May 112015
Betty Francis: The Milk and Honey Route

Photo Credit:Michael Yarish/AMC

Mad Men‘s penultimate episode, The Milk and Honey Route, is staggering. I cried at least twice, and we are going to talk about that, I promise. But first, hat’s off to the best cameo this show has ever had. Pete’s secretary, Sarah, seen briefly being told to remind him about a donation to Lincoln Center, was played by Linda Brettler, the inestimable wife of Matthew Weiner. Hi, Linda!

For the past six episodes, Mr. Brettler Matthew Weiner has been wrapping up each character’s story line in ways that are surprising, inevitable, or both. In seeing these stories come to beautiful or crazy or baffling or thrilling conclusions, we can start to see the individual character arcs as isolated. But these episodes are still being delivered with deep thematic resonance. So, Lost Horizon gave us Peggy discovering her bad-assery (post coming on that one, I promise!), and Joan taking a buy-out, while Roger plays the organ. All of these are character denouements, but the episode also had something to say about the promises and limitations of Shangri-La (another post coming, I promise!).

Those character moments were fulfilling in a way that gave this week’s script the freedom to move past them. We didn’t even see Peggy, Joan, or Roger in The Milk and Honey Route. We didn’t need to. We needed to tell the stories still remaining to be told.

I take notes while watching Mad Men. It’s not the best way to enjoy an episode, but it’s the only way to get the recap done afterwards. When Betty was at the doctor’s office, my notes read “WHAT wtf wtf”. Yeah, about like that.

Is this crazy? Left field? I kept saying, “Why is he doing this?”, which is to say, I kept trying to peek past Betty’s life and look at Matt Weiner’s intention. In the end, though, I think it’s about Betty’s life.

Betty’s mother died when she was only 28, and we were never told the cause of death. Cancer can run in families, and Betty is a heavy smoker. When looked at this way, we’re not seeing an insane story from out of nowhere, we’re seeing a road that Betty has been walking.

The Milk and Honey Route is about knowing when it’s over, and knowing when to start over. I didn’t write down every quote I loved yet, so I don’t have Betty’s exact words about how, when they tell you it’s over it’s probably true, because people hate to say that, and then “It’s been a gift to know when to move on.” But that was one part of what it meant, wasn’t it? The other part was Pete and Trudy:

Trudy: We both know things can’t be undone.
Pete: Says who?

Sometimes things can continue, they can heal, you can go back, you can begin again. Sometimes you know you’re done. It can be a gift to know when it’s over, and equally a gift to know when you can go back.

It’s funny, when Trudy said “You know, I’m jealous of your ability to be sentimental about the past. I’m not able to do that, I remember things as they were”, I wrote in my notes, “She’s wrong, they had a good connection.” When he says to her that she understands his work, he’s saying this; that they are connected in their joint ambitions. When I interviewed Alison Brie, years back, she talked about ambition as what joins these two, and I think that still holds. They understand the world of striving and achieving.

Pete cheated, and was miserable, and will probably continue to be miserable, because Pete loves to wallow and that won’t change, but that isn’t about the marriage, that’s just who Pete is. Trudy has been viciously angry, but sometimes you keep yourself stiff with anger as a discipline, to make sure you don’t falter back into tenderness.

It helps that they are living through one of the worst periods of New York City history. Pete, a lifelong Manhattanite, thought moving to Cos Cobb was a death sentence. I’ve written that the basic incompatibility of city versus suburbs had a lot to do with Pete and Trudy’s split. But in 1970, Manhattan is a dirty and miserable place that doesn’t much resemble the city Pete grew up in. He’s willing to leave regardless.

So, Betty’s is a story about endings, and Pete’s is a story about renewals, and Don’s is a story about both. Don doesn’t know what his story is.

Don has well and truly run away. He’s been gone for a month, and may or may not have formally resigned, forgoing the rest of his payoff. He’s keeping in touch with family; the phone call with Sally indicates that he’s not “missing,” his road trip isn’t entirely running away, at least not from his children. On the other hand, his dreams are still of getting caught. He uses the name Don Draper, and maybe that’s because he simply is Don Draper after all this time, and/or because his driver’s license and money are in that name. But maybe it’s because there’s still a part of his that’s running and hiding.

At the Legionnaire’s Club, Don breaks into a sweat when introduced to another Korean War vet, only relaxing when he realized their time there didn’t overlap. Eventually, he tells the story he’s never told, but his heart is still with the kid who wants and needs to leave town.

Way back in Season 3, Don helped Suzanne’s brother. A lot of people thought that the brother would come back (although our own B. Cooper recognized it as a red herring). I never understood that story, but now I do. Don sees himself in ever ne’er-do-well who wants to run away. Suzanne’s brother is Andy the thief is young Dick Whitman.

So his story is stuck. He is neither Betty, ready to come to a close, nor quite Pete, ready to be reborn. I think Betty will bring him back. Since the beginning of the episode showed Don on the phone with Sally, we have established his ability to hear about Betty’s cancer. I think when he hears the news, he’ll turn around and head east, for Betty as well as for his children.

There’s also the eternal way in which Pete is the Anti-Don. While Don escapes McCann, Pete tries desperately to stay at McCann, fighting Duck’s offered escape route. While Don’s first wife is dying, Pete returns to his own first wife.

Do people change? Yes and no. Betty has found some wisdom, and is determined to continue school even though she’s dying, but she still makes sure that her hair and makeup will be done properly at her funeral. Priorities. I could cite other examples, but I don’t need to. That’s exactly how people both change and do not.

Bullets! I have them!

  • As miserable as the characters of Mad Men often are, Matthew Weiner is a happily married man (Hi, Linda!) and he has always wanted to show us that marriages can be happy as well as unhappy. Pete and Trudy have always been a good couple, and their separation made us unhappy. Now we see their capacity for a happy future. Henry and Betty were happy; Betty saying she knew when to move on was partially her saying that this marriage was so much better. Henry, for his part, doesn’t know what he’ll do without her; they’ve had only a few years, but she fills his heart.
  • It was good to see Duck in the credits, and amazing to see his complex performance, pulling in the entire past of this character: Both drunk and competent, both desperate and combative, he’s aged into a kind of Duck quintessence. Did you notice his irritation that Pete referred Peggy to a different headhunter? As if she’d use her ex!
  • So, yeah. I cried. I cried when Henry cried. I cried again when Pete and Trudy kissed. And I cried again when Sally read the letter. I am a sap.
  • That was Max Gail as the World War II vet with the horror story about starving Germans. Barney Miller is my all-time favorite sitcom. I love seeing him.
  • No contest for quote of the week: I killed my CO. We were under fire, and fuel was everywhere, and I dropped my lighter, and I blew him apart, and I got to go home.

  351 Responses to “Mad Men Recap: The Milk and Honey Route–Her birthday wish came true”

  1. Thank you for ID’ing Max Gail — I was just talking about Barney Miller with a FB friend. What a smart and funny show that was. (always had a bit of a crush on Hal Linden!)

    I’m very sad, but I will say it — because nobody else will.

    Bye Bye, Birdie.

    • … and then I saw that someone beat me to it.

    • WOJO! I was racking my brains trying to remember where I knew that guy from. For some odd reason, Stan has always reminded me of Wojo (more before the beard) so it seems somehow fitting he would up on Mad Men.

    • AND, FWIW, the motel owner was Chris Ellis, the birddogging record scout who discovers The Wonders in That Thing You Do.

      Written and directed by Tom Hanks, father of our favorite Mad Men priest, Colin Hanks/Father John Gill

  2. Us West Coasters are still reeling. I cried several times too. My only hope is that the Francis kids will not be raised by Henry’s awful mother Pauline.

    • I hate waiting until 10! It is such a long night, but well worth the wait. This episode was spectacular, letting the emotional content soak in and not wanting to super analyze every detail (like usual). I loved every part of this one, okay it kind of bugged me when they were hitting Don with the telephone book, because I thought he had made some friends. He recovered well enough. Loved the ending song too.
      Soooo goood.

  3. This is how Matt Weiner ends Betty’s story? With a terminal illness, after she had decided to return to school? This is it?

    I’m through.

    • With all that smoking, someone had to get cancer.

      • That’s what I thought too. Although I always thought it was going to be Roger.

        • I actually suspected something was up with Betty last week. When she was sitting at the kitchen table talking to Don and she talked about her back being sore and Don comes behind her (shades of season 1). She says it was just her book load.

      • In Season 3’s The Arrangements, Grandpa Gene expressed concern to Betty about her smoking so much.

    • That kind of shit happens. And I think it’s just the sort of thing to really bring Don back, make him reevaluate his life, & prioritize his kids as #1.

      • Yes it happens, but it happened here because Matt decided on it.
        I refuse to consider it could be a plot device to make Don reevaluate his priorities AGAIN. That would just be cruel. No matter what happens next week, this turn of events is so overwhelmingly sad that it’s going to make the end even more hard to take.

      • The whole thing mad me think about how Don is the guy who always gets away with it. He gets to smoke and cut loose his entire life and wander. Betty gets the kids and cancer.

        • Just watched this episode last night and couldn’t sleep afterwards. Was I the only one who wanted to shout at Don “You need to phone home now! You need to call Sally!”?

  4. Draper kids. Excuse me.

  5. What a different direction Betty took in tonight’s episode as compared to her previous cancer scare. I remember in that episode she and Henry watching the kids run around with sparklers, it was July 4th, and her obvious pain with thoughts of leaving her children. Tonight, it was acceptance, plans and being strong. And with continuing her life until she can’t. Going to school, the stairs, it broke my heart.

    • Betty passed from denial and anger to acceptance in record time – demanded by the narrative and Weiner’s goals – but also: does it make sense that her eventual benign thyroid/lymph node scare (and her chat with an old acquiantance, who was actually terminal) got her “through” bargaining and depression this time?

      • That was my thought. Once you have faced uncertainty, possible death, you may have thought about all sorts of things, working through issues most women don’t think about until much later in life.

      • This was really one of the few situations that Betty has had complete control over. Not the diagnosis, of course, but she certainly took charge of how she intended to dance with it, making that clear to Sally. I imagine she’d eventually have a “get ahold of yourself” conversation with Henry.

        Nothing quite matches the prospect of death, when it comes to discovering what you’re made of and your strengths.

    • I am wondering if MW had planned Betty’s storyline since the first cancer scare in Tea Leaves which was season 5. It totally makes sense that she had this scare and as a heavy smoker, has been diagnosed but mind-blowing to me that MW may have known this storyline arc three years ago.

      • Weiner said that he conceived the ending to the entire series between season 4 and 5, so it’s possible he knew the end of Betty’s story at the same time.

    • Although Pete was raised in Manhattan and has always loved it, he referred to the City in the last episode as a toilet bowl when Trudy was wondering if she should move back. I was not expecting Wichita necessarily, but his “love affair with Manahattan” as Trudy used to call it had definitely ended prior to Milk and Honey.

      I am amazed that in the 1970s, a doctor would not be speaking directly to a female patient and would only talk to her husband about her condition. The oncologist wasn’t even talking to betty and her husband together, only to her husband as if Betty was not even in the room or as if she was a child. We are far from HIPAA.

      last point, Smoking has played a very important role in both Betty and Don’s life. Don”s smoking led to the fire which allowed him to change his identity and the beginning of his adulthood. It caused him to be distance and defensive since he carried around this secret. Betty’s smoking changed how and the end of her adulthood would take place and the timing of it. The smoking for both of them affected their children indirectly and directly – their last names, their ability to connect to their parents, etc.

      • As a woman with a chronic illness, I can tell you male doctors still do this. At least the part about talking to the man and not you the patient.

  6. “Sally, I’ve learned to believe people when they tell you it’s over.” That was the line.

    It’s a lot, you know? Losing Rachel and then Betty, in a matter of weeks?

    This hurts.


    • It was Anne. Not a lot of words, but says so much about Betty and her choices. A stunning moment between she and Sally…the weight of those words not lost on her in this moment, or in the zillion times she will replay them in her future. Betty in a nutshell. Wowza.

    • Yes, beautiful. I want to capture that whole monologue. It was perfection.

    • Don and the cancer society indeed: Anna, Betty, Rachel. Don’s been selling cigs for most of his adult life and he loses two wives and his true love to cancer.

      • I do wonder if 40-50 years from now there will be a Mad Man type form of entertainment that shows our current 2015 world. And will people be astounded at how many overweight people there are, how type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome are killing off large numbers of people. And will it be said by them, well of course they died, look how overweight they are, what did they expect? Or will they be dealing with germs and epidemics that make 2015 look like a cake walk?

  7. I haven’t really had time to come back here, but since we’re near the end of the road, I have to make time.

    Bottom line:

    After eight years, an audience for any television show wants to know that its emotional investment was worth it, and more precisely, that its investment was respected.

    Last week definitely rewarded our investments in Joan and Peggy as characters, and tonight did the same for Betty, Don and Sally.

    I will continue to watch these episodes in the future, as we all will, but of course, there is never anything quite like the first time, when the weight of an episode and its constituent scenes hits at full force.

    The depths to which I ached for Betty when her vocalized words were read by Sally cannot be easily described. This was an ancient ache, an ache that reached through the entire history of the show and of all the limitations Betty grew up with in her earlier years. So much of the first three seasons of this show captured the emptiness inside Betty — not a planned or desired emptiness, but more the emptiness which was the product of her upbringing, specifically the lack of a powerful guiding presence in her life.

    When Betty’s voice uttered the reference to the blue chiffon dress — in a letter THAT important — the awareness of all that Betty lacked (mostly because she was deprived of it by the parenting she received) came flooding over me. Realizing, too, that Betty would die young, like her mother, repeated the cycle of emptiness in her family…

    … and yet, Betty’s simultaneous awareness that Sally’s independent-minded quality would serve her well in life shows that this “cycle of emptiness” among Hofstadt women will end. Sally will change things. It’s as though Betty knows just enough to realize that Sally will be what she (Betty) was not able to become… and that’s enough for her in her context of limitations. Sally will be the one to soar past limits.

    It is such an exquisitely painful — and beautiful, and devastating, and hopeful — scene.

    It is the kind of moment which makes me feel my investment in this show was rewarded.

    It also makes Don’s beautiful gesture to that younger version of himself feel almost (almost!) like a footnote by comparison.

    What a gift this show is, and I get to watch only one more first-run episode.

    Well, as this episode showed, there are times and situations in which we have to let go and acknowledge what can’t be undone.

    Life. Art. Mad Men.

    The first two are brought together so poignantly and richly by the third.

    • Beautifully written. I’ve always been a Betty fan and although stunned by the twist in this episode, there is a part of me that is pleased the character got a strong and respectful story like this. With all the predictions that Roger would have his third and final heart attack, I don’t think anyone even considered Betty would be the one to die at the end, and if they had, would anyone have predicted she’d be stoic and noble and clear-eyed about what was to come? Perhaps if we remembered Betty and the pigeons…

      And assuming Weiner had this end in mind all along, we also know why Betty remained as a main character even after the divorce – it is her story that will truly force Don to fish or cut bait. He’s in semi-running away mode right now, his standard maneuver, but his story at the Legion Hall and interaction with the budding OK con man also show he’s learned some stuff along the way. His connection with the kids, especially Sally, is clearly strong, so will Don actually stop running and stick around to raise his kids?

      I cried during this episode too. It’s been 18 years since my mother died of cancer, and it is a horrible way to go. She had a chronic illness, so the cancer symptoms were overlooked by everyone and we only had one week between her diagnosis and her death, so this story line hit hard (and I can vouch for it not being unrealistic). I was about to turn 30 and it rocked my world to lose her so young, my heart absolutely broker for Sally and the boys, especially Gene, and the scene of Sally holding her in his lap for a quick hug and kiss was so moving. She’s going to have to be there for those boys for the rest of her life.

