Mad Men Season 7 Episode 14 Recap


Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Person to Person” – People change, from one person to another, and people make collect phone calls.
Episode timing: Sometime around Halloween as evidenced by the Halloween decorations in Peggy’s office.

I want to start this week’s recap by saying thank you for reading! It’s been about a year since I posted on Unlikely Words with any regularity, really, it’s only been Mad Men recaps. I’m not really sure if I blog anymore, so there’s a semi-real possibility this will be my last post. That seems strange, I’ll probably post again, maybe tomorrow, but if I don’t this post is a fitting end. At least to the Mad Men recaps, which have been a lot of fun over the years. Even when Chris and I stayed up into the middle of the night to write them.

I thought it would have made sense to list a couple questions we were hoping to get answered before the episode, but I didn’t do that, so there goes that idea. The big question, I suppose, was would Don go back to NY? And, the answer is no. But maybe! Depending on how you look at the decision to use the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” song, maybe Don got himself straightened out doing yoga and went home to create one of the biggest advertisements of all time. I suppose as the recapper, I have to say where I stand? I don’t know! It’s not very subtle, when the show always has been. If Don created the ad, wouldn’t showing him triumphant have been the way to do it? It’s too neat, it’s too simple, it’s too cute. I don’t think Don did it, but I like how they used the song to create the discussion.

The opening scene has Don Mad Maxing his way the desert. Another reference to Don knowing about cars. Did you hear The Doors’ “Hello, I love you” playing? The next line being, “Won’t you tell me your name?” This was the first Dick Whitman heavy episode in a while.

When Roger fires Meredith, he says, “There are a lot of better places than here” then tells her she’ll land on her feet, a reference to everyone’s favorite theory about someone jumping out of a window.

Joan and Richard do cocaine while on vacation and talk about the future. He mentions something about her future being something to develop. When she decides on a new career, he leaves. She wanted him to stay, but not more than she wanted to build something of her own. “Let yourself have a future with me.” “You act like this is happening to you, but you’re making a choice.” “I can’t just turn off that part of myself.” Peggy has always liked Joan more than Joan liked Peggy, but I think Joan has always at least respected Peggy. To some extent, Peggy showed Joan it was possible to be more than a secretary. Joan knows Peggy is ambitious and wants to be the boss, so she offers her a partnership in Harris Olson. Peggy balks, so Joan founds Holloway Harris. “You need two names to make it sound real.”. Roger leaving money to Kevin probably made it easier for Joan to take the risk. Also, when Joan met with Ken, he said, “How’s the family?” and she says, “How’s Eddie?” Joan is a pretty good account woman, Ken is supposed to be, but doesn’t know her kid’s name.

Did you catch all the familiar lines? Peggy says, “A thing like that.” to Pete, something he used to say regularly. Harry said, “Don’t do that.” to Peggy, something Roger says pretty regularly. Peggy said, “I don’t even think about you.” to Stan, something Don said to Ginsberg in Season 5.

I don’t think I ever saw a color TV on Mad Men until 3 scenes in tonight’s episode. Is it because this is what the future looks like?

Goodbyes on this episode: Peggy and Pete, “Keep it up, you’ll be a creative director by 1980.”, Don and Betty, Roger and Joan.

Roger and Marie get married, “Yell at me slower or in English.” Roger has continued to be a part of Kevin’s life, taking him out from time to time, leaving half his estate to him. Roger and Joan hadn’t ever been quite so explicit, I don’t think: “Our beautiful little boy.”

Stephanie Draper isn’t living with her kid, kind of referencing Don not being there for his kids. “You don’t know what happens to people when they believe in things.” Don doesn’t believe in anything? I think what’s happening is Don’s trying to tell her she can move on from her kid, and I think Stephanie isn’t really ready for that yet. “You can put this behind you. It will get easier as you move forward.” This reminds me of what Don said to Peggy when she gave up her baby, “This never happened. It will shock you how much this never happened.” Incidentally, that was the first Mad Men quote I ever begged Chris to draw, and he did, 5 years ago this week. MEMORIES!

