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.