Two thoughts this last time I watched Nixon vs. Kennedy (okay, a zillion thoughts; two I’m posting about here).
First: Holes. At the beginning of the Hobo Code flashback, Dick “Bowlcut” Whitman is digging a hole. For fun. His stepmother asks him to stop. In the opening of the final flashback in Nixon vs. Kennedy, Private Dick Whitman is digging a hole. Nice visual continuity, that.
Second: Fairness. In discussing the outcome of the presidential race, Cooper tells Don that Nixon will allow Kennedy’s election shenanigans in Chicago to go uncontested so that he’ll have a chance to run again. (It was more complicated than that, but that’s how he tells it.) Don says that it doesn’t sound fair, a phrase which brings astonishment to Cooper’s face.
Later, Peggy says that what happened in the office isn’t fair. The first time I saw this episode, I thought that the phrase of Peggy’s that pushed Don past his fear was “some people…people who aren’t good can do whatever they want” (I may have that imperfectly worded, but it’s close). But at that point I didn’t notice the parallel “fair”s, and we do know that Peggy parallels Don. I think the simple, plaintive “It’s not fair,” the child’s voice that was never answered, never soothed, is what ultimately compels Don to at last fight back.
Okay, one last parallel. Rachel calls Don a coward. Don remembers that he was a coward; he pissed himself. And y’know? He’s still pissing himself. Calling Pete’s bluff, he is, at last (in a way that honestly doesn’t soothe him, merely surprises him) not a coward.