On the phone, Sally is assertive and making sense. Don starts to minimize what she’s saying, but she pushes back. I really liked Sally this year. “Take me seriously.” I wonder what happens to her. I hope she doesn’t get stuck taking care of Gene and Bobby forever. Betty and Don share a moment when Don calls, but I feel like it was glossed over a bit by Don not coming home. I felt like Betty’s cancer would bring him home, but she told him not to come back. “Don’t let your pride interfere with my wishes.” “You not being here is part of that.” She gave him the flimsiest of excuses to stay away, to not take responsibility, and he jumped at it. I didn’t expect Don to shirk his responsibilities. Not even his responsibilities, but to live his life. She gave him an out and he took it, which he does ALL THE TIME. I guess the Coke commercial thing might make sense in that it means he eventually does come home, which makes sense to me, but if that’s the case, why not just send him home in this episode?

Last week there was the scene of Don peeing cut into a bottle being poured. This time, it was Don drinking cut into Ken drinking. I never noticed these cuts before.

Peggy and Stan! That was great. “What?! What’d you just say?” This was cute. The whole scene was funny and cute. “There’s more to life than work.” Is this what Don knows or doesn’t know?

When Don was in the seminar and everyone is communicating without talking, the lady pushes Don.

Everyone wanted one last Peggy Don scene. Don had never said goodbye to Peggy so he called her when he was lowest. Remember he called her after his car accident in New Jersey? “I messed everything up. I’m not the man you think I am.” Peggy asking Don, “What did you do that was so bad?” She knows he is hard on himself, but doesn’t know why. So we finally get to find out what Don feels guilty about. “Broke my vows. Scandalized my child. Took another man’s name and made nothing of it.” Is it this last one that bugs him so much? He got a chance for a new life and keeps screwing it up. Is that what he’s running from? Not being the man he wants to be? I don’t even know anymore.

“People just come and go, and no one says goodbye.” “People are free to come and go as they please.” This means something, but I’ve run out of time. (The perils of writing a recap when your two year old could wake up anytime within the next 4-7 hours.) Leonard, too. Leonard also means something. I wasn’t wild about this scene, first of all because, come on. Second of all. Don feels a connection with him, but I don’t buy it. For everything Leonard its, a forgettable office worker and family man, Don is not. Or maybe the point is that it doesn’t matter what your status is or how much everyone pays attention to you, you can still be lost. You can still be the food on the fridge shelf that no one picks. “You don’t even know what “it” is.”

The final scenes, Pete and family getting on the plane, Holloway Harris blowing up major, Sally doing dishes while Betty smokes in the dark, Stan and Peggy, and Don doing yoga and hearing about the new you.

Last song: In Perfect Harmony.

So did Don make the ad? Did Peggy become an art director? Do Roger and Marie make it? What happened to Pete in Wichita? Did Joan succeed? Did Harry Crane get what he deserved (an ass kicking)? Did Sally make it?

Goodbye, Mad Men.

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 14 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 13 Recap


Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

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.

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 13 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 12 Recap


Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Lost Horizon.” Maybe based on the 1933 novel by James Hilton, which was the origin of Shangri-La.
Episode timing: Well, they’ve moved into the McCann building. Don was supposed to be driving Sally to school. And Bert Cooper said he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the summer, so… August? September?

This was a really bleak episode for something that takes it’s title from where Shangri-La originated, jeeze. I guess it’s a pretty bleak series. We knew this.

So the troops have mostly moved over to the McCann building. Seems like for a while (a couple seasons) each episode has been a month after the previous episode.

Don’s new office is about the same size, or maybe even bigger. The first thing he does is test the windows will throw the suicide theorists into a tizzy. Don then goes up to see Hobart and Ferg and gets pumped up. He’s getting welcomed to the club, apparently, and he seems to take a shine to it. Unfortunately, Hobart and Ferg seem to have given the same speech to Ted Chaough (Don hears the same thing said to Ted that was said to him about “taking them up a notch”). So what does that make Don? How many white whales does Hobart have? Also, Conrad Hilton might be back! In the meeting with Miller, Don realizes how much of a part of the machine he is. The meeting is made up of only half the creative directors at McCann. Ted is buying into all this, but is still amused at Don walking out of the meeting. I thought the image of Don looking out the window in the meeting was pretty corny. The VP of Connelly Research has eyes that are very close together.