      And Betty’s letter? I sobbed. Of course she was most concerned with how she looked in the coffin, but her talk with Sally also showed Sally was wrong – her mother wasn’t forgoing treatment because she’s vain, but because she’s realistic. And the simple “I love you” at the close will be something Sally will like re-read thousands of times in the years ahead.

      I can’t even talk about how great the Pete/Trudy story line was (chalk up another one in the fan wishbook).

      • I’m sorry to hear about your mother. You’re right about it being realistic in regards to cancer. As soon as they said palliative treatments and her cancer being advanced I knew from experience that Betty had little time left. Henry can’t see his life without Betty and isn’t ready to let her go. Betty isn’t being vain she’s being practical in her Betty way which includes blue chiffon.

        We hear about miracle cures, remissions all the time but sometimes it’s over and all there is to do is minimize the suffering and get ready for the end. What would Betty have to go through to get days perhaps a few months? We are talking treatments in the70’s and it would be brutal. I think Betty wants her family to remember the best of her not her end. She wants her family to go on knowing she loved them.

        • Betty knew what she wanted, and left Sally the instructions so she could carry them out. Having lost my mother when I was 30 (diabetes), and also having lost my father-in-law two weeks ago, I can testify that one of the biggest gifts one can leave are instructions for your survivors. With my FIL, it was an advanced directive — which I didn’t get with my mom (I didn’t get ANYTHING from her, aside from her with for no cremation, and had to make choices).

          • I am so sorry to hear about your mother. This was a tough show to watch on Mother’s day. I also lost my mom when I was in my 30’s. This kind of loss at a young age changes who you are. At least it did for me. I have been coming on this site to read comments and feel bonded to you all because of the love of this show. Now I feel a connection through the common experience of grief. Grief changes has made me sentimental. Perhaps that is why I love this show.

            • I was 11 years old when I lost my mother to cancer. And she left me a letter intended to try to guide me through the rest of the life she would not be there to see. She was 45 at the time of her death, and the year I turned 45, I counted the days until I awoke on the morning that meant I was living one day longer than she got to do. Sally will be haunted not just by the letter she was left, but by the apprehension that she is, as Don recently told her, part of Betty, and that her life is more fragile and less dependable than she had previously thought. We all have a tendency to think we are immortal, and while Sally is older than I was when that monumental loss occurred, it will reinforce her loss of Grampa Gene even more closely, like lightning just barely missing her with its strike. Sally has Betty’s steel in her soul; now she will carry Betty’s legacy, as well.

              Someone (I can’t remember who or when I heard it) said that the only experience every woman shares is the experience of being a daughter. I shared Sally’s experience, and last night, I identified with her for the first time in the run of the series.

        • Especially in those days, but today as well, they will just keep throwing chemo and radiation at you until the end, no matter how useless it is. They’ll demand you take six months of remaining life puking and sick, instead of 5 months without the effects of treatment. Only the sick person can truly choose.

          • Let me speak in defense of all the doctors and nurses out there who work with cancer patients, especially pediatric cases. We do not demand patients do one thing or another, we discuss options, length of treatment, probable results, and a host of other points. Most people and their families hear about half of what is said,,ex. Henry talking about lawsuits, etc., and are angry, very angry. All totally understandable, and expected. It is shameful what is said and done to some patients, but if the family wants to use everything that is available, that is their choice, no one other than the family and the patient can make that decision.

            • I knew an oncologist who said that, when a patient came to him, he was often the first person who had ever said the word “cancer” to him. Literally they send you to an oncologist without saying the word.

            • That is true sometimes, especially in 1970. In fact, the husband often would tell the MD and nurses not to tell his wife, the patient, not to tell her she had cancer. Can you believe it? But sometimes, people hear what they want to hear. We are also taught to say certain words, like mass or growth, rather than cancer, by lawyers,who say unless you have a slide from the path lab, you can’t be 100% sure. Strictly speaking that is true, but after a few years of clinical experience you know, you just know.

          • Ma’am,
            “Only the sick person can truly choose.”

            I admire Betty at long last – she is preparing to “leave without regret”.

            Based on an emerging issue, I too shall keep my own council, choose my own path and follow the coda of Jack London “… I will not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”


    • THIS

      “This was an ancient ache, an ache that reached through the entire history of the show and of all the limitations Betty grew up with in her earlier years.”

    • Matt Zemek,

      “Life. Art. Mad Men. The first two are brought together so poignantly and richly by the third.”

      So perfectly put.

  8. This was so good, I’m almost afraid of the finale becoming a let-down. But after 8 years, there’s a lot of trust. I could accept this as the last episode, no questions asked.

    Thank you all

    • If this were the last episode, it would definitely leave the door open for the return of Don at some point — which I don’t think we’re going to get.

  9. What birthday wish?

    • It was in the Pete/Trudy storyline– to do with Tammy’s birthday wish and the two of them getting back together. Haven’t rewatched, so can’t give you the exact quote.

    • [Trudy and Pete kiss]
      Trudy: How will I explain this to Tammy?
      Pete: Tell her, her birthday wish came true.

  10. Maybe Sally will go to school to be a psychologist, continue her mothers dream!

    What an episode to watch on Mothers Day! 🙁

    • Betty, the former patient on the couch, had her therapy in the early years of her marriage.

      Don had his first session at the vet’s rally. Did you see the different emotions playing across Jon Hamm’s exquisite face, during that scene? Relief, fear, guilt, courage, doubt, you name it.

      This show was outstanding. Outstanding.

  11. When Betty falls on her way up the stairs at school I realized the symbolic nature of her final journey.

    “STAIRS A symbol of emotional and spiritual development and of incremental gains in wisdom and knowledge”. Herders dictionary of symbols

    “The Stairway is the symbol of the acquisition of learning and of the ascent to knowledge and transfiguration. If it rises skywards, the knowledge is that of the divine world”. Penguin dictionary of Symbols.

    Proof of some of that change in Betty is her acceptance of her age and lack of resentment to the Mrs Robinson joke at the hospital.

    The diagnosis Betty got was so dire that she understood that it was over and there was for her no other option emotionally but to continue her journey upwards to knowledge while she transitioned to the divine.

    • When I saw Betty out of breath on the stairs, I knew it was cancer. And then when she fell, I was heartbroken. That’s how I found out that I, in fact, had cancer – I couldn’t make it up the steps one night without being completely out of breath. This show touches on some real truths for me.

      Thanks for your analysis of the fact that it happened on steps. Opened up a whole deeper level, and makes me appreciate it more (I didn’t like this episode at first when I finished it)

      • I have a vague recollection of Betty being physically drained last week when Don visited her. I know she mentioned how tired she was after carrying home a $100 worth of text books but does anyone recall if we actually saw any physical manifestations that were a precursor to the stairs this week in last week’s episode or in any of the previous Season 7 episodes?

  12. I remember Betty’s father telling her, when she was preg, to stop smoking. He mentioned her mother.

    • Good catch, thanks. I’ll rewatch that–when my DVDs are unpacked.

    • His remark happened in the context of his sit down with Betty, to go over his own funeral arrangements.

      I noted the difference with which that difficult chore was handled, Gene with Betty and Betty with Sally. He was very straightforward, essentially telling Betty, you get it done with now, so you don’t have to have the conversation again. Betty’s approach was direct, but softer. She addressed how difficult the prospect of her death would be and acknowledged Sally’s individuality, and closed her letter with love.

  13. I think we saw a recapitulation of Dick Whitman’s life. He was once like the kid cleaning the motel room. The nightmare Don had being stopped by the cop was when Dick Whitman was arrested,probably for theft. He might have robbed a coke machine. I think that Dick Whitman was sentenced to probation AND military service. This was quite common for the criminal justice system to do for young men of draft age. That is how Dick Whitman ended up in Korea. Dick Whitman was a convicted felon in all likely hood. He could have never worked for Sterling Cooper or anywhere else in advertising as a convicted felon. He had to become Don Draper even to sell used cars.By a quirk of fate the US Army mis-indentified Dick Whitman as Don Draper. Anna always called him Dick never Don. She could accept him as Dick Whitman, Betty and everyone he worked with could not. He had to become Don Draper to work in advertising and have his lifestyle. He is tired of playing the role of Don Draper. I think that Sally can accept her father is Dick Whitman, maybe Peggy can too.

    • This is fascinating and plausible. Of course, it might have felt odd to Anna to call Dick by the name of her late husband.

    • Not consistent with what Dick Whitman told Lt. Don Draper–that he volunteered to “get away from there.” We’ve always wondered why he didn’t do that at 16 instead of later, but maybe he was like Andy, the hotel kid–he tried to hustle his way out first.

      • “Get away” from the possibility of prison, maybe.

      • Absolutely agree. We don’t know and likely never will, but it seems that the Army was a bottom of the list, last chance to get out of town option. God only knows what he did in the few years after high school and before the service, but I’ll bet it wasn’t bagging groceries.

      • That answers a question many have wanted to know-why didn’t Dick serve in WWII. I like the idea that he tried other things first, and then the army was Plan B when his original methods fell through.

        • I still don’t see how a healthy 18 year old avoided being drafted

          • Perhaps someone on the local draft board was a regular customer at Uncle Mack’s brothel and was *ahem* “influenced” to skip Don’s name on the roster.

            This assumes Dick was even still at Uncle Mack’s by that point.

    • It wasn’t a quirk of fate. Don/Dick switched the dog tags. He knew what he was doing, although not fully aware of all of consquences.

      • Dick Whitman knew that by assuming Don Draper’s identity any trace of Dick Whitman’s past including his criminal history would vanish. Dick Whitman, I have always thought was born around 1930 and was not 36 years old in 1960. Dick Whitman became Don Draper and has used his birth date and his social security number among other things that were supplied to him either by Anna Draper or Dick obtained. Dick Whitman was now Don Draper. He got his paychecks as Don Draper, paid his taxes as Don Draper and got married as Don Draper. His passport was in the name of Don Draper. Dick Whitman, a twenty year old in 1950, fooled the US Army, Roger Sterling,Betty Draper and many others during seven seasons of Mad Men. He almost fooled Pete Campbell. He played the role of Don Draper well. This hardscrabble kid from the wrong side of the tracks had affairs with a department store heiress and a doctor’s wife among others. Dick was too young for World War II but not Korea. Men born in 1924 who were 18 years old were either serving in the military, in college, or 4F. Dick was not 4F. One thing we know about Dick is that he is a con and he lies a lot to a lot of people.

        • And I love how he admitted he was a con man, to the kid who procured his booze, set him up, and ultimately, drove his caddy away.

          Don is becoming self-actualized, ya’ll! He converses with his daughter warmly. He jokes with his ex-wife about..getting “old” (and now she’ll be denied that privilege).

          Don’s shedding all remnants of his con life.

    • I think this is a reasonable theory, otherwise why would the police be coming after Don in his dream? If his Don Draper deception was discovered, the military would be the ones to dispense justice, not local policemen.

      • Dreams aren’t necessarily rational. The dream just means he’s afraid of being caught. I honestly think if we were meant to think Dick was ever threatened with jail/prison, the show would have let us know that long before now.

  14. I have two thoughts about the final episode. I feel that it will open with Betty’s funeral and Don will be back as a responsible parent. Beyond that, I have no idea what direction they will point Don in. I feel that almost all the characters have their future direction somewhat charted. All of the main Sterling Cooper partners have left McAnn, in some manner, shape or form. The one character I am not seeing clearly is Roger. How will he leave McAnn? Will he die? Will he be bought out now that the most of the other Sterling Cooper partners have left (except for Ted, who has decided to stay). I trust that Matthew Weiner will end Mad Men is a satisfying manner, not like Lost.

  15. I am so sad and angry. I have to admit…and I know it is not rational…that as I was watching the Betty storyline I was mad at Basketcasers. Why? Because so many did not like Betty. Betty was continually compared against motherhood in the 21st century. Betty wasn’t a mother from the 21st century, she was a mom and woman from the 49s and 50s. She was constantly criticized on this site for her parenting techniques, for her lack of warmth toward her children, for her perceived lack of self-reflection. Betty for me was a product of her times and circumstances. Betty DID have depth. I never forgot how much she loved Don. How she desperately tried to have something for herself…ie. modeling again…and was thwarted at every turn, by Don, by societal norms, by psychiatrists who betrayed her trust.

    It seems to me that the Betty character started as three dimensional and then became more one dimensional and then went back to being three dimensional I wonder if there were different writers writing the Betty parts over the years? In any any case, now that she is gone, Betty is still being criticized and compared against the 21st century mom because she writes to Sally about how she wants to be buried and the dress she wants to be buried in. Betty is not being superficial by writing this to Sally. She trusts Sally to ensure that she is presented in death as she wanted to be seen in her life, at her best…with her dignity. Funeral arrangements were very important to Betty’s generation and to her parents generation. She is trusting Sally with something very important to her..her final dignity. Can we give her that?

    Finally, although heartbroken that Betty will die, I do not fault Weiner for writing her ending in this way. I think it was handled very tastefully and honestly. I think each person deserves to decide how they will handle such news and Betty’s way was in keeping with her character.

    • Actually Betty reminded me of my own mother, and (with shooting the birds) my stepmother.

      • Me too…I suppose that is one of the reasons that I love Betty so much. Her spunk and frustration displayed in Shoot reminded me of my mom too!

    • Betty is herself. She is vain. As she grows and changes, she retains her vanity. Is that a criticism, or a recognition?

      • I think it is acceptance of herself and what she is, good, bad, or indifferent.

      • I would not say vain…I would say it is pride and dignity in her appearance. Remember when she went to visit her father (after his mini stroke) and she is seen smoothing her dress before he sees her? Betty was raised to take pride in her appearance. Vain implies something negative…I would describe her as dignified.

        • It was very …. Betty.

          Just remembered one of the last things she said to Don. “I’m younger than you. I’ll always be younger.”

          And she always will be now.

        • All the women in my family were of this mind. You feel depressed? You’re ill? Get your hair done, pick out your best outfit, make that much more effort. Take care of the physical, and the mental and emotional will follow.

          Moreover, I was taught that it’s simply bad manners to show up to someone’s restaurant–even a casual joint–in sloppy attire. You put on a dress for dinner, out of respect for the chef/proprietor. Same thing when someone throws a party. It’s about respect. It’s about dignity. It’s about saying, “I consider you (whether “you” is a prospective employer, a child’s teacher, a host of a party, an owner of a restaurant, or even the people who will be viewing your body at your funeral) worthy of making an effort

          I always understood, and appreciated, that aspect of Betty.

        • That is EXACTLY the phrase my mom (born 1938) often used with me as a teenager – how it was time I started to “take pride in your appearance.”

          • my mom was born in 1950 and she would say that dressing up was out of respect for others and the situation. It was not vanity. I had a healthy dose of love and encouragement to just be who you are, but I was also taught to be respectful. I had not thought about that much until just now. I never saw any similarities between betty and my mom til this episode.

            When my mom died, my grandma had passed only weeks before her. So my mom gave us all kinds of instruction as to what she would like to have done in the event of her passing. She passed suddenly but the guidance she gave me on how to proceed helped me through a very tough time. I could focus on my mourning and the mourning of my younger siblings instead of worrying if I made the right decisions in planning the funeral. It was a loving thing to do and when I saw my mom for the first time before her viewing, I was startled to see that she had not colored her hair in a while. My sisters agreed that she wouldn’t want to be seen like this so we did a quick touch up so she would look presentable one last time.

      • At the point where Betty returned to school, I found myself looking at her differently because the arc of the story had developed too. With Don still pursuing mystery waitresses, Roger still acting like a man-child, Peggy becoming more professional but also brittle (but I liked her dream of reaching the top), and Joan co-opting the women’s movement (sorry, that’s how I saw it!) to get her money, Betty seemed like the most responsible adult in the whole bunch. She had made a new bond in a decent marriage, raised her children in a stable home, and now, returning to something she wanted to do earlier but denied in an unsupportive environment for women of her class, she was getting something for herself. Her vanity was part of a new dignity, to me, as she moved in all her roles. How tragic that she should come to such an end.

