Three Sundays

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"Three Sundays"
Mad Men episode
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 4
Directed by Tim Hunter
Written by Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton
Original air dateAugust 24, 2008
Episode chronology
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"The Benefactor"
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"The New Girl"
Mad Men (season 2)
List of Mad Men episodes

"Three Sundays" is the fourth episode of the second season of the American television drama series Mad Men. It was written by Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton and directed by Tim Hunter. The episode originally aired on AMC in the United States on August 17, 2008.

Contents

The episode tackles on the professional and personal lives of three of its main characters- Don, Roger and Peggy-over the three most religious Sundays of the year. The workers at Sterling Cooper anxiously prepare for a pitch for American Airlines. Peggy develops a relationship with the priest at her church. Don meticulously tries to perfect the right presentation for their potential client. Roger struggles to find a romantic companionship with a call girl.

Plot

Passion Sunday

The episode begins with Peggy and her family at the Church of the Holy Innocents. In an attempt to leave, Peggy lies to her sister and says that she feels sick. On her way out she meets Father Gill, a visiting priest. After a short conversation, Peggy decides to go back into the church for the rest of service.

In the next scene, Don and Betty are sleeping in bed at home, but are woken up by a phone call from Francine about her barbecue. In the living room, Sally makes Don a drink of vodka and tomato juice. In the midst of this, Bobby is reprimanded for touching the stereo, but he lies about doing so.

At the Olson residence, Father Gill comes over to their house for dinner. The Olson women ask the father to do a prayer before eating. During dinner, Peggy announces that she needs to be headed to work. Her mother tells Father Gill about Peggy's career as a copywriter at Sterling Cooper, leading Father Gill to offer her a ride to work.

At a restaurant, Roger and Mona have dinner with Margaret and her fiancé, Brooks. Margaret doesn't want a big wedding, which contrasts to Mona's want for her daughter to have a huge wedding with family and friends. Roger defers to Brooks for his opinion, to which he agrees with Margaret.

Palm Sunday

Father Gill gives Peggy's sister, Anita, and their mom a copy of the sermon from that day. Anita's jealousy starts to grow when she realizes she caught the attention of their priest.

Back at the Draper residence, Don is making pancakes, when he receives a phone call from Duck. The American Airlines pitch has been moved up to Friday, instead of in two weeks, so Don must come into the office. While Don is distracted by the phone call, Bobby burns himself on the pancake griddle. Betty has to take Bobby to the hospital, so Don brings Sally to work.

At Sterling Cooper, Duck prepares the account men and the creatives for the American Airlines presentation. Not satisfied, Don sets the creatives aside to review and revise the idea behind the pitch. During their lunch break, Don demands the creatives start with the new idea of American Airlines pushing towards their new frontier. He doesn't want them to mention anything of the airline's past. As the workers focus on the pitch, Sally indulges in adult-like activities which include: asking Joan about her “big ones”, asking Paul about his intimate relationship with his girlfriend, and drinking an alcoholic beverage.

Not in attendance, Roger sleeps with a call girl named Vicki. Afterwards, Roger asks her to dine with him at Lutèce.

On Good Friday, the Sterling Cooper crew perfectly prepares the boardroom for American Airlines. Unfortunately, Duck reveals moments before the meeting that their client contact, Shel Kenneally has been fired, essentially destroying their chances of landing the account. The Sterling Cooper team must present to the remaining American Airlines team, knowing there is no chance they will get the work.

Later on that day, Anita makes a confession to Father Gill about her anger towards Peggy's sin of having an illegitimate child. Although stunned by this information, he tells Anita to try to forgive Peggy, since she is not as strong as Anita.

In the evening, Don and Betty get into a heated argument about raising their children, particularly disciplining Bobby. After the argument, Bobby and Don have a conversation about Don's late father. Don later reveals to Betty his abuse as a child and how they should be grateful for a child like Bobby.

Easter Sunday

At the Holy Innocents’ egg hunt, Father Gill thanks Peggy for advising him in giving his sermon. Before he left the lawn, he gave an egg to Peggy and told her to give it to the “little one”; referring to her child. Peggy looks back puzzled wondering if he knows her secret.

Themes

Resentment

Resentment is a recurring theme that develops throughout the episode. The Olson family is a prime example of this, specifically in Anita, Peggy's sister. Anita believes that her mother, Katherine, lets Peggy get away with too much. When she goes to the confessionals, she spills a variety of sins, also revealing (unbeknownst to Father Gill) that Peggy had a child out of wedlock, and had seduced a married man (Pete) in the process of doing so.

Nostalgia

The entire series develops along the idea of nostalgia. This episode is no different. Don and Betty's marriage hits another rocky road when it comes to the way that Bobby should be disciplined. Bobby's inability to listen to Betty when she constantly tells him to stop touching things and his actions of doing the opposite and lying about it leads Betty to have an argument with Don about spanking Bobby. She even tells him “You wouldn’t be the man you are today if your father didn’t hit you”. This entire argument results in a heart to heart conversation between Bobby and Don, specifically about Don's past. [1] Bobby asks Don if his father ever got mad, to which Don replies with yes. After a series of other questions, Bobby tells Don that he needs to “Get a new daddy”. Later that night, Don reveals to Betty that his father beat him a lot, and that she should be happy to have a son like Bobby because he was worse as a child.

The Egg

On the third Sunday, Easter, the Church of the Holy Innocents have an Easter Egg Hunt. At the egg hunt, Father Gill approaches Peggy with a blue egg, and ends their conversation they had by giving her the egg and saying “For the little one”. He is referring to the young child that he assumes is Peggy's after Anita's confession. Eggs are commonly known as a sign of fertility and rebirth; it's a sign that Father Gill knows about Peggy's secret about her child.

Reception

The episode has generally received positive reviews. Noel Murray from The A.V. Club gave the episode an A stating that it gives “little slices of life , in which small gestures-Roger pining for his old ways, Peggy taking pride in the way her career aspirations impress an unattainable…” [2] IGN gave the episode a rating of 8.7/10 explaining how the show “can bring the funny, but it excels in the sorrow.” [3] Will Dean of The Guardian praised the episode for its attention to Peggy's personal life. He stated that the “whole plot was deftly done” and that Father Gill's presence “was a subtle and nuanced trick…." [4] Predictable scenario made infinitely more interesting by keeping protagonists away from each other.” Sally Tamarkin from The Slate suggested for the episode to be used as an introduction for first-time watchers. [5] She implied that if one needed to know a little backstory to Mad Men that “‘Three Sundays’ was the one to watch first.”

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References

  1. Porter, Richard. "Mad Men review: "Three Sundays"". PopCritic. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. Murray, Noel. "Mad Men: "Three Sundays" Review". The A.V. Club .
  3. "Mad Men: "Three Sundays" Review". IGN. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  4. Dean, Will. "Notes from the break room: Three Sundays". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  5. Tamarkin, Sally. "Mad Men: Best episode to try first is "Three Sundays", from Season 2". The Slate. The Slate Group.