Posted by on June 3, 2015 at 9:15 am  Mad Men, Season 7, Themes
Jun 032015

mad-men-series-finaleWhen Sally comes home from school in Mad Men 7.14, Person to Person, she finds Bobby in the kitchen scraping a piece of burnt toast while attempting to make dinner for himself and Gene. This ostensibly demonstrates the level of dysfunction in the Francis household after Betty’s grim diagnosis. However, fire has often been a symbol associated with Don Draper, who took a new identity after the real “Don Draper” burned to death in Korea. Certainly, Don’s secret past has contributed to many poor choices which have added to his children’s burden. Thus, Bobby struggling with the charred toast partly reflects that dynamic.

While the question of who gets custody of the children after Betty’s death is never explicitly resolved onscreen, Sally’s act of throwing out the burnt toast (along with the ending montage showing Sally taking on a “motherly” role), strongly suggests that Don will not be filling a primary parental role for the children in the future.

Sally has accepted the situation for what it is and intends to deal with it without Don.


  14 Responses to “Toasted”

  1. I definitely envisioned Sally taking on the ‘mother role’ regardless of whose home the boys were living at. I could see her graduating from Miss Porters (Farmington) and giving up on college to be close to the boys, wherever they ended up.

  2. She won’t graduate for another year or maybe 2(?), in another post I speculated that she would transfer to a local high school while living at home and taking care of the boys, but unless they stay at Henry’s house that really wouldn’t be all that helpful. If the boys move into the Uncle and Aunts house, with their 3 children, Sally would not be needed, in the sense of providing physical care, although psychologically it might be helpful. The practical aspects of that move would be something else,,, who has room in a house for 2-3 extra kids? I know that sounds harsh, but most houses don’t have an extra 2 bedrooms, would they have to move into a new house? As I pointed out in another post, when Betty dies, her wishes for custody become not exactally moot but close. If Henry wants to continue on with his “family” he needs Don to provide child support for a live in house keeper,,,,kinda like Aunt Bea, and then Sally can come home as often as she can and complete her high schools education and hopefully go on to college. Gene has really only know Henry as his live in father and Henry seems to enjoy being a father to the boys and in my opinion is a wonderful step father to Sally, so this could work. But only if Henry wants to do this and Don agrees. This is not a good situation and the kids are in for a tough time no matter what happens.

  3. Does anyone know whether Don (who, we should remember, wants to be involved) would have any legal rights as a divorced non-custodial parent? Tilden?

    • I am not a lawyer, but in my experience, the biological parent always trumps a step parent. Unless Henry legally adopted the children, which would have required Dons permission. So, legally Don will have the final say, despite Betty’s expressed wishes. I have no idea if Don will want to be involved and to what extent. I do think that decision on Betty’s part was a final punishment to Don, but I also believe she thinks she is doing the right thing for her children. Complicated isn’t it?

      • I based my statement that Don wants to be involved on his own assurance to Sally that the three of them would live with him. She rejects this, of course.

        • She rejected that because she, Sally, thought they should stay at the same house(Henry’s) and go to their same school, that is minimal changes to their life. In general, that is a good idea for children who loose a parent, minimal changes to the rest of their life. The Aunt and Uncle live in Philadelphia right? Or near where Betty’s father lived, so new schools, new house, new rules,,,everything is changed. And Don is going to have a challenge visiting on weekends from New York. And that is assuming the Aunt and Uncle want them to move in. Life is complicated and sad.

  4. I just started the first episode last night on Netflix (there is so much of the early stuff, Peggy’s pregnancy, Don’s brother, Midge, Rachel, that I want to revisit.) Don is stuck trying to figure out how to help Lucky Strike, as the reality of lung cancer in the media is starting to penetrate. One of the ways Don figures out how to describe Lucky’s essence is to describe it at “toasted”.

    (Side note: fascinating to see Pete and Ken treat Peggy so lecherously. Also, to hear Joan advise Peggy that if she’s lucky she will meet someone, get married and never work a day in her life again….I think it is going to be amazing to revisit all of it with the gift of watching the complete evolution ala Matt and company.)

    • I just started from the beginning again as well. There are so many goodies to note, down to the Heinz ketchup on the dinner table with the kids. It makes me want to break out the popsicles to celebrate (and share).

  5. If I was writing the next season, I would have the boys at home with Henry during the week. Sally back at boarding school, and Don buying a fabulous big home on Long Island Sound in Larchmont, NY. The kids could be with him on weekends. They could sail, fish, and chill with Don on weekends and Summers.

    The best an most amazing scenes would be between Henry and Don at the funeral, and struggling to come to a solution for the kids sake. Henry, who does not have the law on his side could make a compelling argument for Don to do the unselfish thing and let them stay at home, at least until they are older…it would be similar to the scene with Betty pointing out how unreliable he is as a steady parent. Don would turn to Peggy and Sally for opinions. Both females would tell him the kids have been through enough and until they are more independent they should stay with Henry for a “home base”.

    The plot twist will occur when Henry in his hopes to keep the kids, has Don investigated and discovers Dick Whitman!

  6. I know I keep harping on this . . . but shouldn’t Bobby be a lot closer to Sally in age?

    I don’t see Henry maintaining custody of the kids. Don doesn’t like him very much.

    • From what we were told early in the series, Bobby should have been 13 in 1970, and Sally would have been 16. I’ve read somewhere that Mason Vale Cotton was a year younger than that while filming the final season, but it seems to me he was written to be still younger than that. He was way too old for that field trip to the farm in season 7A, when he would have been 12. Back in season 3 “The Fog” Sally talked about taking that field trip to the farm, and she was 9 years old at that time, and it seemed to me that Bobby was acting about that age in “Field Trip”. It really bothered me that they wrote him so much younger than he should have been.

      I don’t see Henry maintaining custody of the kids either. I like that Betty decided to send them to her brother and his wife. I think that if they stayed with Henry, Sally would have been forced into playing a surrogate mother role for her brothers, maybe even have given up on a lot of her own plans in order to take care of them. That is just too sad for me to contemplate. I think Betty’s choice really shows that she was taking all 3 of her children into account, not just the boys.

    • And 7-year old Gene seems like a 2-year old, perhaps.

  7. The burnt toast was a reminder of the ad their father created ten years earlier to make smokers like Betty forget about the dangers of smoking. Their father’s success helped bring about the death of their mother. Lucky Strike is toasted and now so is Betty

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