Mad Men – Person to Person

Mad Men - Person to Person

Mad Men – Person to Person

Mad Men - Person to Person

Well, the end has come. What do you think of how the Mad Men era came to a close? The final episode that aired Sunday night was good, not great I think. It had some great moments though.

The title of the episode, “Person to Person”, refers to three person-to-person phone calls Don makes in this episode. He makes them to the three most important women in his life – Sally, Betty, and Peggy, in that order. In his dons last call to bettyphone conversation with Sally, he learns Betty is dying from lung cancer. He hangs up the phone and calls Betty in one of the most emotional scenes of the episode. She answers in her pink ruffle robe as she sits on the bed near her nightstand that is covered in tissues and medicine bottles. Don’s first instinct is to come to New York and get the children so he can raise them; he is, after all, their father. But Betty has it planned out already and nixes Don’s idea with some painful truth. She believes bettys last call with donthe children living with her brother and his wife is the best thing for them because they will be raised by a “regular family” that way. “Oh, wait, Don. When is the last time you saw them?” she asks. And then the killer, “I want to keep things as normal as possible,” she says. “And you not being here is part of that.” It’s the reality he has created for himself and hearing her say it, combined with the reality of her illness, brings them both to tears.

He continues his journey west and ends up at the door of Stephanie, Anna’s daughter. He tries to give her the ring that belonged to her mother. She refuses but invites him to join her on a retreat. Having no real plans, he agrees to go with her. It’s a retreat full of things like yoga and meditation. At a group session they both attend, Stephanie ends up in tears when she expresses her pain and the feeling she’s being judged by people because of all the mistakes she has made, including giving up her child and not wanting to be reunited with him (Mothers who don’t feel the mother-child bond – Don’s step-mom, Peggy and her child, and now Stephanie and her child). Another group member’s response to her confession sends her running from everyonestephanie person to person in tears. Don goes after her and tells her he can help her put it behind her and get on with her life. He tells her it will get easier in time, because it has for him. She strongly disagrees and leaves. The next morning she and his new car are gone. He learns from someone at the retreat that there is no way for him to leave early without a car. In his anger over this and the fact that no one knows where she went, he says to one of the women running the retreat, “People just come and go, and no one says goodbye?” Um . . . a bit of the pot calling the kettle black there Mr. Draper?

At this point, he makes his third person-to-person call to the third important woman in his life – Peggy Olson. She tells him everyone is angry about him just taking off and he sarcastically asks if the place fell apart without him. No, it didn’t. Life has gone on for everyone at McCann-Erickson without him. And his ex-wife is going to die without him. And his children will be raised in a “regular family” without him. And Stephanie doesn’t want his help. Don begins an emotional descent. Peggy wants to know what he’s been doing. “I don’t know,” he responds. “I have no idea.” Peggy tells him he “can come home.” So, he has firmly and clearly been told he can’t go home to his children, but he can go home to the place he worked, which in many ways has been more of a home for him than his family home for years. He sounds despondent as he tells Peggy, “I messed everything up. I’m not the man you think I am . . . I broke all my leonard person to personvows. I scandalized my child. I took another man’s name and made nothing of it.” She reassures him and he tells her he only called because he realized he never told her goodbye. He’s crying when they end their call. He sits on the ground,  crying, shaking, trying to take deep breaths to calm himself.

A group leader finds him and takes him to a group where a character we’ve never seen brings Don to tears. Leonard gets to Don. He talks about people not noticing him and then says, “It’s like no one cares that I’m gone.” This pulls Don’s attention away from the internal self-hate talk he was having as he stared at the floor. He listens to Leonard explains that he doesn’t feel loved, but that maybe people are trying to love him and he just doesn’t know love when he sees it. He sobs and Don rises from his chair. He walks to him and holds him as they both cry. He’s not alone in this feeling.

The last great moment is the closing minutes of the show. In last week’s episode, Don was asked to fix a Coke machine. Coke has always been a sally washing dishes person to personchallenge for him. It’s the account he has always wanted. In this week’s episode, Joan does cocaine with Richard (who leaves her in this episode by the way), and when Don calls Peggy she asks him if he doesn’t want to come back and work on the Coke account that McCann-Erickson promised him. And this week’s episode, the end of Mad Men, closes with Coke in a beautiful way. We watch Pete and Trudy board a Lear jet with their daughter, Joan take calls for her production company, Roger and Marie in a French cafe, Sally wash dishes as Betty smokes a cigarette, and Peggy type a letter while Stan rubs her shoulders and kisses her forehead.

