A Rat in Don’s House

 Posted by on June 11, 2013 at 11:06 am  Characters, Season 6
Jun 112013

So I supposed racing to the top of the pile of questions we hope to see resolved by season’s-end we can add: Will Sally tell on Don?

Or in a parlance more appropriate to Episode 6.11 Favors: Will she rat him out?

As happens in all great Mad Men episodes, her reaction to his steaming shovel-full of bullshit was mixed.  She declined to rub his face in it, even as her mind was seared not just with the memory of what she saw, but the dual reality of his hypocrisy.

Personally, I can see Sally telling Betty, which will seem to set up a showdown about 15 years in the making for Don and his ex.  However the opposite can also happen.  Betty through both her new-found insight into Don “the man,” and her selfish tendency to be satisfied with knowing she’s got the moral high ground, could minimize it.

Either way, guess who loses?


  85 Responses to “A Rat in Don’s House”

  1. A story line, from Season 1/Ep. 1 through Season 6/Ep.11, we have seen “The Rat in the Hat.” a/k/a
    “The Places you’ll go;The things you will see.”

  2. I wonder if, rather than tell Betty directly, Sally will try to find ways to not go back to Don and Megan’s apartment – Don has visitation rights and Sally probably shows up there regularly. I don’t know how that will come off but she may find a way to do it.

    I could even see her requesting to board at a private school so she won’t be around any of them, weekends or weekday. She’s smart, may just throw herself into her books, and ‘not think about it’ as Don does. That’s not a good sign for her future.

    I also think Sally can be a bit of a sharp-tongued mean girl, as she has been with Betty. I can’t imagine what she could do, because she was so devastated in the knowledge of what her father had done, but you never know. It was painful to see her so wounded in those last scenes, and her father couldn’t even say he was sorry.

    • Aren’t all 14-year-old girls ‘sharp-tongued mean girls’, tho? (says the mother of a daughter who was ‘lippy’ from around 13-23…and the eldest of 6 sisters in my home growing up). 😉

    • After two horrible weekends in the city, I can see Sally requesting boarding school. She’s unhappy in both homes; she might think a change of scenery and a new school would be an improvement. Like father like daughter-the solution to problems isn’t dealing with them, it’s running away from them.

      • RetroGirl for the win! I’ll eat my hat if your prediction is not true!

      • Boarding school could be great for Sally. It would fit with Betty’s WASP heritage, Don wouldn’t notice and Sally could have some consistancy . Lots of kids do well.in boarding school if their homelife is difficult

        • I think we just closed the circle on the weird “Sandy” storyline in S6E1 (and maybe on the season opener title itself). It is not unthinkable that Sally and Mitchell might hit the road together. Mitchell is written as a very young 18/19/20. And that scene of Don walking in to find Megan and Mitchell sitting together recalls the S5 scene of Don walking in to find Glen Bishop and Megan waiting for time to catch his train back to Lakeville.

          Though the link is already referenced in the current “Who Said Gay” thread re Bob Benson, consider Tom and Lorenzo’s analysis of Sally Draper in “Favors”: http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/2013/06/mad-style-favors.html

  3. I’m still trying to figure out the layout of the Draper household. Could Megan have heard Don talking through the door from the dinner table?

    Maybe Sally wont be the one ratting Don out. Maybe Sylvia will be the one, shes so overwhelmed with guilt that it hurts! (that scene where she cries, rolls over and punches the bed after getting caught was brilliantly played by LC).

    • I think its a large PH and they were talking very quietly. I don’t think Megan could have overheard anything.
      Can someone explain the squeaking shoes please? We know nothing is for nought…

      • I think he peed his pants. Remember when Freddy Rumsen was so drunk he pissed himself?

        • That would tie into Julie’s comment about the carpeting smelling like pee (i.e. Don’s gotten so drunk before that he’s lost control). I mean, what an odd comment to make….

    • The draper living room, kitchen, and dining room are all one big room.

      • Don and Megan’s pad remind’s me of Uncle Bill’s apartment “Family Affair”. Not the furnishings but the openness and the large balcony.

