Mad Men

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A | 2 USERS: A+
A Change Is Gonna Come
s expense has nothing to offer here, and it's bumming him out. They tell each other to hang in there, and then they disconnect. As I said in the recaplet, if Greg goes bye-bye, I'm betting Roger would dump Jane if he thought he could get Joan back, although I wonder if he really can't afford another divorce. And then wouldn't the bitchy shoe be back on the other foot?

Don's in the kitchen making a drink, possibly the next day, while Betty's watching TV -- and screams aloud when she sees Lee Harvey Oswald murdered by Jack Ruby on live TV in front of her very eyes. Regardless of what happened, it's upsetting to see now, so I can only imagine what it was like at the time. Don comes rushing in, and after she tells him what happened, she rhetorically but loudly asks what is going on, and when Don tries to take her arm consolingly, she tells him to leave her alone and exits the room. Sally, drawn by the commotion, asks Don what happened, but after a long, shocked moment, he tells her nothing. Not that I blame him in this instance, but he is just in over his head here.

Cross-fade to later, where the subject on TV has turned to flowers for the funeral. Don's asleep on the couch (that's more like it!) when Betty comes in, wakes him, and tells him she's going out for a drive. He's like, great idea, I'll get the kids, but she tells him she needs to clear her head and leaves without another word...

...and then she's waiting in the Cadillac in some warehouse's parking lot when Francis pulls in. He joins her in her car and asks where Don thinks she is, but she tells him she doesn't care -- he's been lying to her for years. She says she didn't know Francis was going to be there, like that wasn't obvious from her reaction, and wistfully muses that Derby Day feels like a hundred years ago. Honey, try recapping the season and then we'll talk. She goes on that seeing Oswald shot was so upsetting, and when Francis parrots Don's assertion that things will be okay, she tells him she wishes she could believe that, but it's hard for her to believe anything at the moment. This is what indicates to me that Don's promise that everything would be okay was such an unknowing misstep for him, but Francis, unencumbered by years of lies, tells her that there are other ways to live, and while he's not in love with their whole situation, he wants the two of them to happen. She reminds him she has three children, but he ignores that, saying that he'll know more about his future when the campaign shakes out in the spring, but he'll leave it right now for her. She says he doesn't need to do that, but he puts it out there -- while she doesn't need to answer right away, he wants to marry her. And whether you think this is in character for him given what we've seen up to this point (and I kind of do), I think, in keeping with the theme of the season, the assassination is the explosion that's accelerating everyone's actions -- some people are going to change hard, and some are going to steadfastly resist it. I used the word "shattering" in the recaplet in more than one sense -- the episode is emotionally shattering, to be sure, but it's also shattering in the sense that a lot of the developments seem irrecoverable to me. I don't think the Draper marriage will be saved. I don't think Pete will come back to SC. And I really don't know if Don will recover from this -- he only opened up to Betty under duress, and now that that's going bad I wonder if he'll ever be able to be anything other than a guarded shell of a man. Anyway, Betty is clearly thrown by the proposal and stammers that she doesn't know what to say, but he tells her that as he said, she doesn't have to answer now, but if she searches her heart, she'll know that he can make her happy. They kiss, fairly passionately, and after she gives him a fond smile, she says she should go. With an answering smile, he says he wishes he could take her to the movies right then, to some theater that was playing her favorite movie, and she offers, "Singin' In The Rain. That's a much more darling choice than I would have expected from her. I mean, if she'd said Mildred Pierce I wouldn't have been at all surprised. Anyway, after he exits the car, she starts to drive away, and the scene cuts out before we get to see if he does a dance at his apparent victory. Which is just fine with me, especially since we're up to the last commercial break.

When we return, Pete and Trudy are watching a slow-motion replay of the Oswald shooting, and Pete spits that there was no security even though Oswald was the most hated man in America. "Why even have a trial? Just throw him over to the mob!" Trudy shares his outrage, and while Pete's always been painted as progressive on the show despite his monied roots, I'm glad to see Trudy is on the same page. She then, no doubt thinking of the attitudes Pete was describing earlier, tells Pete that the SC people don't care about him. "You did everything they asked you to do, but you don't owe them anything." After another moment, she counsels him to start gathering his clients. "They'll follow you wherever you go." That might be a slightly optimistic assessment, but Pete's face lets us know he's eating it up. The only question is whether he'll slap Ken in the face on his way out the door.

Betty enters from the front door, and Don looks wary at the expression on her face, but volunteers that Francine has the kids. Betty steps into the room, takes off her coat, and gets into it: She wants to scream at Don "for ruining all of this," and it's unclear whether she means she wishes he never lied in the first place or merely that she wishes he'd taken more care to ensure she never found out, but regardless, even though he tried to fix the situation, there's no point to any of it. "There's no point, Don." Still uncomprehending, he gets to his feet and tells her he knows she's upset, but while it's painful, "it's going to pass." But not the way he thinks, as, with steel in her eyes, she tells him flat-out that she doesn't love him. He tells her she's distraught, but while she admits that's true, with an almost scientific curiosity at the words coming out of her mouth, she reasserts that she doesn't love him. She adds that when they kissed the day before, she didn't feel a thing, and this, I think, wounds him far more than he can afford to let on at the moment, but he soldiers on the only way he knows how, saying that she'll feel better the next day. I never thought when this couple was first introduced that he'd end up the one desperate to hold on to her. Letting some disdain creep into her voice, she says he can't even hear her right now, and he responds, "You're right." He leaves the room, and she sits down on the couch and flops her head back in exasperation...

...while Don shakily enters the bedroom and sits down in the chair, hands clasped almost in prayer, unsuccessfully trying to fight off the creeping sense of dread that his marriage really is over. The camera pulls back to make him look smaller and smaller. Which is convenient, given that I'm betting he's sleeping on the couch tonight.

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Mad Men




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