Season 7 episode 3: Field Trip
Don & Megan
After getting a phone call from Megan’s agent informing him of her erratic behaviour at an audition, Don makes an impromptu trip to surprise her in Los Angeles. They re-kindle their all too erratic romance and Megan discovers the real reason he’s come to visit and blows up at him.
Megan openly says she suspects he’d been cheating on her (which for the first time in history was incorrect) and then discovers his unusual phone calls are because of his enforced sabbatical from SC&P. She in turn declares that their marriage is over.
It’s difficult to tell where their relationship will go from here. This break-up has been a long time coming. However this is a new chastened, impotent Don – who seems committed to his crumbling marriage.
In an interesting side note: throughout the episode various women make advances toward Don, but these feel peripheral and strangely out of whack to the focus of the episode. What struck me through the episode was how open everything has become between the characters: it took Don three seasons to tell Betty his dark secret, now he can barely hold a secret -for the first three episodes so far anyway.
Don & Sterling Cooper
The fight with Megan drives Don to seek some clarity on his work situation. Having courted and received an offer from David James Elliot, Don confronts Roger and demands to know his status at SC&P. Roger asks him to come in on Monday, typically turns up late, and leaves Don to be awkwardly paraded before the rest of the staff before he can resolve his own ambiguous situation.
After being brilliant for so long, now Don has to beg to return to work with the people he had been so aloof and superior to. Perhaps this is the start of the long road back?
As he waits nervously in the creative office, an argument breaks out between the partners to discuss his fate. Impossibly, Roger has his most honourable moment in seven seasons and vigorously defends Don against the partners protest. (I counted Roger for Don, Cutler against, Joan for the harmony for the business and Cooper for the firm’s reputation).
Eventually Don is invited back, but with almost all of his trademark free-wheeling panache reigned in by strict conditions: no time alone with clients, no drinking in the office, no going off script in a client pitch and he has to report to that schlep Lou Avery.
I keep thinking how Don ‘s image is continually being eroded. Just when you think he’s at rock bottom, it keeps getting worse. After being brilliant for so long, now Don has to beg to return to work with the people he had been so aloof and superior to. Perhaps this is the start of the long road back?
Throughout the entire run of Mad Men, Betty has resolutely stayed the same in the face of overwhelming change. With all of the chaotic developments of the ’60’s Betty has remained a relic to another time.
As Betty grows older, we see her becoming more strange and alienated from the society of the ’60’s. Her lunch with Francine could have been taken from an episode in season one: gossiping about their husband’s jobs, competing over the state of their lives.
Her life revolves around being a prop for her husband’s political career and she is baffled at the increasing opportunities offered to women by society. (Betty to Francine – ‘Three days a week in an office, what’s that like?’)
In a very sly note, we see she has replaced Carla with a very old fashioned looking African American maid. On a field trip with Bobby’s elementary school class she makes catty remarks about the farmer’s daughter not wearing a bra and interprets Bobby trading her sandwich for gumdrops as proof that he doesn’t love her.
Betty’s world is the counterpoint to the whirling change of society in the era and it seems it is her destiny to grow passive aggressive and bitter. In a Shakespearean note, she wonders why her children hate her and then looked at Gene who was sleeping in her arms and says ‘It’s just matter of time’ – Yikes!
– What was with Peggy’s comment to Don: ‘I can’t say that we missed you.’ Ouch. Does she blame him for sending Teddy Chaough to L.A? She is growing BITTER.
– Bert Cooper still won’t let anyone in his office without shoes.
– “I don’t care if he’s in bed with Joey Heatherton, get him on the horn.” – Lou Avery, who are you?
– Cutler thinks Harry Crane is a genius. (“You have stiff competition, but I believe you to be the most dishonest man I have ever worked with.”)
– Ken Cosgrove still has an eye patch! And now has a son? (Don – “Now I know what you’ll look like bald.”)
– And quote of the episode goes to Lou Avery (Again!) complaining about Don showing up and “What am I supposed to do just hide while he’s cooling his heels like Longfellow Deeds.’ LOL
Patrick Magee is a Melbourne TV critic who is studying to be a film director.