In an Mad Men episode, 7.13, The Milk and Honey Route, Duck Phillips comments on what he sees as the remarkable serendipity benefiting Pete Campbell as his unexpected job negotiations with Learjet progress. Duck comments that “trends” is the term used to describe such a string of luck. Pete views this “supernatural” chain of events as a chance to reunite with Trudy and his daughter, Tammy. While the episode ends on an upbeat note for the couple, the storyline involving Don possibly hints that this trend may not last. Specifically, Don’s choice of reading material, which arguably relates to other, different plot points in the episode, may foreshadow a less than positive outcome for Pete and Trudy.
As Don waits at the Sharon Motel for his car to be repaired, four different books are prominently shown. The last one listed below seems to hint at Pete and Trudy’s fate.
The Godfather: Mario Puzo’s novel about a man who, while in the process of achieving career success, loses his family. This can certainly be said of both Don and Pete. It is not yet clear how either situation will play out.
The Woman from Rome: Don was not actually reading this Alberto Moravia novel. Instead, it was held by an attractive woman by the motel pool who captivates Don. His fascination abruptly ends when the woman’s husband and children (family) join her. One of the main characters in the 1947 novel is a prostitute (whose mother is also a prostitute) living in Fascist Italy during World War Two. Given his history, the character of the prostitute would seem linked to Don/Dick. Also, during the episode, Don encounters people who display fascist behavior. When Don is suspected of stealing the five hundred dollars in cash proceeds from an American Foreign Legion fundraiser, he suffers a brutal “interrogation” at the hands of three veterans who burst into his motel room. This is also a realization of Don’s dream of being detained by a police office which opens the episode.
Andromeda Strain: It would seem a deliberate choice that Don is reading Michael Crichton’s science fiction novel which deals with a deadly ailment that, as with Betty’s condition, starts in the victim’s lungs.
Hawaii: This epic work of historical fiction by James Michener tells the story of the titular pacific islands literally from the point of their creation out of lava flows to when they became the fiftieth U.S. state. A recurring theme in the novel is that of the Hawaiian people struggling to keep their identity in the midst of being incorporated into a larger whole. This idea of being cast out of paradise seems part of Pete and Trudy’s storyline. Pete is first shown administering first aid to Tammy. The two had to cut short their visit to an apple orchard (cast out) after Tammy is stung by a bee. A large basket of apples is placed prominently in the scene and even is in the foreground of one shot. Trudy (like Eve) offers more than one person an apple; her friend Sherry and Pete himself (in the form of apple pie).
Buoyed by the window of good luck (rising trends) surrounding the impending Learjet job offer, Pete (like Adam) may be tempting fate (the gods) by trying to extend that dynamic to improving his family situation. Furthermore, a fringe benefit of the new Learjet position mentioned several times is the fact that Pete and Trudy would have unlimited access to the company’s fleet of small aircraft for personal use. This is interesting given that Pete’s father died in an airplane crash. It is also noteworthy that the music which closes out the episode is Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” containing the lyric:
Everyday it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller-coaster
Buddy Holly died when the small plane he was traveling in crashed. Trends, roller-coasters, and small aircraft all rise and fall.