She’s not going to go bra-free, a la Bobby’s teacher, but perhaps drinking milk directly from the bucket is enough of a jolt of adventure for her. She’s priming herself for another reinvention, and we know she does this by sucking the life-blood out of her children. They’re not her rewards. They’re her rivals. Watch out, baby Gene. You’re next.
Three episodes in to Season 7 of “Mad Men”, and if you were looking for a bigger, more dramatic “pow” moment, you got several Sunday (April 27).
There were a lot of anger and confidence issues bubbling over on “Field Trip.”
At least Don is out of the house and back in movie theaters this week.* Swooping in to save Megan from her confidence issues, however poorly, gives him the chance to come clean about his leave, even if it does backfire on him. Marriage No. 2 down the drain. But in the end, he was finally truthful! After what was the fastest trip to California ever, it gives Don the drive to make a change.
He has dinner with Dave Wooster (hello, “JAG’s” David James Elliott in giant hipster-ific glasses) from Wells Rich Greene again and gets a job offer, and moments later, an offer to return to work from Roger.
However, Roger may have given him the all-clear, but he didn’t tell anyone else. Once he does get his job “back” with a laundry list of stipulations, including reporting to Lou and not drinking in the office, Don tucks tail, and actually agrees. Show of hands — who thought he was about to say “forget it” after the weighted pause? Could he have been that gutsy?
So, what does this mean for Don? Is he willing to return to work under whatever circumstances just to have purpose? He’s only ever been at his best when he’s working. So, between his new position at SC&P, and his “I love you” to Megan falling flat, Don is not the same Don Draper any longer, and he’s seemingly accepting it. But how long until he rallies the troops to his side of the fence from the much-hated Lou? And what is to become of Peggy?
“This is the way it ends. It’s going to be so much easier for both of us.”
Good job, Megan. So what if surrounding self-confidence issues were the impetus for ending things with Don? It was a long time coming. And once she realizes that Don made the choice to stay in New York even though he had no real reason to be there, and only flew to be with her when he sensed weakness, she kicks him out. But for the first time, when Don tells her he doesn’t have a girl on the side, he’s not lying. She may be upset now, but this decision may be the best one ever. Don’t look back, Megan.
Roger may not have made many work decisions (well, really, ever), but inviting Don back to work because he “misses” him, and then fighting for him, under whatever circumstances necessary, wins him back “his agency” and his dignity in a refreshing way.
The poignant moment of Don leaving Roger’s swinging ’60s love nest and putting on his hat wasn’t lost. Who has moved on now, Don? And who is your biggest supportive fan and friend in the end?
We got Sally last week, and this week, Betty is back. As is Francine, now appearing as a travel agent in pantsuits! Betty, you’re not “old-fashioned” even if you continue to want to be so, and coming off of Sally’s line about you last week, your children aren’t your reward either (but chain smoking on Bobby’s field trip bus while trying to bond with him was top-notch). Could watching her long-time friends start breaking into careers be the next thing Betty is upset she doesn’t have?
If Peggy is trying to find focus, she’s failing, and instead, just being angry and frankly, mean. Her reaction to Don’s unannounced and un-vetted return to SC&P seethed with bitterness. Spitting “I can’t say that we miss you” was perhaps the final nail in the coffin of any goodwill Peggy and Don may have had, and Don let her have it. And so again, is Don now her direct rival and competitor? That may or may not be the best place for her to be. But it will be fun watching her find out he’s back. Either she’s going to shine, or continue to roll around on rock bottom.
“You have stiff competition, but I believe you to be the most dishonest man I’ve ever worked with.” — Jim to Harry
Jim’s level-headed directness is fast making him my favorite character. Championing Harry over Don (and ultimately losing, even if it was just about the fact they would have to buy Don out of his contract to actually fire him) was awesome. Harry will remain computer-free, but at least he has someone who appreciates him now.
Final thought: Lou Avery is still the worst guy in the world, and no doubt about it, he’s about to attempt to manage the most difficult subordinate ever. And how great was watching the various responses to the SC&P people to Don’s appearance? Joan and Peggy looked as though they’d rather eat glass than work with Don again.
*Final final thought: Jacques Demy’s “Model Shop” is the movie Don was watching in the theater at the beginning. It follows a man obsessed with a woman who gets paid by other men for the privilege of photographing her. As a fellow “Mad Men” watcher friend pointed out, obvious Megan parallel, no? (H/T Neil!)