IF YOU DON'T LIKE WHAT IS BEING SAID, CHANGE THE CONVERSATION

The Day The Music Died: You Can Go Home Again

In TV on May 13, 2015 at 8:14 am

BY RYAN BYRNES

Can people truly change? Pete suggests that they can. (Credit: AMC)

Can people truly change? Pete suggests that they can. (Credit: AMC)

The last voice you hear during the second-to-last episode of “Mad Men” is that of rock legend Buddy Holly, whose song “Everyday” plays as credits roll. Holly died in a plane crash in 1959, a tragedy that would later be memorialized by singer Don McLean as “the day the music died.” “Mad Men” too is nearing its final moments, and as Pete sits alone eating American Pie and Don sings with good old military boys drinking whiskey, the audience is left wondering – much like it has done with McLean’s song itself – how to interpret the many details this penultimate episode provides.

Fans have put forth many dark theories about the show’s possible conclusion, and for those looking for ominous signs, “The Milk and the Honey Route” provides plenty. The bell tolls for Betty as she ascends the staircase at Fairfield University, shortly before she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Pete takes a job at a company that had one of its luxury jets crash just months earlier, and convinces his wife to move to Wichita the same weekend that city was also connected to an airline crash. Don is set up by an aspiring con man, jumped by a group of angry veterans, and ends up at a bus stop left with nothing but a bag from Sears. At every turn, there is a feeling of finality. “I know when it’s over,” Betty tells Sally. “It’s been a gift to me – to know when to move on.”

Yet by the end of the episode, Don is smiling, the Campbells are embracing, and Betty is telling her daughter that she loves her. Even Holly’s lyrics are optimistic (“Love like yours will surely come my way.”). It is a testament to this excellent episode that it is not so simply categorized as happy or dark, as uplifting or depressing. It is one, like many in its rear-view, that moves the viewer in a multitude of ways, that looks at life from both sides now. It is an hour that suggests that, even as the end approaches, individuals can evolve, that lessons can be passed on, and that – perhaps – you can in fact go home again.

Betty’s response to her diagnosis is the centerpiece of the episode – a wrenching possible farewell for one of the series’ most polarizing figures – and it demonstrates how far she has come in a decade. She spends much of Season 1 struggling with the recent loss of her own mother, and when her father tries to review his will and funeral arrangements with her in Season 3, she dismisses it as morbid. “I’m your little girl,” she responds then. “Can’t you keep it to yourself?”

But after a doctor tells Henry she has less than a year to live, Betty responds better than most people could be expected to. “I’ve learned to believe people when they tell you it’s over,” she says. “They don’t want to say it, so it’s usually the truth.” Like Anna Draper and Rachel Menken before her, Betty will succumb to cancer, but not before passing to Sally – on letterhead bearing her initials – instructions on how to behave when things happen quickly after she dies. For the reluctant housewife who once scolded her plastic bag-wearing daughter for potentially ruining her clothes, and for an impulsive mother who once fired the maid on the eve of a trip to Disneyland, Betty’s mature and measured (perhaps) final performance is a triumphant moment for her character and a suggestion that people can be at their best even when all else is at its worst. Sally also demonstrates great maturity, and it is noteworthy that when she sits with her brothers at the kitchen table, she sits in Betty’s seat.

After a life of inherited privilege and (apparently) predetermined promiscuity, Pete temporarily fights off Duck’s professional advances before realizing he has arrived at the crossroads of midtown and the Midwest. “How do you know when something is truly an opportunity?” he asks his brother, before they discuss how their constant desire for more may have been something passed on to them by their father. Duck first proposed the Lear-Jet marketing job to Pete during Season 6, but Pete – ever the Manhattanite (he chose to be with the city rather than his family during the Cuban Missile Crisis in Season 2) – was dismissive at the time (“Anything back here on Earth?” he retorted.). Duck’s advice then to a professionally-spiraling Pete was to spend more time at home. “One day,” says the recovering alcoholic Duck, “I looked in the mirror and realized I had regrets because I didn’t understand the wellspring of my confidence: my family.”

