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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Mad Men – Time and Life

Mad Men – Time and Life

Mad Men - Time and Life

This week in Mad Men we saw Don Draper’s losses continue and his power and position continue their downward spiral. Sterling, Cooper, & Partners either hit the jackpot or lost everything, depending on how you look at it. We were also given some nice scenes involving some special relationships on the show.

The biggest news in this episode is that McCann-Erickson is “absorbing” Sterling Cooper. They’re being bought out by the firm from whom they have struggled throughout the series to remain independent. They have always wanted to make it on their own, without having the clout that comes with a name like McCann-Erickson, but that isn’t going to happen. “You have died and gone to advertising heaven,” says Jim Hobart of McCann-Erickson and proceeds to parade in front of them some big names who are their clients. The are accounts Sterling Cooper & Partners dreamed of. It’s sure to mean more money for all of the partners but is it a victory? It doesn’t feel that way. It feels like defeat. “Is that all there is?” seems to be the question pervading this season. They have all just gotten what they wanted in some ways, but it’s empty.

Among the events contributing to Don’s downward spiral is his don mccann westsfailed attempt to prevent the loss of Sterling Cooper & Partners. Once before, they were literally hours from being bought, and Don Draper came up with a plan that saved the day. He tried again this time but failed. His charisma has faded and his charm, if not completely gone yet, is dying more every week.

If that isn’t enough, he goes out drinking with the other partners after his failed attempt to save the firm, and every one of them has to leave because they have someone to go home to or to meet up with. To make this even more depressing for lady’s man Don Draper, the woman Roger Sterling is meeting is Marie Calvet, his ex-wife Megan’s mother. It’s a drunk, disheveled Don Draper with we see in this scene. Marie literally took everything from Don when, in her daughter’s absence, she told the moving men to empty the apartment of all furnishings. She is the reason he came home to an empty apartment.

And then there’s the phone call with Lou, the man Don has always battled with. The man who stepped into his position at the firm while he was on leave. The man who never respected Don, who always thought he had no talent, just a way of swaying people with his good looks and charm. Lou doesn’t care about the buyout because someone has bought the comic he has been writing for years and he’s going to be rich without Sterling Cooper’s money. He laughs as he rubs it in Don’s face. That “someone,” by the way, is a Japanese company. It’s no coincidence that Roger Sterling has a hatred for the Japanese that has its roots in his WW2 days, a hatred that has caused the firm embarrassment in the past. In this episode, he comments on Lou’s future by saying, “The Japs are gonna eat him alive.”

Ted Chaough is a contrast to Don. Ted Chaough has met someone. He and Don talk about the fact that they both have ex-wives in California. Ted tells him he knows Don is attached to California, and he is, but I don’t think it has anything to do with Megan. I think it’s a sentimental tie and is all about Anna, the one person who knew his story and truly cared about him. Ted says he can’t leave New York because of his new love. Don has nothing to keep him there. Ted comments in the bar that he is glad to let someone else do the driving. Doing the driving is exactly what Don misses. He’s lost control. He doesn’t like it. But it hasn’t fully hit him yet. We haven’t seen a real, raw reaction from him yet. Will we? I hope so.

Joan is uniquely impacted by the buyout. In the meeting with Hobart in which he rattles off all the big names everyone will have access to as part of McCann-Erickson, he looks at each one of them and names an account he knows each of them has dreamed of having. Everyone except Joan, a detail that does not go Mad-Men-Season-7B-Episode-11-Television-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOunnoticed by her. She fears they won’t appreciate her talents at McCann-Erickson, and she’s probably right. She fought hard and made personal sacrifices to earn her current status at Sterling Cooper, but she knows she still lives in a world in which women are not taken seriously. During a taxi ride with Pete, she comments that “we both know they aren’t going to take me seriously over there,” and she’s probably right.  Just a couple of episodes ago she met with a client who made one sexual comment after another and found it humorous despite Joan’s agitation. But she has met a man who does take her seriously – Richard. During a phone conversation, she tells him she has had bad news at work and begins crying. He tells her he’ll be on the next plane to New York so she can tell him all about it. Will she decide to leave McCann-Erickson and begin a new life with Richard? Leave a place she knows she won’t be respected for a place she believes she will be? Maybe. But, as she said in the episode in which she met Richard, she needs to work. Not for the money, she probably has more of that now than she needs. No, she just needs to work. It’s important to her. It makes her feel valuable.

We also saw some nice moments with Peggy this week. There was a nice moment with her and Pete on the couch in his office, a spot where many important things have happened between them. One of those things was a conversation in Season Two in which Peggy told Pete about their child she gave up for adoption. In reference to that fact, it is the sight of a child hugging her legs that prompts him to call her into his office and give her a heads up about the buyout. It’s a nice moment between them. His desire to give her advance unofficial notice about something that will have a significant impact on her followed by her giving him a literal pat on the back and gentle reassurance that he will succeed in the new organization.

Peggy also had a very important conversation with Stan this week. A girl who auditioned at Sterling Cooper for a commercial waits in Peggy’s office for her mother to return to pick her up. When she does, Peggy and the mother argue. In the course of that argument, peggy and stanthe girl’s mother tells Peggy, “You do what you want with your children. I’ll do what I want with mine.” Ouch. The pain shows on Peggy’s face.

“Look, you got to a certain point in your life and it didn’t happen. I understand you’re angry about it, but you’ve got a lot of other things,” he says to Peggy later when she tells him she can’t quit thinking about the argument. “I mean it. You couldn’t have done all you’ve done otherwise,” he says.

She responds with, “I guess that’s the secret to your spectacular career? The fact that you don’t have kids?”

“Well, not that I know of,” he says, and chuckles.

They argue over about a man’s ability to just walk away from a child and “get on with his life” while a woman can’t. They talk about his mother and that doesn’t know if she wanted him. Peggy tells him he doesn’t understand his mother. He says he doesn’t want to. Followed by this from Peggy:

“Maybe she was very young and followed her heart and got in trouble. And no one should have to make a mistake just like a man does and not be able to move on. She should be able to live the rest of her life just like a man does.” You see the truth click in Stan’s eyes, and he tells her she’s right. Peggy again, “I know. Maybe you’d do what you thought was the best thing.” He asks her what she did. “I’m here. And he’s with a family. Somewhere. I don’t know. But not because I don’t care. Because you’re not supposed to know or you can’t go on with your life.”

In the final scene, the partners make their announcement. As soon as Roger tells them about the buyout, everyone starts talking over him and walk away. Don tries to save it with, “This is the beginning of something. Not the end.” His statement isn’t even heard. The magic is gone. The glory days are over. What comes next?



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