        I’ve been too upset by the thought of the series ending to join in with my comments but this has been the best blog!

        • I think Betty was a woman of the times. She was growing and changing like a lot of women did in the 60’s and 70’s. I was not always crazy about Betty but I appreciated that she had the ability to grow. She probably represented many women who filled the role that society had open for them but when new opportunities opened up, they were able to shift their thinking and broaden their horizons.

      • Agree. Betty is a product of her time AND she is also cold and unloving toward her children. She has always had a somewhat harsh and unkind manner with her children. Maybe she learned it from her mom, but not all mothers “of that time” were cold to their children like she was in the duration of this show.

      • I’ve always liked Betty despite her automatic cruelty to her children. Like doginthe parthenon, below, I immediately saw Betty’s problem as “the Problem” analyzed by Betty Friedan. I thought the psychiatrist’s statement that she was “childish” because she talked about her own life, which he thought consisted of trivial things was sexist. But, while agreeing with many of these comments, I’ve noticed a striking resemblance to the idealizing eulogies written about real people. Perhaps this shows how real these characters have come to seem.

      • I don’t see Betty as vain either. She’s been taught that a big part of her value is tied to her looks and her genteel behavior. There’s more to her than that, but her opportunities for self-actualization have been few and far between. It’s lonely and depressing to know that you are valued for surface qualities, especially when you’re not in a position to explore other sides of yourself.

        She’s not a great mother and sometimes not a great person because you cannot teach what you don’t know for yourself.

        She was starting down a path of self-discovery when she became ill and that makes me so sad for her.

    • I’m a Betty fan. Early on, I grew tired of the Betty-slamming and name-calling. She’s a product of her time.

      In another comment section, I wrote this in response to a common misrepresentation of the character, namely, that she left Don because she found out about his real identity and poor childhood:

      This is an oft-repeated slam against Betty, and it’s simply not true! Early in S1, Betty acknowledged that she knew Don had grown up poor. As for leaving him, Betty eventually kicked Don out in S2–after all kinds of suspicious absences, including the long one in Palm Springs when he told no-one where he was; this was not because she “found out who he was”, but because the comedian Jimmy Barrett told her that Don had been having an affair with his wife Bobbie. (And Betty had long suspected Don’s infidelities–in Season 1, she told the psychiatrist that what she really wished for was that her husband would be faithful to her.) While dealing with her father’s illness, in a moment of loneliness, she slept with Don–once–and this resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. In those days, women had very few options (as in, practically none), and despite telling her doctor “it isn’t a good time” and asking about getting an abortion, she was told to be a good wife and deal (I believe the words were,”You’re a married woman of means. Go home and tell your husband.”) With no money of her own, Betty was completely dependent on Don, and she asked him to move back in.

      In S3, after the baby was born, Betty did eventually find out about Dick Whitman–who Don really was–and didn’t leave him even then. Even though Don had (yet another) mistress waiting in the car outside (!) when Betty informed him that she knew what was in his desk drawer, including the divorce certificate (Anna). We can presume Betty suspected even more betrayals–the errant flight attendant’s pin Don hastily gave to Sally when he returned from a trip–plus Betty was becoming more aware of who she was (an educated, well-traveled woman who felt trapped and depressed in suburbia, as we saw in “The Souvenir”). She threw herself into political activity. She met Henry, and embarked on a friendship via letter-writing that probably represented more communication (not to mention respect for her intelligence) than she’d ever known with Don. Their friendship became something more (although still not physical). At the point where Don finds out there is this man who is smitten with his wife, and calls her a “whore”, although she has done nothing to deserve that, Betty finally tells him she doesn’t love him.

      That was what did it for her: the realization that she didn’t want to be married to an unreliable hypocrite who had affair after affair after affair and kept disappearing, taking breaks from the responsibility of family; who alternately put her on a pedestal and called her names, like “desperate” (for putting on a yellow bikini), as opposed to recognizing her humanity; who didn’t respect her intelligence or understand how she could possibly be depressed upon returning home from Rome (and why she wasn’t thrilled to be given a gaudy tourist trinket–a Coliseum charm–as though that could make up for all she’d sacrificed to be a stay-at-home Mom in suburbia the way she was expected to, the way all women were expected to).

      That was why Betty left Don. Not because she found out who he was. Because she realized who she was.

      • This. Thank you– an excellent exposition of Betty’s arc.

      • Excellent. I will read this comment a few more times this week as I digest/let go of Mad Men. However, I always saw Betty’s leaving Don more simply. Though I have not always been a huge fan of hers, I cannot imagine any intelligent woman staying in love with a man who has been lying all along ( by omission) about the simple A B C’s of who he is. Though mystery had always been part of his charm for her (Betty whispers to her sleeping husband in season 1 “who’s in there?”) the fact that she had been living with an utter stranger for a decade was not the kind of thing she could just accept.

        • This is also my interpretation of the split. It was Don who thought she left him because she discovered his origins in poverty, and viewers probably absorbed that.

      • Betty to Sally:

        “I don’t want you to think I’m a quitter – I’ve fought for plenty in my life. That’s how I know when it’s over. It’s not a weakness.”

        Pretty much sums up your point DNT!

      • You’re totally spot on with this comment. I only remember wondering at the time of that episode why Betty didn’t tell Don he had to see a therapist’ and/or go to couples counseling, or else the marriage was over. Not that shrinks were available, an alternative, or could help, and not that Don (or any man at that time, perhaps), would ever go but it did seem the one possible last shot Betty didn’t pursue. Yet as I write this I know what she was up against in even suggesting that – especially at that time, it was almost always a woman’s fault for failures in a marriage.

        • I don’t think marriage counseling was much of a “thing” in 1963. Also by that time she had already been terribly betrayed in therapy by the psychiatrist and Don.

          It would be very hard, after that level of constant abuse of her trust by Don, that Betty could opened up for one more try.

      • I agree with your assessment. How could Betty not leave him? She was so hurt.. Don rejected her left and right…remember S1 when they had a great weekend and Betty was ready for some Mon night lovin and he turned her down because he had been with Rachel? Or how about when she found out that he had been discussing her private sessions with her psychiatrist? Betty knew he was cheating on her with lots of women…”sometimes it is what I want and sometimes it what someone else wants.” She tells him in their major breakup fight that she has never been good enough and he has always let her know it. I think in the end she realized that no one was going to break through with him. “Loving you is the worst way to hold on to you.” And gosh I can’t believe I remembered all of those lines and I need to get a life ;).

        • THANK you! Exactly, exactly. I can’t tell you how many times, on so many blog posts (outside of the wonderful Basket of Kisses) about Mad Men, I would see people assert that Betty was a classist bitch who only loved Don because she perceived him to be a successful executive, and that once she found out the truth, *bam* she was out of there. I mean, she met him when they were both working–he was selling furs and she was modeling them! She tells a door-to-door salesman that “my husband is a salesman”, a wry warning not to try too hard with the pitch because she knew how those worked.

          At an early-in-S1-dinner, when everyone discusses their housekeepers, Betty later mentions to Don that she knew he’d grown up poor, but wondered about who cared for him as a kid. All those things. And of course, she certainly didn’t leave him when she discovered the truth and he was forced to come clean about his real name. When she said, “I’ve seen how you handle money–you don’t understand it”, it was a concerned observation, not an indictment of him for not being rich.

          Ahh, I’ll always defend Betty. To my mind, firing Carla was unforgivable and impulsive, but other than that, those kids were often terribly behaved–Sally said things to her that would’ve got me in a WHOLE lot more trouble with my own Mum, back in the 60s!

          • The easiest target on MM is Don. He being the focus of the show, his faults are writ large more than anyone else’s.
            I always thought Betty was a boring person, who was too one note.
            The rage she had in her was interesting, for the fact that she couldn’t let it out for her own reasons, (impropriety, and a sense of no one would listen.) I didn’t GET that about her.
            Betty was for more interesting than I ever realized.
            I don’t care if I personally like the characters on MM, just that they compel me.
            I was wrong about Betty. My ignorance of her lessened my enjoyment of the show. It is my great regret.

            • I wish MW had given us more of Betty’s backstory. Her mother, who influenced her was already gone. We did get to know Gene, but he was only half of the equation, that resulted in Betty.

              Oh well, that’s what post-Mad Men BOK and fan fiction are for.

            • Tilden- perhaps in your next life you’ll be a woman? Then you’ll get Betty’s rage.

            • I initially felt this way about Pete, but came to see him more sympathetically as the show went on, especially after he was devastated by Peggy’s confession in season 2.

              Maybe because I am both a woman and a professional, I somehow related to the combination of rage and boredom that showed through Betty in the early seasons. Having read Betty Friedan and many other first-wave feminists, I could see and feel the frustration she must’ve been feeling as she sat all day in her housecoat in the kitchen, smoking and drinking and most likely thinking, “Is that all there is?”

              I know the debt that I owe to those women who opened the way for me do pursue the life I wanted. Perhaps I would have done it anyway, but it would have been infinitely more difficult had I been born in the 30’s as opposed to the mid 60’s. But for the grace of time, it could have been ME sitting in that kitchen, drinking my hours away, wondering what my degree was for, waiting for my philandering husband to grace me with his presence…

              Maybe I gave Betty Draper a pass because I saw the life I might have had if times had not been different in my formative years.

          • Yes, yes, yes…We have to hang out 🙂

      • Perfect!

    • I agree. When Betty spoke to Sally in person and said so little, I yelled at the tv. I was so mad at Betty to not hug or talk to her in a more profound way. But the letter made up for it.

      • I think Betty was upset at Henry, for breaching her confidence. Remember, Betty asked Sally to leave so as not to tip off her brothers. Betty was somewhat demonstrative to Sally when she she was a little girl (sometimes)….I felt this fit right in with their current relationship- Betty suffered Sally’s slings and arrows, displaying the better part of her gained wisdom.

        • Don’t forget the episode when Sally got her period and Betty curled up with her on the bed…
          My mom was/is quite affectionate, but never did anything like that for me. I got the brochure and a box of Kotex!

          • Jeez.
            Did she also break out the VD film as well?

            • The thing she didn’t know was that I had read my parents’ copy of “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but We’re Afraid to Ask” a couple of years before, so I was in-the-know already. I’m a gynecologist now, so I guess it was prescient!
              Anyway, I wasn’t too traumatized…

      • Her people are Nordic.

    • I’m kind of alarmed by how easily people dismiss Betty for leaving Sally’s instructions, and telling her that she’s prepared the dress she wants to be buried in. When my mother died, her death was unexpected, so she never got a chance to do this; but let me tell you, that particular decision wasn’t something I was prepared to make during all the things that happen after someone dies. It really messed both me and my brother up! I’m quite sure that anyone who has experienced this in burying someone they love would take pains to make sure these little “decisions” and requests would be spelled out so that their loved ones wouldn’t be left to suffer even those things while they’re in the shock of grief.

      • First, I am so sorry that you lost your mom, It is a vey hard thing especially so suddenly. Secondly, I agree with your comment. When that time comes to make funeral preparations, your mind switches to wondering what they would have wanted, it is hard to make decisions for someone who is not there. If you already know, then you can focus on working our your own feelings. My mom had mentioned the things she wanted if she should pass, I felt like it was her way of taking care of me one last time. She removed the burden of looking through her closet and trying to decide what to dress her in, I knew. I also knew where to burry her. No negotiation or argument with other family members who are also grieving. Plans had been set. It was kind of her to think a head and give me what she didn’t have when her mother died. I felt honored to carry out her last wishes and have her guidance one last time.

  16. Barney Miller was one of the all-time best!

    When those of us who talk about it say that Don “is becoming” or “will become” or “has now become” Dick Whitman, we don’t mean he will drop the name and disappear into hobo-dom, never to be seen by those who love him again. That would just be a repeating of old patterns, a Real Donald F.Draper Move. But the amazing confession to the vets (something he may not even have done with Anna) was all about not running away. He will not deny what he did, what he is, anymore.

    In the end, Don will not be The Hobo, even though that’s how he was treated (Compare Don’s treatment here with the way the hobo was treated in “The Hobo Code.” The vets assumption that Don is a thief is a Real Archibald Whitman Move.). He doesn’t want the kid to be The Hobo either. That’s why he gave him his car. I don’t know exactly what he will do when he gets there, but Don will return to his children. He must, or it will mean he has learned nothing.

    • I really thought that Don/Dick could and probably would walk away from his kids until this last episode. I wouldn’t be surprised now if the first person he calls is Sally. The car represented the Don Draper part of his life. It is a life he hates. The transformation back to Dick Whitman is complete. He knows now that his children matter to him and he has stopped running. Now he has to figure out what he will do with the rest of his life. He started changing his life when he gave the kid his Caddie. The kid can escape his shitty life. Dick Whitman can walk away from Roger Sterling, Joan Harris, Pete Campbell and everyone at McCann without batting an eye. They are not important to him anymore. Can he walk away from Peggy though? The answer to that is Mad Men’s legacy.

    • Don could have been the anti Hobo to Andy. While telling Andy to get away from his small town Don warns him that having to change his identity and become a hobo of sorts is not the way to go.

  17. Wow!

    I have to say, I respect Betty’s choice and her bravery. I understood her reasoning. Really, what would she gain from putting herself through additional hell? A month? I wish I had figured out that it would be Betty who would die.

    I’ve always seen Don as Dick in CA with an auto body shop. Now I see him living there with the Draper kids. Sally would love and support him purely. Bobby and Gene would be fine. Henry, relieved. Don would return to honor Betty at her funeral and then reclaim his children. I wondered if Betty knew Don has been in touch with Sally…It’s hard not to imagine that Don would not be part of their conversation.

    Of course Sally read the letter…She’s a warrior.

    I predicted Pete and Trudy and I’m thrilled about they are following their head and their hearts. They will make it… Thank you Matt.

    I was on pins and needles all night about the Vet situation. When they returned to Don’s room, I thought they were taking him away to be arrested. I’m sorry but I didn’t quite get the older Vet’s story…was he talking about killing the enemy or fellow soldiers, because otherwise, didn’t Don just confess to murder?

    Is this the first time we now understand the significance of Don’s lighter?

    Thanks to those who can answer my questions. Magnificent episode.(And if Jon Hamm doesn’t win his long overdue Emmy, I will have a tantrum. The body of his work on this show, has been extraordinary.)

    • I think the older vet was talking about cannibalism — “you do what you need to do to get home”. They mentioned that it was winter, and they were starving.

      • I thought so too, but it was vague. “We bounced” the Germans.

        • I think (will have to look it up to confirm it) that “bounce” in military jargon can mean a surprise attack (and killing) from behind.

          • For a quick moment, I thought the big reveal from the WW2 vet would continue, “And then we ate ’em.”

            SO glad, the story didn’t go there!

        • In the military it’s considered a huge breach to kill surrendering enemy. You just don’t do it. During the Civil War the Confederates routinely killed surrendering black soldiers, and the US threatened to follow suit with rebel prisoners (though cooler heads prevailed). I think what he was saying was that if they captured them, they’d have to feed them and they simply couldn’t take on that responsibility. They were in an impossible situation.

          What I can’t answer is if the hotel owner knew the next day they had made a mistake but couldn’t quite own up to it.

      • No, what he meanis they killed them, not in a military move, not because they were threatened, but because they could not feed them or take care of them. They shot them after making them dig their own graves, according to the Geneva Conventions they should have held them prisoners until they could turn them over to the proper personnel. It was not honorable, it is against the MCMJ, and had someone decided to do anything about this they would be facing a court martial.

      • I thought so too. I was on tenterhooks the whole episode, especially in that scene. I kept thinking, don’t go, don’t go. For a minute I thought they were turning him in, then I thought it was a shake down. Once I realized it was about money I realized it was the kid. I wonder if those people will ever put 1+1 together and link the kid disappearing with him stealing the money. I mean why would Don, who didn’t even know it was a fundraiser and who clearly had money, want to steal? He didn’t even originally plan to go. Very concrete yet surreal episode.