Pete’s journey has been the most fascinating example of the different values family can have. It is his mother’s family name (Dyckman) that saves him from being fired in Season 1, and he uses his relationship with his father-in-law as a bargaining chip throughout the series. He and Trudy struggle to build their own family, and he never recovers from her kicking him out of their home in Cos Cob. “I hate even the word ‘family,’” he tells Peggy in a Burger Chef during Season 7. “It’s vague.” But after a life of using family as a means to an end, the stars align for Peter Dyckman Campbell (“You are charmed, my friend,” Duck says) to relocate, restart and ask Trudy and Tammy to be his family again. “Because its origins were supernatural, I realize that its benefits may be as well,” he tells Trudy. Is it possible that the Dartmouth alum will have learned his most important lesson from an alcoholic, that the Manhattan elitist will only find true happiness living in Kansas, and that the woman he wants to go everywhere with is the one he has been running from since he spent the night with Peggy in the pilot episode? As Pete asks Trudy, who says things can’t be undone?

As Pete finds happiness in going home, Don too reverts back to his roots, rambling through the heartland and living the life of a hobo (albeit one who has a million dollars in the bank). He has been adept at reading people since his family’s farmhouse was visited by a traveler in Season 1’s “The Hobo Code,” one who informed a young Dick Whitman that his father was “a dishonest man.” So when Don enters the fundraiser and is warned by Dell that he’s “been a little dishonest” in explaining the purpose of the event, Don is already aware. He knows why the Sharon Motel conspired to keep “Don From New York” around long enough for their fundraiser, and he tells Andy he has poor instincts for a con man. During a season where Don has often reflected on his life not lived, he is faced with many examples of what his life may have been like if Dick Whitman had simply stayed out west, a hobo on that milk and honey route.

For better or for worse, Dick Whitman became Don Draper, though Don conveniently leaves that detail out when admitting to the fellow veterans that he killed his commanding officer in Korea. Don knows that living a lie is not a recommended path; he tells Andy that becoming somebody else isn’t what you think it is. “You cannot get off on that foot in this life,” Don tells him, shortly after correcting his English (twice) and shortly before giving him a Cadillac and an opportunity (“Don’t waste this.”). But Dick Whitman’s decision was one made out of necessity; as one veteran summarized, “You just do what you have to do to come home.”

The central question remaining is whether Don does in fact go to wherever he believes to be home. Does he return to California, where he has always seemed to be at his truest self? Does he return to his children, upon presumably learning of Betty’s diagnosis? Much like Don McLean’s song and Matthew Weiner’s series, the question is open to interpretation, and one the audience hopes to learn the answer to during the series finale. Until then, we are left with Don in Oklahoma, thinking of a man he admired most – the recent visit of Bert Cooper’s ghost – hopping on the next bus (but toward which coast?) the day, the music, died.

Notes:

