Mad Men Recap: Spilled Milk

Mad Men Season 7 RecapDon spends a good amount of time in this week’s Mad Men wandering aimlessly around the Sterling Cooper & Partners office, and for a while, I worried that his seeming lack of purpose in that setting was an unintentional allegory for Jon Hamm’s in the episode.

After all, Hamm is an actor we’ve seen deliver stunningly beautiful monologues and sell heartbreaking lows; though I realize his every scene can’t be Emmy submission fodder, watching him marinate in the mundane seemed a waste.

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Then, the episode’s final scene came along, and suddenly, everything became clear. This Don, who waits semi-patiently, flipping through magazines and looking at pictures of Ken’s dumb kid, is a different man than the one who was ordered out of SC&P at the end of 1968.

Is he a better man? Jury’s still out – although he makes his case for “being good” at several points during the installment, we’ve all been down Draper’s road of redemption before… and we know how many booze-and-girls-filled rest stops there are along the way. But I almost don’t care whether he’s dry or soaked in Scotch, virtuous or knee-deep in stewardesses – because Don is back at the firm, and maybe now we can get back to business as usual.

Read on for how things went down in “Field Trip.”

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THE END… AGAIN | Alan Silver, Megan’s agent in California, has some troubling news for Don: When Megan felt she bombed an audition, she made an embarrassing nuisance of herself trying to get another shot with the director. “You have to tell her to relax,” Alan informs Don, who looks as flummoxed by the task as the agent seems. So Don flies to the West Coast, surprises his wife with flowers and a little couch sex – “What happened? You get fired?” she jokes upon seeing him in her bungalow – but quickly flies into a post-coital rage when he reveals that Alan called him. (Psst, Don: You saying that she’s “acting like a lunatic” probably doesn’t soothe any hurt feelings.)

Pretty soon, they’re arguing about their marriage in general, with Megan demanding to know why it’s so quiet when he calls. “I was your secretary, remember? I know what you’re like when you’re left alone,” she spits. He confesses that he’s been “on leave” since December and tries to earn a gold star by noting, “I’ve been good! I haven’t even been drinking that much!” (Fantastic take on that line, Hamm.) What he doesn’t realize is how deep he’s dug his hole. “So with a clear head, you got up every day and decided you didn’t want to be with me,” Megan infers, moments before throwing him out and telling him to go back to New York. “This is the way it ends. It’s going to be so much easier for both of us.”

Later in the episode, Don calls and apologizes. He wants to come back out and see her. “I can’t believe, after all this time, you don’t know me,” she says tearfully, turning him down and refusing to echo his “I love you” before she hangs up.

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OH MOO SHE DIDN’T | Betty (!!) lunches with her pal Francine, who’s working three days in an office as a travel agent. As her kids get older, Francine says, “There’s less and less to do. I really needed a challenge.” Betty sniffs that Gene’s still too young for her to even consider such a thing, and aren’t kids rewards in their own right? (Subtext: FRANCINE, BETTY JUDGES YOU.)

When Bobby’s class needs chaperones for a field trip to a farm, Betty volunteers. Bobby beams throughout most of the day, even as his mom chain-smokes her way through the morning and makes snide comments about his teacher’s lack of a bra. (Subtext: BOBBY’S TEACHER AND HER BOOBS, BETTY JUDGES YOU.) The little boy seems incredibly happy to have 15 consecutive minutes of time in which his mom isn’t making him feel like manure… until lunch rolls around. Bobby boneheadedly trades Betty’s sandwich for some gumdrops, a crime she will not let him forget as even after they get home. (Subtext: BOBBY… eh, you already know the deal with your ice-queen mom.)

When Henry asks what’s the matter, Betty wonders why her kids don’t love her.  (Side note: I’d put passive-aggressive statements like, “It was a perfect day, and he ruined it” at the top of my list, Bets.) Henry assures her she’s wrong and points to Gene, who’s cozied up next to her like a milk-drunk kitten. She sighs it’s only “a matter of time” before he can’t stand her, too.

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BACK IN THE FOLD | Another dinner with Dave Wooster nets Don an offer from Wells Rich Greene, which Don takes directly to Roger’s place and demands to know whether or not he should accept. They yell a bit, but their lovers’ spat ends on a touching note. “You want to come back? Come back. I miss you,” Rog tells his sometime co-worker.