        • I can only imagine that the kid himself made the accusation or at least implied that it was Don to a bunch of drunk-off-their-asses vets who would rather believe it was this “stranger in town” than anyone else.

          • ^^ Probably right. I really hope that kid learned something from that encounter with Don.

        • People with money often steal. That Don had money would not necessarily exclude him of being a suspect.
          That he did not know it was a fundraiser or that he did not plan to attend, would not exclude the crime being one of opportunity.
          Of cours, we “know” Don did not do it, but the louts did not know and he was the “stranger”, the “drifter” ….

          • He says to the kid “You set me up!” So obviously the kid pointed the finger at Don.

      • It was not about cannibalism but rather killing the enemy even when there is a chance you could take them prisoner. I’ve actually heard WWII veterans tell a similar story and use almost the same language. “It needed to be done.” They were still surrounded by combat and taking prisoners was too dangerous. Now, the whole “make them dig their graves” element of the story, that sounded right out of the movies. In real life, the prisoners would have been marched somewhere and shot and just left behind. But that’s not to say they wouldn’t have been bothered about it for the rest of their lives.

        I was taken aback by the veteran’s reaction to Don’s admission that he killed his CO. It was told so economically that I wasn’t sure if one would perceive that he ACCIDENTALLY dropped his lighter and blew up the CO. Judging by the veterans acceptance of the story as a kind of casualty of war, I guess that how it seemed. No way would WWII vets accept the Vietnam era tales of “fragging” their COs with such complacency.

        And now I can’t remember the details of the season one story of Dick Whitman and his CO in Korea. Was the fire an accident?

        • It was. When they were strafed some bullets hit the fuel tank which then began to pour out fuel. Don and his CO were talking about the close call when the CO realized they were standing in a pool of fuel while Don/Dick was lighting a cigarette, he was spooked, dropped the lighter and everything exploded. He did not do this with any intent, and he himself was lucky to escape with very few injuries, but the CO died, probably from massive burns. He feels guilty,,probably even more so be caused he used the CO’s identity to escape his life,Korea,everything.

        • My recollection was the fire was accidental and my perception of Don telling the story last night was consistent with it – though initially he does not make it clear. It was him acknowledging that he screwed up and accidentally caused the death of his CO. But that’s my perception.

          You Tube has the video up of the scene in Korea (though it appears to be mashed up with other episodes). In the video at about 2:35 you see the lighter but its not crystal clear to me if he dropped it intentionally or accidentally. In the retelling of the story to Adam in this link Don says it was an accident.

          • I’ve always wondered about how he really came to drop that lighter.

            • Dick had the lighter in his hand when Lt. Draper pointed out that he’d just peed in his pants out of fright. Embarrassed, Dick started trying to wipe the stain away–and that’s when he dropped the lighter.

            • Thanks Cantara.

        • So in a way, the real Don Draper was also killed by smoking.

          The theme was there from S1Ep1.

      • Yeh, that’s what I thought.

    • Since practically all soldiers smoked cigs at the time( didn’t the gov even include them in their K-rations?), it would have never have been considered any kind of crime to unintentionally drop a lit cig on the battlefield. Don always felt guilty for what happened, but as we saw, it was really just a freak accident. His unfortunate CO was just in the wrong place at the wrong time!

      • Cigarettes were included in rations until 1975, according to Wikipedia.

        Sample packs were also passed out on college campuses in the 50s and college newspapers regularly displayed cigarette advertising.

        • It’s also been used for troop cohesion and bonding. The first night my husband was in Basic Training for the Air Force (1979), the DI told everyone who was smoking to go outside, and stay inside if you weren’t. My husband was the only one left inside, so he went outside and smoked his first; he’s been smoking ever since, and although he’s cut down a lot, he’s had a lot of trouble quitting.

        • Sam, the Black employee Don converses with in the bar in the opening scene of the pilot, notes that a carton of Old Golds was included in their rations, in WW2.

    • Until we knew for sure, I was almost positive the couple running the motel had taken the money and set Don up. Her pleading with him to stick around and attend, the husband throwing in the extra night if he’d show up, the husband being the one holding the money bucket and announcing Don’s donation… Don was the perfect person to blame it on. They could even have had the car repairs held up on purpose to keep him there that long.

      Part of me prefers that version, though we got a hell of a payoff in Don handing Andy the keys – after handing the money over himself and taking the blame to protect the kid, who, as he said, doesn’t want to know what it’s like to never be able to go back there. So good. This show.

    • Betty probably knows that Sally is talking to him, even if it was a quick mention of “I talked to Dad last night.” Betty probably had no idea what was discussed. From Betty’s point of view, it stands to reason that if he was calling the boys, he was also calling Sally.

  18. Loved the callback to Betty comforting Don when he confessed his past to her. Sally did the same for Henry…down to sitting on the bed and patting his back.

    Just before Don’s tv goes dark, Flip Wilson says to Redd Foxx, “Children are a blessing.” I hope that’s the finale’s roadmap.

    • Also – Don telling Sally to sell the field hockey equipment, saying “You know nothing about money” or something like that. Betty memorably said to Don, “You never did understand money” – and oh, how she rolled her eyes when she found all that cash just sitting in the secret shoebox.

    • Me too. I loved the Both Sides Now scene…where Don shows his kids his childhood home.

      I think next Sunday, Don will come full-circle with his kids, out of necessity, yes, but also, as a natural denouement, not only of the series, but his journey as a father.

    • I was stuck on that aspect the most too, and then later I realized it was kind of a nod to the way David Chase ended the Sopranos!

  19. The call outs to other wayward souls Don has met along the way, Pete’s nostalgia for a marriage that did not actually exist, Betty’s quiet dignity (not drama, Sally!) and so much more. This was an outstanding episode of television from the of the vets about Don’s past to the jarring wake up call they gave him the next morning and his mercy toward Andy.


    My full recap –

    • Thank you Tilden. I love your recaps. Monday morning ritual post MM? Lipp Sisters, Scary Lawyer Guy, NYT recap and two cups of coffee. I will miss this. You, Deborah and Roberta and all the fans have enriched the MM experience for me and I’m greatly appreciative to all.

  20. Am I the only one who thinks that Duck has just perpetrated the biggest, most evil, passive-aggressive con/punk in the history of the universe on Pete Campbell and there is no job?

    • Interesting thought! Maybe yes, if we had the luxury of a few more seasons, but I think it is what it is and the Campbell’s are off to KC. End of their story.

      • Not KC. Wichita. Very different places.

      • It was a pat story. I’m glad they’re back together but it coalesced too quickly, out of expediency of course, but not unbelievable.

        Oh heck, MM, have the last scene be them doing the Charleston again!

    • Pete doesn’t trust Duck and didn’t take the job on Duck’s say-so. He spoke with the Lear guy directly, I’m sure.

    • I noted that in the open thread, I thought the job might be real but Duck would somehow screw it up. I wouldn’t believe it was real until I had signed a contract (on letterhead of the firm, with a lawyer to vet it!). But a move to Wichita isn’t the worse move in the world.

    • Pete could easily check this with any number of people, so no I think it’s legit.

    • Could be! When Pete waltzed through the door at 4 am with the hearty tale of the job offer, there had actually been a big leap from the last time we saw him. Just the news that Duck had gone behind his back and talked to his boss at McCann — that alone was such an outrageous betrayal I don’t see how a normal-thinking man could have gone another step.

      Another thing about Pete. His intense expression of love for Trudy, “the only one I’ve ever loved,” flies in the face of what we know about his earlier infatuation with Peggy. And that baby they had together just disappeared! Am I the only one who waits for the day when that child makes another appearance?

      Hells bells, Trudy.

    • I would not be shocked if it all goes south but its not what I am expecting. I think Matt Weiner is choosing to give two characters (Pete and Trudy) a happy ending. It’s almost traditional in some ways. I could never see him doing that for the series, but think he might have decided to reward the audience with that one and its good to have some good news and not simply Betty’s news.

    • I’m more concerned about the Lear jet and possible death of Pete and Trudy due to all of the prior airplane and Lost Horizon references.

      • You’re right, Julie. Lear had some problems. If I recall, Frank Sinatra’s mother perished in one.

    • I thought that too. Jim Hobart might have actually hired Duck to trick Pete into violating the terms of his contract so McCann could then fire him without his golden parachute. (Not being an expert on whether that’s realistic.)

      • It’s also odd that Pete’s so excited about an aerospace job when his dad died in a plane crash – no wonder he needed to discuss it with his brother.

        • Having their own private jet, even! Then again, fits with the theme this episode (and Don’s speech to Sally at the bus) of whether or not you have to repeat your parents’ lives. You do and you don’t.

    • I think MW has said during the infamous negotiations where he was holding out for no cuts on actors, no more ad time etc and was prepared to walk away from the show they kept upping their offer! And he kept saying no because of the other conditions and his offer just kept going up.

      Sometimes that does happen!

  21. I think he can write a whole nother year of shows. I am distraught.

    I dont want it to end since there is still so much story there


    I was also wondering if Don is ever going back. He checked in with Sally but…

    So it seems–is everyone leaving McCann then of the old crew?

    • Ken and Harry are wedded to the place; Peggy will stay long enough to build her resume until she moves on to better things; Stan will stay as long as Peggy does.

      • Ted, not Ken. Ken is at Dow. Roger will stay until retirement.

        • I expect another curve ball may be coming from Matt Weiner in the finale that results in Roger leaving too. I doubt that he dies as there has been enough death but I am guessing that none of the old gang will be there with the exception of Peggy and I am not even convinced of that one.

          • I don’t include Harry and Ted in the old gang though and expect they stay unless Roger gets one last opportunity to fire someone and my guess would be Harry if that were to happen!

          • I think Peggy’s iconic scene is the last we’ll see of her. It was like “she’s gonna make it after all!”

            • That was more like, “Fuck all of y’all, and eat shit. Come and get some. WHAT!!!!!!!!”

  22. Any thoughts on the significance/meaning of the episode’s title? Was it mentioned in the show? (My viewing wasn’t 100% focused last night — life interrupted.)

    Anyone else not thrilled by the Pete/Trudy storyline? Seemed off to me. In fact, was reminiscent of Don’s and Megan’s of “Tomorrowland” (although Pete and Trudy have much deeper history/are more compatible than Don and Megan ever were). I didn’t buy their happily ever after send-off. It’s Pete for crying out loud.

    • I’ve never understood Pete/Trudy so I’m not thrilled either

    • Wichita Kansas is, for the Campbells, the land of milk and honey.

      A thing like that.

      • Pete said it was beautiful – to my knowledge he had never even been there unless the intv process included a Lear trip there. And I can’t imagine Trudy being thrilled to be in Wichita, thoug I can imagine her being thrilled to be out of Cos Cob. She can’t even google it!

    • When Trudy said so much, an episode or so ago, about not being happy in Cos Cob, her social life mainly consisting of husbands hitting on her – it was the most we’d heard her say in ages about how things were going – that was clearly setting up their reconciliation by series’ end. If Trudy had been happy as a clam there without Pete – no way.

  23. I was so sad for Betty and the kids. Strangely, I am usually a big softie and have felt sad for characters I do not like but Henry’s tears didn’t move me one bit and though my more logical side had to realize he was upset and grasping at straws it made me angry that he went against Betty’s wishes and told Sally. She’s a kid and that is info that should come from her, or if Betty couldn’t do it, Don (though I’m sure she had no clue how to get in touch with him at that moment, not a step-parent no matter how close. Really wasn’t his place, but he wasn’t in his right mind of course and I know his grief was genuine. I’ve felt more for Pete who I alternate between liking and disliking than I did for him in that scene. Maybe I’m getting mean as the years go by.

    I thought Betty was making a very mature but difficult choice. She seemed like she was really getting to a good space though and so sad she is dying now, I really, really hope that Don goes back and takes care of his children. I almost felt sick most of the episode.

    • This really, really reminded me of Betty’s “Adults don’t know anything” moment. She was going to a kid for help with an incredibly complex problem in a way that was ultimately selfish, if understandable. I was surprised to see Henry take this route as I always have felt that, while a cardboard character, he was mature.

      It was probably his most interesting moment (and pathetic) to see him still trying to throw around the magic word “Rockefeller” at the one problem it can’t solve anymore.

    • I was sick too. I still am.

  24. I found it interesting how they played on the fact that this last weekend was both Mother’s Day and VE Day. The two main themes seemed to be around parenting and war. Parenting: Don parenting Sally, Betty parenting Sally, Sally parenting Henry, Sally soon to be surrogate parent to her brothers, Pete parenting Tammy, Don parenting his grifter, Pete and his brother talking about their father, and even Duck parenting Pete a bit.

    War as hell: interesting that the men who seem to have a chance at a future — Pete and Don’s grifter — never saw real war. It’s as if the writers are saying that once you’ve been in a real war, you can never really escape it. Great episode.

  25. I have been reading Basket of Kisses since its beginnings. A few years ago, I commented quite a bit, but lately I have been too busy to comment. But I am still here, reading — I always read every Mad Men post, and many of the comments, because the show moves me so very deeply, and I come here to read because I need to know that other people are also having strong emotions about the show. Almost none of my friends watch it, and I react so strongly to almost every episode that I feel a deep need for community around it after I watch. I get that even when I only read and don’t comment. So I want to thank all of you, you other watchers, and most of all the Lipp Sisters for providing us with this community, and their thoughtful and loving commentary, all these years.

    Last night’s episode broke my heart. I knew Betty had cancer as soon as she fell on the stairs, and I could not stop crying for the rest of the episode. I have always loved Betty. Yes, she’s a bitch, but the society and her upbringing and Don’s treatment of her all conspired to make her that way. She has so much internalized anger and frustration and rage — and justifiably so. She’s a very smart and strong person (we saw her steel core in this episode more than ever before), and she’s never had a chance to use her talents, really. I was so happy for her that she was in school. And now she won’t get to finish — still won’t get to use her talents. I have admired her strength throughout the show, and been heartbroken that the wounds life inflicted on her made her so hard and closed off… for self-protection, I have always felt. And now she was inching her way toward a happy ending, toward a happier life. But it was not to be. Not an unfamiliar story — it’s probably the story of many women of that era. But it breaks my heart.

    And Don. I have always felt that Don’s story was the arc of his wounds and how they played out on himself and everyone in his life. The Dick Whitman inside him was a sweet person, but the ways life wounded him made him build a Don Draper edifice around him (he is very like Betty in that way). The Don Draper edifice gave him the trappings of success, but he was a hollow man inside that. Hence the drinking. Hence the smoking. Hence the affairs. Hence the running. Hence the only liking the beginning of things. The whole arc of these seasons has been his slow descent into Hell as the result of the fact that his life is this rotten edifice. But I have always believed that Matt Weiner planned on redemption for him. And I think he is slowly claiming that redemption. For him, redemption means tearing down the rotten Don Draper edifice to reveal the true, tender Dick Whitman inside. He has lost his second (ill-advised) wife, his furniture, his home, his ad agency, perhaps his job and the money that goes with it. He has given away his car. He has confessed his crime (well, sort of). He is a hobo on the open road — he is Dick Whitman, Whore Child. And I feel good, because I think he is okay with that. The smile as he sat on that bus stop bench tells me that. I think he may have killed off Don Draper entirely, and gone back to being Dick Whitman, who is a Real Boy. So I think he may be in a place now to go home and be a father to his children. Because I think Dick Whitman could do that.

    I am hoping that the finale will see him taking his children to live with him, and that he will be redeemed because he will be Dick Whitman again, and he will be able to love.

    • Wish there was a like button. So spot on in your analysis of Don and Betty. My eyes are sweating thinking about the show and all the great commenters like you.

