Posted by on November 13, 2009 at 12:27 pm  Characters, Scoops & Exclusives, Season 3
Nov 132009

Lane Pryce: Hello Don.
Don Draper: How was your morning?
Lane Pryce: Very productive.

Vitality restored.

Vitality restored.

I have been struggling this season. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved this season, it has been my favorite so far, and that is to be a separate post. But I have been struggling to understand what is going on with Don at work.

Genuinely confused. I just couldn’t get a handle on where he was at. He was being downright nasty to his group, he was following Conrad Hilton like a child trailing the Pied Piper, he wanted nothing to do with Roger. I kept thinking I was missing something, some over-arching blueprint of this dynamic, something obvious that everyone else saw (and not for nothing but I’m supposed to be good at this show), some big cause and a diagnosis of its effect. But I couldn’t.

I even asked Rich Sommer about it:

Me: I guess I’m asking [what you mean by everyone is in over their head] because I’m trying so hard to understand what’s going on with Don this season. Most scenes with the creatives, he’s kind of a dick (no pun).


Rich Sommer: Yeah. Clearly he’s got other fish to fry. He’s got a baby at home and he’s got the fact that he’s got these dual personalities that he’s still trying to rock somehow. When he’s dealing with people like Roger Sterling and Lane Pryce and Bert Cooper, clearly starting to put a thumb on him, like when Cooper, in that fantastic scene at the end of Seven Twenty Three where he says, Who’s really signing it anyway, and that Don’s response is, I don’t want to have anything to do with Roger Sterling. This is a guy who’s kind of up against the wall everywhere he turns; things seem to be closing in on him a little bit. And you look back at season one, and this is a guy who when the walls are closing in.

That didn’t help. And still, he’s answered it, it’s all there, but I don’t get it. I stumble blindly along through further episodes, and further interviews. Jon Hamm tries to help me out as well.

Me: Why do you think that Don is so angry at Roger? I mean, why do you think?

Jon Hamm: I think what Don -I think that part of Don’s professional life is wanting to be in control. I think we see that in Seven Twenty Three when he does not want to sign a contract. He’s essentially forced to do it. And the reason he’s forced to do it is because they don’t own the company anymore. Don’s situation, as we saw at the end of Season 2, is that he has personal relationships with the people he works with, but that is his sort of the core of his realm, and he has done very well by that. So when he stands up in the PPL meeting and says, “I don’t have a contract,” and they look over at Roger and he says, “We’re friends. We didn’t think we needed one,” which is another amazing John Slattery line. When that is taken away from him, and part of why it’s taken away is because Roger in choosing to marry Jane and divorce Mona needs money, and part of needing money is selling his company, selling his birthrights, selling all this, and ostensibly selling a lot of Don’s freedom without consulting him. Now, the reason he didn’t consult him was because he was off the grid in California, but that’s neither her nor there. So that was the first kind of domino falling.

RL: Right.

JH: And I think he sees Roger as sort of being frivolous in his care of this thing that he feels that he has helped to build as well.

RL: Interesting.

JH: More than just for the pursuit of money. And I think he sees Roger as being kind of checked out of the whole thing. And a lot of the responsibility and a lot of the stuff that’s falling back on Don’s shoulders once he’s forced to sign a contract and be beholden to these people that he does not get along with, doesn’t like, the PPL folks, he looks at that as a further thing to blame on Roger. And I think that’s the heart of it. You know, they are friends. They are friends, and Roger is responsible for bringing Don into this world, but I feel like he’s looking at Roger as a guy who’s kind of being frivolous with all of this power in many ways. And I think that’s what the majority of the conflict has been this season. Now whether or not they get to a place where they’re able to –

RL: Hug it out?

JH: – work it out. Hug it out, yeah. (Laughs) Whoopee. When they’re sitting there getting their shaves, “That’s what I did to you? I made you a half a million dollars. Gee, I’m really sorry.” You know, it’s much less about money for Don as it is about control.

Now this starts to make sense. I am fascinated by his answer, and it was one of my biggest takeaways from the interview”the loss of power. I don’t know how I didn’t miss it. And how in Don’s mind, the loss of control and the loss of the friendship are intertwined.

Understand, I’m finally getting this insight mere days before the final episode is aired. And I’m ruminating on it, because I’m still a little confused and frankly, disappointed in myself.

I discussed it with some friends.

