Previously on Mad Men: Betty and Henry from the governor’s office have sparks, and he’s helping her try to stop the new water tower, Conrad Hilton hired Don, Greg the Rapist told Joan she had to get another job, Sally acted out in school, Pete wants to be in NY, and Trudy wants to be with her parents.
Pete’s office. Hildy hints not so subtly that it’s 5 o’clock and she has a weekend getaway to get to. Pete sends her off with a patronizing “dear”, then the boys of Sterling Cooper gather to gab. Ken wonders why Pete is still there, since “Cooper’s in Montana, Sterling’s in Jane, and Draper’s on vacation.” Pete corrects him that Don is not on vacation, but off on a whirlwind tour of Hilton Hotels. There’s some talk about August in Manhattan and how it’s a bit of a ghost town, but Pete is happy to be there even if Trudy isn’t with him.
The Draper House. Betty sits working on a petition to save the reservoir at the kitchen table as Don walks in, freshly home from his latest trip. They make small talk but are interrupted by whooping outside. It’s the kids catching lightning bugs, and at Betty’s urging, Don goes out to join them.
Pete arrives home, yanks his shirt and tie off over his head and turns on some jazz.
Betty’s making calls to try and save the reservoir when the phone rings. It’s Conrad Hilton’s office, and Don’s being summoned to Rome on Tuesday. Betty is a little jealous. Don says there’s nothing stopping her from joining him, and she points out they have a two month old. Oh, that’s right, we just never see him because he’s perfect.
Pete eats cereal on the couch and watches cartoons. He’s still sitting there many hours later when he wakes up. He’s shown returning home with some groceries when he runs into Gudrun, the au pair for the neighbors down the hall. She’s trying to shove a dress down the garbage chute. Turns out she “borrowed” it from her employer and got a big wine stain on the the bodice. Pete offers to help her, and takes the dress. Checking the label, he sees it’s Bonwitt Teller, and he thinks he can work some magic. Gudrun is happy for the help.
Betty is shown going through the tasks of being a housewife. Later in the day, she’s shown in a tasteful outfit. She leans down to put on her lipstick, and we see Sally’s sitting at her makeup table. As Betty puts on her lipstick, Sally intently studies her while Betty never once looks at Sally. She does give her a pat on the shoulder as she leaves, and Sally studies her own face, practicing pouts, in the mirror.
Betty, Francine and another lady from the Junior League sit in a City Council meeting. They’re there about the reservoir, and anxiously awaiting Henry Francis’ appearance. He shows up in the nick of time, and delivers a request from the governor’s office for further study of the water quality. The ladies (especially Betty) are very pleased with his assistance.
Francine, Betty and Henry walk in the parking lot. Francine offers her thanks and heads to her car. Henry walks Betty to her car, which is her dad’s Lincoln. She opens the door, and he stands leaning against it. “I just want to say thank you,” she says. “You really did everything we wanted. And I know how busy you must be.” “Well, I think you’ll find that I put my heart into things when something’s important to me. Or someone,” he replies. They chat more as she takes her seat, then the moment we all knew was coming arrives. Henry leans in and kisses her passionately, and she definitely kisses him back. The moment the kiss is over, she looks guilty and excited all at the same time. “Goodnight,” she says. “Drive safe now,” is his reply. She looks back in the review mirror as she drives away.
Betty’s home, and Don wanders down to the kitchen to ask her about some cuff links. She answers with a big smile, and shares the news they won, while doing a little twist. Betty’s behavior is complicated, but in this moment, she’s adorable. The moment ends quickly as they embrace and we see guilt run across her face. They go on to talk some more, and Betty basks in the glow of her accomplishments. Don is genuinely proud of her.
Draper bedroom. Betty wakes a sleeping Don to tell him she wants to come with him. “I know you’ll be working the whole time, but I just want to get on a plane,” she says.
