Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "The Inheritance"

Season 2, Episode 10
Episode Synopsis: Betty visits her ailing father; Paul's girlfriend, Sheila, advises him about his civic responsibilities; Pete's mother tries to put the kibosh on an important family move that he and Trudy are planning.
Original Air Date: Oct 5, 2008
Guest Cast Alison Brie: Trudy Campbell
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Season 2, Episode 10
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Length: 47:35
Aired: 10/5/2008
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "The Inheritance" Season 2, Episode 10

There was no passing down of money in this episode, but the two most child-like characters in the ensemble did gain some wisdom and maybe even a little maturity. Don Draper took a backseat to the self-discoveries of his wife Betty and colleague Pete Campbell, as each took strides to becoming their own person, even more defiantly than they have in the past. But while the realizations may be crystal-clear, the reality is as murky as always, as represented by actual children such as Pete's illegitimate baby with Peggy and neighborhood hair collector Glen Bishop. When Betty finally calls on Don, it's to share with him the news that her father is ill after suffering a stroke. (We later learned it was his second in a few months.) In truth, the most severe aspect of his waning health was the dementia witnessed when Gene referred to Betty as "Ruthie" (his dead wife and Betty's mother) and even copped a feel while suggesting they "head upstairs." Though Don was by her side through the whole ordeal, his touch at the dinner table made her seemingly just as uncomfortable, and she repeatedly insisted that he stop putting on a the happy show of marriage. "Nobody's watching," she said. But Gene was watching, and even he could see through his failing health than things were not right between Betty and Don. "Nobody has what you have," Gene says. "You act like it's nothing. My daughter's a princess, you know that." While most everyone brushed it off as another of his spells, his calling Don out for not sharing "what he does or why he does it," was perhaps the most poignant truth spoken about his character in some time. (We also finally see someone who has a real problem with not knowing anything about his mysterious past.)It seemed that things were at their worst as Don prepared his bed on the floor after a painfully speechless undressing (the work it took to get dressed and undressed in those days was brilliantly highlighted by the clicks and clangs of the clothing in an otherwise silent room). But Betty, looking for some sort of escape from her realization that she was an "orphan," turned to Don for some sexual healing. Of course, she was gone by morning, seeking out her real healing from housekeeper (and stand-in mother?) Viola, who promised her that Gene's coming death should be second on her list of concerns, behind her husband and kids. "You'll see," she said. "The minute you leave, you'll remember him exactly the way he used to be. It's all good outside that door." To anyone else, that would probably be touching advice, but Betty, knowing how bad things were at home, could only shake her head and sob.In case we had forgotten how bad it was at home, we were reminded again as Don, thinking their midnight rendezvous had patched up all the wounds, was shocked to find himself being kicked out of his home…again. (Somehow these scenes in front of the front door keep working.) Despite his pleas that he "want[s] to be here," Betty, coldly retorts that "nothing's changed." She believes that just as everyone but Viola was doing at her father's house, they too "were just pretending." But Betty continues pretending a while longer before she finally lets some maturity take over. When she finds Glen Bishop (the child of the neighborhood's single-mom divorcee) hiding in her kids' playhouse, she brings him inside, cleans him up with one of Don's undershirts and makes him lunch. (He even convinces Betty to eat, something Don tried unsuccessfully to do earlier.)Just as she did last season, she inexplicably connects with Glen (played well by creator Matthew Weiner's son Marten) and perhaps allows the happiness she feels in that connection to cloud out the inappropriateness of it all in her mind. She even agrees when Glen says his mom was upset two years ago by their connection because "she doesn't understand." Apparently Betty doesn’t either, until Glen takes her hand while sipping a Coke and watching TV, declaring that he has "come to rescue" her. Startled back to reality by her own kids showing up, Betty calls Glen's mother, and sends the runaway back home, growing up enough to realize it's the adult thing to do, even though she breaks Glen's heart and earns his hatred. Keeping her mature streak going, she lectures Helen Bishop on mothering, telling her that Glen depends on her for everything, and he's getting nothing. In return, Betty gets some advice after admitting to someone for the first time that Don isn't living there anymore. Though Betty isn't sure if it's over, and feels as though she'll "float away if Don isn't holding me down," Helen assures her that she might not even notice he's gone once she "realizes [she is] in charge." She, too, has been depending on Don, and though she was getting nothing in return just like Glen, she is now in a position to perhaps "rescue" herself.Meanwhile Pete's growing up comes thanks to a combination of his wife Trudy's insistence that they consider adoption and the final realization that his "inheritance" was squandered away by his recently deceased father. Pete and his brother Bud even have to sell all of Pop's real estate to guarantee that their