Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mad Men: The Inheritance

Before we get into the spoilers for "The Inheritance", tonight's Mad Men offering, a lot people discussed the often contentious relationship between the creatives and the sales people when it comes to advertising. One aspect around the entire Don Draper character is that he's both. He controls the relationships with the clients, as he understands that the one who owns the creative, owns the clients, and the one who owns the relationships, owns the clients. This was on full detail tonight when he was prepping Pete Campbell, an account executive on a business trip. "You're there to sell," Don tells him. And when Pete refers to the client as "controlling the purse strings", Don vehemently reminds him, "No...they're the customer."

"Nothing's changed. We were just pretending."

Don and Betty are still separated, but another stroke from Betty's father brings them together, at least for perhaps a final visit to her parent's house. This is the second stroke for her father, and Betty, who's had just about enough of all of the secrets being kept from her, is reaching the breaking point. This second stroke happened three days before Betty found out about it. Now her father is so far gone he confuses Betty for his dead wife (even groping her in an uncomfortable scene), but he does at least recognize something she can take to heart about Don. "He has no people!" he shouts regarding her husband, "You can't trust a person like that." Betty lets Don sleep in the same room as her at her father's place, but not the same bed. Don has what seems like a dream where Betty approaches him in the middle of the night, looking for physical affection as if to suggest all is forgiven. But on second viewing, it appears not to be a dream, that Betty needs this sort of interaction after the long day at her father's.

But the family maid -- who's really the only person left at her family's house who Betty trusts -- let's her in on the truth. "It's just going to get worse" regarding her father. "It's all good outside that door." Those last words give Betty the strength to keep Don from coming back in. She realizes this is just the opportunity for him to use his charms to come back home. But Betty's at least recharged: "I know how you feel about grieving."

So Don's still out of the house, but he still lives by the Draper "Moving Forward" mantra. For the first time we can remember, he shows up to work not in a classic grey suit, but rather a sports coat and pants. Don notices a print piece for the Rocket Fair in Los Angeles he was sending Pete and Paul to attend, but true to his mantra, decides to go "move forward" and go on the trip himself. Don says his motto is "moving forward", but an even better one for him is "running away."

This pushes Paul out of the trip, but offers him a chance to go to a rally with his girlfriend Shelia in Mississippi. Interesting note here: James H. Meredith was the first black student at the University of Mississippi on October 1, 1962. The event was a flash point in the civil rights movement. Considering last week's episode took place during the suicide of Marilyn Monroe, it's suggested we're close to this moment in history at this point of the series.

Pete meanwhile is dealing with his own family issues. He won't even consider adoption ("It's someone else's child"), and even admits to Peggy of all people that he hates his mother, and admits his worry about flying on an airplane for the first time since his father died. Peggy being Peggy eases his anxiety ("Statistically speaking, it's not likely to happen twice in the same family"), but Pete still doesn't think another crash would be the "worst thing that could happen."

Betty is still drinking during the day, but she's at least cleaning up better than she has the past few episodes. Then that creepy kid Glen shows up. Betty invites him in after he admits he's been running away, even cleaning his clothes and putting him into one of Don's own undershirts. It isn't until Glen tries to hold Betty's hand that she realizes this kid is more lost than she had ever been. Betty calls Glen's mom Helen Bishop to come get him. "I hate you," Glen tells Betty. "I know," Betty replies. "I'm sorry." Finally Betty finds somebody she can let in on her own little secret, telling Helen, "Don isn't living here."

The episode ends with Pete and Don flying off to California. Pete's nervously wearing a blindfold in flight, while Don's smokes another cigarette, looking out the window at all he's running away from.

Highlights and notes:

  • Cooper walking in during Harry Crane's baby shower: "I just want to say, Happy Birthday."

  • Joan making it a point to simply walk by when Shelia comes to the office to meet Paul for lunch. She always has to know everything that's going on at Sterling Cooper.

  • Well, we did at least get the Roger and Jane affair confirmed, and oh the look on Joan's face when Harry got that Tiffany's box from them.

  • Joan didn't need to type up a memo explaining to Paul why he wasn't going to California. Going right up to him at Harry's party was the only way to go.

  • Pete: "Everything's so easy for you." Peggy: "It's no easy for anyone, Pete."

  • Another episode for January Jones as Betty to shine. Seriously, if she's at least not nominated for an Emmy next year, the entire voting's a joke.
  • As always, the episode title reveals everything, and here it's all about what we pass down to our children. But what is it that Don Draper/Dick Whitman inherited?

  • Glen admitting to Betty that he doesn't like ham. Interesting parallel between Don's son asking what his own father liked to eat in the "Three Sundays" episode: "Ham".

1 comment:

The Rush Blog said...

"Joan making it a point to simply walk by when Shelia comes to the office to meet Paul for lunch. She always has to know everything that's going on at Sterling Cooper."

Or perhaps it was a way for her to show her contempt toward Sheila for dating Paul. We all know how Joan really feels about the Paul/Sheila relationship. She made that perfectly clear in "Flight 1".