    • I believe it’s possible if Megan was paying attention. Of course, TV usually employs the illusion that if a characters is in another room and not in the scene, then they’re out of earshot. Remember those “private” conversations Mary Tyler Moore would have in her kitchenette about characters a few feet away in her living room?

  4. Well, Betty already knows about Don’s infidelities: in her own marriage of course, but also he recently cheated on his wife with her (and she cheated on her husband with him) so that won’t be such a surprise. I assume she wouldn’t be thrilled to hear that Sally knows or that she caught him in the act though.

    I think Sally will be “acting out” and that will concern Betty. Maybe she’ll want Sally to go stay with Don for a while….a suggestion she’d only make if she *didn’t* know about Sally spotting Don/Sylvia.

    • Betty knows that Don cheats. That’s old news. The fact that Sally caught them in the act would make Betty furious. Because she can’t deny him visitation rights, maybe boarding school is Betty’s idea. A way to legally keep Don out of Sally’s life as much as she can. She’d still him during breaks, and if the boarding school has weekend visits, she can see him them.

    • Betty certainly doesn’t know about ALL of Don’s ladies….she only knew about Bobbie, right? God if she only knew what was really going on their entire marriage she would probably have him killed.

      • There’s what Betty knew and what she suspected…. I think she suspected all along that he was cheating, ie, hence her hand tremors in the first few episodes of Season 1, when he was having the affair with Midge. And of course, his 3-week disappearance in California. She must have known he was up to something.

      • Of course Betty knew. I love the scene where she was holding Gene (post Grandma Ida) and yelling at the Drapers for being so callous to leave the kids home alone. “She’s out on the casting couch, and you were what? ‘Working?’ ” Good call Betty!

  5. Sally would tell Megan in an absolute rage. It would be hard to come up with a reason for Megan and Sally to be having that kind of intense argument, but it could happen. I can’t some up with any reason why Sally would tell Betty. Sally is such an important character. Would she be able to play the role that she does if the character were at boarding school?

    • Oh yeah, she would throw it up to Megan, I can absolutely see it. That’s what teenagers do. Yep. Oh man, this is gonna be juicey!

    • Because Megan has no idea what went on, she won’t know what to make of any awkwardness or anger that Sally expresses towards Don, which may lead her to press Sally on it, trying to patch things up, and Sally will blurt it out in frustration/anger.

  6. Sally’s going to boarding school may not be a bad thing. It could work to her advantage, actually. Then maybe she won’t have to witness the third of her fathers shoes drop. One was the loss of his family due to Betty finding the shoebox of doom, the second was one of his children discovering him in the act of being a lying, cheating pig,the third will be his partners and the whole world’s discovery of his real identity and status as a deserter. Poor Sally is destined to be one angry lady

  7. The rat caught in a trap…under the couch. We never see the wounded rat. Weiner et al leave it to our imagination.

    That theme of the action happening unseen has resurfaced throughout the season: the Heinz campaign, the Hawaii ad, Don’t Chevy pitch, where you only see the reaction of the crowd, not the car, Pete’s revulsion to thinking about his mom having sex.

    In contrast, earlier in the season, in the flashbacks, we see young Dick Whitman catching his step-mother having sex. We have sensed the role of circles this season, so it’s no surprise (though it was while watching it) that Sally would catch Don in flagrante delicto in exactly the same sexual position that he saw his stepmom in.

    The sins of the father are revisited on…the daughter.

    What we want to see vs. what we never want to see but leave to the imagination.

    • It is such a bizarre chain of events. Sally is at Don and Megan’s so seldom.that I thought she may not even know the Rosens, let alone their back entryway

