Monday, November 09, 2009

Mad Men, "Shut the Door. Have a Seat": We're putting the band back together

Spoilers for the "Mad Men" season three finale coming up just as soon as I have the carpets cleaned...
"How long do you think it'll take us to be in a place like this again?" -Roger
"I never saw myself working in a place like this." -Don
For much of this season, we wondered exactly when the show would get around to dealing with the Kennedy assassination - whether Matt Weiner would wait till the finale, or get to it ahead of that. He took the latter approach, and many of us assumed it was because he was following the "Sopranos"/"Wire" model of putting all the big developments in the penultimate episode.


Turns out Weiner put Kennedy into last week's episode because that wasn't the season's biggest development, not by a long shot. (In the grand scheme of the '60s, Kennedy was huge, but far-removed from the world of Sterling Cooper.) Instead, he had to get that out of the way so he could use the finale to deal with more pertinent matters for our characters: Betty divorcing herself from Don, and Don, Roger, and Bert finding a brilliant way to divorce themselves from PPL.

Over and over in "Shut the Door. Have a Seat," characters are told some variation of the episode's title, and they sit and hear some life-changing bit of news: that St. John is selling all of PPL to McCann Erickson; that Betty has hired a divorce lawyer; that Don, Roger and Bert are determined to buy the company back; that Betty won't have an easy time of divorcing Don in New York; that Don wants Peggy to quit Sterling Cooper and come with him; that Don and Roger need Pete to come on board; that Bobby and Sally's parents will be separating; and that Don, after being an aloof bastard to Peggy for most of this season, will do anything to get her to go with him to join the new firm.

We end the season on what could be two enormous shifts to the series' status quo: a core group of SC employees (Don, Roger, Bert, Lane, Peggy, Pete, Harry, Joan) have started up a new shop, and Betty has gone to Reno to divorce Don and plan for a new life with Henry Francis.

But will they take?

After all, "The Sopranos" closed its fourth season with Carmela kicking Tony to the curb for one infidelity too many (as Betty already did midway through season two) before taking him back a few months later when she realized she didn't have better options (ditto Betty). As soon as Henry told Betty to not try to get any of Don's money in the divorce, alarm bells went off for me. Bad enough that he proposed marriage to her after they'd spent perhaps a combined two hours in each other's company (assuming that, outside their stint as pen pals, they didn't get together off-camera at any point in the season), but he's setting up a circumstance where Betty's going to be just as dependent on her new man as her old one. It's entirely possible that midway through season four, Betty will be asking Don to move back in with her and the kids.

As for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce(*), while it's a shock to the system to see Don and Roger walk out of the familiar offices (leaving the doors unlocked, no less), this is a company being run by the same guys who were more or less running it this year - albeit with the balance of power more evenly-distributed - and with many (but not all) of the familiar faces from SC. Will this be a new beginning, or just an opportunity for the production team to have fun designing a different office set?

(*) Should there be any kind of punctuation in there? Sterling Cooper seemed to work fine without commas, but that was just two names. This is four - with the potential to expand to five if Pete proves himself down the road. (Don told him that working towards a goal has always led to his best work.)

But we can talk about how significant these changes might be in a bit. Because whatever happens in season four, this episode was such a concentrated shot of pure storytelling joy that I don't much care at the moment whether Betty goes back to Don, or whether Ken, Paul, Kurt, Smitty and even Lois slowly find their way onto the SCDP payroll.

"Shut the Door. Have a Seat" felt very much like a caper movie: the jazzy piano music, the intrigue, the plan unfolding perfectly as Lane walked in, got fired by St. John, and walked out happily, leaving a dumbfounded Moneypenny in his wake. Specifically, though, the episode felt like my favorite part of any caper (or other kind of ensemble adventure) movie: the gathering of the team. I have been, and always will be, a sucker for those sequences in movies like "Ocean's Eleven," "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Magnificent Seven" where the two leaders (there are always two guys at first, aren't there?) travel around to assemble the perfect team of experts, explaining their value and using various tricks of persuasion along the way to get them on board.

And what made this particular variation on that trope work so well was that it was a regathering of the team. This isn't Lee Marvin starting from scratch as he walks through a military prison. This is Don and some combination of Bert, Roger and Lane going out to gather the people that they - and we - know so well, and telling them why they're so important to each other.

In many cases, these are relationships that haven't been on great terms this year; given the way this episode goes, that was clearly by design, as it gives greater emotional weight to the reconciliations. And in some cases these unions are a matter of convenience. Don still doesn't like Roger but will put up with him because the company needs his contacts and social skills, and Don and Roger act all magnanimous while in Pete's presence but belittle him behind his back for trying to bolt the company. (They're just annoyed that Pete thought of it before they did.) And Harry, a lucky idiot as always (he can't even remember the room number of their suite at the Pierre), doesn't even get an elaborate sales pitch; just the threat of being locked in the store room by Bert Cooper. (Bert's man enough to do it himself.)

But if not every speech is sincere, we still get to see these characters singing each other's praises, and figuring out exactly the right buttons to push: Bert needs to feel vital, Roger likes the action and wants an apology from Don, Pete needs his ego stroked (specifically, by Don), and Peggy needs to know that Don values her work as much as she values (or used to value) his mentorship.

And it all works like gangbusters, for both the men assembling this new company and for the audience watching it come together.

Again, by design all these characters have been adrift at work this year. Bert and Roger have more or less checked out. Peggy has been Don's punching bag. Pete has been nervously competing with Ken and his haircut. Don's been emasculated by Lane, who is himself merely a puppet of St. John. So it not only feels satisfying to have everyone coming together again, but to see them all playing offense instead of defense. After apparently being foiled by the three-year contract he signed in "Seven Twenty Three," Don pulls off his greatest escape yet, and manages to get everyone important at the firm to go hobo with him.

You don't think of "Mad Men" as a plot-driven show. Important things happen, in the world and to the characters, but it's more about mood, and about the era, and about how people relate to one another. Yet the moment when Don realized that Lane's unquestioned authority to fire anyone - which was set up back in one of the first scenes of the season premiere - would be the key to everyone's salvation felt as satisfying a moment of story design as, say, when Marty McFly realized he knew exactly where and when a bolt of lightning was going to strike in "Back to the Future."

And yet as energizing as so much of the birth of the new agency was, we see that the divorce is painful for the people left behind. It's all fun and games for the people who get to start over, but what about the ones being left behind? Or, worse, the ones who had no idea this was coming?

In the same way, the Draper divorce plays out differently depending on the perspective. Don is cast out of the home and the life he built, while daddy's girl Betty neatly moves on with paternal, doting Henry. And the poor kids are collateral damage just like Allison and Ken and Paul are back at Sterling Cooper.

It's fun to watch SCDP come together, and beyond painful to see Don and Betty sit the kids down on the couch and explain that Daddy won't be living there anymore. Don tries to soften the blow (to the kids and to himself) by claiming it might be temporary, but Sally - who's been aware of the problems in her parents' marriage for a long time - knows differently, and poor Bobby somehow thinks it's his fault for losing Don's cufflinks. Betty can't wait to get away from Don, but even someone whose people are Nordic can't hold in her feelings of guilt when she watches her son cling to his father and beg him not to leave.

We opened this season with expectant father Don daydreaming about the circumstances of his own birth. In the finale, with both his professional and personal lives seeming to fall apart (and only one of them in any condition to be re-assembled to Don's satisfaction), he flashes back to childhood memories he was old enough to remember, and to how a professional disagreement of Archie's occurred led to Dick Whitman losing his father(**). Things don't play quite the same way in 1963, but Don does wind up severing his relationship with his old company at the same time that his kids have to live apart from their father.

(**) Considering the way adult Don describes Archie, it's interesting but not shocking to see young Dick so broken up about his death. Drunk and abusive or not, Archie was his dad, you know?

And because we have the Dick Whitman biography on our minds throughout the episode, it makes Don's midnight confrontation with Betty - in the wake of learning about Henry Francis through Roger - seem that much uglier. Don has often been an angry hypocrite with Betty, but leaving aside the fact that he's screwed around on her far more than she has on him (with or without Captain Awesome as part of the calculation), for Dick Whitman - whose stepmother never let him forget who and what his real mother was - to call someone else a "whore"? Wow. As always, Jon Hamm's not afraid to show a very unattractive side to his alter ego, and it's in that moment - as the word echoes in the room and wakes up baby Gene - where even Don realizes that he's gone too far, and that his marriage is over.

And having endured that horrible talk with his devastated kids, Don is finally humble enough to realize that he doesn't want to see everyone who matters in his life slip away, and to go to Peggy, hat in hand, and tell her that he does care about her. His marriage is too far gone, but he manages to save this other relationship. He tells her - in a speech echoing the one Peggy gave to Pete in the season two finale, which also dealt with losing a part of yourself(***) and trying to move on without it - that he understands her, and appreciates her, and appreciates that they see the world the same way. And when he gets Peggy to the precipice (in another superb duet between Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm), he pushes her over to his side with these perfect words:
"I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you."
(***) Matt Weiner has said that Peggy's "Meditations in an Emergency" speech was not about having given up the baby, and I don't think that's what Don's alluding to, either. (I'm not even 100 percent positive that he knows why she was in that psych ward.) He's just suggesting that each of them had some kind of idea for who they would be in this world, and instead tragedy and unexpected circumstance have turned them into these two people, who are only happy at work, and who really only understand each other.

To me, the work part of Don's life - and the ongoing rapport between Hamm and Moss - has always been a more appealing part of "Mad Men" than what happens in Ossining. So given the choice between Don fixing things with Betty or with Peggy, I'm glad the writers chose the latter. A "Mad Men" where Don doesn't have Betty to come home to is still "Mad Men," I think, whereas a "Mad Men" where Don doesn't have Peggy to bounce ideas off of wouldn't be.

But to get back to the question I asked near the top of this review, how permanent will any of the changes from this episode be?

As I wrote last week, the series' narrative doesn't have a lot of room for people who either don't work at the ad agency or aren't closely-tied to someone who does. Betty assures Don that he'll always be Sally and Bobby's father, and so there's room for interaction between the two of them. (Don as weekend dad has a lot of potential.) But unless the series is prepared to dramatically expand its scope - to show Sal's journey through the gay subculture of the '60s, to follow Dr. Greg to Vietnam, to spend a whole lot more time on people who don't work for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce - I'm not sure how Betty stays as connected to the narrative. To bring it back to "The Sopranos," by the time Carmela had separated from Tony, the show had established such a large world (only some of it related to organized crime activity) that it felt natural to keep watching Carmela out on her own, interacting with the other characters as Tony's estranged wife. Betty's not a part of this universe in the same way; there isn't really a simple circumstance where you could put her in a scene with Joan, you know?

And because of that, and because I think Matt Weiner wants no part of losing January Jones, I suspect there will be some kind of attempt at reconciliation in season four, even though I feel like the story of the Draper marriage has come to a natural conclusion. What else is left to say? They've broken apart, gotten back together, he's tried harder, she's tried harder, he's cheated, she's cheated, she doesn't love him, he maybe only loves the idea of her, etc., etc., etc. Let's move on, shall we? And if that means either less of Betty, or a shift in the way the show tells its stories, so be it.

As for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce(****), if it does just turn into a redecorated version of the same shop, that will be a wasted opportunity. But I don't think that's where Weiner is going. While there was a good deal of flattery in what Don told Pete about his value, I have to believe that this will really try to be a forward-thinking agency. Up until this point, Sterling Cooper has been on the wrong side of history, but we've just crossed a generational line in the series. Kennedy is dead. The Beatles fly into New York in a few months. The '50s are definitively over, and what we think of as the actual '60s is just beginning. An ad agency that looks at the culture differently, that looks ahead rather than behind, seems ideal to depict the societal change that Weiner talks about so often. In a new office, with a smaller staff, stripped of so much institutional memory and bureaucracy, SCDP could - and hopefully will - be something that reflects the vision of people like Pete and Peggy as much as it does the old guard.

(****) Dammit, I really want some commas in there. And maybe an ampersand.

Weiner's going to be traveling for a while and not available for interviews. And given how he likes to shroud the future of the show in mystery (even the "Lost" producers don't hate spoilers as much as he does), I doubt he'd want to say anything about where the show is going in season four, or when that action might be set. But with all these huge changes, it feels like we need the action to resume sooner rather than later: a season 2-->3 gap, rather than a season 1-->2 gap. Just as Weiner didn't want to skip over the birth of the baby, and what that meant to this marriage, I don't think he's going to want us to miss too much of the growing pains of the new firm, or of Don adjusting to bachelor life, or Betty and the kids getting used to Henry.

Whenever season four is set, this tremendous finale has given Weiner the opportunity to take the show in some bold new directions. I hope he follows them, or else the theme to the next season will be Don's line to the stewardess from this season's premiere: "I keep going to a lot of places and ending up somewhere I've already been."

But there's too much of a sense of hope in this episode, in the look on Don's face as he walks back into the living room of the suite at the Pierre after saying goodbye to Betty, for me to think anything but that this is a show looking ahead now. As Roy Orbison sings (in "Shahdaroba") while Don heads into his new apartment, "The future is much better than the past."

Some other thoughts on the finale:

• I know some of you had guessed that Duck's company might wind up buying Sterling Cooper. Not only did that not happen, but Duck didn't appear at all in the finale, which is another reason I suspect we won't be jumping too far into the future for season four. I can't see Peggy and Duck as a long-term thing, but the prospect of Don finding out that his protege is sleeping with one of his most hated enemies is too delicious for the show to not depict. So we have to come back while they're still together, or at least not long after she's seen the light and treated Duck the way Duck treated Chauncey.

• Meanwhile, for all the time we spent debating whether Miss Farrell was cuckoo bananas, a healthy woman out of time, or something in between, she also doesn't figure in at all to the finale. It's entirely possible that Don could wind up with her now that Betty has sent him away - that we could even return in season four with Don and Suzanne shacked up in the apartment Joan found for him - but he was too busy with divorce at home and work to even think of her.

• Even though I assumed Joan would wind up back at the company sooner or later, I did a massive fist pump when Roger went to "make a call" for someone to help with the raiding of SC materials, because I knew exactly who'd be on the other end of the line. Joan gets to make her grand entrance, and then we get to see her and Roger acting like an old married couple as he complains about her handwriting. Whether or not they're The One for each other, the two (both characters and actors) work together incredibly well.

• Joan's back, but Sal is another MIA character in the finale. (Though for a half-second I thought they were going to call him when they couldn't get into the art department. Instead, Don just awesomely kicked the door in.) And with American Tobacco just as fundamental to the success of the new company as the old, how do they get him back? I really, really hope our last glimpse of Bryan Batt on this show wasn't at the end of "Wee Small Hours."

• For that matter, what becomes of everyone else from Sterling Cooper? I don't want to see the show backslide to the point where the new firm is indistinguishable from the old one, but a lot of interesting characters got left behind. Some of that is because they could only afford to start with a skeleton staff, and sooner or later they'll need to take on more help. Assuming Weiner also isn't ready to say goodbye to a lot of these people, it may be interesting to see tensions develop between the cool kids at the Pierre and the confused ones who were standing around Allison's desk.

• Note that when Peggy initially says no to Don, he plans to go to Kurt and Smitty next, and not Paul. Is that an indictment of Paul's talent, or of his character? Did Don fear Paul would rat him out if he could gain some advantage from it?

• Whoever else is on staff at the new company, I'm glad we'll have Jared Harris around long-term. (Presumably, anyway.) I've grown as fond of him as Lane has grown of America, even though I suspect that fondness will create all sorts of marital discord for him. His delivery of "Very good. Happy Christmas!" to St. John was one of the funniest moments in an episode full of funny moments.

• And could the cramped temporary quarters for the new firm create any marital problems for Pete and Trudy? So far, Pete seems to be swallowing any objections he might have to continuing to work with Peggy, and he and Trudy again seem like a finely-tuned machine (she gets her father to give Pete back the Clearasil account he took away when Pete wouldn't provide a grandchild, and she even brings the staff "every kind of sandwich imaginable... and a cake!"), but I don't think it's an accident that Weiner wanted the seating arrangements to put Peggy and Pete at the same desk.

• John Slattery, as always, get all the best lines, whether Roger's saying of Jane, "It's the most interest that girl's ever had in a book depository" or him responding to Harry's "Are you kidding?" with a deadpan, "Yes, yes we are. Happy birthday." But the man can get a laugh without any dialogue at all, like the way he had Roger's hand just shoot up as soon as a puzzled Don asked if they should all vote on the firing plan.

• God, Sally has been forced to grow up so much by these circumstances, and it's both a little funny (because of the things she says through her lisp) and a lot tragic, and the work of Kiernan Shipka is still another reason why I don't think we'll jump all that far ahead. They can only fudge her age so much, and unless Don's family is becoming a minor part of the show, I can't imagine Weiner wanting to recast Sally at this point.

• Though Conrad Hilton gives Don the tip that allows him and the others to pull off their great escape, Don clearly wants no part of the man's manipulations again anytime soon. He probably could have gotten Connie to sign on to the new agency, but didn't want the attendant headaches. As with so many other people left behind, I hope this isn't the last we see of Chelcie Ross on the show.

As we come to the end of another season of this show, I want to thank you all again for being both the smartest and best-behaved group of TV blog commenters around. I write about a lot of TV shows, some of them ("Sons of Anarchy" and "Breaking Bad," to name two) that exist in the same creative stratosphere as "Mad Men," and none of them come remotely close to drawing as many passionate, insightful comments as this one does. You've done a good job of sticking to the commenting rules (we're late enough in the season that I'm not going to bother repeating them), and you've made this a tremendous place to discuss one of the very best shows on television.

What did everybody else think?


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Unknown said...

Weiner really is a master. His three season long set up to get to this coup was flawless in my opinion.

They couldn't have done this heist last year as none of the characters were personally positioned to take this risk and jump off a cliff into this new venture.

Peggy was still too green and hadn't proven herself yet so she likely wouldn't have been asked to join.

Pete hadn't yet become completely disillusioned and bitter about his treatment.

Roger had been ill and was in the midst of divorcing.

Lane was still fine with being a puppet.

Joan was still queen Joan and hadn't yet been through the disappointing realities of her husband and her marriage.

Don had yet to be exposed and while still cheating on Betty was invested in hanging onto his marriage and the reality of working for the Brits hadn't yet sunk in and taken form.