Me: Maybe it’s a guy thing. Maybe this was the kind of a man’s world dynamic that still eludes me.

My friends: Yeah maybe.

It wasn’t until the finale that I truly understood what’s been going on with Don. With all of them.

Sterling Cooper had been castrated. These guys were walking around with their balls cut off.

How each of them reacted was its own fascination. Remember, they’d seen all the layoffs. Bert was being old, quirky, and patient”playing well with others, figuring to bide his time. Roger did not know where he fit (understandably, considering the new org chart in Guy Walks Into an Ad Agency), and was getting a bit sloppy”he was too drunk to well manage the Madison Square Garden lunch. It was a bit different for Lane of course, who had handed his balls over voluntarily.

And there was Don was fighting it, and also fighting for something, whether it was trying to bring in his own clients or just order appropriate office supplies or being angry at Peggy for wanting more money or Sal for not keeping in line*. He was harder on his staff because nothing was good enough.

And nothing was. Good enough didn’t get you Madison Square Garden, and great didn’t get you Conrad Hilton. Don was making it happen, and nothing was being received. How frustrating.

Don Draper: I want to work.

Don’s life ostensibly fell apart in one day. And somehow, with hardly a pause for a breath, he walked into Coopers office and took his balls back. Then Roger, then Lane, gaining momentum Blues Brothers style. I know we weren’t the only ones who cheered out loud at Roger’s Let me make a call.

(please know that this fan/blogger is heartbroken at what may likely be the farewell of some of her favorite characters. but that is not what this post is about.)

Suddenly there was energy. And I finally understood just how deadened they all were since the takeover. Once I saw the life force rushing, I got it.

They are working. Working for something–building something exciting. And every time I watch that final scene, even think on it, tears of joy come to my eyes.

*Yes I just gave Don a pass on Sal. He doesn’t really deserve it and it certainly ain’t this simple, but it felt like one bit of truth in this context.


  67 Responses to “Productive.”

  1. OK, I'm going to go out on a limb and twist this a little…but are there any WOMEN here who struggle with control in their daily lives, today? I know I do. When I got married, my dad told my fella "well, you DO know that SHE will wear the pants in the family?" etc… Part of my father's commentary was based on the fact that I had already purchased my own home, remodeled some of it, furnished it, and so on – and there are certainly days now when it kills me to 'share' information…not that there's anything devious in mind, but I guess I want to keep something that's 'mine'…

    Am I the only woman who feels a need for SOME control and panics when it is taken from her???

    • Judy, I was just thinking yesterday, "empty nest" is painted as such a girly thing; a feminine, maternal, longing to smother blah blah blah blah; utterly different from masculinity. But my own experience is, your kid still has needs, but now, as an adult, you can't control the outcome. You can rule a baby with an iron fist. You can control your environment and not control, but strongly influence, your outcome. Not so different from a masculine realm or a masculine experience, is it? And then they turn 18 and you're supposed to be all hands off, but of course, as soon as you are, decay and disaster ensue. And you can't control it.

      See Judy? Not all about you. All about me.

  2. I realized when I wrote this what a male tone I was taking. Peggy's struggle with control for her life and career, Betty's struggle for control, these are being dealt with as well on the show, obviously. But the folks at the top of the old Sterling Cooper, who were, as we well know, white men, are the ones I am specifically talking discussing. It is Don's situation I could not wrap my head around.

    As a result of the coupe, they are all re-energized–Joan, Peggy, even Trudy.

  3. Nothing better for sadness than WORK! You could feel the excitement! It was romance anew, and pride.

  4. ok. It doesn't need to be about me…(haha). Carry on!

  5. My job here is comic relief. 🙂

  6. gaining momentum Blues Brothers style


  7. S3 is actually my least favourite season overall and the theme of this post is the exact reason for it. There was too much dreary Don/Betty marriage, too much oppression, too much dissatisfation…and not enough work , not enough office energy and vitality.

    For me, 3×13 put right what had been wrong with the whole season. It made the previous 12 episodes worth while, because they had to fight to get it and it felt earned.

    Don's attitude at work in S3 made perfect sense to me. By his own admission Don hates having his power taken away. It was taken – first by the British takeover and then by his contract. And yes, Don took his frustrations out on his office underlings because he can be a jerk like that. He can offload on less powerful people like Sal and Peggy to make himself feel better.