      • Oh, thank you, Dark Peggy! I have liked your comments for years!

        Now I am even sadder than I was before that Mad Men is going away. I hope we will all still be here analyzing it even after it’s over.

    • I am wondering if that was intentional or a coincidence. Certainly the themes play really well to the weekend but I am not sure they would have had a schedule for the airing of the episode when it was written. A wonderful episode either way I think.

      • I don’t know Jodey. Matt Weiner has done that before: a particular show has aired on a current holiday that reinforced its theme. Matt’s into holidays (not that I know him!). He is.

    • Beautifully put. I particularly like the Pinnochio reference, now that he has stopped lying (more or less) and is beginning to accept who he really is. Besides the identity theft, he was after all, an ad man. Professional liar. Having divested himself of damned near everything, his property, his position, his suits, ties, an assload of cash, even his “gold violin” of a caddy, he feels lighter. When was the last time we saw him smiling to himself?

    • I’m not so sure Dick Whitman goes back to being a father. There’s every chance that Don continues drifting, never gets in contact with his kids till much later, after they’ve grieved and sworn him out of their lives for good.

      • It would be a downer to end the series that way and I don’t see it happening. That said, it’s interesting that Don was reading the Godfather (I missed it during the episode but others caught it). Godfather 2 ends with Michael Corleone alone staring out at nothing (much like Don almost every episode) miserable and with really no relationship with his children. Could that be foreshadowing?

      • I don’t know if he will move home full time and become Mr. Mom, but I can’t imagine him cutting ties. There will always be phone calls and postcards from Don to his kids, unless he can’t.

    • Right on target Elizabeth! Deb is also right about Don’s story being incomplete. I’m convinced it will remain incomplete though we will get some solid resolution too. We have discussed before about how you have to strip away all the trappings before the universe, the lesson, the big thing will reveal itself. I was quite happy to see Don on that bench with no shiny car and all belongings in a Sears bag – hobo indeed! All signs point to some probably small but profound epiphany, some manifestation that will reveal itself to Don-Dick and serve to help him grow and fill in his story.

    • Elizabeth,

      “The Don Draper edifice gave him the trappings of success, but he was a hollow man inside that.”

      Great observation! Who would have thought that this was the truth from the pilot, where Don was the man who had everything?

      • Celina,

        Thank you for the compliment. 🙂 I actually saw him as a hollow man from the pilot, when he said to Rachel that “Love is a concept invented by guys like me to sell pantyhose.” I believe in love (as did Rachel), so that remark made me see Don as a hollow man. Either that or someone saying something he didn’t believe to appear tough. Maybe both. Don Draper doesn’t believe in love, but I have always felt that Dick Whitman wants to.

        • I saw his comment to Rachel, the iconic love/nylons speech as someone trying to convince both her and himself that he thought it was true. By that point in his life, Dick was already adept at playing Don, expertly crafting the edifice that would hide his rotten core. I think this is where the story is so interesting: as you say,it is NOT the inner man that is rotten, but the outer trappings. This is the point of the journey– that he can finally find and truly see the Real Boy (as you so excellently put it) that he is.

        • Oh, yes indeedy Don Draper does believe in love.
          He knows it exists, because he feels he is so unworthy of it.
          So to feel better about it, he turns the concept into a fleeting comet that passes by.
          The beginning of things. Nothing more.

        • Elizabeth,

          You go it fast. I didn’t get it until “Marriage of Figaro” where it was obvious that Don didn’t fit into his life. With Rachel, I only saw the clue in her astute “I never realized how hard it is to be a man.”

          With love, Don seems to think love is just the romantic kind, the stuff he saw in movies as a kid. Yet he had the love of his children, Anna, Adam, and Peggy, but he never quite realized that was love as well.

  26. Assuming that Don comes home to raise his kids, how realistic is it that he will allow Henry to visit/spend time with them? I can easily see Henry going to Sally’s school and taking her to lunch but he would need permission to see Bobby and Gene. Especially Gene, who he has been a real daddy to.

    • Henry will not be able to handle Betty’s death and I can’t see him caring for the kids. It wouldn’t be stretch to think that he’d pawn them off onto Mother Francis, for her to oversee their care and nurturing. [shudder]

      As bad as Don could EVER be, those kids would be much better off with him, than with their Bugles snarfing, knife wielding, Seconal popping grannie!

      • I think that’s what I meant, that Don would have the kids, assuming he gets back before little Gene hits 21. Would he allow Henry to still see them periodically? I’m thinking he would.

        • What are the odds that ‘baby’ Gene will actually say a word by the end of the finale.
          Wouldn’t it be something if he utters the last line on the whole show?
          Like: “I was the reason Betts and Don stayed together thru S3, the most nightmarish season in the history of television. Especially for pop.
          S3 is the best season of MM. Hands down.

          • Baby Gene is still trying to get over losing Jax and Tara in Sons of Anarchy 🙂

          • This may be way off base but I believe that there is some difference in payscale between a speaking and non-speaking part. It could be that for whatever reason they are trying to limit it.

          • On the all too tangible level, using that phone book was very smart. No marks, nothing for the sheriff to go on if Don squawks. No hands, knuckles, fingers get broken. Yet Don saw stars – no doubt about that.

  27. I was so sad…surprised….devastated. I just couldn’t bear thinking of Betty dying. I had trouble sleeping last night.

    I think her death helps explain her as a character. The revelation or the reminding us that Betty’s mother had also died young illustrates, to me anyway, that abandonment is the theme or force most significant in Betty’s life. As a clinician, I know many, many cases in which adults who suffer with abandonment issues from their parents spend their lives seeking approval from them, often following their parents into death, even by the same disease.

    As for Don….it’s clear at this point that Weiner is not taking the route I hoped he would take with Don. I expected more of his unconscious unfolding; I expected Diane to return and be the key that unlocks his unconscious demons and allows him to mature and move beyond his regressed state.

    I think the story line for Don is emerging as a somewhat more superficial treatment of his character. He spent the series building a life as a different person, and he spends the last few episodes gradually shedding that identity.

  28. One question I have is whether Don has officially left McCann. Pete’s comment/question to Duck (something like your here to hire Don’s replacement) suggests that it has happened but its not absolutely clear.

    I think he has officially resigned but wonder what others think.

    I believe I read in one of the comments on the open thread last night that this one month after the last episode. Does anyone know if there are any clues as to approximate date of last night’s episode?

    • According to the AV Club recap Betty’s letter to Sally is dated October 3, 1970.

    • I believe it was Sunday, September 27 through Sunday, October 4.

      • On second viewing, it’s probably Monday when Betty goes to class and Pete accepts his new job, so it was the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 6 when he knocks on Trudy’s door.

        I’m of the opinion that Sally opened the letter when she got back to school and did not do as Betty requested. She was probably reading it after Henry dropped her off. It’s unlike Mad Men to have an episode take place over the course of the week and then have one scene that is supposed to be six months or so later.

  29. I didnt really like Trudy and Pete getting back together simply because I have never really liked Pete.

    However, this last 10-15 episodes for the first time I feel, Pete actually is Growing. Maybe he can come back from being a personal dick (professionally he is pretty good) and not F it up this time.

    • I feel like in 1960 Pete Pete’s identity was that he was from a good family. His mother a Dykeman. This is why he was not fired in S1, and when he and Trudy got their first apartment, Trudy was talking up his family background. Clearly a source of pride for both of them. Over 10 years Pete has had some success on his own. He has grown a bit and made his own name for himself. Though this job was also looking for someone from good breeding, atleast Pete has the skills to do the job it is not just on his name alone.
      Though I don’t know if I could take back a cheating husband, I can see how someone could. She was far more accepting than many of us could be. I think it was more the embarrassment caused in the neighborhood than the actual act.

      • They’ll (she will) leave that neighborhood for good – no friends, no reason to ever look back. Pete seems to have soured on the NYC “toilet” – his roots in Manhattan have grown shallow. His extended family may come to regard him as a black sheep of sorts who left for an essentially foreign land – in a distant sense like Don’s jet set hosts – who (according to one basketcase) were regarded as black sheeps themselves.

  30. Wow ! What an episode ! And I fully expect the finale to be even better !

    2 great and intertwined story arcs have been moved closer to their conclusion.

    The obvious one is Betty. In one fell swoop, Betty has been transformed into a sympathetic and likable character. Who knew she was capable of vision, grace, dignity and stoicism ? A poke in the eye to anti Betty fans from MW. I noticed that something was not quite right with Betty when she had difficulty going up the steps. Then the fall and aftermath. Cancer is entirely consistent with upper middle class life c1970. Affluence, comfort and education meant that the childhood diceases and epidemics were avoided. C1970 Cancer was the primary cause of death for adults in the US, and Betty smoked since she was a teenager….

    Betty’s progression through the episode can be viewed as a microcosm of her character. The doctor would not give her complete information until her husband was present, and even then he spoke with Henry and not with her. She is the little women/trophy wife, and in need of a strong male figure to navigate the path forward. Yet as we saw, Henry may be in deeper shock than Betty and does not know how to react as he sees his world crumbling before his eyes. Betty’s stoic acceptance boarders on frigid and unemotional (“My people are Nordic”?). Yet her actions clearly show a women who has matured before our eyes. Her concerns are to reduce the burdens on others. She looks to Sally to ensure that her wishes are honored and that Henry does not have to attend to every detail. Her wishes seem narcissistic, but concern issues that Henry may not understand. While this seems to be a heavy burden for a 17yr old- in reality it is Betty affirming to Sally that Sally has grown up and processes the inner strength that Betty did not have until (what is now ) late in her life. Her confession of feeling for Sally is also an excellent bookend for Don’s admonition to become a better person than her parents. Clearly both Don and Betty see the potential in Sally. Sally will go on to draw strength from Betty’s letter and expression of true feeling.

    Simply stated, Don Draper has been absolved of his original sin. Since S1 (and certainly before), Don has been punishing himself for his impoverished background and the circumstances regarding his assumption of Don Draper’s identity. We have seen him come to terms with his childhood; what remained was Korea. I am sure that he has replayed the accident in his mind at least a million times, and the opening dream sequence shows that he lives in constant fear of the consequences, as does his initial reluctance to “face” the Korean War Veteran at the American Legion party. No one had told him that what he did was “ok” given the circumstances. No one told him that they understood because their experience was similar. As one of the WWII Veterans stated “You did what you had to do to get home”. No one had ever said that to Don, until he was seated at that table. His simple admission “I killed my CO…“ followed by nodding heads and reassurance was the equivalent of confession and absolution. He knows the consequences of living a life built on a lie and that is why he protects the local hustler and then offers him a true way out of his trajectory.

    Don/Dick is truly free of professional and emotional burdens. He has the autonomy he craves. Freedom. He will soon find out about Betty and he will rush back to NY. He will realize that his children need him- which is all he ever really wanted. Relevance.

    The “Best things in life are free”.

    Looking forward to next week and the extra 10 min will have to savor.

    • Loving all these comments……what I keep coming back to is that the enormous “phantom” of his whole life…..the circumstances around the stolen identity……that burden he hid under piles of money and success… the terrifying moments when he finally came clean to the people to whom he felt the most debt, they accepted, understood, and didn’t even question. And yet, they became enraged and violent over the thing that had been so easy for him but he had so little emotional investment in. I think that was part of his ability to let go. That his biggest fear actually held no weight in the world, while that which he had the least concerns was the most powerful force in the room.

    • I must respectfully disagree with the idea that Don is free from emotional burdens. Of all of Don’s sins, the greatest was turning his back on Adam. For his character to “move forward”, Don Draper will have to make peace with one of the two people in this world who loved Dick Whitman. Of all of the Mad Men characters, Adam Whitman was an innocent. His suicide was a reminder of the cruelty of this world. I hope Dick can find it in himself to do right by his brother.

  31. Okay– add Mothers’ Day to National Coming Out Day and the Diamond Jubilee to when a devastating event happens to one of our beloved characters (the episode where Sal got fired was aired on National Coming Out Day, the episode where Pryce committed suicide aired during Diamond Jubilee and finally Betty Draper is diagnosed with terminal cancer aired on Mother’s Day).

    Interesting observations– Duck got undone when Don disappeared, Pete addressed Duck with defense of Don when Don abandoned Pete during that disappearance and of course he’s addressing with fury what happened at the end of the Sixth Season. (Although for the record, by Don being away, that led to Duck’s attempt of his “takeover” of Sterling Cooper, etc. to be undone).

    We first meet Betty Draper with barely three months after her mother died and she saw a psychiatrist who reported back to Don in an ugly reminder of earlier patriarchal rule. It is fitting now that she is going to die to not want the pattern to repeat with Sally AND that she will continue to learn about psychology and no longer be placed under a microscope.

    Other notes– While Joan took her rolodex when she left, Pete managed to keep Avon under McCann, which in itself is a hark back to the battle between him and Joan on the Avon account and guaranteed Joan’s path to have a foot in the SCDP. Joan’s success has now been completely undone. 🙁 At the same time, Pete also got Burger Chef to join McCann of which that success has to be attributed to Peggy and her pitch.

    At one time, the last thing Pete ever wanted to do is go to the Midwest. Now he’s happy to do it. (And it was pitched by Duck, both times). Don got assaulted in a hotel room before (other time he was robbed. This time he was accused of being the burglar). And of course, the obvious, Betty had a cancer scare before but unlike last time where she shows potential of changing and then goes back to her unhappy self again, she is determined to accept the reality, to be a parent, and be willing meanwhile to continue to learn in an area of study of once she was totally trapped and “suppressed.” Bravo, Mad Men writers.

  32. Bit of a long-shot but if Don comes back to NYC to look after the kids and is now free of his obligations, might this song work for the final credits?

    • I don’t see why not! It’s a good one. But, there are so many good songs I wish would have made it into the show. Hard to use everything, of course.

  33. Something I’ve always wondered about:

    5th season, when Betty had the potential health scare (doctor didn’t like the way her lymph nodes felt)

    -she tells Don
    -Don, feeling concerned, confides in Roger that Betty is sick (or could be)
    -Roger, trying to provide some comfort, says, “She’s a fighter.”
    -Don’s response: “Come on.”

    Was Don saying, no, she’s not strong, she’s not a fighter? Or was he saying, “Don’t sugarcoat this, if she has cancer, then the prognosis is bad.”

    Thanks in advance for your opinion/feedback!

    • I took it to mean “Don’t sugarcoat this, if she has cancer, then the prognosis is bad.” But I could see how it could be understood the other way too.

  34. Meanwhile, let’s see where we are of all the characters up to this point before the season finale:

    1. Don has likely turned his back on his careers, gave up his financial security, and pretty much his possessions. He also to a group of strangers “came clean” as to what happened in Korea (and also by now, admitted his past/childhood to all of his family and his co-workers). Unfinished character arc (in my opinion).

    2. Peggy appears to possibly be one who might be resilient to the sexism in McCann and do what she needs to do in her career. She has repeatedly given up relationships and family for this goal, but it looks like she is not full of regrets. Unfinished character arc (in my opinion).

    3. Joan who was one who once adopted previous sexism as the way she managed and guided her secretary pool (as we saw with Peggy) and once regrettably sold her body for an account, even though she saw potential at different times in the series doing something more that by the end of the sixth season she’s shown it, is now at the moment out of the advertising business, and after all her efforts got “fifty cents of the dollar”– talk about a slap in the face and a reminder of our still non-existant equal pay for equal work. While she took the picture of her son and her rolodex, it appears she lost her original score– the Avon account and was finally abandoned by Roger who is the father of her child (I’d argue unfinished character arc).

    4. Pete. Since Pete is a snake in the grass and now has Trudy and his family back and a successful career (handed by DUCK of all people), one wonders if there’s finally some drawback that may happen. After all, the way Pete contrasts from Don is Pete is pure “White privilege”–he comes from a family of known means, and that is what’s helping him get this current position. While that may be exemplified of our society (still unfortunately to this day), the idea that Pete’s going to get “The American Dream” would be significantly ironic but I don’t know if Weiner would allow such a snake in the grass (who still has some morals and principles too) would leave our series unscathed (I’d argue unfinished character arc).