Bonwitt Teller. Pete asks a saleslady for help. She says she can’t help him, and he asks for a manager. “Of the entire store?” the saleslady asks. “Of the Republic of Dresses! Whoever can help me with this because you’re falling short,” he snaps. She heads off as Pete stands with a big pink tulle dress under his arm. The manager arrives and (gasp!) it’s our girl Joanie! Oh, Joan! Greg the Rapist sucks. She looks fabulous as ever in a lovely purple dress and great hair. What follows is a great scene where Pete and Joan both have things to hide, with Pete claiming the dress is Trudy’s and Joan knowing good and well it isn’t, and Pete knowing Joan isn’t just working for fun. Joan helps him out and they chat, ending with Pete asking for her discretion. “Of course. This never happened,” she replies, as much for her benefit as his. Come back, Joan! We miss you!
Don and Betty arrive in Rome. They’re in the lobby of the Hilton, and damn, it is glamorous, dripping in chandeliers and gold. Don heads off to find out what’s going on, as Betty grabs a cigarette. While she looks for her lighter, a man instantly arrives to light her cigarette. “Grazie,” she says as he walks off.
Don and Betty arrive at their hotel room, which are not what they used to be. This one is huge and lovely, with an amazing view. The bellman compliments Betty on her Italian, as Don tips him. “Two dollars, Don? That’s what he makes in a week,” Betty scolds. The phone rings and it’s Connie. He’s looking forward to meeting Betty, and tells her to put his staff through their paces.
Don and Betty rest on the bed. She stirs and calls for an appointment at the beauty parlor in fluent Italian.
Francine, looking harassed, drops off her kids with Carla while she runs to an emergency meeting.
Betty makes a grand entrance on the plaza. She’s wearing a fringy black dress with a long strand of beads, and her hair is done up high on her head. The make up is kicked way up, and from her saunter, you know she knows she looks goooooood. She takes a seat and is immediately hit on by some Italian men at the next table. They’re laying it on pretty thick and heavy, but she holds her own. Don arrives and sits at another table, glancing at Betty. After ordering a whiskey, he asks to join Betty. “Yankee? Go home!” one of the Italians shouts. “He’s old. And he’s ugly,” the Italian says to Betty. “Are they making fun of me?” Don asks Betty. “A little bit,” she smiles. “I’m only in Rome for one night. I won’t have my heart broken,” he says smoothly. Betty smiles some more, and beckons him to join her with her eyes. “Room 763,” he says as the waiter brings his whiskey. “That’s right near my room,” Betty purrs. She tells him they said he was ugly, and Don asks if that bothers her. “You think because of the way I’m dressed I’m shallow?” she asks. “I was just hoping you were easy,” Don flirtatiously replies. My, my! Just as the flirting is getting really interesting, Connie arrives. “By golly, you are an indecently lucky man,” he says after meeting Betty. Damn straight.
Don and Betty arrive back at their hotel room where all that flirting comes to fruition. Let’s just say that all that stuff you’ve heard about how you don’t have to show everything is totally true because this scene is hot. And Betty’s got her pre-baby body back for sure.
Sally and Ernie sit in the bathtub, pretending it’s a car. Sally leans over and kisses him as Bobby spies through the door and starts singing, “Sally and Ernie, sitting in a tree!” Oh, it’s ON! Sally jumps on Bobby and starts whaling on him, as Carla rushes in. They’re sent to separate corners, I mean rooms, and Carla threatens to not let Ernie and Jessica visit any more.
Pete has the new dress for Gudrun. “Well, aren’t you a lucky girl?” he says when she opens the door. She offers her heartfelt thanks, but at Pete’s suggestion they celebrate, she balks, saying she has a boyfriend. She gives him a peck on the cheek and says good night.
Pete heads home and starts drinking. Sometime later, he’s back at Gudrun’s door. She answers in her bathrobe. “What do you want?” she asks warily. “I went to a lot of trouble to solve your dress problem, and I think I at least deserve to see it on you,” he says. She lets him in and he follows her into her bedroom. “I’ll go get the dress,” she says, but Pete closes the door. “I’d like to kiss you,” he says, tipping her chin up. As resignation fills her eyes, she kisses him back.
Rome. A sleeping Don is woken by the phone as Betty, clad in a towel, comes out of the bathroom. It’s Connie, who apparently never sleeps. Connie tries to rope Don into a breakfast meeting, but Betty convinces him to beg off. They snuggle on the bed, progressing quickly to kissing before Don breaks it off, saying he has to get up. Betty protests, but he heads off to the shower. She lies on the bed happily looking out the window for a bit, then hears the shower start. She gets out of bed and walks to the bathroom, dropping her towel at the door. That’s going to be one steamy shower.