  • The airlines have played a pivotal role in the relationship of Pete and Duck. Pete’s father died in an airline crash in Season 2’s “Flight 1.” Duck uses the tragedy as an opportunity to convince Sterling Cooper to pursue American Airlines – and Pete joins him in that ultimately unsuccessful pursuit. Here, Duck – now a corporate recruiter (he helped SC&P hire Lou Avery when Don was put on leave) – sneakily convinces Pete to take an in-house job at a luxury jet company by, among other things, using a private jet as a perk and by telling Pete he is on a streak where the line “just goes up.”
  • Don and the other veterans sing the military song “Over There” during an episode where Betty instructs Sally how to plan for her funeral. “Over There” also played during the end credits in Season 3’s “The Arrangements,” the episode when Betty’s father – a World War I veteran – passes away and plans are made for his funeral. This is the third consecutive week where a song has been reused from a past episode (“Stranger on the Shore” and “Lipstick”).
  • Betty’s cancer diagnosis is preceded by the nurse calling her Mrs. Robinson, a joke and one presumably in reference to “The Graduate” film and the Simon & Garfunkel song. Interestingly, the episode that last featured a former-Mrs. Draper passing away from cancer (Anna Draper in Season 4’s “The Suitcase”) ended with the song “Bleecker Street” – by Simon & Garfunkel.
  • A number of paperback novels are seen during Don’s time at the motel. James A. Michener’s “Hawaii” is on his nightstand, and Alberto Moravia’s “The Woman of Rome” is on the lap of the woman by the pool. Don vacationed with Megan in Hawaii in the Season 6 premiere “The Doorway,” and Don and Betty spent the final romantic moments of their marriage in Rome in Season 3’s “Souvenir.” Don also reads Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” and his Season 4 date Dr. Faye Miller suggested to Don that her father had mafia ties. Additionally, “The Woman of Rome” – another example of existentialist literature – focuses on a main character who, like Don, is the child of a prostitute.
  • Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” plays on the radio during the opening Don dream sequence. Haggard’s band was called the Strangers. During the previous episode, the ghost of Bert Cooper tells Don “You like to play The Stranger.”
  • In Season 3’s “Seven Twenty Three,” Don is knocked out in a motel room by a hitchhiker who is heading to Niagara Falls to avoid having to serve in Vietnam. The hitchhiker and his girlfriend steal Don’s money, but leave his car. Here, Don is accosted in a motel room by a group that presumably fulfilled their military service. They smack him – twice – with a phonebook and steal his car until he returns to them money he didn’t steal.
  • When on the phone with Sally, Don encourages her to sell her field hockey equipment, telling her “You have no idea about money.” It is similar, though not identical, to what Betty said to Don when she learns about his true past in Season 3’s “The Gypsy and The Hobo.” “I knew you were poor,” she says then. “I see how you are with money, you don’t understand it.”
  • In his Kansas motel, Don makes sure to drink Coors beer rather than Miller, the brand discussed in the meeting he walked out of during the previous episode. “I was in the advertising business,” he says, with significance placed on the past tense. However, even half-way across the country, he can’t escape the machine of McCann. He carries a Sears bag (the agency has that account) and he is tasked with fixing a Coke machine. It is the fourth consecutive week where Coca-Cola has been referenced in some capacity.
  • Pete tells Trudy that he loves her and that he hasn’t loved anyone else. However, during the Season 2 finale “Meditations In An Emergency,” Pete tells Peggy that he loves her. That is, of course, just before she tells him that she could have had him in her life if she wanted to and that she had given birth to his child – and given it away.
  • Trudy tells Pete: “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.” The series has always placed importance on how characters choose to view their pasts. After Peggy gave birth to Pete’s child, Don famously told her to forget it and to move forward. “It will shock you how much this never happened,” he says. Just last week, Roger suggested to Peggy how great the times were in the SC&P office, and Peggy more realistically points out that the good old days weren’t always good. Don’s most legendary pitch (for Kodak, in the Series 1 finale “The Wheel) relies on this power of nostalgia. In perhaps a preview of the series finale, Don pitches that nostalgia is “a twinge in your heart far more powerful that memory alone…it takes us to a place where we ache to go again…around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”

On The Road Again: Don Draper’s Back Pages

In TV on May 7, 2015 at 5:48 pm

BY RYAN BYRNES

Don has gone west - and may not be coming back. (Credit: AMC)

Don has gone west – and may not be coming back. (Credit: AMC)

Two weeks ago, my uncle (an English teacher) and I exchanged emails about one possible final Don Draper theory that we have been discussing. He proposed the following:

“Does Don Draper, who overcame every challenge he ever faced, finally cast off the ‘drape’ he’s been wearing since Korea, leave Madison Avenue, and as Dick Whitman, write the Great American Novel?”