Seems like this may have been the Goodbye to Joan episode. She’s getting a settlement of $250K to leave McCann, so I’m not sure what else there is to see. She got a bum rap and hit the McCann glass ceiling pretty hard. The episode started with Joan’s welcome wagon at McCann, two copywriters hoping to work with her. “If it’s in it, near it, or makes you think about it, we’re on it.” Joan takes a pass at asking Don for help in the elevator, though she hints at something being wrong. She asks Ferg for help, maybe thinking she still had juice. Ferg takes it as an opportunity to hit on her. Then she takes it to Hobart who, actually seems to be kind of a dick. She was going to take McCann to court, but Roger made her see the sense of settling for half the money that’s owed. $250K in 1970 money is about $1.5 million in 2015 dollars, so she’s still doing pretty good. “Who told you, you got to get pissed off?” “I thought you were gonna be fun.” Ferg is a slime. When Roger has to convince Joan to take the money, she obviously feels like she’s giving up more than half her money. At SCP, she was making a career and getting gratification from her than her looks for the first time. McCann took that away. “”It’s only about the money.”

It occurs to me that this may have been the Goodbye to Roger episode, too, though I hope not. He and Peggy drinking in the SCP office was a fun romp (especially the Peggy rollerskating around the office). Roger needed someone to talk it all out with, to say goodbye with. “We all have regrets.” “No, I did it, I just needed a push.” He tells Peggy a story about the Navy, he was scared, and just needed a push. I’m not totally sure how this applies. If I had more time, I bet I could figure it out. Who knew Roger could play the organ! Peggy walking into the office with the sunglasses, cigarette, and painting was pretty awesome!

Something else occurred to me during the Peggy/Roger scene, though. SCP wasn’t great for women or minorities, but it was certainly better than McCann. Joan and Peggy were able to grow their roles at SCP, but we’ve already scene Joan pushed down, and Ferg hinted Peggy would be, too. They think Peggy is a secretary and can’t even get her office set up. In any case, “You’re very amusing.” Roger’s secretary, Shirley, implied that SCP was an alright place to work.

This couldn’t also be the the Goodbye to Betty episode, is it? When Don goes to pick up Sally, she’s reading a Freud case study, “Dora,” which is about a woman diagnosed with hysteria, with loss of voice as a symptom. Telling!

So than Don decides to Racine (Hey, Bert!) looking for Diana, but “she’s a tornado, leaving a trail of broken bodies behind her.” Don wants to find her because, “she seems so lost.” I don’t know if I realized before that she’s the female Don Draper. Or rather, the messed up Don from a few years ago. I don’t really want to talk about this very much.

The scene where Don is about to pee, and then a quick cut to Roger pouring a bottle, I see what you did there, Mad Men.

Why is the SCP office in such shambles? I understand everyone just moved out, but I don’t understand why ceiling panels are missing.

Freaking Harry Crane.

Last song: Ground Control to Major Tom, I don’t think Major Tom ever did come home.

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 12 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 11 Recap

Chris Piascik Mad Men illustration
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Time and Life.” (Time Life Building) I’m exhausted and this might be sloppier/less informative than usual.
Episode timing: No clue! When are applications due for Greenwich Country Day?

So, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) directed this episode. I think this was his first. There were a few really great shots (Pete and Ken in the opening scene, Don, Roger, Ted, Joan having a drink in Don’s office, and the partners after the Hobart meeting.), but I don’t know if that was his doing.

Well, here we go again. The agency is changing! Ohnoes. It’s as if this hasn’t happened once a season since… I don’t know. The agency is getting adopted, absorbed, eaten, swallowed, dissolved by McCann Erickson. “They waited so long, I thought we were safe.” The Partners see this as a bad thing, McCann tries to spin it as something good. “I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. You are dying and going to advertising heaven.” I don’t know what to think! From Ted’s perspective, someone else will be in charge and he’ll be able to just work. Roger’s losing his agency and namesake, and Joan, as far as I can tell, is thinking only about that meeting from earlier in the season where Peggy and her were sexually harassed. “Need you to be the voice of the bright side.” “For the first time I feel like whatever happens is supposed to happen.” “They don’t know who they’re dealing with.” I’m not really sure what Don thinks except he generally does not work well with a boss so we can guess. It just feels redundant, this storyline, and I wish there could be some tension and something happen, without it being more agency upheaval.