Cooper hadn't yet had a year's worth of time to mourn his loss of his company and control.

But now they are well positioned to jump.

I wonder what Weiner could ever do to equal or top this show when Mad Men ends its run.

evie said...

The best television show in the history of time. And that's not just hyper-bowl.

This finale was so amazing, so perfect, I kept stopping it to go back and hear moments again (I, too, cheered when Roger went to make a call). And when Peggy said simply, "No" to Roger's request for coffee. (Neither she nor Joanie even looked up.) Yay, girls!

That scene between Don & Peggy was probably my favorite of so many favorites in this episode. My heart broke for both of them, but also joy. I'm sad Sal is not back yet, but I'm holding out hope for next season.

As some others here, I was also surprised Don & Roger went with Pete instead of Ken, at least without explanation. Don's statement of "you're a forward thinker," while true, seemed spur-of-the-moment, not an actual reason. Perhaps they just decided they could trust Pete to be more ruthless than Ken.

Thanks, Alan, for great insights and allowing fans a place to obsess over this amazing show. Thanks to Weiner and cast for pure genius.

Can Season 4 start next week, please?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, folks, once again, let me remind you of an important part of the number one rule around here:

Talk about the show, not each other.

I'm sorry if it causes you emotional pain that people don't share your views about Betty Draper, or Joan's husband, or intellectual property law in the 1960s. But if you can't express your opinion on a subject without taking shots at people who disagree with you, then you shouldn't be commenting here. And I will start deleting comments, very soon.

Are we clear? This is a show about grown-ups, made by grown-ups, for grown-ups. Surely we can discuss it without reverting to our emotional level from junior high.

Anonymous said...

I see Connie as a hero in this episode, as he was loyal enough to Don to tell him about the buyout deal. He does know Don, the way his mind works, and does see him like a son and gave him the nudge out of the nest, to be on his way to success in the same way Connie had. He planted the seed in Don about going out on his own with that comment about how he himself had done everything on his own. Whether it was planted in Don's conscious thought or subconscious, it germinated into an AHA moment as other important ingredients were added--Cooper, Sterling, Lane--and grew rapidly, blooming into a beautiful flower for the Fans: Joan!!!!

cgeye said...

About the legality of the Sterling Coup [tm Mo R.]:

Sure, McCann could take them to court -- but through discovery they'd have to reveal just how flat-footed they (or more precisely, PPL) handled the merger. Telling Connie, a cosseted client of Draper's, the bad news first? Not hammering down their principals not only with contract threats but with bonuses for staying on during the transition? Come on -- the partners were rich enough to quit and sit out the non-compete period, with the major harm still done regarding client relationships. A smart multinational would have seen how PPL pumped and dumped its American subsidiary, and while impairing McCann's chances to keep the teams intact.

No, the major fool in this matter will be St. John -- and the deal's by no means done. He's twice miscalculated, by trusting a dry drunk who didn't do his contract research, then by abusing his NYC overseer so thoroughly that he turned traitor. By New Year's, St. John and his flunkies will be trying to stanch the flow from *everyone else* at the office jumping ship -- and those rank-and-file can leave at will. There is no longer Sterling Cooper -- and I bet St. John was too dense to secure permanent rights to the name. Loser.

Anonymous said...

In the scene where Don concocts the firing scheme, right after this:

"I should fire you for even trying to involve me in this conspiracy" "Go ahead! Its the only thing you did well here"

I'm pretty sure Cooper (or Robert Morse, rather) slips and calls Don "Jon". Look it up online, its about 19 minutes into the 46 minute episode.

Anonymous said...

a poster said:
when his [Don's] business interests are compromised he may think differently.

Don didn't hesitate to choose sex over business with the Menken account. And so SC lost it. But he's a boss and bosses get away with stuff, don't they?

That said, Lucky Strike is their major account (by a huge margin over the others) and losing it would mean the end of SC[DP]. Menken's was a small boutique account with tiny local media billings relative to cigarette advertising.

Still, Don put personal over business on that one.

Also, Henry Francis is NOT a country club blueblood, at least not acording to the info he provided in the chaise lounge/lunch episode. Remember he says something about knowing the names of antique furniture because he worked as a mover at one point. (Maybe to put hismelf through college or law school? Can't recall if there were more details). That doesn't sound landed gentry to me.

I assumed he's a scrappy bastard from a tough background just like Don, although with a more open personality. He gets invited to country clubs etc because of who he works FOR, not who he IS.


marianne said...

Roger convinced Lane to "jump ship" by telling him he'd just be flotsam and jetsam in Mcann's wake (or something to that effect). So I thought the whole episode was about sea changes - PPL selling SC, the original SCers starting a new firm, Betty and her new marriage, the children and divorce - as Alan described it, with his closing doors metaphor. There was also a sea change as Don said goodbye to one family (when he called Betty from the hotel bedroom to wish her well) and then entered the hotel living room where everyone was bustling about and looked at them fondly - his new family. Or when he realized that papa Hilton had manipulated him.

I know Don was horrible in his whore moment, and I agree with posters who thought he was on the verge of being abusive. And he's been a horrible husband. But he was trying, and he did bare his soul to Betty only a month earlier. So Betty's move could be seen as paralleling the "it's just business" move on PPL's part. Even Hilton, who had claimed to have an emotional connection with Don, reminded Don that it's just business. In Don's eyes, Betty moved on to a new husband who will presumably give her what she wants - maybe in Don's eyes she is a "money whore," the equivalent of souless Mcann and PPL.

Maybe it was just me, but Betty seemed almost regretful when Don called from the hotel and said goodbye and wished her well, as if she was hoping he would fight for her. Also, her body language in the scene on the plane sitting next to Henry (in first class) did not look promising. She was leaning away from him and looking somewhat doubtful, not exactly blissfully happy as one would expect if she was really relieved to be getting out of her marriage to be with Henry.

The couch: the family sat down on a new couch in the living room for their sad divorce talk. It appears the Victorian fainting/fantasy couch is gone, there's just the hard, cold reality couch in its place.

Alan, thank you for your great, ever insightful and interesting posts. I always looked forward to firing up my laptop at the end of episodes to see what you had to say. I just wish I'd found this site season 1, not mid-season 3. And all other posters, thank you for all the varying perspectives you brought to this blog, lawyers, historians, googlemappers, people born in the 50s who remembered this or that or who had this or that object (like the person who had a pencil case like Sally's!),etc. This was the best blog for the best show on TV, IMHO.

Marshall Steinbaum said...

A random question which I don't imagine the next season will take up: Lane Pryce's immigration status! I mean, I assume that as a rich white British guy in 1963 he wouldn't have a problem obtaining permission to work legally in the US (as the partner in his own agency!), but he just severed his ties to his employer and made his continued presence in the US a critical requirement of his solvency and material wellbeing. I wonder if that's a risk a real person might think twice about?

Maureen said...

What a wonderful ending to the season. I found this episode to be so satisfying on almost every level-just amazing.

Like so many others, I can't believe that Betty is going right into a relationship with Henry. When they were at the divorce attorney's office, I was yelling at the screen "you don't even know him!"

Betty taking off for 6 weeks to Reno-all I know about Reno divorces I learned from the movie The Women, with Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. I think they had to stay in Reno, but it might have changed by the 1960's.

Many thanks to Alan for his recaps-I really love reading on Monday morning.

Unknown said...

I did a word search for custody... nada. So I just want to say that fathers rarely got custody of kids in a divorce in those days. Even though Don may think the kids would be off with him and we all agree with him, it would be a highly unlikely scenario in 1963. Seems obvious to me but some of you may not know.

In 1963, I was 11 and my brother was 9 (we looked just like Sally and Bobby, I swear!), and my dad took us aside and said, "I have something very serious to tell you." For some reason I thought he was going to say that my mom was pregnant. Instead he said, "We are getting divorced." It was crushing.

Unknown said...

I don't think it is true that Pryce didn't have the authority to chose Pete over Ken for head of accounts.

PPL isn't in NY to make that kind of determination and if Pryce had the authority to hire and fire he would have the right to promote Ken over Pete.

I don't think Don's comments to Pete were just to stroke his ego - yes, he knew he had to ego stroke but he also said what has been evident this season - Pete has been more forward in his thinking and that is what they are looking to achieve with their new agency.

Personally, I loved the utter contempt Don showed Betty in that ugly scene - she is one messed up individual and mother. So is he, but I'm glad he's finally seen her for who she is.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

On Don as the better parent: Don seems to like his children. Betty does not. How many times has referred to Sally or Bobby as "just a child" in the same tone of voice one might say "just a cocker spaniel?" She has almost never appeared to consider her children as individuals with their own thoughts and feelings.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I would say Don is the better parent when (and this is a big caveat) he's around. He likes the kids, seems to understand their needs and moods better, and they like him.

But he's also not all that present.

berkowit28 said...

I don't think PPL or McCann would have much of a chance proving that the firings weren't real and were part of a conspiracy, especially one including Pryce. If St. John hadn't been so angry at his lackey Pryce and hadn't fired him - another matter. But he fell for it. Pryce was still at work at SC, just waiting for that phone call. By getting fired, he too could go join the the gang. If he hadn't been fired, he would have had to stay on at the old place until he figured something out.

St. John just took Pryce for granted - didn't let him in on the sale of PPL, certainly wasn't planning on letting him be one of the beneficiaries. He was so angry at this pet dog for being uppity, he didn't have the faintest idea that he was giving him exactly what he wanted by firing him.

Happy Christmas (which is the way the English say it, never "Merry"), indeed!

Maura said...

Don said he *will* spend the rest of his life trying to hire Peggy. He was past trying to order her around and assuming she would follow him anywhere. He had to appeal to her desire to be recognized for her work. I believe he was being truthful, but he was also pulling out the Draper charm. For him to say "I won't" would be entirely counterproductive.

jasctt said... in Peggy's case the olny thing she got to do this season was sleep with Duck. One wonders what Ms. Moss thought of the lack of story for her this season.

I disagree. Peggy has really come into her own this season. As loyal as she's been to Don in the past, she's recently realized she has to stand up to him. He's been beating her up for a good part of the season. When she told Don not to yell at Paul a few episodes ago, I saw that Peggy had grown up a lot. And she was a standout in this episode. Go Peggy.

Likewise, this year of MM has brought out the same folks, claiming that it is still great, meanwhile, the discriminating fans, like myself, have huffed and ruffled the feathers and dared to admit that MM has started it's downhill turn.

Or it could just be a matter of opinion.

cgeye said... To go further -- who leaves their kids with the Negro help, alone, for six weeks, during Christmas vacation and New Year's? Wouldn't Betty just this once ask her brother to help her out? Doesn't Carla have her own family to deal with? There goes that vaunted hope Weiner would actually take more care with the Negro Problem.

Carla has proven that she takes great care of the kids, both of whom love her. Asking William would be fruitless, and Betty is never going to ask for a favor. Plus, she'd have to explain where she was going, and I doubt she wants to get into that with him before she leaves.

If she's not willing to pull Sally and Bobby out of school to take them with her, she's not to going to do it so they can stay in their uncle's care. Or, more accurately, their aunt's, who Betty inexplicably detests. I'm sure William's wife would do it willingly, but he would never agree.

As for Carla being away from her family, Betty has been concerned about her Carla being with her family in the past, but her brain isn't firing on all cylinders at the moment. My husband and I found it pretty damn interesting that she raised such a fuss about her father getting married so soon after her mother died, but she obviously thinks nothing of bringing a new man into the house without telling her young children.

I continue to love Betty, even at her worst, but gah! I'm worried about her. I think it's possible she'll never change. Honestly, I believe it's more realistic that she'll never reconsider her life and her choices.

Monica said: American Tobacco! I live in Durham, NC, where the old American Tobacco warehouses have been renovated into a beautiful office complex. That's still a big name around here and I loved that it got so much air time in this season finale.

Oooh, me too, Monica. That was fun.

When we moved here 9 years ago, Durham still had that lovely, sweet smell of tobacco leaves. Durham, NC represent! :)

Best line of the night: "You sold your birthright to marry that trollop!" I was watching with my husband and a friend. We all almost fell out of our chairs laughing.

Great episode. Possibly the best ever.

Anonymous said...

"First, it’s been made clear over the course of three seasons now that Don is the better parent-- being far more sympathetic toward his children and their needs than Betty is."

Don can afford to be more sympathetic when he doesn't discipline them and isn't at home with them all day.

"Second, yes it would be hypocritical for Don to get pissed about Betty cheating/lying to him… but that’s not what set him off. What set him off was that Betty was acting so smug and morally superior to him for several weeks/ months, when in truth she turned out to be every bit the philandering liar he was/ is. further."

Betty hasn't even slept with Henry. Her relationship with him can't even compare to Don's years of philandering and emotional abuse. It's not the same at all.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in this time period and my father was your typical 50's style dad. He was the breadwinner and made all the decisions, even though he traveled extensively and wasn't home for long stretches of time. My mother wanted desperately to work, to get away from the monontony of suburban living but it took her almost 15 years until my father 'allowed' her to get a job (mind you, she had a teaching degree). Betty isn't going anywhere good. She is fluent in Italian, worked as a model, has dreams of her own but none of the men in her life have ever even bothered to ask her about them. She is doomed and because she is so passive and closed off, I feel very little empathy for her. And worst of all, she is a lousy mother.

Anonymous said...

Nice plug for Alan in today's New York Post from sportswriter mike Vaccaro. Two very good writers.

As for the show, what I found most striking was the maturation of all of the characters, especially Don, Pete and Peggy, who are growing and adapting. Even though the catalyst was external, the growth was still exhibited.

Contrast that with Betty, who is still a child and running to a complete stranger as if that will make her happy. It is clear that both Drapers are at fault for the demise of their marriage, but at least Don exhibits some growth in his character, and has the potential for real change. Betty, not so much.

Anonymous said...

The alternative "Happy Christmas" gained wide usage in the late 19th century, and is still common in the United Kingdom and Ireland. One reason may be the alternative meaning, still current there, of "merry" as "tipsy" or "drunk".

Anonymous said...

Midge is an illustrator - she might be the one they call next... Is Kurt still cutting Peggy's hair?

biolabchick said...

Re: Sterling Coup going with Pete vs. Ken....
I keep going back to the scene at the end of S1 when Bert tells Don, "You can fire him if you want. But I'd keep him. One never knows where loyalty is born." (Paraphrasing here.) Perhaps Don knew, along with Pete's forward-looking thoughts on advertising (i.e. the Admiral campaign, the value of marketing to different groups of people) that Pete is somewhat loyal to him/SC. After all, in "Flight 1", he told Don, not Duck (his immediate supervisor) that his father was on the plane. He also helped "cover" for Don once he went AWOL with the jet-setters/visiting Anna in SoCal. (Granted, Don covered for it by saying "If I didn't think you could handle it, I wouldn't have left you alone.") The fact that SCD&P chose Pete over Ken might be seen by Pete as an affirmation of his loyalty to Don/SC.

Anonymous said...

How about Peggy's comment when Pete said he had Clearsil? "Really?" and when Trudy comes in and Pete says "Hello, Lovely." Peggy gives a look. I think it just spoke volumes. I really like the change in Pete and Trudy's marriage - they are going to be the couple people envy - childless and carefree. It is nice to see them settled into themselves.

Anonymous said...

On reflection, there is one aspect overlooked - Betty now has some serious power over Don. He's angry, he's right when he tells her the kids would be better with him, but ultimately he leaves the kids. Why?

It's not because he has a change of heart or softer feelings - he could hire Carla as easily as she does. It's because Don cannot block the divorce or keep his children. Betty's ability to reveal Don's duplicity of identity (through military dental records if nothing else) gives her a permanent upper hand. Now that she sees herself as above him she is unlikely to have any compunction about using that weapon.

I think January Jones has a role to play in S4 no matter how her relationships play out. She is the only person to hold the Don/Dick secret in her hands without ultimately wanting not to hurt him. He can't cross her openly. She's the keg his new starts is sitting over.

Anonymous said...

I am so interested in Sally. She's been abandoned, in so many ways, just as Don was. She may be living in a home with her biological parents, but Betty couldn't be warmer than Abigail ever was. Gene dying took away the warmest father relationship she had. I know Don had reached out to Sally on occasions, very sweetly. But the true sharing and connecting took place with her grandfather in such a touching way. Now she gets to have her own experience with two sorry people. My heart breaks for her.

iamcjs said...

iamcjs: more thoughts

Pete and Trudy's relationship is very cute and she is wrangling him to do the right things for his/their future openly AND behind the scenes.

You can see this in his "re-acquiring" of the Clearasil account as well. Didn't catch this until my second watching. Subtle again, but Pete I'm sure tried to do anything to "reach his quota" as per Don's imperative when he and Roger left his apartment, but he still failed (Ken's "tried to steal John Deere on Saturday night" comment indicated that Pete was trying to find someone to fill out his $7-8 million 'saddlebag') so being short, he went back to the family well [or more likely, Trudy intervened for their family--to help Pete make it with SCDP by re-establishing the Clearasil ties].

This surprised both creative people (Don AND Peggy). Don looking over the files saying "Clearasil?" with upraised brows, especially since Pete didn't mention this "new" account when he passed the files to DD [trying to slide it by]. Pete in a very nonchalant way saying "I made it"--meaning I made my quota. Peggy's surprise then with her "really??!!"

Trudy brought the new firm food/nourishment twice in two days....

Plus this shows Pete is learning that HE needs relationships to. Don wasn't the only one sitting in the dark this year...Pete is learning to make Trudy's family his, perhaps reluctantly but still...DD never did this until now.

Also, the "framed family shot" at the end of the episode where everyone is eating in the Pierce suite IS Don's new family. He's committed and not leaving anymore. Same angling and POV that we see used all the time that used to be used with the Draper family now applies to SCDP, especially in contrast to the fragmented family scenes that we see in contrast--the former Draper family split into thirds

Anonymous said...

Amazing episode, now on to Mad Men withdrawl.
Thought this episode was also alot about people standing up for themselves. Peggy to Don, Betty to Don, Pete to Don/Roger, Pryce to PPL and Sterling Cooper to PPL, which is indicative of the 60's.

Libby said...