It would be uncharacteristic for Matt Weiner to provide us with such an answer – that is, to let us know definitively whether Don will actually end up writing his literary masterpiece. But this week’s episode “Lost Horizon” is as textually deep as any in recent memory, and in addition to drawing on references to the show’s own past, this third-to-final installment of the series features its most obvious use of literature as a source of where Don has been and where it is he is going.

One of the many, many appeals of “Mad Men” is the role literature has played throughout the series. Frank O’Hara’s “Meditations In An Emergency” provides direct dialogue during Season 2 as well as the title of that season’s finale. Season 6 commenced with Don reading Dante’s “The Inferno” on a hot Hawaiian beach, setting the tone for the dark hell that would unfold during that tumultuous year of 1968. While Betty reads Fitzgerald, Joy reads Faulkner, and both Lane and Henry take time with Mark Twain.

“Lost Horizon” presents the latest group of literary references in a series full of them. The episode draws its title from the 1933 novel of the same name, where the main character arrives in Shangri-La, but eventually leaves to return to his real life. (Don watches the 1937 film “Lost Horizon” in the Season 7 premiere “Time Zones.”) Jim Hobart channels his inner Ahab, with Don as his “Moby Dick.” “I’ve been trying to get you for 10 years,” he says. “You’re my white whale, Don.” The ghost of Bert Cooper tells Don “You like to play The Stranger,” perhaps in reference to Albert Camus’ novel of the same name, a classic piece of the existentialist philosophy that has always been at the show’s core. “You remember ‘On the Road’?” Don asks Bert, referring to Jack Kerouac’s epic work about the very Beat culture that Don got high with and spoke down to back when he was hanging in the Village with Midge in 1960. “I’m riding the rails.”

But the ghost of Bert tells Don “I‘ve never read that book, you know that,” and Don does. Despite the generational gap between them, Don always connected more with Bert’s traditional business philosophy than he did with the counterculture that displaced both of them as the sixties unfolded. This was clear in Season 1’s “The Hobo Code” when Bert recommends that Don read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” a 1957 novel that helps shape Don’s views on capitalism. Its focus on the importance of individualism only emphasizes how out of place Don would be serving as a cog in a machine like McCann.

So once Don realizes the cog he has become – entering the Miller meeting as just another creative director with a roast beef sandwich and a Coke, listening to a researcher dictate a strategy, sitting as just one of many white shirts asked to bring the company “up a notch” – Don Draper as we know him is gone. He looks up at a plane flying over the Empire State Building, takes his box and goes home, to the many places he has lived (Westchester County, Pennsylvania, Illinois, perhaps eventually California). Unlike Roger, Don finally knew better than to get attached to and confined by walls, and he traded in the ship of advertising (“This was a hell of a boat,” says Roger) for his Cadillac, for a long drive on the road again. For much of the series, there has been a reason for Don to turn back around. He had an account to land, a business to build, a child to raise, a woman to see, a wife to apologize to.

But Don was so much older then, he’s younger than that now. In fact, he told us he was going to do this way back when he was first courted by McCann in Season 1. In the episode “Shoot,” Don uses McCann’s offer as leverage to get a raise from Roger, who asks Don why he decided to stay with Sterling Cooper. “I like the way you do business,” Don says. “If I leave this place one day, it will not be for more advertising.” Roger, always confined by the walls with his last name on them, asks what else there could be outside of advertising. “Life being lived,” Don answers. “I’d like to stop talking about it and get back to it.

“I want to do something else.”

It appears that Don is finally doing that something else, whatever it is. An enraged Hobart asks a finally-arriving Roger whether Don and company have pulled off “the con of the century.” Perhaps they have. Perhaps Hobart spent a decade and a fortune chasing a phantom that was never really there. Perhaps the greatest trick Don Draper ever pulled was convincing McCann – and all of us – that Don Draper actually did exist.

