Previously on Mad Men: Pryce’s wife hates NYC, Roger and Don hate each other, Don Draper has an ex-wife in California because Dick Whitman divorced her, Don has a secret locked drawer, Betty and Henry didn’t hook up, but Don and Miss Farrell did.
Betty and Carla consult on shopping list as the kids eat dinner. Don’t worry, Betty’s having her dinner cigarette. Don arrives home earlier than expected, but it’s not for long. He tells Betty he’s not staying the night, he has to work. She reproaches him for working too hard.
But of course by working, he means banging Miss Farrell. She answers the door with a gold star on her cheek from grading papers, which Don finds charming. Miss Farrell wants him to stay all night and have some date nut bread that she baked. I think that’s another euphemism for sex.
Betty reads The Group in the bathtub.
Don and Miss Farrell spoon post coitus. Miss Farrell relates a story about Charlie, the 8 year old. He asked how does she know that what he sees as blue is what she sees as blue? Her answer? She doesn’t know. Boy, it sure is great we have Wikipedia at our fingertips to answer these hard hitting questions nowadays. Don thinks this is just adorable, but he would have told Charlie there’s a blue that “at least 45% of the population see as the same.” Don’s words of wisdom for the episode, “People may see things differently – but they don’t really want to.”
The boys hang out in front of Don’s office. Ken is trying to get Don’s secretary to go to Sterling Cooper’s 40th anniversary party with him, but she turns him down. Don arrives to a chorus of hellos, and they all head into his office for “Paul Kinsey Theatre.” Aqua Net is coming at 9, and here’s the pitch: two couples in a car, with Peggy being the girl in the front seat. The girl behind (who is a man in a scarf) loses her head scarf and her hairdo falls apart. Peggy offers hers and rides without a scarf while her hair remains fabulous. As he munches on date nut bread, Don critiques it, saying it’s too complicated. Peggy suggests instead the wind is blowing and the girl in the back seat has to put on a scarf while looking enviously at Miss Perfect in the front. Don’s happy and sends them off to work on Western Union for next week. Pryce arrives as everyone leaves with Don’s signing bonus. $5,000 makes Don smile, and he assures Pryce that Connie will be at the big party. Don is scheduled to speak last as Sterling Cooper’s star ad man. Secretary Allison pops her head in to say Mrs. Pryce is there to see him right now.
Mr. Hooker gives Mrs. Pryce a glass of water and tries to hover, but Pryce sends him away. Mrs. Pryce is all upset because she had to wait for a taxi so she could pick up her gown, then the cab driver drove around to run up the fare, so she had to stop by because she was out of cab fare. Oh, the HORROR! Basically she’s homesick for London, but we get the distinct impression Pryce enjoys NYC and it’s meritocracy, where no one asks where you went to school.
Don and Miss Farrell are at it again, but just as they finish, there’s a knock at the door. Miss Farrell dashes off to answer in her bathrobe as Don dresses. It’s her little brother, and she’s just delighted for Don to meet him. Don doesn’t want to, but gives in. Her brother Danny is an epileptic who is unable to keep a job because of his condition. Don says his hellos and goodbyes and is off. Danny and Miss Farrell talk more and I think how this is two minutes they could have devoted to characters I actually care about on this show.
Speaking of – Roger and Cooper meet in Cooper’s office for a trip down memory lane. Cooper’s feeling old since almost all the original members of Sterling Cooper are dead. Roger’s annoyed because Don is the golden boy, even though Roger is the one who discovered him. Cooper decides he just can’t go to the party, and Roger says it’s OK, it’s not like it’s their company anymore anyway.
Evening. The phone rings in the Draper house, and Sally is permitted to answer. It’s so great how kids get more useful as they get older! It’s a hang up, so both Betty and Don try and hide guilty looks, thinking of who might have been calling.
Paul sits at his desk with a bottle of Rye. He’s slugging it down, and pulls out the Jackie/Marilyn Playtex ad.