So on Monday morning, Don arrives at the office… only to find that Roger’s not there yet. This means Draper must bide his time in the creative workroom, listening to Ginsberg parse a campaign, getting ogled by the secretaries and having very stilted interactions with the other employees – namely, Joan (Side note: Anyone else a little surprised by how vehemently she argues against his reinstatement?) and Peggy, who informs him, “I can’t say that we miss you.”

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COMEBACK, KID? | When Roger shows up, he, Joan, Jim and Bert meet about their Draper dilemma: Keep him and run the risk of him going bananas with a client (a la the Hershey pitch) or oust him and buy out his shares of the company, a not-cheap endeavor? Finally, they call Don into the conference room with their decision: He can come back, as long as he agrees to stipulations. Some of the strictures just make sense (like how he can’t drink in the office unless he’s entertaining a client), some seem  like an overreaction (such as how he must stick to an approved script when he’s with clients… and he can never be alone with clients) and some seem designed to make him balk and walk away (he’ll be in Lane’s office of sadness, and he has to report to Lou?!).

Don considers it all, then simply says, “OK.”

And with those two syllables, Mad Men considerably ups my interest in this season. Don – and the series — are best when he’s in the office, doing his thing, however well or badly. And now we’ll get to see how well SC&P’s prize show pony dances when his bridle is tightened. Now, who wants to put money on the probability of a Draper-Olson throwdown in the next episode or so?

Now it’s your turn. Does the fact that Harry’s right about the firm’s lack of emphasis on media make him any less annoying? Is Peggy ever gonna get a Clio with her name on it? And where can I get Joan’s boots? Sound off in the comments!


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. stevie says:

    damn, what a boring episode. what the hell happened to mad men..?

  2. N tTVf says:

    Perhaps the slow motion of going back to SC&P will give Don the excuse to make a go of it on his own with his own firm – maybe/probably taking Roger with him. That’s my guess.

    However, I’m still hoping Don will leave SC&P and join Wells Rich Greene – now there’s a cool, cutting-edge firm to work for. Don working for Mary Wells – now, that is story worth telling and watching.

    • moose says:

      I like Don to go to work at Wells Rich Greene too, but I doubt they’d have him actually work at a non-fictional agency.

  3. Mike says:

    Am I the only one that was more upset for Don than he was. He practically created that firm and they all act like he’s unwanted. Yes, he made a mistake. But come on people, this is the creative genius behind this company. I just found it sad. The fact that he has to report to that paranoid bore of a creative leader is a joke.

    • april-ann says:

      I agree. It’s getting a little depressing. I used to hate any time smug ass Cliff Barnes was triumphant over J.R. Luckily, that never lasted long and hopefully Don being down won’t either. I have to believe he has a plan, and I can’t wait to see it unfold. I find it the most fun when Don is at the top of his game.

  4. Forwardad says:

    What is up with Joan and Peggy? Why are they so bitchy?

    • Rachie says:

      I thought the same thing!

    • andy j says:

      Its their time of the month?

    • Joan has been upset with Don since he fired Jaguar, the client that other partners literally put her in bed with. She does not know he tried to stop her. Don was a mess last year, creating mergers without permission and axing clients. Joan realized he thinks of himself and rarely others. He’s bad for business.

      Though the new creative lead doesn’t nurture Peggy, Don has mistreated her too. He threw the money in her face, shamed Ted about their relationship and forced her to return to Sterling Cooper after she had moved on.

      Like Megan mentioned, all the women who have served as his receptionist see Don more clearly. And all of these women, at some point, have worked that job.

      Their reactions are natural

      • MRC says:

        Thank-you!! I couldn’t figure out why Joan was hostile.. .. .I forgot Don fired Jaguar. Now Joan’s attitude makes total sense. I still can’t figure out Peggy, but I always thought she was a selfish whiner. . . . don’t get me wrong. . .she isn’t treated equally to a man in her position, but when things don’t go her way she seems to whine instead of fix it. Things are going bad with Lou, so let’s be a jerk to Don. I am heart broken because my married boyfriend didn’t leave his wife. . so let’s be a jerk to the secretary.

        • Matt says:

          That’s the problem with how this show airs. I can’t remember things either. I remember that Peggy did some things that make me not like her as much as I used to but I also can’t remember why. All I know is that Joan is the only character on this show that I truly like all the time. But seriously I can’t recall why I don’t like Peggy completely.