Early in the episode, Hobart tells Don to drop McCann’s name into his, but by the end he’s referring to himself as a salesman named Bill. Don has left McCann, left New York, and perhaps – as my uncle had suggested – left behind his drape and his Draper. He will likely never get that lunch with Joan, never watch Bobby play baseball, or be at McCann to oversee Peggy’s climb up the creative ladder. “Knock ‘em dead, Birdie,” he tells Betty. It’s probably the last we will see him say to her, as he is the one who has flown west.

The preview for next week’s penultimate episode did not include a single shot of Don, and despite how notoriously misleading those previews can be, it is entirely possible that the show focuses only on other characters next week and leaves Don’s conclusion for the series finale. Whether he is Don, Dick or someone else entirely, it is clear we have made it to the back pages of our main character. And I can’t wait to see how this great American story ends.

Notes:

  • An episode that makes many subtle references to outer space ends with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” We see the ghost of Cooper, who passed away shortly after seeing the moon landing and who once eulogized the departed secretary Ida Blankenship as “an astronaut.” We hear of Conrad Hilton, who once expressed disappointment with Don’s Hilton pitch that failed to deliver “the moon.” We watch Don go AWOL in a manner we haven’t seen since he left Pete at an aeronautics convention in Season 2’s “The Jet Set.”
  • The song playing during Peggy’s epic entrance into McCann is David Carbonara’s “Lipstick,” which was also played during Season 1’s “Babylon,” the episode where Peggy first makes a name for herself on the Belle Jolie lipstick account.
  • Don checks the windows in his new office in a scene that seemed to be included by the writers just to troll those who have believed since the show’s inception that Don is destined to jump out of a window, just like the man falling out of the building in the show’s opening credits. Indeed, it seems as if he’s now escaped the skyscrapers such an act would require, so Roger’s two-story jump off a Navy ship in 1944 may be the closest fans get to a major character taking such a drop.
  • Joan’s storyline is the most prominent example in an episode that deals with women’s struggle for equality in the workplace specifically and women’s independence generally. She references a feminist liberation sit-in at “Ladies Home Journal”, and that the ACLU helped a group of women settle a class action lawsuit against “Newsweek.” Peggy delays her arrival at McCann, where all indications are that they perceive her as a glorified secretary. Shirley proactively leaves advertising to find a professional setting that will be more comfortable. Betty tells Don that they “can’t get mad at [Sally] for being independent,” as Betty herself studies to attain a Master’s degree in psychology.
  • In reference to Sally, Betty tells Don that “[s]he just comes and goes as she pleases.” This same phrase was said by copywriter Michael Ginsberg in Season 5’s “The Other Woman,” then in reference to Megan. The line is significant because it contributes to their eventual successful Jaguar pitch (“At last, something beautiful you can truly own.”). It is notable that the writers would repeat this phrase during the same episode where the topic of how Joan obtained her partnership was discussed (given the role the Jaguar account played in that development).
  • Hobart mentions Hilton as one of the clients Don will be able to work with now that he is at McCann. McCann was the reason Hilton severed his ties with Don in the first place. In the Season 3 finale “Shut The Door, Have A Seat,” Hilton moves his New York business elsewhere upon hearing the news that McCann was going to buy Putnam Powell and Lowe, which owned Sterling Cooper at that time.
  • In Season 1’s “Shoot,” where Jim Hobart first courts Don to join McCann, he tells him: “You’ve done your time in the farm leagues. Yankee Stadium is on the line.” It’s not a coincidence this week that we see Ed, the copywriter left stranded making long-distance calls after not being invited to the “Yankee Stadium” of McCann, eventually leave SC&P with nothing else but his bag and a New York Mets cap.
  • While Roger plays the organ, Peggy skates around the office in a manner that is reminiscent of how she circles a commercial shoot riding a Honda scooter in Season 4’s “The Chrysanthemum and The Sword.” Roger opposed the agency’s pursuit of the Honda account due to resentments he still harbors against the Japanese stemming from his military service in the Pacific, an experience he brings up to Peggy during this week’s episode. The painting of Bert’s that Roger gives to Peggy (“The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife”) is also of Japanese origin.
  • Though Peggy and Roger rarely spent time together onscreen (she even makes a comment about how he so rarely paid her any attention), he tends to bring out the best in her. The last time they shared similar time together, we saw Peggy leveraging $400 cash out of him for secret creative work on the Mohawk Airlines account. Here he throws her a smaller stack of cash and settles for Vermouth.
  • The hitchhiker Don picks up at the end of the episode is the latest in a long list of noteworthy passengers he’s given rides to over the years. In Season 2’s “The New Girl,” he and Bobbie Barrett end up in the drunk tank after a boozy ride to her beach house in Stony Brook. In Season 3’s “Seven Twenty Three,” Don is drugged and robbed by a pair of hitchhikers he drives to a roadside motel. Later that season, he offers to drive the epileptic brother of his then-mistress Suzanne, dropping him off with a wad of cash somewhere between Westchester County and Bedford, Massachusetts. In Season 5’s “Commissions and Fees,” he offers a lift to Glen Bishop from the Upper East Side to the Hotchkiss School, though Glen ends up being the one taking the wheel.
  • The Bauer home that Don visits in Racine shares some visual similarity with the former Draper residence in Ossining, and Don’s rouse of impersonating a salesman to get into the house reminds the viewer of the time Don scolded Betty during Season 1 for allowing a salesman into their home when he was not there.
  • The scene in Racine also shared similarities with another one of Dick Whitman’s former homes: the brothel he was raised in in Pennsylvania. In the Season 6 finale “In Care Of,” a man being removed from the bordello turns to a teenage Dick on the front stoop and tells him “The only unpardonable sin is to believe God cannot forgive you.” Here, a similarly religious ex-husband of Diana approaches Don on another lawn and tells him that Don cannot save Diana. “Only Jesus can,” he says. “He’ll help you too. Ask him.” He also mentions losing his daughter to God and his wife to the devil, during an episode where the Sterling Cooper folks learn that the self-described “advertising heaven” of McCann is actually their hell. St. Paul is mentioned as a destination. For good measure, during Don’s foreboding check of his new office window, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is featured in the background, suggesting Don may find Jesus after all.

