Episode title: “The Milk and Honey Route” is probably a reference to the 1931 Nels Anderson hobo piece.
Episode timing: I can’t imagine Don’s been on the road for a whole month, but that’s about the timing for the last few episodes.
I can’t believe we’re one episode from the finale and they’re adding new story lines. It’s unconscionable! And it makes me think we’re not really going to get a neat conclusion for Don.
The first scene is Don being pulled over with questions about his identity. I thought it was funny he was in a suit and tie while driving across the country, that was the first clue the scene was a dream. It’s been frustrating the last few years that Don’s identity storyline hasn’t been part of the show, so on the one hand, I’m glad it’s back to being discussed. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to ignore this big topic for two seasons and then come back to it.
Betty has terminal cancer and the kids at college call her Mrs. Robinson. This is a blockbuster, but the amount of time we’re allowing for these write ups don’t really allow for spending a lot of time on it. Shows not in their final season would usually spend an entire season on something like this. Shows in their final season don’t have that luxury and bring it up in their second to last episode. Henry Francis is a fixer and reacts as he knows how, by trying to fix it, the unfixable. He goes to Sally to ask for her help and Sally ends up comforting a crying Henry. Betty is more realistic and says she knows when it’s time to give up. That said, Betty’s final instructions to Sally where funny because of how vain they were. The personal note to Sally at the end was nice, though, and wistful. “I know your life will be an adventure.” To me, Betty’s cancer feels a little bit like they’re setting up a reason for Don to have to come home. Finally something not about advertising/money. He’ll need to raise his kids. Far fetched? Maybe. (The shot with Henry Francis alone in the kitchen was a nice shot.)
Don at the hotel reminded me of Don in California with Anna Draper. Mostly, I guess, because of how he was fixing things, the typewriter, the Coke machine. Remember when he was working on the cars? He’s not that handy in New York, is he? Also, if he’s so handy, why couldn’t he fix the TV? Don was reading the Godfather and got the Andromeda Strain from Andy. Also, when he was checking out the woman/girl at the pool, she was reading The Woman of Rome, which I took as a reference for when Don and Betty went to Rome in season 3. Remember she went down to the bar and they pretended not to know each other while he picked her up. The needy part of Don is still there, as evidenced by him inviting Andy to stay for a drink, even after Andy extorted him for the whiskey. It hadn’t been said explicitly before, but Don acknowledged he doesn’t have to work anymore. He also talked about advertising in the past tense, so he’s definitely not going back. “Wyatt thought you ran away.” The line from Don and Sally’s phone call where he said, “You have no idea about money,” was probably true, but a little out of place, no?
Duck Phillips. Duck Phillips. Duck Phillips. For all his ridiculousness, he does seem kind of masterful as a recruiter. He “bumped into” Pete on the elevator and let Pete think he was going to help with Don. Pete was the prize, though, and Duck knows just what to say to him to get him into the job. I can’t tell how many levels this goes, whether Hobart was working with Duck to make this work. That would make sense to me. Pete’s million dollars is twice what Joan had. It was pretty clear that Pete and Trudi would get back together based on her reappearance in recent weeks. It’d be funny if Pete, the villain from the early seasons, ended up with the only happy ending. Why was Pete, “Always looking for something better, always looking for something else” ? Because of Dad. But maybe he doesn’t have to be always looking, maybe he can recognize what he has as good enough. I had a hard time imagining Pete’s brother as a Casanova, though. In the Pete/Trudi reconciling scene, she says something about his eyes “With respect to whatever is happening in your eyes,” and then he does, too, “Say yes with your voice not just your eyes.” That wasn’t an accident, but what does it mean!! “I remember things as they were.”
So Don goes to the American Legion fundraiser and tells people, I think for the first time since Anna, what happened in Korea (leaving out a big detail). “You just do what you have to do to come home.” (Another hint at Don headed home? But where is home?) (Initially, while watching this scene, I thought the WWII vet implied they ate the German soldiers. My first thought was, how Dick Whitman had eaten Don Draper’s identity. I couldn’t figure out if “bounced” means ate, so I didn’t include it.) The money for the fundraiser gets stolen, and everyone thinks Don is a conman that stole the money. Incidentally, he is a conman, but this was about as honest as he’s ever been. What’s that say about who he is? That, even at his realest, people think he’s fake. Don connects with Andy, he has an opportunity to steer him clear of his life, making it obvious that the double life Don leads hasn’t been hunky dory. “I know you think you know how to hustle.” “If you keep it, you’ll have to become somebody else. And it’s not what you think it is. You cannot get off on that foot in this life.” Don gives Andy the Cadillac as a way to start his life. “Don’t waste this.” As far as first steps go, a Cadillac is nice, but he’ll have to sell it, right?
Last song: Buddy Holly
An aside, but the “Don Draper is DB Cooper” theory gets more legs with the Pete to Lear Jet story and also Buddy Holly playing to see us out.