          • Cameron says:

            Yeah, my biggest issue with Mad Men has been the long wait between each season, I can’t really remember what happened at the end of the prior season.

      • The Beach says:

        Was Joan not wearing makeup last night? Something just looked a little “off” with her.

        • Alyssa says:

          She was wearing a pattern, which is unusual. And her knees were showing, which I don’t think we’ve seen. It was a very un-Joan-like outfit.

          • herman1959 says:

            The timeframe is now around 1970 and fashion has shifted to plainer hairstyles, shorter skirts, and large prints everywhere. Joan’s original Marilyn Monroe-type style is out, but she is still trying to dress in the current style (like most women). I think she looked better in a suit.

    • april-ann says:

      Yes they’re bitchy – but I was still thrilled to get even a few seconds of them in this latest installment of The Megan Show.

    • Brea says:

      Plus, Peggy thinks Don made Ted go to California, but doesn’t know that Ted asked to go.

  5. GeoDiva says:

    I keep watching, but I’m not sure why. Guess I keep hoping that one of these episodes will be “The Suitcase”.

  6. Rachie says:

    I was really annoyed most of the episode to be honest. I hated when Don married Megan & have been looking forward to the demise of that marriage for a while now.. but even the way that went down pissed me off. I’m not saying his lying to her was okay, I just think his reasoning was understandable. What Man wants to look like failure to their wife?! Peggy used to be my favorite actor/actress on the show aside from Don, but they have made her an annoying miserable beeeatch. This episode’s bright spots for me were Roger standing up for Don & Don taking things in stride. December 1968 Don would have told them all to shove it, so that definitely shows me some kind of change. I’m looking forward to Don getting back to kicking some but as well, after all as he said in this episode, there wouldn’t have been an SC&P if not for Mr. Draper.

    • april-ann says:

      Something tells me Don and Megan are not over. Even if they are (which I seriously doubt), and even if something happens to her (which has been foreshadowed for so long I’m doubting that, too), I fully believe she will still be there, ie. in flashbacks, or as a ghost “haunting” Don.

  7. Katie says:

    I guess Don let down Peggy so I get that she isn’t happy with him but shouldn’t she be happy of the possibility of having Don around instead of Lou? Lou is really unfair and dismissive of Peggy. I really don’t get Joan’s problem with Don though, that surprised me.

  8. anna says:

    Joan needs to get over herself. Who is she to judge Don when she’s the one who slept her way to the top.

    It’s obvious something bad is going to happen to Megan so Don can reunite with her. It doesn’t matter how much the audience doesn’t care about her, Weiner loves her.

    Would it kill Weiner to give Betty something to do other than take his mommy issues out on her??

  9. Again, Joan did that as a sacrifice, and Don undid everything that was for because he found Jaguar annoying. She has resented him ever since.

    • MM says:

      A sacrifice usually involves some sort of selfless act. She didn’t sleep with that guy out of the goodness of her heart. She did it to get something in return — she said yes only after they agreed to make her a partner so the statement of sleeping her way to the top is fair. It may have disgusted her but no one was forcing her, or threatening her job if she didn’t do it. Don’s no saint, but neither is Joan so I find her resentment towards him to be a little eye rolling.

      • Pat says:

        So interesting how people judge Joan yet no judging of Draper who’s done the very same thing in various ways — he’s pimped and whored and been a john in order to get clients. But yeah, judge Joan.

        • Sara says:

          My problem with Joan is that she did nothing to deserve a partnership. Just because she was a secretary there for however many years does not mean she deserved to be a partner. Not only that, but she is not an equal partner to Don or the other head guys. She has one of the smallest percentages of the company. That she thinks her vote counts as much as Roger’s is laughable.

  10. cuius says:

    Quoting a local newspaper – “‘Mad Men has become a soap'”

  11. TD says:

    I was very disappointed in the Betty story. This episode has turned her into a one-dimensional character. I’ve never been overly fond of the character, truth be told–I’ve leaned toward the “she’s a rhymes-with-bitch” camp but have always kept the realization that there were more layers to her character than simply that. She was certainly emotionally abused by Don and his affairs. She often seemed genuinely concerned about her kids even when she would not treat them well. But in this episode, her treatment of Bobby in the sandwich incident was just plain and simply whiny, pouty, selfish, rhymes-with-witchy, and childish. Then when she wonders why they don’t love her–what a joke. After this, she is just simply a selfish you know what.

