Mad Men Rewatch: Field Trip

 Posted by on March 11, 2015 at 6:17 am  Mad Men, Season 7
Mar 112015

Mad Men-Field Trip-Partner's Meeting with Don

As I rewatch Mad Men Season 7’s first half in preparation for April 5 (did you notice our countdown in the sidebar?), I’ve reach Field Trip, episode 7.03. I am finding thoughts, asides, points, that I never got to posting the first time around.

Back in the day, I’d write posts about a single point or observation about an episode, posting many of these throughout the week. Basketcases, though, clamored for recaps. Then I started recapping for Indiewire’s Press Play blog, and when that gig ended, it felt kinda mean to take your recaps away. But recapping is both exhaustive and exhausting. All my observations go in, and late at night (no one gets advance screeners for Mad Men anymore). It’s draining, and you get fewer “one point” posts from me. I’m not just sharing some of what happens on this blog; I’m also telling you that I’m using the rewatch for some of those additional posts you used to get from me.

Anyway. Field Trip.

At the beginning of the episode, Don calls Dawn. She’s overwhelmed with her new responsibilities. She wants to send a messenger to Don instead of delivering things to him personally. He wants her to place a call for him; she wants to give him the number so he can call himself. Now, neither of Don’s demands here are reasonable. It’s clearly immaterial if Don gets his typewriter ribbon from Dawn or a messenger; the typewriter will have ribbon in either case. What Don is actually asking for is servitude. He wants Dawn to be at his beck and call. He wants to be a Man With a Secretary (which is not a toy). This is reinforced later, when Don is waiting uncomfortably in the Creative lounge. Dawn arrives and Don immediately hands her his hat and coat. He wants The Girl to take care of him.

Contrast this with the final meeting in the conference room. The partners hand Don a series of demands, several of which are clearly designed to humiliate him. Don is to obey. He is to follow a script. He is to behave. He is not, by any means, to be the authoritative guy who gets typewriter ribbon delivered, not just promptly, but by the specific person he demands it of.

As the season progresses and Don chafes under these demands, remember the phone conversation with Dawn, and what it means to Don to have authority. “I know how I want you to see me,” Don says to Megan. As the person with the hand-delivered typewriter ribbon. Not as the person who says “Okay” to a list of demands.


  6 Responses to “Mad Men Rewatch: Field Trip”

  1. It was a small shock to see Don roll over in the final scene.
    He had one friend in that room, and he easily could’ve pitched his fit. He’s a partner, blah, blah.
    He was damaged goods, he knew it, and didn’t have a choice. He thought. Somebody, somebody else would’ve hired him, but his loyalty to that one friend in that room, made it easier to submit.
    It contrasts with your spot-on observation about Don still thinking he is A Talent, who requires servitude, Deb.
    Makes me appreciate this moment in a new way.

  2. I just rewatched Field Trip and noticed a few things that I didn’t notice before. The overriding message of the episode is that Don is REALLY changing in some very important ways: Womanizing, lying and having to be the big Alpha male in charge.
    Womanizing: This episode made it clear that he is not anymore despite several opportunities that the old Don would have “jumped on.” First, the flirting stewardess—Don “was good.” Next, the woman in the restaurant and her unsuccessful attempt to pick him up. When I first saw this episode I didn’t quite understand the meaning of the encounter in the restaurant—was she a call girl or an old girlfriend—but I think it was there for us to see that he has truly changed his ways. It’s kind of ironic that Megan is attacking him for cheating when he’s “being good” but did not have a clue that he was sleeping with the friend and neighbor one floor below.
    Lying: The scene where Megan discovers the truth—that Don was lying to her about working for several months was reminiscent of the scene with Betty when she discovered that he was lying to her for years (their entire relationship) about his very identity. The difference this time was how quickly he confessed and “came clean” as compared to his confrontation with Betty. With Betty he was much more defensive (“what’s the difference? ”) and now with Megan apologized more quickly, showed humility and insight when he honestly confessed that he did it because “this was the way I want you to see me.” I don’t think “old Don” could have said that.
    Pride: He came back and was humiliated—spending time talking to “underlings” that he would not have given the time of day to before. And of course he accepted the humiliating conditions for coming back to work. I can’t image the Don of a few years ago (the one who would throw clients out) accepting those conditions.
    He is not the same person he was back in Season one. He is changing and evolving into a genuine person–Dick Whitman??

  3. A question about MM S-7a …

    The DVD and Blu-Ray sets went on sale in, I believe, October 2014. How long before it’s available on Netflix Streaming?

    It seemed like previous seasons of MM appeared on Netflix Streaming about a month prior to the AMC premiere of the newest season. Does anyone know if MM S-7a will hit Netflix before April 5th or will it be delayed until S-7b has been aired?

  4. For what it’s worth, I just rewatched this episode recently and noticed calendar “blocks” on Peggy’s desk in that short scene that takes place in her office. They say “31,” so that would make it Monday, March 31. The episode began on a Thursday, which would be March 27. I really don’t know why it matters to me, but I love knowing what day/date it’s supposed to be, so I always watch for the clues.

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