Now Sold Separately

 Posted by on October 20, 2010 at 9:30 am  Characters
Oct 202010

Things aren’t perfect.

So you’ll move again.

– Betty Francis and Don Draper, Tomorrowland

It’s a poignant scene, just before the close of the fourth season of Mad Men:  Don Draper and Betty Francis (formerly Draper), talking quietly over a mug of whiskey in what used to be their kitchen.  They are discussing houses … or are they?

For so long, we wondered how she could have stayed with him, or he with her.  We wondered what they ever saw in each other.  It turns out that Don and Betty may only want what they wanted when they met each other — which, it turns out, is still a lot.

The fresh start.  Both Don and Betty are in love with this, as much as they are with love itself; romance, falling.  Each of them thrills to the idea of being caught, just before a crash landing, by someone new and perfect.  Or is it the concept of getting caught that delights them?  Both Don and Betty do love secrets.

Certainly, the idea of rescue (from either end:  being the rescued or the rescuer) captivates them both.

The impulse.  All intuitive warnings aside, Don and Betty love a thunderbolt from a clear sky.  For Betty, it may be a handsome man who steps from the crowd at a Derby Day party and singles her out.  Or a message from her TV (“Am I crazy?  I don’t think so”).  For Don, the world is no less rife with signs and wonders:  the message in the painting, in the face of the fresh young girl smiling at him across the desk.  Forget the sick feeling in your stomach, Don.  When he sees the sign, he feels better; he knows what he must do.

Other people might wait, listen to others, question the impulse to take a secretary to California or move because of the neighbor boy.  Not Don, not Betty.  Not ever.

The renovation.  These two love to make things over, don’t they?  Redecorate the living room with the best accessories and Glow Decorations around.  Tear out the kitchen in the new house.  Ransack the old firm and build a new one.  Say No to Tobacco (in The New York Times).  Move on up, make it over, make it more about me.  And when it can’t be about them anymore, then what?

The move.  Of course.  “You’ll move again.”  Yes: both Betty and Don will.  Each of them will move again, over and over, to other places, to what they will always be sure are new and better lives, with new and better people.  The new companion maids cleaning service is the same as the old:  Deliver the walking papers to those who knew them best, and get to work on forgetting.  It will shock you how much this never happened.

Out with the old.  Never mind how well the old friends and allies (Carla?  Who is that?) served both Betty and Don, or how long they traveled alongside the couple formerly known as the Drapers.  Never mind how long those friendships lasted, or what they shared:  confidences, baby clothes, grown-up party dresses, last-minute babysitting those friends never minded.  When either Don or Betty moves on, most of the old friends become part of the past.  Into the box they go!

The new love, Don or Betty’s new choice:  This person is in love, and to his or her eyes much better and more beautiful than the old.  He or she has one great advantage the old choices can not offer:  that of not knowing Don or Betty at all.  Not yet.  This is a magical time, the moment of the new being still new.  It’s so brief and perfect, like the five minutes before sunset.  How well they both know.

As Henry Francis seems to have learned, darkness falls fast.


  73 Responses to “Now Sold Separately”

  1. This is great, Anne!! And so true. I always thought that Don and Bets were a lot alike. And I loved that closing scene of the 2 of them talking and sharing a drink. It was bittersweet, and for so little that was said between the 2, so much was said.

    Great post.

  2. Gosh, I have to say I think this post entirely misses every mark. It makes Don and Betty seem like hopeless romantics, in love with love. I think it’s closer to the truth that each one needs to be filled with *some*thing, and what that is is answered by the whole series. This is not at all the same thing as “in love with love”.

    Also, I believe the term “nee” is only applicable to a woman’s maiden name, as it’s French and it means “born”, i.e. Joan Harris (nee Holloway). It is not used for the divorced and remarried.

  3. I don’t believe that Don will actually marry the secretary or that he really loves her. He’s just looking for a babysitter he can sleep with.
    Funny how all the women he nearly runs off with are brunettes!

  4. Don and Betty have a symbiotic relationship and always have had. Their divorce did not end it,and sadly they are pulling Sally into it. I felt that Don and Betty might have been thinking about having sex. Don and Betty will be part of Season 5; Henry and Megan, good luck, you will need it.

  5. It makes Don and Betty seem like hopeless romantics, in love with love.

    ??? I think Anne B makes it pretty clear that Don and Betty are not “hopeless romantics”; they’re self-centered, destructive people. They’re like the rich folks in “The Great Gatsby”; they want what they want, and to hell with everybody else, whether it’s Carla, the kids, their spouse, etc. They’re alike in that they only like “the beginnings of things”. They only like “the fresh start”, not the hard work that goes into maintaining things and making them grow. When the going gets tough, Don and Betty get going–to another lover, to another house, etc.