(I think Harry Crane was somehow a partner at one of the previous agencies and decided not to sell or something, this makes me chuckle.)

The Partners come up with a plan to keep the agency together by moving to California with the conflicting accounts. “We’ve done this before.” They all feel pretty, pretty, pretty good about it, butttttt Hobart cuts them off and says they’re coming to McCann and that’s it. (“I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. You are dying and going to advertising heaven.” This was just one meeting in tonight’s episode that did not go as planned. Roger and Pete try to convince Ken to move with them. Pete and Trudi try to convince Greenwich Country Day to accept their daughter. (This was funny in that the headmaster kept giving different reasons why he wouldn’t accept her, but the real reason is a centuries-old feud between the Campbells and the McDonalds.) And The Partners telling the agency that they were being absorbed, and them being comically ignored. Basically, no one’s buying what they’re selling anymore. They’re out of touch, which is about the worst thing you can be as an advertising agency. It seems sudden for them to have lost it so quickly, maybe they’ll get it back at McCann.

The other seemingly big storyline was Peggy telling Stan about having a child. Pete sees a kid hug Peggy and gets a look. He remembers. I thought the baby was living with Peggy’s sister at one point, but that is hazy. “You do what you want with your children, I do what I want with mine.” “I don’t know, but it’s not because I don’t care. I don’t know, because you’re not supposed to know, or you can’t go on with your life.” “You don’t know lots of things about lots of people.” Peggy’s mad at that lady for yelling at her, but won’t let Stan judge her for the decisions she makes. It’s complicated and I guess I don’t have a ton to say about it.

I say it every other week, or maybe more, but I can’t get over the fact that the “Don Draper is really Dick Whitman, and shh, no one knows,” storyline isn’t a storyline anymore. There are subtle references every now and then, but it’s just not a source of tension anymore. Why?

Don and Roger messy at the bar was fun. Roger mentions how there will never be anymore Sterlings because his daughter is his only child, like he was. “No more Sterling Cooper, and no more Sterlings.” Obviously, the loss of the Sterling Cooper agency hurts for this reason. Don says something about aspiring to be like Shakespeare or something, and Roger says this drive is what he envies about Don. Don says he envied Roger not having to have this drive. Just a quick little scene about being born rich and born poor, I guess.

Lastly, if you’re still reading, when Don starts to tell The Partners about moving to the west coast, he shuts the curtains. Joan tells him to open them to keep the calm. This struck me as a nod toward transparency being the right way. I wonder if this is a recurring theme I haven’t noticed before, or if it’s a new theme to keep an eye on.

Last song: Money Burns a Hole in my Pocket by Dean Martin

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 11 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 Recap

Chris Piascik's illustration for Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Severance.”
Episode timing: Pretty sure the speech Don watches took place between April 20th, and April 30th, 1970 (when the draw-down was announced and when the incursion into Cambodia was announced). Nixon was announcing the removal of 150K soldiers from Vietnam. Episode 7 was on or around July 20th, 1969, so about 9 months from then. More importantly. It seems like the Manson murders may have been skipped.

It usually takes me 3 or 4 episodes to get in a groove with the recaps, so who knows how this will go. Not very well, probably. Over the years, Mad Men has had series finales with a lot of upheaval, only to start next season with everything smoothed out. Though it wasn’t a finale, the mid-season break last year had plenty of upheaval, and though this isn’t a premier, there was plenty of everything smoothed out. Whatever the agency was called last year, they’ve been merged into McCann Erickson. Notably, Don Draper is still there, and Cutler is gone. (Ted Chaough is there, to, with a great mustache. And he and Don seem to be friendly.)

The first scene in the episode, with Don casting a fur advertisement, calls to mind Don’s first copywriting job at a fur shop.

Don and Dottie: A waitress in the diner looks like Rachel Katz of Menken Department stores (Don likes brunettes), and I wonder if this half season is going to be a rehashing of all of Don’s multi-episode flings. Dottie had a book by Jon Dos Passos, but I can’t figure out the significance. Don thinks he knows her, Dottie thinks he’s soliciting her, and, well, Don goes along with it. “You got your $100 worth, you can go.” “You got your $100 worth, you can go” is a pretty obvious reference to the ‘advertising as prostitution’ theme throughout the show.  When Don goes back a third  time, she seems far more gentle, more empathetic. “When people die, everything gets mixed up.” This scene obviously contrasts with Don going to where Rachel Katz’s family was sitting shiva. Rachel’s sister asks Don what he was looking for and he gets that Don Draper puppy dog thing. He still doesn’t know what he’s looking for.