  8. Just a small remark, “Favors” is 6.11, not 6.10

  9. Love the rat theme — you are so clever. Here are some crazy notions that have been running through my head:
    1. Did Sally tell Betty or Don about seeing Roger and Marie? I doubt she told any adult as she would be too embarrased. Also Sally really wants to be treated as a grown up so she would keep this to herself.
    2. What would Sally envision as the consequences of telling Betty? First Sally would have to explain what she was doing entering the Rosen’s apartment. Betty would crack down on Sally and Don which is a lose-lose for Sally.
    3. What would Sally envision as the consequences of telling Megan? Well, if she wants to hurt Megan, this is the way to do it. Sally has had an on again / off again relationship with Megan. If she wants to break up the marriage, she would see telling Megan as the thing to do. But Megan has treated Sally as a young adult and I don’t think Sally would want to lose that.
    4. If Sally does tell Betty, Betty will have to tread carefully to avoid Don ratting out her indiscretion to Henry.
    5. I think Sally will keep this secret and use it as leverage against her father.
    6. Anyone wonder what led to Sylvia’s son speaking in confidence with Megan about splitting for Canada? And what was up with the awkward handshake with Don at their first meeting? I thought that scene raised a lot of questions about who knows what and what is Megan’s involvement with the Rosens.

    • You think Megan and Arnold are knocking boots?

    • Sally is no ordinary young teenager. We know that she is very smart and savvy. I think she will figure out how much this has crushed her father and she is smart enough to know that this is currency she can use with her father at some later point. How she will use this information is not so clear cut, although the obvious is revenge. I also think that while Sally may share lots of mannerisms and behavioral routines with Betty, her smarts and emotional sensibilities are most like Don. They both share the “trauma” and “secret” of each seeing a parent (Don’s stepmother) in the act.

      It is interesting that in “The Better Half,” Betty tells Don that Henry thinks that Sally is just like Don — I don’t think that line is accidental.

      If there is anything that can make Don try to turn things around, it has to be knowing that he has damaged one of the most important relationships he has — without Sally and Bobby there is absolutely no hope left for Don. At some level, I think Sally must know how important she is to Don and she will have to get over her anger, like Betty did, to continue some type of relationship with him.

      • Polly, nicely put (as always). Your comment “without Sally and Bobby there is absolutely no hope left for Don” triggered another question in my mind — where does Sylvia fit in? Is she the key to Don becoming whole, or is she another link in Dr. Faye’s “you just like the beginnings”? And where does Megan fit in? Was Don really happy with Megan before she left SCDP for an acting career? Or is Don defined by “happiness just means you need more happiness” and this goes on and on and on? Oops, your comment prompts several questions.

        • Hi Cynthia — lots of good questions! The Sylvia piece is a puzzle because unlike all of Don’s other lovers, we never got to see how this relationship started and why Don would be attracted to her. There is a sense that Sylvia absolutely broke Don’s heart, but that is difficult to believe because we didn’t see the initial attraction and seduction that brought them together.

          I still think it is meaningful that Sylvia gave Don “The Inferno” to read as this season has felt like Don’s journey through hell; Sylvia has told Don more than once that she wishes for him to be happy. For that to happen, Don has to make it through all 8 circles of hell in order to get to paradise.

          I hope we get a better sense (and answers to some of your questions!) of Sylvia’s role in Don’s journey in the next two episodes.

      • Having lived through a similar situation (although I was a bit older than Sally), I remember how the overwhelming initial feeling was the burden of knowing that the status quo of the family was pretty much in my hands. How Sally feels about her position in that status quo would influence what she does next.

        I agree that she is likely to see it as leverage. She comes across as a survivor, and that’s probably how she would think — she wouldn’t be silent out of loyalty to Don or worry that Betty or Megan might be hurt; she would want her silence to result in some added sense of power for herself, especially as she has been in some very powerless positions being caught in the middle of her parents’ dramas.

        • One of the themes that weaves in and out of Mad Men is about the powerlessness of children in the world of adults – whether it’s the younger children, or the adult children whose back stories we can glimpse (young Don, Megan and her mother, Pete and his mother, etc).

          Especially where the young like Sally are concerned, I think Older Sister’s comment is especially insightful. There have been alot of parental dramas that Sally has either witnessed or been caught in – feeling the combination of burden – leverage – power might be something she will relish. Seems to be alot like her father who juggled, leveraged, and played for power in numerous situations in his professional and private lives.

          • Tanta, excellent point about the powerlessness of children in the world of adults. Regardless of their age, the child is always a child– consider Roger and his late mother. I don’t think I connected Pete’s story line with Sally’s until I read your post. First we see how uncomfortable Pete is when he is told about his mother’s sexuality Then we watch Sally discovering her father having sex, and not with Megan. Pete reacts in anger when he learns of the caretaker’s liberties with Mom. He fires the caretaker. Sally reacts in anger towards her dad but then pulls herself together — we can see how she comes to terms with her dad’s indiscretion and his manipulation of the truth. I just can’t see Sally letting this slide– leverage will be applied towards Don for sure.