  6. I rooted for Don to leave Betty. I don’t know why. Maybe I wanted it for Bobby and Sally, later for Gene too. I wanted it for Don. I wanted it for me. I really wanted it for Sally. Who knows?

    But, watching that scene with Don and Betty in a mostly empty kitchen space, made me think that these two were once made for each other. They loved the idea of perfection. It took me awhile to realize that Don craves perfection as much as Betty does. I thought of Betty as the spoiled main line brat, which she was. Don, the ambitious underdog over-acheived made a life for himself. Right? No. The truth is that he stole his life. He took Don Draper’s identity and tricked Roger Sterling into hiring him. After that, he married that beautiful model from his fur ads. He lived in that lie of perfection quite comfortably, cheating whenever he wanted to armed with the excuse that he wasn’t really who he pretended to be. Betty didn’t have that luxury and when the perfection was so irretreivably blemished she had to end it. That jolt might have been enough to wake them up. Don didn’t wake up, but Betty did.

    Betty, as a result, might be more grounded now. She couldn’t live with the lie anymore. She still craves perfection from herself, from Sally, Carla, strangelyeven from Don. However, she is becoming more and more aware that it doesn’t exist. She is becoming unspoiled. Don demonstrated this season that he doesn’t want to know that imperfection exists. He turned to the bottle first, violent whores next, then dove deeper into denial with the “we dumped Big Tobacco” letter/ad. Finally, he attempts to resolve his restlessness with a quick engagement. By comparison, Betty’s the grown-up now.

  7. Beautifully put!

    And I don’t really see that much of a conflict between being a hopeless romantic in love with the idea of love, and being a selfish seeker of new thrills. Sure, you can be one or the other without being both, but they can coexist quite easily.

  8. I’m struck by how easily all of these points describe larger events in 1960s America: urban renewal, the growth of the suburbs, an increasingly mobile society. The 60s love affair with all things new and modern may have been a “fresh start” for the post-war generation, yet we’re still dealing with many of its effects today.

  9. Good point on the similarities btwn Don and Betty.

    Re: #6

    I agree that they are made for each other in many ways. And I think Betty will grow. Right thing for the wrong reason again perhaps? Betty is being forced to mature because Don has officially moved on. I agree with the interpretation that she purposely waited for him. She was hoping to see what was there and she realized it is done (for now). Don is with someone new. She has to make it work with Henry.

    Still, we all know Betty will learn as little as possible. Like with most of us, MM characters are two steps forward, one and a half steps back.

  10. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lisa DeSantis, Cantara Christopher. Cantara Christopher said: [Mad Men] Now Sold Separately: Things aren’t perfect. So you’ll move again. – Betty Francis and Don Draper, Tomorr… […]

  11. Actually, I don’t see much similarity in their motivations. Betty was caught in a marriage to a pathological liar and cheater. Although she always wondered what she didn’t know, it never occurred to Betty to leave Don until his lies were made plain to her. Realistically, she could see no other way to get out from under Don, but to keep the status quo, than to find another man. She didn’t really want something so new, she just wanted to keep on being kept by a man who wouldn’t lie to her.

    In Henry, Betty actually chose well. Henry turned out to be her Dr. Faye. He’s mature and he expects and demands that Betty act like a grownup. (It remains to be seen whether she can rise to Henry’s level.) When reality set in, as it does for everyone, she didn’t move on to someone new, she thought about going backwards, to Don. If Don were like her, he’d be with that schoolteacher now.

    Don is the one who is always trying to reinvent himself, but Betty is Betty is Betty.

  12. I thought the same thing about the “you’ll move again” line, but you take this way beyond–love the insight that they are so much alike. I’d just never seen it this way.

  13. @#2 LaurenE re “I believe the term “née” is only applicable to a woman’s maiden name, as it’s French and it means “born”, i.e. Joan Harris (née Holloway). It is not used for the divorced and remarried.”

    You beat me to it. (We were both channeling our inner Megans, with that French.) It does indeed mean “born”. The term Anne should’ve used was “formerly.”

    Another use (of the masculine version) would be: Don Draper, né Dick Whitman.

  14. @ BJ #5

    They’re like the rich folks in “The Great Gatsby”; they want what they want, and to hell with everybody else

    Hmmm…, I (and many others here) have thought of Don and Betty as Gatsby and Daisy, but I hadn’t considered them as Tom Buchanan and Daisy:

    “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or vast carelessness or whatever it is that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

    That does sound a little like Don and Betty, in that they do leave a mess behind due to their selfishness and thoughtlessness. But, unlike Tom and Daisy, Don and Betty do suffer for it. Their pasts dog them no matter how much they insist on leaving them behind.

