Mad Men – The Forecast
This episode is titled The Forecast and is about Don Draper trying to find direction. In this last half of the final season he has embraced his vices and demons, then ended a past relationship and experienced a breakup with a woman very much like himself who he hoped to take with him on his efforts at leaving behind pain and guilt and getting on with life.This week he wonders what he is moving toward. He wants to put the past behind him and move on but wonders how to move on and to what?
The Forecast begins with Don’s realtor waking him. He’s asleep in bed, apparently naked, but alone. The realtor has potential buyers on the way and wants him up and out. Before he leaves she tells him she’s having trouble selling the apartment because it’s lonely. When he returns later she is angry because she didn’t have any luck with the showing because of the lonely feeling of the place. Don (Jon Hamm) tells her not to blame him for her failure. (He will make this same statement to someone else later in the episode.) She tells him it reeks of failure. She says it looks like someone sad lives there, someone who got a divorce and spilled wine on the carpet but doesn’t care enough even about himself to clean it up. When he tells her a lot of good things happened in that apartment, she says, “Well you can’t tell,” much like you can’t tell by Don’s current state of mind that lots of good things have happened in his life.
This episode makes progress with the lives of several characters. The next scene deals with one of them – Joan (Christina Hendricks). She is also awakened but by a phone call to her hotel room. It’s her mom, who is watching her son. Joan talks to her son until he accidentally hangs up. Irritated, she makes a humorous call to room service for some breakfast. “I’d like some skim milk, grapefruit, and a pot of coffee, please.” Pause. Wait for it. “And some French toast,” she adds quickly. What a great character Joan is. So relatable.
When she goes into the office later, she introduces herself to a man she assumes is there for an interview. He isn’t, but plays along until Lou appears with the real interviewee. She ends up going out with the first man, Richard (Bruce Greenwood). He is divorced and retired and has one plan – no plans. He wants to travel the world and can afford to because he’s millionaire developer. His children are grown and he has nothing to keep him in one place. Joan on the other hand has a four-year-old son who limits her mobility and often leaves her conflicted – another part of her character that so many women can relate to. (In one scene of this week’s show she looks at the babysitter and Kevin in her arms and yells, “You’re ruining my life,” and we wonder which of them she meant that for. She begins to storm out but stops short, with a regretful look on her face, when Kevin calls “bye-bye, Mommy,” and she responds “bye-bye, sweetie.”) Richard tells Joan he can’t deal with small children again, that part of his life is over he tells her. But by the end of the show he is apologizing and saying he is buying some property in New York and wants to spend time with her, her son, and her mother. “We’ll see,” she says and tells him he can call her. Bottom line, Joan isn’t going to let someone else call the shots for her life.
Throughout this episode, Don is working on a speech Roger has to give at an upcoming business retreat. It’s supposed to tell what the agency is going to look like in a year. It’s supposed to provide a forecast. In a conversation with Ted, he tells him there seems to be less to do and more to think about. Ted figures out that Don is trying to get material for Roger’s speech out of him. “He asked me first,” he tells Don. He says he considered doing it, but that he thought it would be better for Don to do it because he’s “so much better at painting a picture.” When Ted (Kevin Rahm) tells him of bigger accounts he hopes to have in the next year, Don finds those dreams lacking. “You know, before McCann all I thought of was would we be in business next year?” Ted responds with, “Or would I be here at all?” which could be said of Don as well. Ted continues with, “Now it could be anything,” to which Don sighs and shrugs his shoulders. “Anything” is vague and empty. He has no idea what his “anything” is going to look like or even what he wants it to look like.
The Glen/Sally/Betty triangle comes to its probable close this week. He comes ostensibly to see Sally (Kiernan Shipka), but he and Betty (January Jones) are clearly attracted to each other. There is a shot with Sally standing between them, her eyes moving from one to the other as they converse, a grimace on her face as she watches them “ooze”, a word she will use to describe this encounter and one involving her father later in the show. Glen is now a handsome 18-year old, and he announces that he is leaving for the Army in a week. Sally blows up at him and storms off. She regrets it later and we wonder if Glen may not return from the war, leaving Sally feeling guilty about their last conversation. Betty says he is brave. This relationship has been odd from the beginning. She literally is old enough to be his mother, but she has been desperate for attention in the past and was drawn to Glen’s need for her attention and approval, even when he was just eight years old. Here’s the last scene with Betty and Glen.
Not because she doesn’t have feelings for him or because of the massive age difference, but because she’s married. One last interesting thing about ghe scene above, the real reason he joined the Army, to avoid his stepdad’s wrath and gain his pride. Don joined the Army to escape his family. An interesting parallel. Part of why Betty feels drawn to him still and responds to his pass the way she does? Maybe.
There are a couple more scenes about Don searching for direction. “It’s supposed to get better,” he states at one point. When Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) tells him she wants to “create something of lasting value.” Don chuckles and says, “In advertising?” “This is supposed to be about my job, not the meaning of life,” she says. Don responds with, “So you think those things are unrelated?” They are completed related in his mind. They are the same thing. Or they have been. And that hasn’t worked out so well for him.
Then there’s Mathis (Trevor Einhorn), who storms into Don’s office to lay blame for the loss of a client (Peter Pan, the boy who doesn’t want to grown up, not coincidentally) at his feet because Mathis copied one of Don’s past techniques for dealing with an upset client and failed miserably. When he says the client was lost because of Don’s advice, Don repeats the statement he made to his realtor earlier, “Don’t blame your failure on me.” Mathis makes some comments about Lee Garner having sexual fantasies about him. Don tells him he has a foul mouth and that they lost the client because Mathis has no character, to which Mathis responds, “You don’t have any character either. Quit fooling yourself. You’re just handsome!” Don fires Mathis but appears to have taken Mathis’s comment to heart, because later in the episode he tells his daughter Sally that she is just like him and her mom, whether she wants to accept it right now or not. He tells her she is very beautiful and that it’s up to her to be more.
In our last scene, Don returns home to find realtor with some buyers as they are signing papers. It’s a couple. The husband is a stockbroker. They have a 4-year-old and a baby on the way. The realtor walks him outside the door while the couple signs the papers. She is thrilled about the sale. “Now we have to find a place for you,” she says and goes back in the apartment. She closes the door behind her. He turns, and considers going back in the apartment to meet the buyers, a family with a future. He doesn’t though. Instead he turns with his back to the door and just stares at the floor. He has to find a place for himself, literally and figuratively, and he has no idea in what direction that place lies.
The closing music this week is the first verse of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. Appropriate. It’s how life used to be for Don Draper, how he was seen in his prime.
#MadMen #TheForecast #MadMenEra