Monday, November 9, 2009

Mad Men “Shut the Door, Have a Seat” A Smashing Finale

All photos from AMC

Mad Men (AMC) proves itself yet again as the best drama on television these days in the season finale, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat.” Everything this season has been building to this final episode, and it means big changes for the people at Sterling Cooper. It also means big changes in the lives of Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his wife Betty (January Jones). Not only is Don’s marriage on the rocks, but he finds that Sterling Cooper is also on the rocks as well.

This episode not only means the reinvention of Sterling Cooper, but also a reinvention of Don and Betty’s lives. I laughed, however, when Don had the nerve to call Betty a whore, seeing that Don is probably the biggest whore in the history of television drama. It is clear that Don is a chauvinist and thinks that it’s OK for men to cheat and sleep around, but not women. Betty also knows of his past, and even with a divorce, she can wield a lot of power over him.

The episode also seems to be setting the stage for women having a stronger influence. Peggy doesn’t back down with Don when he seems to demand she join his cause, and one can only hope that his respect for what she does is genuine. It’s hard to tell with a salesman such as Don when he means something and when he is just saying it to get what he wants. I was amused when Roger asked her to get her coffee and she refused, much to his surprise.

It is also great to see Joan back, and it is clear that she’s probably the one who is really running the company. Sure, Lane knows the ins and outs of cash management, but Joan knows where all the proverbial bodies are buried. I hope that her value to the company eventually translates to a nice title with some real power.

In case you missed the episode, here’s what happened:

When the episode begins, it’s a few weeks before Christmas, 1963. Don is at home, waking up in Gene’s room. He arrives late to an appointment with Conrad Hilton (Chelcie Ross), who drops the bomb on Don that not only is Sterling Cooper being sold, but so is their parent company, Putnam, Powell, & Lowe. The company buying them is McCann-Erikson, and Don does not want to work at what he called a “sausage factory." Don is miffed that Hilton also seems to be cutting him loose because of that same fact, and thinks Hilton has been messing with him all along, especially by referring to Don as “son.” Hilton tells Don he was a self-made man, not a crybaby, and he though Don was the same. They shake hands and Hilton tells Don some other time they'll try again.

When Don walks into the Sterling Cooper offices, he sees a secretary crumpling up some paper, and has a flash back to when he was a boy and his father was complaining to his co-op about low crop prices. His father tells the co-op that he’s out.

Don tells Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) what he’s found out about the sale of PP&L, and even though Bert seems to have no desire to risk what he has, Don convinces him that the should buy Sterling Cooper themselves. They approach Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and tell him what’s going on. At first, Roger doesn’t seem to care, and Bert tells Roger that sold his birthright to marry that trollop. Needless to say, Roger is not impressed with their sales pitch, but Don admits he was wrong and that he does see the importance of account men, and he does value his relationship with Roger. Bert implies that when people leave their jobs because they’ve lost the appetite for it, they're dead shortly thereafter. Roger asks if this means join or die? Needless to say, he’s in.

But when Don gets back at home, Betty sends the kids to bed, and then tells Don she wants a divorce. He patronizes her, and she knows it. She says she isn’t the one who broke up the family.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Bert, Don, and Roger meet with Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) and they tell him what they know about McCann buying PP&L. They offer Lane the original purchase price plus 12%. But Lane basically laughs off their offer.

Meanwhile, Betty has taken Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) to her meeting with her divorce lawyer, who tells her that New York doesn’t want people divorcing, that’s why everyone goes to Reno to do it. She has to go there and establish residency for 6 weeks, and after that it is a snap, Don only has to consent, he doesn’t have to go. When he asks what she wants as a settlement, she says to whatever she's entitled. But Henry says she doesn't need what Don can provide, but she reminds him of her children. Henry promises to take care of her and them and doesn't want her to owe Don anything.

Lane calls Lane calls St. John and tells him that people know about McCann buying Sterling Cooper, but is shocked with St. John confirms that McCann is buying PP&L. He also gets a jolt when St. John basically has included Lane with that deal. Lane thanks him in a controlled voice but then slams down the phone.

When Don gets home, he sees Sally sleeping in bed, and has a flashback to his childhood. His father is drunk and wants to go to Chicago to sell his crops. It’s raining with lightning, and young Dick Whitman takes a swig of booze from his father’s jug, making a face. But a horse is startled by the lighting, and kicks his father in the face, knocking him to the ground. He looks dead. Back in the present, Don looks back at Sally and climbs into her bed and puts his arm around her.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Don meets with Bert, Roger, and Lane. Lane doesn’t want to be involved in a conspiracy and says he should just fire them all. Don tells him to go ahead since that's all he did well here anyway, but Lane objects, saying he did a great many things at Sterling Cooper. Don has an idea; as Lane has absolute authority to fire anyone, he tells Lane to fire the three of them and vacate their contracts. Lane asks why would he do that, and Don reminds him that when Lane gets to McCann he'll get be thrown overboard like a corpse knocking against the hull. Lane comments that nothing good comes from seeking revenge, and Bert says they will make him a partner. Lane thinks he’s worth more than that, and Don is happy that Lane is showing he can negotiate and then says they will put his name on the door. When Roger seems to balk at that, Don asks if he knows how to do what Lane does? Bert says he doesn't know either, and with the look on Roger’s face it seems like Lane is in.