    This is part of Don’s tragedy. For all the “this never happened” philosophy, on some level he does want to be known. The two most touching moments of the season were Anna’s telling him “I know everything about you, and I still love you,” and his telling Peggy at Anna’s death that she was the “the only person who really knew me” and Peggy responding “that’s not true.” That’s why he never left Anna behind, and why I don’t think he’ll ever leave Peggy behind. (If the Don/Peggy bond is ever shattered, I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to keep watching the show.)

  15. I’d also like to mention that January Jones had me tearing up in that scene. Is it just that she’s a beautiful blonde that makes people think she can’t act?

  16. Re; futures of Don and Betty: I keep thinking of my mother in law and her husband. Both married in the early 60’s for about a decade to the spouse they had all their children with, nasty divorces, both remarried quickly and divorced in about 2 or so years, both had no intention of ever marrying ever again untill many years later when they met each other, lived together for several years and were in fact married for a whole year before they told anyone the truth. On Valentines day, their 1st anniversary. This is what I see for both Betty and Don.

  17. @#6 mowhawk airlines re “She still craves perfection from herself, from Sally, Carla, strangely even from Don. However, she is becoming more and more aware that it doesn’t exist. She is becoming unspoiled.”

    I disagree with you that Betty is becoming more aware that perfection doesn’t exist. I thought her line, “It’s not perfect,” was so sad precisely because it showed that while she realizes that her marriage with Henry isn’t perfect, she still thinks that perfection is attainable, somewhere, somehow. She was SAD that her marriage wasn’t perfect, which is a very childish reaction — no marriage is. Rather than trying to work on her marriage to Henry, she was hanging around the house waiting for Don, seemingly hoping to make a play for him. Even being tempted to run back to your lying, cheating former spouse when your current truthful, faithful spouse isn’t happy with your childish behavior isn’t the mark of someone becoming any less spoiled.

    I agree — Betty is Betty is Betty. Maybe she’ll decide to grow up sometime, but it sure hasn’t happened yet.

  18. #11 Donny Brook, in a sense, Henry did what Don is doing with Megan. He sized up Betty, he saw something he wanted, when she signaled to him that she was available, he moved in and captured her. Now, he’s seeing what happens when a rational man acts impulsively.

    I’m in the minority, but I did not sense an attraction on Don’s side in the kitchen. If anything, I thought the moment ended any pull that Betty had for Don. He was seeing a woman who is never satisfied — not with him, not with Henry, not with Carla, not with a house.

    Betty, meanwhile, was looking at Don and remembering a man who pretty much left her alone except for moments such as the bikini and the time when Roger flirted with her in the kitchen. He left running the house to her, the kids to her, he paid for the riding lessons and enjoyed how she looked. He just wasn’t truthful about himself or his past (oh, that little thing 🙂

    Henry is insisting she grow up. Don never insisted on that, he just found grown up company elsewhere. Betty is weighing the two and finding it’s much easier to be treated as a child with no expectations.

  19. #15; Yes, I think so.Beautiful folks, especially in the acting world, seem to have to work that much harder to be recognised as anything but genetically gifted bubble-brains. I once heard George Clooney say he was thrilled when his looks began to ebb at around thirty, that mabey he could now get parts that required more than a pretty face. Works that way for male actors, anyway. By the time January’s face shows some seasoning, unfortunately, her work will likely dry up as has happened zillions of times before with good actresses who are no longer daisy-fresh. Sucks. I’ve become a big fan of JJ’s .

  20. Very thoughtful post as usual, Anne, and some interesting comments too.

    With regard to Donny Brook’s post (#11) – some good points. I think Betty did what many women in her position in the early ’60s would probably do. I assume so, anyway, just going by things I hear and read (I wasn’t around then….). I’m sure it was much rarer and braver to be a single/divorced woman, with some alimony and child support help, but still largely on her own.

    Betty is a classic example of someone who is looking on the other side of the fence. (Where the grass is always greener.) Henry seemed perfect before she married him. Now that she is married to him, and they don’t always get along and he finds fault with her sometimes, she feels like she wants to look beyond her (new) house and see what else is out there. And she sees the one who used to live in her yard, Don.

    #18 Brenda: I think it would be odd if Don showed any apparent longing for Betty at this point. He’s thinking towards the future, and the proposal to Megan is still so fresh, in his mind and everything else. I think that is the utmost thing for him right now (and it should be).

  21. #15 Donny Brook

    They sure do a great job of making Betty Draper look great, when they want to. Her smile in that scene reconnected the viewer (at least this viewer) with how beautiful she could be, before she became the Wicked Witch of Ossning. Remember how stunning she was during the trip to Italy? (S3, Ep8 The Souvenir.)

