts it down, anchored in the reality of her settings.

To that ending, the song was a pretty smooth choice. First, the Rodgers & Hart composition "There's a Small Hotel" speaks of a place to get away, which is simple enough. But then there's the business of the play it's from, On Your Toes. The final scene in the play involves a play within the play where the main character is going to be shot, but saves himself by keeping the orchestra from playing final crescendo which was to cover the gun shot. The strategy of delay is a nice parallel to much of what's going on with "Souvenir." "When you don't have any power, you delay," is a line repeated, and it also serves metaphorically for what the trip to Rome does, delay the slow decay of Don & Betty's union (deteriorating shadows of that first kiss).

Song: "There's a Small Hotel" (From On Your Toes) - Bobby Van & Kay Coulter (1954 revival cast recording on Decca)

Previous: "Seven Twenty Three" (Episode 3.07)

No comments: