Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mad Men Season 3, Episode 13: Shut the Door, Have a Seat

It's been seven months since Derby Day, when both Don and Betty met strangers who would become significant in their life.  But as Betty starts to take the first steps towards solidifying her relationship with Henry Francis, Don is about to see his connection with Conrad Hilton severed.  It won't be the only significant relationship Don will be losing.

Now banished to baby Gene's room, Don heads over for an early morning meeting with Connie and it's not good news.  Connie has heard that rival agency (and full time Sterling Cooper nemesis) McCann Erickson is buying Putnam, Powell and Lowe which means, they're buying what they failed in their attempts to get years ago - Don Draper.  Connie says he'll be moving his New York properties from the agency and would consider giving Don the Caribbean properties but he thinks he'll find another agency.  It's all so matter of fact.  It's nothing personal, just business.

Don is furious.  It was because of Connie that Don signed the three year deal that ties him to Sterling Cooper and now by extension McCann for the foreseeable future.  Don asks Connie how he can simply walk away after being the one who put Don in the position he now finds himself and Connie chastises him for being a whiner.  But Don has good reason.  Connie buttered him up, called him son, treated him like a confidant, had him at his beck and call, and was a demanding and often demeaning client who batted him around seemingly for his amusement.  After all that, Connie drops him and walks away like it's nothing.  Connie was just playing with him and while "that's business" is the facile response, it still has to hurt.  This isn't the first time a father figure has let him down and Don probably kicks himself for letting his guard down and trusting that this relationship would work.

Damn that secretary.  Perhaps had she not crumpled up that piece of paper, Don wouldn't have flashed back to his childhood.   But here we go, back in time.  Don is still Dick and he's ten years old and his father is holding a meeting of the other area farmers who are concerned about what price they can get for their crops.  We see Don's father, Archibald, going rogue in disagreement with the "cooperative."  He doesn't care about his fellow farmers, he only cares about what's in his best interest.  And this new deal isn't good for him.

Back to the present, Don goes to Bert with the news of the buyout, hoping that Bert will be upset and outraged and want to do something to stop it. Instead, Bert tells him there's nothing they can do.  They signed contracts, they're part of the furniture and if PPL wants to sell it and them, then so be it. You see the divide between the generations as Bert is willing to accept that some things are no longer in his control while Don is not done fighting for what he wants.  And he wants this to be their agency, not part of some other company and definitely not part of McCann.

Don gets Bert to see things his way and by the time the get to Roger's office it's now their idea that they should buy the company back from PPL before the sale.  At first Roger is reluctant.  Well, not necessarily reluctant but he likes being in the catbird seat with Don and Bert and watching them squirm.  He has something immensely valuable - the Lucky Strike account - and there is no agency with those annual billings.  Suddenly Roger is the MVP, not Bert who founded the agency or golden boy Don.  And he's relishing being in this position.  Once his ego is sufficiently stroked, he's on board.

Don's day started out bad and only gets worse when Betty sits him down and tells him she's contacted a divorce attorney and he should do the same.  Don thinks he can talk himself out of this as he usually does.  In the past, he convinced Betty she was crazy or imagining things or he lied his way out of trouble.  But this is the new Betty and she's emboldened by her knowledge of the truth about Don as well as knowing that there is a knight on a white horse waiting for her.  Betty has made up her mind and none of Don's words will change that.

Bert, Roger and Don call Lane Pryce in for a meeting, with the requisite use of the title "shut the door, have a seat."  After feigning ignorance, Lane admits that some of the rumor Don heard is correct, but not all.  Turns out that only Sterling Cooper is being sold to McCann.   They discuss the terms of a buyout but Lane scoffs.  Thanks to his streamlining and belt tightening, the company is worth far more than they are offering.

Betty and Henry go to discuss how she can extricate herself form her marriage.  We hear how difficult it was back then to get a divorce as the country was at least a decade away from the idea of "no fault."  But there was an option.  A quick trip to Reno could get her the divorce she wants.  And as far as monetary compensation, Henry tells her she doesn't need anything from Don.  He will provide for her.  While it's technically about the money, his statement is even more about what he can provide her in every other way.

Lane calls Saint John at PPL to let him know that Sterling Cooper knows of the sale, although they were under the impression that all of PPL was being sold, which of course is ridiculous because Lane, a valued member of PPL, would have known all about that were it true.  What, you say?  The rumors are correct.  Yeah, turns out that Lane was the one with the misinformation.  He wasn't told the truth and while he thought this sale meant nothing to him, it now means everything.  He wonders about his future and Saint John assures him that McCann will recognize his importance during the transition.  Of course, that begs the question, what will his importance be after.

Don comes home and looks at the closed door to the bedroom he'll likely never share with Betty again.  He heads off to Grandpa Gene's old room and finds Sally asleep in his bed.  Hopefully, she hasn't touched any of the Canadian Club that he's been imbibing on in the room.  Don stars at his daughter, no doubt thinking about how he's going to have to leave her.  And this gets him thinking back...

And we're in another flashback.  Abigail is angry, they're running out of money due to Archie's stubbornness.  So he does what he does, gets drunk and goes off in a fit of pique, claiming he'll ridee into Chicago in the middle of the night and sell his crops.  But instead, his horse is spooked by lighting and kicks him in the face killing him.  He may have been a drunken abusive a-hole, but he was all Dick had.  And like he lost his father because of his father's stupidity, Sally is about to lose hers.

The next day Bert, Roger, Don and Lane are shouting at each other.  The sale is bad for all of them but Lane claims there's nothing they can do about it.  He angrily tells them he should fire them all for putting him in this position and then the light-bulb goes off over Don's head.  Fire us, he tells Lane.  You have that power.  If they're fired, they don't have to go over to McCann - they'd no longer be part of PPL and could go where they please.  Lane asks what's in it for him and after getting assurance that whatever he wants is the answer, they put the plan into motion.  And the rest of the office part of the episode plays out like an old heist movie - will our heroes pull it off before Monday morning London time.

Here's where the hierarchy and relative value of the various employees comes into play.  The news has to be closely held, if word gets out the plan will backfire.  Who is essential to the new agency, who can be trusted?  Don asks his secretary Allison to get Pete, but finds out that he's home sick.  He then calls for Peggy to come to his office.  He tells her about the news and tells her she's coming with them.  It never occurs to Don to ask Peggy if this is what she wants and he has no idea that she's been courted by Duck Phillips for some time with the spiel that she's not respected by Don and he could get her a better deal.  Don's dismissiveness and belief that she'll just do whatever he wants is helping Duck's case.  Peggy is not interested in being Don's lap dog.

Roger and Don head over to Pete's apartment where he's supposedly home sick.  Instead, after hearing the news that he was being passed over for a promotion, one that was going to Ken Cosgrove instead, Pete was out looking for a new job.  He had an interview with Ogilvy.  Imagine his surprise when Roger and Don come there looking for him to be part of their new company.   He assumes they pitched Ken first, but finds out that he instead was their first choice.  This is pretty much all Pete has wanted since we first met him - Don is forced to sing Pete's praises.  After having his ego stroked, Pete is all in.

After locking up Pete, Don and Roger hang out at a bar.  Don tells Roger he's going to need to find a divorce attorney and that's when Roger speaks before thinking.  So it's true, he asks?  What's true, Don replies?  About Henry Francis, Roger goes on.  Henry's daughter is a friend of Margaret's and they talk and he's been talking up a storm about Betty.  Don was upset thinking he has screwed up his life and marriage and that it was he who drove Betty to divorce.  He had no idea that she had already found someone else.  Not surprising, the next scene is him confronting Betty about Henry Francis.

He's drunk and angry, but mostly hurt.  He thinks that now that Betty knows the full truth about him, she is leaving him for some other well connected, old money snob.  That now that he's really Dick Whitman, she's not interested anymore.  He has no idea that it was the lying and the cheating that drove her away, not his humble roots.  But Don has always been ashamed of his past and waited for people to find out the truth about him and shun him for it.  What he's feared, he believes, has finally come to pass.