    I have to think that if Don was lost in the thralls of French-Canadian love, then that smile would have reeled him in. Of course, it’s been a bad year for Betty, so bad, in fact, that Henry opts to send time alone with his Ballantine Ale, while Betty sleeps alone on an unmade bed. Unbelievable! And this coming from a guy who used to enjoy Ballantine Ale.

  22. Great comments all, and special thanks to the board’s “Megans” (LaurenE and JoanBetty) for finding my mistake in the maiden/married name. (My husband did too.) I’ve since corrected it.

    #8 1957 Sally, what an amazing comment. The broader landscape of the time is a great canvas for this discussion — and really, the only proper context for it.

    You’re all so freaking brilliant. 🙂

  23. “She was SAD that her marriage wasn’t perfect, which is a very childish reaction — no marriage is.”

    I don’t see those as being mutually exclusive, either. It’s just as sad to not have what you crave, whether it exists or not. It can be even sadder if you’ve worked for something, to realize that all that work was in vain.

    A lot of women were (and arguably, often still are) sold a bill of goods that says if you’ll only do A, B, and C, you’ll have X. If you don’t end up with X, you must not have tried A, B, and C hard enough. Never mind that X is as rare as Wonderflonium, if it even exists.

  24. Interesting post.

    I think that Don looks happier and Betty looks sadder.

    But Don is clearly in la-la land about marrying Megan. I don’t mean that as a dig at Megan. It just doesn’t seem like it is built on a solid, real foundation.

    If Betty and Henry divorce or go way down hill, then Betty may or may not be wiser.

    But Betty is dealing with realities. They are difficult.

    If Betty is capable of working on her marriage and staying with Henry, she might be in a better place.

    The fact that Don and Megan “have no foundation” doesn’t make their relationship doomed–it just means it is a complete unknown.

  25. #24 Lady K re: “…about marrying Megan. I don’t mean that as a dig at Megan. It just doesn’t seem like it is built on a solid, real foundation.”

    I disagree because Megan already has a hold on the Draper children, and that’s a huge foundation… even more significant in 1965 than today. Don is concerned about his kids, especially Sally, and Megan appears to be very important in that.

    It’s an obvious point, but Faye or Rachel never had anything nearly as sound upon which to build a relationship. And, as I’ve speculated, if Season 5 has Betty away in rehab or in Reno or wherever, then Don & Megan would be in line to get temporary custody of the kids. Even if Don learns to hate French, he’s not going to tear Megan out of his kids’ lives.

  26. #25 David.

    I am a step mother, and it is one of the hardest roles there is to play.

    I used to be Megan–big teeth and all (though not as gorgeous). I was “great with kids.” I taught. I babysat. Kids LOVED me.

    Maybe I am a better step mother now because of that, but it did not ‘save’ me, my husband, or the child from all the growing pains of becoming a step family.

    What is going to be the most troubling for Megan is that Don seems to want to marry Megan so she can “be the parent” so Don doesn’t have to do it when it gets hard. That rarely works.

    The Brady Bunch and Sound of Music are not real life.

    If MW makes the Don/Megan marriage adjustment look easy for the kids, I am going to be upset.

    In so many other ways, MW has shown the real life struggles these people are experiencing. If he takes one of the biggest challenges there is (becoming a step family) and makes it look like a walk in the park, I’m going to think he’s sold out on emotional honesty.

  27. I suppose it’s so obvious that most people are going beyond it, but what struck me about the exchange:

    “Things aren’t perfect.”

    “So you’ll move again.”

    was the disconnect. We know Betty was speaking about her marriage to Henry, but Don was totally oblivious and/or chose to ignore the clear implication (I think oblivious, no choice involved). Don thought Betty was referring to her new *house* in Rye. That’s why he says “So you’ll move again” – if the house isn’t satisfactory. As others have said here, Betty was feeling a bit nostalgic about Don, maybe reaching out to him, but he – wrapped up in his new falling in love with Megan, definitely not looking backwards to Betty as he might have 2 or 3 months after the split – had no idea. Of course there can be added resonance for us the viewers, in the meaning of Betty “moving” on again, but that’s not what Don meant. They’re in different places, and Betty has no one to turn to.

  28. I loved the moment when Don pulled out the bottle of booze he had hidden in the cabinent, and Betty laughed. It looked to me like it was an almost out of character moment for January or it was a true moment between Betty and Don. He gave her a sarcastic, sideways grin when he saw her laugh–maybe that’s how he won her–maybe he made her laugh. Made me feel sorry for both of them and that they had lost that first love innocence.

    I kinda wished they had a quick, goodbye kiss or embrace in that kitchen.