There’s been at least one (two?) airline attendants on the show, so if we are looking back at all of Don’s flings, Tricia from TWA fits right in.

Peggy and Joan: Peggy and Joan have a problem with panty hose (“We had a problem, but we solved it.”) and when they go to a meeting with their colleagues at McCann…it doesn’t solve the problem. Joan is super pissed and Peggy seems less so. Peggy probably (definitely?) has more experience with this, but at the same time, Joan slept with a client to secure his business for the firm. Peggy seems to blame how Joan was dressed, and the years long, unresolved tension between Peggy and Joan is raw. Their relationship is so interesting, because you can never predict how one will respond to the other. Peggy can’t understand why Joan is so pissed because she doesn’t NEED to work like Peggy does. I think Joan can’t really understand why Peggy would take that abuse and not stab anyone. Peggy’s response is to fall in love and Joan’s response is to go shopping. “I want to burn this place down.”

This plot line was contrasted with Peggy’s interaction with her employee Mathis, “You want a raise? Stop acting like a secretary.” And then, “The kind of girl who doesn’t put up with things.” “Funny,” “Fearless.” Peggy continues to be totally in control and totally out of control. “I thought you were a fling, but now I think you might be more.” “I’ve tried new-fashioned.”

Ken Cosgrove: Ken’s story continues to be up and down. His father-in-law is retiring, but a beneficial replacement is stepping in. His wife wants him to quit, and they fight, and the very next day he gets fired by a smirking Ferguson Donnelly and an in-season-form-with-ridiculous-mustache Roger Sterling. (I think Ferg was drinking from a Sterling Cooper Draper Price Mug?) Pretty sure Ken still hates Pete and maybe vice versa? But anyway, Ken goes over all the accounts and writing, “This world is boring.” I think Pete really does envy Ken. Then Ken gets the last laugh by getting a job at Dow to be McCann’s client. “Shit.”

Did you notice in one of the casting scenes Ted Chaough opens the door to let one of the women in, but Pete lets her out? Ted Chaough also has a ridiculous mustache.

Is That All There Is by Peggy Lee was the song at the beginning of the episode AND the end of the episode

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 4

Mad Men Art
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “The Monolith.” Monoliths are either large blocks of stone or monuments, or “advanced machines built by an unseen extraterrestrial species” from Space Odyssey. Maybe Don’s the block of stone and the computer is the advanced machine?

Episode date: Around April 18th, 1969. Don was reading a newspaper with a headline alluding to Nixon’s announcement that planes surveilling North Korea would have protection. This, following North Korea shooting down a spy plane on the 15th, killing 31 crewmen. Don’s been back at SCP for 3 weeks making the timing of episode 3 around April 1st or so. I couldn’t find any clues last week. Lastly, the Mets did win the game Don wanted to go to with Freddy.

At the beginning of the episode, Pete runs into a former client/colleague from Vick’s. He found out Trudie’s father had a heart attack, illustrating how out of touch he is with his forner life. He also gets the opportunity to pitch Burger Chefs, a chain founded in the 50s that rose to 1050 locations through the 60s before starting to crumble. Something with a heyday in the 60s not doing so well against new competition? You don’t say.

Harry Crain is getting his computer, but for some reason, it doesn’t make him any less insufferable. I must have missed the episode where he did something remarkable to think so highly of himself. In any case, the computer is taking over the former creative lounge and the creative team is (rightly?) spooked. I’m not sure how a computer is supposed to take over for creative, but try telling Ginsberg that. “The other one’s full of farts.” “They’re trying to erase us.” It’s obvious the computer is a metaphor, there’s even the line of dialogue, “These machines can be a metaphor for whatever’s on people’s minds.” Later on, there’s a conversation where Lloyd is explaining the difference between his company and IBM. It’s dripping with symbolism and references to Don. IBM is selling the always new. Lloyd is more trusting of the older machines, more willing to let them hang around and keeping doing their job. “They have a great product, but they don’t trust it.” SCP used to do things the old way and Don fit in. Now they’re pushing the new, new, new, so maybe there’s no room for him anymore? There was more to the conversations between Lloyd and Don, but there was so much, so fast, it was hard to keep track. It was basically a conversation about human vs machine, art vs science (counting stars), and old vs new. Once drunk Don returns, he tells (paraphrasing) Lloyd his company doesn’t need an ad campaign because he’s got the new, what everyone wants.