The next morning, while the new agency is coming together in secret, Don and Betty sit the children down on the couch and give them the news that Don is moving out.  Don tries to hedge thinks, calling it temporary, not using the "d" word.  But Betty is not budging - she wants the kids to umderstand what's happening.  Daddy won't be living there anymore.  Ever.  It's heartbreaking - Bobby thinks it's his fault, Sally thinks it's Betty's - and the kids don't want him to leave and don't want to have two homes.  Sally storms off in tears and Bobby hugs Don and it's just a gut-wrenching moment for everyone and there's no way to fix it.

Don leaves and goes over to Peggy's.  She states the obvious, he looks horrible.  It's one of the worst days he's ever had and he's coming, literally hat in hand, to beg her to join him at the new agency. Don has lost his family, his home, he needs not to lose anything else today.  And whether he knows it, or she knows it, Peggy is important to him.  So he begs for her to come.  He needs her and he's finally admitted it.  He's not sure he can do this without her.  If only he had felt this way about Betty, if only he had said this to Betty, maybe he'd still have his family.

At the office, in sashays Joan Harris and finally there is someone there who knows what to do and where things are and how to get this harebrained plan into motion.   Then Don comes in, accompanied by Peggy, and we see that the core gang is all there.  They take what they need, take one last look at the office, and head off to an uncertain future.

The next morning, Don's secretary Allison walks into his office, sees it's been cleared out, and thinks they've been robbed,  Soon word gets out.  Ken, Paul and the two Smiths were among the many left behind.  Lane gets fired by Saint John, as he was hoping.  Meanwhile at the new agency "offices," Joan answers the phone with the new company name "Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce."

Trudy comes over to bring snacks, and a cake, to the new agency and Don leaves the celebration to make a call.  It's to Betty and he tells her he won't fight her and he wishes her nothing but the best.  She assures him that he'll always be the kids' father.  Don walks out of the bedroom and back to his new family.  That will have to do.

With Roy Orbison's "Shahdaroba" playing in the background we see Betty and Henry Francis (with baby Gene in tow) on their way to Reno for a six week vacation/divorce and the start of their new life together.  We see Bobby and Sally in the Draper residence with Carla.  Finally we see Don, exiting a cab with his bags, as he heads out into the future of his new life, alone.  


The song "Shahdaroba" has lyrics that are hopeful, fitting for a season-ending episode and salve for what is otherwise a very bleak vision of the future:
Shahadaroba, ShahadarobaMeans the future is much better than the pastShahadaroba, ShahadarobaIn the future you will find a love that lastsSo when tears flowAnd you don't knowWhat on earth to doAnd your world is blueWhen your dream diesAnd your heart criesShahadarobaFate knows what's best for youShahadaroba, ShahadarobaFace the future and forget about the pastShahadaroba, ShahadarobaIn the future you will find a love that lasts
Whether the song is to be taken literally - that Don will find love - or figuratively - that the future is bright - it is a surprisingly positive note to end on.  And a startling contrast to the visual images of the fragmented Draper family, with Betty, the kids and Don all being separated.  But why wake up in the morning if you don't put the past behind you and face the future with optimism?

Don's flashbacks can be seen as a parallel to the decision he's making in the present.  His father did not want to "cooperate" with his fellow farmers and wanted to make his own deal.  It cost him his life.  Don did not want to go along with the McCann deal, but rather than going rogue like his father before him.  Unlike Archie Whitman, Don stayed and asked for help, worked cooperatively and built a new community.  He had to tell everyone in his life why they were important to him and why he needed them.  

While Don was able to do that in time to save his career, he couldn't do it to save his marriage.  Betty hadn't felt loved or appreciated for a long time and found what she was looking for in Henry Francis.  All the lies finally caught up to Don and there was nothing left to salvage. He might think she left him for being Dick Whitman, but she left him for not being the loving husband he pretended to be.  

In fact, the lesson in most of the episode was about people feeling important and needed.  It was particularly great to have Joan back and see how her innumerable skills were immediately put to use.  
Also great to see Bert Cooper explain to Harry that he was free to turn down the offer, but that he'd have to spend the rest of the weekend in the closet for safety sake.  Who thought Bert could be so aggressive! 