    5. Roger. In 1963, Roger seemed to mull that he’d start living an “early retirement” under McCann and even admitted indirectly that may be a death sentence to him. Now, he is under McCann (unfinished character arc).

    6. Betty. Betty’s character arc may be the only one finished at this point of the major characters. If we see her at all, I’m anticipating either flashback or as a ghost to Don’s eyes (like Anna). (Finished character Arc).

    7. Sally. Who knows? While Betty’s message to Sally will resonate, there may still be up with her. And if Glen perishes in Vietnam, there may be challenges of serious grief awaiting her, and will Don be around for her at all? (Unfinished character arc)

    8. Sal. Sal was last seen in Central Park, lying to Kitty that he was working in the office of a job he no longer had and was ready to cruise. This would be a very frustrating character arc to end but at this time to do anything with the final Mad Men hour seems doubtful (frustrating finished character arc)

    9. Kinsey. Will always be left in the ether– either he is still in the Hari Krishnas or he went to Hollywood with an obvious failed manuscript and somehow had to climb out of it. The problem is how much do we care? (Likely finished character arc with an enigma).

    10. Harry. Harry will be miserable in McCann, I bet you, but will probably rise up somewhat in middle management but never to the top– unless mediocrity is somehow valued, but in a building full of Don Drapers, that seems doubtful. (Likely finished character arc)

    11. Cooper. Cooper was who he was to his last moments, and probably as a ghost would respect continued clever ads. Only to Don’s eyes, but now twice has become a spirit that seems to think not much continuing to throw comments to Don (if he’s beyond simply Don’s figment of imagination). He joins Anna and Menken and Dick’s brother in this regard.

    12. Dawn. So what finally happened to Dawn? (possibly addressed in final episode).

    13. Bob Benson. After a whole sixth season about the mystery of Bob Benson and how he would be the next Don Draper, he seemed to have gotten away with (through his friend) possibly murdering Pete’s mother, landed a cushy job/area, though granted in the closet just as much as Sal is. Let’s hope Sal does not get Bob (Sal deserves so much better than this true snake in the grass) and thankfully Joan did not become a “beard” for him (which she would have been happy to do). But since his character was made such a big deal, I’d be shocked if there’s no mention of him at all again (unfinished character arc)

    14. Ginnsburg. Again a character with much potential that suddenly did not go much after the fifth season. He had a blind date and later had a psychotic epsidoe over his fears of the computer. Though I care more about him than Kinsey.

    15. Any of Don’s affairs. Menken we know (she had a happy marriage and died having accomplished a good life it sounds like). The others– I doubt we’ll see again, including Megan. Diane? Please no. Hopefully she was just the catalyst to get Don on the roadtrip he needed to go on and come clean at the veterans’ event.

    Any character I’ve forgotten? (And no, I’m not going to bring up Duck’s dog. I’m sure like Peggy and Pete’s child he got adopted and living with a hopefully decent family. 😛 ).

    • Darn, no clear editor. Yes, I got it mixed up. Joan didn’t suggest marriage with Bob Benson, he proposed to her and she rejected it. She did NOT want to be his beard. I apologize for even suggesting it as that doesn’t seem to be Joan’s character, ever (Joan’s not getting married again, anyway. Like her new found discovery of the women’s lib movement, I think she sees negativity in being married, especially the second time around).

      Also, yes, I forgot Ken (who gave up his writing for a miserable family career position, originally motivated by revenge, so Ken’s finally corrupted so his character arc is finished) and Stan (I don’t see he and Peggy getting together).

    • I agree with your summary/re-cap, except there’s one thing I disagree with. I have no idea why, but I’m 100% sure Glenn spends the war at a desk job in Saigon, and never really sees the jungle/combat.

      • I was thinking about how just two weeks ago I was worried about Glenn dying in Vietnam and now this great irony that it is Betty that has a death sentence. I don’t expect to see Glenn again, but I would love to see him read a letter from Sally with the news.

    • I can see Paul Kinsey migrating north from Los Angeles to San Francisco and Sal Romano migrating west to there. Both could have ended up at a mid-sized boutique ad agency there, with Paul writing copy and Sal handling art. In the episode that featured the Belle Jolie pitch, Sal met one of their guys, Elliot, for a drink at a hotel bar and told him he’d eventually like to open his own agency, where copy follows art. I’m not sure that Kinsey would go for that approach, but I can see them being a good creative team, in 1970s San Francisco.

      • It’s interesting to me that there has been really no true, consistent ‘hippie’ character. Rogers’ daughter tried it, but she was kind of older and not really in phase for that. Anna’s niece was kind of a free spirit and may have become one but she too seemed like she’d be more skeptical about it. People on the show flirted with parts of it that felt good but no one really committed to it (except maybe Paul to some extent).

        • There was also Gleason’s daughter, who nailed Stan when they were all being shot up with speed.

  35. There are so many things I liked about the episode last night as well as this post and comments. We have seen a pattern over the years where the penultimate episode of a given season is the one where something more dramatic occurs and I will not be surprised if we see this pattern carry through with a finale with fewer surprises and more resolution.

    I don’t think anyone saw this one coming (Betty’s diagnosis that is – I sure didn’t). Pete and Trudy is less surprising but still a mighty big deal.

    What I particularly like is that this arc fits perfectly with what MM is and has always been. Deb is exactly right: “. . .people both change and do not.” Some things can be undone, some can’t. Growth can happen in spurts, or take decades or never come at all. Has Betty grown over the decade? Yes and no but she remains utterly Betty with all the good and bad that comes with that. We saw her grow in self-confidence for sure. Can you even begin to picture S1 Betty of the psychiatrist’s couch going back to get a master’s degree? The seeming contradiction of someone who has the raw will power to diet her weight back but chooses to keep smoking after a previous cancer scare is as Deb says all part of “the road that Betty has been walking” for a long time. I love Mad Men for many reasons but primarily because it tells basic human truth and tells it well. We are all walking contradictions.

    Like others here I have always appreciated Betty’s character even as I often loathed her behavior. My quippy character summary for Betty has been “frequently wrong, always smart and always strong.” This definitely fits with her untimely end. She is also very stubborn, very stoic and very concerned with appearances – how things look from the outside. Is this vain? Well yes, but it is also much of what makes Betty tick and it is not all bad. A lot of what we might call vanity is also the reason Betty wears the perfect dress, throws the perfect party and is the perfect partner to a man with political ambitions. Vanity can be just a darker shade of comportment, manners and tact. Our weaknesses often reside next door to our strengths. They are two sides of the same coin (i.e. Pete is self-centered but ambitious)

    I don’t want this to sound unduly harsh but am I alone in thinking that Betty might find a small consolation in dying young and therefore never looking old? I can see Betty picturing a portrait of herself in all her golden-haired glory hanging prominently just as her mother’s did in her childhood home – and being quite pleased about that.

    • Betty talked about this in s1. She said she hoped her mother would be a good indication of how she herself would age. Her mom wasn’t that young by 1960 standards. She was at least 10 years older than a Betty is now.

      I think Don made a joke ‘we’ll put you out on an ice floe’


      • Also I think she said her mother was at least as old as whatever age Joan Crawford says she is!

        • Don was reading The Best of Everything, which led to Betty discussing the film version and Joan Crawford. As well as her favorite Suzy Parker! (Who she mentions a few time during the series)

  36. Duck Phillips.

    What a sneaky SOB, yet so integral to Pete’s escape from McCann and reconciliation with Trudy.

    He planted a seed some time back, which sprouted at Pete’s dinner with his brother. He told Pete (with his own personal regrets) that his family was the source of his strength. This, along with his own regrets, was what triggered his counsel for his brother – that the wife knows and that it’s just not worth it to sleep around.

    Moving on to the tangible – stock options with LearJet were worth so much more than mere cash, that they could have offered “50 cents on the dollar” and it would still have been worth it.

    Trudy was/is such a catch. She’s probably the least compromised of all the wives in Mad Men – except Joan, perhaps. Duck’s meddling gave Pete the guts to pitch Trudy – even if he was two years late doing it.

    • Great comments jahnghalt. What I liked about the Pete-Trudy reconciliation is how empty they were without each other. Each was incomplete and to some extent they complete each other nicely. At their best they have always been a good team. When I think of the high functioning version of Pete and Trudy I go immediately to the Charleston scene in Kentucky Home. They are good partners when they work at it.

      • Oh I go to the Kennedy Assassination, and staying home from Roger’s daughter’s wedding and curling up on the couch.

        I always liked that Trudy could straight up tell Pete stuff about himself. Like “that’s Peculiar!”

    • No one has brought up Duck’s question to Pete while walking down the hallway: “Is it true Don walked away from $2 million?”
      Pete ignored the question. But it made me wonder if Don is as well off as we think he is.

  37. Two things I noticed in this episode:

    In the last scene, Don is dressed exactly as he was in “The Mountain King, ” when he ran into the garage mechanics working on hot rods in San Pedro.

    The motel set looked just like the motel in “The Better Half” where Don and Betty had their last fling while visiting Bobby at camp.

  38. I apologize if anyone said this already, but according to The Atlantic, “The Milk and Honey Route” was a 1930s handbook on being a hobo in America. Reading that just made that episode hit me like a ton of bricks all over again.

  39. So, is betty dead at the end of the episode? Or did Sally break her mother’s wishes by opening the letter?

    • I thought Sally opened the letter early.

    • I noticed that when Betty handed the letter to Sally, she said something like, “Open this when you know it’s over.” I find it interesting that she didn’t say, “when it’s over” or “when I’m gone” but there was the emphasis on Sally’s knowledge. I can’t help but think that was significant.

    • EP,
      Betty Francis is dead at the time Sally reads the letter. The letter was given to Sally with instructions: “Open this the minute you know I’m gone.”

      The link below shows the letter dated 10/3/1970 – when the letter was written and sealed. As Sally reads all the leaves outside her window are bright green, making the date in Sally’s room the Spring following the sealing of the letter.

      The scenes that cut to Betty show her finals days as a student, struggling to get to class and finish her mission.

      But there can be no mistake. Betty is dead.


      • I don’t think there is anything in the scene to indicate that it is happening in the spring, or after Betty is dead. 1. The leaves are also still green outside of Betty’s kitchen window when she heads off to class. 2. The calendar on the wall behind Sally is on exactly the same page that it was earlier in the episode. 3. Sally is wearing a fall/winter sweater. Also, the interspersing of the letter reading scene with the Betty heading to class scene imply that they are happening simultaneously. I don’t see any other reason why those scenes would be interwoven like that, unless they are happening at the same time.

      • I think the old fellow in Monty Python and the Holy Grail would ably stand in for Betty here:

        “I’m not dead!” (yet).

        Betty’s late-in-episode trudge up the stairs was exactly as slow as her early one. She will be nowhere near that school in her final, spring, days.

  40. I will be very disappointed in Mad Men’s writers if Don is not at Betty’s funeral. If nothing else he would be there for Sally. Betty is after all the mother of his children. Don is on his road to redemption but that will really begin only when Don stops drinking and walks away from advertising. The alternative is death and he knows it. He could have died in that motel room.

    • We will not see Betty’s funeral. The final episode is long after ( Sally’s opening the letter tells us Betty has died ). To the extent we learn of arc closings it is through statements by remaining characters. Pete and Trudy still have to reconcile a great divide their differing feelings for and from Tom Vogel ).

      • I think Sally opened the letter as soon as Betty left the room.

        • Me too.

          • Because that is what teenagers do, as well as all humans I think.

            • I would’ve not opened it, until my mom was gone.
              I’m a weirdo that loves secrets. (One of the many reasons I love Don.)
              It would make me feel privileged, like the Knight that guards the Holy Grail, or something.

            • Oh Tilden, I love that! I however, would have been one to open the letter right away.

            • What, TK!? Another Holy Grail reference?

              (see under comment #39 above)

              I, like Sally, could not have resisted opening Betty’s letter – and Betty knew that. Betty will get to bask in her daughter’s revised opinion of her (though it didn’t take the letter to do that).

      • I think Sally opened the letter shortly after getting back to school (i.e. Within hours or a day at most). The scene of her reading the letter is interspersed with Betty returning to Univeristy which suggests that it’s happening at the same time or in close to it. The scene after is with Don and Andy in the Cadillac which happened around that time too. I don’t see them showing a scene with Sally months into the future, interspersing it with Betty in the past and then showing Don at that same time right after that. Not saying they will show the funeral but I’m guessing they will.

        • I agree Jodey,
          And I don’t think it would have surprised Betty a bit…She would have done the same.

          I wonder who is going to break the news to Don?

          • Since Betty has obviously thought clearly and practically about what is to be done with her body when she is gone, I believe she will have also similarly thought about the fate of her children, which means that she will break the news to Don.

        • Showing Betty’s funeral would be the biggest waste of tv time at this point. I think it will be after Betty’s death with a focus on Don and the kids.

      • What if Betts is still alive at the denouement?
        Don can do his last penance to the one, and only person he truly hurt with absent-minded mendacity.
        He never crushed anyone else.
        When you think about it, asking his baby mama for forgiveness would be the most tremendous thing Don could ever do.
        Don owes this. At last, he can shed the persona clean.

    • So he can “move up a notch” which is what he really, really needs to do.

  41. So many people cropping up unexpectedly and surprising each other, mostly in rooms: Sally and her friend are startled to find Henry in their dorm room; Trudy is startled to find Pete still there eating pie; we first meet Andy walking into the motel room not expecting to see Don there; Betty’s surprised and mad when Sally walks into their kitchen; and of course the vets barge in to rough up Don. Duck does it to Pete more than once. Even the quick reference to “Mrs. Robinson” reminds of how Mrs. R suddenly shows up to insinuate herself into Benjamin’s space and life in more ways than one. Expanding out a bit, the Lear jet offer is a bolt from the blue, and of course the cancer prognosis is the ultimate unwelcome surprise visitor.

    Then again, the show’s been doing that a lot lately – Megan coming across Roger with Marie, Peggy spooked by the organ music, Don coming upon Ken crouched outside the office, Don finding the gay couple instead of Diana in that hotel… and of course the sudden shock of McCann’s absorption of SC&P….

  42. I cried with Betty’s letter too

  43. Shout-out to Logan Hill’s NY Times recap for pointing out that Pete and Trudy won’t be the only Campbells in Wichita – Glen Campbell, of course, is a lineman for the county…

  44. I just rewatched last week’s episode and had an eerie realization. When Don and Betty talk in her kitchen about Sally leaving for school (maybe for the last time), Don makes a joke about Betty getting old. She says:

    “I’m younger than you. Always have been. Always will be.”

    When the episode aired, that last statement seemed like extra unnecessary dialogue to me. This is Mad Men, so I should have known better. Seeing that scene again and knowing what we now know about Betty gave me a cold chill. She will always be younger than Don, because – as we now know – she’s going to predecease him.

    • and he says, “Knock ’em dead, Birdie!” whoops

      • Remember the conversation between Don and Betty, in bed in Ossining, when she said that she never wanted to grow old.

  45. A few thoughts:

    Betty – I knew it was lung cancer when she got to the first landing, huffing and puffing. I was very glad that Henry went to Sally but it was desperation when he could not convince Betty to try treatment. I felt sad that Betty was cold in person to Sally but the letter made up for it.

    Betty gave Sally a gift of freedom that she never had the courage to have. She told Sally it was okay to explore. As for what she wanted Sally to do, that was another gift to her children – that they would see her – one last time – as their beautiful mother. Cancer treatments would have taken that one thing she felt she had away from her. She also gave her children a gift of spirit in continuing to go to class – it’s not over until it is.