Normally, I’d wait until the end to note the song used in the credits, (On a Carousel by The Hollies), but it seems extra important to me. This is the second reference in two weeks to ‘the Carousel scene,’ a Kodak pitch Don crushes. (Last week was Ken Cosgrove telling Don he always thinks of him when they go to the carousel.) I wouldn’t say this was the last time Don was on his game, but he sure was firing on all cylinders then. “Do the work.” Freddy’s pep talk sets Don right. Maybe we’re to see this as him realizing he’s got a long way to go to come back. Maybe I need to watch last season again to see how bad it got for Don and SCP, but it’s hard for me to believe Don would get knocked this far down. They clearly didn’t want him back, but I’m not sure they would have made Lou privy to that. I don’t know. My brain’s a little scrambled on this. And just to give Freddy his due. He recognizes what Don has and that he’s throwing it away. He sees the partners are messing him and he tells Don to mess with them right back by doing the work. Super short, but great scene.

“Let the man be a man.” Lou gives Peggy a raise and then makes her deal with Don. This gave us a chance to see the unlovable Peggy, the one who forgets what Don did for her. I guess she doesn’t owe him anything, but would it have killed her to be less smarmy? I don’t recall Don being unfair with her (too often anyway), so I’m not sure why she handled it the way she did. Especially because, as she discussed with Joan at the end of the episode, she clearly knew they were trying to make her deal with Don because they couldn’t. “They” being the partners in this situation. Joan’s probably right, though, in thinking the partners probably didn’t think about it at all. That said, Lou definitely did. Don’s death stare when Peggy gave him the assignment to come up with 25 tags was amazing with a capital ah.

Don finds the pennant Lane bought for his son (I think) during a visit at some point. As Bert Cooper gleefully points out, Don is back and in a dead man’s old office. Lane’s a ghost, and they expect Don to be one soon. It’s pretty messed up! Bert wants him gone so badly he’s not even interested in the opportunity of the new business Don developed. I’m still confused about the implications of Don’s partnership status and the new stipulations. Not confused, more like concerned. I know Don will be OK, it just seems crazy it would be so easy for the partners to kick him out. I shouldn’t feel sorry for him.

Lastly, Roger, Mona, and Margaret. I’m sorry, Marigold. Margaret has run off to a hippie commune. For years, we all thought it’d be Sally experiencing the late 60s for the sake of the show, but instead, it’s Margaret. She runs off to a commune leaving her son behind. It’s an interesting juxtaposition because Roger’s been expanding his own mind lately. Something flips for Roger when Margaret sneaks off in the middle of the night. Not sure exactly what the trigger was, but he tells her she needs to come home, and she says I learned it from watching you, dad, I learned it from watching you. There was something funny about the car ride with Roger and Mona where Roger mentions the last time he saw Margaret she was cruel, serene, a little bit philosophical, and Mona seems to agree, “I thought she was happy.”

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 4

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 3

Mad Men Art
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title “Field Trip.” This refers to Don’s trip to LA, Betty’s trip to the farm, and sort of Don’s trip back to the office.

I missed any clues to the date of the episode, though Betty and Bobby went to a farm on what looked like a warm summer day and it was dark in NYC at 7:10 PM. The last two episodes were about two weeks apart, but that farm day couldn’t have been earlier than mid-April.

The episode starts with Don in a theater watching Model Shop (via Hypable). The first line of the summary of the movie on Google sounds somewhat familiar: “George (Gary Lockwood) is a disillusioned 26-year-old who has just quit his stifling job. He lives in Los Angeles with an aspiring young actress named Gloria (Alexandra Hay), who is none too pleased with his recent unemployment.”