  29. Oh, I loved this scene. I think Betty ran into him “accidentally on purpose” because she wanted a quiet moment with him to confess that her new life wasn’t all she thought it would be, and see if maybe, just maybe, she could get a foot back in the door with Don. Don put an end to that right away and she knew it. Whatever happens in the Mad Men future, I hope for more quiet scenes between Don and Betty. Those two together are beautiful to watch.

  30. #7Melissa Says: And I don’t really see that much of a conflict between being a hopeless romantic in love with the idea of love, and being a selfish seeker of new thrills. Sure, you can be one or the other without being both, but they can coexist quite easily.


    I am astonished to read all the comments on several blogs that cast Don as a villain because he fell in love and took the plunge to reach for happiness. One of the realities of relationships is that we never know what is going to happen until we commit and get started. We don’t really know our partners until some serious sh*t happens. There will be plenty of opportunities for Megan to prove herself, reveal her true strengths and abilities.

    I think this relationship is actually a more honest path for Don, because he’s not being guided or taught or led or manipulated by the expert Dr. Faye. He has cannonballed into his own unconscious and will build his own life, dammit, and the choices he makes with Megan will be entirely his own — not his therapist’s.

    There are two ways to face your demons: through therapy behind a closed door, or out in the open in a relationship you are fully invested in. Don has chosen openness. Megan may just have the smarts to be a real, outspoken, inventive partner to Don, toe-to-toe as she discovers it to be necessary. We have lots of time to discover just what Megan will decide to fight for with Don.

    Plus it’s NEVER a good idea to marry your therapist – or your patient.

  31. I also need to say — look around at who in your life is finding it necessary to drop former friendships, leave jobs, move, get out of town, get divorced, sell everything, NOW.

    Making important life decisions and moving on them fast, no matter who is offended or mystified, is something people DO. Often it’s the only way the soul can survive.

  32. # 26 Lady K re “…the Brady Bunch and Sound of Music…”

    A very, very unhappy pairing: 🙂

  33. I loved the kitchen scene as well. It was beautiful. January Jones and Jon Hamm are great together, many intense scenes between them. I am bothered by January Jones being upstaged as the “leading lady” in the show by the Megan actress, new to the show–sorry don’t recall her name at the moment. January Jones doesn’t deserve second tier status.

    I have not been entirely convinced that having Don and Betty divorce was a wise writing decision b/c it puts Betty character outside the story in NYC even more than she was already as the suburban wife of the main character–unless an episode drills down into Don’s personal life, which it does of course, more than any other character.

    At times it seemed disjointed or disconnected to go from SCDP and Don’s life in NYC to Ossining w/o Don. But it is reality. The kids and his ex-wife are Don’s life, even if removed and distant–emotionally and geographically. I applaud the writers not writing off his family as if they no longer are part of his life. It’s not reality. And in the end, as every one noted, he chose a new wife mostly b/ of her relationship with his kids and b/to meet his own, er, needs.

    I did also appreciate the sad double entendre of “So, you’ll move again” line from Don.

  34. That scene reminded me a lot of the one at the end of S2 where Betty and Don sat in the kitchen during the Missile Crisis and she told Don she was pregnant. They were on the same set, both dimly lit, and both showed a rare bittersweet moment of real emotional connection.

  35. #31, joyjoy:

    Point taken. I hear that it does happen a lot.

    But I was someone who got the “I love you” a week and a half into a new relationship with someone I barely knew at the time — and when I balked in my response, he came back with, “That’s really not what I was looking to hear.”

    So I changed it, for him. I was young.

    The same man also proposed at a very unexpected time, when I was grieving (read: vulnerable). And he needed allies, badly.

    People do move quickly from one thing to another, now. Our culture is a lot more mobile than it used to be, and we assume new roles and discard old ones with greater facility than we used to. I agree.

    Still, there is a personality type that seeks to affiliate with optimistic, caretaking, apparently loving — and most important, innocent — types, more than any other. This type will grab those spoils with disregard for any past entanglements on either side. It wants what it wants and that’s it.

    In my case, I didn’t know about that man’s debts or two past marriages when he first said he loved me. Nor did I know that there was a woman living less than a mile away who still thought that he loved her. (Sound familiar?)

    I didn’t know, then, what I didn’t know. But four years later, I considered myself a hostage to everything I knew about him. I would have done anything to escape. And escape I did.

    To Megan, Don is a beautiful man with “a good heart” who happened to have an engagement ring for her when she was already falling in love with him. To her, it all seems to good to be true.

    It is. Trust me.

  36. BTW, Melissa,

    I hate that I had to learn the truth about Wonderflonium here.

    Another shipment I’ll have to cancel … (((( sigh. ))))


  37. #36. No need to bother with cancellation. I’ve discovered Wonderflonium is always lost in the mail. Financial obligations related to the order will remain due on your account.