    Pete and Trudy. I always liked them together because Trudy was not just his wife but a smart partner. She was always pointing out directions for Pete. And, he asked her to come to that dinner, not just to have a date but because he knew how smart Trudy is.

    All that airplane talk did make me nervous.

    Don. Can I admit something? I think he’s is a fascinating character but, from almost the beginning, I have never rooted for Don. He seems like a lost soul, an observer and someone, clearly, never comfortable in his own skin.

    Someone said earlier said this: “Don will be back as a responsible parent.” No, he won’t. Because he really never has been. He goes out for Sally’s birthday cake, veers off and brings back a puppy. He sees his children intermittently. When he misses seeing Bobby at Betty house, she tells me that Bobby is at baseball practice. Does Don say, “Great, I’ll go watch.” Nope, he shrugs.

    And now he runs away and probably sacrifices a lot of money – money that should go to support his children – because of his own issues. (Not to say, he can’t earn more but it’s pretty selfish.)

    I think that story about the veterans party was useful for him. That those vets who were understanding to his war story then turned on him, well, that was also a lesson.

    This episode did make it appear that Don may be shedding his skin. He’s keeping up with Sally so he will learn that Betty is sick. Will he come back when he’s just about done being Don? If he does, he would have to assert himself as a father and does Don have it in him to raise three kids? No, he doesn’t but Henry does.

    So if Dick shed his Dick skin and now his persona of Don is going away, who is he now? We may never know but I don’t believe he’s going back to his kids.

  46. One thing I never quite understood – what was the point of Betty getting pregnant with Gene? I never thought that made much sense to the storyline. I always thought it would have been stronger with Sally and Bobby being the only two and making Bobby a foil to Sally.

    • Well, it was makeup sex, at her parents’ house… someone else noticed that Gene was born the day Paul VI was elected Pope. I also noticed his name — Eugene Scott Draper — and since I’m in the Los Angeles area, I always thought it was a kind of local Easter Egg, a shout-out to the TV preacher, Dr. Gene Scott.

      • As I recall, Dr Scott was on 24 hrs a day and never stopped talking. Maybe that’s why Gene is silent?

        • I’ve just developed a theory that like, perhaps, the boy on Homeland (name?), Bobby and Gene are really ghosts. This would explain the fact that they don’t get older, that everyone ignores their existence and their eery silence. Very occasionally Sally or one of the adults will hold a sentimental, imaginary conversation with Bobby at least.

          • Mad Men is rarely mystical – and when it is, it’s always through a character’s eyes.

            It IS odd that Gene rarely speaks (has he said anything since the “bye bye Daddy” voiceover in 501 at the Francis/Rye house?).

            Bobby seems to have grown up, however – he seemed like a suitably mature 11-year old when he gave Betty’s lunch away – not really ghostly there in broad daylight or before that interacting with his teacher on the bus (“we’re having a conversation”) or singing camp songs with both mom and dad in that restaurant.

            Would a ghost (can a ghost?) peel the wallpaper off his bedroom wall?

    • Season 3 was the point of Gene.
      Without his gestation, Betts never takes him back, and the annihilation to Don that season 3 was never happens.
      Funny, of the main reasons I’ve always rooted for Don is that his personality is analogous to a baby’s appearance: amorphous.
      The frantic struggle to be somebody real, is something I’ve always identified with.
      He’s a searcher. He wants a life of consciousness, not the common rubble of banality.
      The inner struggle of him l, I love.
      The actual guy? Not so much.
      I cheer for him maybe, cause I think he’s doomed to fail, so it lends a thick dose of poignancy to him.

  47. Although Pete was raised in Manhattan and has always loved it, he referred to the City in the last episode as a toilet bowl when Trudy was wondering if she should move back. I was not expecting Wichita necessarily, but his “love affair with Manahattan” as Trudy used to call it had definitely ended prior to Milk and Honey.

    I am amazed that in the 1970s, a doctor would not be speaking directly to a female patient and would only talk to her husband about her condition. The oncologist wasn’t even talking to betty and her husband together, only to her husband as if Betty was not even in the room or as if she was a child. We are far from HIPAA.

    last point, Smoking has played a very important role in both Betty and Don’s life. Don”s smoking led to the fire which allowed him to change his identity and the beginning of his adulthood. It caused him to be distance and defensive since he carried around this secret. Betty’s smoking changed how and the end of her adulthood would take place and the timing of it. The smoking for both of them affected their children indirectly and directly – their last names, their ability to connect to their parents, etc.

  48. I’ve just watched the episode and I’m too upset to write. I’m still in the anger stage.

    But god damnit I feel like I should’ve known they’d kill Betty way back when, a long time ago, when somewhere I wrote: Betty is the only kind of person that no longer exists today.

    You might say Trudy doesn’t. But Trudy does. She was a happy house wife and there are lots of stay at home moms.

    No, there are no more trapped women, not quite, like They were, and a Betty was. I was a stay at home mom for just a short while, by choice. And I so empathized with Betty in those early seasons. I know what it’s like 24/7 and a partner who gets to leave and be a parent part time… So even today, it’s not all roses. But really, the Betty’s of the world have gone the way of men’s hats and ladies white gloves.

    And I’m so pissed Betty did not get to finish school and have more life.

    • I feel the same way.

    • One wonders if many women of that generation felt ‘trapped’ or thought themselves fortunate. I can just as easily imagine they were happy they didn’t have to do the grueling housework that their mothers in the 20s/30s did – very few modern conveniences then (washing machines, frozen/convenience food). I guess we all gauge our views of the past on whether we in the present would have been happy then.

      I never got the sense my mom was anything but happy to be able to be at home during the day and have taking care of her family as her main work. No doubt some women wanted something else but I think one should always be aware of projecting on the past.

      • There was an entire literature and movement of women feeling trapped. It’s not some weird modern projection onto the past, it’s the core nature of Second Wave feminism. It’s Betty Friedan’s “The problem that has no name”.

        It is, in fact, exactly what many women of color and poorer women objected to about Second Wave feminism–that it encapsulated the problems of middle-class and well-to-do white women without regards to the often wildly different concerns of every other woman.

        • No one is saying anyone was making weird projections – only that it was not consistent and I was making the point that they were likely better off than previous mothers – in fact, maybe that enabled them to focus more freely on other higher concerns than just getting through the day’s drudgery.

          • What Deborah said!

            And, the fact That things were “better” only served to make many women feel all the more guilty for being unhappy.

            I was alive then. I was not an adult but I was not unobservant. My friends homes that is least wanted to be at after school housed these trapped women.

            One, was the much superior scientist wife of the mediocre scientist/acedemic. The feeling in that house was such that I feel unchecked dread when I see copper appliances. Good god, I hated to be there, and felt sorry for my friend, even though she was kind of an ass.

            She was the kind of housekeeper that whisked the daily newspaper away to the trash before one even had a chance to set it down. I always felt like me and Jennifer were hanging around in her house like newspapers she couldn’t get out to the trash and she hovered over us waiting for the opportunity. It was AWFUL.

            There were other mom’s. My best friend’s mom was a nurse. She worked like a dog and was really happy and told great stories. My mother went to work when I was young also. Another friends mom was a doctors wife and happy to be a wife and do charities and have “assistants” (she never called them nannies). She would never go on to work, unlike my other friends moms who did go to work when my friends got into junior high.

            It was a big deal to them.

      • As always, it depends on the individual. I can remember my Mom telling me how lucky I was because we had running water and indoor bathrooms which she did not have on a farm in OK in the 1930’s. I didn’t feel lucky, I felt normal, like everybody else who grew up in the suburbs in the 50-60’s. She felt lucky she didn’t have to work, or so she said. She felt lucky we had two cars and went on vacations. But as we grew up and left for college, she changed. She finished her Masters, shades of Betty, became a elementary school teacher, continued with her volunteer activities, and in general became what she wanted to be, at that time. My point is we change with time, what we want in life changes, how we want to achieve things changes. As Anna alluded to in Mountain King, we are only bound by what we think. We are only alone because we think we are. Betty was able to change, in some aspects of her life, I believe because she had Henry who probably had expectations of her as a wife and a partner, but also gave her respect for who she was and could be.

        • “My point is we change with time, what we want in life changes, how we want to achieve things changes.”

          This is so on target and so wise Donna. We do change and what was enough at one point in life may not be enough at a different point. In MM several characters embody this but I think none more than Peggy. You learn more about what is out there and what is possible and your horizons expand accordingly.

          Such good stuff – I learn so much from this blog!

  49. I’ve just watched the episode and I’m too upset to write. I’m still in the anger stage.

    But god damnit I feel like I should’ve known they’d kill Betty way back when, a long time ago, when somewhere I wrote: Betty is the only kind of person that no longer exists today.

    You might say Trudy’s don’t exist.. But Trudy’s do. She was a happy house wife and there are lots of stay at home moms.

    No, there are no more trapped women, not quite, like They were then , and how Betty was. I was a stay at home mom for just a short while, by choice. And I so empathized with Betty in those early seasons. I know what it’s like 24/7 and a partner who gets to leave and be a parent part time… So even today, it’s not all roses. But really, the Betty’s of the world have gone the way of men’s hats and ladies white gloves.

    And I’m so pissed Betty did not get to finish school and have more life.

    • I agree, Peggy. I think of my mother often and how she must have said to herself a million times – “when do I get to follow my dreams?” She married at 18 had 8 children, stayed at home while my father went to work and to the bars after work. Mad Men made me understand my mothers plight as a housewife of the 50s and 60s so much better than I had before.

      • Me too! We had 8 kids too.

        My mom went back to work before I was in kindergarte. It was just to be a summer job, we needed extra money and my mom kept working and moving up and became the top breadwinner in the family.

        My mom worked hours opposite my dad and mt grandma watched us for a few hours until my dad came home.

        My dad started cooking, and found out he loved it. And took over all the cooking even when my mom no longer worked 3-11. I remember it was such a big deal at the time. A man cooking! A thing like that!

        All throughout Betty has worn clothes very similar to clothes and coats my mom had. I could practically smell the cedar through the TV set.

        I’m so so upset by this. I find it so very, very unfair.

        • Peggy, that’s another reason I loved Mad Men! It allowed me to relive part of my childhood memories. My Dad dressed exactly the way Don Draper did (minus the hat). When Don showed up in a blue dress shirt this season, I instantly remembered my dad wearing that exact same shirt and pants. I could almost smell the Old Spice through the TV set. “Nostalgia – it’s delicate but potent…..”

        • Betty is the most obvious form of Don’s “The universe is indifferent”, little rant in Babylon.
          Of all the nihilistic chain smokers to get sick first it had to be 38 year old Betty?
          Whereas Lee Garner’s grandpa smoked his whole life, and died at 95.
          He got hit by a truck.
          Jeez, Louise. (Ode to darling Sally.)

      • You describe one of the reasons I loved Mad Men and Betty’s story line. A SAHM in the 50’s is looked at with some sympathy a SAHM today is called lucky. I never could understand the difference. Being a SAHM mom myself in the 90’s, I had some of the same exact frustrations as Betty…missing my career, feeling torn between supporting my husbands career while I wiped up the counter top day after day. Some things never change.

        • like you I stayed at home for a period, My world became very small. I wished it was the 50’s so I would have neighbors who also stayed home. I am sure it wasn’t like that in the 50’s but I still longed for it. Staying home wasn’t as hard as society telling me that I was lucky to be able to. I felt misunderstood. I began to wonder why I didn’t feel as lucky as everyone thought I should. It was my secret burden. I couldn’t complain because it would look like I was complaining about my family and I loved my family. It was just hard to watch the world go by from the sidelines.

          • ‘Staying home wasn’t as hard as society telling me that I was lucky to be able to.”

            I had the same feeling and wrote a book on the subject! I don’t care what a mom decides to do..stay at home or working outside the home…I would fight for the right of moms to do either. We have to change the lingo, though, when we discuss SAHM and take “luck” out of it. Betty would be proud!

          • Yep, had the SAME experience. I feel Betty.

  50. In the context of the series, it makes perfect sense for Betty to have lung cancer. She is the only main character who is NOT in the advertising business, but she is THE targeted consumer, the early Sixties housewife. Remember the beer executive who is just tickled pink that Betty lives exactly like the expected target audience? She’s the one who is doing the shopping. And just as she would buy all the brands that Sterling Cooper, etc. would push, she’d also be smoking their cigarettes. After all, it’s “toasted”– those women who love their magazines, reading about Reader’s Digest being somewhat concerned, it’s for the pleasure of that Lucky Strike that matters more. o in the context of the series– wow, it makes perfect sense that the character who would die of lung cancer is Betty Draper Francis.

    • Good catches!

      Not sure how it slipped past Don, but Betty smoked Salems, a product of R.J. Reynolds, a competitor of American Tobacco, the makers of Lucky Strike.

      And on a side note, after the agency lost the Lucky Strike account, Roger switched to those nasty unfiltered Camels, another Reynolds brand. I would’ve thought he would have gone to Pall Malls, which I always thought were closer in taste to Luckies.

      • Oops. My bad! Pall Mall is now a Reynolds brand, but they were still made by American, in the 60s. So, Camels it is. Thinking about it, Roger probably smoked ’em in the Navy and only switched when he went to work for Sterling Cooper, since they were Roger senior’s account back then.

        I really should’ve known about the lineage of Pall Mall. As a kid in the 60s, my Mom would send me and my two younger siblings to the corner store to buy ’em for her. She;d give us 50 cents – 35 cents for the smokes and a nickel apiece for a candy bar each.

    • “She’s a consumer!” Shouted Roger angrily.

  51. i rewatched last night. When Sally is reading the letter, we see the window outside. It is spring, the leaves are green and would not have been in October at her school. Betty iOS gone. The last shot of her having difficulty climbing the stairs and smiling bravely at someone passing by is our clue that Betty carried on bravely to the end. I have disliked Betty many times but also felt for her – all the betrayals, even her shrink! She left with wisdom and dignity.

    • I think you’re right. The scene is at :

      • Arg. I looked up the foliage times for Farmingham

        hoping that there was some wiggle room since it was early October…

        Unless they are not being as accurate -like with the corn being too low for August last episode. But they did purposefully cut to the window. 🙁

        So I guess that was Betty’s stairway to heaven?

        And it’s making me cry all over again.

        • If Sally DIDN’T open it in October and in the spring, as you think, then how do we account for Don sitting alone on the bus bench AFTER that?

          Sally didn’t think to tell Don during their weekly/frequent phone calls over the course of six months “Oh, by the way, Dad, Betty’s dying/dead.”?

          He’s not THAT unencumbered.

          I think it’s the Iowa corn all over again.

      • Thanks for that video-link. An interesting detail: Betty’s letter was already opened – the flap was a bit torn and Sally slid it out. Opened earlier but unread? Read but it hadn’t really sunk in? Party read and put back?

        I’m with Melly on this – but not even the brief window shot suggests anything but not-winter. Not even a problem like too-short corn beside road with anachronistic yellow lines.

  52. some thoughts…

    Pete never gets what he thinks he deserves in the end. Bad news for Pete/Trudy. (Pete never actually got the job offer from Lear. He heard it from drunk Duck).
    We do not see Betty again.
    Don learns of Betty’s cancer while at the Grand Canyon (very near the edge). Don does not return to his kids.
    Andy crashes Don’s car into a tanker truck in fiery explosion and they assume Don in incinerated. Don/Dick is free.
    Don meets a girl on California beach and says “Hello, I’m Dick.”
    Bob Benson is D.B. Cooper.

  53. LIke any good writer, MW leaves us wanting more. It would indeed make a great season 8 to see the Campbells past the first blush of reunion and dealing with their new lives. Don settled in whatever new place he’s in and getting bored. the remainder of what’s going on at ME (Roger, Peggy)…what happened to Joan.

    • We can only wish, but the actors probably want to move on to new challenges.

