Mad Men Season 3 Episode 11 Recap

Guys Neil Finds Attractive - August 2007
Photo by Flickr user smithsoccasional
In the first 2 seasons, there were weeks without any surprises or shocks. This year, there are some weeks with 2-3 an episode. There’s certainly a lot more jaws dropping and I think I like it. What do you think? As this season rounds out, how do you think it compares to the first 2?

-Clever to use the celebration of Halloween for Don’s ultimate unmasking to Betty. The holiday where everyone dresses up as someone else was the day Don had to come clean to Betty and take off his costume. It wasn’t clear right away that Betty understood the Don/Dick stuff in the shoebox, as it seemed she was only upset about the divorce. That was quickly answered when she asked if he was Dick. Don lost it and told her. Wow. Not how I imagined him telling her. And over everything was the tension of Suzanne Farrell sitting out in the car. Would she come in? Would she stay there? Don didn’t know, and we didn’t either!

-John Hamm has won all the acclaim for acting like Don Draper all the time. This was the first we saw any range out of him and I think it worked.

-More on this. It wasn’t clear that Don was going to tell her the truth until he did. Nothing in what we’ve seen of his character would ever lead us to believe that his best option was telling the truth on this subject. It’s amazing to consider he didn’t have a sketch of an explanation prepared. This was handled almost exactly opposite Don handled the Pete Campbell/Burt Cooper reveal.

-The focus group scene had double double meanings. Don arguing that Annabell needed to change the name of the company to protect a product that by all accounts was quality. That the name is just a “label on a can”. Honestly, I don’t even know if Don was thinking of his own name change there. And then Roger chimes in with “Let it go, it’s over.” A signal to Annabel that they weren’t going to have a relationship. Where would Don Draper have eaten horse meat?

-Ahh, Suzanne. Will we see you again? Unclear. Usually when Don ends an affair, that’s it for the character. I guess we won’t get any more blunt dialogue for a while, along the lines of “I see a man who is not happy”. Her asking if Don was OK after he called to tell her it was over was also revealing. Did we ever figure out what she liked about him? With the exception of the greeting card writer from the Village, it’s been more clear what Don’s dalliances have liked about him. This time, not so much.

-Continuing the unwelcome theme of less and less Sterling-Cooper there was a lot of Roger in this episode. I liked how they efficiently tied in his ex-lover and the theme of name changing, but I don’t think we’ll see her again. Fittingly for an episode with a lot of Roger, there was also a lot of Joan. The scene where Dr. Harris was practicing his interview with her was great, showing one of Joan’s unappreciated talents (how to ace an interview). Then, later, when Joan hit Dr. Harris with a vase, he showed a skill for psychiatry calling her insane. Hio! She hit him after he said she didn’t know what it was like to want something all her life. What she wanted was a good, happy husband. I imagine the Army will be a good change for him.

-No Pete, Kinsey, Crane, Peggy…

-Right at the beginning of the episode, Betty asked Don for some money in one of her childish tests, leading me to think it was the divorce she was upset about. I was surprised by her shrewdness when she asked about Dick. Her conversation with the anachronistic Jewish lawyer was fitting as he gave anachronistic relationship advice.

-Mad Men continued this season’s theme of phenomenal closing shots as Carlton asked “What are you two supposed to be?” to a dumbstruck Don and Betty.

Mad Men Season 3 Episode 11 Recap

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