  38. #28: I loved that moment, too. It’s a toss-up for me between it and the scene with Peggy and Joan. It was so intimate and natural.

    One thing I’ve not seen mentioned about that scene is when Don says, “It’s OK.”

    I don’t have the ep recorded so I’m not sure where the line was placed in the dialogue now, but it struck me that Don sensed that Betty was upset with the “moving on” and his engagement and he was saying to her, “It’s OK to be upset.” One of those moments that people who are close, or were once close, can understand without any further articulation. I think Don and Betty could be best of friends at some point, but I’m not sure how to get there.

  39. …see if maybe, just maybe, she could get a foot back in the door with Don. Don put an end to that right away and she knew it.

    The scene ends with the bottle of whiskey (nostalgia and dependency) between them, and one plastic cup…on Betty’s side. ‘Nuff said.

    (Wasn’t there a long ago scene with Don & Betty drinking whiskey in plastic cups in the kitchen?

  40. #35 Anne B — point taken, in return. It’s not always “good,” or a fairy-tale. But it is real, and you learned from it. You have a human life that tests you and you move on, good! You’re neither a robot nor a slave.

    I have learned, myself, that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

    The biggest illusion is that there are any absolute good and bad to life. It’s all grays, and we create our existence, our movement and growth through all of our experiences and choices. Just because that was less widely-thought in 1965 didn’t make it any less true.

    To sum up, there’s drama ahead for Megan and Don. That’s the whole point of a TV show.

  41. JJ hit it out of the park in that scene. Very realistic portrayal of the ex-wife who still carries a torch for the ex-husband. You could see the conflicted feelings. Also, Don can still charm/amaze her with something simple like pulling a bottle of whiskey out of nowhere.

    Hard to believe that’s the same actress who played Gina in Anger Management 🙂

  42. Betty is a selfish witch who with unresolved issues from her childhood. Don is a selfish bastard (literally) with unresolved issues from his childhood. I think they deserve each other and should reconcile.

  43. Great post Anne B! Knowing all we know about these two for the last four seasons, the closing of door on Bullet Park Road was indeed poignant. In some ways, there was never a more perfect pairing that Don Draper and Betty Hofstadt. Beautiful, restless, deeply flawed people endlessly searching for happiness.

    Slightly off topic, but I had a question about Betty’s clothes in this episode (Janie Bryant are you reading this??): the coat Betty wears in the scene in the house with Don– is that the same coat she wore in “The Wheel” when she and Glenn have their scene in the bank parking lot? In the AMC photos, the color appears to be a muted blue, but I could have sworn when I was watching the episode that the coat was the same vivid blue I remember.

    Also, the dress Betty wears when she throws herself on Sally’s bed: is it the same dress she wore in “Meditations in an Emergency” when she was sitting on Dr. Aldrich’s examination table getting the news she was pregnant? I remember a plaid dress, with the skirt fanning out.

    If so, these would be links to the past that Betty says she wants to leave behind, but never does.

  44. What struck me about this scene was how much it reminded me somehow of Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks–a painting about alienation and loneliness. Also, note that Betty hands Don the key–but this house is not going to be sold–Don is going to decide to live in it again–temporarily, he’ll say–with Megan and bring back Carla, and Glenn will have access to Sally, and Betty will hate this beyond all belief.

  45. I’ve wondered if Megan will move into the house with Don. If so, will Don allow Sally to see Glen as much as she wants?

    Remember, Don freaked out that Betty let the air conditioning salesman in the house.

    And will Megan try to befriend Francine and Helen Bishop? Suzanne?

  46. I don’t think Don will move back to the house. Enough with that house. There will be somewhere new.

    • berk, I rather expect it will be a budget decision. If SCDP is still in business, they can afford to strike the Ossining set because they won’t need a new office set.

  47. #46 I would prefer that everybody start fresh someplace new, but I am not as sure as you are that they will. I hope you are right!

  48. I don’t know if her motivation was so much an actual hope of reconciliation as it was a desperate need for a connection with something familiar in the midst of all the change going on in her life. And then, it turns out that he’s just another thing that’s changing.

  49. #46 I think we’ll see “somewhere new” with Betty, but Don is going to allow Megan to remodel and redecorate, and try to integrate his past with his present, just like he’s trying to do internally. Can’t you just see Betty flicking her eyes up and down and trying to compliment Megan with “what you done with the house.” The house is also the perfect setting for Betty and Don to get in a major fight and then have “argument sex.” It’s too charged of a location to let go.