Peggy dictates thoughts about telegraphs while burping. Classy, Peggy!
Paul puts a box in front of his door and puts on some music. He pulls a t-shirt out of his drawer and goes to undo his pants. GROSS, PAUL! At least he has an office and isn’t in a cubicle.
Peggy packs up her Dictaphone and heads home. She hears the music coming from Paul’s office but wisely doesn’ t peek in.
A bathrobe bedecked Don pulls a stack of $50s out of his briefcase to put in his locked home office drawer. Baby Gene starts to cry as Don quickly locks the drawer and pockets the keys.
A drunken Paul shouts for Peggy, who thankfully is gone. Paul meets Achilles the maintenance man in kitchen as he steals somebody named Sarah’s apple from her lunch. Achilles babbles about his name as WHAMMO! Paul gets THE big idea. He bids Achilles good night and heads back to his office and yet more booze to celebrate.
Betty’s working on some laundry. What’s that I see? Don’s blue bathrobe? Where could this be heading?
Don’s on the train into work, and Miss Farrell has hopped on to surprise him. He didn’t call like he said he would – boo! – but it wasn’t her that called and hung up last night. Don’s annoyed about her brother, but she’ll put up with his crap as long as she knows he’s with her. He takes her hand and they make goo-goo eyes and I throw up in my mouth. Turns out Danny Boy won’t be a thorn in Don’s side for long since Miss Farrell got him a new job in Bedford. He should come by tonight. She gets off at the next station.
Betty’s still working on the laundry.
A very bleary Paul is awoken by Lois. He’s passed out on the couch in his office. How is it Lois is still employed there? She mutilated a man’s foot with a lawnmower, for god’s sake! Isn’t that grounds for dismissal? Poor Sal gets sacked for not sleeping with a creepy client and yet LOIS is still there?! Anyway, Paul can’t find his notes from his brilliant idea, namely because his drunk ass didn’t write it down.
Pryce practices his speech for the party as Mr. Hooker plays his toady audience. The phone rings and it’s “London calling”, so I immediately have an excellent earworm in my head. Thanks, show! Mr. Ford and Mr. Powell call and drop the bomb Sterling Cooper is for sale. Pryce is ordered to get Cooper to attend the party so “all the flowers are in the vase” and help drum up interest in the company.
Betty gives Henry a call. He wasn’t the one who called and hung up either, and is tired of Betty’s games. It’s not a game Henry, she really just doesn’t know what she wants.
Pryce persuades Cooper to attend the party by playing to his vanity – people will think he’s unwell if he’s not there.
Betty lounges on the couch (but not the fainting couch) in 3 inch heels. I’m here to tell you this housewife doesn’t do that, but I suppose there’s shows on Bravo where they do. She hears something rattling around in the dryer and discovers the keys. She immediately knows what they’re for since she’s been trying to open that desk drawer for three seasons now. She’s unimpressed by the stacks of cash and immediately goes for Don’s shoebox of secrets, where she looks through all the photos, dog tags (of Dick Whitman and Donald Draper), deeds of property for Anna Draper in Long Beach, Ca, and oh yeah – a Divorce Decree. Her jaw drops on that one and she has to sit down. Of course that’s right when Carla gets home with the kids. Carla immediately knows something is wrong, and Betty sends her off with the kids to the park, the library – wherever – as long as they’re not back until dinnertime.
Don arrives at Miss Farrell’s and Danny Boy is still there. Miss Farrell has to drive him to Bedford, MA, but Don intervenes and offers to drive him for her. Miss Farrell gives Danny $375 and he and Don head off into the night.
Betty sits alone watching TV while the shoebox of secrets sits on the kitchen table like an accusation.
Don and Danny drive along. Danny’s trying to get Don to pull over so he can ditch him, but Don’s wise to his ways. Danny doesn’t want to be a broom pusher forever, and tells Don that he’s not like him, he has an affliction and he can’t just will it away. I think this is reminder 3,010 this season that Don has a pretty great life that not everyone else has. Don gives in, and hands Danny some cash along with his card. He tells him to call him if he ever needs to, and to remember that if something happens to him, his sister will never forgive herself – and by herself I think he means him, since he’s the one dropping Danny Boy on the side of the road in the dark.