    Don wasn't the only one who "wanted to work" though. Since Pete and Peggy were taken to lunch by Duck Philips they had been feeling unappreciated and like their ideas weren't being listened to. Bert and Roger were being treated like they were useless old hasbeens. Lane was nothing but a mouthpiece for PPL. Joan discovered that married life and her dream doctor husband were the biggest disappointment ever. Harry feared he would die at his desk unnoticed. It was the perfect time for this collective of people to come together. It wasn't just Don. They were all fighting for vitality this season.

  8. Yes. YES.

    When Don said, "I want to work," my heart leaped. That's so true: you could see it in the force of his statement. If we can thank Connie for that, so be it.

    It's also a sentiment I share. I too want to work. Done well, there is really nothing else like it.

    I read the break between Don and Roger as a broken confidence, and Don as a grudge-holder: the guy who sees himself as a man of honor, even if that "honor" has become a suit he himself slips into and out of with alarming ease.

    What came between those two men wasn't money. It was a private exchange in a bar turned into court documents. Don doesn't like seeing his private stuff made public.

    If that box is going to be opened, he wants to be the one opening it. And translating the contents. God help Bets, should she forget this.

  9. “And nothing was. Good enough didn’t get you Madison Square Garden, and great didn’t get you Conrad Hilton. Don was making it happen, and nothing was being received. How frustrating.”

    I liken this to Pete's season. Despite all negative aspects of Pete's behavoir; his work is pretty damn good.

  10. "I made it." – Pete Campbell

    The epitaph for the 20th century. 🙂

  11. Totally agree. The season has seemed slow, especially the episodes after "Guy Walks into an Ad Agency" and "Seven Twenty Three." Even Don's affairs were slow. With Midge, Rachel, and Bobbie, there was so much energy. With Suzanne (and the stewardess, kinda), it was because he was tired and couldn't sleep. Even the revelation of Don's identity was kinda anti-climactic.

    There were too much family dramas (Drapers, Harrises, Campbells) and nothing about SC. The only memorable thing at that happened at SC after the lawn mower incident was the firing of Sal, which was totally sad. But when they set off to steal back the company, there was rush of energy so lacking earlier in the season. Someone compared it to Ocean 11 and I totally agree. All the action and emotion were back inter cut with moments of comedic genius from Roger's one-liners.

  12. Regarding the contract that Don had signed in the 7th episode . . . isn't he still beholden to it? Or was he fired by the new owners? What exactly happened? I missed it.

  13. There were too much family dramas (Drapers, Harrises, Campbells) and nothing about SC.

    Between the situation with Sal, the Patio account and Ann-Margret, Peggy's demand for more money and working on the Hilton account, Don's conflict with Sterling Cooper about his new contract, Pete's conflict about targeting African-American consumers, Paul's awareness of Peggy's talent and two social events for the Sterling Cooper employees – Roger's Derby Day party and Margaret Sterling's wedding – a lot happened with SC.

  14. #15 Empress Rouge, I just had a sudden thought about Suzanne: did Don start up with her in part because of baby Gene, and the need to escape his crying? I always wondered if we'd see Don sleep downstairs on the sofa (and we know he slept in his office at least once).

    On the "thumb" issue: I have experienced that, where you're given complete leeway, and then suddenly, on a whim, the boss suddenly yanks your authority away from you. Bad bosses do that, because they're threatened by the idea that someone is outperforming and might wind up valuable to a competitor.

    In Don's case, let's not forget he disappeared, just disappeared, at a crucial time last season for SC. He also got into it with Roger over Jane, and if there's one thing men are sensitive about, it's their wives and girlfriends. This season, that animosity finally spilled over, and yet, a healing took place. By the way, there are no contracts at SCD&P. Not yet.

  15. #10 & #15 are both great comments.

    falafel, love the assessment of every character being really in this same place. Empress, love the connection of Don's S3 affairs with insomnia.

  16. Lane fired Roger, Bert and Don–per their request, to get them out of their contracts.

    I just read on another blog that Lane had fired them . . . after PPL sold the company to the new owners (I missed the scene, because I was out of the room at the time). Is this true or not?

    If it is true, doesn't this mean that Pryce had no legal right to fire Roger, Bert and Don? And doesn't this mean that Don is still beholden to his contract?