I was unfamiliar with the "allotment act" to which the men referred in the flashback scene but a little digging turned up this (from
The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 ultimately became the legislative cornerstone for commodity price support programs for nearly thirty years. It authorized mandatory supply controls through acreage allotments and marketing quotas. In an amended form, this Act served as the foundation for commodity program policy until implementation of the FAIR Act in 1996.
In today's instantaneous communication era they wouldn't have been able to use things like telexes and time differences to aid this plan.  On the other hand, all of the files would have been in the cloud and easy to move over.


Don (to Connie):  And you wanted to play with me-- Kick me around, knock me down to size while you called me son.

Connie:  I got everything I have on my own. It's made me immune to those who complain and cry because they can't. I didn't take you for one of them, Don. Are you? 

Don:  So that's it? You're losing your business and you don't care?
Bert: I lost my business last year.
Don: Well do something about it.

Don:  I want to work. I want to build something of my own.

Bert: Young men love risk because they can't imagine the consequences.
Don: And you old men love building golden tombs and sealing the rest of us in with you.

Roger:  You're not good at relationships, because you don't value them.
Don: I value my relationship with you.
Roger: You do now.
Don: I do.

Henry (to Betty): You don't need what he can provide.

Peggy:  I don't want to make a career out of being there so you can kick me when you fail.

Don (to Pete):  We need you to keep us looking forward.  I do, anyway.

Don:  You never forgave me.
Betty:  Forgave what? That I've never been enough? 
Don:  You got everything you ever wanted. Everything! And you loved it. And now I'm not good enough for some spoiled mainline brat? 
Betty: That's right! 

Bert (to Harry): If you turn us down and elect to be a mid-level cog at McCann Erickson, we'll have to lock you in the storeroom until morning. I'm sure you understand.

Sally: You say things and you don't mean them.  You can't just do that.

Peggy: What if I say no?
Don: I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you.

Roger: How long do you think it'll take us to be in a place like this again?
Don:  I never saw myself working in a place like this.

Don (to Betty): I hope you get what you always wanted.

Whore Count: 

Roger says, of the sale of PPL to McCann, "from one john's bed to the next."

Don tells Betty: "You're a whore."

Spoilery Observations (Don't read unless you're caught up on the whole series):

Don is referred to as a prized pig and Jim Hobart of McCann later calls him his white whale.  Don was something Hobart has been wanting and Hobart never gives up.  At the end of Season 7, McCann Erickson finally gets what they wanted since Season 1 and came close to this episode - they buy a 51% in Sterling Cooper.  Only this time is was on SC and Don's terms.  Or so they thought, until they learned the simple math that if you have 51%, you set the terms.

Roger says to Bert, "You'll outlive me," and while Roger did have a heart attack early in the series, this one prophecy of his did not come true.

This is not the last we see of many of the former Sterling Cooper employees, and Ted in particular continues to be a foil for Pete.  Ted is gobbled up by McCann thanks to the buyout, and years later (in Season 7b) the enemies he made while then will come back to bite him. Allison comes to work at the new agency, but that does not go well for her at all (See Ep. 4.4 The Departed).  Paul goes onto a spiritual journey and crosses paths with Harry in Season 5. Smitty and Kurt Smith left their new agency for Culter, Gleason and Chaough sometime before Ep. 4.5 The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.  

Mercifully, we don't get another Dick Whitman as a kid flashback until Season 6, when we learn that not only was Dick born to a prostitute mother, but he grew up in a whore house after his father died.  And if that isn't messed up enough, he was raped by a prostitute when he was a kid.  So that explains quite a bit.

Don threatens Betty saying that he'll take the kids. "God knows they'll be better off." But that was all talk.  They stayed with Betty in his house and he was the one who had to leave.

Don tells the kids, "You can call me, I will answer and I will be here."  This isn't true, he's not always there, especially when Sally needs him.  As of this edit, there's one more episode to see if she calls and he comes home.

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