Betty sits with the shoebox of secrets, a glass of wine and a cigarette.
Don arrives back at Miss Farrell’s. She doesn’t feel like a romp in the hay, so she and Don just hold each other.
It’s 2:15AM. Betty, in a nightgown now, gets up from the kitchen table with the shoebox. She puts it back in the desk and hangs up Don’s bathrobe before falling into bed.
Don’s back at work and using one of those handy shirts he has in his desk drawer. He has Allison get Betty on the phone, and asks her if she picked up his tux. She’s more than a little frosty on the phone, and when he asks what’s wrong, she almost lets him have it, but then gives the lame excuse she doesn’t feel well. He tells her she has 7 hours to feel better because tonight she’s his show pony. He might not have used those words, but same idea.
Peggy heads into Paul’s office, asking if he’s ready to meet with Don. He sits morosely looking out the window, and says he’s got nothing. “What a relief, mine’s garbage too,” Peggy replies. Paul goes on to explain how he didn’t write his brilliant idea down, and Peggy kindly says she hates it when she does that. “You know what the Chinese say?” Paul asks. “The faintest ink is better than the best memory.” True that, Paul.
Peggy and Paul go to face their doom in Don’s office. Peggy’s ideas are about old people and she has the slogan, “When you care, send one there!” Don’s not impressed, and calls for Paul’s ideas. Paul mumbles he’s got nothing and Don calls him on the carpet, but Peggy sticks up for Paul. “Dammit Kinsey, what’s your excuse?” Don snaps. “Tell him what happened,” Peggy says gently. Paul admits he had a great idea but didn’t write it down, and rather than jumping down his throat, Don sits back in his chair and sighs, “I hate when that happens.” Paul can’t believe his good luck that he’s still alive. Peggy says she keeps thinking about what Paul said about the faintest ink, and has her A-HA! moment. When you call someone with good news, you say it and it’s gone, but with a telegram, the moment is preserved forever. Don nods in approval and adds the perfect line – “You can’t frame a phone call.” “Oh my God,” Paul says as he realizes that Peggy really is better than him. Don tells them to run with it and have it ready for Monday.
Betty sits in a beautiful gown with long white gloves on the edge of the bathtub. She looks ill, but she pulls herself together and goes out into the bedroom where Don, in his tuxedo, waits with the kids. “Well look how pretty mommy is,” he says, smiling.
And finally, we get to the best scene of the episode. Roger, Jane, and Roger’s mother sit in a limo on the way to the party. “Where are we going?” Mother Sterling asks. “The Waldorf Astoria,” Roger replies. The Mother Sterling complains that they moved it, and says, “Enjoy the world as it is, Margaret. They’ll change it, and never give you a reason.” Jane looks like she just swallowed a lemon as Roger quickly says, “Mommy, she’s not Margaret, she’s Jane. She’s my wife.” “Does Mona know?” Mother Sterling replies. HA!!! More Mother Sterling, less Danny Boy and Miss Farrell! “Yes, she knows,” Jane says coldly. Careful Jane – if you keep that sour expression, your face might freeze that way and then Roger will dump you for someone even younger and prettier.
Pryce and Mrs. Pryce are stuck in traffic. Pryce admits they’re selling Sterling Cooper and she’s thrilled, of course, because they’ll be headed back to England.
Betty and Don sit in absolute silence as Don looks over his notes for his speech.
Roger introduces Don with a long speech detailing his many achievements. It’s pretty nice coming from someone who gave him a smackdown in last week’s episode. Betty sits in uncomfortable silence beside Don looking alternately blank and like she’s going to kill him in his sleep. When he gets up to a hearty round of applause, it’s the death glare that wins. Betty’s icy stare takes us to the credits.