GREAT review as always - forgive me if this has been brought up already (at work - sheepish grin) but I thought it telling that we see Draper's "dad" refusing to work with the cooperative, striking out on his own, and then getting kicked in the head by a horse.

The fact this occurs just before Draper comes up with his plan to jump ship with Sterling Cooper Pryce makes me think Don stopped a moment, thought, "Maybe I shouldn't go it alone THIS time," and actually decide to work with a group - a different kind of cooperative. He's always been a lone wolf, and now he's really not. He's a partner.

Rogers Cadenhead said...

"I don't if I am too much of an optomist or too much of a romantic, but I actually think the Betty-Fracis relationship could be a good one."

I find myself wondering whether we have any reasons at all to believe that it will be a bad one.

The only solid knock against Henry Francis is that he's pursued a married woman. But she's a miserable married woman whose spouse is also miserable in the relationship, and Francis has done nothing but kiss her once, spend time with her and express his interest in her. Betty was already talking about divorce to lawyers before he got involved in that.

Perhaps Betty will be happier with a father figure who has more of a "Main Line" background than Don.

Perhaps Francis will be an attentive stepparent, at least by the standards of the '60s.

Perhaps Betty will be happier as a politician's wife.

We've never really seen Francis behaving badly yet, so I think the assumption he's a controlling SOB who will be bad for her is premature.

Nicole said...

I think that just because Betty didn't actually sleep with Henry before asking for the divorce doesn't mean that she wasn't cheating just the same. She has not done it as much as Don, but she is not blameless in helping to destroy the marriage.

As for Don as the better parent, I think when he is around he actually cares about the kids. Even though Betty has done the day to day discipline, we have seen how she is just mean to Sally for no real reason, and that isn't the sign of a loving parent, it's a person who can't see what is important for others.

Many have already raised the issue of Betty going after another father figure, and Henry is that, but he also seems to have a little Don in him too, in that he is a self-starter, and obviously doesn't care about seducing a married woman. I suspect we will see more similarities next season.

KarenX said...

I was nervous for Betty when she stopped her line of thinking about getting a settlement proportionate to what's due her as Don's wife, because Henry Francis is not committed to her yet and she has responsibilities, but I really didn't get the controlling vibe out of him, either. I thought his reassurance that she didn't need any money was more from the belief that making the divorce as easy as possible for Don would make it more likely that it would go through. If Don didn't have to fight a battle over resources and alimony and child support, then maybe Francis thought he'd be easier to convince, less chance of a scandal.

It's still crazy for Betty not to provide for herself what she can, however, and I don't know that Don would try to withhold any support from her. He didn't try it before, and he's made peace, it seems, with their separation. If there is going to be trouble for Betty regarding Francis's money, it's probably going to come from adult children who have expectations (and are possibly making plans for) an inheritance. A young stepmother with young children, and maybe new ones, is a big financial death should Francis die.

Were prenups common at all? I can't see anyone in this situation getting married now without one, and not even in a gold-digger kind of way. Francis already has people who rely on him. Look how thin Roger Sterling has been stretched. This could be a legitimate and immediate source of conflict.

KarenX said...

(Big financial deal, I mean. Not that Francis's net worth would be wiped out. I had death on the mind in that sentence.)

Lee said...

Do we know why Henry got divorced or how long ago it was?

I'm in the doom-and-gloom camp for the Henry-Betty marriage, but he does seem to have a good relationship with his daughter, so maybe that's a good sign.

I wonder if Betty will tell Henry about Don's past and somehow Henry will try to use it against Don.

Anonymous said...

As a working writing, I'm always amused by the comments here. Folks, what is satisfying (pleasing to the audience) and what is good (true to what we know of the characters' personalities, not dependent on coincidence, logically sound) can be two completely different things.

I liked this episode very much, because it punched all my buttons. All the characters I like did things I enjoy watching them do; the characters I can't stand got treated badly (except for Harry).

Does it hold together? Not so much. Beginning with Connie spilling the beans to Don for no apparent reason, to the manufactured rescuer for Betty, and the "Hey Judy, let's put on a show in the Pierre!" resolution, this was quite contrived.

I like caper movies and Don Draper speeches and Roger Sterling wisecracks-- plus it had Joan back (maybe getting Harry's job) and Pete not behaving like a twerp (and maybe growing up). And the promise that maybe Sal comes back and some minority. And Price was very funny.

But, even granting that agencies did fracture a lot in the 60's, this feels like Weiner said "Geez, I've written myself into a corner; none of my characters are in very interesting spots right now. Let me move LaVerne and Shirley to Burbank and start over."

For a show to need this after less than 40 episodes isn't a real good sign. Especially for one that has the considerable advantage of having lots of interesting events-- all of which are known-- to use as a backdrop.

gma said...

Just wanted to say thank you Alan for another great series of reviews - from someone who appreciated good, smart writing. Now we have to wait until next summer???

belinda said...

I watched it three times already, and boy, it does not get old - kind of a perfect episode for the mid point of the series (if it's true about the six seasons) - big game changer and shook up both Don's personal and professional life. It was also phenomenally great to see the gang team up again - we haven't seen them as a group just hang out with each other with smiles and a common goal pretty much all season.

But, I'm scratching my head a bit at all the time devoted to Ms. Farrell. Having read this blog, I understand what her significance and influence on Don is (kinda, anyway), but I still wish they didn't spend so much time with her this season because those parts in the latter half of the season dragged the show down (just a tiny, tiny bit). I just found that story to be pretty dull, which I didn't find with any of Don's previous (long or short) flames.

And I think it's also the first season where I felt the slightest drag when the story goes to Betty and Don. Mind you, there were a lot of really fantastic scenes that were just jaw dropping and wonderful, but I agree that the draper marriage has come to its natural conclusion. It feels done. So, mixed emotions about the inclusion of Betty in the seasons to come.

Re: Pete and Ken: I agree with an earlier post. Pete was chosen over Ken because Pete, strangely enough, is the one who has a pre-existing relationship with Don (and Cooper), at least, from what we could see from the show. I know it has a lot to do with the actors (and Pete as a main, main cast character and Ken not so much), but I can see why Don would trust Pete over Ken (have we even seen Ken alone in a scene with Don?), and since it was a heist, why alert the golden boy who'd probably report it to PPL?

Gene: I was rewatching the scene between Betty and Don (where I really wished Betty could have thrown "So are you" back to Don when he called her a whore), and I was wondering if the thought that Gene isn't his child (we know he is, but Don doesn't) came to Don.

Pete and Peggy sure doesn't feel over. Between the desk arrangements and their exchanged glances when Pete caught Peggy in Guy's episode, they seem to be setting up something in motion for this. What, I don't know. But there's something. Which should be interesting, since Pete and Trudy are finally functioning as a real good childless couple. But if I'm curious to see what Don's reaction to Duck sleeping with Peggy (which, yes, SO needs to happen next season), I'm even more curious to see how Pete, another fellow Duck hater, would react to that.

I think Peggy's story seemed shortchanged only because we didn't see any tangible promotions (that we did in the past seasons where she does get actual promotions and an office). I guess also because she and Don were at odds this season, we don't get to see those happy great scenes when they work together. But it just made Don's pitch to Peggy that much sweeter. Now that she feels secure in herself, it'll be great to see her working her way up even higher at SCDP.

I wonder if at some point, Joan would ever take over Crane to be the head of media at SCDP?

Finally, I hope Allison makes it over to SCDP - she was a really good secretary!

Good season with a great finale! Can't wait til next year! Thanks Alan and all the posters here for a great run.

sara j. said...

Loved it! This episode revealed that M. Weiner is a total master of tying it all together.

One interesting thread in this episode that hasn't been directly addressed is when Roger told Don that he 'doesn't value relationships.' This struck me and I kept going back to it as we watched Don go around and work to restore his relationships with most of the essential characters at SC. This whole season he has alienated himself from the few at SC who actually knew him a little...Peggy, Roger, etc. In order to get together the new group though, he had to open up and actually connect with all these people more than he ever has. It seemed cathartic for him, and I felt it watching these scenes.

Unfortunately he already opened up to Betty, but it was too late for them.

One other thing I keep thinking about is Betty.
Re: Lisa: "January Jones has created one of the strangest and controversial female characters on TV and I love her for it."

I have to agree, but I don't know if I love it. I am torn over whether January Jones plays Betty as Weiner wants, or if her acting abilities aren't up to more complexity. I have a natural inclination to want to defend JJ's acting chops, but then I wonder if Betty is just supposed to be cold and unmoved by so much of what she plays tight-faced? I do see some of the great moments in her face that some of you mention. But I also thought it was a bit of a cop-out that she just covered her face in the scene with the kids, and didn't seem to really be crying.

Either way, great finale and thanks Alan for all the insights.

Lilithcat said...

KarenX: pre-nups were not terribly common back in the '60s, unless there was serious money involved. Although HF is clearly well-off, there's been no suggestion that he's very wealthy.

Anon1 said He gets invited to country clubs etc because of who he works FOR, not who he IS.

Only in part. He was at Margaret Sterling's wedding because his daughter and Margaret are friends (that's where Roger's knowledge of his relationship with Betty came from), so he's obviously in the same social circles now, even if he didn't grow up in them.

I must say, despite what seems to be common understanding, I don't see Henry Francis as a father figure. He's older than Don, yes, but not that old.

Devin McCullen said...

Great episode.

I wondered as well about who did Lane's job before he came there. I'd guess some of it was Joan, some of it was supposed to be Bert & Roger, and most of it wasn't really being done. After all, he did fire a lot of people but it didn't seem to affect their output much.

I know everybody wants to see Joan kick Harry out, but I don't believe that's going to happen. Yes, things are changing in the 60s, but not that quickly. It's more likely that Harry demands they hire someone under him, and that person rapidly outshines him.

Unknown said...

So Alan, I know you said he would be traveling and unavailable for some time, but when can we expect the Matt Weiner Season 3 wrap-up interview?

We need a crumb or two-- August 2010 is a long ways away.

Unknown said...

Oh, and that last comment was (mostly) tongue-in-cheek. I don't want to be ungrateful to the best TV blogger in the business, especially after you nearly all-nighted this entry.

Also, it was indeed a Chip 'N' Dip, and it was spectacular. Forward thinking though he may be, Pete missed the boat when he didn't keep both of those-- I'd take three.

Unknown said...

I loved how much fun Don, Roger, Bert and Pryce were having pulling the coup off. Serioulsy, one of the best episodes of TV I've ever seen, defintitely the best of the season. Looks like someone's getting another emmy...
Also, two things - There's s difference between establishing residency and being a resident. I'm pretty sure Betty was flying out to get an apartment, utilities, driver's license or whatever was needed, and flying right back home.

Someone above wanted to know why Pryce needed to be in the crew. 1. He had to fire them, and once St. John found out, he needed a job/payback for cutting them loose. 2. Joan may know how to keep the trains running on time, but Pryce also knows how much the fare is. They need both of them.
Just too awesome. I too, jumped and cheered when Roger said, "Let me make a phone call." JOAN!!!

Hatfield said...

Oh, and to your comment about still not really liking Roger much, that may or may not be true, but they sure seemed to reignite the spark as soon as they were working toward a common goal. I hope they continue along that path next season

Anonymous said...

The one thing that struck me as odd was Henry's reply when the lawyer assumed that he and Betty were together. Betty going to realize that she's with a man who's as evil as Don ever could be...he's just a politician who loves his career, perhaps even more than her.

I've fallen in love with Trudy. Her calling after Peter from the other room during his in-house meeting with Don and Roger snapped Peter into shape like a dog's choke chain.

I think that we'll all be back in Sterling Cooper's old digs real soon. After all, why should the sale go through now that the principle players are no longer there? It's going to make for some real in-office tension next year, though.

Dave said...

I had to re-watch the second sit-down with Peggy and Don to know for sure what he says. First time I thought he said, "I won't..." and it didn't make any sense.

When Don tells Peggy he can't make it (in business) alone, he looks close to tears. This is understandable given the situation he's just left at home, but having lost his marriage, he'll be damned if he loses this relationship too.

Peggy is moved. Tears welling in her eyes, she asks, "what if I say no? You'll never speak to me again?"

Don replies, "No" -- not no, I won't, but no, you're wrong. "I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you."

KarenX said...

Because my wildest dreams for this show all came true, I figured I'd share one for Trudy based on something a commenter said in the first 200 posts:

Of course she's going to get involved in the work at the new place. She's already been pretending to be Pete's secretary during his job hunt, and she knew exactly the right thing to do for the new office without anyone else thinking of it. She's got very little sense of exactly how business is supposed to happen day to day (which is a little bit of why Pete would get frustrated with her when she'd show up unexpectedly), but this is a new kind of company and her personal instincts are good. She's used to mothering adults from behind the scenes, and she's, well, smart and cute and doesn't have that much else to do. It's a group that welcomes all loyal sympathy, and she can easily become indispensable.

It will be interesting to see what happens--in my wildest dreams for Trudy--when she's doing so much work for free that she needs a paycheck... the point where she crosses the line between supportive spouse and essential personnel. Also interesting to see would be if she actually conceives and bears a child years later. She wouldn't be the first infertile woman who is surprised by a baby. I really would like to see what a married working woman does in that situation, especially if she has built a nice little niche for herself.

Stuff like this is why I've always been interested in Harry. He may not be a very savvy worker, but he is a good husband. He had a working wife for a while (who probably did quit her phone job to raise the baby, but I can't remember right now). His first impulse when SCD offered him a new position was to consult his wife--exactly the right thing to do, really. Trudy, after all, was there for the invite and contributed to his decision. Harry is a husband who does consider his wife a partner rather than a trophy. They are not particularly brilliant as a couple, perhaps, but he respects his wife's position in a way that is not very common on the show. I know why Harry was bullied into saying yes immediately, but he wasn't going to turn to her for advice. He was going to turn to her before making a huge decision that affects his entire family, and he didn't want to do it behind the back of the other adult.

At least, that's how he's always seemed to me.

flem snopes said...


Following the example of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith I recommend...

Sterling Cooper, Draper & Pryce.

redwhimsy said...

Alan, I always find your posts to be incredibly insightful. Along with Mo Ryan, Tim Goodman, and AV Club, your reviews help provide a breadth of opinion about this show that I have come to enjoy so much.

With that I would like to discuss several points that struck me:

Like Mo Ryan, I could spend hours writing down the hilarious lines, although Lane Pryce's "Very Good: Happy Christmas" response to being sacked and Pryce: "Nothing good ever came of seeking revenge." Bert: "Nonsense. We'll make you a partner" may be two of my favorites.

Burt Cooper slayed me the most, what with his foretelling Roger's potential early death from boredom and threatening to lock Harry Crane in a storage closet.

I was touched by Don actually reconnecting with Roger, Pete, and Peggy. It showed some necessary humility and humanity. I'd also like to think that despite Archie's nature, little Dick Whitman truly loved his father.

The principals getting themselves fired was an inspired move; it was a much more daring choice than having Bert, Roger, and Don simply buy back the company status quo.

Having Joan back convinces me that she may be the best fixer ever. I didn't see anyone else describe her as such, but really, that is what she does. Without her, the others would not have been able to pull it off. Seriously, what can Joan not do? She obviously understood every detail of Sterling Cooper's business. She discretely procures apartments, cooks, plays the accordion, sings, manages egos, always manages to stay one step ahead of her bosses' needs, could write copy and manage the media department, and also still manages to generate the best chemistry with Roger.

My thoughts on Betty: she strikes me as one of the classic ladies who lunch. Specifically, she reminds me of Babe Paley, Slim Keith, and the Gloria Guinnesses of the era (Truman Capote's Swans). I bet that she will actually marry upward several times and end up with a much richer, more powerful man that we imagined. Do I think she regrets the ending of her marriage? Yes. Will she go back to Don? I honestly think that she won't

On a last note, although I truly loved some of the supporting characters like Paul, it makes sense to essentially write them out. People come and go in our lives. Even if we love the characters, it would feel almost disingenuous of Weiner and the writers to do otherwise.

Susan said...

belinda, Don told Peggy he wasn't sure he could do it without her. That and the fact that they are the only creatives, makes me think she has received a very big promotion. I believe she will also be compensated well at SCDP. I agree Allison is great and would be a good fit at the new company.

Hatfield, Bert Cooper had told Roger and Don earlier in the season to reconcile, but they didn't. It was amusing to see how they were more or less forced to do so in this episode. They never need to be friends, but they each have something the other needs to make their new company work. It was nice to see them mature enough to get along to make that happen.

A conversation between Don and Roger in a bar was the catalyst last season for Roger to break up with Mona. Interesting another similar conversation in a bar is where Don tells Roger he needs a divorce lawyer, and Roger tells Don about Henry Francis. These two have an interesting chemistry.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't make any sense for Don to say "I WON'T spend the rest of my life trying to hire you." Peggy has just said that she's afraid he'd never speak to her again if she said no, and his reply is the needed assurance that gets her to finally decide to go with him.

Julia said...

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith

I think it also had a Bean or Beane at one time

I always loved that business name.

Reminds me of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" which starred our Bert Cooper.

Hatfield said...

Imamarilyn, that was my take on it too, I was just saying I hope they stay partners in crime, if not friends, because the two characters (and actors) are so good together.

Toby O'B said...

I loved how a lot of people picked up on a possible future plotline about a conflict between Harry and Joan for the media department. Out of everybody who came on board for the new firm, Joan was the only one who didn't have demands and pre-conditions - probably just happy to get back into the game. Like the rest of you, I'll bet she will have second thoughts on what's in it for her down the road.

At the same time, I think Harry may just surprise everybody and bumble his way into keeping his position.....

Maura said...

iamcjs said... Pete and Trudy's relationship is very cute and she is wrangling him to do the right things for his/their future openly AND behind the scenes.

I think I might finally be sold on Trudy being something more than a social climbing, pampered princess. Those two really are a team, and she's a smart, tough young woman now. She's not just coddling Pete. She's his best asset.

At some point while reading the comments, it occurred to me that Pete and Trudy are possibly the most revolutionary characters on this show, because they're childless and OK with it. If there's one ridiculous idea that will not die, it's the idea that married couples must have children. Pete rejected that early on, forward thinker that he is. It just took Trudy a while to get to the same place. I can see her at the end of her life, saying "Kids? Never had them. Don't care."

