This week on Mad Men the motto is ask and you shall receive. “Field Trip” fulfilled our heart’s desires, but not in the way we wanted. Don managed to roll with the punches,but not everyone else did.
- Director: Christopher Manley
- Writer: Heather Jeng Bladt and Matthew Weiner
- Cast: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Robert Morse, Rich Sommer, Aaron Staton, Kiernan Shipka, Christopher Stanley, Jessica Parè, Kevin Rahm, Jay R. Ferguson, Mason Vale Cotton, Ben Feldman, Harry Hamlin, Teyonah Parris, Allan Havey, Sola Bamis, Anne Dudek, Trevor Einhorn, David James Elliot, Jonathan McClain, Pat Skipper, Beth Hall, Evan Londo, Ryder Londo, Kit Williamson, Stephanie Drake, Rachel Dipillo, Kristen Ford, Pamela Shaddock, Jim Metzler
Episode Title: “Field Trip”
Betty and Don take unexpected trips as the partners weigh an asset.
- Office Hijinks: So Don is back at work. For some reason we scoffed more at the partners terms (no drinking, pre-approved scripts, never alone with clients, answering to Lou, Lane’s old office) than Don. That could have to do with his weariness at seeing another afternoon movie. Making Don pay his dues by sitting idly in the creative office was an eye opening device. Peggy spouted that line about no one missing him but we could see her soul creaming for an equal through the screen. Even though Don spotted Dawn’s name on the door of her new office he didn’t hesitate to rely on her secretarial services—that will have to change. The look on Joan’s face at the sight of Don was the real problem; she’s still hurt by his disregard for the company she gave her body to secure. Running to Bert didn’t change it, nor did Lou’s plea to Jim. Joan and Don’s impending confrontation will be fantastic, but Don and Lou’s coexistence looks murky. With Lou only submitting ads for Cleo’s that he can claim, Don’s return to demand everyone’s excellence will make the office exciting again.
- The Men: Of course the only reason Don is back at all is Roger. Since Don’s dismissal at the end of the season we’ve been wondering when their union would be repaired. We were pleasantly surprised when Don left his Wells Rich Greene dinner for Roger’s hotel room instead of the penthouse suite of the pretty blonde Emily Arnett that interrupted his job offer. It took but a few sparing words for these two to get back on the same side. Which is a good thing because Roger’s shouts where the only thing that got Don back into Sterling Cooper & Price, considering Jim and Joan already considered Don fired. Finally we were gifted an inkling of how Roger came to terms with Don’s shove off in the first place; he offers that he never would have agreed to firing Don. It’s because like Peggy, Roger truly misses his counterpart. It seems like bringing Don back into the fray could restore some balance, like his presence could restore Roger’s level of importance. They’re two men on a downswing looking to come up together again and though Don is attempting to live right whether or not Roger upsets Don’s progress can’t dampen the appeal of seeing them together.
- The Little Woman: If Don hadn’t had such an eclipsing second half hour in the office our sole focus would have been Megan. Her agent drew Don to the coast to calm her, but Megan’s happiness and afternoon delight made us and Don forget about that. That is until the second after their bliss was over, when the true root to his visit was revealed. Megan accosts Don with his obvious absence from the office, forcing him to confess his forced leave at last. Watching her ask Don to return to New York was powerful; her words of dismissal were so final we were surprised she even answered Don’s call when he returned to the city. She spurred Don to action, and their subsequent phone call felt like the first time they were honest with each other simultaneously. They’re still in a state of disrepair, and with him still not in California this season of consequences might amount to more for Mr. Draper.
- Mommy Dearest: Watching Betty try to be a mother is like waiting for a baboon to talk. One could prostrate over the writers reusing the motherhood. But with Sally out of the line of fire there are endless ways Betty can ruin her boys. Her kneejerk reaction after using her children to explain away not finding a career—and casting doubt on the mothering skills of a woman who would—was to throw herself into parenting. Going on Bobby’s field trip is such a deviation from her norm then ending was inevitable. We weren’t taken in by the engaging way Betty questioned Bobby on his favorite comic book character on the bus to the farm. Wolman is a great answer, but Betty still managed to poke at the teacher’s bra-less state to Bobby and looked to be the only adult smoking on the bus. Betty volunteered to drink the fresh milk, giving Bobby enough feeling of importance to rip it away by punishing him for trading what he thought was his second sandwich for gumdrops. Making him eat candy he didn’t want while haughtily smoking behind sunglasses is more Betty’s speed. Punishing Bobby for thinking she wouldn’t eat, rubbing his nose in it, and clinging to Gene might have sparked her husband’s attention. Still Betty doesn’t get it. Will she ever change at all?
- Departments: Did you spot Harry? If you blinked thrice you would have missed him. Luckily for the head of the media department his few scenes were moments of strength. The way he mouthed off to Jim was admirable. We were more impressed with his readiness to lie to the clients about his department’s inner workings. Finally, it looks like someone is taking stock in Harry’s tremendously valuable media outfit; we just wish it wasn’t Jim. On the upside Don made Ken smile! Maybe Mr. Cosgrove isn’t a total loss yet, though it’s hard to imagine keeping a straight face when gazing upon Ken’s bald twin, little Eddie. Take note, Ken’s carousel pictures caused mention of Don’s stellar Kodak pitch from Season 1. Clocking in at the second time in three episodes, might there be a reprisal of Don’s most famous pitch in the works?
- Jim: “What are you smiling about?” Harry: “Did you not call for a fireman?”
- “It’s okay Don, this is the way it ends. It’s going to be so much easier for both of us.”—Megan
“Field Trip” gave us exactly what we needed: A Betty sighting and Don back in the office. With Lou on a two year contract, before long one of them will be selling newspapers in the lobby soon; they won’t be able to share power in creative forever. Much like the company’s infatuated front desk girl, we couldn’t care less how Don made it happen, so long as he’s there. Henry sees through Betty’s attempt at mothering, though it will be interesting if anything comes of it. From here the way forward is murky, but that makes it all the more exciting.
Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.
What did you think of the episode?