mother remains "comfortable" for her remaining days, basically ensuring that they get nothing. Unlike Betty, who despite her father's dementia seemed to have a loving family, we saw in Season 1 that Pete wasn't exactly doted on. With his claims that he "hates" going to see his mother and laughing with his brother about killing her a la Hitchcock's Rope, it's not so hard to imagine why.As such, Pete takes great pleasure at telling his mother that she's flat broke when she insists that he might be "excluded from what is rightfully [his]" if he follows through with this adoption plan. ("You're pulling from the discards," she says in true elitist Dyckman tone.) After delighting in spilling the family secret, he drunkenly pesters Peggy (who else?) about his upcoming trip to L.A. and the "significance" of flying for the first time since his father's death. (Wasn't so significant when you were whoring yourself out to American Airlines, was it?) As he rambles on, he realizes that he and Bud aren’t the salt of the earth, and seems more convinced that adoption isn't a bad idea, if for no other reason than to stick to his mother. (Yes, even in his "growing up" and living beyond the rules of his family, he's still immature.) And his immaturity rears itself again when, realizing that Peggy doesn't sympathize (truthfully she just has no idea what he's talking about), Pete tells her, "Everything is so easy for you." If only he knew how uneasy his illegitimate child had made her life. So much for Bud's "end of the line" toast.Just as Paul Kinsey "took a stand" with Sheila in registering voters in Mississippi (more on that later), all of the characters in this episode must do the same to grow. Betty makes a choice to lose her former "connection" for his own good, and asserts her newfound grasp on not depending on someone else. Pete viciously stood against a family of which he has long been the black sheep, but in so doing, "inherits" the strength to make his decisions that aren’t based on the wishes of his mother and his father's ghost. Not taking a stand, however, is Don Draper, who instead runs to L.A. in Kinsey's place at the last minute. Then again, maybe he's moving on, and making a stand of his own. Though he insisted in the show's opening that the trip was not a vacation, perhaps some time away his own method of self-discovery. A few other thoughts:• Kinsey's argument with Sheila about his last-minute jaunt to California instead of going down south with her to face "people screaming at me and maybe getting shot," is the show's latest nod to the impending changes coming with civil rights movement. Kinsey, however, seems to simply be putting on a show, much like Joan implied weeks ago. He insists Hollis, the elevator operator, call him Paul and tries to dazzle the folks in Mississippi with his advertising wisdom that helps him to not see color. In truth, he only makes his stand when Don takes his trip away, but he makes sure Sheila believes it was all his idea. • Speaking of Don taking away his trip, Joan's embarrassing revelation that Kinsey wouldn't be heading to the "Golden West," in front of everyone at Harry Crane's baby shower was a nice little taste of revenge. Notice that Don asked Miss Holloway to put that in a memo, but have we come to expect anything less from ol' Joan? (Did anyone else catch her passing scowl when Paul and Sheila were talking in the office?)• It was extremely odd to me that the only sizable scene in the office this week took place at Harry Crane's awkward baby shower. But it did provide some gems: Hildy and Harry's sloppy drunken hug (remember their affair from Season 1?), the night's only reference to Jane and Roger's affair (if you don’t count the tension in Don's office when Roger interrupts he and Joan), and, of course, the line of the night. Bert Cooper's completely out-of-touch "I just wanted to say happy birthday!"• One of the more intriguing lines in tonight's episode was Betty's "I've been dreaming of a suitcase," perhaps suggesting that she had a premonition that she'd be taking a trip. She probably doubted that it would be to tend to her ailing father, but more interesting is that Don is the one who is actually packing his bags. How do you think his "suitcase" might play into her premonition?• Considering Peggy's new rank after taking Freddy's job, I'm a little surprised she's not going to L.A. After all, she prepared all the research (which Pete and Paul didn't read), and Don even admits that she might be a better choice. Maybe she's taken on the new title in workload but not fully in other ways just yet. But wouldn't a dame get the attention of all of those nerdy rocket engineers? (Also, loved Don's "trying to put a man on the moon or blow up Moscow, whichever one costs more" line.)What did you think of the episode? Are you excited to see how Don reacts to L.A.? Which "grabby" moment made you cringe more: Betty's dad's or Glen Bishop's? Share your thoughts and check back next week for more.Use our Online Video Guide to watch clips of Mad Men. show less
There was no passing down of money in this episode, but the two most child-like characters in the ensemble did gain some wisdom and maybe even a little maturity. Don Draper took a backseat to the self-discoveries of his wife Betty and colleague Pete Campbell, as each took strides to becoming their own person, even more defiantly than they have in the past. But while the realizations may be crystal-clear, the reality is as murky as always, as represented by actual children such as Pete's illegitimate baby with Peggy and neighborhood hair collector Glen Bishop.

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Premiered: July 19, 2007, on AMC
Rating: TV-14
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