The Final Three

 Posted by on May 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm  Mad Men
May 052015

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In this show where sometimes “nothing happens”, we forget just how dense a single episode can be. So just in case you think we are remotely done; that where Mad Men episode 7.12, Lost Horizon, left us was anywhere near where we’re going to end up, I’m reminding you that this episode was essentially Part 1 of a 3-Part whammy. Let’s have a look at just what can happen in three episodes at the end of a Mad Men season:

Season 1
Where we left off:
1:10 Long Weekend
Joan’s roommate. Roger’s heart attack. Don is with Rachel Menken and opens up, for the first time the viewers have seen, about his childhood.
What’s to come:
1:11 Indian Summer
1:12 Nixon vs. Kennedy
1:13 The Wheel
Early October – Thanksgiving, 1960
Roger has a second heart attack. Don gets promoted. Harry cheats on his wife and moves into the office. Rachel ends it with Don. We get the whole story of Dick Whitman becoming Don Draper. Pete gets his hands on the Whitman Sampler box, blackmails Don, and Bert Cooper doesn’t care. Betty confirms that Don is betraying her, in one way or another. Don tries to reach out to Adam and discovers he has killed himself. Pete gets his father-in-law as a client. Peggy gets a promotion, and then has a baby. Don is alone on the stairs.

Season 2
Where we left off:
2:10 The Inheritance
Gene Hofstadt has a stroke–Don is not staying in the house at this point, but stands as Betty’s husband through this. They have sex, but Betty isn’t having more than that, and the episode ends with Don on a plane to California.
What’s to come:
2:11 The Jet Set
2:12 The Mountain King
2:13 Meditations in an Emergency
September 24 – October 26 1962
Let’s see….

  • Peggy slays Popsicle and gets Freddy Rumsen’s old office. Home run, ballerina.
  • Roger proposes to Jane, and Duck Phillips uses that–knowing the financial impact of divorcing Mona–to broker a merger with Putnam, Powell, and Lowe.
  • Joan is raped by her fiance.
  • Don starts on a business trip and ends up in a Fellini film. He utters the words that rocked this viewership to its core: “Hello, it’s Dick Whitman.” We meet (and all fall in love with) Anna Draper. We see Don get a glimmer of peace in the company of this woman who knows him, loves him, and heals him.
  • Peggy, after exploring confession with Father Gill, tells Pete about their baby.
  • Betty discovers she is pregnant, and sleeps (“sleeps”) with a hot stranger in a bar. Actually in the bar. Don comes home to court Betty, and, bun in the oven (eww, sorry), she takes him back.
  • Oh and there was this Cuban Missile Crisis.

Season 3
Where we left off:
3:10 The Color Blue
Don is hot and heavy with Suzanne, getting involved and helping her brother. Betty discovers the Whitman Sampler box, and remains a silent trophy wife through the Sterling Cooper 40th anniversary gala.
What’s to come:
3:11 The Gypsy and the Hobo
3:12 The Grown-Ups
3:13 Shut the Door. Have a Seat.
October 28 – December 16, 1963

  • Betty confronts Don about Dick Whitman. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. Then Kennedy is assassinated and everyone’s world is all out of whack. Betty, eyes on Henry, leaves Don, for riz this time, and they tell the kids.
  • Connie Hilton tells Don that PPL and Sterling Cooper are being sold, and in the awesomest coup ever, Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Price is born.

Season 4
Where we left off:
4:10 Hands and Knees
Joan, pregnant with Roger’s baby and with a rapist husband in Vietnam, decides to have an abortion, but has a last minute change of heart. Lee Garner has given Roger his notice as a client, and Roger does not tell anyone at the agency. Lane is face-to-face with his father, who beats him literally to his hands and knees to repair things with Lane’s wife. Don is involved with Faye and has a close call, and a resulting extended panic attack, due to a security check. Don notices Megan–that’s all, just notices–for the first time.
What’s to come:
4:11 Chinese Wall
4:12 Blowing Smoke
4:13 Tomorrowland
Late August – October 12, 1965