  17. It was PPL being sold, not just SC. Although it's never stated explicitly, we can certainly infer that the deal had not been consummated, because it was still hush hush. Mostly likely, PPL and McCann would have had an agreement in principle, but that would have been subject to several conditions which, if not met, would allow either party to bail out. One of those conditions would certainly be that PPL deliver a certain amount of clients, people, etc. The mistake Sinjin made was assuming that Lane would continue to play lemming. Once Lane fired the top talent, and once the talent defected with key clients, the value of PPL was significantly diminished, and McCann would no longer be interested. That's what Sinjin was referring to when he told Lane he was costing the company millions — proceeds from the sale.

  18. I agree with falafel (as usual, it seems) but I think the problem for me this season is that it's a little too obvious that Weiner said, "here's where I want Don to be at the end of the season, now how do I get there?" rather than letting the characters and actions flow more realistically. I know it's kind of a paradox that what we like about this show in some ways is the overall story arc per season, but it's more satisfying if it doesn't really feel like a narrative, but more like real life. Does anyone know what I'm saying here? Season 2 seemed to strike the right balance to me, but S3 was a few really great episodes (Guy, Kentucky Home) intersperced with a whole lot of marking time ending up with the too perfect finale.

    Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the finale when I watched it, but at least 1/2 of that was simply relief that I was finally having a good time. I never felt that in previous seasons. And it hasn't set well with me since that first night. The more I think about it, the less I like the season.

  19. The sale was going to be effective January 1st. Happy New Year, 1964!

  20. I think this season focused so much on Don's home life and not enough on work for a reason. I too was getting sick of episodes revolving around Betty's sad little life (sorry, I know I'm pretty unfair to Betty. I acknowledge it but I just can't help it). But I think every episode was that way for a reason.

    I think we are supposed to get strong emotions as we watch this show. One of the emotions I got this season was a slight boredom, a dissatisfaction with the Ossining episodes. Do you really think that feeling was accidental? I don't. I think I was meant to feel dissatisified and vaguely bored. It made me long for change, for a big bang in the end – coincidence? I really think not.

  21. One of the emotions I got this season was a slight boredom, a dissatisfaction with the Ossining episodes. Do you really think that feeling was accidental? I don’t.

    Here's a great strategy: bore your viewers to the point of total annoyance, then have one great entertaining episode. Do we really think this was planned like this? There's not giving viewers what they want and then there's alienating them. You can withhold things from me, hurt or kill off my favourite charcters, do whatever you want plot-wise, but don't bore me for heaven's sake.

  22. Donny Brook – Sometime I'm going to go back and re-watch the whole season in some marathon weekend and maybe then I'll feel differently, but my impression during this season was that MW had a story to tell, but it really was more like a 6-7 episode story, not a 13-episode story. He knew where he was starting from, and he knew where he needed to end up, but he had to fill 11 episodes in between.

    That said, the last episode was such a great cathartic explosion of positive energy, for now it seems worth it.

    And yes, Dark Peggy – for a brief moment I too was mad at Connie, until I realized he really WAS being a good father to Don. He could have waited until the sale was final to pull his account from Don at which point it would have been way too late for Don to do anything about it, but instead he gave him a heads up and some stern but insightful words of advice. Also, although there was probably no real business risk on Connie's part for doing so (especially as he had already decided to pull his account from McCann soon anyway), I'm SURE McCann assumed they were telling Connie in confidence about the PPL sale.

    Not sure we'll see Connie again, but if we do, I wouldn't be surprised to find that Connie was using this as a test for Don, to see if he really could be the man Connie thought he was. To "think bigger," so to speak.

    I'll miss Connie if he doesn't come back – I thought the scenes with him, and his relationship with Don, were wonderful.

  23. #25, thank you, musingegret. I'm always amazed at how men can heal their differences, where women (and I am generalizing based on my own experience) sometimes can't let things go. The guys I work with can shout at each other at meetings, and then go for beers afterwards.

    #31 gypsy, here's a thought. You have to figure MW had S1 and perhaps S2 well plotted out, at least in his head, because he lived with these characters for so long until the show was picked up. But S3 may have been written more under pressure. I seem to remember MW saying last spring that he wasn't finished with all the scripts. Perhaps he had never given as much to S3 and that's why it seems like it was two halves, rather than a smooth continuum.

    You could easily start watching this season midway through and not miss all that much. Or am I wrong?

  24. brenda- you're probably right.

