Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "Shut the Door. Have a Seat"

Season 3, Episode 13
Episode Synopsis: In the third-season finale, Don has a pivotal meeting with Connie (Chelcie Ross); Betty is the beneficiary of some interesting advice; and Pete has a serious sit-down with some clients.
Original Air Date: Nov 8, 2009
Guest Cast Chelcie Ross: Connie
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Season 3, Episode 13
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Length: 47:36
Aired: 11/8/2009
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "Shut the Door. Have a Seat" Season 3, Episode 13

"Dec. 13, 1963: The day four guys shot their own legs off." — Roger Sterling
At the midpoint of Mad Men's stellar third season, Don Draper signed a contract that began his downward spiral. Since July 23, 1963, campaigns have failed to impress hotel tycoons, affairs have happened, secrets were uncovered, and declarations of no love were made. But no matter how Roger Sterling sees Dec. 13, it is no doubt the day that Don Draper picked himself up from rock bottom and started his climb all over again.

And he's not alone: Don recruits Bert, Roger and Lane to strike out on their own to avoid becoming cogs in the machine known as McCann Erickson, who has bought Putnam Powell and Lowe and, by extension, Sterling Cooper. With a plan that feels hatched out of Ocean's Eleven or any other great caper movie, Don convinces Lane to fire the three partners at Sterling Cooper. They then set out to recruit a skeleton crew to join them in stealing everything that might get the new agency off the ground.

Since he's at the bottom looking up, Don finally takes some advice from Roger: "You're no good at relationships because you don't value them," Roger says, and Don listens. He starts by telling Roger that he was wrong to hog the Hilton account, that he sells ideas but has no business babying clients. Admitting his failure as an account man also helps Don reel in Pete. Peggy requires a much more genuine sales pitch, but ultimately she comes on board.

The one relationship that Don has most devalued, however, can't be repaired. Betty, with Henry Francis at her side, consults a divorce attorney and flies across the country to end her marriage. Don's furious, then defeated, but he ultimately takes a (final?) lesson from Archibald Whitman. By sticking with the cooperative now known as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Don can perhaps ride out this storm. Or at the very least, he can still try to be the father to his children that Archie never was to Dick.

"What if I come up short?" — Pete Campbell
"That's not an option." — Don Draper
Don may have admitted to Roger that he is no people person, but he can still blow smoke with the best of them. Weaselly Pete wants Don to stroke his ego, and he obliges, but he takes the opportunity to bash his plans to leave Sterling Cooper behind his back. (Methinks Don and Roger are just upset they didn't think of it first.) Indeed, it's Pete's ability to look ahead for the next big thing that has Don sold. Just as he saw the aeronautics boom and the growth of sales in the African-American market, Pete saw the ship he was on going down, and he was the only one to grab a life vest.

But even though flattery won Pete over, it's impossible to overlook how much he did want to be a part of this new venture. His task in order to come on board: Bring $8 million worth of clients with him. He poaches as many as he can, but Pete had to swallow his pride and take on his father-in-law's Clearasil account once more in order to make the mark. Sure, Trudy (the wife that Betty never was) probably talked Daddy into helping out, but Pete had to agree. We all saw how Don, who probably could have twisted Connie's arm into coming with him to the new agency, decided against it, probably to avoid some late-night phone calls. Pete seems willing to take on the headaches to make this new opportunity work. Plus, there's also the promise of having his name on the door (if there's any room for it!)

"What if I say no? You'll never speak to me again." — Peggy Olson
"No. I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you." — Don Draper
Aside from Don's harsh words for Betty tonight (more on that in a bit), Peggy has definitely taken the most brutal punches from Don this season. So it's appropriate that she calls Don on his assumption that she will just jump ship with him. (I like how it echoed Don finally talking back to Connie earlier in the episode.) "You just assume I'll do whatever you say, that I'll follow you like nervous poodle," Peggy says. "Everyone thinks you do all my work, even you. I don't want to make a career out of being there so you can kick me when you fail."

So, Don — finally acknowledging what we've all seen since Day 1, that Peggy is an extension of Don with a twist — makes his best pitch of the season. "There are people out there who buy things," Don says. "People like you and me. Then something happened, something terrible. The way that they saw themselves is gone. Nobody understands that. But you do, and that's very valuable. With you or without you, I'm moving on, and I don't know if I can do it alone. Will you help me?"

If this is to be the forward-thinking agency that Don describes — the agency Sterling Cooper never was — then he needs all the ideas he can get, and he needs them from someone who can move beyond tragedy. He's done it, and he knows Peggy has done it. And Don's willing to chase after Peggy for the rest of his life to bring that ability onto his team. Luckily, there will be no chase at all.

"How long do you think it will take us to be at a place like this again?" — Roger Sterling
"I never saw myself working at a place like this." — Don Draper

With the creative and account brains onboard, all that's missing is a little sass and an unbelievably lucky idiot. Cue Joan Harris and Harry Crane. I knew instantly who Roger was sneaking off to call, but I still got a huge thrill when Joan came strutting through the doors and instantly sent everyone to work pulling all the pieces together. She and Roger arguing over handwriting made it seem as though they've been together their whole lives, and wherever Jane is passed out drunk, I hope she stays there. I want to see these two together.

Harry doesn't get his ego stroked or even a Don Draper pitch. Instead he gets strong-armed into joining by Bert Cooper and his threat of locking Harry in the storage closet. Despite his bumbling ways, Harry does make sense in this forward-thinking agency. But the poor guy couldn't even remember what room at the Pierre had been turned into Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's makeshift office.

And here's where I say that I wonder what becomes of Cosgrove, Kinsey and even Allison back at the mothership. It's also where I note that I miss Sal on the show. (Don kicking down the art department's door was pretty awesome, though.) But I desperately want this new incarnation to be just that. I'd rather not see the new agency end up in a spiffy office right away, or instantly be reunited with their former colleagues. And who's to say those left behind would want to join up with the deserters if they weren't considered good enough to be first-round draft picks?

"I'm not going to fight you. I hope you get what you always wanted."  — Don Draper
Those left behind at Sterling Cooper are the same kind of collateral damage that the Draper kids are in the ending of Don and Betty's marriage. Bobby was heartbreaking as he clung to Don's legs begging him not to leave. (Even Betty couldn't keep emotions locked up at that point.) Sally, who's carefully observed the growing tension between her parents in recent episodes, knows the score, and she blames Betty for sticking Don in baby Gene's room and making him leave.

It's a good thing, though, that Don's kids can bring him back to being human after his gut reaction to learning about Henry Francis turned him into such an animal. When Betty asks why Don cares who Henry is, he tears into her. "Because you're good and everyone else in the world is bad," Don says. "You're so hurt, so brave with your little white nose in the air, and all along you've been building a life raft. You got everything you ever wanted. Everything, and you loved it. And now I'm not good enough for some spoiled Main Line brat?"

Worse still is Don's hypocrisy. If we're to believe that Betty and Henry have yet to consummate anything (or even if they have), Don the Philanderer really is out of line to call Betty a whore. She is the mother of his children, and as a man who was motherless because his mother actually was a prostitute, he should know just how low a blow that is. And I think he does, which is why he makes the phone call to say he's sorry. Or at least that he's through fighting and ready to give his consent once Betty sets up residence in Reno. "You will always be their father," Betty says.

"The future is better than the past." — "Shahdaroba"
So as Roy Orbison sings us out of Season 3, we see Don with a slight grin as he looks at his new creation. Betty and Henry are on a plane to Reno with baby Gene while Carla watches over Bobby and Sally. And as sad as the end of their marriage is, I can't help but sense relief in Don. For the first time in the series, Don is completely free. His contract is over and he's not chained in the suburbs. He seems to almost relish moving into his new, furnished apartment.

Because the future is better than the past, my hope is that wherever Matthew Weiner takes the story next, he allows some, if not all, of these developments to stick. We've seen Don and Betty break up and reconcile. Let's move on to Don as a divorced dad. We've seen Sterling Cooper shaken up. Let's see what this new bunch can do. (I think Weiner was actually winking at the audience when people like Peggy asked "Again?" at the news that the company was being sold, since that was the action of the Season 2 finale.)

Am I supporting losing Betty and the kids, as well as Cosgrove's haircut and Kinsey's mohair sweater? Of course not. But I would understand if the show cut back or dropped some of these characters to tell different stories, and I would support it. This finale should silence all the "nothing happens" naysayers, but at the same time, it has completely reenergized the show with dozens of possibilities. Here's hoping (and trusting) that the writers' won't squander that in Season 4.

A few final thoughts:
• God bless Lane Pryce. In an episode full of awesome one-liners, his "Very good. Happy Christmas," to St. John Powell after being "sacked" for his insubordination and lack of character was classic. So glad he's a part of this new agency.

• Pete and Peggy look awfully cozy in their corner work space. It seems neither of them are objecting to working closely at this point and I have a feeling those two still have some chapters to be written.

• Similarly, I missed not getting Duck's reaction to Peggy choosing to go along with Don. Maybe we'll still get to see that down the line. Better still would be to see Don's or Pete's (or both) reactions if they found out about Peggy's fling.

• Will Don run back to Miss Farrell now that he's a free man? Seems like he could, but her absence in the finale perhaps suggests that if Don is with another woman when the story resumes, it might not be her.

• Interesting that this season began with flashbacks to Dick Whitman's birth and ended with flashbacks to Archie's death. Even more interesting to see how upset Dick was when his pop kicked (forgive me) the bucket. Bastard or not, losing your dad can't be easy.

• Even though I'm certain Roger and Don haven't really fixed their relationship, it was nice to see them fighting for the same team. I miss them sitting in the bar together and was pleased to see it in this episode, even if it did lead to the Henry Francis reveal.

• Finally, I want to thank those of you who read and comment on the recaps weekly. With a show this brilliant, writing the recaps is a labor of love, but reading your unique insights each week make it all the more enjoyable. So, sound off on the episode, the season, and share your burning questions for next year. I'll see you back here next summer!

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"Friday, Dec. 13: The day four guys shot their own legs off." — Roger Sterling
At the midpoint of Mad Men's stellar third season, Don Draper signed a contract that began his downward spiral. Since July 23, 1963, campaigns have failed to impress hotel tycoons, affairs have happened, secrets were uncovered, and declarations of no love were made. But no matter how Roger Sterling sees Dec. 13, it is no doubt the day that Don Draper picked himself up from rock bottom and started his climb all over again.

And he's not alone... read more

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