  50. # 41 Big S Ranch:

    “JJ hit it out of the park in that scene. Very realistic portrayal of the ex-wife who still carries a torch for the ex-husband. ”

    # 15 Donny Brook:
    ” Is it just that she’s a beautiful blonde that makes people think she can’t act?”

    I have to say I’ve watched January Jones for four years now, and have never been distracted by her acting – no false moments. She just seems to inhabit the Betty role.

    Lots of people (critics) thought another fantastically-good-looking actor couldn’t act – Brad Pitt. I hardly followed his career, but like Jones, in the few roles I saw him perform, he never distracted me either.

  51. Jesus, Anne, it’s freakish how brilliant you are.

  52. #43 Helen Bishop, I’m pretty sure Betty’s blue coat is the same coat she wore in those Season 1 scenes you mentioned. Janie Bryant comes up with a lot of clothes for the characters, but I do see outfits repeated from time to time. And I like that she does this. For costuming, I’m sure at times it’s a matter of convenience (we went to the trouble of finding this piece, we might as well use it more than once) but it also seems realistic to me. In real life, we wear the same coat, or the same dress or jacket or pair of pants, more than once.

  53. #17 – Getting back to the thread a little late, but felt the need to clarify my earlier post at #6. I don’t think that Betty is a grown-up. I just think that she’s grown more than Don. She is still very, very, very childish. And, absolutely making a play for Don when she showed up at the house.

  54. @#26 – “What is going to be the most troubling for Megan is that Don seems to want to marry Megan so she can “be the parent” so Don doesn’t have to do it when it gets hard. That rarely works.”


    I rest my case – Don is so much more deluded than Betty. A step mom is a step mom. Megan can’t take Betty’s place for the kids. Betty will always be mom to Sally, Bobby and Gene. She might be a big ol’ bitch, but she understands the reality. She has to make it work for her family – even if it looks more like a train wreck than the Von Trapps.

  55. #32 JoanBetty–I couldn’t watch that until I was home. Thank you so much for the laugh! Now I’m imagining Don, Megan, Sally, Bobby and Gene doing their own little musical number complete with costumes.

  56. #44, CKH:

    I think every single viewer of Mad Men noted that Betty handed Don the house key. It was “a moment”.

    I remember saying out loud, in my living room: “What is it with you two and keys?”

    And #51, Deb — Thanks.

    Wow. The smart one thinks *I’m* smart!


  57. #23, #36, #37

    Wonderflonium — so THAT’S what’s inside the Happy Fun Ball!

  58. #58 Anne B: Yes, you’re so right, about keys! A moment, indeed–it was practically a cliffhanger. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see doors being opened at the start of the next season.

    Wasn’t there also something with Faye and keys?

  59. #6 mohawk – Wow, that is maybe the best Mad Men blog comment I have ever read (I know, high praise, right?)

    Especially the point about Don’s stealth need for perfection. He really does get worked up when certain (not all) things aren’t right, mist especially when it is someone’s “job” that they be right. I always found this to be a fascinating visage of overcompensation for the fact of how completely imperfect (i.e. because fraudulent) his life and identity have been. Another is the way he could move around the Manhattan swinging scene with chicks and then go home (or work) and play the righteous father figure as if none of the rest even existed. And you’re exactly right – the falseness of the very life he lives, and embrace thereof, is exactly what allows it. This psychic leap – from knowledge of personal failings to expectation of perfection in others and the world (and himself, in certain endeavors) has hints of psychosis or even schizophrenia in it, which has been something that has struck about this character from the first episodes on. Well said.

  60. Julia Turner at Slate made the same point—“Who Is Don Draper?” He’s Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis in a suit. The Gatsby connection is spot on, these two live in a bubble where they consistently destroy others – Carla and Faye were the biggest casualties this season. Still, they’re so sick you can’t help but feel for them as they age and become undesirable. No longer able to play these games with people.

  61. ……….boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past’. Don’s only connection to Jay Gatsby is the poor boy who made good. Idealistic, romanticist, in love with the thought of fixing the past is the polar opposite of DD. Also, he thinks, acts, and wants to be like Tom Buchanan. Don has no thought of ever reconciling with the Golden Girl because he’s convinced she left him for the offense of growing up in very humble circumstances. It hurts his very pride. ‘Rich girls don’t marry poor boys’, Don thinks he’s only James Gatz in her eyes not the Gold Hatted Lover. Man, is he delusional. MM would bring itself down to the level of pulp melodrama if they so much as try to make goo-goo eyes at each other. Completely agree with the person who said if Don/Peggy relationship is diffused I will also lose faith in the show. It is the only real connection our hero has in his life.