    How many weeks until Season 4 starts? I hope MW has a headful of great stories to tell us. If he's having difficulty coming up with enough, he can email me – I have dozens.

    Maybe The Lipp Ladies could assign one episode a week for us to watch, starting with "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and we can re-blog each one until S4 starts. I only discovered MM earlier this summer (thank you, daughter howell, for recording S1 and S2!) and this blog late this summer, so it will be all-new for me!


  25. Regarding Don and Roger's broken friendship:
    YodaBert sensed that Don was annoyed that sold them all out to marry Jane just like Roger sensed Don's dislike of Duck after forced them to drop Mohawk for AA. Roger's calling Betty about the contract was the last straw. Remember in "Shoot", Don decided to stay at SC after receiving Betty's modeling proofs and that was the last straw then. He then said to Roger "I like the way you do business." i.e. you don't mess with my family. When Roger called Betty, it invalidated the very reason he stayed on at SC.

    Anyone notice the parallels between the Don-Suzanne and Henry-Betty affairs?

    Don first spies Suzanne, dressed in angelic white, from afar and is intrigued. Henry first spies Betty, dressed in bridal white, and chats her up.

    Suzanne formally meets the Drapers at a conference about Sally. Henry is formally introduced to the Drapers at the Derby day party.

    Mr. Hanson talks to Don about how hot Suzanne is before she comes over to hit on Don. Mrs. Hanson gets Betty to join the Jr. League and then call Henry. She also notices Betty and Henry making eyes at each other.

    Both affairs start with innocent phone calls: Suzanne's drunk dial and Betty about the reservoir.

    Suzanne wants Don to meet her brother. Henry talks about Betty to his daughter.

    Of course, the hang up Sally picks up, that leads to Don and Betty to both panic.

  26. Empress Rouge- you forgot the most obvious parallel –

    Don+Suzanne = not hot
    Betty+Henry = not hot


  27. Judy, we are only 5 sisters. But there are 2 brothers.

  28. But the fact that it was well-off white men who felt emasculated at once made that loss an urgent problem and justified the agency those men had, to make changes.

    I doubt that if Roger and Bert had not the life rafts of their personal fortunes underneath them, they would have made any move outside SC. As for Don, he had to cleave to those fortunes in order to provide for his future, plus any divorce settlement he negotiated. Despite any future cost controls Lane creates, Don once again is close to sources of money that matter.

  29. #35 – I do have a slightly different opinion. I actually sense some chemistry between Henry and Betty. It could be because they have very few interactions/lines together. With Don and Suzanne, their conservations bore me. It makes Betty and Henry look like they have fireworks. Especially Suzanne's "I'm trying wayyyy too hard be youthful and channel bohemian Midge and the emotional connection of Rachel." Suzanne's delivery is very dead: no life, no emotion.

  30. I actually really liked eps 1-6 of S3. I didn't feel the imbalance at that stage. Not to say that eps 7-12 were bad. Many of them were excellent. But all those episodes in that second half were 70% Don/Betty story and precious little office time. Eps like 'Souviner' and 'Gypsy & the Hobo' were set almost entirely outside the office. I just think there was a very noticeable imbalance. There were a lot of office stories and characters that could have used more development.

    And, damn it, I'm still pissed off about Suzanne Farrell who was not only unconvincing and dull viewing, but ultimately pointless. It still maddens me that they spent so much time on that Don/Suzy's vapid affair when it contributed nothing to the plot. Henry was a bore too but at least he had a purpose by the end.

  31. gypsy, that's pretty much what I was getting at. If he only had 7 eps worth of stuff about Don in there, couldn't he have given us more Peggy, Joan, Roger & Pete? I felt they were kind of ignored. And I really hope Matt doesn't employ the "see how great it feels when I stop beating my head against the wall" plotting next year.

    All this scrotum imagery is making me bored yet again. Have a nice weekend y'all.

  32. Like I said, Empress, YMMV. But every time Henry kisses Betty, I'm *almost* in Peggy-Duck territory.

    Hot is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

  33. Roberta, I thought it humanized Roger a lot, and provided a little bit of backstory on him. I liked it. And at least we didn't spend half the freakin' season on it!

  34. Yeah, the only hot scenes all year were Sal & the bellhop and Don & Betty in Italy. All the rest were creepy or unconvincing.

    Come on, Matt! Next year we want hot sex and hot, hot virile movers & shakers. None of this impotent rage bs!