    • How about a ’70s-style sitcom of the “real Knickerbockers” in Wichita? The Campbells as Lisa and Oliver Wendell Douglas? “Green Acres” revisited? No? OK. Just a thought.

  54. Okay, since so much of this thread is about Betty, I figured this would be a good place to insert my question. (By the way, I have always loved Betty Draper and always hoped that she and Don would end up back together.)
    So, here is my question. It may have been answered before but I missed it. In the episode where Betty is in labor with baby Gene, she is hallucinating and is back in her childhood home. Her mother and father are both there. I remember she said something to her mother like “I’m having a baby and I forgot my lunchbox on the bus.” Her mother replies, “that’s what happens when girls speak up.” So what was the significance of the black man seated in the kitchen chair with Bettys mother standing behind him. That is one scene that has always puzzled me. Usually I can decifer the subtle meanings in the show,
    but this one has alway baffled me.

    • I think he was the civil rights activist whose murder Sally had been asking her teacher about. His name escapes me. And Betty’s mom says something like, “This is what happens to people who speak up.”

  55. Anyone think there was symbolism in the phone book used to beat Don? The ep starts off with Don having a dream about being found out for who he really is. Then he gets beat up by veterans with a book full of names after talking about their past experiences in the war. Don’s past as a veteran was with another name and he gets beat up by other veterans using a book of names, Am I stretching or is the phone book a real symbol?

    • Yeah, call home you selfish asshole. Your children’s mother is dying!

    • Another site pointed out that a small town like Sharon (a real town in Oklahoma, pop 135) would not have a large Yellow Pages book. Maybe they are thumping him with a Bible?

      • In small towns like that the phone book is usually one or two maybe even three counties. Or it could be the phone book is from the nearest large city, maybe Enid.

      • On the Fashion and Style segment on the AMC Mad Men website, the prop person explains that to get an appropriately sized phone book they created one for “Southwest Oklahoma.”

    • I think it’s ironic that Don was hit with the Yellow Pages–a book full of advertisements.

  56. I can’t stop thinking about this episode — especially the scenes about Betty.

    I think that her character was roughly the same age as my mother. If Betty was a Catholic, Democrat, middle-class schoolteacher, she could have been my mom. Granted, my mother was older when she died (65), but the first thought I had when I was at the mortuary was, “Gee, I’m glad I colored her hair last week”. She would have wanted it that way.

    Hitting me right in the feels. Well done, Mad Men.

    • I love your comment about your mom’s hair. I had a similar reaction to my mom, only it hadn’t been colored and I fixed it before her viewing. I also found her favorite lip gloss and blush. Now that my own mom has passed, I see Betty’s struggle a little more sympathetically. She lost her mom at 28, a few months before the start of the show in 1960 and then her father. These things are hard to deal with and change your life views. Ive been hard on Betty. That’s not to say that I think everything she has done is ok.

  57. I’m still reeling from this episode and I’ve loved reading all the threads and conjecture about the finale. My biggest worry is that we only have an hour for the finale. I envision this final episode to be mostly about Don coming to terms with both his personal and professional life – then moving forward to the future. However, as I reflect back on these most recent episodes and the odd introduction of the Diana character, a woman who in grief walked away from her family … Would Don really abandon his now motherless children basically making them orphans? Henry has no legal standing with them at all after Betty dies. Don would have to relinquish parental rights and allow Henry to legally adopt them. As remote a father as Don has been at times, I just don’t see him abandoning those kids. Would he?

    • would his kids want him as a full time father at this point?

      would henry want, or be obligated to, assume responsibility for them after betty is gone?

  58. Some have commented that Pete doesn’t actually have the Lear VP position – that Duck’s a liar and unreliable.

    On reflection, I believe the reason Pete showed up at godawful 4AM to propose, was because Lear flew him back from Wichita after dicker, deal, dinner, and drinks (leaving drunken Duck in NY).

    Pete’s “trend” was like Ginsberg’s in that both had an element of ethnicity. Peggy’s decision to not hire Ginz was trampled by Roger’s telling the client they’d hired “one of them”. Pete was like that – sort of. He was “one of us” (a WASPy, Ivy-league, silver-spoon, blue-blood).

    Both also had a bit of luck. Had Roger not had such loose lips, Peggy would have sent Ginz packing. Had Pete not indifferently and unconsciously played hard-to-get, Lear might not have raised the stakes high-enough to sell Pete.

    The similarities end there – Pete’s really the lucky one. Lucky at birth, lucky to work for a wise patriarch (the inestimable Bert Cooper), lucky to have Don around as a stand-in account man (because Roger was too high-falutin’ to accompany Pete to work aerospace in LA). ,

    Most of all he’s the lucky to get Trudy. Twice, no less.

    • I hope you are right. I hope Pete does get his happy ending. I am envision him in his plaid golf pants now with the other execs.

  59. I’ll be interested to see how they tie-up the children’s loose ends – meanwhile, I’ll toss in some observations.

    Bobby doesn’t know Don like we do – he’s “real-Dad” who only shows up on weekends.

    Gene, no doubt, thinks of Henry as real-Dad with Don as an occasional visitor.

    Sally knows her Dad all-too-well (“better” than she wanted). Henry is the moneybag who treats Mom better than she deserves. Before Don respectfully explained himself (with a Patty Melt to seal the deal) Sally felt she was parentless in an important way. Don’s mostly been the most respectful of Sally (of all her parents). He has expected her to step-up, grow-up and given her reason to forgive (she’ll never forget).

    As for the post-Betty, post-finale negotiations:

    I think Henry and Don would work it out with a not entirely egoless orientation toward the kids. The relationships and the kids are not “equal”. Nor are the prospective dads.

    Henry arguably has more child-rearing experience with an adult daughter. However, he realizes that Sally is closer to Don. He’d feel Don out to see how much of the “heavy-lifting” he could reliably perform vis-à-vis Sally. No doubt Sally would have much to say about this.

    Gene is more Henry’s son than Don. With Don’s ego, I imagine this would be the most contentious with the nod eventually going to Henry (as the least disruptive). Henry would depend heavily on the latest version of Carla – at least until he marries yet again.

    I guess it sucks being the middle child. Bobby’s seems like the most tentative situation. I suppose he would continue to live with Henry and housekeeper.

    Finally, I’ll throw in one other thing. How crazy would it be for Don to have one of his houses in/around Rye? He’s far wealthier now than he’ll ever be – he may as well spread some money around.

    • Carla! She was as much or more of a mother to the kids as Betty. Is there anyway they’ll contact her to help out this many years later? She practically raised Sally and Bobby and really did care about them.

  60. With Don giving away the Cadillac, it could be the antithesis of “Gold Violin.” GV was all about the lifestyle Don sold and represented, and he got the Caddy as the finishing touch.

    Ken’s story “Gold Violin” is about a violin which is made of gold but cannot play music. Kind of like how Cooper cares only for the monetary value of the Rothko, but not its real value, its artistic value. Basically knowing “the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

    In “Milk and Honey Route” Don’s gotten rid of the trappings of his former life, ending with the Caddy, and he’s singing his lungs out at the Legionnaire’s Club. So everything with a price is gone, and hopefully Don can realize what has value.

  61. My stomach is doing flips – so much emotion in this episode. And Don’s blase week in that motel – drove me crazy. One of my thoughts is that he sheds Don Draper and either winds his way to CA or elsewhere and introduces himself as “Dick Whitman” to the woman who catches his eye next. I just think he’s finished being Don. I am hoping for a Harry Potter style ending – where we flash forward 20 years to see the kids, Peggy, everyone.

    As always, it’s a divine treat to read this blog.


  62. Do you think when Don was reading the Godfather and the TV just went off–a nod to David Chase and the ending of the Sopranos?

  63. Here’s one question that I have. It’s unrelated to the events of this episode, but it’s something I’m curious about.

    Would the characters in this show be able to maintain their good physical appearance while being so addicted to smoking? Betty is a good example, so is Don. In my life, so far, those that are smokers show it in their teeth, their skin, the way they speak. Could someone be a heavy smoker all their life and still appear as beautiful as Betty? Or is this just a result of a Hollywood star playing a roll?

    • People age at different rates, poor diets, lack of health care, and sun exposure will accelerate the aging process, but some people just look good for a long time despite everything else that is going on. Being overweight doesn’t help either. Having the right gene pool helps considerably. In a rather funny study, photos of people who smoked were compared to their identical twins who did not smoke were compared and there was a marked difference between the two, however the skin on their butts was compared and no significant difference was noted. The conclusion was sun exposure plus smoking was aging,,,,and this is why I love research. Who sits around and thinks up this stuff? But it was a well done study.

  64. I’ve been waiting for someone to comment on this for a week, but even Tom & Lorenzo seem to have missed this incredibly significant detail in the scene in the VFW hall: The hefty “stripper” popping out of the cake wasn’t a girl–it was a GUY. And what’s more, he looked like he was pretty good. Not only that, he was seen in the background later during the story-swapping session, slow dancing with another guy! And NOT ONE PERSON in the TV viewing audience noticed this or thought to comment? Remember folks, this is 1970. In a small town in Oklahoma. This detail was DELIBERATELY put in by the writers–and no one picked up on it. As a San Franciscan and friend to drag queens everywhere I have to ask: Why are these things invisible to you “normal” people?

  65. Nice article, fun little scene and a welcome moment of lightness, in a generally dark episode..

  66. Both Don’s family (Betty and kids) and the motel owners resembled Don’s original family.

    With Don’s family, Betty getting cancer was similar to Abigail getting cancer. And Henry’s falling apart and Sally consoling him was similar to Adam saying Uncle Mac (Abigail’s second husband like Henry) “took it really hard.” And Sally is similar to Adam in how she has to become the caregiver.

    With the motel owners, they’re similar in how Abigail and Uncle Mac ran a “boarding house.” And Andy the handyman is similar to Adam the janitor.

    Also, the phrase “Milk and Honey” goes to the description the burning bush gave Moses of Canaan. In “Ladies Room” Don tells Roger to think of him as Moses, arriving in a basket. In “Out of Town,” we see the literal significance of that, Don is delivered to Abigail in a basket. And in “Milk and Honey,” Don plans to go west to his promised land, but instead give his car to Andy and leaves his journey in question, similar to how Moses led his people to the promised land, but never arrived there himself. Perhaps it’s a sign that Don will return to his kids, Betty, and Peggy and make sure they have a secure future (or in Betty’s case peace of mind) instead of fulfilling his own wishes.

    And in the beginning on “Milk and Honey” Don is in Kansas. There have been plenty of “Wizard of Oz” references in MM, specifically in “Hobo Code” when Don says, “I feel like Dorothy and everything just turned to color,” and then Don having a WoO style flashback of his life on the farm. Interestingly, the woman who brings Don to Abigail calls him “a gift from God,” which is the same meaning of “Dorothy.” Also, Theodore is a male equivalent of Dorothy, and he is referenced by Don during the carousel pitch, about a place where we ache to go.

    Which makes me wonder if at some level Don had a good relationship with Uncle Mac, Adam, and from flashbacks even Abigail’s sister (she tells Abigail that BCD is the good thing Abigail got from her marriage to Archie) in Pennsylvania. And Don said that he was a pallbearer at his Aunt’s funeral when he was 15, a position which I assume is a bit of an honor, an indication that BCD was considered “one of their people.” This was in contrast to Rachel’s shiva, where it was made clear Don was not one of their people.

    With the Dorothy/ Theodore/Carousel pitch, some reviewers have made a connection between the carousel pitch and the “Twilight Zone” episode “Walking Distance.” Here’s the Wikipedia summary of “Walking Distance”

    In short, “Walking Distance” is about an ad executive who’s escaping a meeting and drives near his home town. He unintentionally travels back to the years of his childhood. Eventually he meets his father who tells him look for happiness in his present, not in his past. And while looking online I found this clip, which was made before “Milk and Honey,” but if watched now the connections are stunning and too many to note.

    The line from the father that the protagonist should look forward instead of backwards reminded me of the Janus like image of Don and Peggy in the S7.1 promo photos, and obliquely reference by Don as the two headed cow. Hopefully Don will look at his present and future with his kids and protégés, Peggy and Pete, and not keep on going back to the wounds of his past. If not the past could repeat itself and Sally could become a version of Adam, someone whose future was damaged because he had to become the emotional caretaker of his family without any backup.

    • I’ve been thinking of this seven season saga in terms of the film,The Wizard of Oz. It was essentially a story about characters in search what they perceived as missing: Brain, heart, courage and home. In Don’s case, it’s about legitimacy, identity, connectedness and love.

      I keep alternating between two extremes, outcome-wise: Don is doomed. Or, Don finally and fully gets it. I can’t imagine an outcome at some nebulous middle point.

      Also, despite everything we’ve learned about him, there is something (or even several somethings) that have not yet been revealed, the knowing of which, causes everything to ultimately click for us. Whatever these pieces of the puzzle are, will have to come to light in the finale. It’s of prime importance to the viewers that we find out. And it’s not just for our benefit. Somehow, Don must gain an awareness of them as well, so everything can finally click for him.

      I understand that there have been vague warnings for us not to expect tidiness, in terms of how the series ends or for Don’s future. I don’t really expect that, but I would like to at least see him be in the place, by virtue of this received wisdom/insight/knowledge/awareness, of being better equipped for whatever is next for him.

      • SmilerG,

        Really liked your connection with what the characters in WoO are searching for and what Don’s searching for.

    • “The line from the father that the protagonist should look forward instead of backwards reminded me of the Janus like image of Don and Peggy in the S7.1 promo photos, and obliquely reference by Don as the two headed cow.”

      That line made me think of 5G , when Don tells Adam: “My life moves in only one direction— forward.”

  67. Hopefully Don will find some peace. In “Lost Horizon,” Ferg’s imitation of Don was basically the same as Don’s voicing of his Snowball ad in “Dark Shadows.” And at McCann, Don’s in the same place, just with Hobart as the Prince of Darkness. With the reference to “Dark Shadows,” I remember something I had posted previously about Don being trapped in an underworld of sorts.

    In short, Don being unable to open the patio door in “Dark Shadows” is similar to the play “No Exit,” where three characters are trapped in a room in their afterlife. And then there could be a connection to the fly Don sees trapped in the light in the pilot, basically a combination on “No Exit” and “Les Mouches/The Flies.” “The Flies” is based on the myth of Orestes, who kills his mother to avenge the murder of his father. The myth of Orestes is associated with “mother issues” for obvious reasons.

    In “Lost Horizon,” the idea of Don being the fly in the light is brought out by Don hearing the wind on the window and when he touches is the sound goes away. And the idea that Don is trapped in an underworld is emphasized both by the cathedral outside his window and by the cross formed when the plane’s exhaust goes over the spire of the Empire State Building.

    Other references to the fly in the light are when Peggy enters SCDP and the sound of the lights buzzing is highlighted and later the lights go out.

    With Peggy, after Don awakes from his post fly observing nap, Peggy’s face blocks the fly and the light creates a glow around her head. Perhaps it means that Peggy is Don’s way out of his underworld of mother issues, in that Don can heal his wounds with his birth mother by helping unwed mother Peggy and also heal the wounds of his stepmother’s neglect by being a foster father to Peggy.

    But the Peggy of S7 is different from the Peggy of S1. Like everyone I adore the shot of Peggy going down the hall of McCann, drunk with a cigarette and Bert’s painting, it’s her power and it’s good for her. But in relation to Don, Peggy can’t do much to heal Don because she now is Don.

    Don physically escapes the underworld of McCann, but does he internally escape the underworld? With “No Exit” the protagonist is trapped with one woman (Ines) who seduced her cousin’s wife and another (Estelle) who drowned her child. Perhaps Ines represents Don’s affairs and Estelle his pursuit of Diana. By “Milk and Honey” Don is done with Diana and resists the temptation to hit on the woman at the pool.

    With “The Flies,” perhaps that will be addressed in the finale when Don sees the mother of his children dying of cancer like his stepmother did.

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