Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mad Men Season 3 - Shut the Door and Have a Seat

Its December 1963 and S&C is to be sold to McCann. Don doesn't want to go - and convinces Bert and Roger to set up their own firm of "Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce". At home, Don and Betty agree to a divorce and Betty goes with Henry to Reno to finalize it.


  • Its Good to have Joan back
  • Divorce was the best resolution to the Betty-Don Relationship
  • Betty & Don telling the kids - well acted scene
  • A fast-paced plot-driven episode
  • Don to Pete -"There's not going to be a lobby"
  • Sally expresses her hatred of Betty
  • Don kicks in the door - keys are for wimps.
  • Pryce to Mr. Moneypenny - "Very good. Happy Christmas"
  • Sneaky Pete - "I'm not really sick"
  • Roger to Harry - "Yes, we're kidding. Happy Birthday!"
  • Don talks Peggy into joining him - damn he's good.
  • Hilton is gone or reduced to a very minor character
The Bad
  • The Betty Don confrontation was cut short. These two had a lot more to say to each other
  • Betty leaving the kids at Christmas to go to Reno
  • Ken, Lois, and Paul get left behind.

Other Matters

While an exciting "caper" several points about starting SCDP puzzled me. First, why would St.Johns give Pryce the power to fire Bert or Roger? Sounds like too much responsibility for Pryce considering his position and unnecessary. Second, was the "theft" of S&C documents legal? They not only took their stuff, they took S&C and PPL documents.

The divorce of Betty and Don seems rather rushed. As stated above, the scene where Kinda Drunk Don confronts Betty seemed cut short. Betty had a lot to say and logically would have said it. It should have been a big scene, but was sandwiched into the caper plot.

For Betty, a divorce makes sense. Don left the key and kept a "secret Drawer" because he wanted her to find it. Which was the end for Betty, She found out about the big lie, that Don had been shutting her out and lying for years, that he was really someone else, that he'd been married before, and was a deserter It emphasized - in a biggest way possible - Don's real failure in the marriage. His failure to be honest, to open up, to make her part of his work life, to be there. That's what Betty wanted, and Don refused to give it to her, except at the end. She had to find out about his past life by "accident", she found out about his contract dispute from Roger, and recently Don was absurdly leaving in the middle of night to go visit "Hilton" - even when there was no phone call. Not to mention his other affairs. Don was really the "Man who wasn't there". So, once Henry showed up - it was goodbye Don. And I don't blame her.

And that brings up Don. Don's attitude toward Betty has been so changing and contradictory its slightly unbelievable For example, why would Don leave documents for Betty to find, then be shocked and collapse into a tearful confession when discovered? And his actions at the end contradict his actions in Seasons 1 and 2. Then Don really didn't care that much about his marriage and felt trapped. So, why the shock at Betty asking for a divorce or the attempts in previous episodes to be the loving husband? The change from Season 1/2 to the end of Season 3 was simply unbelievable in many ways.

One can say the same about Bert and Roger. Is it really believable that Bert and Roger, one year after semi-retirement would desire to buy back the firm at 12 percent over the payment price? You can argue that -like many- they just *thought* they wanted money and ease, then realized they missed the action. But if so, why were they so reluctant at to go with Don? It seems the plot was really driving the characters.

Overall Rating -
An excellent episode to close Season 3, probably the best.

Thoughts on Season 3: Overall this was enjoyable but a definite cut below Seasons 1 and 2. I have doubts about where the show is headed, The original dynamic of the show is gone, and it seems that everyone at SCDP are now old chums. A few episodes ago, Roger and Don weren't speaking - now Bert/Don/Roger are the 3 Amigos. One moment Pete is full of resentment at Don and S&C, the next he's off with the 3 Amigos and new firm.

And Season 3 really tread water in many respects. Peggy disappeared, Pete did nothing except cheat on Trudy and be unhappy, the British takeover never amounted to much, and neither did the school teacher or Hilton. Further, Joan left and now is back.

I hope Season 4 is better. Can Mad Men continue without turning into a Soap Opera? Time will tell. Episode 13 ****stars; Overall Season 3 - ***

Good Sites

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