Then we see ad exec, wealthy, man-of-the-world Don Draper in a yoga session at the end of the retreat. He’s sitting cross-legged with his back to the ocean as the yoga instructor speaks about the new day bringing new hope, new opportunities, new ideas, “a new you”. All is peaceful and calm, even Don. They all close their eyes and begin chanting, “Om.” A chime rings, Don smiles, and a classic commercial begins to play. We know what it is as soon as the woman sings, “I want to buy the world a home . . .” We go from a closeup of Don’s face to the closeup of a woman singing in the commercial, “and furnish it with love.” The rest of the commercial plays us to the end of the episode. It’s the perfect union of Don coming to peace with who he is, the good and the bad, and the birth of an idea that will bring him great success in the career he seems to have been born for. Of course, it’s a big hit and is a personal victory as he wows the account he has always dreamed of having.

P.S. The thing with Stan rubbing Peggy’s shoulders and kissing her forehead, they end up together. Viewers have had mixed emotions about this one. I love it. It felt forced and rushed in this episode. It would have been nice to see it play out over a few episodes. But it’s right. I have long thought they should end up together. How long have they been having phone calls that go on and on at all hours of the day or night? How many times have they been having these conversations and she puts down the phone to do something while he waits for her to come back? And she always does. How many times has she called him when she was confused or frustrated? Who did she confess her pregnancy to? It’s right.

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Mad Men – The Milk and Honey Route

Mad Men – The Milk and Honey Route

Betty draper - lung cancer diagnosis

This week’s Mad Men episode followed the stories of three characters – Betty, Pete, and Don. Grab your hanky, because it’s an emotion rollercoaster. Let’s begin with the hard hitting, tragic news about Betty.

In this week’s episode, Betty is diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctor says she has maybe a year to live. They can try to treat it, but all any treatment will likely do is prolong her life a few months. Henry initially reacts in the way he always reacts, trying to think of names of big doctors he knows, trying to think of who may know the most cutting-edge treatments, basically trying to figure out what political connections he has that may help. In frustration with Betty over her apparent surrender to the disease, he yells, “What do you think would happen to Nelson Rockefeller if he got this?” To which Betty responds, “He would die!” An acknowledgment and acceptance of the truth before Henry is ready to do the same.

One of a few touching scenes this week was Henry visiting Sally without Betty’s knowledge. He urges her to come home and try to get her mother to agree to treatment. “Your mother is sick. She has lung cancer, and it’s very advanced.” Sally turns from him, tears fill her eyes, and she puts her hands over her ears as if she can shut out the tragic truth. Sally fights her tears as he continues talking and he finally tells her it’s okay for her to cry. As she turns and looks at him, still fighting the tears, he breaks down. Sally is as shocked as we are when he, Betty’s rock and historically a man of strength, leans forward, puts his head in his hands, and cries. Sally looks at him in shock for a moment, then hesitantly places her hand on his back in comfort. “Jesus, what am I going to do?” he cries. A great scene with the two of them. Two people who seem tough, breaking downSally covers ears together and trying to comfort each other.

When Henry spoke with Sally about her mother’s illness, he told her he doesn’t know if Betty is refusing treatment because she’s stubborn or because she’s vain. Sally later accuses her of not doing it because she enjoys the tragedy of it all. But the truth is, as Betty tells Sally, that she’s “learned to believe people when they tell you it’s over. They don’t want to say it, so it’s usually the truth.” She tells Sally that she watched her mother die and won’t put Sally through that. Then she tells her this decision doesn’t make her a quitter. “I fought for plenty in my life. That’s how I know when it’s over. It’s not a weakness. It’s been a gift to me. To know when to move on.” Indeed she has. Betty has constantly fought for one thing or another in the show. She has had as many ups and downs as any character and finally seemed to have gotten her life together. This was tough to see.

Betty gives Sally a letter to open “the minute you know I’m gone.” Of course, Sally opens it sooner than that. In the letter, Betty tells Sally she loves her, if not the only time, one of very few times we’ve seen her do that. Sally clutches the letter to her chest and cries and many viewers cried right along with her.

Pete Campbell has a more pleasant story. Through some finagling pete and trudy reuniteby Duck Phillips, who is still fighting a losing battle with alcohol, Pete lands a job with Lear Jet. They give him a million dollars because that’s what he’s losing by leaving McCann-Erickson. He’ll be moving to Wichita (where Don is in the beginning of this episode – Pete is still following Don) and will have jets at his beck and call, relationships with celebrities – everything he’s ever wanted and more. Except Trudy and Tammy. He goes to Trudy and woos her. He wants to start over and swears he has learned his lesson and will never hurt her again. At dinner with his brother a couple of nights before, he told his brother he didn’t need to keep looking for something else, something different. When his brother talked about his own cheating, Pete said, “I think it feels good, and then it doesn’t.” Perhaps he has changed. Although, as Duck said right before his drunken exit, “It doesn’t last long.” Pete is as high in his life as he has ever been. Will he make the best of it and live happily ever after? Or will he do as so many characters on Mad Men have done and repeat old mistakes? We’ll never know. But Pete and Trudy have always had great chemistry and they both beamed with happiness when she agreed to move with him and try again. It was the high point of the show.