  35. Empress Rouge, I'm with you. I felt real warmth, if not "the heat," in the Betty – Henry scenes.

    The Maypole scene with Suzanne was magical (as it was at once, happening and as Don imagined it). Suzanne had a personality in the classroom scene with the Drapers. From the drunk dialing scene forward, the character fell flat. There was no there there to convince me of any genuine connection between Don and Suzanne.

    • I really wonder if it was the actress. Really and truly. If you look at the words on the page of some of the other characters and put them into the hands of a lesser actor, they could fall flat. The actors keep saying that the words do all the work, but these are all amazing actors. All of them. And the words are brilliant, but sometimes odd, and I've asked myself, what would some of ____'s lines (Pete, for example) sound like in the hands of a lesser actor? It's possible we just found out. I'm not sure. I don't know if I'll ever be sure. This girl was lovely, but I never really knew who she was, the way I knew in an instant who Midge, Rachel and Bobbie were.

  36. Maybe that was the theme of Season 3 – Even the Sex is Lousy.

  37. #42 – good call, me too. I think the only thing Betty likes about Henry is the attention being paid to her (a symptom of her cluelessly-still-a-little-girl attitude).

    I'll be very surprised if she actually marries him. One trip around the maypole with Henry and she'll be bored again. (Remember, the 5 minute fling in the bathroom with the tall dark stranger seemed to pacify her for a while as well).

    I fear a soap opera element and REALLY hope the show will steer back into the office life of SCDP much more in S4.

  38. I agree Roberta- I never felt it was the words at fault particularly- I just didn't "get" anything from Suzanne (or Abigail Spencer, I guess)

    I kept wanting to . How can you be in bed with Don and NOT feel like it's hot. And yet… I guess you can!

    As for Henry — "Please remove your tongue from my mouth"


  39. #36 Deborah. We have 2 brothers as well. Eight crazy offspring. This is why I only have one – I am the eldest, chief baby-sitter, fixer of roofs w/dad, canner of pickles with mom…oh de doo dah day.

  40. @46 Gypsy, LOL! 🙂 But seriously, lousy sex was part of what Betty was experiencing with Don (different when he'd been with other women, and then there was Valentine's Day … if only you would tell me what to do … ). She must have felt terribly unsatisfied and on some level that it was all her fault (never enough for you). It must have been hot in the beginning, but since we've known the Drapers, he's only loved her like a lover when they were role playing in Rome, too late and too fake.

    @ 50 Roberta, The baby bump fondling as introduction made me very skeptical of Henry. I thought he was going to be an older Glenn Bishop. 🙂

  41. #40 – Roberta, Annabelle was S3's Joy. They both appear in episode 11 to reveal something about the men's sexual boundaries: no more cheating for Roger; no "free-love" for Don. The characters were "OK" because they were only there for one episode and didn't linger to annoy us.

  42. No more cheating for Roger? Ya think? I just thought he was blowing off that particular woman. If Joan wanted to start up again, what do you think he'd do? He's getting tired of Jane already.

    Baby bump fondling – blech.

  43. Re: #19 Brenda’s comment: “He also got into it with Roger over Jane, and if there’s one thing men are sensitive about, it’s their wives and girlfriends. ”

    Thank you Brenda. That observation helped clarify for me why Roger told Don in the bar that he (Roger) was going to tell Don about Henry Francis but then Roger added, “no, I wasn’t.” That candid sharing only came about when Don asked about a recommendation for a divorce lawyer. And obviously, those men are mending fences now that the “one-for-all, all-for-one” breakaway has begun.

    Also, didn’t Roger make a snarky comment about Betty being “Grace Kelly with a basketball” earlier in the season? (in Don’s hearing?) Maybe now the healing has begun (using pop psychology terms).

    Excellent analytical post Ms. Roberta. Many thanks for additional ‘food.’

  44. #54 – Ok, not actually "no more cheating for Roger" just no cheating for Roger in THAT episode.

  45. The secretary crumpled the paper, and she tossed it away to make a fresh start.

    This triggered Don’s memory of Archie crumpling the paper (contract) that bound his production to the cooperative. He chose to go it alone, with lethal consequences.

    This is the image that I keep coming back to from the Season 3 finale.

    Throwing away past mistakes, making a fresh start having learned to avoid the potentially fatal mistake of trying to go it alone. It all lead up to that.