  • Trudy has a baby. Peggy and Abe get together. The agency discovers the loss of Lucky Strike, and they lose Glo-Coat. Phillip Morris sets them up, then blows them off. Don writes a letter to the New York Times, which pisses everyone off. Ultimately all the partners kick in to keep things afloat. Don pays for Pete’s portion, because, it turns out, you never know how loyalty is born. There’s still a big fat pile of layoffs.
  • Betty finally agrees to move (inspired by, I dunno, jealousy over Glen and Sally’s friendship?) and we say goodbye to the former Draper house.
  • Don is still seeing Faye, but starts turning to Megan for support–first with keeping his drinking down, (then they have the sex), then to watch the kids, and then, y’know, he proposes. Bye, Faye-lecia.

Season 5
Where we left off:
5:10 Christmas Waltz
Don and Megan’s marriage is not good. Lane’s finances are not good. The agency is meh, but they have a shot at pitching Jaguar.
What’s to come:
5:11 The Other Woman
5:12 Commissions and Fees
5:13 The Phantom
January 16 – late March, 1967
There’s the whole Joan-has-sex-with-the-grossest-man-on-the-planet-and-gets-partner thing, Pete-loves-Beth-but-she-has-shock-treatment-so-never-mind thing, the Trudy-basically-sends-Pete-to-a-singles-pad-in-the-city thing, the Lane-gets-caught-having-forged-a-company-check-and-hangs-himself-in-the-office thing, the Peggy-freaking-QUITS-and-goes-to-work-for-Chaough thing, the Megan-has-Don-use-his-skills-to-get-her-an-audition-and-off-she-goes-and-him-too thing, the SCDP-gets-another-floor-in-the-building thing.

Season 6
Where we left off:
6:10 A Tale of Two Cities
Things are all kinds of discombobulated. Joan is sneak-wooing Avon, Don hallucinates and almost drowns in California, they lose Manischewitz, everyone watches the Democratic National Convention and the riots, they land Chevy, which goes to Bob Benson.
What’s to come:
6:11 Favors
6:12 The Quality of Mercy
6:13 In Care Of
September 24 – October 26, 1962 1968
Dorothy Campbell falls for Manolo and then falls off a cruise ship. Bob Benson hits on Pete and Pete finds out about Bob’s shady past. Ken loses his eye. Sally walks in on Don and Sylvia. Ted and Peggy get together, find love, make promises, and then the agency decides to open a California office and Ted decides to go there and save his marriage. Sally gets kicked out of school. Don’s drinking is blatantly out of control and he gets put on six month leave.

Seatbelts on, Basketcases. We’re rapidly accelerating.

This post would not have been possible, or at least probable, without the incredible Episode Guide my sister has meticulously put together, bit by bit, for years.


  55 Responses to “The Final Three”

  1. Great recap. So true – shit be zigging when should be all zagging.

    Season 5 was a slog, truth be told.

  2. Ghosts in final three?

    Am I correct, only Don and Betty have had visions/hallucinations involving ghosts. Domn with Coop ( twice); Pvt. Dinkins; Adam ( twice ); Anna; I am excluding flashbacks to his youth and family.
    Betty with her Dad and separately with her mother and a Freedom Rider/Evers?
    Has Joan, Peter, Roger,Cooper had similar encounters?
    Help me out here.
    Thank you.

    • Roger has dropped a lot of acid, but we’ve never seen him communing with the dead. We did see him watching the old White Sox.

      Betty hallucinated under the effects of scopolamine. Don’s the only one who does it just from alcohol or sleep deprivation.

      • And illness due to an assessed tooth.

      • DL_ I respectfully disagree. When , in S.7/Ep.7, Don “sees” Burt, Don’s vision was fueled by neither alcohol nor sleep deprivation. Don was sober and at the height of attentiveness and rather happy as, within the last 24 hrs., his judgment had resulted in his ( Peggy’s ) bringing in Burger Chef, and the coup ( with Roger ) to defeat Cutler, save Don’s Job and SCP.