Don’s story was not particularly high or low, although there was one scene I found painful to watch. The episode began with him dreaming about being pulled over by a policeman. They’ve caught up with him. They’ve been looking for him for years, and they’ve found him. His secret is found out. This touches on the question everyone is asking – will he resume his real name and begin a new life as Dick Whitman? He has fled his life as Don Draper and the guilt of the lie upon which he built that life keeps eating at him. How is he going to end up dealing with it?

After waking he gets back on the road and has car trouble. He ends up staying at a small motel while his car is fixed, they have to order the part and it will be a few days. The husband of the owner is a war vet and Don joins him for a fundraising dinner the town veterans are landscape-1431323173-dontravelhaving for one of their own who had a fire at his home. Don sweats for a minute at the dinner when he is introduced to another man who served in Korea. He lets out a sigh of relief when it turns out he was home before the other man arrived in Korea. He also tells part of his story at that dinner, after many drinks. He tells them he killed his CO when he dropped his lighter in a fuel covered area, causing an explosion. He tells them, “I got to come home,” but doesn’t tell them about his assumed identity.

The scene I found difficult to watch happens in the middle of the night after the dinner. There’s a young man in this episode who is very much like a young Don Draper. He’s looking to get rich and doesn’t care what his parents think about how he does it. He’s a con man. He gets Don to pay him for little favors while he’s staying at the motel. Don sees him for what he is and throughout the episode and, in an effort to help Andy avoid going down the road he has, gives him advice he wishes someone had given him when he was Andy’s age. Andy steals the donations from the dinner and leads everyone to believe Don did it. A bunch of the vets, all very drunk, barge into Don’s room in the middle of the night and slam him across the face with the phone book and throw accusations at him. He claims innocence, but they don’t believe him and tell him he has until morning to return the money.

When Andy shows up the next morning, Don pushes him onto the bed and tells him to give him the money, pack his things, and leave town. When Andy denies it, Don pushes him. Andy finally confesses but says he can’t leave town without the money. Don gives him a speech about how stealing that much money is a big deal and if he doesn’t make it right, he’ll have to take on a new identity and run from this mistake the rest of his life. He tells him that kind of life is not what he thinks it is. Don should know.

Well in the end, Andy gives him the money. Don turns it in without telling the motel owner’s husband that Andy is the guilty party. As he leaves the motel, Andy stops him and asks for a ride to the bus stop. Don tells him to get in.

Then the end of the show. They reach the bus stop, and Don turns off the engine and hands the keys to Andy. “Don’t waste this,” he says and gets out of the car and takes a seat on the bench at the bus stop. He has, with this one act, given Andy a chance at a decent future and freed himself of his last possession that ties him to his identity as Don Draper. “Everyday” starts playing as Andy drives off in a brand new Caddy and Don smiles.

Here is the scene where Sally reads Betty’s letter to her.

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Mad Men – Lost Horizon

Mad Men – Lost Horizon


Yes, that is Peggy Olson in the picture at the top of this article. Not Don Draper. Because this week was all about Peggy. Yes, Don’s story ran throughout this episode, but while he continued to struggle with the same things he has been struggling with in this last half of the last season, Peggy continues growing and has the best scene in the show this week. The very last scene was excellent as well, but we’ll get there in a minute.

We start this episode with a Don Draper who is literally and figuratively lost. Meredith meets him in the hallway and escorts him to his office to keep him from getting lost “again”. She talks to him about his apartment, the movers, advises him that Mr. Hobart is in so “no napping”, and returns an envelope of his personal belongings that she removed from his apartment for him because she didn’t feel they should be left there with the movers around. Among those belongings is a ring that belonged to Anna.

Throughout this episode, we see more signs of Don losing the feeling of being special, important, and talented. Jim Hobart tells him in a private conversation that they want him to bring the place up a notch. A couple of scenes later we learn that he has told Ted Chaough the same thing. Don sits in a meeting in that same room and observes all of the creative directors behaving in the same way and listening to the new client with pens poised to write down anything he says that gives them inspiration for a campaign. But not one man (all white men) writes down one thing, because there is no inspiration. Don is one of many now, and advertising isn’t dd watching plane during meetingemotional and insightful in this new world he has been forced into. He finds it empty and uninspiring. So much so that he watches out the window in this scene and sees a plane flying near the top of the Empire State Building. He grabs his box lunch and leaves the meeting and the building. He doesn’t return.