Pete and Trudy seemed completely mismatched an disconnected when they got married, and now they're a example of "learning to love each other", which is a rather old-fashioned idea. On the other hand, they're at the forefront of couples who won't play by the rules set down for them.

You're awesome, Trudy Campbell, you little stealth guerrilla.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I winced a bit at the unfortunate use of the last five words in this sentence:

Turns out Weiner put Kennedy into last week's episode because that wasn't the season's biggest development, not by a long shot.

Awesome recap, though! I'm thinking we're never going to see Paul again and Sal will be back in episode one of season 4.

Hatfield said...

As much as Harry is still clueless much of the time (see: his handling of the Sal/Lee Garner Jr. debacle), this season showed him growing into his job. And his comment to Pete last week was true, he did take the initiative to create the department. Joan was aces with the soaps, so maybe they can work together; I kinda hope they do. I like Rich Sommer too much to want Harry to leave.

Anonymous said...

A poster said:
I think that just because Betty didn't actually sleep with Henry before asking for the divorce doesn't mean that she wasn't cheating just the same.

It's called an Emotional Affair in contemporary infidelity language. To many cheated-on people, an important emotional connection is far more of a betrayal than sex. People can have fast and meaningless sex with anyone but forging a meaningful emotional bond with someone outside the marriage can be seen as (and turn out to be) far more damaging and hurtful.

I think that's what Don meant, partly, when he called her a whore. I mean he shoudl talk -- hypocrite -- but for her to act all innocent when she practically has a fiance lined up already -- that's what got Don's goat.

I think he was entitled to call her a nasty name, although I don't hold with the grabbing and shoving stuff. And couldn't the older kids hear him shouting? He didn't even shut the bedroom door.


5w30 said...

More history. In 1964 Francis' boss, one Nelson Rockefeller, runs for President. Supposedly got hell because 'old Nelson was a recent divorce ... got Happy and all that ... and Barry Goldwater became the GOP nominee after a brutal primary campaign. Will be interesting to see what becomes of Henry Francis next season ....

Susan said...

Maura, yes, Pete is ok with not having a child and Trudy told him this season that she was ok with it. I did see a pang on her face when pregnant Betty and new mom Jennifer Crane talked babies at the garden party. Trudy is smart and seems to understand Pete and how to handle him, so maybe she is just waiting till the time is right to bring up adoption again. Also, since we see that Pete is the one who is always looking forward, perhaps he'll reject the idea that there is something wrong with adopting. (His mother said you pull from the discard pile when you adopt, and it was ok for some people to do it. Implying that it's not ok for a Dykman. But I do agree with you that it is totally ok to be childless by choice. And it may be that Trudy and Pete are doing that.

Anonymous said...

Only in part. He was at Margaret Sterling's wedding because his daughter and Margaret are friends (that's where Roger's knowledge of his relationship with Betty came from), so he's obviously in the same social circles now, even if he didn't grow up in them.

My original point was that some posters are assuming that Henry is a Roger-like blueblood by birth, but we don't know that he is or isn't.

I thought Henry's anedcote (in the Season 2 lunch date episode) about being a mover for a while as a young man suggested he's not to the manor born, or (less likely), even if he was, he wasn't above doing some grunt work to earn a buck, presumably during the Depression.

And I agree, he's not enough older than Betty to be a bona fide father figure. Betty is about 34 while Henry looks about 48 to me. That's older but in those days I don't think people would have thought it so unusual.

And I too would like to know the ex-Mrs. Henry Francis's version of things.


Anonymous said...

Alan, thanks for all your excellant reviews this season.

I would think that Sal has "landed on his feet" by now with another firm. It has been 2 months since he was fired, right. This was the booming 1963 economy, not like it is now. It would be nice if he is available for consulting and that's how we see him again. His story was told, I think.

While I'd also love Joan to be promoted, it doesn't seem likely given 1963. Although Don was forward thinking for Peggy, I can't see it happening for another women. No matter how awesome she is at her job.

I think Betty will see that the grass is not greener. SSDD (same stuff, different day) This season was a lot about the marriage and that story has been told. Of course as she said, Don is the father so there will be interaction, but not every week like this season.

berkowit28 said...

"this feels like Weiner said "Geez, I've written myself into a corner; none of my characters are in very interesting spots right now. Let me move LaVerne and Shirley to Burbank and start over."

For a show to need this after less than 40 episodes isn't a real good sign." [yet another Anon, 2:26 pm]

Weiner purposely wrote that corner. As I said last week, this series is clearly written and filmed with a view for posterity. Wiener does not conceive and write one or two episeodes at a time, then try to figure out what to do. Small subplot lines, maybe occasionally, but not the main direction of the show.

One of the reasons why this episode was so exciting, liberating and fun is precisely because it has been getting sad and depressing. On purpose. The main direction of the entire season 3 was conceived before anyone would have written the first episode. Weiner has said (go view all the Inside Mad Men) that Don and Betty's marriage was doomed. We had to see that happen, step by step. The mood had to darken. Some episodes were partly there, not to stand on their own, but to prepare for the dissolution of the marriage. Same with PPL takeover of Sterling Cooper. It didn't just happen last year to make a point about Roger's need for money and to bring in the Brits as characters. Weiner would have already thought of the need for Don to strike out in his own company, and this was the plotline he worked out for how it was going to happen.

It's incredibly cathartic, and fun, that everything came together in this one episode. But it was all thought out and prepared for long in advance, and he didn't give the game away as to how it would happen. I don;t think anyone guessed this is how the cookie would crumble. let alone the reappearance of McCann Ericsson...

Anonymous said...

I was Sally Draper's age when my parents divorced in 1962 so watching Don and Betty tell the kids Daddy would be living elsewhere tore my heart out.
Thru the years I too was reminded, many times,how LUCKY I was because I got TWO Christmases. What a this day I still hate Christmas.

Susan said...

Anonymous, Joan certainly has more potential than office manager. But she is using her talents in a great way in her present role at SCDP. They were in a pickle, Roger called her and voila! Everything is under control. I could see (in time) Don's secretary Allison coming on board and perhaps growing into Joan's role so Joan could do something else at SCDP. Joan never aspired to a "man's job" so it would also take some change of thinking on her part.

Anonymous said...

A poster said:
perhaps he'll reject the idea that there is something wrong with adopting. (His mother said you pull from the discard pile when you adopt, and it was ok for some people to do it. Implying that it's not ok for a Dykman.

Oh believe me, plenty of people still feel that same way today, even though adoption is mostly an open book (esp when parents and kids don't "match" like sheet sets, like my family --we look like three different patterns grabbed randomly from the linen closet!).

Maybe Pete's adoption issue has more to do with the Peggy/Pete baby then what his MOM said to him, although he does take pride in the Dykeman name, or at least uses it when he thinks it's useful.

I think there's more to come on that subject, but if there isn't I'm cool with P & T as one of those fun married couples who live in the moment.


Anonymous said...

Wish they had played up the *You saw this coming, we didn't* angle a bit more over the course of the season. Peter was only leaving because he had been passed over, not because he had any special insight into where SC was moving. Maybe that was the point, that Don is out of touch with everyone around him and shocked when his actual reality unfolds differently than his artificial one.

Personally would have loved if Peter was given more actual credit by the writers. A simple line of dialogue between he and Trudy over dinner questioning why the Brits passed on MSG would have carried a lot of weight and perhaps we wouldn't have as many people wondering why Peter rather than The Haircut.

Weiner and the writing team do such an incredible job tying everything together, its sometimes disappointing when you notice a missed opportunity.

Eyeball Wit said...

Can I pretend to be Alan for a moment and follow this week's chains of events back to their source? (as he is so fond of doing in The Wire rewinds)

It all started with that darn Kentucky Derby Party.
Don and Betty wander off individually (because the party's so awful.)

Don meets Conrad Hilton, who starts the whole "sign the contract or else" issue, and tips off Don about the impending sale.
Betty meets Henry Francis in (IIRC) the same room a few minutes later, starting the likely beginning of the end of her marriage, and possibly the start of a new one.

We can follow it even further back. The party happened because of the Squirrels and Jane sneaking into Cooper's office for a look at the painting.

When they're caught, Joan fires Jane, and Jane throws herself on Roger's tender mercies. If Roger and Jane aren't together, Roger probably doesn't have the party.

No party, Betty doesn't meet Henry.
No party, Don doesn't meet Connie.

I'm a little hazy on this detail, but isn't some late night call from Connie the reason why Don leaves the desk key in the bathrobe?

If so, then in a universe with no party, Betty doesn't find out about Dick Whitman either.

Susan said...

Anonymous, another poster mentioned that Ken would have more loyalty to the old company, since he had just been promoted. Pete was disgruntled and was a better bet. Don also gave him a deadline in which to come up with a certain dollar amount of billings. Had he been unable to do it, they could have then gone with Ken. Don was right that Pete is a visionary. Don may have just been stroking Pete's ego when said Pete saw the sale coming. Pete is not charming (like Ken) but Roger is there to step in and charm clients when it's needed.

happyfeet said...

I'm in the optimistic Betty-Henry Camp: I agree with Arushia and Rogers Cadenhead... Wouldn't it be interesting to return with the new season and a happy Betty and Henry? It's not improbable that he will be faithful and dote on her in the way she wants and even involve her in politics. He seems to have a good relationship with his own daughter, going to Margaret's wedding with her, talking about Betty with her - and may not be bad at parenting. They are starting out without a mass of lies (that hampered Betty and Don's marriage), and that might be enough. If Henry doesn't cheat, and he talks to Betty and cares for her - she might thrive. It would be good to see that. It would be good for Don to see that too. Betty and Henry are both flawed and maybe don't know each other well, but many good long marriages have been based on less. I do echo other poster's views that Sally will NOT integrate well and she has all the recipes for being a real wild child of the 60s and 70s!

Also, it felt natural to all of us to hear Don say how forward-looking Pete is and list many examples, because we've been saying it on this board for so long. But really, to hear a Mad Men character say it out loud... unusual and spot on! It was great for Trudy to hear this affirmation of Pete first-hand. I agree their marriage is the most functional. They seem like a team - and Pete is extremely lucky to have Trudy. I wonder whether the episode where he coerced the au pair to sleep with him and later asked Trudy not to leave him alone again, he made some internal resolve to stop cheating and be faithful to her. Since that episode they have seemed much tighter as a unit.

Lane Pryce - best new character. Representing us Brits (in a better way)! He will bring a lot: there is a reason PPL gave him so much power and sent him over to NY. There's a reason they kept holding onto him; but they did abuse his skills by not rewarding him, and so got what they deserved. Lane had to be richly rewarded because without him there would be no new company. He had the power (for once). He is the one new partner who could also help to make the new firm different from the old. Recall his support of Pete's ideas in the past, and his trans-atlantic perspective. It all helps.

Finally, Don is now a free agent ladies - what will that mean? He now also has opened up to his new business family, emotionally connected with them, taken a risk, put all his eggs in one basket and seems committed to staying in one place. Several people know his secret. Should it be Sterling Cooper Whitman Pryce?

Lee said...

Here are the lyrics for Shadaroba. It's promising for Don (and other characters, too, but it started to play with the close-up of Don at the end, so I think it's most closely tied to Don).

Where the Nile flows
And the moon glows
On the silent sand
Of an ancient land

When a dream dies
And the heart cries
Is the word they whisper low

Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
Means the future
Is much better than the past

Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
In the future
You will find a love that lasts

So when tears flow
And you don't know
What on earth to do
And your world is blue
When your dream dies
And your heart cries
Fate knows what's best for you

Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
Face the future
And forget about the past
Shahadaroba, Shahadaroba
In the future
You will find a love that lasts

Anonymous said...

Typical Mad Men. Plenty of clichés. Plenty of intrusive direction.

The portentious Fall of '63 brownout continues.

The use of the Kennedy assassination as the marker of the end of an era. Original.

No Sal. One less cliché.

The flashbacks. A crumpled paper flashes a crumpled paper as Don's father breaks from a farmers co-op. Will that give him an idea? Don flashes back from a hand-on-face posture to his stepmother in the same posture. His father killed by a bucking horse frightened by thunder after he drinks from a moonshine jug. What is there to say....

Always the fun of watching John Hamm try to stretch his 1 and 1/2 facial expressions across a range of emotions none of which it(& 1/2) quite fits which makes guessing which it(& 1/2)'s supposed to be interesting at least.

Sterling: I inherited. Cooper: don't want to take risks; so much involved in building. Why, I think maybe this might possibly somehow be representative of the state of capitalism in the '50s and early '60s. Where's the entrepreneurial spirit! Men like Don and Pete (and Peggy too) are going to usher you old folks and the rest of America into a new dawn of capitalism, messy, risk-taking, creatively-destructive capitalism. Bravo.

The shift from the overly organized, regimented, hierarchical, creativity-killing office to the messy, hierarchy-freeish hotel room. Gee, I wonder if that symbolizes a break from the world of Organization Man....

Someone tried to convince me that Mad Men uses clichés and its absurdly fussy and pretentious aesthetic to construct a feeling for the then prevailing status quo, the alienation accompanying the (allegedly) suffocating conformity of the mass-produced culture of the affluent society, and that I should not be put off because most of its viewers nostalgically celebrate the historical and soap-operatic clichés (like the saccharine sadness of Don and Betty telling Bobby and Sally -- forgive me, I'm laughing as I type this -- the family is being broken up, Sally too wise to daddy's sales pitch). I'm not convinced. I'll wait to see if the new creative order is accompanied by a new Mad Men aesthetic.

I have to go. I'm flashing back on

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I'm so glad I don't have to see Cosgrove anymore. What a worthless, annoying, no-talent boyscout.

CarolMR said...

I'm going to miss Ken. He seemed to be the only man on the show who was completely at ease with his manhood. I was really shocked at how physically violent Don got with Betty in the bedroom scene. And, as another poster noted (I'm sorry, I can't remember who it was) - it's too bad that Betty didn't have the knowledge of Don's affair with their daughter's teacher to throw back in his face in that scene. I'm starting to get annoyed at how Don seems to always come out smelling like a rose as far as extra-marital affairs are concerned.

Unknown said...

"Worthless no-talent boyscout"

Wow, this is the first time I've seen such bile for Kenny and his haircut.

He's a published author, so perhaps "worthless boyscout" would be the better description.

Then again, Sal had a crush on him, so he can't be entirely worthless.

dez said...

I'm a little hazy on this detail, but isn't some late night call from Connie the reason why Don leaves the desk key in the bathrobe?

It was baby Gene crying. He quickly closed up the drawer, put the key in his pocket, and went to calm the baby, then forgot about the key altogether.

Petite_Salope said...

I am thrilled to see the Draper marriage come to an end. Both Betty and Don are in love with the idea of one other, rather than what and who they truly are as individuals.

God, how I dislike Betty. Seeing her for the empty shell of a woman that she really is makes it clear why Don ran so often into the arms of independent, more emotionally receptive women. I don't believe that Betty has ever had any genuine interest in actually knowing her husband. Don knew that on some level, but chose to live in denial of the fact that his wife would want nothing to do with Dick Whitman.

Don calling Betty a whore didn't bother me or strike me as hypocritical, though it certainly wasn't a fine moment for either of them. I guess I didn't get the feeling that he was casting a sexual aspersion. Betty is essentially selling herself to the highest bidder; it's not about sex even a little bit. She is running to another protective daddy/caretaker figure (about whom she knows next to nothing) who will shield her from complexity and allow her to live out her no fuss, no muss Victorian fantasy -- for a while anyway.

It's interesting how Betty's wardrobe and overall style continues to so vividly reflect and complement her character's development. For a couple of episodes this season, we saw Betty in bright, more trend-forward fashions that conveyed a little feminine whimsy -- with softer daily hair-dos and glamorous special occasion up-dos. What a contrast to her staid wardrobe over the past several episodes: dull/neutral-colored, serious high collars, traditional lines, and prim detailing. It's almost as if she's anticipating her life as Henry Francis' Stepford wife and getting ahead of the game by looking the part. Her stark helmet hair this episode especially bothered me. (One must never betray vulnerability through one's hair!)

Stylistically, I think this is a vivid portrayal of how our fair Ice Queen will cope amidst the forthcoming sea of cultural changes: by digging her heels in and desperately clinging to comfortable elements that reinforce how she wants to see herself.

Betty is eagerly moving forward, but she is making all of the same mistakes she's made in the past. Don is also moving forward, but he is, at the very least, learning from his mistakes to some extent and attempting to build up from that. Meanwhile, Betty is building herself a new prison -- hell, she's already selected a new warden.

Oy. It's going to be a long year.

Maura said...

Imamarilyn said... Maura, yes, Pete is ok with not having a child and Trudy told him this season that she was ok with it. I did see a pang on her face when pregnant Betty and new mom Jennifer Crane talked babies at the garden party. Trudy is smart and seems to understand Pete and how to handle him, so maybe she is just waiting till the time is right to bring up adoption again.

Yes, I remember that look on her face, and I think she was still grappling with not being able to have children. What struck me about that scene was that she had no trouble taking up with Betty, the wife of Pete's boss, and blowing off Jennifer big time, even though Betty was visibly pregnant. I'm not so sure she would have been able to do that if she were still consumed with baby lust.

You could be right, though. She's still young and she might be biding her time. I'm usually completely wrong when I try to figure out the motivations of the people on this show. But, because I would love to see Pete and Trudy remain childless, just like I wanted Don not to get involved with Suzanne, I will stick to my story until proven wrong. :)

Julia said...

Don is now a free agent ladies In 1963, Don wouldn't have been a free agent until the divorce was final - at least publicly.

I give up - I've googled and searched and couldn't find anything abaout Ken and his haircut. Wat's the deal with that? Is it a buzz cut or crewcut that nobody else is wearing yet?

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Devin McCullen said...

Of course, we'll never know whether Harry was actually going to call his wife (which does make sense for the character) or if he just wanted a chance to take a few minutes and think about what he's doing.

But Bert would probably have assumed it was answer #2, and that's why he dropped the hammer down so solidly.

Miss Go Lightly said...

Fantastic Finale!