What’s In A Name: The End of Sterling Cooper

In TV on May 4, 2015 at 12:03 am

BY RYAN BYRNES

Don and the other partners react to their "victory." (Credit: AMC)

Don and the other partners react to their “victory.” (Credit: AMC)

In the Season 3 finale “Shut the Door, Have a Seat,” Sterling Cooper’s major players are saved from being acquired by McCann Erickson by Don’s idea to have Lane Pryce sever their contracts and to secretly start their own agency. In this week’s episode “Time & Life,” directed by the actor (Jared Harris) who played Lane Pryce himself, Don, Roger and company reach for one more trick up their sleeve, but come up as empty as their two floors of the Time-Life Building soon will be.

“What’s in a name?” Don asks toward the end of an episode. For Sterling Cooper, a lot. As the partners say goodbye to each other at the bar, they are not only saying goodbye to the name of of their agency, but to the company itself that has kept them together through the years, despite their personal feelings toward each other at the time. It’s an agency that has continued to find ways to survive, often against all odds (“We’ve done this before, you know we can,” says Don). It averted the sale by Putnam Powell and Lowe to McCann in 1963. It stuck it out through the loss of Lucky Strike in 1965. It mucked through a messy merger in 1968 in time to make itself attractive enough to be bought by McCann as an independent subsidiary in 1969. “Boldness is always rewarded,” Roger tells Ken, and for SC, it often has been. But Don and his colleagues long ago sold their souls to the company store, and this week they find themselves absorbed by the agency they for so long were determined to stay away from.