          • You made a great connection, too, Cynthia, between Pete and Sally.

            It’s so clear to me why Pete is a ‘sour little man.’ Can you imagine having such an unloving mother as that?! Actually I can, but that’s another story – I mean, though, for her to just throw it up to him without any sense that she might have had some responsibility for outcome. It really is too bad, because Pete’s such a difficult character….except in that scene in the restaurant with Peggy, who seems to be the only person he feels comfortable with at the moment.

    • I also thought the interaction between Mitchell and Don was strange. Arnold seemed to be making Mitchell thank Don, not the.response of gratitude that I would have expected. For me, Getting Mitchell reclassified was Don at his sleaziest. Such entitlement toward Pete, who took the blame for the aviation firm cancelling their account. and he did not consider for a minute that some Dick Whitman would be sent instead of Mitchell who had a deferment, did something reckless then let his parents bail him out. I understand a parent not seeing the. bigger picture when their son is drafted but Mitchell isn’t Don’s son.I think a large part of Don’s motivation was to feel more important then a heart surgeon whose kid studies in France. Arnold saves lives now Don saved a life for Arnold

      • Annabelle, I agree! Saving Mitchell was a way for him to show Arnold that he can do “good deeds” too. But I also think there is a part of Don that did it for Sylvia, b/c in my opinion Don is in love with her (as much as Don can be in love with someone) and wanted to help ease her pain.

    • I saw the handshake as just a hippie vs. the man awkwardness. As in, dude, I don’t do handshakes. And it was a breakthrough of gratitude when he later shook Don’s hand.

      • Yes, Roberta — this is exactly how I saw this. Don represents “the establishment” to Mitchell. When Sally’s friend asks Mitchell about a place to eat out, Mitchell makes a disparaging remark that there are only “old people” around here.

        Mitchell clearly does not trust anyone over the age of 30!

      • I didn’t get a hippie vibe from Mitchell — more a Davy Jones Monkee kind of vibe. While I wore long hair parted in the middle along with an Indian braid headband in 1969 I definitely wouldn’t have qualified for hippie classification regardless of how much I wanted to achieve the look. I went to public school in Texas and all the way up to 1972, when I graduated, girls had to wear skirts or dresses. If your skirt was too short, you had to rip out the hem. If it was still too short you were sent home. Boys couldn’t have hair touching their collars or sideburns below their earlobes. I remember a single girl with bleached blonde hair who wore tons of eye liner & shimmery lipstick and the shortest skirts allowed — she was probably the only cool looking girl at our school- and she was a very talented artist. Of course, she was sent home all the time. She probably headed to New York right after graduation to escape. By the way, I LOVED MITCHELL’S PANTS and his hair…am I told old to say that???

      • That makes sense, Roberta. I was.just thinking of when Arnold brought Mitchell to see Don and didn’t make the connection to Don and Mitchell meeting earlier. Mainly my idea came from Arnold saying “Mitchell has something to tell you” it sounded like Mitchell was a little kid being made to apologize to Grandma.

    • Yes, I thought the same thing. Did Mitchell just happen to knock on the Draper’s door and confess to Megan? Or did Sylvia mention it to her?

      • He went to Megan because she’s Canadian. Megan was sympathetic to any anti-war action and would have some insight into the process of avoiding the draft by crossing the border and living, AWOL, in Canada. I assumed Sylvia sent Mitchell to talk with Megan.

    • I did notice that awkward handshake and wondered about it.

      • I think that was just typical teenage “duh” type manners. Quite obviously he has been schooled in “good” manners, but not to the point where they automatic, I am sure Sylvia has been indulgent with him and I get the feeling Dr Rosen has been a bit in the background in day to day child rearing. Not unusual in that time period, especially for a busy heart surgeon. He probably has no real clue of what he is dodging, if all this works out. He is probably used to having problems solved for him by his Mom and Dad, nothing new. He probably thinks this a big lot of hoopla over something he doesn’t really understand. If nothing really bad has ever happened to you it is hard to comprehend that it can happen.