Kris said...

biolabchick said... Re: Sterling Coup going with Pete vs. Ken.... I keep going back to the scene at the end of S1 when Bert tells Don, "You can fire him if you want. But I'd keep him. One never knows where loyalty is born." (Paraphrasing here.) Perhaps Don knew, along with Pete's forward-looking thoughts on advertising (i.e. the Admiral campaign, the value of marketing to different groups of people) that Pete is somewhat loyal to him/SC. After all, in "Flight 1", he told Don, not Duck (his immediate supervisor) that his father was on the plane. He also helped "cover" for Don once he went AWOL with the jet-setters/visiting Anna in SoCal. (Granted, Don covered for it by saying "If I didn't think you could handle it, I wouldn't have left you alone.") The fact that SCD&P chose Pete over Ken might be seen by Pete as an affirmation of his loyalty to Don/SC.

Bingo. It's definitely a combo of his seer-like capabilities, his resentment at his current position at SC, his blueblood connections, and his deep (if slightly-strained) loyalty to Don that make him the pick over amiable, conventional Ken and his haircut. And, Trudy is the bonus. She's a good egg, huh? Or, as someone said, a "stealth guerilla". Bwahaha! She handles everything with such grace: Infertility, outmoded dance styles, coups ...

2. Joan may know how to keep the trains running on time, but Pryce also knows how much the fare is. They need both of them.

Another great observation -- whoever you are, sorry! It really was a case of assembling a band of specialists for the heist: the bean counter, the charmer, the ideas man and his protege, the facilitator (and future head of media, please), the shoeless sage, the charleston-ing seer, the cake-and-sandwiches-wielding stealth guerrilla, and, um, tv dude.

As for Henry, yes, he's not old money. You can hear traces of his more rough, childhood accent occasionally.

And, Alan, it does cause me deep emotional pain that no one shares my view of intellectual property law in the 1960s. I have yet to voice (or type) that view, but still, the pain! Thanks for a great season.

Susan said...

Julia, Ken and his haircut is a JFK reference. President Kennedy's detractors said America elected a haircut. (He was indeed a handsome man.) I found this at

Maura, I am usually wrong about my thoughts about the characters. But I enjoy speculating on what motivates them. And it certainly would be more interesting for the Campbells to remain childless.

Commie Bastard said...

Whilst gaily musing on Mad Men's sinister levels of kickbuttery, yon bastard realized that another fan-dabby-dozy yet little-mentioned aspect of this series is how it dares to show up ageism, that most precious and last unassailable bastion of entitlement! \o/

Time and time again, the myopic arrogance of damn-fool adults is contrasted with the vision and clarity of youth and children respectively.

(Nope, I'm not necessarily namechecking Pete the Sociopath, God love the brat.)

Add to that the LOLtastic, literal patronization of anyone who isn't white and/or male and you've got a period drama that goes beyond perfunctory excoriation of more recognized prejudices - though the argument that it seems to revel in depictions of sexism & racism a little TOO much is totally valid and likely one that the creators want the viewers to have.

In closing: HO MY GAWD, I can't wait for next season; the revolution will be (kinda sorta) televised!

Susan said...

Devin, I tend to think Harry did want to call his wife. When he found out Ken Cosgrove made more money than he did, one of the first things he did was call Jennifer and tell her. (Sal was incredulous and said something like, "You told your wife?!" and Harry replied yes, he does that all the time or needs to stop doing that. I can't remember exactly.)

Brilliant response by Bertram Cooper.

Unknown said...

Catch Me If You Can seems like an appropriate reference to the capery tone that Alan alluded to. This episode is about inveigling yet it is in so many ways a 'happy ending' despite the divorce and Don's excoriation of his little blonde sparrow in the bedroom.

Don sleeping in the bed with Sally. Wonderful image to show what he's been reduced to. Refers back to Season 1 and Betty having no one to confide in but Glenn through the car window. Quite a flip-flop from jittery hands Bets to lawyer-confiding and planned trips to Reno. How we learn to be manipualtive adults, to inveigle, to do what we have to to get what we want (think of what Bert told Roger about the role of his position).

Invegiling also reminds me of Greene and Elffers' wonderfully Machiavellian "The 48 Laws of Power," many of which are on display here. Pete seems to be particularly self-motivated in these regards.

Emotionalistic optimism could never be a part of the worlds of The Sopranos or The Wire in the way it is in Mad Men, if only because there are no murders hanging over the procedings. As harsh and traumatic as divorce can be, nobody's dead here. There is something triumphant about this concluding episode that just wasn't possible in those other televised worlds. Peggy's characteristic ascendancy, for example, is just in damn short supply in the ghettos of Baltimore or the suburbs NJ. Those are worlds where people rise only to positions of power over others, and rather ruthless ones at that. Here there is a degree of hobo independence in the startup agency working out of a glorified hotel room.

If Roy Orbison is 'singing for the lonely' here at the end of Season 3, that would have to be for Betty, who now seems destined to be a politico's trophy wife with an adorable little anthropology degree (the irony of the destably nouveau-riche upscale mall staple Anthropologie store is not to be missed here, people) cavorting with other spoiled white-noses like herself heralds the birth of retrograde and atavistic anti-feminism that will eventually metastasize into The Real Housewives of... Sorry Betty lovers, but that's who she and Francine are the proto versions of. Peggy's your girl, Betty's the enemy. Getting to see her and Don interact once more, these lonely and very American characters, did truly provide me with a moment of joy, comparable to Alan's fist pump upon Joan's return.

As for Mr. Sepinwall, he's back on point this week. He was all over this episode. Parallels and theme-exposure galore. Well interpreted, sir.


Unknown said...

To the poster who said the show is made up of cliches - as we all know cliches become cliches because they really do happen in life.

There are just so many formulas to tell the same real life stories - just depends on the style, writing, direction and performances.

Have we seen some of these same situations time and again? Sure: divorce, cheating spouses, lies upon lies, arrogance, child like adults, workplace tension between staff, sexism, etc. but I have found Weiner's particular style, writing and tone/mood to be very compelling viewing.

In the wasteland that most of television is these days (in my opinion of course), I love the pace of this show, something that I know has turned a lot of people off.

As a ten year old during the era of this show, I find that Weiner has closely replicated a lot of the underbelly beneath the facade of the post-war family life, mine being one of them.

I had a sharp, smart as a whip mother who felt repressed because she stayed home to be a homemaker and mother. That repression manifested itself in really ugly ways in our home. I'm sure there were content families back then but, for me, this show is like watching a bit of my history - not something I probably would have been able to do even 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Paul wasn't approached because as Joan told him in Season one, Paul has a big mouth.

Kristen said...

I have nothing else to add to the excellent analysis provided by Alan and other commentors, except a thought re: the scene with Don and Roger in the bar...
As much as I loved to see these two together again, I found it very contrived that Roger knew about Henry Francis and spilled the beans. I get that Margaret and little Miss Francis are friends, but I'm doubting that Henry Francis would be foolish or careless enough to tell his daughter about his married girlfriend. He and Betty were so careful about being caught that they made up that story about the fundraiser when Carla walked in on them, plus he specifically told Betty she had to come to him because she was married! Then in the lawyer's office, he says that they don't need another scandal in the governor's office. That doesn't sound like a man who wants to go home and discuss his controversial personal life with his young daughter. It set up a great moment for Don and Roger, but at the expense of good storytelling, IMO. That's been bothering me all day.

Alan Sepinwall said...

"Ken and his haircut" is a line Pete said in last week's episode when complaining about who got the Head of Accounts job ahead of him.

Alan Sepinwall said...

"Ken and his haircut" is a line Pete said in last week's episode when complaining about who got the Head of Accounts job ahead of him.

blogward said...

Brilliant recap, brilliant episode - best hour of TV since the last best Mad Men ep. A pointer for season 4: Betty to Don, "You'll always be their father". And I see Betty turning into the ex-wife from hell - and the SCDP guys growing their hair!

Anonymous said...

Long time reader, first time posting.

First off, what a real pleasure it has been reading this blog and hearing thoughts, both always giving me insight and appreciation for details in this wonderful show. Thank you.

I don't have too much to add, but here are a few things I enjoyed (outside many, MANY of the scenes already mentioned)

- The scene with Pete and Harry in the elevator. Pete opening up and admitting how he was nervous (but def a glow about him after being so melancholy most the season) and Harry being clueless. I don't know, that just made me chuckle.

- Was it just me or did anyone else see a small, brief look of disappointment in Betty's face when Don told her he was not going to fight her on the divorce. I could (and probably am) be seeing something not there.

- Geez.. great make-up on Don's father's head wound!

- Yes, it was "I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you."

See you next year! Great blog, Great community.

- Muck

Born in 53 said...

So many comments -- you are absolutely right Alan in that the level of commentary surpasses any other show blogs.
A couple of thoughts that start with a comment I read on your column blog last week -- television. The Kennedy episode did introduce us to the major shift in life to gettting our information from TV -- and I don't think it was a throw-away decision to have this season show us Bobby and Sally sitting with Carla mindlessly watching TV. Two weeks until Christmas and Mom is gone and Dad is gone and no talking -- just watching the TV that is in the Den/kitchen area -- which means the Drapers got a second TV (not the same one they watched the Kennedy stuff on?)

I'd like to examine the anti-Betty commentary -- as I think it's one of the brilliant things this show creates. Don is a pig -- no hesitation in saying that -- but he ends up a sympathetic character -- even touched by Suzanne asking if he was okay. HIs line to the stewardess about always ending up in the same place is finally exposed -- and he ends this season going to a new home. Betty, on the other hand, is well bred, well educated, incredibly attractive and up until this point in time, was willing to take him back despite his behavior. Her final comment about why she wanted out was that she had to live knowing she wasn't enough for him. Clearly Henry feels about Betty the way Don did when they met -- he had told Anna Draper and repeated to Betty that he never believed she could love him. Henry has political aspirations and seems to want to get this done quickly -- because HE needs a trophy wife to be successful. That so many on this site and elsewhere hate the Betty character is exactly what launched feminism -- and why Joan hit Greg over the head (where the bullet his Kennedy) when he said that Joan couldn't understand what it was like to want and plan something and then not be able to get it. Even after her degree, Betty earned a living as a model -- and Don lured her away from that and gave her "everything she wanted." His wish to her that she get what she always hoped she wanted is ironic in that respect -- because Betty (and many women in the 50s) didn't know what she wanted because she couldn't picture having it. Peggy's Mom and sister worry that Peggy is "one of those girls" and Peggy says she is. "Those girls" is something no one can describe -- even Peggy's room-mate doesn't understand why Peggy would be dating Duck if he's not married -- certainly not a keeper.

And my favorite line of the night -- Roger to Bert "If you put your shoes outside here, someone will polish them." Weiner must have so much fun with all of this -- and it's fun to connect Bert with the actor's original stardom -- How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. I saw that on Broadway with Morse in 1964 -- it played from 61-65 --

And think about the Four seasons hit recalling that era:-- Oh, what a night
Late December back in sixty-three
What a very special time for me
As I remember what a night.

Oh, what a night
You know I didn't even know her name
But I was never gonna be the same
What a lady, what a night.

I agree that Weiner loves JJ as much as Hitchcock loved his blondes -- she's actually the host on this upcoming SNL -- so I don't think she's done or gone.

I could write a book -- someone will. Thanks Alan!

Anonymous said...

I'm really worried that Don forgot to take the stuff out of his "drawer" with him when he moved out.

Rob Biesenbach said...

A couple of responses to posters just above.

Regarding Henry talking to his daughter about Betty: for what it's worth, last week at the wedding when Henry was dancing with his daughter, the daughter asked him pointedly, "Why do you keep staring at that woman?" So it seems Weiner laid the groundwork for the daughter maybe putting two-and-two together in the intervening weeks. Or maybe they're just really close.

And to the other poster, yes, I too saw what I thought might be a slight glimmer of regret/disappointment across Betty's face when Don said he wouldn't fight her. (Or fight FOR her, as it were.) I think whether or not she was having regrets about splitting up, it's a pretty natural human reaction.

dc said...

Typical Mad Men. Plenty of clichés. Plenty of intrusive direction.

The portentious Fall of '63 brownout continues.

The use of the Kennedy assassination as the marker of the end of an era. Original.

I'm at a loss as to what Weiner was to do about the Kennedy assassination, besides dealing with it directly. I mean, stuff like the Kennedy assassination is precisely the point of setting a show like Mad Men in the 1960s. Weiner et al. have hit on the brilliant premise of spending three seasons in the pre-assasination 1960s in order to demonstrate how unbelievably transformative that moment was.

Thus far, we've really pretty much remained in the cocktail-swilling 1950s postscript, with a few hints of what's coming swirling around the edges: Don's affair with a West Village boho; Paul Kinsey flirting with the civil rights movement; Smitty name-checking the Port Huron Statement. Many 1960s biopics or dramas present this pre-1963 sixties period as one-dimensional boilerplate, in order to move swiftly on to the "good stuff" (Beatlemania, the Summer of Love, Vietnam etc.). In those shows, we get shown a couple of moments of traumatic racial cruelty, blatant misogyny, or mind-numbing 50s conformism, and we swiftly move on to the eye candy of the British Invasion and the counterculture.

What Weiner has done is quite different. Mad Men has immersed us for three seasons in the rich inner lives of people who had little idea that the "days of rage" were coming. MM has patiently kept us in the pre-63 days for three whole years, and in that time, we get a sense of that time as more than the paper cutout it usually gets. It's only by staying in that moment for that length of time that we can genuinely understand how traumatic and transformative 1963 really was. We will have felt like we've earned the "cliche'd Kennedy assassination moment."

John Lennerton said...

Flynn said, "...and does anyone out there believe the end of the series (whenever it may be) will be Don and lung cancer?"

Lung cancer or liver failure. It's a tossup.

Unknown said...

The gutted state the orphans found Sterling Cooper in probably sums up the firm's future. When PPL bought SC, they wanted an American presence and voice. McCann wants to absorb the accounts and the prize pig, Don Draper. Given that Lucky Strike could 'turn the lights off' at SC, the rump has little value. Alison was right about the robbery, in that everything of real worth was gone. Throw in the production logistics, and we can probably kiss the old office goodbye. Presumably a few of those will be held onto by McCann, but I think most are being left behind.

I'm grateful to see the Draper marriage dissolve. I am perplexed by how many posters predict a future Don-Betty affair, though. Aside from their Roman holiday, it's difficult to think of a time when they've felt real passion for each other.

I am astonished so much wish fulfillment could take place in this episode without feeling like pandering. I really hope the jump is brief and we get to watch the growing pains.

Great season and I can't wait for August.

John Lennerton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam R said...

Betty looks like she is in a bit of shock, and rightly so, on the plane with Henry. I assume she took the baby because the other kids are in school. Wonder why she didn't ask Don to watch the kids while she was in Reno? Maybe she was afraid he would go out to get something (remember the birthday cake) and not return for a few days. Don is very iffy when it comes to commitments.
Poor Betty, what can you do when enough is enough. She took a real beating with all his lying and cheating while she stayed home and watched the kids.

Anonymous said...

The scene where Joan first walks back into the agency wearing pants really showed how much weight she's lost. This will come in handy if the series fast forwards to the swinging 60s with those gawd awful graphic psychadelic prints we wore. The forward thinking that Don said he so appreciated in Pete will translate into a casual/youthful atmosphere, yet very lucrative, ad agency.
Can't wait for Don to go to Big Sur and Esalen with Suzanne.

Julia said...

even Peggy's room-mate doesn't understand why Peggy would be dating Duck if he's not married -- certainly not a keeper.

I must be dense - I don't understand why the roommate thinks Peggy should only date married men????

Having been in college during this show's first years, I must say that other Presidents have been assassinated. The JFK assassination was the start of a whole series of killings and riots - that's what was transformative. It's only when you look back at November of 1963 that it seems pivotal. At the time it was just one thing among many stunning events.

The discussions of disliking the "ladies who lunch" and airheads like Betty typifies what brought about the war amongst women that was on the horizon. As feminism really got going, there was no care taken to avoid insulting and berating the women who were already well into their adult lives and had already made the choices and committments that were typical for their time. It got really vicious. It wasn't just anger at non-thinking husbands like Greg and Don.

People like my mom were told that they had wasted their lives and were poor role models for their daughters. Women who had careers disparaged the idiots who stayed home. The ones who stayed home retaliated by calling the career girls loose, etc.

[I did it backwards and went to law school in my 40s after my kids were grown - 1/3 of the class was women. I couldn't have done that in the 1960s]

I see this war still being played out on this blog. Betty is a Rorschach test.

My grandmother was born in a soddy in Western Kansas when there were still Indian problems. She spent her life in hard labor keeping her family's body and soul together. She inherited her father's farm instead of her brothers. She did the plowing so they could go to school. But she & the husband who had the adjoining farm lost the farms and she ended up a housewife in town with her husband a migrant farm worker sending bucks home. That's Don's parents' era.

In the Post-War period when people had some money for a change and were tired of struggling, being a full-time housewife and mother in an era of labor saving devices was viewed as a great way to go & better for the kids. I'm sure Don thought so. My mom was the only one I knew who even knew how to drive. Peggy's mom, a widow, probably had a job at the five and dime, if she worked. My mom had a widow lady who helped her with laundry for 6 kids. Careers like in Doris Day movies were a daydream for 95% of women.

Peggy is paying a big price to do what she is doing. She knows no women peers or role models (so far). I think of the woman I knew in college who was the only woman in engineering. She was very isolated and considered odd; not everybody has the strength and resilience to do that.

I really wonder how MM is going to deal with the war amongst the women. It was awful. It especially turned daughters against mothers.

Unknown said...

Roger really had presence of mind to tell Don to keep the doors unlocked. It makes the robbery scenario more plausible that way. Kinda reminds me how they got the big stock manipulator Joe Kennedy to be the first SEC chair. Roger is as shady as they get.

Elena said...

I've been hoping for a MM Christmas all season, wow look what Santa brought in 1963, a divorce, and a new beginning. I was worried that someone would tip off PPL, that Peggy would tell Duck for instance. I don't know if I've ever seen Don this happy. The gang's all back (except for Sal). And if Betty becomes a minor character, I can live with the results.

KAT said...

Great job on the review Alan, especially having it up right after viewing it.

IMAMARLYN mention the bar scene with Don and Roger. I thought it was so well done that it was at a bar when Don and Roger had their last meaningful conversation and it is at a bar that they had their first meaningful conversation in a long time. I loved how Roger did not want to mess it up and his horror when he realized that he spilled the beans to Don. It was ironic that both men (Roger in season 1) and Don now had their marriage dissolve after spending time in a bar together.

Very smart to have Roger talk the same way in season 2 "I've acted like I've been on shore leave" and in the finale "I've acted like I built the company"

It little details like these that make Mad Men so great and cause people like me to obsess over. It's going to be a long winter.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Turns out Weiner hadn't quite started his travels yet (or took a break from them) to do one interview about the finale. So go read his thoughts on the marriage, the firm, etc. No real spoilers, as he hasn't done any writing for season four yet.

Anonymous said...

They were willing to die the slow death on the ice floe until Don barged in to Bert's office and lit a fire.

Wouldn't lighting a fire on an ice floe lead to death, slow or otherwise?

Anonymous said...

She took a real beating with all his lying and cheating while she stayed home and watched the kids.

I'd feel a lot sorrier for her if she seemed to put any work into "watching" the kids -- but she doesn't. She's at a riding lesson, or making a scene in Henry's office, or holding hands with some OTHER kid, or whatever damn thing; Carla is the one who seems to take them to and from school and preside over their meals, except breakfast.

The rest of the time, either the TV is "watching" them while Betty sulks at the table with a cigarette, or they've been ordered upstairs without any lead-up so that the adults can talk.

I'm not saying she can't feel confined by her life, but the idea that Betty works her fingers to the bone looking after the children is not really on. She may consider them a tiresome burden, but if they're a burden on anyone, it's Carla and/or Francine. Let's not pretend she's breaking her back looking after the house...or anything else.

She's very important and has little to do, remember.

Lee said...

I re-watched the show and saw a few new things --

1. For a lot of this season, Don seems to have been stuck in the past with a lot of characters moving on or byeond him. Like Pete -- pete sees the future and Don acknowledges that he needs to keep him looking into teh future. EXCEPT that when Don talks to Peggy -- that's the first time we've seen Don thinking like a man of the '60's instead of the '50's.

2. Roger can't take his eyes off of Joan when she comes into the office.

3. Two more reasons Betty is not going to be happy with Henry -- she has the same miserable, bored look on her face in the airplane as she has all series long. She should be excited for her new life. Instead she's the same old bored Betty. Also, her reasons for leaving Don wasn't that she loves Henry or wants a new life or wants her independence. Her reason was because she isn't enough for Don. She's still basing her decisions on Don. She is more walking around from Don than walking towards stranger Henry. It's going to be bad.

4. Don never talked to Smitty and Kurt. After Peggy turned Don down in the office, he said something to the effect of "then I guess I will have to talk to Smitty and Kurt". It was his back-up plan but now that Peggy is on board, they are out.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"They were willing to die the slow death on the ice floe until Don barged in to Bert's office and lit a fire.

Wouldn't lighting a fire on an ice floe lead to death, slow or otherwise?"

Somewhere, Bernard Wooley is reading this comment and smiling.

Anonymous said...

Betty's plotline could mirror "The Feminine Mystique" (published in 1963) -- or could be just another lesson in "be careful what you wish for." Will be interesting to see. It makes me uneasy to admit that I find her so unsympathetic, despite the fact that her husband was still being unfaithful as few as two episodes ago. I just knew we'd see Sal in this episode and was disappointed. I'm afraid Pete and Trudy's current closeness is the prologue to making him seem all the more selfish and childish when he eventually lets her down. Loved the whole "Ocean's Eleven" set-up; no one left behind at SC is worth worrying about. Can't wait to see Lane show off during the British Invasion - yeah, yeah, yeah!

Anonymous said...

Day Late iTunes Girl:


That was awesome. My favorite line had to be Roger complaining about how tired he was and ask/telling Peggy to get him a cup of coffee and she just says "No."


Both January Jones and Jon Hamm were superb as ever. Betty's face when she was told "I won't fight you" showed an amazing range of emotions,so moving.

Jon Hamm looked amused,tearful and GRATEFUL when he was looking at his work family digging into lunch at the new "offices" just sort of got that he will survive this thing with Betty knowing his identity and divorcing him.

Yeah,like everyone else,I was looking for Bryan Batt to come home..please find a place for him Matt W!

Anyone know when the new season starts?

e said...

did anyone notice the parallel between Sterling Cooper being bought by a rival ad agency and Betty Draper being swept away by another man? Don's first reaction to the Sterling Cooper acquisition was to fight and make it his own (which he ultimately was able to do with the rest of the assembled team) but he also attempted to fight with little urgency to keep Betty. It's almost as if he was resigned to losing Betty as long as he could keep his power and control at the office.

What's also interesting is that while keeping Betty maybe wasn't an option, he has decided to rely on a number of people that are fully aware of his past even though they may at any point in time be able to unseat him and remove him from his post.

DTor said...

It’s a TV show. We’re all free to interpret things as we wish. So I just want to make that clear-- that I’m not responding on an emotional level here, I’m just going to react with how I view these particular issues that have been raised. This is not intended to be a personal attack, so please don’t take it that way. I’d just like to clarify how I view these issues:

“Don can afford to be more sympathetic when he doesn't discipline them and isn't at home with them all day.”

Maybe. But Don has never raised a hand to any of his children; never grabbed them by the hair, thrown them in closets, and locked them inside-- Betty has. Moreso, we’ve seen Betty push Don to physically discipline the kids before (specifically Bobby, in season 2) and Don has resisted. To me, this seems very progressive for the time period. (I grew up ten years later, in the 70s, and was routinely beaten whenever I did anything wrong. So were nearly all of my friends.) Put it all together and this makes Don the better parent, imo. Anyone out there is free to judge otherwise, of course. But speaking from my own experience, I’d rather have a parent who was emotionally available and (usually) kind even if they weren’t always physically there; rather than one who is physically available but emotionally distant and (at least occasionally) cruel.

“Betty hasn't even slept with Henry. Her relationship with him can't even compare to Don's years of philandering and emotional abuse. It's not the same at all.”

They’re both getting involved with other people, be it physically or emotionally, outside of their marriage. That’s deceptive and dishonest. In that respect, at least, they are same-- again, to me, imo.

Did Don cheat first? And more often? Yes. But once Betty stoops to his level and does the same thing (which she did, physically, with Capt. Awesome at the end of season 2; and then with Francis, emotionally, this season), she loses the moral high ground in the argument.

cgeye said...

To correct an assumption earlier posted:

Henry's not sitting with a seat between him and Betty -- those are some comfy airline seats, the way they used to be.

Mendel Birnbaum said...


I doubt there is little I can add this incredible list of comments. I thank you for applauding the work of unsung characters like Allison, Sally, and the hilarity of Roger. I was thrilled to see I was not the only one who can't buy this "love affair" btwn Henry and Betty. But, most of all, I just want to say thank you.

I read a lot TV writing and get Mo Ryan delivered to my doorstep each morning, but for my dough? You are the best TV writer in America. Bar none. Your writing on the Shield (your commentary on the finale was beyond genius) and Mad Men transformed my love for each show in something deeper and far more rewarding. You have my back every time I argue with friends that TV is art, high art, that can be as good as film, or better. Regardless of how terrible my comma use is, thank you. You have brought much joy to my viewing and reading. When people doubt how good something is? I send them to "What Alan's Watching." That usually shuts them up. Thanks Alan.

Anonymous said...

Just one question....Why oh why won't AMC show MM in re-runs?????
That is so cruel to me!

Anonymous said...

About Betty and her growing up and not being 'guilty' like Don of cheating. I rewatch the Rome episode today because I remember havng a very strong reaction to that episode of thinking Betty was just a spoiled brat. Knowing what I know now--how things end--it is clear from that episode that she has zero maturity. When they came back Don being very romantic buys her that trinket from Rome, has it sent with Conrad, and she dismisses it, treats Don like a piece of crap. For no other reason than her frustration at her own life, nothing to do with how Don treats her. She is bored, bored bored. This is why she kisses Francis, this is why she buys the couch, this is why she writes to him (and do you guys remember her letters to him?). Also--the only reason she did not sleep with henry Francis is because it was 'tawdry' to her to go to a hotel. That was the biggest signal that she has no clue what she wants *and* that when she goes back to wanting Henry he figured out the only way to have her was to marry her. But he is a big political operative so he knows, like Don, what sells, what to push in people and this is what he is doing with Betty. Obvious too that he does not want Betty to owe anything to Don but to owe only him, her knight in shining armor.

Those guys, the saviors, are always control freaks, that is the flip side and I don't see Henry being adoring much longer, specially once Goldwater puts an end to his political career.


Anonymous said...

Great episode

I live in New Zealand and just found out Matthew Weiner is coming here in 2 days! I'm so excited!

dnicholas9 said...

Great stuff Alan, really enhances my appreciation of the show.
To comment on Conrad Hilton: I partially agree that Don just didn't want to deal with him. I think there's more to it, which lies in Hilton's rebuke of Don's reaction, "I didn't think you were that kind of man" (or similar).
We know that Don 1) feels like he could never earn his father's approval; 2) sees Hilton as a kind of surrogate father; 3) feels like he's being knocked around like a ping pong ball -- at work initially when he says it, but clearly at home too as Betty is now calling the shots.
Hilton's rebuke brings out the best in Don - rather than feeling sorry for himself he looks for a way to take charge. He energizes Cooper and Sterling to join him in the buy-back plan, then comes up with the firing idea to create the new SCDP.
He wants to build something to make his father(s) proud - to show Hilton he's not going to feel sorry for himself, to show Archie he can do more than "sell bulls***." Remember the beginning of that line was (something like): "Your hands are soft. What do you make?"
So ultimately Don wants Hilton's business but doesn't want to go to him essentially as a kid asking, "Hey, I'm trying to start my own thing, can you help me out?" which he knows Hilton won't respect, but rather as a man who can say "I built this."

belinda said...

Imamarilyn said...

belinda, Don told Peggy he wasn't sure he could do it without her. That and the fact that they are the only creatives, makes me think she has received a very big promotion. I believe she will also be compensated well at SCDP.

I wasn't thinking anything differently - I just mean that some people thought Peggy didn't have a lot of story this year other than sleeping with Duck, and I think it's partially because in past seasons we see tangible events of Peggy rising up, whereas even in this episode, the promotion and raise is certainly implied, even based solely on her being asked by Don, but we don't actually SEE it happen over the season.

As for Don's parenting skills, I have no doubt he's actually a decent father. He's really good with the kids. The problem in their family was always because he was an awful awful husband who treated his wife like a trophy and a child (he never beat his children, but he did hit Betty last year (she hit back, but still), and if it wasn't for baby Gene, might have this episode). Oh, and right, AND he continuously slept with other women, had physical and emotional affairs all the time (Ms. Farrell, Rachel, and who knows who else prior to the show?). Sure, Don is sweet and wonderful at times to Betty, but always underlying that is him sleeping with other women. Between treating her like a child, not respecting her, coercing with her psychiatrist, having affairs, and lying about who he was the entire marriage, who could blame Betty for wanting out? I mean, I love Don. But I wouldn't want to be married to this guy.

Of course, Betty running into the arms of Francis is a stupid, stupid move, but that doesn't make her first move (divorcing Don) a bad thing for her. Too many women in that era have been warned to 'keep the family together' for the children's sake and let their husbands sleep with whoever they want. Betty's right - Don broke the family up, not her. He can still be a good father to the kids (it's not like he was that present anyway before - so it could all work out fine) but there's no way Don and Betty could have a functioning relationship right now.

Anonymous said...

Joan fans will enjoy this discussion of Christina Hendricks' "assets":

Eyeball Wit said...

Turns out Weiner hadn't quite started his travels yet (or took a break from them) to do one interview about the finale. So go read his thoughts on the marriage, the firm, etc. No real spoilers, as he hasn't done any writing for season four yet.

Ouch. Weiner gives an exclusive interview to a blogger who uses words like "noteworhy" without irony?

It's like starting a new shop and hiring Freddy Rumson to be your creative director instead of Don.

And doesn't this suggest that Jace With a C also got an advance screener of the episode? And maybe even that this interview happened even before the finale aired.

Double ouch.

We still love you Alan, and we'll wait patiently for the smartest post-season Weiner interview, having been underwhelmed by the first.

We love you, Alan.

Tom said...

Great episode, great summary, great comments.

One quibble, though. Don, in leaving/rebuilding, was not 'going hobo.' Hobo Dick Whitman, faced with the loss of wife, family, career, would have said 'f*ck it' and lit out for California to look up the Eurotrash, or learn to surf, or at least have hit the road with his box of cash and Earth-mother teacher. But -- as pointed out by #9 above -- Dick/Don has something to prove. He wants to WORK. He wants to BUILD something. That's not the hobo code.

What's happened is that affable, weasly hobo Dick Whitman is integrating his cunning, ego-bastard persona, Don Draper, into a fully functioning character. Shedding the blonde Mainline trophy wife, and all she represented to po' Dick, was an essential stage in the transition. Dick/Don should do quite well in 60s Manhattan, selling desire to the masses.

Also, there was a beat I would have loved to have seen:

DON heads to the door, stops, turns.

Oh, and Connie? One last thing. "City mouse, country mouse?' That SUCKED!

Anonymous said...

DoubleLifeofaSalesman back, technically Anonymous for convenince's sake -- and while I'm slightly peeved that for some reason my original post vanished and I have to type this all over again, I still first have to say how I've enjoyed the discussion here. I take Eyeball Wit's point about key plot hinges in this saga and offer a moral: CONRAD HILTON CHANGES LIVES.

Hadn't planned on returning, but watching the encores of this struck me in a unique way. "Shut the Door. Taka a Seat" may well be helping me with a personal decision.

So far I've read about the episode being one of a caper, or empowerment. I agree with those, but something even deeper struck me.

First, notice the dynamic, touched upon by the caper thesis. Don argues with Bert; Don and Bert argue with Roger; Don, Bert and Roger persuade Lane; Don and Roger persuade Pete; Don persuades Peggy, twice. The constant throughout is Don, and by episode's end Don is studying his gathering with a sense of accomplishment.

When it comes to great recruiters, I prefer to think of John Adams in "1776." But I must make the weird admission that I own and enjoy Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," and even weirder still, I'm one of those rare fans who's not a zealot, who simply enjoys the shameless crcakling melodrama of it and otherwise finds it to be a photographic, an absolute inverse, of my own beliefs. I find the book evil, and perhaps it is all the more evil precisely because it's fun.

But the dynamic of "Shrugged" is recognizable. Seeing a word where "looting" is valued over talent and work and achievement and making one's individual mark, John Galt steadily recruits, one by one, the people of competence and capability. It's therefore not such a leap to see Don as Galt, patching together his own new existence from the discarded cornerstones of a lost empire.

We are seeing Don as a FOUNDER, a word I find rather magical -- as a noun, not a verb. And to think, the episode was set in motion by Connie talking about how he made himself and won't stand for complaining and crying. Don gets past complaining, doesn't cry -- and he may well have founded something, and if it comes to anything, the next time Connie sees him, it may be in a different light.

Seeing this convinced me that I should proably try to found something -- not much, no more than a tiny club, and likewise recruiting people left over from older, greater organizations.

And if anything comes of that, I will thank "Shut the Door. Have a Seat."

Anonymous said...

THe most interesting thing is the new agency starts on Monday December 16th , 1963.. the Next day December 17th on a DC radio station. The Beatles I Want to Hold Your Hand is played for the first time. The Washington DJ got a British Airways Stewardess to fly over a copy. There was starting to be news stories in US about Beatlemania but the single was not scheduled to be released until the end of December. The response to I Want to Hold Your Hand was explosive and immediate so much so that within a few days Capitol Records had to move the release day up two weeks
to Dec 26th within a week it had sold 500k and the sixties had officially starte

Blair Waldorf said...

I have nothing to add, as I am late to the party, except to say, thank you Alan for your insights and thoughtful recaps all season. Thank you to the commenters for your diverse and always polite perspectives. You all make watching my favorite shows a richer and more interesting communal experience.

Thank you!

ChicagoPete said...

Am I missing some backstory on Henry Francis? He's a state government employee, and a fairly low level one at that, so his wages must have been pretty meager at best. He's a crony of Nelson Rockefeller, so does he have inherited money?

How is he supposed to maintain the spoiled brat's lifestyle?

Karen said...

I agree that if Weiner was going to give an exclusive interview he made a big mistake by giving it to the banal interviewer at the Daily Beast rather than our Alan! Yeesh.

In other comments...

Betty and Don/Henry: it seems to me that Betty is actually jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. No, I don't think Henry will cheat on her like Don did. But I think Don married the idea of Betty and that's what Henry wants to marry as well. How else do you tell a woman you've barely spent the equivalent of a week with that you want to marry her? Henry knows nothing about her--he just sees the same elegant blonde that Don saw. What a tragedy that Betty can't see this.

And I know this is just feeding the troll, but: using the Kennedy assassination to signal the end of an era is a cliche? How old are you? It DID mark the end of an era! That's not even speculation, it's history. And for Weiner not to have addressed the assassination at all would have been far more odd and artificial than the way he did.

I also don't think that the SCDP development is moving Laverne to Burbank. In the very first season, we saw Don react with disdain to DDB's landmark Volkswagon "Lemon" ad. Most of the campaigns he proposed that season were traditional in the extreme. They made sense for him and they made sense for the kind of agency SC is (was). Now, SCDP is small, forward-thinking, and unrestrained. They have the freedom to become the sort of boutique agency that turned out some of the most innovative ads of the 1960s. They've got Pete to make sure they don't get too stodgy, they've got Peggy who is a natural and who has such a tight bond with Don that she can help loosen him up (as far as advertising goes). The possibilities for what kind of advertising SCDP does that SC could never do are incredibly exciting. Weiner can do a LOT with that.

Susan said...

DTor, I agree with you on both points. I think as with most marriages that break up, there is plenty of blame to go around. Don and Betty, in my opinion, each contributed in significant ways to the demise of the marriage.

Despite his many flaws and his proven ability to be cruel, Don does possess warmth and kindness that Betty does not. Those qualities make him at times a warmer and kinder parent. He also understands people (this is part of his talent in being a creative at work) in a way that Betty does not, so he would of course understand his children better than she does. An example would be when Betty was trying to be a good mom and got Sally the Barbie from Baby Gene to try to fix things there. Betty thought Sally was jealous, but Don understood what was going on. He got the baby and Sally together and reassured her that he was just a baby, not the reincarnation of Grandpa Gene. He also remembers his tragic childhood and relates it to his own children (as we saw in this episode with the flashbacks to the child Dick Whitman.) I agree that in that era corporal punishment was totally accepted, and it was most unusual and progressive of him to not spank his children. Don has an attitude toward change (witness his Madison Square Garden speech about embracing change) that Betty does not, so Betty just parents her children the way she was parented but Don sees there is a better way. He has spent way too little time with them. Hopefully if he does turn out to be a weekend Dad he will be spending more time with them than he did when he and Betty were married.

dc said...

cgeye said...
To correct an assumption earlier posted:

Henry's not sitting with a seat between him and Betty -- those are some comfy airline seats, the way they used to be.

No kidding! Those seats would not be out of place in executive class. What they also didn't show was that Henry and Betty would have been given food at some point during that flight. I mean, you know, like, a tray with a hot meal and salad and dessert and whatnot, and not just a packet of mixed nuts hurled at them from the aisle by a harried and overworked flight attendant.

And if I were to extrapolate backwards from my earliest in-flight meal experiences in the 1980s, those meals must have actually been good -- assuming a steady decline in food service from about 1960 through to the present. :-)

Maura said...

Sean said: If Roy Orbison is 'singing for the lonely' here at the end of Season 3, that would have to be for Betty, who now seems destined to be a politico's trophy wife with an adorable little anthropology degree (the irony of the destably nouveau-riche upscale mall staple Anthropologie store is not to be missed here, people) cavorting with other spoiled white-noses like herself heralds the birth of retrograde and atavistic anti-feminism that will eventually metastasize into The Real Housewives of... Sorry Betty lovers, but that's who she and Francine are the proto versions of. Peggy's your girl, Betty's the enemy. Getting to see her and Don interact once more, these lonely and very American characters, did truly provide me with a moment of joy, comparable to Alan's fist pump upon Joan's return.

I said upthread that there's a good chance Betty will never change. It feels a lot more truthful to me than Betty having a Click moment and going on permanent strike. I don't believe she has it in her. So I agree with part of what you've said, Sean. But, in relation to second wave feminism, I don't see her as the enemy as much as I see her as a lost sister (Sorry. That sounds pretentious as hell, but I haven't been up long, and the nouns, they are also lost). I'm as far removed from Betty's background as possible, and yet, I get her, and have a lot empathy for her. She's so broken and screwed up, I want to slap her and lock her in a room for reprogramming.

Which brings me to this:

DTor said: But Don has never raised a hand to any of his children; never grabbed them by the hair, thrown them in closets, and locked them inside-- Betty has. Moreso, we’ve seen Betty push Don to physically discipline the kids before (specifically Bobby, in season 2) and Don has resisted. To me, this seems very progressive for the time period. (I grew up ten years later, in the 70s, and was routinely beaten whenever I did anything wrong. So were nearly all of my friends.) Put it all together and this makes Don the better parent, imo. Anyone out there is free to judge otherwise, of course. But speaking from my own experience, I’d rather have a parent who was emotionally available and (usually) kind even if they weren’t always physically there; rather than one who is physically available but emotionally distant and (at least occasionally) cruel.

God, yes. Betty is a horrible mother. She can shed a tear or two when Bobby breaks down and begs Don not to leave, but she can't feel enough for her kids to realize that bringing a strange man into the house is asking for disaster. I imagine Sally and Bobby are happier when Betty isn't home. If Don could hire Carla away from Betty, they'd be a lot better off with him. No one needs a mother who sits around and sulks, and controls her kids with the threat of being locked in a frakking closet.

Kris said: It's definitely a combo of his seer-like capabilities, his resentment at his current position at SC, his blueblood connections, and his deep (if slightly-strained) loyalty to Don that make him the pick over amiable, conventional Ken and his haircut. And, Trudy is the bonus. She's a good egg, huh? Or, as someone said, a "stealth guerilla". Bwahaha! She handles everything with such grace: Infertility, outmoded dance styles, coups ...

If I may take credit, that was me who called Trudy a stealth guerrilla. Seriously, I think she's a little subversive. She might live in a fabulous Manhattan apartment, married to an ad man, and behaving like a pampered daddy's girl, but she's not afraid to get her hands dirty or raise a fuss when it matters. I don't see her and Pete running away to join the Weather Underground, but I think she'll do what she has to do, as long as it's legal, to get what she wants, including turning on the "daddy's girl" charm. She's ruthless. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Oooh, she totally needs one of those t-shirts of Cher wearing a Che Guevera hat.

Eyeball Wit said...

Am I missing some backstory on Henry Francis? He's a state government employee, and a fairly low level one at that, so his wages must have been pretty meager at best. He's a crony of Nelson Rockefeller, so does he have inherited money?

How is he supposed to maintain the spoiled brat's lifestyle?

Henry is a pretty high level advisor and a major operative in the NY Republican Party. Think an older Josh Lyman from The West Wing.
So he was probably making decent money, and he seems more like a Rockefeller confidente who got swept into the government/politics than a career political hack.
I had no trouble believing he makes as much as Don and has banked a lot over the years, perhaps from an inheritance.

We need an edit button here. We do love you Alan, but perhaps not quite so many times as my upstream post would suggest.

MP said...


I must be dense - I don't understand why the roommate thinks Peggy should only date married men????

I don't either. There were two reasons I could think of:

a) Married men won't expect marriage, which is good when you don't want to marry them.

b) Married men are usually in no position to tell on you.

It took it as a backhanded insult to Duck (and, by extension, Peggy): to the roommate it's self-evident that he is not attractive enough a person to be marriage material.

MP said...

It just occurred to me that the roommate character might be the embodiment of "those girls" Peggy's mom warned her about: single, working, having sex and generally enjoying life in the city, with no intention of getting tied up anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

As a TV type myself, I can vouch for the use of "sausage factory" by creative types as a dreaded place where the exact same product is churned out, day after day after day.

As for those opining that Betty wouldn't have taken the baby if it was for a brief trip to Reno, I have a 10-week old, an trust me, new mothers are loathe to let their babies out of their sight for three hours, much less three days.

Unknown said...

As to Henry's financial status - there are many wealthy business people or people who come from money who chose to work in public service - either on a campaign or on staff of a politician - or, even become one themselves so perhaps Henry prior to becoming an advisor to a politician either made a lot of money or has family money.

I was pleased to read in Weiner's interview that the Draper marriage is done - it has been such a miserable one since we first saw them in season one. I'm allways surprised to read comments from people that say they want Betty and Don to be together in the long run and for the life of me I can't imagine why. The whole relationship was deceptive and, to me, soulless and I'm looking forward to the next chapter in this story.

I like that Weiner doesn't do the expected as so many television shows do - where they resolve things. Life doesn't unfold like that - somethings are just left unresolved.

People move on from jobs all the time and never see people from that job again - I don't know what Weiner plans as he says he doesn't know either and boy, is it going to be a long wait to find out.

I liked the last scene so much with all the characters regardless of status in the job being comfortable together - I hope they keep that and not return to the closed office doors and underlings having to be summoned or so formal.

It would be cool to have a more open office setting where people can more casually bounce ideas around and work on projects together without others feeling left out as others met behind the closed office doors.

Stav said...

A couple of thoughts, first on the business side:

* An agency that size billing $30 million would be doing okay (but not great) by 2009 standards. And back in 1964 they were still charging the flat 15% which translates to $4.5MM of revenue...not too shabby.

* Why Pete and not Ken? Well, Sterling Cooper has three studs: Don, Peggy and Ken. Don and Peggy are brooding outsiders and more likely to work out well in an entrepreneurial environment. Ken, the smooth insider is going to do well regardless, but at McCann he has a huge international organizational ladder he can quickly climb...with all the attendant resources McCann's size and prestige bring him.

That's why you pick the driven outsider, Pete, who like Don knows he will be better off in a place of his own making

* On SCD&P's success...forget Friday the about Don pointing out to Pete that he had the foresight to look for tech clients. They are about to enter the "Nifty Fifty" era ('65-69) which is a perfect mirror to the Internet 90's we just enjoyed. Pretty lucrative opportunities abound.

* As far as the complaint about them stealing company property. Uhn, if you are in a client based business and you leave for a new job or start-up stealing company property is part of the game. Every adman who has switched jobs has taken proprietary info with them. Heck you can't even have a book (bag as Draper/Sterling referred to it last night) without taking company info. That's because the company owns all of your relationships and creations. Same with stockbrokers, et. al..

The clients belong to the company. But, people leave and they take that proprietary info and those clients with them. Companies then harrass about 5-10% of those who leave with legal action. In this case, McCann-Erickson has just acquired PPL worldwide...they could really care less about a handful of malcontents from a third-rate Madison Avenue firm. Business...always Business.

luckystuff said...

I want to echo this comment:

..., but the ad agency reorg just feels like a correction for a dead end.

Yeah, the caper-vibe was fun, but some of it felt like a trick they pull when they want you to forget something (ie, that the plot was going in crazy directions). Also, I know people can jump ship and take people with them, but somehow I think there'd be more of an 'every man for himself' sort of mentality. Peggy would've jumped ship to Duck. Sterling would've just retired. Maybe Don joins a different firm (after getting fired). Don't these people have other connections?

Those complaints aside, two points: Trudy was superb in her housewife/secretary/helper role: 'change the sheets,' "pete, can I talk to you?" etc. But if we have family divorces (Don/Betty), and corporate divorces (SCDP/PPL), and corporate pursuit echoing romantic pursuit (Don, Peggy), we also have this hybrid between Pete/Trudy. Wife/secretary all wrapped in on kind of has a good feel for them.

And watching Joan make her grand reentrance: quality television.

Susan said...

Anonymous, Betty went to Rome with Don (it was just for a few days IIRC) when Baby Gene was only 2 months old. Carla took care of the children.

Courtney, while I am surprised to find the Draper marriage over, it really is best for all involved. Don was unhappy, Betty was beyond unhappy, and the children were living in a toxic atmosphere. As long as Don is able to remain in the children's lives, the kids will be better off. (Betty did say to Don that he will always be their father, so that makes me hopeful he will be involved.)

Patrick Scullin said...

Terrific insight and commentary. You are a wise in the ways of Mad Men. Why is it the more we know of Don Draper's life, the more we pity him-- even though he's a moralistic turd. Yet, the more we know of Betty, the more unsympathetic she is. Yow, this show just gets better and better.

mook said...

Hi -

A little late to the party but I see Weiner giving Don some kind of drug problem in Season 4. He's living in the city alone, on the cusp of the hippie scene (and we know he's attracted to earthy-crunchy ladies), unmoored from family and from his old surroundings, and his familial addiction problems. Lastly, there was one shot in the past few episodes that seemed a bit out of place - it was Don downing one of Betty's pills off her nightstand.
It did not seem to correlate to anything else that was happening so I wonder if that was a harbinger.

CarolMR said...

Was that Peggy Lipton in the original Canada Dry commercial?

Margaret said...

Can't believe I've spent so much time reading comments about this show -- far more than the hour spent watching it -- on this site, Mo Ryan's, TLo's, and now that interview with Matt.

But I've been really caught up in the changes and potentials for these characters, and just wanted to say thank you, Alan, for your analysis and for following up with us as we dissect every detail. Maybe because I work in advertising, maybe because I was born in '62, maybe because I'm grateful to have more choices than Betty or Peggy or Joan ... I love this show!! And I can hardly wait for the next season.

Elena said...

My take on a few things raised here:

Another tie between Don and Pete is that Pete tipped Don off that Duck was going to be the boss at the PPL version of SC. There's a trust there that Don has for Pete that is rarely expressed. More interesting to me is that Roger was in favor of Pete, as the main account guy, I would have thought he'd go with Ken.

I think Peggy's roommate's
comment that Peggy would only date Duck if he were married is that she doesn't see Duck as marriage material. Why would Peggy waste her time with a single guy of Duck's age, looks, not much money, and less than suave personality? That's what I think has the roommate perplexed.

On Don getting nasty w Betty over Henry Francis--we as viewers know that Betty hasn't had sex w Henry, but Don doesn't know that, in fact he probably can't conceive that they haven't had sex. Also the way Roger phrased it, he implied that the affair had been going on for some time "They're pretty serious". This would also upset Don, he would deduce that the affair didn't start because of the Dick Whitman revelations, or JFK trauma, but has been longstanding--hence his comment that she had never forgiven him a year ago.

Loved the finale, and Thanks Alan for providing us a forum to hash it out and argue about our beloved fictional characters.

Anonymous said...

Peggy & Don -- the prototype for the "office marriage." Joan & Roger: "With a love like that, you know you should be glad."

cgeye said...

One question I don't think anyone's asked: Since Hilton Hotels were known for both their conference as well as hotel facilities, why didn't Don pull one favor out of Connie's pocket and locate there?

Yes, Connie could intrude, but since he's so busy with his business, there'd be not much likelihood of that happening -- and their clients could get the boardroom presentations they'd need, as reassurance. And, Connie gets back some of that cash he spent on billable hours. Win, win all around -- but perhaps not as narratively neat as Weiner would like.

Unknown said...

After Connie pulling his business and some of the other interactions between he and Don, I wouldn't expect Don to ask him for a favor of any kind.

Anonymous said...

Puff here. Out of town on the job search. Just watched. AWESOME!

DoubleLifeOfASalesman covered the Connie Push: "I got everything I have on my own. It's made me immune to those who complain and cry because they can't. [pause] I didn't take you for one of them, Don. Are you?"

It did take about 150 posts before someone pointed out Roger's epiphany about himself: "I've acted like I started a business my whole life, but I inherited it". Of course, Roger probably has never worked this hard in his life, except at bon mots.

Pryce was a joy to watch in this one, and St.John a bastard: "Don't be disheartened. I'll put in a good word for you". I loved that PPL's disregard for Pryce led him to join in the cabal and to this great scene:
Don: "Fire us!__ Let us go" Cooper's light bulb look.
Roger: "Can you do that?"
pryce: "Why would I?"
Don: "Because whenthis gos through, you'll be thrown overboard and you'll be a corpse knocking against their hull."
pryce: "Nothing good ever came from seeking revenge."
Cooper: "Nonsense, we'll make you a partner"
Pryce: "I should think this is worth more than that."
Don: "So, negotiating? We'll put your name on the door." and the cabal is completed...
Reverberated for me, as I was just ina similar situation being pressed on my financial needs during the job interview and I shot back "Are we negotiating here?". We weren't and the interviewer backed off. Status is still up in the air.

Harry Crane is still slow on the uptake, but moves fast when the dinner bell rings. Still, he'll do fine.

Loved Don's pitches to peggy and especially Pete. Over the three seasons, Don has been too comfortable with the status quo and we commenters have called him out on it. Glad to see that he does realize he needs to modernize and be forward-looking and Pete is on point.

Lots of Sal love on this blog, and it would seem that SCDP's most important customer American Tobacco would block Sal's return, but that is not the case. It is the founder's son who is the sticking point. If Jr. is "outed" in some way, Daddy may just disown his homosexual offspring, thus opening a return for Sal, commercial director.

Anyway, can't wait for next year. Thanks to Alan and the great comments here that add depth and perspective to enjoyment of a great show.


Susan said...

CarolIMR, it looked like Peggy Lipton to me. Rashida Jones (her daughter with Quincy Jones) was on "The Office" and is currently on "Parks and Recreation." I loved "Mod Squad" back in the day!

Susan said...

Courtney, I think Connie meant to do Don a favor when he warned him about the upcoming sale of the company.

Unknown said...

I agree about Connie doing Don a favor with the heads up about the sale of the firm but I think Don was getting sick of being jerked around by Connie - given the way he sneered to Connie about how Connie had called him "son."

If he wouldn't approach Connie about coming on as a client at the renegade firm I can't see that he would ask him for office space for his new firm.

Anonymous said...

Great synopsis. Great finale.

Regarding stealing assets, if I'm not mistaken, the photos and negatives are actually the property of the client, not the agency. As part of their service, the agency keeps the items on file and keeps track of when usage rights expire, etc. So, too, the storyboards of work that was presented and rejected is the property of the client, as long as the agency was compensated for those (versus work done on spec). And they could've simply made copies of correspondence (although, frankly, back then it mostly consisted of carbon copies, SC did have a Xerox machine). By assembling all of these assets, they were actually ensuring that their clients' marketing efforts could continue seamlessly. Yes, Mccann or PPL could sue over them, but that's an expensive process and it would not endear McCann or PPL to clients who have already made it clear they do not wish to be with them. You can't sue someone into liking you.

Also, I believe they chose Pete because he is ruthless. He was right about marketing to blacks, but not because it was a matter of conscience on his part--it was because he saw a way to make money for his clients. Pete will do whatever it takes. Period.

Peggy, like Don, has a passion for the biz. They both went to the office on the national day of mourning for Kennedy. It's like the mothership for them, the place where they feel most themselves. Kinda sad, but true nonetheless.

I think the picked the people who would do what it takes to make the agency a success. With TV playing a bigger and bigger role, you can see why they brought Harry along (although it will be interesting to see what Joan does here--honestly, she's the smartest person on the show).


Susan said...

Courtney, I agree Don is fed up with Connie. As he should be. That whole father/son thing was just creepy.

Rob Biesenbach said...

I think Don and Connie will get back together. Don vented and Connie took it, then Connie dared Don to greatness. They ended up shaking hands and both agreeing that perhaps they'd have a chance to work together again. Don was disappointed, of course, but you could already see him looking forward, putting it in a pragmatic perspective -- compartmentalizing, if you will.

Don may approach Connie again, but not before firmly establishing his new agency. If he went to Connie right away, it would feel like asking for help.
Later on he'll have something to show Connie, something to impress him with, something that will put them on somewhat equal footing, as two men who took a risk and built something themselves. Then, ideally, he and Connie can have a relationship on more equal terms, as businessmen and not father/son.

Anonymous said...

I like the comparison to a caper film, although it seems like a combination of several suggestions made. "The Magnificient Seven" comparison works in terms of talking recruits into coming on board. "The Dirty Dozen" works in terms of different talents among the team. And the "Oceans 11" comparison works not just in terms of a team, but more in terms of at the end of "Oceans 11" you have the looted casino left behind and that certainly happened here, with the robbery talk.

The other element that was missing from those comparisons for me was that we knew going in the pool of people to pull from for the team unlike the films mentioned above: the "who is in/who is out?" element lifted the drama above those putting the team together scenarios. But one of the posters mentioned "John Adams" which I think is an excellent comparison. Adams is recruiting a team of sorts himself and we know the historical figures who join/don't join. I suppose "Oceans 12" works too but I have not seen those movies so I am just guessing.

The one element that I am still confused on is the Ken comment that Pete tryed to sway John Deere Saturday night. It seemed so implausable that I thought at the time that Ken was lying, trying to paint a picture of Pete as failing to acquire one of Ken's accounts and the account Ken had the biggest role in bringing to the old Sterling Cooper. Seems like a very salesman-like comment to make, Pete would look like the favorite of the Sterling Cooper Draper trio and this comment (and bringing up John Deere who he brought on board) would serve to undercut that. My experience with salesmen is they can be very petty much like Pete is with his Ken and his haircut remark so it would be poetic for see the normally high roadish Ken discredit Pete in his rare moment of achievement. But I guess with it all happening so quickly, it is unlikely Ken would come up with a story like that.

If we suppose that Ken is telling the truth, then what those that say about Pete? Pete was told to meet the "sales goal" or not bother showing up. I believe he was also told that this needed to stay a secret or it would jeopardize the whole new company. So it sounds like Pete went for an unlikely client on Saturday, risking the whole venture. It suggests to me a philosphy of "I am going to come on board as a partner and if I fail and the word gets out, what do I care because I wasn't going to be a partner with the new SC anyway". Plus he had the other firm he was going to as a fallback position.

I look forward to other thoughts on Ken's statement; I feel like there might be something more here than Pete had to get Clearsil from his wife's father because he could not get there on his own.

Anonymous said...

Alan, there's at least one bright side to the comma-less Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Had the show been set in the '90s, they might have gone the stylish route of JPMorganChase or PriceWaterhouseCooper -- totally space-less.

Anonymous said...

SMC (anonymous) pointed out that the creative materials actually belong to the client.

That's true if they had "Work for Hire" or its equivalent in those days. When I was a freelance writer I mostly produced "Work for Hire" (belonged to the client) vs work for which I owned the copyright. Mostly it was Work for Hire.

But client files, receipts, mailing lists, job jackets, etc are definitely SC property.

I'm not too worried about it either, though. It was fun watching them steal all of it w/o a care in the world. Not like nowadays where some thugs hand you a small box, you pack your stuff while they watch (making sure you don't trash or copy your hard drive, etc) and walk you to the elevator or to your car. Bye bye.


Unknown said...

Two details I haven't seen mentioned:
When Joan comes swanning in, watch Cooper standing just slightly behind her giving her a very solid once over foot to hip. Probably it was seeing her in those cool black capris that got his heart pumping.

The other is when they are in the room before Trudy arrives with lunch, they are all working - except Roger, who is reading the paper. Such a great touch. He's got his one client and at the moment probably doesn't need to do any actual work so he's hanging out reading.

When Pryce said they would have to "obtain" the materials they would need for client continuity - Don himself said "Obtain? We have to steal them." Some, if not most the materials they made off with are the work product of the agency and therefore, the property of the agency.

I actually lean more towards Don never approaching Connie again - if anything, since Connie clearly has his hear to the ground (since he knew about this sale before anyone at SC), I'd like him to learn about Don't new venture and eventually approach him to take on him as a client.

For me, that would be so much more satisfying than Don going to him to ask for his business.

Pryce said, when they were plotting their getaway, that they would need a "skeletal staff" to get started and they chose the core group they needed to keep some continuity going and money coming in - if they value some of the others at SC, once they get situated a bit, they'll likely make an offer.

Lee said...

I don't worry about the legality of the SCDP group taking the job bags, files, art, etc....

I can't see Mad Men turning into a courtroom drama next season. That would kill the show.

Anonymous said...

It's 3 days later and I'm still absorbed with thinking about this finale. This show is superb. Alan, I just learned about your blog. I wish I had known about it all season!! Your insights are right on and a joy to read. I can't add much more than to say that not having been blown away by Joan's character until that "lovely" lawnmower episode, she was one of the highlights of this episode by far. Her tact and "know how" are complete perfection: "furnished or unfurnished?... Sorry." She is fantastic! Love the Betty and Don are over, presumably. It will be interesting to see how Weiner incorporates her next season. They symbolism of this show sets it apart. Can't WAIT for next season! It's going to be a long 9 months...

ivorycoast said...

Big J says
I love that this show gets tiny things right. There is a framed horseshoe on Don's desk, echoing the horseshoe mark on his dead dad's face.
Campbell? He has a saddlebag of accts. but his work on focusing on the "Negro market" is forward looking in that it sees that marketing to subsets of the population instead of "one size fits all" is the future.
I do agree with the person who said Bert c is the Old Ninja. At each pt. of the negotiation, he throws his weight with the right touch. The golf=retirement=death is perfect and when the idea of firing everyone comes up, he lights up. And finally, his warning to Harry "if you dither, we can lock you in the storage room for the weekend"--perfect.
I was very moved, as many here, by the final meeting of Peggy and Don. He is honest with her. "I need you" is in effect what he says. You understand that big boys buy us and toss us around...and I could swear he says "I will spend my life trying to hire you"--I don't think he says he "won't" because it would break the flow of where he's been going.
what a wonderful episode and such great comments by Alan and all of you.

EC said...

It suddenly came to me that Don breaking Cooper's ant farm midway through the season was foreshadowing far the finale. Sterling Cooper thrown apart with ants going their different ways.

RM said...

Best moment of the episode, for me, was the following exchange:
Trudy: "Peter, may I please speak with you?"
Pete: hangs his head because he knows she's right.

I thought Pete was chosen over Ken for two reasons, either of which would be sufficient on its own. First, as others pointed out, Lane said that only people that could be trusted to say "yes" were to be asked. Second, Pete has proven himself to be a far better strategic thinker than Ken. Pete has the vision to see aeronautics, the black market, etc. Ken has only shown that he's a good cog in a machine, which is not what SCDP needs.

And for my money, Lane leaving PPL was a given after "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency." In the hospital near the end of the episode, Lane tells Don that he feels like he just attended his own funeral, and he didn't like the eulogy. The "eulogy" I believe referred to St. John Powell telling Lane that Lane always did what he was told. I have been thinking about Lane's eulogy comment a lot. It hits close to home.

mmjoan said...

Alan, thank you for giving everyone such a great forum to share our passionate reactions to Mad Men.

Sara j., if you re-watch the S1 episode Shoot where Betty gets fired from her modeling job with Coca-Cola, I think you’ll remember how well January Jones cries. When she covered her eyes while Bobby begged Don not to leave, I felt it was because she couldn’t watch such a heart-breaking scene and keep her resolve. Or maybe I just couldn't.

Muck, I also thought Betty seemed disappointed during Don’s phone call. I think she was hoping he would apologize and admit that he treated her like she never was enough for him. The night he confronted her about Henry Francis, she could have defended herself by saying she'd never slept with Henry and that Don was the one who’d lied and cheated their whole marriage. But the most she said was that she was never enough for him. And she let him believe Dick Whitman wasn't good enough for her because she wanted to hurt him and for it all to be over. To me, Betty's look on the plane reflected fear about the future and sadness over what remains unsaid between her and Don.

Hopefully Betty and Henry will make each other happy. Betty desperately needs a chance to prove she is not just a spoiled housewife and bad mother. It would be refreshing to read fewer negative comments about her next season.

The 2 scenes between Don and Peggy knocked my socks off. She handled herself beautifully in his office by not giving in to his power trip approach. The speech he delivers in her apartment is imo the most genuine and heartfelt one of the series. Her tears and concern that he would never speak to her again were dead on for someone in her position. Don and Peggy's interactions are the most real on the show. Karen, I agree Don's response was romantic and won Peggy over. And as sexy as Don Draper is when he's charming clients and seducing mistresses, to me he was at his sexiest in Peggy's apartment, being his truest self. And I've also noticed Peggy looking bigger and worrying about another pregnancy.

Trudy grew on me earlier this season, so I'm thrilled so many other posters enjoy the Trudy/Pete team.

Before they leave SC, Joan says to herself that her husband is going to kill her and Roger gives her a look. Where will this lead?

Jon Hamm's acting in his brief scene with Connie was outstanding.

I will so miss this show and this blog until S4.

PanAm53 said...

I am so reluctant to say good bye to this forum until next Summer. Although, I will definitely have more time for the other things in my life until S3 of "Breaking Bad."

By the end of the week, I usually start letting my imagination run wild with predictions for the next episode. Although the next episode will not air until next Summer, that didn't stop my imagination from running wild once again.

I have been puzzled and confused by Adam's timeline. In Season 1 we see a flashback of an eight year old Adam waiting with Abigail and Uncle Mac for the arrival of Dick's body post Korea. When Adam meets Don at the coffee shop, a point is made of his telling Don that he was only eight years old but he knew he spotted Dick on the train. However, we have been repeatedly shown a photo of what appears to also be an eight year old boy, who is on a horse with a young man standing beside him. Every time we are shown this photo, it is turned over and we see that it is inscribed "Dick and Adam 1944." This absolutely cannot be a mistake. Therefore, the only conclusion I can come to is that there were two Adams. Adam #1 was eight in 1944, and Adam #2 was eight in the early 50s.

As I stated after Betty's discovery of the shoebox in the desk, there is a lot more to Dick Whitman's past. Switching identities was just the tip of the iceberg. Don reacted much too strongly to being found out for it to just be the identity switch.

Of course, I have an idea as to who Adam #2 is, but for now I will keep that to myself and enjoy the opportunity to once again review Season 1. I need to check out a fact or two.

MMS said...

Thanks Alan and posters. What a fabulous ending. Fun a la caper I absolutely agree, but... how could everyone fail to mention one of the happiest capers ever? The Sting! And, it stars two men with looks and charisma in the same mold as Don Draper. When does the next season start? What can I look forward to until then? When does FNL air on cable?

Dave said...

Re-watching, and chuckling again at one of the many great lines from Roger: "Accounts gets the bed!"

Off-topic @MMS: FNL on Direct TV is in its 3rd week. When that's over in 10 weeks, what then?

Fake the Funk said...

Wonderful episode.
Just one observation, since pretty much everything else has been mentioned by now; Harry Crane does his work on the bed of the hotel room, although there is clearly a desk back against the wall.

YM said...

Julia said,
"I saw my ex's psychiatry textbooks when he was in med school about that time. There was a lot written about women who reject the "woman's role". They were considered neurotic and un-womanly."

I think women who reject marriage and/or motherhood are still considered neurotic in a sense--or at the very least, cold and selfish. Think of the recent spate of movies featuring the desperately lonely career woman: The Proposal, The Ugly Truth, The Wedding Date, et al.

I'm 35 and single and my last date was floored when he learned that I'd never been married---never mind his two divorces! He considered that normal, but was clearly wondering what fatal flaw kept me from getting hitched. :0/

Mary McManus said...

After I saw the season finale, I was reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book, What the Dog Saw, which is a series of essays previously published in the New Yorker. One of these, True Colors, is about the advertising industry and in it he writes about Jack Tinker and Partners, which was the brain child of adman, Marion Harper, about whom Gladwell says:

"His solution was to pluck a handful of the very best and brightest from McCann and set them up, first in the Waldorf Towers (in the suite directly below the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s and directly above General Douglas MacArthur’s) and then, more permanently, in the Dorset Hotel, on West Fifty-fourth Street, overlooking the Museum of Modern Art....Tinker started with four partners and a single phone. But by the end of the sixties it had taken over eight floors of the Dorset."

Sounds eerily familiar. Any thoughts on this?

DiscoLemonade said...

Loved the episode. Made me bawl and then be thrilled just minutes later.

My main disappointments - I love Ken, I want him in.

And more importantly, everyone (except for Harry who is an idiot...honestly they should've asked Ken to run the media department, Harry is useless) ASKED for something - Pete for partnership, Peggy for respect - when joining the new group.

Everyone except Joan...she just got back to doing everything perfectly just as she always did. I hope that if SCDP aren't smart enough to give Joan the position she deserves that she will stand up for herself and ask for it.

Anonymous said...

I searched, no one's mentioned the great line by Trudy when everyone's thanking her for bringing the sandwiches: "I know how you boys - and girls - can be." Loved the after-thought but equally enthusiastic inclusion of girls. Bring on the women...

Imran said...

Did anyone notice Trudy's fun rhythmic knock on the door when she brought in the food to SCDP? Can anyone identify what song she was knocking to or was it just an improvised pattern?

plmpsn63007 said...


I agree with almost all you wrote. But . . .

Look at Betty in the last call between her and Don. Turn off the sound and watch her face and body. The things Don says are not at all what she wants to hear. She has no satisfaction in his not fighting her. There is only disappointment. And she is definitely not getting what she wants which is the Don she had thought she was marrying. That’s the Don that would love her and her alone, that would be loyal and sharing and caring about her.

I can’t believe Weiner would go to all that trouble if it didn’t mean something. Also, Shahdaroba is about lost love, and doesn’t fit SCDP or even Don since he doesn’t know how to love anyone.

It goes something like this:

When tears flow And you don’t know What on earth to do And your world is blue; When your dream dies And your heart cries, Shahdaroba. It means the future is much better than the past. In the future you will find a love that lasts.

It’s about Betty. Her dream died in the last call. May she find that love.

Some find real fault with Betty. One asked why she didn’t give Dick a chance once she knew who he was. The reason is that he did not take responsibility for or apologize for or even confess any wrong he had done since they were married. He still didn’t take her into confidence about his work and where he really was when he went out. Nothing changed with him because he can’t make it change until his own pain, from his childhood, is healed.

Most don’t seem to know the difference a man can make in a woman’s life, and vice-versa, for better or worse. A Philanderer kills his wife’s spirit. That’s why she acted so badly more and more as the series went on. Betty hoped to make Don change by threatening divorce. He didn’t get it just like he doesn’t get it about his own life. So the call was her last chance.

Anonymous said...

My initial reaction to Pete's being approached first was that they figured out he was bailing, and had already done the spadework necessary to bring the clients with.

If Kenny had been brought into the plot instead of Pete, it might have taken weeks, rather than a weekend, to reassure nervous clients. In Pete's case, this was already done.

That said, wouldn't Kenny have at least paid for himself? How many clients would it have taken? 1?

Crispus Attucks said...

I'd like to weigh in as a corporate Attorney: Lane definitely breached a fiduciary duty to PPL. Yes, he had the authority to fire in his discretion, but he used his discretion in this instance not in the interest of his employer but in the interest of this new business venture. I was also screaming "they can't do that!" when they took the confidential and proprietary information out of the office over the weekend. Then I thought, this is 1963. They may have signed non-competes, but its not a certainty that they would have signed confidentiality or ownership of work product agreements that are standard practice now. I am not even sure laws related to fiduciary duty were as clear and as settled then as they are now.

GWAM said...

From UK: knocking at the suite in the Pierre, long after all the other Sepinwallers have checked out, to offer thoughts on the finale which aired in Britain last night.

Huzzah! Clearly Weiner had always intended to present Mad Men in distinct eras: pre-and-post-63.

That’s why I’m sure he let Betty lift the shoebox lid just before the assassination episode, just before the new dawn of SCDP. He could have withheld the “shoebox” but it makes pivotal sense to spill it now.

If Weiner was always going to use 63 as a definer, the only question was whether to overtly address JFK. Anyone dramatising 1963 simply has to consider “the bullet question” before grabbing a pen.

It’s only through the spiralling tensions of the last three episodes that we can appreciate the bitterly enjoyable trial of S3, in contrast to the sweet and savoury S1 and S2.

Anyone bailing from S3 because of the unsatisfactory appeal probably missed the point of MM.

For it to be reflectively true it just can’t deliver easy-eye TV gold each week because that would betray the episodic evolution of the 60s. We chart the milestones and match the on-screen moods to the time progress we know. Fun.

That’s surely what MM is all about? Re-charting a monumental era to our media-savvy 21st century hindsight? Whether it’s via soap or nutshell-episodes (both) is irrelevant.

That’s why, I think, it’s wrong to think we’ve seen the last of Betty, or that she’ll be diluted. She’s in the “holy trinity” - Don, Peggy and Betty in order - and the rest, even with their hierarchies (e.g. Joan, Roger, Pete and Bert on tier II) are support. Apart from the fact that Weiner would be nuts to diminish JJ (she’s blonde, gorgeous, can act with peculiar idiosyncrasy [this board is obsessed!] and is a catwalk clothes horse [with Hendricks and Brie] for the era styles [that aesthetic delight is an essential part of the MM mix]) it’s pretty clear from the seasons so far that JJ was always going to be an ever-present. Why else have we witnessed so many solo moments (worlds away from SC) at the horses, with weird Glen, shooting geese etc.?

The women’s movement, civil and gay rights, divorce, TV-kids, music, fashion, booze, cigarettes, mass travel, consumerism, ennui, greed: they’re all MM staples to explore and we chart them chiefly through the paths of Don, Peggy and Bets and how they fare and with whom.

Despite its title, MM isn’t just about Madison Ave. I’m more convinced than ever that the chief dramatic influence on Weiner was Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” (the homages still appear). But where Jack Lemmon and Co. barely scraped the changing social mores, MM has expanded on the back story of “The Apartment”. The rampant office affairs with serious knock-on consequences in the workplace, in homes and for gender politics. Likewise the hideous corporate caricatures Wilder drew have been lusciously explored by Weiner. Long may it continue.

* About The Beatles first being played on US radio on the Monday that SCDP started business. True. But The Beatles were first introduced to the US on the morning of November 22nd 1963 (yep, that date!) through a CBS vignette due to air fully later that day. It’s quite a thought that the CBS teaser about four lads from my hometown might have been seen by JFK that morning in his Fort Worth hotel. The CBS full package then didn’t air until December 10th 1963 and, in turn, that coverage (anchored by Kronkite) prompted 14-year-old Marsha Albert to contact a Washington DJ about “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.
CBS story and package video:

So Weiner really has pitched it all chronologically perfectly.

Thanks Alan and thank-you fellow MM bloggers - especially with all the nuances on everything from Penn Station to Hermes scarves!

*grabs leftover Trudy cake and last looks round around the Pierre and can’t wait to discover where you’ll all pitch up*

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