After this episode, there's just 5 episodes left. I've seen some disgruntled comments about this season and while I agree that this season hasn't been on par with the others, it still beats most of what's out there and is still highly enjoyable. Yes, I this statement is thrown around all the time, but in the case of Mad Men, it really applies.
With the focus of the episode entirely on the home lives with only one scene at Sterling-Cooper, there is lots to go over. Betty is such a weird and complex person. If only we could just take a scalpel and dig around in her brain, we'd probably like her a lot more. Hilton from Rome calls for Don and of course he has to go. Betty wants to come along, and who wouldn't It's Rome!! They pretend to be strangers and have sex.
It was evident Betty and Don won't be fine for a while with the tension between them and the coldness of Betty towards Don. Their getaway to Rome was only a getaway, a temporary break from their unhappy marriage. While Don wants to continue with the role-playing, Betty is a realist (in this instance) and reverts back to her normal routine. Don buys Betty a bracelet from a gift shop from Rome. Her glee is contained by a sullen look on her face, undoubtedly caused by the immense excitement it brought.
Henry Francis saved the day stalling the reservoir issue for good, and got a little something out of it: a kiss. He'll most likely be back, but as Betty stated "I'm done with that." Betty is so disaffected by Francis and the kiss, that she's getting creepy. Give her a knife and she could be an effective serial killer.
Sally's ongoing problems lead to yet another hilarious mothering moment from Betty as she discusses why Sally shouldn't be kissing Ernie. She discusses first kisses, but of course Sally has no clue what she's talking about. I found one of her lines particularly interesting when she said (paraphrasing) that boys kiss girls and girls don't kiss boys. Henry kisses Betty and later, Pete kisses his neighbor. The Italian guys hit on Betty while she for the most part did nothing other that sit down.
Trudy is gone, so Pete pretty much goes out of control. He helps his neighbor clean a dress and for his reward, he decides to sleep with her. Pete is a cool character at times, but Vincent Kartheiser gives me so many memories of him being a general douche bag on Angel which combined with all the horrible things Pete's done makes me squirm whenever I see him.
When Trudy comes back, he immediately is sorry and Trudy accepts it. She'll always be the loving wife who forgives all transgressions her scoundrel of a husband does. For Pete to be good, she'd need a leash to keep him on, but I guess her mere presence would serve, though nobody really wants to be around Pete 24/7.
Notes: Peter is reading Ebony at the beginning of the episode which was a nice reference to his endeavor a few episodes earlier. Joan has a markedly different appearance when Pete sees her to clean the dress. Her hair is toned down though she still has her dignity. No Peggy!! Grr...
The episode was fine, but didn't deliver the kick that makes an episode spectacular. Without any narrative in the office, the writers did a good job, since the office stuff usually brings out the best in the show.