Don and Betty arrive home. Carla hands over Baby Gene and asks about their trip. “It was short, but sweet,” Don replies with a little smile, glancing at Betty. Carla shares the news about Sally’s behavior, and Betty thanks her for telling her.
Pete sits at his dining room table, eating alone. The doorbell rings and it’s Ed Lawrence of 14C, aka Gudrun’s employer. What follows is a conversation that makes any modern woman want to throw up. Ed has no problem with Pete’s behavior, he just wants him to leave his nanny alone. In fact, if Pete’s smart he’ll keep his wanderings out of the building; there are plenty of nearby nannies to fill his needs while “the cat’s away.” Pete offers his apologies, and Ed assures him they’re fine as long as Pete leaves Gudrun alone now.
Bobby flies a new airplane around the house as Betty makes breakfast in her new Pucci-esque dress. She yells at Sally to apologize to Bobby, and to her credit, Sally sincerely apologizes. Don’s headed off to work, and Betty agrees to take the kids swimming. She pulls out a cigarette and Don hurriedly lights it for her with a smile and, “See you tonight.” She smiles back, but the smile fades as she brushes toast crumbs off her dress.
Pete escorts Trudy home up the elevator, which Gudrun and her charges are on as well. Awkward! Trudy is pleased to see the apartment looking so tidy, and beckons Pete to join her on the couch. She kisses him but he breaks it off, saying he has to get to work. “Peter! You always get that guilty look on your face when you see little children. I told you! I don’t care. You’re my husband. I want what you want,” she says sweetly. He’s still in a funk. “What’s wrong?” she asks. “Look at me, did something happen?” He looks stricken, and can’t speak. She knows from the look on his face, and leaves.
Betty looks at the giant fainting couch in the redecorated living room. It’s the big pink tufted elephant in the room named Henry Francis. She calls for Sally, and has a heart to heart with her with the advice, “You don’t kiss boys. Boys kiss you.” Virginia Slims slogans run through my head. Betty talks about first kisses, which are “where you go from being a stranger to knowing someone. And every kiss with them after that is a shadow of that kiss. Do you understand?” We do, Betty. Your angst is crushing you.
Trudy listlessly tosses a salad as Pete arrives home. Trudy makes awkward small talk until Pete interrupts her. “I don’t want you to go away anymore without me,” he says with naked vulnerability in his eyes. He reaches out his hand and covers hers on the table. She sits a moment, taking it in, then says firmly, “Good. I won’t.” They sit a moment holding hands, then go back to small talk. For all that I love to hate Pete, I’m glad to see him making amends (that even seem sincere) for his bad behavior. Between this scene and the Charleston dancing at Roger and Jane’s party, there seems like there’s hope for Pete and Trudy yet.
Francine visits Betty with the news the board had a secret meeting and reversed their decision on the reservoir. She asks about the sights in Rome, and Betty confesses she didn’t see any with a smile. She offers Francine some lasagna that the kids wouldn’t eat, but Francine declines. Francine shares she and Carlton went to Lake George for a week after Jess was born and it was magical – no kids, no worries, no responsibilities. Betty looks thoughtful. Francine says they have to be vigilant about the reservoir, which will give Betty a chance to mingle with Henry more. “I’m done with that. We made our stand,” Betty replies. We’ll see. Don arrives home and Francine begs off, saying, “From what I hear, you two must be very tired.” “Goodnight, Francine,” Betty says a little sternly.
Don is undressing in their bedroom, and grabs Betty as she walks in. “Don’t,” she says. “What’s wrong?” he asks. “What’s wrong? I hate this place. I hate our friends. I hate this town,” she says bitterly, forgetting to add she hates her life. “Oh, Betts. We’ll go away again. You know we will,” he says sweetly. He tells her to look on her pillow, and she finds a jewelry box with a charm of the Coliseum. “It’s lovely,” she says blandly. He smiles and says he’ll have it put on her bracelet. “Then I can have something to look at when I tell the story about the time we went to Rome,” she says without a trace of a smile, and turns and heads to the bathroom. Don stands with a look of hurt and confusion on his face as “There’s a Small Hotel” plays us into the credits.