    • I didn’t see if this mentioned, but it really liked how Burt’s lines started out as a radio ad, given that’s how he started out in the hey day of ‘wireless’ advertising. And possibly the beginning of American mass media and creation of mass culture that so thoroughly shaped Don. Radio was free. When Hershy bars were luxury, I’d guess going to movies was too.

      So, in addition to being a work father figure to Don, The radio days of Bert’s hey day were a father to Dick…

      • When Bert did his radio commercial for Higbee’s Department Store in Cleveland, I immediately flashed to the 1983 film, “A Christmas Story.” The film is based on childhood memories/fantasies of the great Jean Shepherd, who appeared in it briefly and did the narration. Don Draper and Jean Shepherd are true masters of exquisite wordweaving and storytelling, transforming pain and unhappiness in the past, into something brilliant, lovely and wonderful. They are kindred spirits, I think.

        • Oh man! MM references The Christmas Story!

          And they put Ken’s eye out, and Pete’s chekovs gun has always looked like a BB gun!

          • Yes! And this show has a full complement of neighborhood bullies.

            Also, younger brothers being left behind or seen as “less than.”
            (Dick/Adam and Bud/Pete)

      • Reminded me of Roger hearing Don’s voice during his LSD trip before seeing Don appear in the mirror.

  3. This is a bit off point but The phrase “move us up a notch’ was used several times this episode. The first time we hear that phrase, Don uses it in s1e10 with Rachel.

    It’s when he’s describing the experience as a teen of being made a pall bearer for his Aunts funeral. And the first time the details of death were no longer bring hidden from him, by the adults. He said he felt like he moved up a notch…

  4. Looking at the titles of the last two *sob* episodes, I wonder……

    “Milk and Honey Route” – after researching the title, it’s hobo code for a train route hobos take to a place that’s good for them . Not everyone’s milk and honey route is the same, however; it depends on what the hobo is seeking or wanting. Don’t Milk and Honey Route is TBD, but perhaps he finds his “utopia” that he and Rachel referenced in S1.

    “Person to Person” – Don finally completely morphing into Dick?

    …..or not. Who knows? I’m just glad to be along for the ride.

  5. In addition to that the last two episodes of a season are normally action-packed, the last two episodes of the season are longer than the average episode, according to Weiner in a recent interview. The penultimate episode is 5 minutes longer, and the finale is 10 minutes longer. A lot of shit to go down, one might suppose.

  6. Seatbelts on indeed!

    This is a great reminder Deb – an awful lot can and will happen in the homestretch. I take comfort in knowing that MW has had this end game mapped out for a long time. Will there be a big bow on top? Nope, but we don’t want that anyway and we are getting plenty of clues as to where everyone might go on the next part of the journey (knock ‘em dead Birdy).
    Personally I’ve been quite satisfied with S7 part deux to date and in particular with Lost Horizon. There is so much metaphor and symbolism in that episode that it is hard to find just one or two threads to show the way. I can usually get a sense of some of the intended (or unintended) metaphor from a given episode and Lost Horizon is packed to the brim with clues and symbols but so far no overarching message or theme and come into focus for me. Below is a brief list of ingredients with some of what we saw on Sunday (but I still don’t know what the chef is up to . . . and that is ok with me)

    • magenta is right, there is a ton of Hobo and rail-riding going on here “whither goest now America in thy shiny car at night?” Watch for Mark Twain in the next week or two. Usually we’d picture Don going straight west but his quest for his own white whale Diana causes him to point his land yacht Caddy to Wisconsin. Somebody correctly noted that in the case of dangerous obsession the whale wins so, yes Mr. Satan Hobart Don did con you – Ha! (but, what does this say for Don as Cap’n Ahab chasing Diana . . . )

    • According to plastic research man Bill Philips, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan are filled with uniform simpletons longing for hammocks but Diana’s ex is no dummy – he cuts though Don’s crap like a hot knife. Anyone else a bit disturbed by how glib Don was in his shifty lies? He’s still got it when he wants to turn it on but note how they don’t work anymore. We know Don Draper lies so of course this means that he was lying to you too Mr. Satan Hobart. Don Draper is literally and figuratively disappearing fast so I hope you enjoyed the McCann moment with your whale Hobart. Anyway Don is headed west now and I agree with those who think NYC is in the rear view mirror for good.