Don hears from Megan’s agent that Megan is crumbling and acting (get it?) erratically. He’s got nothing going on so he decides to visit, and it goes… poorly. They fight, and Don tells her the truth about work. “I’ve been good. I haven’t even been drinking that much.” Megan feels betrayed and sends Don home. “This is the way it ends.” Getting kicked out, combined with Model Shop, makes Don rethink his current situation and pursue an opportunity with another firm. (More on this later).

Betty is back and as childish as ever. Her lunch with Francine was so uncomfortable. I don’t remember her being so weird. The conversation between them was stilted, almost as if between two people who didn’t know each other at all. Betty hardly seemed to understand what Francine was saying. The ‘women in the workforce’ theme has been covered a bit (Joan, Peggy, Dawn to name a few), but I’m not sure that’s really what this scene was about. It was more about the world moving on from Betty’s idea of what life is supposed to be like. (“Maybe I’m old fashioned.”) After the lunch, Betty decides she needs something to do, so she agrees to go on a field trip with Bobby. I’d like to imagine it was never OK to smoke on a school bus full of children, but Betty does what she wants around here. I’m not really sure why the teacher’s boobs were part of the show (“Yes, well that blouse says she likes everyone.” and “Farmer’s daughter needs a bra.”), but maybe it will come up at a later date.

Betty is still an emotionally stunted woman child. She tried the milk to look cool in front of a bunch of 10 year olds. It worked, but why would a grown ass woman need that validation? Sure, Bobby might be a dummy for giving away her sandwich, but he didn’t do it to be mean, he didn’t do it because he doesn’t love her. “It was a perfect day and he ruined it.” Betty is cray. There’s literally a child asleep in her arms and she asks Henry why the kids don’t love her. It’s amazing how nice of a kid Bobby is considering his mother and father (“I wish it was yesterday”).

Ken Cosgrove telling Don carousels always makes him think of Don (which is weird, because Ken wasn’t in that meeting.) All of the Don Returns scenes were great, Don and Lou awkward, Don and the creative team, Peggy being cold to Don, Joan being cold to Don, Don not realizing Dawn was doing different things, etc.

Jim Cutler issues Roger Sterling-quality one liners, but with a different, blunt delivery (“Your self-pity is distasteful”). I wonder if he’ll get more screen time. I’m really, really, still not sure how Harry Crane maintains a position of responsibility. He doesn’t show respect to any of his superiors, “This conversation is over, I’m really not interested.” Roger obviously doesn’t think too highly of him, offering to fire him the instant his name came up. Media buys are starting to become more complicated, and Cutler wants to use what they’re paying Don to buy a computer.

Which brings us to Don coming back to SCP. The scene where he got the offer was interesting, “That’s coy” “No that’s drama.” I’m not sure what the woman in the restaurant was all about, but I liked the juxtaposition of us all thinking he was knocking on her door and it being Roger. (Something about where Don gets his gratification from these days?) “You want to come back, come back. I miss you.” I knew it! The scenes with Roger last week were a set up for this. Roger doesn’t jive with Lou, that much is obvious. By having Don come in, Roger forces the issue of Don’s leave of absence, either purposely or not. The other partners think Roger has made a drunken mistake, but he shows he’s considered all the options by explaining it would take 4 years to buy out Don’s partnership share. So they have a meeting all day (the clock behind Don’s head shows 7:10 PM before he’s called into the conference room (I’m not sure why he stayed)), to figure out what to do about it. Joan, Bert, and Jim all want Don gone, but Roger fights for him, and more importantly, the rest of them see the financial implications of firing him. The solution is an agreement to come back stuffed with poison pills (no drinking in the office, reporting to Lou). Don agreeing to these stipulations was an “Oh, wow” moment for me, probably for you, too. I spent the 15 minutes after the episode trying to wrap my head around the legality of the agreement. Could they really create a situation where Don’s partnership shares would be dissolved? I suppose if they offer him an agreement to come back and he refuses, he’s in breach and SCP has the upper hand again anyway. It just seems odd. Also… I don’t think Lou and Don are going to get along.

And then before this wraps up, Don told Megan, “I know how I want you to see me.” Mad Men is still talking about appearances and perceptions of who people are. This will continue to be a major theme until the end of the series. I’m always fascinated by the lines like this. They pop up quite a bit.

Las song was “If 6 Was 9” by Jimi Henrix.

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 3