He goes to find Diana in Racine. He finds the home she used to share with her husband, but that he now shares with his new wife. Don tries to determine her whereabouts using a couple of false identities (he’s become good at assuming false identities) but Diana’s ex sees through his ruse and tells him he isn’t the first to come looking for her and that although “she looks so lost,” in Don’s words, Don and nobody but Jesus can save her. Or him.

He goes to pick up Sally and give her a ride to college but learns that she got a ride with a friend, the boys are out doing something, and Betty is settling into her life as a college student. Their lives are going on quite well without him.

And poor Joan. She feels good about the move when a couple of women at McCann-Erickson come to her office to welcome her and invite her to a girl’s night, but that is the only good experience she has. She has a call with Avon with Dennis, the man who openly made one sexual comment after another during a meeting with her in a prior episode. He is every bit as charming in this scene. When she reprimands him for making an offensive comment to Avon, one he would not have made if he had bothered to read the briefs she stayed up late preparing, he snaps back at her telling her she has no right to get mad. Then Ferguson comes to her office with the appearance of smoothing things over after the problem with Dennis. But he makes it clear women have a place at McCann, and it’s inferior to men. Of course, he’ll help her keep her position and gain the respect of others at McCann-Erickson if she will sleep with him.

And the bad situation gets worse when she goes to Jim Hobart and tells him her clients “aren’t getting the attention they deserve” and that she can’t work with Ferguson. She tells him she had some status and independence at SC&P and wants it there. She is told she’ll have to get used to how they do things at McCann, that he doesn’t care about her SC&P partnership, and that her little ´µ:ný”’á6MyCþùŠ&<C„½=Sÿstake doesn’t matter to Jim. She pushes with threats of leaving with her $5 million or suing for violation of the Equal Opportunity Act. But Jim doesn’t budge and tells her he’ll give her half of her $5 million if he never has to see her again. She considers fighting him but in a scene that left both me and Joan teary-eyed, Roger advises her to take the money and run, and she does, after taking the two things from her desk that are really hers, a picture of her son and her Rolodex.

Peggy starts out in the shadows this week. McCann-Erickson doesn’t have an office for her (of course, she’s a woman) so she spends her time at the empty Sterling Cooper offices, insisting she won’t move until they get her an office.  Her new secretary comes to see her at home and brings a basket of flowers with her. “All the SC&P girls got flowers . . . Well, all the new secretaries.”

She finally gets an office but will have to work at a drafting desk for a bit. As she heads back to her SC&P office to gather her things she runs into Roger Sterling and they end up sharing a bottle of vermouth, the only alcohol left in the place. We rarely see these two together, but it’s a great scene. Roger offers her a painting. She is shocked at what she sees and asks what it is. “It’s an octopus pleasuring a lady. It was Cooper’s. It was in his office forever. You can have it.” He suggests that she put it in her office, but she refuses, saying no one will take her seriously with it hanging on the wall. Then two of the best lines in the show:

Peggy – “You know I need to make men feel at ease.”

Roger – “Who told you that?”

The two of them end up finishing off that bottle of vermouth together. The last shot of them together is classic Mad Men – Roger is playing the organ while Peggy roller skates around the empty SC&P offices. They glance at each other once and smile, andpeggy skating she leans forward and raises a leg behind her. Roger asked her earlier in the episode, looking over his glasses at her, “You think you’re gonna have fun like this over there?” No, she won’t. In fact, she’ll probably have a very difficult time “over there”. But this was fun to watch.

My absolute favorite scene is when Peggy goes to McCann-Erickson for the first time. She’s hung over so she’s wearing dark sunglasses. She has a cigarette in her mouth, her box of things for her office in her hands, and Cooper’s picture of the octopus pleasuring a lady under her arm, with the picture facing out so the whole world can see. She’s strutting down the hallway like she owns that world. (See picture at the top of this article.) She looks at one guy who looks back and then down at the picture. He watches her walk down the hall. She looks directly at two other men who move out of her way without ever looking at her.

I loved the end of Lost Horizon. Don is driving down a road in the middle of nowhere and picks up a hitchhiker who’s headed for St. Paul. Wait a minute. He was in Racine, WI and now he’s going to St. Paul? But isn’t New York in the other direction? Yep. I don’t think he has any intention of going back. I think he’s headed for California but has no idea what he’s going to do once he gets there. California is where Anna, the one person who knew his whole story and always loved him, lived. It calls to him. Then cue the music as he drives away from the camera down that long road, headed for St. Paul.

“This is Ground Control to Major Tom,

You’ve really made the grade.

And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear.

Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare.

This is Major Tom to Ground Control,

I’m stepping through the door

And I’m floating in a most peculiar way

And the stars look very different today.”

Indeed they do for Don Draper.

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