  10. In the actual building on Park Avenue south of the corner with E 73rd St, apartment 17B is a penthouse and the set was designed to reproduce that apartment as a penthouse. Yet for reasons not explained the elevator set shows floors 18-20? That is Mad Men logic.

    Remember back in Season 5 when Sally gave Glenn Bishop directions? She used the actual address of the building, which I am deliberately not repeating here.

  11. [” But Megan has treated Sally as a young adult and I don’t think Sally would want to lose that.”]

    I’ve noticed that Sally’s relationship with Megan has been somewhat cool since “Aunt Ida’s” break in. I also noticed that Megan was behaving more like a parent than an older sister or aunt in “Favors”.

  12. I thought it was so telling about Don’s manipulative personality and complete inability to take responsibility for his actions, when he said to Sally “I know you THOUGHT you saw something”. I think it’s disgusting that he would try and make his own daughter think she was crazy for seeing something that was as plain as day. He is ruthless when it comes to saving his own butt.

    • People don’t change. Don did the same thing to Betty. If the relationship between Sally and Betty ever improves, perhaps when they are both adults, they can talk about what kind of man he was, and how that shaped who they are.

  13. There was a rat in the office a couple of years ago, too. I believe his name was also Don…

    Mostly I remember that scene in Maiden Form, way back in season 2, when Sally sat on the toilet staring adoringly at Don as he was trying to shave. And also, for some reason, the scene when Don brings Polly doggie home after dodging Sally’s birthday party. Her response to him then was perfect: he kisses her forehead and says “happy birthday baby,” but Sally wipes the kiss off and pushes him away so she can hug the dog! After all these years, it’s still the best response any female on the show has had about Don Draper.

  14. My guess is the season finale will be Don traveling with his children, maybe to where he grew up, finally letting them know him. That thing that isn’t there, represented by the ads? I think it’s as simple as the words “I love you”, which will be the last line of the season. And I have no real justification for thinking this. Also, the guy from L.A law will sleep with Megan.

  15. I noticed something in the episode that I haven’t seen anyone else bring up, and it is a hint that Sally and Don are alike in some ways. When Don is in the elevator, he puts his hand over his face in a particular gesture, palm downward, fingers sort of in a V. Sally does the same exact gesture later, though I can’t recall exactly where. That parallel–or another instance of twinning–had to be a deliberate choice. Sally being like Don is not a promising trend, though having Betty as a role model isn’t exactly promising, either.

    • We know Don Draper quit high school. I think he left home at 16 and never really looked back. Sally is 16 or close to it. Her life from now on will not be a boarding school; instead she will attend the school of hard knocks just like her father Dick Whitman. She is after all Dick Whitman’s daughter. Sally is all the things Dick Whitman was when he was 16, both good and evil. She is clever and a risk taker. If Sally leaves home for the mean streets this will hurt Don Draper more than anything else.Dick Whitman learned the Hobo Code early on, maybe Sally will too. It might be his legacy to her.

  16. Sally is 14 which is still a child and I dont think there is even a question of her telling Betty. Maybe not on purpose but that was.so.upsetting she won’t be able to.hide it. Like getting her period this is a situation where Sally needs her mother. An experience like that is frightening for a kid.

    • Maybe Sally will go looking for the friend who played the violin (forget her name at the moment). Sally seemed to look up to her for her maturity. Will we ever revisit her? That whole interlude seems lost right now. Could a return to her and her whereabouts be part of the plot development?

  17. One thing I haven’t read mentioned,but may have overlooked, is that, in her shock, Sally ran out of the Rosen apartment without taking the envelope she came in to get. It was still on the counter when she ran out. I wonder if it will figure anywhere at all in future episodes. If Sylvia opens it now, it will explain why Sally was there, but it looked as if she handed it off directly to Mitchell by leaving it unopened on the counter. I don’t think we’ll know before the end of the season what, if anything, that may mean.

    • I wondered about the envelope, poor Sally is facing embarrassment as well

    • Sick as this sounds, if she really wanted to get back at Sylvia and Don, she’d let herself be ‘seduced’ by young Mitchell if he comes ‘a callin’ , since he knows of her feelings for him, and then let them somehow know it happened. I don’t think Don would ever recover. But, I don’t think Wiener would go down that road. I’d rather he not.