They outline their plan of attack. Lane says they will need accounts, and then says if he sends a telex to PP&L after noon New York time saying he’s sacked them all, it will be after the offices close in London and they won’t see it until Monday. Then can spend the weekend getting (stealing) accounts and all the other necessary support material. They raise their hands in agreement, and in doing so, Lane says they are now fired. Roger adds, "it's official, Friday Dec. 13, 1963, four guys shot their own legs off." They exit the office in a rush, Don telling his secretary that the office will be closed over the weekend for carpet cleaning, and yells for Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) to come into his office.

She comes in, thinking it’s about Western Union, but when Don clues her in to what is really going on, she’s a little miffed that he seems to think she will do whatever he says. She doesn’t bite, seemingly wanting Don to ask in a better fashion. He says he won’t beg, and she says she doesn’t want to make a career for being there just so he can kick her when he fails. She walks out.

Roger and Don head to Pete’s (Vincent Kartheiser) who wasn’t at work, he faked being sick. Roger and Don tell Pete what is going on and Pete wants to hear Don say why he wants him to come with them. Don says Pete is able to see what is coming better than they can. They say they will make him a partner, but when he asks for his name in the lobby, Don says there won’t be a lobby. Pete has files for about $8 million in accounts, and say Pete will be in if he can deliver all of them by Sunday. Pete is in.

Don and Roger share a drink at the bar, and when Don tells him he and Betty are divorcing, Roger mentions Henry Francis. Don has no idea who that is, and Roger tells him that Margaret is friends with Henry’s daughter and they know something is going on between Betty and Henry. Roger thought Don knew, and is apologizes to Don.

Don comes home, drunk, and asks a sleeping Betty who is Henry Francis. She plays dumb, but then they begin to fight loudly over it. She asks why he cares and he says it is because she's so good and everyone else is so bad. He accuses her that all the while she's been building a life raft. When she tells him to get out, Don says she got everything she ever wanted, she loved it and now he's not good enough for her, adding Betty won't get a nickel and he'll take the kids and they'll be better off. She counters that she's going to Reno and he's going to consent and to not threaten her, and adds she knows all about him. He grabs her and calls her a whore. When the baby starts to cry, Betty picks him up and says she wants Don out of the house.

The next day, Pete is in the elevator heading to the office and Harry (Rich Sommer) rushes in. Pete almost let on to Harry what is going on, assuming that Harry knew. But he didn’t, and when Harry arrives, he finds that unless he takes the offer to join them, they will have to lock him in the storage room until morning. When they realize that they don’t know where all the things are that they need to take with them, Roger says he’ll make a phone call. It seems he knows the perfect person to help.

Don, however, isn’t there, he is at home while he and Betty break the news of their father moving out. Sally take it very hard and runs off, Bobby grabs on to his dad for dear life. Betty is clearly rocked by the kids’ reactions. He then goes to Peggy’s place and uses his best sales skills to make Peggy feel valuable, and asks if she will help him. She smiles but seems upset, saying what if she says no, he'll never speak to her again. He hardens and says he won't spend the rest of his life trying to hire her. Needless to say, she is in.

Back at the office, it is controlled chaos when Joan (Christina Hendricks) arrives and whips everybody in to shape, as she knows where everything is and what needs to be gathered. Don has to kick in the door to the art department because no one has the key. While Roger is working, he asks Peggy to get him some coffee and she says no. As movers haul everything out, Don asks Joan to find him a furnished apartment. She is sorry, as she can deduce what is going on there. When Don and Roger look back at the office Roger asks him how long he thinks it will take them to work in a place like this again. Don responds that he never saw himself working in a place like this. When they leave, Don moves to lock the door and Roger tells him not to bother.

The next morning Allison (Alexa Alemanni) walks in to Don's office and seeing it look emptied and in disarray, screams they were robbed. Meanwhile, St. John calls Lane, who is in a happy mood, but St. John is having a complete meltdown for how much Lane has cost them, and fires him. Lane could care less.

The new company is set up in a hotel room, and Joan is reading out a set of operating rules. When the phone rings. Joan answers “Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce.” But it’s only Harry, looking for their room number.

Back at the Sterling Cooper office, Allison is crying that Don left without saying goodbye, and Ken (Aaron Staton) adds that Pete tried to poach John Deere. He realizes he must have gone with Draper. Kinsey (Michael Gladis) gets a worried look and opens Peggy's office door and sees she's cleared out.

At the hotel, everyone is hard at work. Pete’s wife Trudy arrives with lunch and a cake and she seems pumped. When Don goes into the bedroom where Harry is working and tells him there is food, Harry races out, leaving Don alone in the room to call Betty. He tells her he is not sure where he will be staying but will be working out of the Pierre. He says he won’t fight her and hopes she gets what she always wanted. She says he will always be their father. They say their goodbyes and he walks back in to their new “office” where there is a lot of activity, and Lane has arrived.

We close as Betty is on a plane with the baby, and with Henry Francis, likely to Reno. Carla, meanwhile, is at the Draper home with Sally, Bobby, and the dog as they are glued to the TV. Don is walking up the steps to his new apartment in the city as the screen fades to black.

This was an excellent close to the season, all the storylines neatly wrapped up. Yet it left viewers with their interest piqued on when the show will pick up next season. Will Betty and Don already be divorced and Betty remarried? Will Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Price been on solid ground and will they be working out of a real office? Will Joan have duped that loser husband of hers, and will Roger still be happy with Jane? There are so many directions where this show can go, and I’m just sorry that viewers have to wait so long to find out!

Video Recap “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”

Behind Mad Men “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for turning me on to this show. I just love it!!! Great recap, Miss Recap Queen!


I Like to Watch TV said...

MissKitty, I am glad you like it!