  46. @26 Lori, what an excellent point. I never thought about it but I had the same slight boredom with the Ossining focus and in a way it seems like the viewers (or at least those of us who felt that way) were getting a taste of Betty’s ennui and then bang she made a big change and Don did as well, and given his fooling around he must have been rather bored as well. Thanks for giving me that insight!

    Also on a side note and not really approps of this discussion, I must say that even though I was really disappointed in Connie’s last meeting with Don and sort of felt mad and hurt on Don’s behalf, it hit me later what a big favor he was doing for Don by telling him about the upcoming sale; withough that let gem of information and the “you aren’t one of those whiners” speech set Don in motion to put the kids togehter and put on a show!

  47. #8 Deborah – I want to comment and then go back and read all the other fine notes here…but yeah, the empty-nest thing is too girly for me…I work all day (with the spouse)…come home (to the spouse)…and I kinda putter around, interrupted by text-messages from my 20-yr-old daughter, who “needs my advice” about this or that…part of me says “ok, this is what we’ll do”…but I end up responding “well, what do YOU think you should do?”…I usually want to go to her school & knock heads together…whether its professors or suitemates…and tell them “no, THIS is how things have to be done”…

    Feh. I hate losing control – my solace? Food….which sadly I don’t do a good job…controlling…

    Now back to our regularly scheduled Deborah-show. 🙂 So it can be about her (and rightfully so) once again. Oh, and her sister, too! (says she of a family of 6 sisters…oy vey)

  48. #47 – Leslie, "I fear a soap opera element and REALLY hope the show will steer back into the office life of SCDP much more in S4."

    Wherever MW takes us, and whether or not it's where we want to go, I totally trust that it will not be soapy.

    Simply because the amazing change in advertising in the mid-1960s is a great story to tell or because it offers a great backdrop for the story remaining to be told, I'm guessing we will be there.

  49. I thought the Annabelle storyline was interesting. When she and Roger first re-connect (in that scene with Bert and Don), there is a lot of flirting and fire. Then she asks him out to dinner, and he has that reluctance combined with curiousity. Then they go out to dinner, and he is such an interesting mix of nervousness and thoughtfulness. He reveals more about his past during that dinner then we usually get to see.

    Then after dinner, there is that moment where I feel him almost give into the moment but then he stops himself pretty abruptly, and reminds her he is married/newlywed. I think he was tempted but not tempted enough to cheat.

    Later in the scenes on the phone with Joan, it is interesting because I further get that sense of Roger not being completely fulfilled. He made the big speech to Annabelle about how Jane is so lovely and uncomplicated, and he's happy. But then he seems really excited to talk with Joan. Sure, nothing happened (and he agreed to help her find work), but there was that sense of something being stirred.

    It's interesting how he tells Annabelle she wasn't "the one" but then we are never really sure if Jane is truly the one, or he just means he has never really found the one.

  50. I was wondering about something earlier in the season when we ( I should say all of you guys) were discussing the lack of Don's creativity, there was no Kodak moment etc. Do you think the letter (sigh) he wrote Betty at the end of season 2 was such a huge sell job for him that it pooped him out creatively? I've been thinking that he seemed creatively exhausted all season and the exhaustion coupled with the loss of power led to his problems at work this season. He's bouncing back though and I am sooo excited for S4!

  51. The Roger/Annabelle thing was interesting because he makes it sound to her like he's passionately in love with his wife, which is the thing he's been insisting to everyone all along — yet, in the very next episode, what do we see? Him and Jane fighting bitterly, and definitely NOT for the first time, and him dumping her drunken ass mirthlessly on the bed. You wonder how long he's been BS-ing the whole world about their blissful union.

    I had no trouble seeing what was happening to Don work-wise: He's in a slump, which may or may not be temporary. At some point, almost every creative person who's been financially successful loses touch with the public's taste, and either gets it back later or doesn't.

    Don is coming out of a period where he hardly had to try, pearls just spilled out of his mouth and what he had to offer was exactly what clients wanted. Now they, like everyone else around him (including his kids!), are demanding more of him. Three years ago, he could scarcely have imagined a client grumbling, "But I wanted the moon!" Things are changing at a dizzying speed, and they're not going to change back.