      • She wouldn’t be the first wounded teenager to go that route.

      • Maybe telling Mitchell is the route she’ll go. That would make the most sense, “Do you what your mom and my dad are doing?” that kind of thing. She is going to have to say something to someone.

    • I suspect the envelope was no more than a device to get Sally witnessing her father’s faithlessness. It will be one of the many loose ends that MAd Men (and life) does not tie up.

    • or the keys she dropped on the floor.

    • she also left the keys she dropped on the floor.

  18. I don’t think Sally will tell Betty, unless there is a reason to tell (nightmares, acting out, etc.)

    If she tells, Betty will be furious, and probably do something vindictive. Having slept with Don again, Betty has to justify it to herself. So, Don isn’t just cheating on Megan, he’d also be cheating on Betty.

    What will Henry do? He’s playing the role of the father now. Would a father want his daughter (or stepdaughter) to be subjected to that?

    • I was left wondering how Don will cover up Sally’s “you make me sick” outburst.

      This harkens to the “She’s your problem now, Campbell” outburst that his cuckolded neighbor bellowed within Trudy’s earshot.

      The may end up yet another unresolved thread.

      • But without knowing what Sally had witnessed, it could just be some sort of teenaged outburst over Megan saying that Don is “the sweetest man” and kissing him when he is so obviously drunk.

  19. I finally posted on recap thread(#44)…took time for me to digest episode. To further the thought…
    Enter: Rat, trap; now observe.
    They have all been in the rat/trap/observe scenario; the viewers, however, we just observe.
    The Rat and the Observer feel the effect of the Trap.
    The Rat feels and participates- maybe taken by surprise or senses impending doom, then relief if avoided, grateful if saved, or feel the ultimate pain; as participant-the rat can create a new observer, new trap, or new rat by sharing/revealing the original rat/trap experience.
    The Trap is the subconscious, chance or devised situation- it’s the means of the direct intended or unintended result.
    The Observer may or may not have a choice to participate. The more shame or blame or confusion in the observer, as a result of the viewing/participation, the less likely they tell/share quickly or easily without some reservation.
    The Rat can become Observer; and Observer can become Rat.

    Peggy w/literal rat in trap: Peggy is the Observer of the realized pain in viewing blood-she has no shame, so no hesitation to tell(Stan). Easy.
    Sylvia and Don in trap of affair- pain, high shame, but trying to avoid sharing, trying not to consciously create an intentional observer…before Sally saw.
    Now, Sally is “Rat” and “Observer” – off the charts shame and pain, leads to avoidance to share/trap and dis-ease to create new Rat/Observer. She will tell consciously and subconsciously, but to whom and how and when is too much for the average child to rationally plan. Her anger is hurt and confusion, and she will noticeably carry this with her all the time leading her subconscious to drop telling clues to reveal unintendly or via emotional outburst-maybe beating out the conscious mind’s reveal. Her rational mind is not fully formed. She has to tell in one way or another – it is too confusing and toxic for her to keep or reveal responsibly; she is not savvy/mature enough nor malicious enough to choose the who, how, when, where, or why with clear purpose and intent.

  20. I don’t think she’ll tell. I think she’ll swallow it and not speak of it for a good long time, and never to any of her parents or step-parents. She is her Father’s daughter and I think she’ll lock it away in the same manner Don so long ago suggested to Peggy she forget about the baby. And I REALLY felt very strongly that Don was devastated at having hurt Sally, not at simply being caught, but having harmed her.

    • I wonder if the knowledge of having harmed Sally would allow him to connect to his own pain as a young boy, given all the harm he has experienced. Don acts out of so many wounds he can’t emotionally connect with, and never allows himself to feel. Now that he has caused and witnessed his daughter’s pain, I wonder if it will make any difference in how he thinks about himself.

      • IF Don were a man of our age, absolutely. But he’s a man of the 1960s. Men drank to cover up their feelings. I think Don is freaked out by the things that have come up during his drug encounters. He’d rather push that way, way down.

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