    • Ships, boats, an airplane and a big Caddy along with two references to Bermuda – that’s gotta mean something right? The Bermuda Triangle is where your compass goes outta whack. In the old days they thought it was because of the lost city of Atlantis which may as well be Shangri-La from Lost Horizon (referenced in the S7 opener). Maybe SCDP-SC&P was a sort of Utopia but the occupants didn’t know it at the time. Roger was the Capitan of the good ship for a while but not a very effective one. Peggy was right – he was supposed to look out for them and it took all that time for Roger to give Peggy a little attention and guidance (it was sooo cool that it was worth the wait)

    • Ghosts, haunted radios, cars and offices – are these scary ghosts or really more like kindly guides? There was a fun, low budget movie from the 60s called Carnival of Souls with really creepy organ music throughout. It ends at an abandoned amusement park (a truly creepy place called Saltair outside SLC UT.) it has a house of mirrors quality not unlike the Peggy-Roger scene. Anyway, the lead character finds out that she is actually dead from a car accident that takes place at the beginning of the movie. Not sure this means anything but it is fun movie just like the scene with Peg and Roger.

    I’m outta ideas but not worried at all and really looking forward to the final innings and even more sharing them with you guys.

    P.S. Happy B-Day Deb!

    • I wondered if Diana’s ex works for S.C. Johnson (makers of Glo-Coat) and a Family Company. A wee bit of irony, if he is employed there, given his past troubles with her.

    • Thanks for the happy birthday, but Roberta wrote this one. 🙂

  7. Jim Hobart = Voldemort. Just sayin’.

    Roberta, your “thing” thing for S5 brought out my inner giggle.

  8. I can’t even describe how glad I am that you guys exist. I know so few people who love Mad Men, the most consistently awesome show I have ever experienced, and the brilliant recaps and scrupulous note taking have deepened my appreciation of this amazing multi year journey. Never before has a tv show compelled me to paint its characters on canvas, something not likely to happen again. I always go through a sort of mourning period when I finish a great book and when this show ends it would have been so much worse if it weren’t for the Lipp sisters and Company to help me fully appreciate it’s complexity. I thank you all from the bottom of my rotten little heart. <3

    • You can’t imagine how much we appreciate your appreciation. You’re welcome from the bottom of my cold, dead heart! (and my sister’s bigger, warmer one.)

    • Thank you for saying this so well, Kurt– you have echoed my sentiments exactly. I have enjoyed Mad Men immensely, and BoK ( along with TLo, Matt Zoller Seitz, and A Dog playing the Piano) has done an enormous amount to enhance my enjoyment of the show. Thank you all for your wonderful insights, and to the Lipps who bring us all together. May it be a fine ride to the final fade out!

      • Mo Ryan is another favorite of ours. We’ve been fans of TLo’s for years–if you’ve never seen Deborah’s conversation with them, here you go:

        • Are there any functional, “normal parent-child or child-parent relationships portrayed on MM?

          Can you assert that any of the following relationships are not “dysfunctional ( irrespective of the decade in which the relationship was formed or developed)?

          Don and his children;
          Roger and Margaret; Meghan and either of her parents;
          Pete and either of his parents;
          Duck and his kids ( excluding Chauncey);
          Glen and Helen Bishop;
          Glen and Lemond Bishop;
          Glen and Betty;
          Ginsberg and his dad;
          Layne and his dad:
          Layne and Lionel;
          Don and his father/Don and his Uncle:
          Willie and Joy;
          Diana and her girls;
          Peggy and Father Gill.

          Even Trudy and her Father’s relationship is weird although not strained

          • Don’t forget Betty’s parents and her own version of parenting – messy, messy. Betty’s Mom is arguably the reason Betts is so often out of the running for mother of the year and how about dad? By the end he is groping his daughter thinking she is his wife – ‘nuff said!

          • Roger and his mother didn’t seem too bad, although I don’t remember that we saw enough of it to judge. I might just be reaching here.

          • Duck’s relationship with Chauncey was extremely dysfunctional, was it not?