“Time & Life” is a “Mad Men” fanatic’s dream, with plenty of nods to classic episodes of the series’ past. We have Roger and Pete attempting to lure Ken’s account to their new agency, just as Roger and Don sought Pete and his accounts when they last broke off. We see Peggy and Pete having a confidential chat on a couch for the first time since they similarly sat when she told them that she had given birth to his child. And we close at a bar where we have seen Don and Roger so many times before, like when Don inadvertently encouraged Roger to leave Mona for Jane, or when Roger inadvertently informed Don that Betty was leaving him for Henry. Here, Roger leaves Don to go see Marie, but not before he turns and says three words to Don in a manner they were once said by Don himself: “You are okay.”

Roger’s words and tone provide perhaps the episode’s most thematic hat tip to the series’ past, as he echoes the same words in the same way as they are delivered by Don during a Lucky Strike pitch in the first episode of the series, suggesting the words have stuck with Roger through all these years:

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”

When Don says those words in 1960, he is attempting to convince himself as much as he is trying to convince the tobacco executives. But a decade has passed, and our main character does not appear any closer to truly believing the words that Roger tells him. Each of the partners leave the bar to check on a child or meet a significant other for a date. Don finds himself seeking out a fling who is no longer there. Rather than listening to what Roger tells him, Don might be more hung up on his final words from Lou: “Enjoy the rest of your miserable life.”

I anticipated that these final seven episodes would be focused on the central characters’ respective searches for happiness outside of the workplace. I’m surprised that we had an episode this work-centric this late in the series, but it provides a definitive endpoint for all of the characters’ professional arcs. Jim Hobart emphasizes that point. “It’s done – you passed the test,” he says, before telling them they have died and gone to advertising heaven. “Stop struggling – you won.”

Even as they achieve the money and resources and accounts and receive five of the most coveted jobs in advertising, the partners reflect a feeling of defeat rather than victory. It is perhaps a suggestion that money can only buy so much – and that their late partner was on to something when he spoke to Don last year saying “the best things in life are free.”

Notes:

  • The song playing in the background while Peggy tells Stan she gave birth to a child is “Stranger On the Shore” by Acker Bilk. The song was also played during the Season 2 finale “Mediations In An Emergency,” which was the episode where Peggy informed Pete that she had given birth to their child.
  • The feud alluded to by the headmaster at the private school Pete and Trudy visit appears to be the Campbell-MacDonald feud of Scottish fame, specifically the massacre at Glencoe in 1692. The massacre took place in Glen Coe, in the Highlands of Scotland. Interestingly, “Coe” is the name by which Ken refers to Pete in this short story he wrote in Season 5.
  • Peggy instructs the children to “do what you would do if we weren’t watching.” It’s reminiscent of when she and the other secretaries were secretly monitored “playing” with lipstick during Season 1, when Peggy’s behavior lead to her being put on the Belle Joilie lipstick account and launched her copywriting career.
  • Jim Hobart looks at Don when he tells him they will now be servicing the account of Coca-Cola. During the Season 1 episode “Shoot,” Hobart uses Betty as a model in Coca-Cola ads in attempt to persuade Don to leave Sterling Cooper for McCann. It symbolizes that McCann has finally acquired Don after a 10-year pursuit.
  • As the partners drink at the bar, a Heinz ketchup bottle sits on the table – a symbol of much smaller battle they also fell short in pursuit of.
  • This episode confirmed two plot points that have been suspected this season. One, that Ted has divorced his wife; he makes reference to his ex-wife living in California. Two, that Jim Cutler was bought out when the firm was purchased by McCann at the end of last season. “Jim Cutler wins again,“ Roger says. “All of that cash and no McCann.”
  • It was Lane Pryce himself who punches out Pete during their conference room boxing match during Season 5’s “Signal 30”, so it was only right here to see an episode directed by the actor who played Lane include a scene where Pete settles a dispute with a punch to the face.
  • “Greenwich, Connecticut is built on divorce money!” – The latest in a litany of great one-liners from Peter Dyckman Campbell.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers