Mad Men Recap: Room and Bored

Mad Men Betty Dies

If you had told me, during Mad Men‘s can’t-miss-it earlier seasons, that the second-to-last episode of the series would feature Don getting beat down by a bunch of yokels, miles from anyone he knows, I would’ve told you to stick your Butler Footwear somewhere the sun don’t shine.

But here we are, stuck in a no-tell motel in the middle of East Bumbletruck, watching Draper get conned down by a kid — and not in a terribly compelling fashion — and the series finale is a mere week away. Oh, and Pete and Trudy are reuniting and Betty’s dying. I’m not sure which development makes me cry harder.

Up is down, down is up, dogs and cats are living together and we’re reviewing what happens in “The Milk and Honey Route.”

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FINE, ACCOMMODATIONS | Don wakes from a dream where a cop is telling him “You knew it would catch up with you eventually,” and we see that he’s in a motel room… somewhere. He calls Sally at school and they talk about how she’s quitting lacrosse and making plans to go to Spain. (Side note: Study in Spain? It’s not clear.) Their conversation is cute; she teases him about how boring his road-tripping plans sound, and they end on a good note.

Don’s car breaks down the next day. While it’s fixed, he stays at the nearest accommodations: a motel run by a husband-and-wife team who seem very kind and not at all like they’d break into your room in the middle of the night and beat you up. The room cleaner — a lanky teenager named Andy — says he’ll help Don get some booze but then jovially requests double the original price upon delivery. Seeing as how there’s nothing to do in town but go swimming in the motel’s in-ground pool and read paperbacks former guests have left behind, Don grudgingly pays up.

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OUT WITH IT | Don so charms the motel owner and his wife, he gets an invitation to drink at the American Legion once they realize he’s been in the military. It seems like Don won’t go — his car is fixed, after all, and he’s free to leave town — but at the last minute he shows up at the hall, looking like a million damn dollars. (Unfortunately, that will bite him in the seat later.) The evening is a fundraiser for a member whose kitchen burned down, and after the motel owner shames Don into dumping a bunch of cash into the rescue fund, he starts introducing him around.

Of course, the moment that the men start plumbing Don’s service history, I’m sure that someone who served with him in Korea will happen to be there to out him as Dick Whitman. But even when David Denman shows up as a fellow Korea vet, all that happens is that Don gets more and more drunk as the evening progresses.

One incredibly tame stripper performance and several cans of Lone Star later (wait, wait, I know this one: Time is a flat circle! What do I win?), the guys are talking war horror stories. After one man assures them all, “You just do what you have to do to come home,” Don blurts, “I killed my C.O.” and I think, “Sweaty, forelock-askew Don, this isn’t going to go well for you.” But I’m totally wrong. Even after Draper admits to accidentally blowing his commanding officer to the PX in the sky, the men totally understand, and they end the evening with a drunken chorus of “Over There.”

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LEGIONNAIRE’S DIS-EASE | Cut to sometime before the next morning, when the motel owners and a couple of the guys bust into Don’s room, hold him down and beat him with the phone book (?!), demanding to know where the $500 he stole from the rescue fund is. When he says he didn’t take it, they rough him up a little more and then take his keys.

Don knows Andy, who’s also a busboy at the Legion, pocketed the dough. So when the kid comes by the next day, Don rattles him a bit and demands he give the cash back. “If you keep it, you’ll have to become somebody else. And it’s not what you think it is,” he says. (Side note: I hope, in the future, this kid becomes acquainted with the idea of time travel and has to give serious consideration to the notion that Don was really himself, from the future, sent back to put him on the right path.) Andy gives the money to Don, Don gives it to the motel owners, recovers his car and leaves… with Andy in his car. (Kid needed a ride to the bus stop.)

Imagine Andy’s surprise when Don hands over the keys, giving him the car and saying, “Don’t waste this.” Well OK, bishop-from-Les-Miserables, don’t mind if I do! As Andy drives away, Don sits on a bench on the side of the road, looking happier than we’ve seen him in a long time.

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BIRDIE GETS KNOCKED DEAD | When Betty collapses on the stairs at her university — and nary a hair on that glorious blonde helmet of hers moves, mind you — it warrants a trip to the hospital. Long, terrible story short: Bets has very advanced lung cancer that has spread to her bones and lymph nodes. (Side note: That scene where the doctor tells Henry the bad news, acting like Betty’s not even in the room? Heartbreaking.)

Henry is a mess; he tells Sally, against Betty’s wishes, and winds up having a breakdown in his stepdaughter’s room at school. Later, Betty informs her daughter that she’s not giving up, she’s just not going to move forward with treatment that might only prolong her life for another (probably painful) year. “It’s been a gift to me, to know when to move on,” Betty tells her daughter, and though the only sympathy I have ever felt for the icy Mrs. Francis came during her Weight Watchers years, I find myself getty very teary as Sally reads a letter her mom wrote to be read after she dies. “I know your life will be an adventure,” it says, and knowing we probably won’t be privy to any of that, either, also bums me out.

The next morning, Betty is back at class, gamely huffing her way up the stairs to lecture. Because if there is anything the former Mrs. Draper is good at, it’s keeping up appearances.

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FOOL ME TWICE… | Pete runs into Duck in the elevators at McCann Erickson, and here’s why: Pete is doing some headhunting for Lear Jet. Duck (who’s still drinking, by the way) says he wants Pete to help his candidate get the gig, but he neglects to tell Pete that he’s the candidate. The offer is attractive, but Pete’s got a good thing going. He skips a dinner with Lear to see his brother and parse why they can never be happy with what they have. It’s sad, but it’s helping Pete to a breakthrough, so I’ll allow it.

Duck shows up later, soused but with some amazing news: He spun Pete’s refusal to show up at the Lear dinner as Pete being insulted by a lowball offer, so Lear sweetened the pot in a way that makes Campbell leaving McCann nearly a foregone conclusion. He goes straight to Trudy with the news, even though it’s the middle of the night, and asks her and Tammy to move to Wichita, Ks., with him for the gig. As much as I love to hate Pete, I have to admit, he is smooth here. “I’m not so dumb anymore.” “I want to go everywhere with you.” “Say yes with your voice, not with your eyes.” All of these things he says so earnestly and passionately that you just know Trudy’s going to cave. FOCUS ON THE COMBOVER, TRUDY. THE COMBOVER DOES NOT LIE. And cave she does, kissing him like he won’t be boffing the babysitter six months after they settle in the Midwest.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? 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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55 Comments
  1. sara says:

    That episode was a punch to the stomach. If anyone wasn’t crying while Sally was reading that letter they don’t have a pulse. And was I the only one screaming at Don to call his daughter during the entire episode??

    • Jen says:

      I agree, Ive been crying for an hour now. And every time Don was near the telephone I was aching for him to call Sally. Betty has been my inspiration for style for almost a decade. ” knock em’ dead birdie”….

    • Sophie says:

      I was waiting the whole episode for the second Don-Sally call. It was so damn sad, specially cause Betty is my favorite character. I’m affraid that was the last we saw of Betty, the letter and the walk up the stairs just seemed so final. But I’m glad Sally knew that her mother did love and understand her despite all their past strugles.
      Next episode will probably be another flash forward, maybe even to 2015.

  2. Jake says:

    The Comeback reference on the title – YAY!

  3. GuessWhat says:

    Welp, that was one sad Mother’s Day ep!
    Betty!!! =(

  4. Mr. Tran K says:

    I’m surprised Duck aka Mark Moses is back. Can’t remember the last time we saw from him. Although the actor is fresh off his guest starring stint as Dennis Boyd on Homeland.

  5. Relieved says:

    thanks God I got my finale dates mixed up. I thought tonight’s extended episode was the finale.. and when I thought the series ended with Don sitting at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere smiling after he gave away his car …….. *fade to black*l… I just about lost my mind. I had a nightmare of M. Weiner going for the David Chase Sopranos finale (yeah, the finale that wasn’t a finale) ….. I rushed here to check things out and Thank God we still have one more episode. I mean I couldn’t imagine not knowing what happens to everyone on this show too. It brought back serious Sopranos nightmares. (me thinking…… Weiner worked for Chase … nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Ok girl, take a breath. Fingers crossed that next week finale’s actually has the balls to give us answers, whether we like it or not.

  6. Rick Richard says:

    Think it goes full circle. Don Draper dies, but not physically. Don becomes Dick Whitman again. I thought that he goes back to California, but maybe not. In the California scene a few seasons ago, Don took a liking to auto mechanics. Here, he was shown to have an aptitude with mechanics regarding the typewriter and Coke machine. Matt Wiener has stated that he’s always know what the final line would be. Many of us thought that it would be Don plunging to his death. Instead, I think the final line will be, “Hi, I’m Dick Whitman.” The circle is closed. Don goes back to being who he really is.

    • Fan says:

      Well, Dick Whitman with three kids to take care of, including one that is very, very young.

      • rowan77 says:

        I’m not getting your point. You don’t think a wealthy single father can take care of three kids, including a four or five year old?

        • herman1959 says:

          Exactly, he can easily pay for a live-in nanny and/or housekeeper. They had a housekeeper when he was with Betty.

  7. april-ann says:

    Well that was dark and sad. For shame, especially with just one more episode left. Kim, I respect you, but I think Betty has died. She was not back at class the next morning. I truly think, after all the mom and daughter moments they never shared, that Sally opened and read the instructions as she was given – and Betty walking up those stairs at school again was just a background to Sally reading the letter through her Mom’s voice showing us the sad event had already happened. Pete has his happy ending with Trudy and Tammy in Kansas of all places. And a jet to take them where ever they’d all like to go! Small town Roy was fun, small town others were not. I’m not feeling small town Dick. We know who he is, and if he was small town Dick once upon a time, he’s not now, and we need to see something better now. I know I’m up for it.

    • rowan77 says:

      I’m afraid you’re off base on Betty’s death. It hasn’t happened yet. This episode takes place over less than a week. Sally read the letter because she’s a teenager who never listens to her mother and she was too curious to see what’s in the letter to wait for Betty to die. Betty is back in school, Pete just decided to take the job in Kansas and Don is sitting on a park bench as he sheds more and more of Don and reclaims who he is. Everything in the episode was running simultaneously. It ends on October 3, 1970 for each character. I love his smile when he realizes he did for Andy was what he wished someone had done for him. But face it, it he hadn’t become Don he wouldn’t have had the freedom to become successful and rich. Now that he has millions, he doesn’t have to work, can live anywhere and be Dick Whitman again if he wants, but without the poverty holding him down.

  8. ann says:

    Pete gets a happy ending yet Betty dies a painful death. Typical Weiner, he hates Betty so much that he kills her off just when she gets her life together. I cried so hard when Sally was reading that letter. That poor girl. If not for Henry she and her brothers would be total orphans.

  9. N says:

    A few thoughts after this episode, I feel very much like ” Don Draper” died in that boardroom meeting last week and We’ve been watching the rebirth of Dick Whitman. Him admitting he killed his CO, the real Don Draper, I think was big sign of that. However, he will be in for a rude awaking after he finds out whats been going on since he left. I hope that if Betty Dies, Don/ Dick takes responsibly of his kids, and just doesn’t dump them on Henry as I feel that would show real growth of Don/Dick. I must admit I’m surprised Betty looks like the one to go in the finale, its a little out of the blue given how little we’ve seen of her, but she sure did smoke a lot over the course of the show. I also want to say that Pete should have probably waited to get the job first before going to Trudy as Ducks not the most reliable and trust worthy. It also seems a little off the Pete of all people may be getting a happy ending given that, for many seasons, most assumed he’d be the one to die/ kill himself. Its also kind of strange Pete’s so excited about having a jet, seeing as how his father died in a plane crash.

  10. S says:

    Come to think of it , the first episode of the series, I believe in the first scene, showed Don discussing with his waiter about the new surgeon general warning on Cigarettes that started in 1960 as Don was trying to see how effective the warning was ,and now the last episode will most likely feature Betty dying of Lung Cancer. I wonder what, if anything, were suppose to read into that other that Matthew Weiner is against smoking.

  11. Gaby Atamoo says:

    With Betty’s fatality all but sealed, what are the chances of another major character facing a mortal demise in the final episode?

  12. The Kaibosh says:

    The quote is dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! Bill Murray would not be proud.

    • hud says:

      Draper will not die. He will wake up in a MASH unit in Korea. Hawkeye and Trapper clones will have patched him up, Peggy will be his nurse, drug induced coma will explain his fantasy life. He never escaped. Bobby Ewing is his bedmate..

    • You are totally right! Fixed. I hang my head in shame at the altar of Dr. Venkman. — KR

  13. Laurie Emerson says:

    I am a GOT fan so I have learned a long time ago to not get too attached to any characters. I understand about how it would stand to reason that one or more of the characters of the show would develop lung cancer. I admit though that I was hoping for a happy ending for everyone on the show no matter how unrealistic that might be.

  14. Ron Miller says:

    When Betty dies, do the children go back to Don, the biological Father?

    • Fan says:

      I hope not. Henry has been their ” real” father for most of their lives. That’s especially true for Gene. Don must be a near stranger to him.

      • duranimal says:

        Not really, Don is as involved as a divorced father without full custody in 1970 can be. He had a bedroom for the boys at his penthouse, and they showed him making them milkshakes. And Henry seems like he’s going to fall apart after Betty dies, so Don will probably have to step in.

        • rowan77 says:

          Henry has no legal claim on the kids and Don won’t leave them with Henry. He sees the as often as visitation allows (except for while on this road trip). They’ll likely end up somewhere in the Midwest or South in a small town.

  15. robin says:

    What about Peggy? Does she get to fall in love and keep her career or are they going to kill her off too?

  16. bobC927 says:

    Hoping for a flash forward ending, ala “Six Feet Under”

  17. Gail says:

    These last episodes are so random with no flow. Betty decides to go back to school. Betty falls on stairs and finds out she has terminal cancer. Pete is happy at McCann Erikson. Pete gets a new job given to him without his scheming to get what he wants as he always has done and his wife back.
    Next week Betty will have died. Pete will have oved to the midwest. Will Don take his kids back? The youngest has never lived with Don. Sally is in boarding school. The middle son keeps being played by multiple actors and doesn’t age so not sure how long he lived with Don. The two sons might want to stay with Henry as this is what they are use to. Though we really haven’t seen what kind of relationship Henry has with them. I don’t think Henry has been much of a loving father to them. I don’t think Don has been ether.

    So is Joan leaving her job last week the end of her story? Wil we get a text at the end of next week’s episode telling us what happened to everyone? Next week I guess will focus on Don Peggy, and Roger. Seems like a lot to wrap up in one hour.

    • bobC927 says:

      This is why we need a flash forward ending, ala “Six Feet Under” whereby we get to see what becomes of all the MM characters.

    • herman1959 says:

      I can’t believe that after splitting the final year into two, they couldn’t do better than this with the final storylines. They really should have wrapped it up last year.

  18. SAM H says:

    Check your facts or at least get a proof reader. Don did not blow his CO, acidentily or not. He blew him up. I guess proof reading is a thing of the past.

  19. Mark says:

    It ends with the Busboy getting into a fiery crash in Dons car and being mistaking for a dead Don Draper thus freeing Don to become his true self once again become Dick Whitman, leaving behind Don Draper and everything he was.

  20. Jennifer Cowley says:

    I think the last episode will show the death of Betty. He will turn around and go back because that’s life. This season he abandoned everything. I think Weiner touches on what most daydream about, to runaway from it all and as the viewers we have gotten to see what that could possibly look like. But I think to stay true to Weiner form, I don’t think Don gets away with it because life happens and there is no escape. I’m hoping he gets his kids. Maybe what he is looking for has been there all along? I hope he doesn’t expect Henry to raise them. And if he does, my final decision on this character will be one of great disgust. Yeah, he does have his moments but they are far and few between.

    • herman1959 says:

      I agree that Don will come back to look after his kids. He will have come to see that they are the only things that really mean anything to him and are a way of “starting over”.

  21. BrianR says:

    After last weeks great episode this one was off. What is with Don? Did he quit? Dissappear or what? I know he walked out of a meeting but did he call in and quit or just decide to take off on a road trip again. As for killing Betty it seem like just a reason for Don to come back and take his kids from Henry who will likely fall apart and someone I have hated since he hit on the pregnant wife of another man.

  22. njartist says:

    I just want to remind everyone that Duck Phillips is a lousy person who in an much earlier
    episode let his “beloved” Irish Setter, loose in NYC. If I remember correctly the dog named
    Chauncy? was let off his leash by Duck and he just walked away. The poor dog looked
    very confused as it happened and just stared at the revolving door. Now onto last nights episode. It does seem that the characters are going in new directions. It would have been easier to leave everything as it was at SC&P but it makes for more interesting drama to move forward. Betty receiving the news that she has Stage 4 lung cancer was heartbreaking.
    I found her letter to Sally was very much Betty concerned with her appearance yet in her
    own way showing as best as he could her love for Sally. I do think that she is concerned
    for Bobby & Gene but she knows that their sister will be there for them. No matter how
    much they butted heads Sally loves her mom and knowing that she will not be there for
    their future,[ Sally &the boys],and her wedding and her kids just hits me square in the gut.
    Sally’s childhood is coming to a fast end. I never thought that Henry was a distant step-
    dad and he did care for Sally, Bobby & Gene. I also thought that he truly loves Betty
    very much. He knows her to a degree better than we may think yet Betty also knows him all too well. No matter how involved he will be after Betty dies he will be a very lonely man. I wonder if she left notes for the boys, Henry & Don?

    Don’s road trip has been most interesting. Last week he went to Minneapolis now this
    week he traveled down to somewhere in Oklahoma. That certainly is not around the
    corner. I though that what was fascinating is Don’s comment to the young grafter
    that he was in advertising. The key word being was. The Caddy a 1962 model would
    have been 8 years old by 1970 and rather dated. I wonder how you can so easily give
    up a car w/o signing any papers? Also in the real world a car owner is legally responsible
    for the license plates on their car until they turn them into the state DMV where they
    live. Small quibbles that does not overshadow the fact that Don Drapper is re-inventing
    himself. I had written elsewhere that Don finds McCann et al to be like Korea a place
    to escape from. Don is suffering from a horrific childhood of both verbal and physical
    abuse. Taking the actual Don Drapper’s ID allows him to re-invent himself because
    being Dick Whitman is a path to a life like his father a drunken loser.

    The scene in the Veteran’s Hall was perhaps the first time that Don was able to
    find some degree of relief from what happened to him and the actual Don Drapper
    in Korea. I was waiting for a moment when the mask would be peeled back and
    Dick Whitman revealed. When the locals beat him in the hotel room it shows that
    all politics is local. Strangers, “outsiders”, to their community no matter how
    friendly and polite will be for a long time if not for ever a stranger an outsider in
    most cases. Don giving the Caddy to the grafter was a Megan moment
    of generosity that I think was misdirected. I wonder how much money Don truly
    has left. He gave 1 million to Megan, McCann will fight not to give any part of the
    money for the buyout and he is traveling only with the clothes on his back and the rest
    in a large brown shopping bag. Did he really stuff his suit in that bag or did he leave
    his suits in the Caddy trunk?

    There many possibilities as to how MM will close . The end though has been filmed
    months ago and next week we will know. BTW-Pete’s reconciliation with Trudy will
    it hold? Apparently Trudy has been giving a dose of tuff love to Pete and still loves
    him. Has Pete truly grown up? Will he be happy with this apparent second chance
    in Wichita? Is this the wrap up to his story? He mentioned to Duck about Joan leaving
    and how he keep Avon as a client. So if Joan is in the last episode will it show her
    married to the businessman from California?

  23. carol says:

    Is the final episode 2 hrs? I can’t imagine them tying up loose ends in one hr. I hope Trudy comes to her senses, so Pete can fly to Kansas by himself and live in his lonely material world. Right now, Don is like a leaf in the wind. I believe he is again reinventing himself and thus, will not take the kids. Peggy will morph into a high ranking executive, as she has been taught be the best. She learned how to work in a man’s world, thanks to Joan, who, I guess is history ( damn!)
    I thought the scene where the Dr. is explaining everything to Henry ( like Betty wasn’t in room ) extremely powerful, sad yet reflective of how women were treated.

  24. Ryan says:

    Trudy caving and getting back with Pete felt contrived to me.

    • carol says:

      I couldn’t agree more, which makes me think she will change her mind.

    • Annie says:

      It felt very natural to me. We’ve seen over the last few episodes that neither Pete nor Trudy were happy and they had a great working relationship. I can easily believe that Trudy saw a chance to again be relevant, important, and secure with Pete.

  25. Ro says:

    Just some thoughts… I think Duck was on the wagon for a while (not sure how long). I like the Mrs. Robinson reference. I’ll miss this show.

  26. Been Wondering says:

    Anyone remember when Sally told her friends (something like) she was waiting for Betty to die?

  27. sharon says:

    I actually didn’t like the last show. I like Roger. I I expected more to me it was boring