    The fact that he reaches out to Peggy and Pete (and I think the Suzanne affair had something to do with this too) means he's aware that he's having trouble keeping up all by himself and doesn't really understand what's going on out there. (Certainly Betty couldn't tell him; she's even more conservative than he is.) You wonder how Mr. Take Your Hat Off In The Elevator is going to deal with hippie rebellion when it takes over the culture (or at least New York) for real, when it becomes more than just an amusing diversion for him. In the 1960s, you couldn't love Sinatra AND the MC5; you had to pick.

  52. The main reason Don wanted to start a new company was..
    .. he wanted to be free of his contract! (just kidding)

    I loved looking at the group from Dons point of view, I felt like there is hope!

  53. I used to see Abigail Spencer on All My Children a number of years ago and I could never shake the image of her as a soap actress when I was watching her on Mad Men.

  54. Thank you Roberta. I have been scratching my head abit too. I've asked the question in other posts here: why is Don so angry with Roger b/c he wasn't angry when he first heard about the sale; he seemed a little delighted to be getting $500,000 as his share? However, he began increasingly more angry w/Roger until their "blow up" at the Kentucky Derby. I get it… macho, balls cut off, slowly realizing he was nothing more than a "ping pong ball" (isn't that what he said to Bert Cooper daring him to buy back the company instead of "sealing himself up in his golden coffin" and taking the young men with him?). Excellent post, as always.

  55. GMW, that's it exactly, and I didn't have her history to taint my view. Sometimes the difference between good and great is subtle, but it truly had its way with us via this performance.

    Here's the other thing about Roger, re Jane–he's gotta be bored. Jane may be intelligent, but I doubt she's interesting to Roger. I know we're all looking at Joan, but also, look at Mona–these are two women who can hold their own when it comes to sharp, witty rapport. We haven't seen much of Jane, but not only is she young, I think she also takes herself too seriously. And I think that when he thought about retiring now, it wasn't the threat of dying in three years, but living–spending all his days with his wife. Roger needs a job!

  56. Not sure where to post this – just want to say I'm having total phantom limb syndrome tonight without MM at 10. JJ on SNL last night just didn't cut it for me. Please tell me they're already shooting season 4 – Deborah? Roberta? Anybody?!?

    • Yes. They are already shooting season 4–it will start back up in about three weeks.

      (Does that really help? Really?)

      Btw, I totally get the phantom limb thing, but it's especially apropos, no?

  57. The more I think about it, the insistence on including the Kennedy episode is to blame for much of the season-long slowdown; it was like all of the action had to wait until after Dallas because they needed to have both Sterling Cooper and the Draper family still intact in order to show everyone impressively frowning. This could have been avoided by either bypassing the entire year; or if they insisted on dealing with it, by beginning the season in late 1963, and have the Kennedy thing occur in the 2nd or 3rd episode, and all the plot points would have been free to unroll in the wake of the event and into early 1964.

  58. At the beginning of the season, MW said he thought the key image for the entire season would be Don Draper's bare feet. And now, after seeing the entire season, I have (at least I think I have) a fairly good idea of why he said that. This season was all about stripping Don Draper's life down to the essentials: which means the revelation and (at least the beginning of) the integration of Don Draper/Dick Whitman into a man with, if you will pardon the expression, his feet firmly on the ground.

    No, this season wasn't as purely entertaining as the first two seasons, but watching the dissolution of a marriage isn't really the pure entertainment that seeing the skulduggery and infighting of a competitive workplace is. In one sense, I did find it interesting as a dramatic choice to focus more attention on Ossining this season. We rarely if ever get a story about how a marriage breaks up with this kind of depth. And, as with every serious relationship, it wasn't pretty. And no, it wasn't "entertaining."

    But I do think it was *necessary*, at least in terms of the story MW seems to want to present: which I believe (particularly this season), is how a man with a fractured personality grows up. I know that that process can happen in two ways (often simultaneously): a slow evolution, with some periods of radical change, usually brought about by a crisis.

    The other thing that I haven't seen anyone mention is how this season's finale links so well to the the tarot card reading from last season. I've been reading Tarot for decades, and I was really impressed by the layout of cards they chose for that reading. Anna explained that the key to the reading was The World or, more specifically, Don's belief that he was all alone in the world, and that it was this which was keeping him from being happy.

    Well, a man who can say to Peggy, "Will you help me?" is a man who has been stripped of his illusion that he has to do everything on his own. He has begun that integration in the workplace world. It will be interesting to see if/how that continues and if he is also able to do the same kind of growing/healing in his personal life.

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