Two things that I noticed about last night’s Mad Men that I haven’t really seen anyone mention yet.
Where is Dennis’s baby? Let’s go back to that same scene when Don goes to the hospital to visit Betty and Gene. At the beginning of the scene in the hallway, Don is walking along, carrying a bouquet of flowers of Betty, and recognizes Dennis as he comes toward him, pushing his wife forward in a wheelchair. Dennis is somewhat smiling down at his wife, and she seems to be smiling as well, though she also seems to be somewhat in a haze. Don gives Dennis a tight smile, perhaps remembering their time together in the area where men wait during labor and Dennis’s bottle of Red Label scotch that they had shared. When Dennis sees Don coming toward him in the hallway, though, he breaks his smile and looks much more sober and then looks away. Don himself looks down, apparently at Dennis’s wife, and all of a sudden gets a somewhat quizzical look on his face. What has he recognized?
There has been already quite a bit written about last night’s episode, about the dream sequences and the repeated images of foreboding and death. Many people, as they watched, seemed to feel that this was a harbinger of something happening during Betty’s delivery of Gene. But in the waiting room, the nurse comes to speak to Dennis, not Don, to alert him that there are complications. Dennis tells her to do whatever they need to, and later she informs him that he is a father of a baby boy. But we never see this boy, and in the hallway, the baby is conspicuously missing from the scene. It seems to me that this baby was the one in danger, and this baby was the one who died. Those images of foreboding were less for Don’s son, then, than for Dennis’s.
A sartorial connection between Don and Pete: it seems to me that the tie that Don wears when he goes to visit Betty and Gene at the hospital, carrying the bouquet, is the same tie, or one strikingly similar, to the tie that Pete was wearing when he met with Duck and Peggy and when he spoke with Hollis in the elevator. What to make of this? I’m not yet sure, though the connections between Don and Pete have been emerging more and more as the show progresses. They were the two characters who were most noticeably uncomfortable during Roger Sterling’s blackface performance a few weeks back, they both part their hair in the same manner, they were the two who went to California last season, and they seem to be the two who are most often chosen to represent Sterling Cooper in public settings or with clients. The decision to dress them in the same tie only visually reinforces what is happening in the storyline – there’s a deep connection between these two characters, but one we haven’t fully seen exploited. They are ambitious, talented in their own departments, and quick on their feet. Where will all this lead? I’m not sure, but the links between the two shouldn’t really shock us: Pete knows who Don really is, after all, and he’s one of the very few who do.