  62. The thing that I don’t get is why people think that after these two people, with so many similar flaws, failed to embrace an existing, fully-loaded relationship and figure out how to grow together to become something approximating a functioning emotional unit, why they might be able to do it with others who are less messed up than each of them. They’re suited to each other, and I saw a lot of potential for them together in season 1. Don’s charm worked on a lot of people and led them to blame Betty, but that’s nuts. Don’s problem was not Betty, and Betty’s problem was not really Don, though he was a problem. I understand why Betty couldn’t abide the final, massive, revelation. That’d be kind of a neutron bomb in any relationship. But absent that, I saw two extremely stunted people who had a lot of the same kind of growing to do, no reason not to try to do it together, and three young reasons to give it a shot. The fact that they elected not to does not bode well for their ability to commit to do it with others.

  63. It would be interesting to see more of Don’s transformation from the uneducated farm boy/enlisted soldier to the current suave sophisticate. Even in the ep where he tricked Roger into hiring him, he was still showing some awkwardness. Where did he learn how to dress, how to comport himself in upper-middle class New York? Who showed him the ropes?

  64. When I read Anne B’s superb original post, I had what I thought was an astute comment to make, but now, after having read all of the brilliant comments that followed, I’ve decided that I’d better off just keep my yap shut and reading what you folks have to say.

    If Mad Men is televised contemporary literature, BoK is the New York Review of Books and a graduate class in comp lit rolled into one.

    I am awed by the quality of the BoK commenters’ insights.

  65. So Betty and Don share a drink in a private moment…with the same cup from the guest bath…(ick) but besides that, did anyone notice how Henry pulled his ale away from Betty when she tried to share with him…. He’s sitting on the chaise talking to her about Carla….

  66. I will read the rest of the preceding posts as soon as I get to a “real” computer, but let me throw it out there: is there a reason Sterling (rhetorically) asks Don in S1 Ep1, “why would a man marry one woman twice?”

  67. This is slightly off topic from the original post, but I am wondering how Matt Weiner and his team will make use of the fact that Megan’s father is a college professor.

    I am assuming that he is still alive (because there wouldn’t be much chance for character development if he were already deceased).

  68. #69, TheOldSchool:

    We can assume that Megan’s father is still alive — when she called her mother after Don proposed, she told her to “get Daddy”. Knowing what I know about Catholics (I was one), I am fairly sure she didn’t mean his ashes.


    We can also interpret, from Megan’s description of her college “friend”‘s interest in her father the professor, that Megan’s dad is good-looking. Or was, when the two not-really-friends were in college.

    It can’t have been long ago. Three years? Four?

    The college professor dad’s still got it goin’ on, I’ll bet. About which, I will just say: Here’s one viewer who has a real thing for good-looking male college professors. And Don Draper could use some serious competition in the weekly eye-candy department; you feel me, Matt Weiner?

    I believe that I have made my point.

  69. @#60 CKH Says re “Wasn’t there also something with Faye and keys?”

    There were several things with Faye and keys. The time when Don gave Faye his keys so that she could take Sally to his apartment, and the next day Sally asked her dad whether Faye was his girlfriend, pointing to the fact that she had his keys as evidence.

    There was also the time Faye told the boyfriend she was breaking up with (on the pay phone in the lobby at SCDP) that she wants her key back.

    Oh, keys are KEY in MM. If Betty hadn’t found the keys to Don’s desk drawer, he may never have come clean with her about his identity as Dick, and they may never have gotten divorced.

    And let’s not forget that time that Don dropped his keys behind his desk at the Christmas party, which meant that Allison showed up with them to let him in, which led to…well, we all know what that led to, but that eventually led to Allison “seeking other opportunities” which ultimately (I’m jumping over one secretary here; that’s not quite like jumping the shark) led Megan to end up as Don’s secretary.

    Yes, keys are KEY to plot twists in the Draper/Whitman world.

  70. I noticed that twice in that conversation with Betty, Dons says the words, “I do”. I may have just been a nice scripting accident, but I’m guessing the words were chosen intentionally for Don, who’s talking with his ex-wife and planning to say “I do” again with Megan.

  71. #72 Karen,

    For all I know, that could have been some Don Draper-foreshadowing. But what I note about this guy (and as a blogger here, trust me, I study him) is that he tends to use the two-word construct in certain situations, especially where the rest of us might just use one.

    In a first talk with Miss Farrell, when she was telling him about the loss-of-parent business, asking him if he could appreciate how that might feel, Don did not say, “Yes.” He said, “I can.”

    When Bert Cooper asked. Would you say I know a thing or two about you, just before getting Don to sign that contract, Don didn’t say, “Yeah.” He said, “I would.”

    I don’t really know why he speaks like this. I notice that he does so around people in whom he is interested, whom he respects, when they tocuh a nerve. Or perhaps just out of long habit.

    But it’s a habit I like. ‘Cause I love that voice. 🙂

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