        • Do you have another link? That one doesn’t seem to work.

  9. I just re-watched and a few things stand out: Don being disgusted by the research, just like the report he threw in the garbage in the Pilot. And Ed throws on his Mets cap, a direct nod to Lane. Oh and Harry calls McCann “Mission Control” and the episode ends with a call from “Ground control to Major Tom” as Jim Hobart is desperately trying to find Don.

    • Oldgold, great catch about the pilot. I was thinking about what he said to Faye in The Rejected, “You can’t tell how people are going to behave based on how they have behaved.”

      • Ironic statement from Don, considering he has been exhibiting the same behaviors throughout the series…

        • Exactly right.

          “You can’t tell how people are going to behave based on how they have behaved.”

          This may be one of the quotes of the series in our current near-hindsight mode. If MM is about anything it is about how often you can tell how people are going to behave based on how they have behaved – at least to some extent. Can we escape the long shadow of our past, family, genetics, social order and patterns – what Faulkner calls “blood and raising and background.” In short, can we fundamentally change who we are, the choices we make and how we react to the things that trigger us? Over ten years we have been witness to the changes that occur and don’t occur to a handful of characters going through the very typical challenges of life’s journey. All set against a very meaningful time in America’s own bumpy evolution. It sounds simple but it isn’t – just like life.

          So many good things have come out of this show and the discussions and analysis of the amazing BoK family. It is not an exaggeration to say that thinking and sharing about this show in this safe place has awakened something in my brain that I thought was long gone. I’m very thankful for this forum and our hosts Roberta and Deborah for making so many Sunday nights and Monday mornings a lot more fun!

          Thank you, thank you!

      • TLo caught it in Mad Style, damn them. (they are SO good. of course, they take more time getting their reviews up than we do. and we’re still the only ones that just pick a topic and run with it, as opposed to strictly episode reviews.)

  10. Ok, show of hands : how many people reading have an ear worm of organ music flitting around in their heads? And I thought Father Abraham was going to make me nuts.

  11. I’ve stated this previously on other threads, but it bears repeating: Basket of Kisses has added immeasurably to my enjoyment and understanding of the Mad Men experience.

    The posts by The Fabulous Lipp Sisters, the guest posters and many thousands of bright, insightful comments of the Basketcases, have been something truly incredible! The Internet, like TV itself, can be a vast wasteland, but not this little oasis of intelligence, wit, wisdom and even love, for each other and, of course, for the show, its creators, its players, all the artists and allied craftspeople, who made it all possible.

    I’d love to see a book about the Mad Men experience and the Basket of Kisses experience, that captures all that and more. I’ve already made space on the shelf for it, right next to my Mad Men DVDs.

  12. I know you’ve put it in quotes Roberta, but the “nothing happens in Mad Men” truism needs to die. It’s the other shows where nothing happens, just more busily.

    • I agree. I’m devoted to busting the myth. It’s almost like….like everything on Mad Men has equal measure. You’re right up there in it when Betty eats a chicken leg out of the fridge just as much as you are when Freddy Rumsen pees himself or when Don walks out of a meeting and drives across the country. Mad Men doesn’t vote; doesn’t weigh in, same as life. Same as advertising. “This business doesn’t have feelings.” It’s up to us to decide something’s value.
      I love this show so much.

    • And, nothing happens in Mad Men, that doesn’t eventually happen again in a different form or context, or that doesn’t offer a revelatory pay off, for viewers who’ve carefully observed things happening, as the journey unfolds.

      This is one of the things that makes this series so amazing. As a general rule, I usually watch each episode, as it airs. Then once or twice more afterwards, on DVR. I’ve also re-watched each season, on DVD, just prior to the start of each new season. After all these viewings, I’m still catching things that I had missed or didn’t grasp the significance of, even after numerous viewings.

      This show is truly magnificent in its bounty!

  13. Great post! I giggled too! And you girls (Lipp Sisters) are amazing and I always look forward to your Mad Men posts. I’ll be sobbing at the finale party! 🙁

    Just a side note, I’m assuming the year (1962) in ‘In Care Of’ is a typo?

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