    • NJ idoloonie says:

      I think Don and Betty will get back together at some point again

      • Amy says:

        I’m really surprised no one has noted that Francine referred to Betty as “Betty Draper” though she’s been Mrs. Francis for quite some time. There’s something to it, but it feels less like a foreshadowing note, and more of a harkening back to a different time in the ladies’ relationship.

    • greening says:

      Remember when early in the series, Betty saw a psychiatrist, who told Don she had the mind of a child? The way she reacted to Bobby’s trade — thoughtless, but probably based on how he saw her long weight-loss journey — was exactly the way another, younger child might have reacted. Nothing she has gone through causes her to mature and react like an adult. That’s probably the point of this scene; the incident at least started her thinking about problems with her children.

    • McAmster says:

      I got the feeling that Betty was enamored by the woman. So my bets are on Betty becoming a lesbian… and in that era.. talk about an awesome storyline….

    • Mary says:

      Shouldn’t Bobby be older than he is? I don’t remember Sally being that much older than him.

  12. Rico says:

    It seems to me the greatest part of the sin committed by Bobby was that he chose another female over his mother. I don’t think what pissed her off was missing a sandwich, but rather that Bobby offered something of his mother’s to another girl.

  13. sonya says:

    Wow just Wow, Peggy should remember that no matter what she has achieved she was still be in the steno pool servicing Pete if not fo Don. As for Rogers side piece Joan someone should remind her as for Jaguar in the end the decision was her’s be pissed a your babys dad for pimping you out not at Don for getting rid of the jackasses. Do I think that Don should tell them all to kick rocks and die…sure !!! They have stagated since he has been gone. He after all is the master of reinvention… this to like Megan shall pass.

  14. Rico says:

    Important to note as well is that Cutler thinks the solution lies in technology not in creativity.

  15. Chip Ramsey says:

    I thought this was one of the best episodes of “Mad Men” in a long time. Don is somewhat transformed, trying to cling to his failing marriage and agreeing to be subordinate to that hack Lou. He turned down (indirectly) the stewardess and the woman at the bar. Don has now gone from a guy we were increasingly not being able to stand, to a guy we are rooting for, especially with that stuffed shirt Jim Cutler. I loved MM last night!

  16. Rico says:

    I loved last night’s too. It could be described as Don turning down multiple offers.

    Also, on a second watching, it was funny how when Don returned to the office, the women were repelled and men were all attracted by him.

  17. moose says:

    I was so happy to see Francine! She was always so delightfully awful. Remember how judgmental she was about Helen Bishop working at the jewelry store? But I’m really happy that she’s working now, and enjoying it!

  18. Mary Ann Bogumill says:

    I loved this episode. It reminded me a lot of “House of Cards”. Like Underwood. Don Draper is always 5 chess moves ahead of his opponents. He knew exactly what he was doing when he said OK. How could anyone think this is boring? I cant wait until next week.

    • april-ann says:

      Agreed. And I loved the WAY he said “okay”. I can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve.

    • regina says:

      MM isn’t holding my interest like it used to. I still watch, but more out of curiosity than out of a strong feeling of “must see TV”. AMC always quoting “the greatest TV drama of all time” just before the beginning of the episode irritates me. It was a great series. Now it’s just a good series. Breaking Bad it ain’t. Fingers crossed we see Don get back on top without being the d*ck he became. Hopefully Don and Peggy become kick-ass partners. Can’t wait for Don to kick that Lou jerk out on his butt (though it’d be even better if somehow Peggy was able to do that).

  19. Mary Ann Bogumill says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that Don’s dinner partner is the dude from ‘Jag” The voice gave him away but he sure looks different.

  20. Heathers says:

    Betty’s comment about the farmer’s daughter’s blouse had better make the list of “zingers” this week!

  21. Jen says:

    I loved this episode. Joan and Peggy’s reactions made perfect sense. Don had been gone over a year. Joan is now in accounts. She is a different person. Don reminds her of what she was. Peggy seems to have stalled, personally and professionally. She used to blame that on Don. Seeing him reminds her that she is her own worst enemy. I love this show.

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