Mad Men: The Field Trip

downloadApril 30, 2014 – “Mad Men” turned in another stellar episode on Sunday.

After Don receives a call from Megan’s agent explaining that she needs a lecture about her recent behavior with a producer, Don unwillingly hops on a plane to pay her a surprise visit. That telephone scene was eerily reminiscent of Don speaking with Betty’s psychiatrist about her progress in the first season. Didn’t women have any privacy back in the 1960s?

Megan is excited to see him. Then Don lets it slip that her agent called him, and she becomes angry, throws him out, and says the marriage is over. It doesn’t help her mood that he is finally honest about his leave from SC&P.

Back in New York, Don lunches at the Algonquin Hotel, where he receives two compelling offers. One is a job offer from his fellow ad men across town, and the other is from a young blonde, who offers him her room number in case he wants to pay her a visit after his lunch meeting. Don’t these women understand that he is the new and improved Don Draper? Aside from the flirting on the plane in the first episode, he’s been faithful.

Don accepts the job offer, or at least the envelope it came in, and in the next scene, he’s knocking at a hotel room door where (SURPRISE!) Roger answers. Don shows Roger the job offer, and tells him he is ready to come back to work. Roger is hesitant at first, tells him the job offer he just received is below him, and agrees that he can come in on Monday. When Don arrives, he discovers that Roger hasn’t told anyone that he was coming back.

These office scenes ooze awkwardness. Don sees that the office has made major changes in the few months he’s been gone. However, when he runs into his former secretary, Dawn, he hands her his coat and hat, and asks for coffee as if he hadn’t missed a day. Hey, Don, it’s 1969 and women in the workplace demand more. Dawn’s promotion to HR and her new office mean she doesn’t have to do that for you anymore. Still, Don’s reaction is realistic. He’s in his early 40s, dresses as if it’s the 1950s, and has a difficult time embracing change.

Don’s reunion with his fellow employees is uncomfortable, although I am surprised by Joan and Peggy’s reaction. He shared a close relationship with both women, saw Peggy through an unwanted pregnancy, and promoted her as the first female executive, yet she says she is not happy to see him back. Joan isn’t any more thrilled than Peggy, though Don has supported her on more than one occasion, especially when he tried to talk Joan out sleeping with the Jaguar executive to get the account. Her reputation, he said, was more important than the added income the firm would receive. Alas, Joan is a partner now, and money is her new bottom line.

Roger talks the other partners into giving Don another chance, and although they hesitate, they agree with steep conditions; no drinking in the office, no meeting with clients alone, and Don must report to Lou, his replacement. Don accepts, opening up the possibilities of interesting storylines to come.

Betty makes her first appearance of the season in this episode, and as we quickly learn, she’s just as immature and selfish as ever. If your heart didn’t go out to young Bobby Draper when his mother accompanies him on his field trip, you are not human.

When Bobby trades his mother’s sandwich for a bag of gumdrops, things go drastically wrong. He didn’t realize it was his mother’s lunch, and apologizes, but Betty turns cold and gives him the silent treatment for the rest of the day. She loves to play the victim. Henry comes home from work later and asks what happened, and Bobby says he wishes it was yesterday. With Sally tucked away at boarding school, Bobby is Betty’s new victim, and these kids will need serious therapy in the future.

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